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Shocked, not

December 12, 2012 Leave a comment

This just landed in my inbox:

We’ve just made a major change to the business model of The Secret World in that we no longer require a subscription to play, and have instead introduced an optional Membership. As a lifetime subscriber this will only affect you in a positive way, read on for all the changes to our game!

The Grandmaster Pack continues as a powerful and lifelong commitment to the game for those with true dedication, and contains all the benefits given to members and more [etc etc.]

I doubt anyone else in the blogosphere will be surprised. I’m not disappointed, bothered or offended either – when I bought my lifetime sub it was as much to support the idea of the game as to get a lifetime sub, and I was well aware the game would be free-to-play fairly quickly (though I’ll admit, I didn’t think it would be this quickly).

I’ll get a bunch of goodies points and whatnot, which is fine by me since I like fluff and goodies. In fact, that one email was enough to make me bust out the launcher and start the (long and stupidly laborious, with my internet connection) process of getting the game patched and up to date. It’s probably been about 3 months since I last did that, so I should be ready to play around Christmas.

The shiny new feeling of Pandaclysm is wearing off, too, though I’m still having fun there when I have time to play, so maybe I’ll poke my head back into creepy-land and take on a bit more challenge than WoW offers a non-raider.

It’ll go well with the insanely creepy-scary nightmare I had a couple of days ago, about which I will say nothing except “lunch truck full of cannibal kids”. You can imagine the rest for yourself; it was more Stephen King than SAW, but it was still scary enough to make me extremely relieved when I woke myself up from it.

There you go, a little personal anecdote for free. Now back to work for me!

Categories: MMO, The Secret World Tags: , ,

Dailies and dragons and pandas, oh my

October 31, 2012 1 comment

Prescriptum: I was going to write this at the end of the post, but as usual I’m rambling far too much and I’m adding pictures and this post is going to be a mile long before I’m done. So: I’d like to thank the folks who have been mailing me in support of this blog. I’m eternally surprised that people read this not just out of bloggerly solidarity but out of – apparently – interest and for entertainment. Personally, I think my post quality has gone down the drain in the last couple of years, but I’m hoping the doldrums will pass and at some point I won’t mind revisiting some of the more interesting discussions & themes out there. In the meantime, thanks for reading and most of all thanks for writing to let me know you’re reading – it’s not essential, but it’s very nice to receive.

TL;DR - No time to play, waah. Pandaclysm kinda cool. Where’s my hatchling? Dailies dailies everywhere and not a drop to drink. Move along now.

My gaming time has been somewhat limited these last few months – okay, for most of this year actually – with the occasional glutton-day interspersed with weeks of not logging into anything much. Which is a shame, because there are several games out there I could, would, should and want to enjoy. Two of them are even “free”, more or less – TSW and GW2 – but when there’s no time, there’s just no time. Read more…

Bees!

September 13, 2012 Leave a comment

I always love finding references to other things – movies, books, in this case other MMOs – in games. This one made me laugh out loud.

What’s the GW2 equivalent of Men in Black Vans?

Auction Houses: Pandering to those who hate crafting

September 10, 2012 6 comments

This. Elder Game’s The Case Against Auction Houses.

But I mean, what are you gonna do, not have an auction house in a modern MMO?

Sure! There’s no reason every MMO should have an auction house. Lots of MMOs implement it unthinkingly, because they believe it’s a mandatory back-of-the-box feature. Few MMO developers take the time to think about the ramifications of the feature.

I’ve got a lot to say on the subject myself, as a self-professed crafter before anything else in MMOs, but having ignored most of my work over the weekend I’m now forced to actually do some in order to pay the bills. Bah humbug.

Also: I miss SWG. The whole crafter/merchant/harvester thing did sort of turn into a second (and sometimes third) job, but it was the most fulfilling crafting and selling in any MMO, evar.

Categories: MMO Tags: , , , , , ,

Saving City of Heroes – linkage

September 7, 2012 3 comments

This is as much for my own use as anything else – I came across this post yesterday but haven’t had time to do more than scan it. Thanks to whoever else I read who linked it in the first place, even if I don’t remember who you are!

City of Heroes / Villains: An End of the World Event

I was surprised to see a large spike in my site traffic today, especially to older posts about how many players CoH/V had. Then I looked further and saw that NCsoft announced its intentions to shut down CoH/V and Paragon Studios. This has taken a lot of people by surprise, given that it seemed that CoH/V was doing well since its conversion to F2P and lots of extra things being announced.

Go read it, it looks very interesting. I know I will once I get done with work (yes, I’m skiving off for a quick blog post because I need the sanity break, relatively-speaking).

Categories: CoX, MMO Tags: ,

Protecting Paragon City

September 6, 2012 2 comments

Since it was covered extensively elsewhere, I didn’t comment on last week’s news that City of Heroes is being shut down by NCSoft – you know: work, travel, yadda yadda.

Dusty Monk, however, has an excellent and personal reaction post to the news, and it seems the fanbase are getting organised to try and prevent the game from closing its doors. Go read it. Snippet:

I don’t usually participate in fan or community organized movements.  I’m keenly aware that businesses are businesses, and once a decision has been made, most of the time no amount of fan outcry will change that.  But this is important to me.  And there are some cases where the community did make a difference.  Perhaps this time it’s different – perhaps we can show that are making this decision that it does matter, and that there is still money to be made here.  So I’m getting involved, and I hope that perhaps you will too.

I agree with Dusty that once a business decision like this has been made, it’s usually pointless to Canute the inevitable – but I also agree that when we care a great deal about something, we should be prepared to speak out for it. I could make political parallels… but I won’t (other than saying: whatever you believe, politically, GO VOTE; democracy doesn’t work if people don’t show up).

I played City of Heroes at launch, leaving a still-buggy (if enjoyable) Star Wars: Galaxies to do so, and still remember my friends making fun of me for spending literally 3 hours on my first character’s costume. Actually, it may have been 4. I didn’t play it for more than a few months, because that was the Year of Major Game Launches (WoW, EQ2), but a bunch of us had a blast for the time we were there, if only because of:

- KAPOW; come on. No combat beats KAPOW!! combat.

- FLYING; ’nuff said (but boy CoX did it well).

- COSTUMES; also ’nuff said. Actually, that one needs to be COSTUMES!!!

- FLEXIBILITY; alone, in groups, in duos – didn’t matter how you wanted to play, you could do stuff and you could usually get to doing stuff pretty quickly.

Flying!!! … in COSTUME!!! … soon to KAPOW.

I returned to CoX a couple of times over the years, and always enjoyed my stay. It didn’t grab me, truss me up and enslave me the way some of my other games did, but it was there, it was fun, and it tried to do some interesting things. I wrote about the Mission Architect system a few times in 2009, and although it was immediately picked up by players as an excellent venue for exploiting xp and whatever, the idea was still brave and I’m glad they tried it. I still think we need some way for players to create some of their own content, and I’m sure it’s something we’ll see more of in games as the years go by.

So when I heard the news last week I was a little shocked, though the game is over 8 years old and we all know no MMO lasts forever (especially not at NCSoft, it seems). I’m not much of one for post-mortems, but I am interested to see if fan reaction to this news can actually make a dent in a decision that was probably made thousands of miles away and based purely on numbers and finances. What if the game were concatenated down to a couple of servers, instead of however many they currently have? Could it be run by a skeleton staff? Is it worth it? We don’t know that, but we won’t find out if we don’t try.

And I happen to think City of Heroes might be worth saving. /insert saving heroes ironic joke here.

Per Dusty’s post: go here to sign a petition trying to keep City of Heroes open – and keep a few Devs in their jobs, incidentally. There have been entirely too many layoffs in the games industry in the last few years already. At this moment the petition is 13,550 strong – make that 13,551, since I just signed it.

And, if you think you can do it politely (and all of you are paragons of courtesy here), it might be worth posting on this forum thread. Staff may never see the petition, but someone official will be moderating that thread, so we can add our voice there (until it gets locked, says the cynic in me).

Go forth and protect!

EDIT: Sente has also posted on this, as I’ve discovered upon catching up with my RSS feeds… Sente’s had a lot of interesting things to say about CoX over the years, so if you don’t read his blog already, you should do so now.

EDIT: Pete at Dragonchasers has also written. Lo, the movement grows and I’m late to the barricades bandwagon!

EDIT: But wait! There’s more! Syp and Ardua, respectively. I’m running out of amusing things to say on my edits. And Tobold thinks we’re hypocrites because we didn’t play the game this year. Whatevs. That said, his Kickstopper idea is pretty funny.

The (wo)man with two games

September 5, 2012 3 comments

While I haven’t been able to even log into The Secret World in about a month (work, travel, yadda yadda), I did at least get it properly updated yesterday, even if I didn’t actually find any time to play.

And today, my best intentions to the contrary, the spousal unit casually says “You know, those Guild Wars 2 reviews are looking pretty good. Maybe I would like to play it after all.” Since it was his lack of interest that managed to hold me back from pre-ordering (well, that and work, travel, yadda yadda), we immediately headed out to the store* and picked up a couple of copies. It’s not like I’d been drooling over all the screenshots and reviews from fellow bloggers – not to mention Twitter and Facebook updates and actually seeing the game on friends’ computers. Nope. I was resisting. I was being good. It’s all his fault.

It’s installing as I write. I’m not sure how I’m going to find the time for GW2 when I don’t have the time for TSW or WoW or the Sims or indeed anything other than 5 minutes of FreeCell here and there, but it’s a NEW GAME!!!11oneone and, even bigger bonus, it’s free to play. Since TSW is essentially subs-free as well, that’s like Two Good Things all at once.

I know TSW isn’t actually free to play, but the lifetime sub already paid for itself in my view. I’ve probably played maybe 70 hours total, counting futzing around on characters I abandoned and not counting the many hours spent in Beta, so we’re already talking less than $4/hour. Whichever way you slice it, MMOs are still a damn sight cheaper per hour of entertainment than, say, movies.

So now I’m like the woman with two manstresses, or whatever you want to call it. Both are low-maintenance, neither of them is going to get pissy with me if I don’t have time to devote to them, neither of them requires to be taken to dinner, and both will be there whenever I fancy a bit of fun. God only knows how (or if) I’ll find time for Mists of Pandaria when that comes out in a few weeks…

* In the interests of full disclosure I should note that we got a new car last week, that it’s more car than I’ve ever had in terms of power AND bells and whistles, and that we’re jumping into the car and going for a drive on the slightest of tiny excuses. I’ve probably run more “errands” this week and done more mileage than in the last 6 months combined.

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