Good afternoon, PPM. We are over two weeks into VOXELGEDDON 2013, the free reign voxel competition. There are 13 DAYS remaining to submit your entries for your chance to win. Sadly there are no prizes available this time, but hey, voxel competions are fun, right? The rules for the competition are as follows:
1) Only one submission per entrant
2) The entry is to include the Voxel and HVA. If applicable, turret and barrel voxels and HVA's, offset values must also be provided.
3) Voxels must be new and exclusive to the competition, previously released voxels or Westwood edits will not be accepted.
4) Once submitted, your entries can not be changed. Make sure you're happy with your voxel before submitting it.
5) Your voxel can be made for any game you chose. Please state when submitting your voxel what game the voxel is for (TS, RA2).
6) Entries must be submitted to Aro (Me) by the 30th of June 2013 (00:00GMT)
7) I will only be accepting submissions via PRIVATE MESSAGE! No emails! No IM Client!
So what are you waiting for? Head to the official competition thread for all the necessary information on Rules and how your submissions will be judged and get voxeling! You can make any voxel of any theme you desire, the voxel can be made for either TS or RA2, but make sure you specify when you submit your voxel!
EA / Victory Games just posted this little trailer in advance for their E3 press conference:
Just a few stuff that can be noticed from the video:
-Some kind of sniper infantry for EU side
-Overlords and Helixes are back for the APA / China
-GLA regains their feared SCUD Storm
-Many Generals to choose from (at least 5 per side, if not more)
-Dr. Thrax is back from the dead, and has returned as a hipster
-Some variant of split-screen mode
-Generals who seem to taunt you
CCCIII: Blood and Concrete  Aurora196's entry: 1st Place (CCCIII Winner!)
CCCIII: Paradise Battle  LordCesare's entry: 2nd Place
CCCIII: The Honeymoon  OmegaBolt's entry: 3rd Place
Congratulations for Aurora196 by confirming his 'mapping God' status in this community once again! And also, a round of applauses for all those who submitted, specially Lord Cesare and his 5 maps and for his bravery of submitting a lunar map (Scars of a Far, Far Planet) for this contest, as lunar maps are definitely hard to do proper detailing and layout.
Aurora196 shall receive a custom rank once he PMs me telling which custom rank he wants. He also needs to PM Cranium to obtain his copy of the C&C Ultimate Collection.
That's it and enjoy these maps! We don't know which contest goes next. It depends on you guys. I've seen some people interested on a voxel contest, but I'm unable to organize it. So, I'll rely on you guys once again.
Today's news is not a news post. It is a reflection about the microtransaction game business model. A tough one, maybe. But it certainly needs your attention, since many of the games you'll play will be affected by this business model, specially the upcoming Command & Conquer.
My motivation to post this news right now is just by seeing a new videogame being announced where the manufacturer, who is not satisfied by simply selling games with the extorsive prices for a box with a Blu-Ray disk and a piece of paper that no longer explains the game, decides also to charge those who resell the game (that they've already sold) or simply charges for people to play games from a friend in their console. Honestly, this manufacturer has lost at least one client. Yours trully.
What does it have to do with games with microtransactions? Perhaps, more than you think. Morals, principles and objectives. The modding part of the post will come near the end. Let's focus first on the microtransactions system.
The main objective from any decent game development company is to gain money, since the creation of the first game development company. Those people do not work for free and this is quite acceptable. As any human being, they expect reward for their efforts and they have families, need food, confort, etc. So, of course, the main objective is always money. We, customers, buy games to have fun. So, create a fun game and we'll retribute with money, right? The problem is when the objective to get money starts to ofuscate the focus on creating fun games that actually provides pleasure for its users.
Overview on Microtransaction Business Model
The microtransactions business model is a system where the revenue comes mostly from downloadable content sold in game. Most of this downloadable content are items to develop your character(s) or maps to extend the replayability of the game. In order to motivate users to keep playing the game, this system relies on stats raising.
In the next paragraphs, we'll enumarate some of the common features from games with microtransactions, based on my personal experience with at least two of them: Asphalt 7 and Fire Emblem: Awakening. Both games were released in the last year, so they should be quite recent. Taken into account that the old school games that I have in my mind when I do comparisons are not focused on stats raising. Anyway, here we go:
1) Your main objective is to raise all stats from your character(s)
In old school games, you had to complete campaigns, reach the end of the story, beat all challenges or beat your friends. Microtransaction games still have these objectives, but there is one additional one that is crucial for the game: raising stats of your units, characters, cars or whatever you can raise. It's mpressive how changing a couple of variables in your game can be so much proffitable. It solely explores the anxiety of the users rather than fun. While it is fun to see progress on your assets by obtaining experience, the way to achieve it is not necessarily that fun.
You usually have two ways to gain experience. The cheapest one (usually doesn't cost a cent), you accumulate ingame funds by beating the same scenario multiples times or stuff like that. Each time, it gives you a ridiculous amount of ingame funds, which forces you to spend a lot of time to upgrade your stats. The second way is to use real money to buy these ingame credits or by buying access to maps/scenarios that will make your ingame funds to be collected in a much faster pace. The cheapest mode lead us to the second point.
If you follow our samples, Asphalt 7 has zillions of cars to be upgrade. It allows you to purchase ingame credits with real money, while you need to beat the same track 4 to 6 times to accumulate 1 million credits, which allows a couple of upgrades in the car, but it's not enough to fully upgrade one of the cars. Fire Emblem: Awakening has multiples characters that join your army in game. Most of them are totally useless. The game allows you to collect funds by beating an army of Risens in a map that you've already played. Risens appears in the map in a period of 6 to 12 hours of your real world time. You can also recruit them to the map by buying and using an item called Reeking Box. The amount you gain by beating the summoned risen is usually 2 to 4 times ($2000 to $4000) to cost of calling them ($1000) to the map and it's hardly enough to buy a decent weapon. Nintendo has offered paid DLCs packages such as Golden Pack, which has one map where you grab about $80000 credits in one shot, another that raises the experience quickly and the third one that gives you a silver card that makes every item two times cheaper. And you can play these maps whenever you want without buying Reeking boxes.
2) The game gets repetitive and the non-paying user gets penalized for not paying for the game.
If the objective of the game is to be fun for the customer, penalyzing it does not sound like a good deal, right? Microtransaction games does not work that way. The amount of scenarios and objectives in a game like that is usually low to the demands of the player. The reward obtained by beating these scenarios are minimal compared to the amount of money required to upgrade all stats. It makes the replayability of the game long, however, repetitive. The user will eventually repeat the same scenarios many times to collect ingame funds, even if the developper releases DLCs to change the experience a bit. This repetition penalizes the fun factor of the game, but it can be avoided by users who pay. Time is money is a sentence taken deeply in this business model.
3) If you pay the developper, you can cheat.
I miss the old school games and the efforts from their developpers to avoid cheating in any way. Of course, they've ended failing on every game as they still do with many micromanagement games, specially with PC games. However, microtransaction games are all about cheating. Afterall, that's the main source of money from developpers. The payment to gain experience/funds faster, access to scenarios with hordes of money to collect, experience to gain and items that makes shops cheaper for you is all about cheating: giving you a considerable advantage over other players. It affects in game ballance and even multiplayer games.
4) Multiplayer is completely umballanced. It might only be fun for those with high stats.
Remember the old school games where designers tried inumerous formulas to make units, factions, etc ballanced? Forget it in microtransaction games. As you advance with your stats, you'll become much more powerful than anyone who has just started to play the game, unless the novice player has paid a lot of money to the devs.
My first experience of playing Asphalt 7 online might have been similar to many other people. It doesn't matter how many nitros I've used in my car or my driving skills, I simply couldn't reach the first place, because I've played against someone who had a much better car, with much better stats than I did. This kind of match is not fun at all. I'm also sure that if a friend of mine challenges my Fire Emblem: Awakening army, I'll beat his whole army using a single unit. My Chrom (main character of the game) is invincible as he reached the stats cap on everything except magic.
5) Microtransactions are not regulated on most countries. It allows abusive attitudes from developpers or may avoid payment of taxes on several countries.
Microtransactions is something new to the laws from many countries or simply inexistent. What kind of taxes a user from Brazil (or insert a random country here) would pay to their govern or to the govern/state/city from the developper? If I go to a physical store in the United States, I pay a state tax for every product that I buy there. In Florida, I pay 6.5%, in New York it is 8.75%, etc. If I buy the same product in the online version of the same store, I do not pay this state tax. And what if I buy an item in a game? Where is the server that is hosting this game? Is it really in the United States? The server could be located in another country and the transaction could also send money to an account that the developper has in another country.
The problem is that, by not contributing with taxes for their country, they just collect money instead of contributing for a better quality of life for those who live near the developper. This money will only serve the interests of a minority that only thinks about their own pockets and help to provide unemployment in their area, which will be interesting for them, since they'll be able to exploit more their own staff with worse working conditions.
Paying taxes is boring, but bear in mind that you live in a society. You live with a group of people. The quality of life from this society that you live will certainly reflect in the quality of your life.
In an unrelated note, the ability to set prices for items in an exclusive market (with no competitors or a 100% controlled competition) is that any kind of abuses can be done. Cartels provides unfair conditions for the customers and it is usually a crime in many countries. But in a virtual world, it seems to be legal, as there is no regulations of any kind about it.
Modding on Microtransaction Games:
With all those kind words on Microtransactions, what can I say about modding from these games? As you can see, it is not interesting at all. Modding changes the stats that are part of their business. This is the main reason why you won't be able to legally modify these games. Developpers will do any effort to prevent modding under these conditions.
Microtransactions games twist the morals and ethical principles by promoting cheating and deteriorating game ballance, among other things. It mostly relies on motivating the user to raise their unit/character stats. It provides means for people to raise them faster by paying real money or penalizing users with repetitive actions.
Regardless of the harsh words on microtransaction games, these games can be fun and consume a lot of your time. Of course that a good design helps and I believe that the companies are still learning how to make this business model more fun.... although their main focus is always to make it more profitable, of course.
However, there will be no modding for these games, unless they switch to another business model.
Blue Hell Productions has posted a trailer of Tiberian Sun: Reborn, a standalone modified Renegade that brings the Tiberian Sun universe on it. The trailer is called 2030 starts 2013. For those who have never played Tiberian Sun, 2030 is the year where both Nod and GDI campaigns of the game starts. And what can you expect from it? The movie is quite clear about it, check it out:
Visit TS: Reborn project forum at Blue Hell Productions to find out more about it.
Zee Hypnotist, from CNCNZ.com, has posted a new episode of the Command & Conquer Legos, after a hiatus of 6 months.
In this episode, Kane wants a time machine for the Brotherhood of Nod, but the only man that can help him is Einstein, who doesn't seem to be willing to cooperate. So, it's up to the agents from the Brotherhood of Nod to capture Einstein for this mission, but things go wrong and quite crazy.
This episode also features the voices from Eric Gooch replaying his role as Seth (yes, the Seth from C&C95, from God to Kane to Seth!), Plokite_Wolf and Sybert, who you may have seen at the Community Battlecast Primetime.
Hello again and let's get to the latest news about the mods hosted at PPM. I'm really short on words right now and short on time for university duties, so I'll go straight to the point:
-> The Dawn of Tiberium Age has received an enourmous map called Africatorial. It's an 8 players map, extremely wide based in the desert theme seen in the Nod missions from Tiberian Dawn (featured in the african continent, of course). The screenshot they took is so wide that I cannot post it here, so head to this topic to see the beast that is awaiting you.
-> D-Day is adding the United States Marine Corps as a subfaction of the United States. In order to use it, play as America and once you deploy the MCV, you'll have the option to either play as Army or the Marines. The Marines includes some weapons of the Pacific theater such as the LVT-4 transport, the LVT(A)-4 artillery & the LVTAA-X2 anti-air tank, among others.
"Oibles!" is a random trademark from Project Perfect Mod and Kane.
"He who loves the game, mods the game. He who mods the game, lives the game" is also a random trademark from Project Perfect Mod.
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