Dreadnought Heartache

dreadnought ship choices

Is Dreadnought Really Free to Play?

You know that game you hear about, and get instantly excited about? It’s such an awesome concept, or maybe something you’ve ALWAYS wanted to see! Dreadnought was one such game for me. I enjoy the vehicular shooters (World of Warships, Galactic Starfighter, etc) very much. I heard about it last year and signed up for the Alpha. In January I got into the Alpha testing sessions. Finally I heard Dreadnought was in going into closed beta, and that I could start streaming it! And stream it I did, aaalllll weekend. Free to play Sci-Fi capital ship combat – what’s not to like? The monetization. I’ll get to that, but first I want to explain why it hurts so much. It hurts because Dreadnought is a really fun game.

What’s So Good In Dreadnought

The graphics are amazing in Dreadnought. Everything just looks amazing. Especially some of the planetary environments; my favorite being the ice planet. The ships are well done too, and I like most of the design choices too. This is pretty unusual because in most games I generally like only a small selection of what’s available. It’s all eye candy of the first order.

Most maps offer fun and rewarding gameplay. They offer an intense fire-fight where you can go in as close as you want, or stay back as far as you want. Every ship type has a place in every battle. The one exception to this is the space map. It’s a sniper camp-fest where the first person to even try and engage the enemy at medium/close range loses. A real snoozer. While this one map is kind of a stick in the mud, it’s not worth avoiding the entire game over it. I’m sure the beta will shake out the poor design.

The ships have mostly distinct roles. I covered those roles a few weeks ago if you’re interested. The slight exception is the Dreadnought and the Destroyer. The tradeoff is armor on the Dreadnought for firepower and maneuvering on the Destroyer. The tradeoff is very slight though, and given you can share some of the modules, I don’t think it’s really enough. Again, not something to avoid the game over, just an observation. The game is in the first stages of beta, so balance will undoubtedly come.

Essentially, there are no mechanics or gameplay or balance issues of any kind that would keep me from playing the game.

The Betrayal From Nowhere

So by all accounts, Dreadnought was using your regular Free to Play model. F2P games like this generally charge for premium ships(fully upgraded, not better stats), paying for cosmetic skins, and paying for accelerated XP gain. Nothing new or controversial here. The week started with founders packs, and the weekend was filled with hype. Overall positive feedback on the game during it’s launch week. Then came the first patch.

Let me explain really quick what Officer Briefings (OB) are, because that’s about to become important in our story. OBs are a group of ship modules. Think of them as the jewelry pieces of your gear. Rings & Neckpiece, for example. They aren’t your main stats, but they provide some stats. You get a set of OBs with each ship. As you level up, you unlock different options (dodge instead of block, crit instead of hit, etc). Not more powerful, just more options. They cost 1 FP during the launch week. FP is the earned currency like gold or unit XP in Dreadnought.

Well, after the first patch, OBs suddenly cost Greybox Points (GP). GP is the premium currency for Dreadnought that you have to spend real money to get at this point, so that means to unlock OBs, you now have to spend real money. Or using our jewelry example, you’ll get stock pieces for your character, but to min/max properly you need to $$$ up. Instantly, Dreadnought became P2W, and a $#!+storm ensued. To make a sad story short, it was reverted the next day with an explanation. Basically they said there would be a way to earn GP just by playing the game eventually, and that they would wait until they had that system in place before returning OBs cost back to GP. And for me, this is where the train wreck starts.

Dreadnought P2W

I was/am so invested in this game, that this actually makes me angry. It’s such a fun game! Why in the world would you hide game mechanics behind a pay wall? Even if you make premium currency available through regular gameplay, why even make it cost premium currency to begin with? They apologized in their letter of explanation, but I just don’t buy it. Not all of it. Somebody somewhere was told to physically code the system whereby stats were purchased with PREMIUM CURRENCY. How is this then a surprise to the developer? How is it an oversight that options affecting gameplay would only be available for real money? DURING A BETA? It’s not a game bug that made OB cost GP. This is why it’s hard to for me to accept as an oversight.

Being in beta may sway you in giving the benefit of the doubt. I can buy into that in part. Unfortunately though, not the important part. If putting stats behind a paywall is an acceptable choice for the developer, what else will be put behind a paywall in the future? Progression? Entire classes of ships? This slippery slope of  is what is now game for monetization worries me most about continuing forward with Dreadnought. There is no word on what they may or may not consider for monetization. That’s a problem for me. Dreadnought, above all else, deserves to get paid. It’s a business, not a charity. And even still, charities need money. Compensating Dreadnought is not the problem. The problem is how they failed to disclose their monetization method. DOOM for example costs $59.99 up front, and you get full disclosure that there will be paid DLC coming. Right now, Dreadnought is ‘free’ to play, where free may as well be an asterisk.  Even though it’s in beta, players should have a good idea of what the costs are behind Dreadnought. Instead, as it sits now, some stats will be behind some kind of paywall that may or may not be able to be overcome though in-game play.

Things Could Get Worse

Lots of people are writing this off as a beta mistake, praising the devs for their flexibility. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them are missing the crucial fact that OB for GP will return. Let me quote the most important line of their apology to you. “A change like making Officer Briefings (Perks) only available via GP before the entire suite of GP-gaining options was available was a mistake on our part.” The emphasis on BEFORE is theirs. OBs will be returning to GP, and most people I talk to about Dreadnought don’t know or understand this. The second storm could very well be worse than the first. I would think the Devs themselves would be more sensitive to this. All that development time and resources spent on delaying the inevitable.

My Experiences From Streaming

My Last Six Months Streaming in Three Acts

My connection wasn’t initially good enough to stream. Finally when it was upgraded (FREE!) last year, I didn’t jump on it right away. I put it off for a few months because: I had other things going on, I hated the sound of my voice, and/or whatever other excuse I could come up with. When I finally did jump into streaming, I started with Total War: Arena in September of 2015.

total_war_arena.logo1
We love you so very much, Arena! We miss you! Please come home soon!

Chapter One: Total War Arena

What an amazing ride it was. I was lucky enough to win one of two spots to participate in the Arena North America server launch event! I met Lionheart there, as well as Overkill. Meeting them was undoubtedly a big help to my stream, as I was lucky enough to be able to collaborate with them on my stream. Still, being an Arena focused streamer brought some perks of its own. I was able to participate in several closed developer events (Vercingetorix preview), I got to jump in on the developer livestream events, and was able to get the Arena community manager on my stream multiple times! I also got to meet people from around the world. Latvia, Chile, Finland – playing with viewers was a new adventure everyday. This remains one of the biggest benefits of being a streamer. It was an amazing run until Arena finished closed beta, and went down for development at the beginning of March 2016. I finished with 297 viewers and over 30,000 views! That’s like each viewer coming back more than 100 times during a 6 month span! I don’t really know how good that is, but I’m happy with it.

Chapter Two: Variety Streaming

With Arena down, I was actually a little excited to be able to pursue some other games. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out so well for me at first. Hitting the right game at the right time is everything in streaming. Nothing stuck for me quite as well as Arena. Playing new games means competing with all the big-name streamers. And I use competing in the loosest sense, because it wasn’t really a competition. The Division, for example, was a steady 2-3.

I want to stop here and mention that I did have a small handful that stuck with me after Arena. These viewers always kept 2 or 3 people in my channel during the “dark times”. CatGotYourKeyboard (my wife), GameTime, Crysis, and Throwback have probably spent the most time in my channel no matter what I played. I can’t thank you guys enough.

Finally I committed to another Total War title, Rome II. I started seeing some familiar faces again from the golden days of Arena. I started slowly gaining followers again, and got out of the single digits in viewers. I learned the basic Total War formula, and really enjoyed plaything through the campaign. My love of dinosaurs pulled me onto The Isle when I stumbled across it. I started gaining LOTS of followers who liked a whole other genre, and it even brought more viewers than Total War! It added a couple more die hard fans to my channel like Dino and Enderdragon. It does cause a little ‘friction’ to this day though. Total War fans hate The Isle, and The Isle Fans hate Total War. It makes swapping games a tough decision, but I just go with whatever seems more fun at the moment. Seems to be working. While I haven’t gotten back up to my Arena numbers yet, I am a lot farther ahead than when I re-started. My crowning achievement has been getting double digits while playing a DOOM campaign on opening launch weekend! It doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’re a small time streamer it’s the world.

Watch my DOOM campaign series on YouTube!
Watch my DOOM campaign series on YouTube!

Chapter Three: Collaboration

While Arena has been down, I have gotten together with Lionheart on several occasions. For those that don’t know, he has the largest Total War channel at 180,000 subscribers! We have been discussing all the development announcements from the Arena team. For someone with such a successful YouTube channel and stream, he’s been amazingly easy to get in contact with. I have also started playing SWTOR on Sundays with Shintar pretty regularly. I have read her blog for a long time, and it has been one of the biggest referral sources to my website. I’ve never been able to actually thank her properly, much less do anything with her at all. It’s been a great decision, and I have had more fun in SWTOR than I’ve had in years. Through Shintar’s blog a few years ago, I came across Ravanel Griffon and her blog. I discovered Ravanel also played ARK at the same time The Isle led me to ARK. I asked Rav to teach me the ropes on stream which eventually led to joining her private server. She’s since joined Shintar and I playing SWTOR occasionally too. I’ve even gotten to do some collaborating with HaxoTheHunter in the Arena updates, and more recently Stellaris. Collaborating with people has been the other best part of streaming. I’d love to do even more in the future.

The Memorable Moments

The part about streaming I was least prepared for has been the people. It’s been such an overwhelmingly positive and uplifting experience for me. I couldn’t ask for a better little community of viewers. Some like BigAl, Byzantine, and Invitica always stop in no matter what Im playing. One person tried to buy me a $40 game (Sorry Diocales!), but I couldn’t through no fault of said person. Two people have told me I am their favorite streamer. Three people have asked me to put up a donate button. As a relatively new streamer, it’s quite humbling.  So I hope some of my regular stream viewers find this post, because I really appreciate you guys. Hanging out through games you don’t like, or getting excited about the ones you do, I am glad you are here. Thank you everyone for being here!

I Predict No Man’s Sky Will Change Things

what do you do in no man's sky

Personal Reasons For Getting Into This Game

Even if you’re not interested in No Man’s Sky, I would still ask you read this all the way through. I wasn’t initially interested in No Man’s Sky either. But I grew up in a household heavily influenced by Star Trek. Dinnertime television was all about exploring strange new worlds. My father was the big influencer, collecting every episode of the original series. Then as I grew older there was The Next Generation. Eventually I grew out of it, and into the matured into the Star Wars fan I am today (kidding). Still, the exploration of space was intriguing. Roaming around the stars into the unknown. That’s what No Man’s Sky is all about. So if I have your eyes still, thank you for reading. You can either stop now, or watch the video below if I have your interest. It will give you a better idea of what No Man’s Sky is about.

Surprising Response To My No Man’s Sky Video

I posted my video describing No Man’s Sky early one morning. Thought nothing of it. Finished my day, went to bed, woke up the next day. Finally I went to check on the video, and after about twelve hours total had passed, I had over two hundred views, 6 likes, and 6 new subscribers, and 3 comments. That might not seem like a lot, but it’s probably the biggest video response I have gotten in years. In fact, I pushed up it’s release here on my website because of it. There’s a lot of hype behind this game, and with less than two months to go, there’s an impressively small amount of information available on it.

I think No Man’s Sky is going to change the gaming industry, and there’s still so much more to come.

Guide to the Ships of Dreadnought

USS Arena
The USS Arena

Getting Started With Dreadnought

I’ve been alpha testing Dreadnought since January 2016. When Dreadnought put out a surprise announcement about closed beta, I was excited to dive even deeper into the game. Unfortunately, when Dreadnought actually started last week, I had to work so I got a little behind the curve. I couldn’t find out how to get pre-approved to stream early, so I just waited until Friday like everyone else. Dreadnought is capital starship combat. I’ve put together a quick little guide to help anyone checking out Dreadnought for the first time.

Choosing Dreadnought Ship Types

I have started focusing on three ship roles. The Destroyer, the Tactical Cruiser, and the Dreadnought itself. I tried the Corvette and the Artillery Cruiser as well, but didn’t find them suited to my playstyle. What each ship in Dreadnought does is easy to equate to classes in an MMORPG. The Destroyer is your Warrior, the standard damage dealer. The Tactical Cruiser is your healer. A Dreadnought is clearly your tank or frontline member. The Corvette is your rogue with stealth and escape tricks. The Artillery Cruiser is your hunter, or longest ranged class. I made a video from some of the better games over the last three days for each of the three ship roles. These are good examples of what you can expect when playing each ship.

Destroyer

There’s always that one class or role in a game that’s a jack of all trades. This is the Destroyer in Dreadnought. It is perfectly average at everything, and I do mean perfect. You can’t ignore the firepower, it has great mobility, and offers a decent distraction for enemies to draw fire from your teammates. In fact, my best game to date was while playing a Destroyer. If you aren’t sure what to play, or want to do a little bit of everything, start with a Destroyer.

Tactical Cruiser

This is your support role ship. The first in the line is the Aion, a more healing focused ship. As you progress, their armament and focus changes. Healing is very easy. In fact, one of my viewers equated it to being “a left click simulator”. It can actually be a pretty active role, and there’s no staring at a tiny box, clicking on health bars. It’s all visual based, and you’ll be looking around A LOT. If you want easy points, or like support roles, this is the ship for you.

 

Dreadnought

Ahh, yes! Saving the best for last, my favorite, the Dreadnought. It’s your job to draw the fire from your teammates, and dish it out at the same time. You put out enough damage to ensure you’ll get the attention of the enemy team. You’re also extremely slow, and maneuver about as nimbly as a double-decker bus with no wheels. Your job is to hang around medium range and slug it out. When you like being on the front lines, you want a Dreadnought.

Corvette and Artillery Cruiser

I don’t feel like I did a good enough job to show off my gameplay with these ships. Still, I do feel like I can give a good explanation of how they work between having played them, and playing against them. The Corvette is perfect for hit-and-run sneak attacks. Generally it’s target is another Corvette, Tactical Cruiser or Artillery Cruiser, but it can really be anyone your team needs gone. Creep in, blow everything you have, then get out. The Artillery Cruiser is simply a sniper. It has some useful utility tools to cloak and get away, but it’s defining attribute is that sweet, sweet range.

Strategery, Tips and Tricks

There are a few universal things you should be doing. At ship select, make sure you have a balanced team. Not necessarily one of everything, but if there is no Tactical Cruiser to heal, step up and heal. If there’s no Dreadnought to tank, be the Dreadnought your team needs you to be. Once in the game, stay close together. Don’t go charging in on your own, out of range of your own team. Put some pressure on your target until it’s close to dying, then maybe charge in. Use the terrain to your advantage. That’s why it’s there, after all. You can block missiles targeting you if you put something between you and them (along their trajectory). Finally, use your Z axis. I see so many people moving forward, back, left, right – but not up or down. Using that third axis is a key skill you will need to master this game. It will save you when using the aforementioned terrain more times than you can count.

More Dreadnought To Come

Dreadnought is essentially a World of Tanks clone in space, and I love it. I’ll be streaming it quite a bit, and invite you to come check it out. It’s easily everything I had wanted from SWTOR’s Galactic Starfighter expansion! To get in right now, you need a beta code or to purchase a founder’s pack. They come in $9.99 and $39.99 flavors, and in a surprising and welcome move, they come with 2 and 4 recruit packs respectively. Recruit Packs are extra codes for your friends, which reward them with both premium currency AND a premium ship! These are the best founders packs I have seen in any game to date. To sign up for a beta key, just head to the Dreadnought website then wait. On launch day, Dreadnought will be free to play. Capital ships are what got me first interested in Star Wars in the first place, and this is as close to living that dream as I have gotten. So far…

All Emotional Over ARK

ARK SURVIVAL EVOLVED

The Path I Followed To ARK: Survival Evolved

I wanted to write some thoughts about ARK before I did an actual review. I’m a dinosaur lover, so I wanted to go ahead and get that emotional attachments out of the way. I was acutely aware when this game came out. My wife watched several streamers playing it on Twitch, and by default I heard it as background noise. It had dinosaurs, which interested me, but it was a survival game. I had also overheard her watching other survival games, and that genre just never seemed appealing to me. Finally I saw her actually playing it, running around naked on the beach and defecating, I was pretty sure no amount of dinosaurs was going to fix this game for me.

And that was a mistake I regret now.

Luckily my wife continued to watch people streaming ARK, and I ever so slowly changed my opinion. In February 2016, ARK was added to the March Humble Monthly, available for early download. I procrastinated until March 2016, and finally tried it out. ARK is all I can think about sometimes now, and I can’t get enough.

What Calls To You In ARK

The possibilities are what locked me into ARK. You have an entire WORLD full of dinosaurs to explore. A world completely untainted by anything. No pollution, no technology, and man isn’t the top of the food chain here. That spot is reserved exclusively for dinosaurs – and worse. You are vulnerable to everything. Running around with rags, stacking thatch up in hopes that nothing comes through – because it can – and did, and killed me. Death will be a large part of your journey. Death returns you to rags, only your wits and luck will help you get your items and equipment back. Still, your will to survive will only get you so far. You will continue to struggle until you embrace your destiny: Dinosaurs.

You need these incredible creatures to survive. Find your favorite dinosaur. Tame your favorite dinosaur. Fight alongside your favorite dinosaur, braving the unknown. There is always something bigger than you in ARK. You will never be certain of your standing in the food chain. Evolving is your only hope for survival. From spear to machine gun, rags to armor, you have to endlessly evolve. From thatch to stone, your home, your fortress has to evolve. Including giant gates that would make the architects of Jurassic Park jealous, to bring your dinosaur companions, your friends, into your home. Because your home is the only place you are safe. But you can’t stay inside forever. Your own survival is secondary to exploring a world like this. If your blood is red, your sense of adventure will overwhelm you.

ark

Your Decision For ARK

Making snap judgments about games is a lot of my purchasing decision. It’s that first glimpse of ‘something’ you see that makes you stop flipping through Twitter, YouTube, Twitch, hopefully my website – wherever it is that you come across that new game initially. You’re making a judgement on that ‘something’, and choosing to look more. This trailer is a great ‘something’ to base your opinion on. I challenge you to watch this trailer for two minutes. If nothing else, the musical score is amazing. 0:51 and 1:34 will get you if you have a heart for adventure at all. This trailer is truly the essence of ARK. There is nothing misleading about it, and accurately represents your experience from your first time logging in. Truth in advertising doesn’t get more honest than this.