Lost Pages of Taborea: Comparing EVE's PLEX and PvP to RoM's

I was prepping for a Guild Wars 2 comparison with Runes of Magic, but in light of the current buzz in the air, I'm moving my EVE Online comparison up.

A couple of interesting blocks fell into place this week that fit well with a look at how EVE and RoM allow money to circulate through the economies, and how PvP works in conjunction with it. While there's no contest as to which MMO has the more robust economy, there are still similarities that fit the pay-to-progress comment Mr. Simon Ludgate made in a recent Gamasutra article.

Swarming around the above topics is the question of how much it costs to stay competitive in RoM, which I've also been working on. What does Gamasutra's article have to do with RoM, how much does it cost to be competitive and how are economies similar in these two MMOs? You can also read my memorandum to all EVE PvPers. Set your jump-point past the break to see.

How much does it cost to stay competitive in RoM?

I really dislike any term suggesting that players are forced to pay money to be able to compete with their neighbors. It's a limp catch-phrase born out of sound, single-player rationale that's degraded into an excuse to rationalize mulit-player peer pressure. In any fancy brand-name clothing store, the company is not forcing anyone to pay to compete. While ethics can get involved, these watered down one-liners ignore it for the baser purpose of being a flashing neon arrow to point to vague complaints players have against a game that could actually be offering more power and freedom and choice of how to pay. Never mind whether the game is actually fun to play. We just want it to be fair.

Now that I've flushed that from my system, let's move forward. Simon Ludgate tries to tackle fairness in MMOs and brings up the possible deciding factor of pay-to-progress being what gamers are happier with as opposed to pay-to-win. I'm not sure I entirely agree with everything Mr. Ludgate says, but if pay-to-progress is the balm that soothes F2P players wounds, I don't really see a clear-cut acceptance of it within the RoM community. And that's a contradiction because RoM's cash-shop is pay-to-progress.

EVE's PLEX and RoM's Diamonds

Maybe Mr. Ludgate is right and the crucial difference is whether a player with less time is paying to progress faster while there's still a means to progress for players with no money, but more time. RoM and EVE both allow the player with more time to progress in-game -- although EVE does attach a monthly fee, but EVE also doesn't have a cash-shop... yet. But Diamonds do work similar to PLEX.

They both can be bought, sold for in-game money, and used to speed up the purchase of better items. While I'm sure sticklers will want to point to details, the overall contention is not with every item -- only ones involving competition. That places the importance on items the majority feel affect competition, but there will still be many items outside the mainstream that people feel affect competition in some form. In RoM, Purified Fusion Stones would be one of the big boys while house-furniture or even mounts may not get a second look. Fusion Stones and all the other big items can be obtained without ever spending a cent. Whether there are a few cash-shop only premium items or not, a player can buy diamonds with gold and still obtain them.

On top of that, RoM is a F2P game while EVE is subscription-based with the ability to utilize PLEX to go F2P. That is why I agree with Beau's labeling of EVE as a freemium game. For an informative look at microtransactions and EVE, check out Brendan's latest EVE Evolved article.

The key difference is that EVE is very dependent on its time-based skill system and robust economy. Skills tie gameplay to items, even if you spend vast amounts of money on PLEX to afford the best ships with the best equipment right out of the gate. The player-driven economy -- with tons of resources and creatable items -- also allows for some really fun outcomes in how players choose to spend their time. That's the direction the stickler in me would say RoM needs to head, while avoiding any discussion of whether to be a themepark or a sandbox.

EVE's PvP and RoM's PvP

I have a memorandum to all EVE players: If you've ever wondered what EVE-style PvP would be like in a fantasy themepark MMO, you should try one of RoM's PvP servers.

RoM's PvP allows for losing items a character is wearing and carrying. Spent all night gathering zinc ore to sell on the auction house? Careful. If you get ganked you could lose some or all of it. The really brutal part is that you could have spent weeks, months or many real greenbacks on obtaining some leet gear only to lose it in the blink of an eye from a roving Rogue that out powers you.

Although, it's not quite as awesome as it used to be since Runewaker(or Frogster?) elected to keep in its costume-killer bug -- that may not have been a bug to begin with. When Frogster started selling specialty armor sets for players wanting to change the look of their armor, it was quickly discovered that these purely cosmetic items could be upgraded without becoming droppable -- as long as they weren't aggregated. There were already cash-shop items that could lock a handful of equipment-slots players found too precious to ever want to risk parting with, but all the item slots couldn't be locked. It's purely speculation, but in light of many players not liking the prospect of losing all their hard work and money, Runewaker may have opted to leave protected cash-shop costumes in as a band-aid for player woes.

If that's not enough protection for you, the equipment swap button that was added in a long time ago allows you to change to a completely different set of gear instantly, with the touch of a button. Players became adept at getting into fights, gauging whether they were about to become roadkill and instantly switching to a junk set of gear. The victim then gets the last laugh as the winner gets no reward. Ironically, these changes came after players said RoM's PvP was broken, but I'm scratching my head as it seems that the changes are what broke it. The original ideas are all still in place though, and you may find it interesting to jump in and have a look around.

Each Monday, Jeremy Stratton delivers Lost Pages of Taborea, a column filled with guides, news, and opinions for Runes of Magic. Whether it's a community roundup for new players or an in-depth look at the Rogue/Priest combo, you'll find it all here. Send your questions to jeremy@massively.com.
This article was originally published on Massively.