Thursday, September 11, 2014

Entropia Universe (Part Six)

Gameplay
The next couple of sections may perhaps be the toughest part of this game that I'll be attempting to explain.

Because it deals with inherent gameplay mechanics, looting as well as the expenditure of PEDs ("real money"), the game developers have been reluctant to reveal much about the way things work. Everything about it or even remotely close to it has been wrapped in secrecy...so much so that most of what I will be bringing across to you will be based upon player-gathered info and perhaps hearsay as well.

As such, things may not be totally accurate or correct...be it due to vital info being withheld by players in the know, unannounced tweaks made by the game developers to the coding, lack of skills or access to the items in question (not everyone can afford everything within the game), too many unknown variables and/or the lack of control during experiments, shortage of data samples or PEDs for that matter.

All I can say is that it will be to the best of my knowledge nonetheless...

The Free Activities
By "Free Activities", what I am referring to here are the kinds of stuff that you may do within the game that does not require the spending of PEDs and yet may help you to earn some.
  • Sweating
    Entropia Universe - Sweating
    In this form of activity, what the player does is to equip a special kind of tool called the "VSE Mk 1" (can be found in your Inventory, under the "Tools" tab), aim at mobs which are "sweat-able" (mostly animal-type mobs but may include other types as well depending on the planet) and click to activate the sweating process. You might need to click a couple of times before the process kicks in.
    To avoid killing your mouse buttons, it might be a good idea to hotkey the "Toggle Auto-Use Tool" icon found in your Action Library and use that to activate your VSE Mk 1.
    After starting the process, you will have to maintain your aim at the mob for a couple of seconds before finally acquiring something called the "Vibrant Sweat" (typically between 1 to 4 bottles) like as shown above. However, if at any time during this process, you were to get hit or lose your aim upon the mob...the process will be disrupted and you will have to start all over again.

    What you will have to note though is that each mob will only give as much Vibrant Sweat as its total amount of HP. If a mob has 10 HP, it will only give 10 Vibrant Sweat. If it has 1000 HP, it will produce up to 1000 Vibrant Sweat before becoming "dry" (and can no longer be sweated). After getting this, the only thing left to do is to kill the mob (and loot it) or turret it and then go grab another to sweat.
    One good way is to get together into groups and sweat one huge mob (easier to aim at) with high HP, slow attack speed, low accuracy and bearable damage. As most mobs can only attack one player at a time, this will allow minimal disruption to the sweaters while maximizing the amount of Vibrant Sweat collected per hour (typically about 400 to 500 bottles may be collected per hour in such a group).
    Entropia Universe - Selling Vibrant SweatEntropia Universe - Selling Vibrant Sweat 1
    Upon collecting enough bottles of these, you may then sell them to other players who might be needing them, for a certain amount of PEDs. These Vibrant Sweat can be refined together with Force Nexus (an Enmatter) to form Mind Essence (fuel/ammo to power Teleport Chips). It is also used by crafters as ingredients to craft certain items such as welding wire, furniture or components of weapons, armors and miscellaneous tools or clothings.
  • Walking
    Entropia Universe - Stuff To Look For Walking
    In this form of activity, what the player does is to merely walk (press Q to toggle Run/Walk) around all over the place looking for "hidden" objects like "Fruits", "Natural Stones" and "Common Dung" (such as those shown above).

    These objects are almost impossible to find when you run because they have a certain visibility range of about 4 to 5 "walking steps". Once you move beyond this range, the objects will turn invisible and will no longer be seen.

    As such, it is typically a good idea to look for these by first limiting your "search area"...to places with definable "ends", such as shorelines or Land Area borders.

    You should then consider doing a "systematic sweep" of the area via perhaps walking from North to South in a straight line (until you've reach the designated end of the area), take 10 side steps and then continue walking, but this time from South to North.
    By doing something like this, you can increase your chances of finding them considerably...as compared to just merely walking around aimlessly.
    However, one should note that when employing such a tactic, it is advisable that you pick a place where there are preferably no mobs...so that there won't be any to hinder or obstruct your walking path.

    Also, do consider walking upon terrains with a singular, consistent and light color/texture such as snow or sand. This is partly to reduce the strain upon your eyes as much as possible and also to increase your ability to see the objects when they do pop up.

    You may also wish to tone down your graphic settings to remove needless vegetation (from being rendered) so as to reduce the amount of distraction.
    On average, it takes about an hour or so to find two of these stacks to pick up (if your lucky...maybe three).

    Very time consuming in my opinion and hardly worth the effort considering that your character will gain no skills doing such an activity. Not to mention that what you may find (and its amount) is random.

    If you find natural stones, then good for you...as their markups are decent. If you find fruits and dung...then not so good as their markups are pretty bad in contrast to the stones.
    Entropia Universe - Fruits Stone Dung Uses
    As for the usage of these objects? Well...afaik, fruits are mostly refined together with Sweetstuff (an Enmatter) to form Nutrio Bar (a sort of food for feeding hungry, tamed pets). However, as taming had been removed ever since the implementation of CryEngine 2 and has yet to be reintroduced back into the game, Nutrio Bars are currently...OF NO USE.
    Certain fruits however, like Bombardo and Papplon, are also used in the manufacturing of some components or paint cans. But as their uses are somewhat limited...demand for them are also low as well.
    Natural Stones are used in the crafting of textures while Common Dung is refined together with Growth Molecules (also an Enmatter) to form Energized Fertilizer (something that's needed by Land Area owners to ensure that the mobs found on their lands...mature and flourish).
  • Oil Rig/Field
    When engaging in this form of activity, what the player does is to actually stick around within a certain area, waiting for barrels of Crude Oil (worth 0.01 PED each) to appear. The catch, however, is that you WILL have to "compete" (or gang up together) with others for these crude oil...as the place is PVP-enabled (but not PVP-lootable).
    Entropia Universe - Contaminated Zone
    PVP-lootable zones are "Contaminated" areas (marked in red on your map once you've visited it once) whereby players found within can be killed and relieved of all their hunting and mining stackables (looted), if they have any within their inventory at that point in time.

    However, entrance to these zones require a kind of "Anti-Toxic Shot" purchasable from the Trade Terminals. Without such a shot, a player will be unable to enter these zones as they will instantly die due to "toxic radiation" (but we all know its just to prevent ignorant newcomers from accidentally stumbling into such an area, not knowing its consequences).

    Typically, people would want to enter these zones because of the special monsters (to hunt) or mining claims (to find) that can only be found within these zones. And because of them being limited to within these areas, plus the risks involved (of being pked), the markup of the stuff found within are pretty high and commands a decent price.
    These oil rigs or fields can typically be categorized into, loosely, three types. "Tiny", "Small" and "Big". They may be found on the various planets within the world of Entropia Universe...depending on whether the devs or planet partners decides to implement one.
    Entropia Universe - Logan Peak Oil Field LocationEntropia Universe - Logan Peak Oil Field
    A classic example of a tiny oil rig is the one found on Planet Rocktropia's Hunt The Thing.

    In such an oil rig, barrels of crude oil are spawned all over a "specific" area...but in stacks of 1 to 2 barrels (so each stack is only worth 0.01 to 0.02 PEDs). These barrels are invisible until you get within a certain range of them and thus will require you to "run all over the area" in order to pick them up.

    But because each "stack" of crude oil takes about 15 to 20 seconds to "spawn" and the area can only hold about roughly 20 stacks of them concurrently, it is estimated that you may get only up to 2.00 PEDs of crude oil per hour at best...if your alone and no one else is vying with you for them.

    But its precisely because of such measly "payout", that hardly much PVP action is seen there and there's a sporting chance for you to actually be able to pick up some barrels of crude oil...if your patient and fast enough (in clicking and spotting them).
    Entropia Universe - Orthos Oil Rig LocationEntropia Universe - Orthos Oil Rig
    An example of a small oil rig is the one found on Planet Calypso's Orthos Oil Field.

    In such an oil rig, barrels of crude oil are spawned within a "specific" area close to the "oil rig" structure (in red in middle of picture above). It is spawned in stacks of about 50 barrels of crude oil each (or 0.50 PEDs). However, only one such stack may exist at any point in time, I believe.

    But as it has a fairly fast spawn rate...of a few minutes per stack, it is estimated that you may get about 10 PEDs worth of crude oil per hour. Fairly lucrative don't you think?

    Usually, if the oil rig is "open", you will get to see players lining up in a line, each waiting for their own turns to get a pick of the oil. However, at times, "greedy" players may come and wreck this line or even close the rig down via "overwhelming firepower"...just so that they can hog the oil for themselves.

    In such instances, one may only blame it upon "just their luck"...especially if it was close to their turn after having waited for some time. Else, they may also choose to fight back against the aggressors...but its usually pointless as it will merely boil down to being a "war of attrition"...of the PEDs.
    Whomever can force the other side to "lose" more PEDs than its worth their time at the oil rig wins.
    As such, you will typically start to see one or both sides trying to wear each other's armor down with flamethrowers...or going naked, armed with only their "uber faps" (some powerful cost-effective healing tool) and forcing the other side to "waste" ammo.
    Entropia Universe - Ashi Oil Rig Location
    An example of a big oil rig is the one found on Planet Calypso's Ashi Oil Rig.

    In such an oil rig, barrels of crude oil are also spawned within a "specific" area close to some "oil rig" structure much like the one seen in Orthos. However, instead of only spawning in stacks of about 50 barrels of crude oil, this one is much more major and spawns in stacks of about 500 barrels each...or 5.00 PEDs worth (but also only one stack at a time, I believe).

    Likewise, it also has a fairly fast spawn rate...and thus is estimated to be churning out roughly 100 PEDs worth of crude oil per hour.

    Sadly though, because of such high outputs of pure TT Value...this oil rig is almost certainly camped 24/7 by the "big boys". So don't expect to get close enough or even catch a glimpse of the crude oil spawning...unless you are "one of them".
These are not the be-all and end-all though. There may be other opportunities out there if you can think creatively and outside the box. However, the ones mentioned here are the easiest to get into without much knowledge about the game and/or "Investment PEDs". Except for perhaps the oil rig...


Friday, September 5, 2014

Entropia Universe (Part Five)

Value In Your Hands
Now the reason why I'm talking about this first before even touching on the gameplay is because...you'll need to be able to discern the value of something. Else, how the heck are you even gonna be able to conduct trades with others once you start playing the game?

This is especially so since the game deals with real money and you wouldn't want to shortchange yourself now would you?

Anyway, to learn about the value of something, one will need to know about the "Currency" used in Entropia Universe, about "Trade Terminal Value" (TT Value) and about "Markup".

PEDs, PECs and What???
First, let's talk about the currency and its denominations...

Within the game, there's generally two forms of currency that players would regularly use for trades. The "Project Entropia Dollar" (PED) and the "Project Entropia Cents" (PEC).
Entropia Universe - Currency
As you can see above, the difference between the two of them is merely just their visual colors (one's golden while the other's silverish). However, their "TT Values" are vastly different (one's 1.00 PED while the other's 0.01 PED).

And since you already know that 1 USD is equal to 10 PEDs, and 0.10 USD is equal to 1 PED, I doubt I'll need to tell you which one's of more value right? But I've digressed...so let's head back on topic.
Entropia Universe - PED Card
Next, we have the "PED Card"...our virtual wallet within this game. This card is always found within the first tab of our inventory and is used to materialize PEDs and PECs from within our account, a mere number, into a physical, solid form that we can use for trades.
Entropia Universe - Extraction Window
To do so, all we need to do is right click on the PED card and select the "Extract PED/PEC" option. You will then be shown a tiny window with some "Up" and "Down" arrows. From there onwards, its just a matter of selecting the right amount to extract and your done.

Either use the arrows to choose the amount you wish to extract or use your numpad to type in the amount. Do note, however, that values before the "decimal point" will be extracted in the form of PEDs while values after will be extracted in the form of PECs.

Entropia Universe - A Hundred PECsEntropia Universe - Dropping 100 PECs into PED Card
After materialization, the PEDs and PECs can be handled in just the same way as "stackables". You can split them, merge them or drag and drop them into the PED card to dematerialize it back into a numerical value in your account.

But that is as far as it goes...

Although 1 PED holds the same value as 100 PECs, it cannot be broken down into PECs directly as it is (without going through the PED card). Likewise, merging PECs into a stack of 100 PECs WILL NOT change it into 1 PED. They are fundamentally just like a regular "stackable item". An orange cannot simply change into an apple regardless of how many oranges you stack together, now can it?

Now that you know what PEDs and PECs are, let's take it up a notch and talk about denominations that are EVEN SMALLER than a PEC.

Your Kidding Right?

Hell no. I'm serious...

Entropia Universe - AmmunitionEntropia Universe - Sweat Fruit Fragment Stone
Individually, the TT Values of these items may appear to look 0.00 PEDs, but if you stack enough of them together, you will eventually start to see that they are actually worth something.
  • The 0.01 PECkers
    Things that fall into this category are typically your ammunition of all kinds. Explosive Projectiles, Weapon Cells, BLP Packs and Synthetic Mind Essence.
    Stacking 100 of these together will show up to be worth 1 PEC of TT Value. Hence individually, they are calculated to be worth 0.01 PEC each.
  • The 0.001 PECkers
    Things that fall into this category are Vibrant Sweat, Fruits (Bombardo, Caroot, Haimoros, Papplon), Fragments (Blazar, Nova) and Natural Stones (Brukite, Nissit, Kaldon, Rutol, Sopur, Trutun). There may be others out there, but these are the general ones that you will often encounter across the planets.
    Stacking 1000 of these together will show up to be worth 1 PEC of TT Value. Hence individually, they are calculated to be worth 0.001 PEC each.

Markup
Building upon your previous concepts of PEDs and PECs, of TT Values, 0.01 PECs and 0.001 PECs, let's go into something even more mathematical. Markup.
Entropia Universe - Markup
Within this game, there are two forms of "Markup" that you will encounter. And the easiest place with which you will find them is actually at the "Auctioneer" (like as shown above).
  • The TT+Markup
    With the "TT+Markup", what we're actually doing is to sell something for a total sum of its "Trade Terminal Value" (of the item) PLUS the "Markup" (we're charging).

    For instance, if I have something with a TT Value of 0.01 PEDs and I say that I'm selling it for "TT+1.99", this means that if you as a player wants to buy that item from me, you will have to pay me a total of 2.00 PEDs (0.01+1.99).
    This form of markup calling is usually meant for "Non-stackables" (items that are singular and cannot be stacked together) as well as "Unlimited" items. However, with the advent of "Calypso Land Deeds", certain forms of stackables (esp. deeds) are now also found to be using this version of marking up.
  • The Markup As A Percentage
    For "Markup As A Percentage", what we're doing is to sell something at a percentage of the item's TT Value.

    For instance, if I have something with a TT Value of 0.01 PEDs and I say that I'm selling it for "200%", this means that if you as a player wants to buy that item from me, you will have to pay me a total of 0.02 PEDs (0.01x200%).
    This form of markup calling is usually meant for "Stackables" (items that can be stacked together) as well as "Limited" items.


An Item's Value
Okay...so you've just learnt about PEDs and PECs, about TT Value and about Markup...but this still doesn't tell you one bit about the value of an item now does it? How will you know what is the value of an item that your holding?

Well hold your horses...we'll be getting into that right now.
Entropia Universe - Bukin's Blade Market ValueEntropia Universe - Herman ARK-0 (L) Market Value
Typically, if you right click on an item...any item so long as its auctionable (able to be put up on auction via the auctioneer), you should ought to see an option called "Market Value".

For items which aren't and do not have this option, you will just have to rely upon yourself, other players and/or infer its market value from other similar stat items or products which may require this item as a part of its ingredients.

Upon opening it, you will see a small window with the item's average daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and decade info for sales and markup.

And if you click on the tiny buttons found beside the "Sales" column, you will bring out their respective markup history graphs.

Now that's all fine and dandy, but how do I read it?

Usually, if your just the typical gamer who doesn't want to rack his/her brains on the issue, just looking at the info in the small window will be sufficient.
  • Period
    Tells you which period the data samples were taken and calculated from. ("Day" means for that day, "Week" is for the past week, "Month" is for the past month and so on and so forth.)
  • Markup
    Tells you the AVERAGED markup of the item (for that period).
  • Sales
    Tells you the quantity of the item sold for that period if its a non-stackable or unlimited item. Else, it will tell you the Total (Sum) TT Value of the item sold for that period.
  • Tier
    Usually available only for items that can be "tiered", this option allows you to check the markup histories between the different tiers of that item (from Tier 0 to Tier 10).
However, if your the brainy or cautious type, or if the sales and/or markup is suspiciously weird to you, then its recommended that you look into the details just to be on the safe side.

Yes...its not unheard of for devious people to attempt to "manipulate" the information provided by this "Market Value" option...so as to misguide others about the "actual value" of an item. However, this is typically only performed upon items that are non-stackable and in low available quantities (since its often easier to manipulate the prices of such an item).

A word of caution. Performance of such a deed is "frowned upon" by the game developers as well as the game's community. And it is still unknown (at least to me) as to whether actions will be dealt upon the perpetrators of such a deed.

But sometimes though, the sudden fluctuation in markup of an item might be valid and due to changes in circumstances (perhaps some VU changes, periodic event cycles or something like that). Hence, the best cause of action is still to check the markup history graphs and decide for yourself.

Anyway, to understand how to read the graph, let us take a look at the following example.
Entropia Universe - Markup Graph Reading
In this example, you can see that I've just managed to sell an item called "Chikara Oni-Roku E.L.M Edition (L)". It is a "limited" (cannot be repaired) weapon that has a maximum TT Value of 1.00 PED (if full and unused).

And from this, what you should take away is that in the period of "that day", a POSSIBLE total of 6 "Chikara Oni-Roku E.L.M Edition (L)" had been sold (each one is 1.00 PED if full TT and the sales was 6.00 PED).

Next, from the "Item Sold" confirmation, you can see how the sold item has an effect on the markup history graph for that day...how the lines are drawn, where the markups are, the sales as well as when it was sold.

You can use your mouse to hover over any point in the graph and it will show you the corresponding values of the various axes within its tooltip. These values do not reflect the actual sales, markup or time values but the AXES' values (for easier reading). Adjust your mouse position accordingly (depending on which point you wish to inspect).

* Disclaimer: From this point forth, the rest is just my understanding of how to read the graph. It may or may not be totally accurate. Use your own judgement on this. *

And so from my understanding, according to this "Day" graph, if you exclude the point made by my sales, then a total of 5 other pieces of this weapon was sold within the day.

Two pieces were sold at close to the "2013-09-13 18:03:46" mark at an averaged value of below 1400% markup. Their markups were lumped together and averaged possibly due to their sales time, time when sold, being very close to one another. This can be deduced by the evident sharp point marked by the "Sales" line (in cyan) at the 2.00 PED mark.

The other three pieces could possibly be hiding within the straight line section of the graph...with one sold at the start and end of the line and the last one hiding in between....and thus forming the straight line seen.

That is my understanding of how the Day Market Value graph can be read. As for the Week, Month, Year and Decade ones? It should possibly be working in the same way with each data points making a sharp visible "point" within the graph.

However, these data points should be seen as averages for that specific time period...pending on how the system handles the individual auction sales. But nonetheless, it should be sufficient for you to now gauge and understand the value of what you have in your hands now, right?
Just be sure to note that this "Market Value" data is a compilation of all the sales that happened for that item regardless of which planet it was sold upon. Hence, the data will not reflect the minute discrepancies in markups on the various planets found in existence within the game. (Usually items sold on the "production" planet, native/local/whatever, will mostly be "cheaper" than when sold on other planets that do not produce them.)
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