Goals for March 2016

I’m going to join Chestnut and Aywren on the fun of setting goals for the month and then seeing how I do at the end. Since Black Desert is still new to me and I’m learning systems as I go my goals for it will be a little generic this time around although I may change them later in the month. Most of my specific goals will have to do with The Secret World.

The Secret World

  • Get to know my new Cabal better and participate in group events
  • Finish Tokyo through Issue 11
  • Obtain QL 10 custom purple gear for all slots
  • Upgrade Head and Major Talismans to QL 10.4
  • Complete all dungeons on Elite difficulty
  • Get the last auxiliary weapon, the rocket launcher

Black Desert Online

  • Learn how to fish (Yes, that’s one of my goals; don’t judge.)
  • Figure out what I need to do to start a boat building workshop
  • Determine best routes for fish trade and connect nodes
  • Level the Tamer to 30(ish)

 

Blade and Soul

  • Try the new Warlock class

Life is Strange

  • Get through Chapter 1

 

I think that’s plenty to keep me busy for the month, especially with everything I want to accomplish in The Secret World and having to figure out a lot of systems and mechanics in Black Desert. Now that I have my PC’s performance issues figured out in Black Desert I’m starting to look forward to the game more. Nothing kills motivation to play a beautiful, action MMO like 9 fps. And then I’m also excited to finally be in a Cabal in The Secret World. I’m hoping this will open up a lot of opportunity to get to know new people and experience the game in new ways. There’s a lot to look forward to this month, let’s see what I’m able to accomplish!

Black Desert Performance Problems Fixed!

During the second closed beta I gave my first impressions on Black Desert as well as my final thoughts once the beta had ended and one of my biggest frustrations was the inability to get anything better than 15 fps out of the game. It didn’t matter what graphic settings I chose or how I tweaked them, the performance was always abysmal. My first thought was that the game was simply not optimized yet but with BDO now live and my problems persisting that was no longer an option.

Yesterday on Twitter I posted the recommended specs for the game alongside the specs for my laptop to see if anyone else could spot the issue seeing as how I’m not the most educated of individuals when it comes to the inner workings of a PC and how it affects game play. From what I could tell though I should have been fine. Not running on Ultra mind you, but playable at the low to mid range. I received a lot of great suggestions (all of them from @Lysrin) but unfortunately none of them seemed to be my specific issue.

So I turned to google. First of all, I learned a whole lot more about GPUs and Antialiasing, SSDs and Bloom and a whole lot of other words and acronyms that have to do with PC gaming. I also found a great reddit post on determining the best settings for Black Desert depending on your computer, which I subsequently lost and have been unable to find again. But hey, I got the information I needed before I closed the tab on accident. It wasn’t until I saw another reddit post where someone mentioned checking to make sure the game was actually utilizing the GPU and not just the CPU that I found my answer.

Back to google and a few how-to sites later and I figured out how to maneuver through the Nvidia control panel and that’s where I confirmed the issue. The game was running without my graphics card; no wonder nothing I did seemed to make a difference (other than making things worse). I’m still not running at 60 fps on ultra or anything but I’m finally able to enjoy the game at about 35-40 fps at the low to medium settings. For my three year old laptop, that’s acceptable for this game.

 

Black Desert Cash Shop Pricing

The prices attached to some of the items in the Black Desert cash shop have been something of an issue since the second closed beta began. Frankly I’m not that concerned; I’ve seen games sell items for higher prices than I would ever pay and I either resign myself to never owning those things or wait for them to go on sale. Basically I look at in-game items the same way I do physical items from brick and mortar locations—I buy the things I need or want and can afford or I go without.

Working in retail, I’m acutely aware of the fact that just because something is marked at a high price point does not mean it will actually sell for that amount. I’ve seen all sorts of product come through my company’s stores and I think “we’ll be sitting on this inventory until our next clearance sale,” because I have a decent idea of what our target market will and will not pay for certain items. So when I saw a costumes and weapon skins bundled at $32 in the Black Desert store I wasn’t furious, I just knew those items would be out of the question for me and the success (or failure) of selling those things will be a matter of what percentage of the player base feels the same way.

And when a company cannot move enough product at the set retail price— which may end up being the case with these costumes— they mark those items down to see if a ten or twenty percent decrease will make a difference in sales. In fact, it’s not all that uncommon to mark the retail price high so that the sale price still nets a significant profit margin. With digital items it’s a little different as there is no physical inventory but the basic principles are the same. Daum and Pearl Abyss will need to make money beyond the initial box price and if costumes aren’t paying the bills at $32 a pop they will most certainly adjust the prices until they do.

So how overpriced are these items? My first thought when I realized it was both a costume and a weapon skin bundled together for $32 was that it might not be that much different from other games. I mean, World of Warcraft sells mounts for $25 apiece and even had the audacity to sell a single head slot cosmetic item for $10 apiece. However looking at the cash shop in The Secret World by comparison, I can buy a full outfit for around $8 and a weapon skin for $4-7 each. So at most, I’m looking at $15 to get similar digital items from another game that is also buy to play. That does make Black Desert’s costume sets look wildly overpriced.

That said, my advice to anyone who thinks that $32 is too much for a costume should come as no surprise—don’t pay $32 for a costume. Wait it out and let the market correct itself. Daum and Pearl Abyss are trying to make money, these first few months they will make most of their income from the box sales but eventually they will be relying more and more on cash shop purchases. If no one is buying at that price when the cash shop purchases play a more significant role in covering operating costs, that’s when we’ll start to see the sales; maybe even permanent adjustments to price. It’s their call to choose the initial value of an item on the cash shop, but it’s the response of the player base that will determine whether those prices are sustainable or not.