Fun Money


Mission to Zyxx has been my go-to weekly podcast for the last year and a half and I was very content listening each week for free. They had a Patreon and released bonus content there but I was never intrigued enough to actually donate. This season they have moved to the Maximum Fun network which allows users to donate to the show through them with reward tiers and such. It seems like a more specialized podcast focused Patreon. In episode 2 of season 3  Seth Lynn said something that really stuck with me. It was: “Think about what your life would be like without Mission to Zyxx.” I know the whole point of this 10-minute spiel was to get people to donate but at the same time, it made me realize that I can’t expect other people to support the things I like if I don’t support the things I like. While it may be a silly improvised sci-fi podcast it’s something that’s important to me and if it went away I’d be heartbroken. So I subscribed, good on you Seth you’re a guilt marketing genius.

I’ve come to this realization that It’s OK to spend money on things I like. Especially things that I enjoy and have been enjoying for a while. I know this sounds like common sense but it really struck me only a few months ago.

I was playing Black Desert heavily for a while. When I first started, I looked at the prices of cash shop items and thought ” $40 for an outfit, that’s outrageous.” But after 100+ hours in a month, I bought 5 pets and a value pack for $50 and felt no guilt. I’ve gotten more enjoyment and playtime out of BDO than a $60 AAA title.

I’m starting to feel the same way about Trove. I actually bought the starter pack because it gave me 4 inventory expanders for $5 instead of $20. Did I need those inventory slots? No, but they are nice to have and make the game a little more enjoyable. I also have picked up the freemium subscription, the patron pass that gives a lot of great boosts for 2 months now. I’ve complained in the past that free to play games tend to milk their customers for money and I felt that way very strongly about Trove under Trion. But I look at steam and see 500 hours played. Maybe after 500 hours, they deserve a little compensation no? A little too late for Trion but at least Trove is still around.

I remember the first time I asked my parents to buy something for me for an online game. They looked at me like I had 2 heads. Why would you want to spend real money to dress up a character in a video game and why do you need to pay monthly for a video game. I had no disposable income of my own so I lived the F2Per’s life and grinded through Runescape, Flyff, and countless other free to play MMO’s. Thank god Guild Wars was a buy to play the game without a subscription otherwise I may never have played my favorite game of all time.

This carried over even when I had a disposable income of my own. Why would I pay for this virtual item when I could buy a whole game. Why would I pay a subscription every month when I can buy a game and play it forever. But here’s the thing. Those microtransactions are in games I actually enjoy playing. Those subscriptions have been the price of admission to some really great games. And those games I bought for $20 on steam are still sitting there unplayed.

My budgeted “fun money” is going to be spent anyways. Might as well spend it on something I’m enjoying right now and support the continued development or existence of it.

RMT: You can pay for that?


I just finished reading Play Money by Jullian Dibbell. Half the book talks about the economics of Real Money Trading (RMT) in the early 2000’s and the other half is the author talking about his own foray into RMT with Ultima Online. Apparently  there was a lot of money to be made from selling items, gold, houses, and accounts in 2004. That tag line is a little misleading, I don’t think anyone in this book made millions from RMT.

It got me thinking about where RMT is today. I know it still exists because every time I’m in a large city in Final Fantasy XIV I see a whole lot of shouts from gold sellers plugging their websites. Our group tried out Path of Exile and sure enough the chat log was full of currency sellers.  I’m wondering how profitable it is these days? Are that many people buying gold?

I always thought it was weird that games were selling things like level boosts, trade-able subscription tokens, or in Guild Wars 2 case, converting cash shop currency into in game gold. But if a player really wants gold, or certain item,or to skip leveling and there isn’t a way to do that within the game then they’re going to go outside the game. So why not get in on the action by offering these services to their players directly.

Personally, I’ve never thought about buying gold but I’ve bought a few trade-able cash shop items if I needed some funds for an armor set or weapons. It’s basically the same thing but without the risk of trusting a third party on the internet to deliver the goods after sending them money.

Of course there’s still tons of way to buy large quantities of gold, individual item, accounts, and even raid clears. The strangest thing by far is division boosting in competitive games. I can understand buying items and what not for an MMO where at least your going to keep the item. But what is the point of paying for someone else to play a game for you to get you to a higher division if you’re not good enough to get there on your own? Your just going to lose it anyways and this stuffs not cheap.

Actually I’m surprised about how expensive this stuff is in general. The gold by far is the cheapest, items can range from few dollars to hundreds, and accounts are sold for hundreds of dollars each depending on the game. And the scope of games is huge. It seems like as long as there’s an online component to a game there’s some one selling something for it.

This is a side of games I’ve never though about before and I’m not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, it’s just a game and if someone wants to drop $600 dollars on an account more power to them. If or when that accounts get banned well that’s what you get for not playing buy the rules. This of course is assuming the seller is the original owner. It’s also annoying to be spammed by gold sellers or see bots all over the place.




2017 Resolutions


Well it’s a tad bit overdue but the year is still fresh. Only 10 days in and already 2017 shaping up to be an interesting year. As the New Year struck I was struck by an awful cold that left me out of commission for a few days. On my way to work last week my car’s driver side power window motor died leaving my window stuck down for a few days, not a lot of fun to drive in the cold and snow. Finally, this past weekend I drove back to my parents house, about 4 hours away from me, and in the middle of a white out my windshield wiper fell off making the last few hours a real challenge But it’s not all bad, the year can only get better from here!

Buy Less and Play More

This goes for games as well as books. I have a bad habit of buying more than I can play or only playing a game for a few days before moving on to something else. I rarely finish games and it’s part of h reason I started my personal backlog challenge. So the goal for the year is to play/ finish more games and books than I buy which shouldn’t be that hard because there’s nothing coming out in the nex few months that I’m looking forward too. Though I said the same thing last year where the only game I wanted wasn’t suppose to release until July, I ended up buying at least one game a month anyways.

When It Sucks Stop Reading/Playing It

This one goes more for the books side of things. Every year I set a reading goal oer at Goodreads usually around 20 books. Last year I tried 25 books and I was able to meet my goal, even exceed it by 6 books. The thing is some times it felt like a chore to read and the looming fact that I had to read at least 2 books a month to finish made reading just a little less enjoyable. I’m finding the same as I’ve been working though my backlog. Originally my goal was to finish every game. I thought if I liked it enough to buy it I should be able to finish it. I’ve found that not everything is great and not everything interests me enough to finis it. I think this year I’ll just play games until they no longer interest me. I also have to get better at putting down books when I know they aren’t good instead of forcing myself to finish them.

Change Things Up.

I read a lot of fantasy last year. In fact more than half of the 32 books I read last year were fantasy and quite frankly I’m sick of it. So I’d like to read a little more outside my comfort zone. I’m thinking some murder mysteries, some drama, maybe a romance, and I need to read way more non fiction this year The same goes for games, I feel like I played a lot of the same kind of game last year and while it’s fun to play things I know I’ll like I also have a wonderful library where I can take some chances on other games for free. And PS Plus gives me access to some different games every month and I never try them out. I’ll try to do more of that this year.

Book Review: The Sword of Midras

Sword of Midras

Ever wonder what a book would be like if a bunch of NPCs stood around talking to each other? I give you The Sword of Midras by . Tracy Hickman, of the original DragonLance  fame, and Richard Garriott, the creator of Ultima and Shroud of the Avatar. Actually, looking at the games site, it looks like both of them are involved in Shroud of the Avatar

Our story starts a s a lot of fantasy stories do, in the middle of a battle.The Obsidian Army lay siege to the inferior city of Midras. We meet our main character, quippy Captain Aren Bennis and his equally quippy side kick Syenna. After the city is mostly defeated, the general sends Captain Bennis to find a good spot to hold his victory parade, sounds like a pretty standard MMO quest. While in the city Bennis and Syenna chase down one of the city’s priestesses. In the midst of their chase they fall into a large tomb where Aren finds a magic sword that only he can touch and is suspected to be the Blade of an Avatar. Now everyone wants the blade and to find out what power it holds.

First let’s talk about the characters. They sound like video game characters almost all of the time. All of them are either super witty and have a comeback for everything like Captain Bennis, overly dramatic and ominous, or very one dimensional only there to move the plot along. But they’re enjoyable enough and there is enough character development to make you kind of care about Captain Bennis at least.

Now when I started reading this I wondered why they got the book traditionally published besides the fact that they could. It was originally an e-book for backers of Shroud of the Avatar. But what was the appeal for mass market, maybe some more advertising? I wondered if it would hold up with other fantasy novels and I think it did. It’s a par for the course as far as fantasy writing and plot lines go. In the back drop, the Obsidian Army is trying to civilize the world through law and order while the rest of the countries form a coalition to oppose them. At its core its the story of Captain Bennis coming to terms with whether or not he still believes in the Obsidian Cause.

For a 300 page fantasy novel, it does a good job at introducing some of the world. Though it feels kind of like Destiny’s story. There’s just enough lore and information to move the plot along but the deeper stuff you have to go outside of the game/book to look for. They keep talking about the Fall and everyone in the book seems to know what it was but its never explained I thought it was interesting that elves, ogers, fauns and other fantasy creatures were actually ,magically shaped from living humans by the Obsidians.

It actually made me a little more interested in the game itself. It was fun reading about places and thinking if I could play the game and go to those same places. While I didn’t think this was a fantastic book I’m looking forward to reading the next installment.

Ready Player One is So Pay to Win

Ready Player 1.jpg

I just finished this book/auidio book a few days ago. I’ve been hearing for years that its one of the best video game novels ever. It’s some of my friends favorite book of all time.

After the death of the creator of the Oasis the world’s most popular game, he leaves a video will. It announces a competition to find an egg in the Oasis, the first player to do this gets to own the company and inherits all of  it’s wealth. It follows Wade Watts in his quest to solve the riddles to find the egg.

It’s set in a distopian future where the real world is energy starved, most of it’s a barren wasteland, and outside of major cities people live in trailers stacked up like high rises. But it’s ok because no one has to worry about the planet when basically everyone is playing in the Oasis, a virtual reality Second Life with hundreds of planets. It started out as an MMO and then grew to replace the internet. It’s a platform to conduct business, children go to virtual public schools, and is also a game though most people don’t play it as such.

The Oasis is free to play and  it’s also totally pay to win. You can transfer real money to get credits that allow you to buy items, armor, transportation, anything you might actually need to play the game. In fact you can’t even get off the starter tutorial planet without paying a transport fee. For most people this isn’t a problem as they don’t  play the actual game. If you did you better pony up the dough so you can go to a planet where you might be able to kill things for experience and if your lucky some items you can sell for some credits to transport somewhere else. Everything has a money sink, ships need to be refueled and repaired, weapons and armor break, and let’s not forget the auction house where you can buy some of the rarest artifacts as long as you have the cash.

It’s a good book, and the audiobook  narration by Will Wheaton was fantastic. It was a little weird hearing Will Wheaton narrate the parts about Will Wheaton or the whole sector of the Oasis called the Wheatonverse. I wouldn’t say it’s blew me away but it was set in a very interesting world.

I have to give it credit, the book manages to talk about video games without being cringey. A lot of times books will try to incorporate video games and they just don’t come out well in print. I also learned a lot about video game history and the 80’s reading this book, I don’t know how much of it is true but it all sounded accurate enough.

My one big gripe with the story is that it took 5 years to solve the first clue to find the egg. Thousands of players trying to figure it out and it took 5 years. The next clues only take a couple months each to solve apparently and they’re more obscure than the first. The other problem I had with the book is that the love interest feels forced. It’s like the book was written and then someone said, you know this is a story about a teenage boy and teenage boys are always motivated by chasing teenage girls around. The whole time she’s not even that interested in him and he just obsesses over her.

If you have read Ready Player One and are looking for a similar book, I highly recommend Omnitopia by Diane Duane. It looks like the rest of the series never took off but the first book is a really good read and is also set in an MMO.