Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

There was a point when the Leaderboards received zero respect from me. I dislike any system that is so easy to manipulate through cheesy means that I pay it no true heed. And while the game remains just that, a game or a source of fun and amusement, the Leaderboards within the system have made some serious improvements to actually have value in my opinion. Where before I would look in amusement at the Top Safehouses as a meaningless title, I now view with all seriousness the work and effort of the members within these houses and what it actually means.

Within the old system a Safehouse merely needed to have members willing to pour real money into the system. Get your Safehouse to level 8 and then dump mass amounts of supplies within the Safehouse storage until your number is bigger than the biggest Safehouse on the list. It meant nothing other than a pissing contest of who spent the most money. Zero effort in the game and in all reality it was possible for a Safehouse of one person at level one to be the top Safehouse on the list if that one person was insane enough to spend the money to do it. While many of us realized that this was the broken situation it was the debacle of particular Safehouse’s rogue member that really brought it to the front in many people’s eyes. She exposed just how valueless this list was, along with also exposing an exploit that was being used and resulted in trouble for more than a few including herself.

The new system, however, actually gives some weight into the efforts that one spends on their character. While money spent can still play a factor it is not the same as what was displayed before due to the more complicated calculation in values. Safehouses, Strongholds and Top Survivors are all rated now by the CVC Survivor Rating. So how is your CVC Survivor Rating calculated and what does this mean for your Safehouse or Stronghold?

CVC Survivor Rating is calculated by the sum of your level and skills, not including the Energy and Stamina skill. For example: At the time of this writing my CVC Survivor Rating is 155. That’s my level at 28 plus Hunting 15, Scavenging 27, Trader 28, Healer 28 and Duel 28. Ideally if I maxed all my skills I would have a rating of 168 however since my Hunting is half of what it could be and I haven’t maxed out Scavenging my rating is lower than the maximum.

Stronghold and Safehouse ratings are the sum total of all the members CVC Survivor Ratings. I am therefore contributing 155 points to my personal Stronghold. Strongholds and Safehouses have been separated into two different lists.  What does this mean for the Safehouse or Stronghold I belong to?

If your group cares about their position within the Leaderboards you are responsible for aiding with that value. Every member that does not max out their skills lowers the value of the Safehouse or Stronghold’s potential. Many Safehouses and Strongholds will not be concerned about this however those who consider themselves elite are going to start paying attention to their member’s stats. While Terry Fox will not be among those to chase after members I would predict that some of this has already occurred in some Safehouses and Strongholds and created divides among members. Those who formerly were on the top of the Leaderboards will continue to want to remain there. Overall membership will contribute and aid to the rating because ultimately this is a numbers game and a level ten with five points in each value is still worth more within the group than kicked out of the group.

I’d like to use this to encourage those who have let some stat fade off, especially those like healing and dueling, to consider the challenge you are presenting to yourself in showing your value to your community or gathering. It brings little benefit other than bragging rights, so consider for yourself the value of such kudos and if they mean something for you. And for those pushing members that have slacked in some way I would urge you to remember that ultimately this is and always should be a game to have fun and enjoy.

Source of information: wiredl0ve at the following posting, Global Chat, PAL conversations, confirmed within my own stats and Leaderboard position.

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Out Sick

Posted: June 6, 2012 in Editorial
Tags: , ,

The author of the story would like to apologize for the week long break she is taking from Remaining Calm. While this could not happen at a worse place in the story (sort of like mid season breaks on television shows) she’s come down with a stomach bug that has her begging for a zombie virus right about now. Do not be concerned, she’s taking in plenty of fluids and bed rest along with having a husband chase about after her to ensure she gets better. She’s also getting loopy enough to talk in third person, but that is likely completely unrelated to either the illness or any medication she’s taken since. If all goes according to plan Remaining Calm will resume this Sunday. Again she apologizes for the delay as well as missing posts of bloopers and tips this week. For those seeking her attention this week she can be found occasionally on Please Stay Calm but her attention span is somewhat shot due to cold medication and poor sleep. Leave a message at the regular places and she’ll be back in touch as soon as possible. For now she’s going to crawl back to bed and get more rest.

Thank you Malkoris for finding the image for me for today’s post. You support me in everything, even the weird.

Searlait settled into the middle of the beat up sofa from the teacher’s lounge. She started to pick through the berries in the bowl in front of her, looking for the raspberries over the other flavors. Her eyes flicked from bowl to the beat up television waiting for her show to start. It was the only show worth watching anymore now that most television stations broadcast either emergency signals or government programs. The static cleared and Lessifer stood in his ill fitting suit behind the KSAT TV logo that was now spray painted on the back of a wall.

“This is Lessifer bringing you the top news stories of the week here at KSAT TV where propaganda is prohibited. First off Algiers Point is attempting to repeat the wild success they obtained with their first Caption Contest by hosting a second contest. Contestants must provide their PSC screen names, Friend Codes and a caption to be emailed at the appropriate address by 9:00 pm Pacific Standard Time, Monday May 28th 2012. There is a prize announced. We’d direct fellow survivors to see the URL at the bottom of your screen for details.”

ALGIERS POINT CAPTION CONTEST #2

Quickly she scribbled down the address for the caption contest to look at later. “We here at KSAT TV,” Lessifer continued, “have breaking news on a new trend at the CVC. Ongoing sales are appearing for many of the popular products and…..”

So other than to spread the information about Algiers contest I want to quickly comment and give a very simple tip regarding the sales that have started to appear both in the News Feed and in the “Buy More Credits”. First let’s cover the basic facts:

  1. There are two types of sales, Credit Sales for real money or in game purchase for Credits
  2. Both sales bring bonus amounts and are provided for a limited time with limited supplies. For example, a sale might announce that for the next six hours 1000 Stamina pills are for sale in lots of 8 at a time for cheaper that if you bought them one at a time.
  3. To purchase these sale items you must to go the “Buy More Credits” screen, even when purchasing items with credits.
  4. Each sale displays how much time is left and how many items are left for sale. When the items run out the sale timer still remains displaying what the sale had been.

Opinion:

I, for one, happen to be very glad to see this sort of fire sale because there are times when I have a lot of credits from saving them up and not some place focused to use them. However there is a danger with these sales for impulse buying. (Which is the goal of any sort of fire sale and why they are successful.) You must view these sales as you would any sale in any store. Sure it might be a deal, but if you don’t need or you won’t use the items right away, is it worth the cost? Items that are half off aren’t saving you money if you never would have bought them in the first place! In short, there will always be another sale, buy what you need when you need it.

I hope to see the CVC continue this trend as it’s very exciting and a great addition to the game in my opinion.

Examples:

When I saw Beebles chewing on her pen I knew I had caught her at a moment of trepidation. The young woman was often uncertain about a great number of things in life, but it was rarer to find her expressing these classic Beebles’ signs while writing up some sort of form to send out for others to review. Beebles was a librarian at heart, and she always liked to have her facts in order, double checked with references underlined. If she was stuck on something it was likely because she couldn’t find the research needed to verify her facts. I folded my arms and leaned against the wall near her desk, “You know if it’s something that I have some sort of experience with,” my tone died off. I was immediately concerned it would be questions about a boy. Not to say I haven’t had experienced, I just didn’t want to have to go through the birds and bees with her or some such.

“I’m writing up tips about how to hire the best ally that works for you. Only,” she hesitated for a moment but I waited patiently letting her collect her thoughts. “Only it’s all theory. I haven’t been able to confirm any of it. It’s based on personal observation and not hard numbers. I’m not comfortable with that. Plus my experienced has been quite limited.”

I made a face, mine wasn’t much better. Sure I had allies and I’ve hired allies but only for specific fights when going alone made it too difficult. “Beebles write it. Write your thoughts, mark it as an editorial and give warning that this is all theory. Let the community dispute it if they think you’re wrong and take their feedback when offered. Adjust your advice based upon that.”

Her nose crinkled in a familiar expression. This is a thought that has been on her mind a lot of late and been bothering her causing hesitation. Yet she nodded her head and her pen went to paper to write.

I want to start this off by saying this is theory. Game theory in part along with practical thinking in game design but I have no hard numbers to give you to back up what I’m about to say. I’ll present my few ideas and you can dispute them or use them as you see fit.

First off, what is an Ally? An ally is who you can hire to fight with you for an hour. Their cost appears to be based upon their level. When you hire someone nobody else can hire them for the next hour. Half the money you put into hiring them goes to the actual player. To hire someone the following must be true:

  1. Nobody else can currently have hired them.
  2. They must be five levels bigger or smaller than you.
  3. You must have the full amount of cash to afford the hire.
  4. You cannot already have someone else hired for that hour. (Only one ally allowed at a time.)
  5. Do not expect hired allies to help you in duels. They are strictly for zombie fighting.

So the question becomes, how do you actually go about hiring someone and who should you pick? It’s very simple to hire anyone in the game. They don’t require being on your friend’s list though that makes some things easier. You must view their profile page. Here are a three ways to do this when searching for an ally:

  1. Review your friend’s list for people for people within the right level range
  2. Review your safe house member list for people within the right level range
  3. Search in the random duel list for people within the right level range. (Click on their image not duel to see their profile page.)

Once there you can view in their Personal Stats if they are currently hired. If so the words appear in green under their Hiring Fee. If not you get a value as to how much it will cost to hire them. You then select the “Hire as an Ally” button and pay the fee.

On your profile page you will see who you hired, their level and a timer for how long you have before they are no longer with you.

When you fight zombies they appear in the box at top that lists all the people in the “zone” fighting with you. This list can include people who have gone to that same zone or people from your friend’s list. Up to three non ally people can appear on this list giving you a possible total of four people helping you fight. You only have control over the ally you pick.

Now here is where I get into theory. Who should you pick when you choose an ally? I pick people who are the largest level I can get that have been maintaining their stats and upgrading their weapons. My reason for this is because I want an ally that will hit as hard as possible when they strike. I know I cannot control what weapon they use, but bigger players have better chances to use bigger weapons. In theory, if it uses their actual information, the better upgraded weapons will strike harder. I base my opinion on their skills from their Personal Stats focusing on Hunting, and Duel. Their weapon upgrades I base upon the one weapon I can see and how far they have upgraded it so far, what class it happens to be.

Does this work out in my benefit? I can’t give numbers. I can say that on at least one fight I stacked Searlait, Beebles and Malkoris into a room. I hired a fourth person who was bigger than any of them. Three of the four hit zombies for me but the hardest hitter was my hire. At times I’ve had Malkoris and Searlait in a room with me fighting zombies. Malkoris always hits harder being the bigger player.

Now you cannot control if allies will hit. Sometimes they just sit there for the full fight. Most of the time I want them there to give that big zombie someone else to hit allowing me another strike before I need to use a health pack. But if I’m going to bring someone in to do damage, I’d like to try to maximize as much damage as possible.

Note: Observed a graphic glitch where hired allies show having “none” for their health. This appears to be a bug as in this case Malkoris remained at full health. Reported bug to forum at time of this posting.

I acknowledge that some hire friends or potential safe house members in order to help them save money. This tip does not reflect those reasons for hiring a player.

I suppose this tip is more to do with the blog than it is to do with the game, though the connection between the two is self evident. Without Please Stay Calm there would be no blog, and without the incredible community there’d be no reason to write. The support that the community has given me continues to surprise me, and humble me to some extent. Over and over I’m invited into safe house communications where you’re gracious enough to show to me not just what it means to be a part of your group, but why you are all so pleased to be within that piece of PSC. None of this would be possible without the amazing players within our game community.

I am continuing to write and continuing to find ways to bring up previously mentioned safe houses within the stories. But each week I seek out a new safe house and ways to brag about how great our players are. I’ve been asked how I pick the safe houses I do, and what a safe house needs to do in order to be a part of the story. I want to provide that information so that as many as possible can be included.

Here is what I need from you to write you into the story:

  1. I need to know you. I don’t need your deep personal thoughts, but I at least need to know your name and the name of your safe house.
  2. I need to know which of your members are active in the Global Chat so that I can observe their behavior and form an opinion not just of your safe house, but also who you would represent within the story. I am on at all kinds of hours so telling me what time zone your safe house shows up in Global helps me to look for you.
  3. I need ways of getting in touch with you so that when I have questions I can get answers. These include any of the possible following, message me on the PSC forums, talk to me in Global Chat, send me whispers on PSC (if I see your whisper I will respond), talk to me on Palringo (I’m Chyram there as well) or email me directly. (For my email address, send me a message on the forums requesting.)
  4. I need your safe house to be at least a week old. Please understand that if your safe house is gone before I get a chance to write about it, your name maybe removed from the list. If you’re safe house had a big impact within the game in that short time you may still appear as a tribute.
  5. I need to know where to place you in the story. Unfortunately this one largely lies with me. There have been a number of safe houses on my list that I want to include, but I have yet to figure out where you fit in the lore I’ve created. Hanging out in PAL rooms, or talking with members in Global Chat helps me get an idea, or a feel for who you are as a group. It also sparks my imagination. You may also have an opinion on how you feel you would be best represented. Talk to me, I’ll work out a deal with you and reshape the story where needed. This is a very fluid process.
  6. I will not feature any safe house that was created with the express purpose to belittle or attack another specific safe house. You can have your grudge match, but I’m not involved.
  7. I will feature specific people who become friendly with me, even if I haven’t featured their safe house yet. There’s perks to being a friend but I’m a friendly person and rarely reject anyone’s conversation.
  8. I will not feature anyone who glorifies racists’ behavior or expresses violence to women or children. (To the best of my knowledge, as I may have eyes and ears in many places they aren’t everywhere.)
  9. I require your permission to use your name. You will not get a preview of the writing in most cases before it is published. I only require being told directly in any of the means of communication listed. If you are displeased with how your specific name has been used you may request your name removed from the story.

Many safe houses have approached me and are being patient in my adding them. I will continue to seek you out. Be persistent in talking to me. There is no such thing as a safe house too small, but you have to be a part of the community. Talk in Global, leave messages to help or add to conversations on the forums or just leave me comments here, but make sure I know which safe house you’re from.

I hope this helps anyone who’s had questions. If I’ve left out anything, or you want additional information just leave me a question here in the comments section and I will respond!

I sat still lining up my shot. I could see the small camp from the flickering fires at this distance. The rooftop was a good optimal site for picking targets off in order to raid their camps. I was not entirely proud of what I was doing, but then they had walked into Terry Fox territory and seemed to be looting supplies from our houses. Supplies, those are hard enough to come by already without extra scavengers.

“Note the wind when you take the shot.” Malkoris murmured to the left of me. He was being my spotter and had the binoculars trained on the camp. “Wait, wait awww shit. Down, get down.” I slide back down from my sniper’s nest and held my breath looking at him questioningly. Malkoris grimaced, “its Summit.”

I crinkled my nose, “are you certain?”

Malkoris grumbled in response,” I can see the markings on their bag and the van they’re using.” I sighed softly and twisted to lie on my back and stare up at the stars. A known safe house, not one of the ones we had direct contact but one known none the less. Did I really want to start taking pot shots at them?

When a Safe House gets to be a certain size, has an organized structure, or is seeking to have one, the members will often unite to use a common symbol on their avatar images to identify them as being part of the group. ATCO members will have a tag that says ATCO, Rite Aid use a blue and red tag with their name, Shark City tattoos have changed their images to appear shark like, and in this case many members of Summit industries have a stylized version of the word “Summit” on their image. Many of the other safe houses I would qualify as major or becoming major safe houses have done the same. There’s no hard and fast rule about doing so, but the action brings both benefits and possible negatives which a player wants to weigh out.

The single negative that I have seen is fairly mild compared to the benefits, so I’ll get that out of the way first. If a rival safe house, a player or a group of players have taken up issue with your safe house having your avatar image tagged in a manner that makes it easy to recognize you are a part of that group. This can make you a possible target for duels and troll attacks. Some individuals and some safe houses will target specific groups out of a grudge or slight they felt they received. I’ve witnessed some of those rivalries already and they are common to most online games with an element of social behavior. That targeting might not just be duels but also how you’re responded to in Global Chat. Despite having your safe house name beneath your name in Global, a symbol on the avatar makes it stand out quicker for the eye and identifies you as a member of your group.

However I see this possible issue as mild. The fact of the matter is if someone wants to target your safe house for any reason they can do so by searching for your safe house, pulling up a list of names in their duel range and doing a targeted search for duels. People bounce safe houses, much as they would any association or guild in any online game. However common elements within stable safe houses get known and identified. So once that association has been made, if you speak in Global and someone has a grudge against you or your safe house you might be grieved with or without the symbol for the quick identification.

So what I want to focus on are the benefits of using these symbols to unite your house. I would first point out that Terry Fox does not have a symbol. This is in part on purpose. Instead I have taken care to tag all my alts, Chyram being my main, Beebles and Searlait my alts, with the same symbol. I have done so to make certain to not hide the fact that these are mine. Obviously this is not a fool proof plan as someone could use the same symbol, given it’s a common symbol from the site I prefer to get my avatar images from. However, that is how I’ve chosen to unite my split personalities in the Safe House in an effort to fully disclose they are all me. That has been a personal benefit for me.

The biggest benefit safe house symbols, that clearly identify you as a member of a safe house, is the same as what can give you trouble. Some players will simply be less incline to hit you in a duel because of your avatar connection. Personally I won’t hit anyone from a safe house I am friendly with on purpose at this time (unless they hit me first). I know that’s a lot of qualifiers but I cannot predict as I level up how slim the pickings are going to be. I imagine my stand on this will be more difficult, but at that point there will be a benefit in knowing what safe houses are more likely to unite in retaliation and to avoid them by association through their avatar images. This has included times when I am searching for “TOUGH” people to duel. I have elected to not hit members of safe houses despite wanting the possible fame point because of their avatar’s safe house symbol.

Now that’s my personal take, and for some safe houses who have informally or formally allied with other safe houses there may be specific policies about not touching members of their allied forces. Other people will develop a fondness for a certain safe house due to conversations in Global or on Pal and avoid hitting its members for that reason. But the duel window does not display for you in text the safe house the target belongs to. Only the avatar image can warn a player to reject striking the target.

Another benefit to having an identification on your avatar images that unites your members under your banner is Global Chat visibility. When the Sharks talk, I know it’s them from their images. I am drawn to pay attention to their conversation because I’m fond of the Sharks. Same with other safe house members, I am inclined to pay attention or to not read based on their images. If a safe house has developed a reputation for talking about a matter that I simply don’t have a personal interest, I can skip that conversation. While another safe house might be good for humor or might be helpful in tips to new players and I will pick out their text in the spam of Global to quickly scan before looking at other text.

Impressions of your safe house, the number of players and how active your membership is will be affected by how visible you are in Global. I have known safe houses that gave an impression of having more members than they did simply because one or two of their small group often spoke in Global and had a symbol identifying them. More than a few people have been surprised in the past with Terry Fox’s membership size because of how active I can be in Global with my single speaking account, Chyram. Such impressions can draw new members to your safe house, as you encourage people to view you as active, friendly and accessible.

One final point about dueling and avatars: Even if you don’t wish to put your safe house symbol on your avatar get a Foursquare account and create a unique avatar for yourself. (It’s free.) If I am looking at the duel list I have a mental checklist of people to look for. Let’s say this time I was dueling for money/supplies. I would seek the “FAVORABLE” options with at least 2000 of either money or supplies or both. I would remove from my mental list any targets belonging to safe houses based on avatar images. Then I would look at who is left and I would have options for unique avatars and no-name avatars from Please Stay Calm. I will always hit the Please Stay Calm avatar players first. The reason I do that is because I know a player who has not yet figured out how to add an avatar image is more likely to have weaker skill levels and be an easier hit. Ranking up from there are those who have unique images, to those in safe houses known, to those in safe houses I am friendly with. If nobody on my list meets the criteria to hit, I will refresh my list. Currently if I don’t find a target within two refreshes of the list I will use the before mentioned criteria to find the next available target.

Now I’m very methodical in my method based on my own perception, however I have spoken to others about this topic. For some all that matters is farming fame and looking for the “TOUGH” to hit. For others, they target specific safe houses. And yet there are others like me, who have weighted scales on whom they hit and who they don’t hit. It’s the psychology behind the game about how people process social interactions.

So use it to your advantage! Reap the benefits for yourself and your safe house in finding a common symbol to attach to your images and show a solid support for your membership.

I do not like to be a complainer. In general I try to avoid it when possible. It is not hard to see the wisdom in starting someone with a pocket knife before handing them a sword, or a baseball bat before giving them a machine pistol. Bigger weapons are more expensive to maintain and to upkeep. Giving a rookie something too powerful is more likely to get themselves or their friends killed then Zees. That being said, when the rookie becomes more of a master refusing to give them a razor instead of a butter knife is just cruel.

So I have a problem with how the CVC hands out holiday promotional weapons. This has led me to having a holiday dilemma. I will talk about the problem in this week’s tips and tricks and let the reader decide for his or herself what he or she will do regarding the potential issue.

Here are the facts that I have been able to confirm from sources written and verbal:

  1. During holiday times special requested tasks come from the CVC. (Quests)  I have now seen a Christmas version, a Valentine version and now a Saint Patrick’s Day version.
  2. If you complete the task list, which is not easy to do, you are given a special weapon. This is the only time of year that weapon is available.
  3. There can be other beneficial items that can be gained by killing the holiday Zees. I know there was talk about some items being looted from Zees at Christmas time. I do not know if the other holidays also had extra “gifts”.
  4. In addition to items, the tasks give large amounts of experience towards your level, both for completing them and for the special Zees you need to kill, such as the Christmas Elf or the Leprechaun Zees. In some ways this allows for “power leveling” yourself.
  5. The weapons come in different classes ranging from Class I to Class X confirmed though there may be bigger classes now that there are bigger levels. What class of weapon you get depends upon your CVC level when you complete the task. So for example a level 20 receives a Class V weapon while a level 40 receives a Class IX.
  6. These weapons can be upgraded the same as any other piece of equipment in the game through supplies. However they remain their base class, even if you level up. For example, if you receive the level 20 Class V Bow at Valentine’s Day then at level 45 your bow is still a Class V grade weapon.

Now here is where I have a problem with what the CVC has done. I am not yet at the maximum level possible. This means if I collect the weapon I will always know I have an inferior version of the weapon on my list. If I’m still here in a year, do I get an upgraded version? Will it be a totally different weapon? Will I simply be out of luck that year having completed the task? Or perhaps I can do the task for the extras and the experience but the special reward at the end will be out of my grasp? Best case scenario would be I get a new weapon of the current class to level ratio I am at.

I have never been good about collecting a lower quality version of gear when I can get the upper end one if I am patient and wait, even if it means waiting a year. So I have skipped out this year on the holiday tasks, hoping to be rewarded for my patience next year with the more ultimate prize. But maybe instead I have just cut myself out of ever receiving this year’s version. And that really sucks! Yet I know I would be extremely annoyed next year if I am here and I find myself still stuck with a lower quality version to what is being gifted.

Promotional weapons are primarily for hunting Zees as far as the CVC is concerned. However they do contribute some to my dueling scores. This means that ultimately I could cripple myself from having the best possible score at my maximum level. There is no way to customize your abilities in this world. You either maximize on what you have or cripple yourself by ignoring skills you should work on. I simply see this as one more skill which I have been forced to wait upon for leveling.

This could have been fixed if the promotional weapons level up in Class with you. Complaining about this might get the CVC to fix the issue but I am not sure it is a good investment of my energy. Because my questions do not yet have answers, I could equally be wrong on my formed opinion in which case I have missed out on some of the 2012 bonuses for good. I do not have all the answers on this issue, but I will continue to investigate and seek them out. I recommend the reader take what he or she can from this piece and use it to their benefit. Do you see yourself here in a year? If not then it does not matter and strive for the promotional gains. If so, weigh out the possibilities and decide what will work best for you.

Reference: PSC Forums, CVC Global Chat, Direct Conversation