05 June, 2007

TLC wishes there was a C in LIER Magazine

Today is a sad day indeed for The Letter C office. The cops came and they took everything except our XBOX.

TLC is shutting down. 4 of our staff will be jailed for the next 3 years, and one of us is being deported. Charles was able to secure a job at a rival blog with the help of some friends in high places. Not only that, but they were the ones who called us out.

This is the online blog/mag that he is writing for now: http://liermag.blogspot.com/

You may find our work recycled on there, as LIER Magazine now has rights to all the material that is on this site. The user account for this blog has also been taken over; you can see posts signed by LIER now.

Goodbye. It has been a good 9 months.

23 May, 2007

TLC wishes it put the C in Starcraft 2

Starcraft 2 is the ultimate wet dream that every Western-world geek has been waiting for. Though some may consider this to be a negative reflection on the attitudes and values of white youths living in the 21st century, anthropologists have reassured the mature population that these fine young people will not grow up to be single, socially-inept 30 year olds, but instead die at the ripe age of 24 in front of a flickering computer monitor, doing what they love.

An estimated 400 million youths will have their sleep patterns altered prior to the release of this long-awaited sequel. Many Korean men have already filed divorces in preparation for 110% immersion into the World of Starcraft. Unnamed military sources reporte that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il has cancelled nuclear weapon development to engage in 6 months of intensive Starcraft training in order to maintain his title as Number One Gosu Dictator. Ironically, Korean legislation notes that Mr Kim is the only person in North Korea who has legal access to a personal computer.

Blizzard CEO Michael Morhaime has openly stated at a press conference that, "Starcraft 2 has been designed to be more addictive than World of Warcraft. It was specifically engineered to lure the playerbase of EA's Command and Conquer 3 to become loyal Blizzard fans for life. We hope that the Starcraft 2-factor will have such an effect on their belief system that they will give us their life savin-... er, souls. Our company's vision is to reward every person a private Protoss sacrificial ritual so they can be confident that their soul will be lost like a proud Protoss warrior.

Starcraft 2 has generated so much hype, that the late Gerrard Du Galle has risen from the dead to reprise his role as himself in the sequel. He has been spotted at net cafes in Marseilles, his home town, weeping over his wussy suicide back in Brood War. Protoss Carriers have been identified by the Hubble Telescope to be slowly approaching Earth. Astronomers have not yet made contact but are in the process of making some kind of plaque to aid communication with the off-world race. Had these science-geeks left the observatory to socialize during the 20th century, they would have learnt that the Protoss understood and spoke fluent English.

Pope Benedict XVI, the pope who seems to have an opinion on everything, ranging from strawberry icecream to coathangers, had this to say about Starcraft 2: "I sincerely hope that Christ Jesus will not return until Starcraft 2 has been released for at least 6 months. May the risen Lord forgive us all, for surely he Himself is waiting for the very same." Historians found this to be the first pope speech of which geeks and lifeless hobos could agree with, and the Catholic Church has welcomed this new harmony. Geek community spokesperson, teran_firebat69, who could only be reached on ICQ, was quoted as saying, "I haven't showered in 2 weeks, and I intend to stay in these clothes until the Starcraft 2 comes out!"

In other news, the International Garbology Institute counted more than 100 million Warcraft III CDs in their global rubbish collection for the week commencing 14 May 2007.

14 May, 2007

TLC Crackdown: The real cost of playing World of Warcraft

Now for something different from the usual mishmash of random crap that has appeared on this blog of late. Last evening I indulged in the most intellectual of conversations with my associate J. Ho PhD Lovematics, and discussed the "cost" of playing World of Warcraft. Below I will provide the results and findings we uncovered during our scholarly chat.

First of all, lets look at the cost in terms of money. We calculated this based on the "loyal customer" or "steadfast consumer", ie. someone who is going to play to max level (with expansion) and participate in a reasonable amount of end-game content. Individual prices are taken from the lowest we've seen of the RRP in Australia. All costs are calculated in AUD.

Step 1.... Rolling start
World of Warcraft CD/DVDs with account key, with 1 month of play = $25
Burning Crusade CDs with expansion key = $50

Now, when Mr (or Miss) New WoW Player starts a new account, they have to either enter credit card details or a game card number in order to "activate" their subscription. You see, this is just how well Blizzard had thought out their business plan. Basically the credit card details are proof of the consumer's ability to keep on playing after the first month runs out. The truth is, anyone who's only going to play WoW for only the initial month is not getting their money's worth.

Ok, so they've just forked out $75 for the game and expansion (all you're really doing is paying for the account keys printed on the CD slips). Now if they don't have a credit card, and only someone with a steady income could keep one and play using it, expect to pay another $40 for a game card, which will be instantly activated and stacked after the initial month. So this forces a consecutive 3 month period of activated gameplay. Basically this gives the consumer no option at all to stop playing after the first month and save their extra 2 months for another time.

Step 2... Level 1 to 60
J. Ho proposed a 2-hour-a-day gameplay plan for our imaginary consumer. How long would an average WoW player take to reach Level 60 on this schedule? I estimated something close to 6 months.

6 months of WoW subscription is....
3 game cards = $120 (if bought from a shop)
3 game cards = $102 (if bought from eBay)

Now, C knows that certain sellers on eBay vendor the game cards at $34 free postage, so we can bring that cost down quite a bit. However, for the WoW player, unless they are well organized (highly doubtful), they will most likely not keep track of their WoW subscription and suddenly one day realize, "Oh, darn, it's run out." The fastest option would be to head down to the local EB and fork out a hefty $40 for the 60-day recharge. For organized people and Asians, eBay is probably the better option simply because its the cheaper option. Though the delivery is not instant, if one has not reached the level of addiction, the consumer could probably survive a few days without it and save themselves $6. Go buy yourself a cookie!

Alright... so our lucky friend has reached Level 60! Ding! Grats!

Step 3... Gearing at 60
Gearing up is a lengthy process, but there are a few different ways to obtain decent equipment. At 60 our player would be pretty experienced at the game by now, but probably has never entered a 40-man raid. So first they're going to take some time to get "attuned" and "keyed", which are fancy terms that roughly translate to "do lots of quests and other menial tasks for a month or two".

I gave our consumer 1 month of gameplay time to get attuned for Molten Core, the first 40-man raid dungeon available. During their time in MC, they'll roughly be spending 3+ hour sessions inside the dungeon with 39 other people. With only a handful of bosses and very low drop-rates, and a total of 8 character classes, and one piece of the armor set dropping if you're lucky, getting enough gear to move on to the next dungeon can be a very long and arduous (sp?) task.

If they decide to not raid and just PVP, the honor required for the 60 epic sets is a reasonably high amount. So that's a lot of PVPing right there, whether its from world or BGs. BGs are a lot faster, but could get old very quick because of random team matchups.

Lets not forget the money required for the Epic mount too. Something close to 550 gold will take maybe a few weeks to farm, if all they're doing is pure farming.... farming day after day for quite a few days. I managed to make close to 400 gold after 2 months of semi-farming from Level 20-45-ish. At Level 60, depending on their professions, the grind for cash could be much faster or slower.

So... another 3 months of gameplay will amount to a total of $60.

Step 4... Grind to 70 and beyond
Alright, they work hard to hit 70 after getting geared and then at 70, it's time to get attuned for more dungeons and raid more on weekends and get geared and then PVP more and whatnot. Maybe this will keep them entertained for 2 months, but usually people will roll new characters. So now they've started a new character and they'll be playing this one again.

Grind, grind, grind and suddenly 3 months of their life has wasted away again.

Let's pretend that's a total of 6 months... which is... $120.

Step 5... Year 2 Maths
Let's sum it all up now, for the cost of someone who plays to Level 70 and enjoys some end-game content and maybe play a new character...

$25 + $50 + $120 + $60 + 120 = $375...

Well, you look at it, and it doesn't seem to be all that much.

Now there are people out there who've been playing since the release, which was like 2 years back... Every year of WoW subscription costs $240. Do the maths yourself. Blizzard must be very very rich.