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Dungeon Day

January 5, 2013 Comments off

My cabal (or rather the group of cabals, one for each faction) that I am member of runs a weekly Dungeon Day. This used to be a time slot once per week (now twice per week) that is geared towards supporting each other to run through dungeons, be it normal, elite or nightmare mode. Dungeon runs can of course happen at other times also, but with people spread out across a few different time zones and at different stages in their character development it certainly helps to have a scheduled time.

Yesterday was one of those times and I ended up running through three dungeons (normal mode) in The Secret World in that session – Ankh, Hell Fallen and The Darkness War. From a QL perspective this was perhaps not the optimal choice to do them in the mentioned order, but they were all enjoyable experiences nevertheless.

Ankh

Ankh

Of the five people in the team, which stayed the same through all three dungeons, there were two of us that had not done these dungeons before. The other three were a bit overpowered for these dungeons, since they normally were doing the nightmare mode versions of these dungeons. Thus the whole thing probably went through a lot easier than it would have been if all had been geared in line with the difficulty of the dungeon and/or new to these dungeons.

I must say that I quite enjoy these dungeons, compared to some other dungeon/instance experiences in other MMOs. They are reasonably short in time and does not require a couple of hours to get through. Part of the reason for that is that there is not much trash mobs between the bosses. In those case that there are such mobs, they seem to typically be there to teach the players something.  There is also mechanics of various types in play, rather than just a big bunch of hit points that need to be reduced to zero – it makes the encounters more interesting. And they are also for a single team, only five players.

Hell Fallen

Hell Fallen

I like the single team/small group experience much better than big raid groups. Although I did a fair amount of “raiding” in City of Heroes during a period, with the incarnate trials and some other regular events, like Rikti Mothership raid. Still these were typically quite short in time and at least in the trials typically had a few objectives to perform with a few mechanics involved.

Our experienced members in the team were very good and helpful to make the dungeon run an enjoyable experience and we good a fair amount of nice loot drops. So from having purely green items in QL7-8 range my character now has decent set-up of blue items mixed in with the greens also, in QL7-9 range.

The Darkness War

The Darkness War

I learned a few things running through these dungeons, which should help to prepare and adjust my builds for future runs; this is all part of the fun – learn and adapt. I am looking forward more Dungeon Day runs!

Categories: The Secret World

NCSoft and Paragon Studios

January 5, 2013 13 comments

A recent post on Massively caught my attention this morning; it was about another article on mmorpg.com with some information about the NCSoft & Paragon Studios debacle. The source of the information is supposedly anonymous former employees of NCSoft and Paragon Studios. The bullet point information presented in the article, from this source, is the following:

  • CoH was profitable even before they converted to Free to Play but were even more so after the conversion.
  • The studio’s total annual operating cost was 4 million USD.  They grossed 12 million in revenue annually.
  • NCSoft paid $8 million USD to buy CoH. They wanted $80 million USD to sell it. They only value it at $3 million for tax purposes.
  • CoH had a high retention rate. Subscribers had a stick rate of 95-98%.
  • NCSoft has no plans for a CoH 2.  Paragon wanted to do it but NCSoft was growing ever more uncomfortable with a Superhero IP, worried that it wouldn’t work in today’s market.
  • Brian Clayton tried to orchestrate a management buyout of Paragon starting over a year ago because it became progressively more difficult to deal with NCSoft. They had created a Kickstarter page and a campaign video, but it never went to press.
  • They (Paragon) had a second project in the works. It was a compromise to not being able to make CoH 2.  It was the show “Lost” meets Minecraft.  You crash-landed on an island and you were able to build your own fortress and weapons. You teamed up with other players to tackle the mysteries of the island.
  • NCSoft tried to work with Paragon, they really did.  But the profits were not what they needed to be, and CoH/Paragon were the weak link in NCsoft’s lineup moving forward.

Impact

The article continues with some comments from NCSoft’s director of Corporate Communications, Lincoln Davis. He pretty much says that all the financial information provided is inaccurate and that the studio was not profitable (studio, not the game City of Heroes). This is the first time I have seen any name behind any communication from NCSoft around this. Even though the second part of his comments essentially repeats some earlier statements released from the company, I do appreciate to actually see a name and a title.

I think 4 million USD sounds a bit low for a studio with 80 people in the Silicon Valley area. But it has been a few years since I was visiting there and I have not been involved in the game industry, so maybe it is accurate. I am not surprised that the stick rate is high, although as high as 95-98% I would never have thought, if those numbers are accurate. I know a number of people who paid the subscription fee even though they were not playing actively, but still…

I think the information is somewhat conflicting though. It both talks about it being progressively difficult to deal with NCSoft and that NCSoft really tried to work with Paragon Studios. Lincoln Davis also does not claim any of that information to be incorrect, or anything about attempts to buy out Paragon Studios or thoughts around City of Heroes 2, superhero MMOs etc.

The financial information does not point to why NCSoft behaved as jerks when they handled the shutdown though; this is an area I became more disappointed with NCSoft than the game closure alone. I suspect that the actual closure decision has more to do with political matters and possibly that Paragon Studios were increasingly being considered a disloyal studio to NCSoft. In Korea, loyalty matters. At least that would make the behaviour from NCSoft a bit more plausible.

Therefore I also believe that the efforts made that showed the player loyalty and affection for the game actually made an impact on NCSoft, even though it did not reverse their decision.

Categories: City of Heroes