Eight Years In

Seems hard to believe it’s been eight years of MMOs, doesn’t it?  Well, eight years for me, that is!  As is usual at around this time, at about the anniversary of my introduction to the MMO-sphere, I take a look back at the previous year, summing up the past year of gaming and related stuffs.  Plus, hey, it’s an excuse for me to look over past posts and see how things changed and evolved as we went along.

Hail and farewell….

The first on the list, sadly, is the late and lamented City of Heroes.  But before things ended, there were little moments of triumph.  The villain Dracofire reached level 50, to the acclaim of the Entropy Legion-my only new max level character.  The Legion was likely the most stable of the groups I was involved with; given its villainous bent, it’s sort of amusing.  During the year, I effectively retired the character of Stellar Protector from Hyperion Force, and my involvement with the SG as well; the character did return to the group before shutdown to end as a member of the group he started with.  The Union Supreme also underwent upheaval as well, with a total leadership change.  Also in the running was a new group, the Prometheus Project, in which I and a couple of others hoped to create a new story-based RP group where members designed stories for the other members; unfortunately, it finally launched in August:  a couple weeks before the shutdown announcement.  That sort of castrated the group entirely, so it just morphed into a standard missioning SG until the end.  The game itself was ramping up for some good stuff:  the Coming Storm hinted at for years was literally two issues away from release, the Praetorian storyline was wrapping up, and things were looking bright.  Then NCSoft dropped the bomb.  (And no, I’m afraid I don’t believe some recent statements by NCSoft about profitability; I’ve seen enough info out there to be iffy on their credibility.)

I’d be remiss in ignoring the activities of the CoH community who are doing all sorts of stuff to keep the game alive-or at least its spirit.  The Titan Network is pretty much the central point for activity, by virtue of having a bunch of dedicated people already in place with the CoH wiki, Paragon Wiki.  It was by reading their posts and making use of tools developed in the wake of the shutdown that I was able to create an after-the-fact screenshot of the Union Supreme’s character membership-something that would have been literally impossible in-game.

The Union Supreme-and these were just the characters I could get a hold of.

Next on the list comes Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Or as I have to think of it:  the biggest game fastest to go to Freemium status.  I sure as hell wouldn’t have predicted this a year ago:  subscriptions apparently hemmoraged so fast that Bioware/EA felt compelled to convert the game to Freemium to help stop the bleeding.  Contentwise, most of the action has been toward group content-the operations, mostly.  In other words, stuff that I’m less than enthused in, since my social circle there tends to be limited (and accordingly, my time there has reduced dramatically).  In spite of that, my main characters-Coreth the Smuggler and Alcarin the Agent-reached max level, and Zor’venrel the Inquisitor is in the early 40’s on Belsavis, so it’s not hard to imagine him going over the top in the next year.

Moving towards its first major story content update.

Moving towards its first major story content update.

One of the things that has caught my attention is the coming of the Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion.  Actually, I’ll take a page from a contact on Ord Mantell:  it is a DLC, which is called an expansion; I am watching it with both eyes.  I may pick it up, I may not; but I’m not preordering for five lousy days of early access.  I’ll wait and see what the folks who have got that access have to say.  The devs have made the right noises as to what it contains, but I look at things from the POV of a player; we’ll see where things go from here.  I was happy with a couple events they ran earlier in the year with the Grand Acquisitions Race and the Rakghoul Outbreak, but not so thrilled since they were apparently one-off events that won’t be regular.  That’s the sort of thing that should really be at least on a yearly basis, given that the game doesn’t exactly have an easy access to holiday events like other games might (Life-Day notwithstanding).

The Final Frontier isn't going to go away anytime soon.

The Final Frontier isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

Moving on to Star Trek Online.  To be honest, I’m sort of surprised with where things have gone here-and in a good way.  There had been a dearth of content over the previous year, but that may be going away.  This year saw a new Feature Episode arc, involving some of my favorite antagonists, the Dominion, as well as Deep Space Nine; it’s added starbases for fleets, a reputation system which puts the high-end gear in better reach for players, a new space zone in the Tau Dewa sector block, complete with patrol missions (all space, at this point), and a new planet:  New Romulus, which advances the storyline in STO and has its own missions as well-some of which are unlocked with the reputation system.  The Corps of Discovery has quietly come back to life to a limited extent-players came back for assorted reasons, and the starbase has managed to get to a tier-1 status, and has an excellent chance of reaching tier-2 in the next few months-a far cry from where things could’ve been if it had continued on the trajectory I’d thought the last time I put up one of these annual posts.

This is not to say all is wine and roses with STO; the lockboxes came in, which sets my teeth on edge.  If this had been all we were seeing, I’d really be glad I wasn’t paying for subscription anymore.  Dilithium-the “currency” that you can use to purchase Zen with, or purchase WITH Zen (the PWE game currency)-is being used for more and more things in the game, and ways of getting Dilithium are either nerfed or removed (and sometimes restored when the devs are told that’s contradictory to their “we want to make stuff easier to get” concept).  The Dilithium Exchange, at this writing, has dropped well below the 100 Dilithium for 1 Zen ratio, which is the lowest it has ever been, and if the devs keep using Dilithium as their magic currency, it’s going to get even worse-or better, if you’re hoarding Dilithium.  For myself, I did manage to get a trio of characters to max level, mostly on the strength of Deck Officer Assignments-two Federation, one Klingon.  My activity there is erratic and sporadic, but I’m still doing my part to get our starbase built up.  (Don’t even talk about the Romulan Embassy; this is rough enough….)  Still, the future seems bright for STO, as it seems to have picked up more devs, including former CoH devs.

Returning to Millennium City!

Returning to Millennium City!

And this brings us to the sister game, Champions Online.  With the closure of City of Heroes, if one wanted to get the superhero fix, this was where to go.  Yes, I realize there’s another game out there, but it just wasn’t gonna work for me.  At this point, I have one character at max level, and one who is in the mid-30s, so has an excellent shot at reaching max level there as well.  With a new game comes a new supergroup, the Paragons of Virtue-a homage to where its founding members came from, but the RP backstory has nothing to do with CoH or its story.  While the game is a freemium game, I took the 3 months for 2 months subscription offer since the subscription actually does mean something in CO, unlike in STO.  There’s still enough in CO that I don’t feel starved for content yet.

But that’s where the danger signs are.  CO recently began its own lockbox frenzy, and signs were pointing to a content drought much like what STO experienced.  A new Alert-an instanced mission-seemed to be the only thing to go right in recent days.  During its anniversary, a big event was aborted since it was actually beating down more than hit points; the previous event ended, effectively removing content that had just been added.  Vehicles were added in, but they’re basically transform devices which turn your character into a vehicle.  (This doesn’t bug me that much:  I play STO, after all, and that’s a starship in a nutshell.)  Despite this, it seems that the next year is about to kick off with a new event-we’ll see if there’s more to it than just alerts, and see if it actually has lasting impact as opposed to “run this once and we’ll remove everything when it’s over”.

The last MMO visit of note was World of Warcraft; it was a brief visit, thanks to a Scroll of Resurrection that was sent my way, which allowed me to upgrade up to Cataclysm (including Wrath of the Lich King).  I didn’t really spend a lot of time there, though.  Still, I can’t help but suspect that when all the other MMOs get cancelled out from under me, WoW will still be there waiting.  Hm, that sounded almost stalkerish.

I’d resolved last year to write one story for each of my characters I’d written before in my various versions of short fiction on the appropriate guild sites.  I blew that one to Hell; I always sucked at New Year Resolutions, anyway.  I did manage to get a few done, though.  The Union got “Days of Yore” and “Nuclear Winter”, while the newly christened Paragons got the origin of Runelord in “The Rune is Cast”.  On my to-do list is a pair of Old Ranger stories, which will conclude the character’s story, continuing the story of Runelord, and a special project that kind of exceeded my estimates just a bit-and is likely to see the light of day first.  Eventually.

And that’s another year down!  I’m expecting lots of ups and downs this year, because why should it be any different than previous years?  I’ll be here to continue posting my observations, my thoughts, and occasionally showing off my characters in the MMOs I play.

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