Transitions

2015 edit:  The following was the last blog post I’d made on GuildPortal.

I’ve been rolling along on this blog, on and off, since mid-2005.  A bit over six years.  And now it’s time to say good bye.

Kind of.

Faces of the Ranger is moving to WordPress.  This decision wasn’t a light one, but one I decided was the way to go for future blogging.  For one thing, it isn’t dependent on one of my multiple GuildPortal login IDs; for another, it’s not at the mercy of GuildPortal downtimes (which usually come unannounced for extended periods).  And finally, I have a bit more control over the stuff I put on it.

Unfortunately, I can’t move all the posts I’ve done over the last six years over there; no convenient export tools exist for GP’s blogging, so the new site will just have a link back to this one to look back at the many posts of the past.  As I’ll still be keeping my account at GP rolling (I AM still keeping up with the guilds I’m a part of here), the blog should survive as long as GP does.  The key thing to stress here is:  I’m not leaving GP; only my blog is.  It’ll probably kill my page views, but that’s life for you.

I hope you’ll join me at https://facesoftheranger.wordpress.com.  I’ve duplicated the latest post here over there, as my big linkage.  If not, happy gaming!

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Studio Attitudes

I’ve posted not so long ago about the insanity that seems to have afflicted Cryptic concerning the conversion to Freemium (which is looking more like the traditional Free to Play given how little incentive there is to actually subscribe).  Things haven’t changed much there; while they did decide to give the “gold” members their ship tokens again (except at Vice Admiral level), the devs have insinuated dilitihium into the crafting process now. Better still:  soon they’ll be testing their “dilithium exchange” where people can use C-points to purchase dilithium from other players.  Sounds a bit like the PLEX economy going on with EVE, except, you know, PLEX has a bit more motivation since they represent a month’s sub, and dilithium represents…well, not much.  I predict a hideous exchange rate.

The truth is that the developers at Cryptic seem to have set into the mindset of “their way or the highway”.

But let’s look at a couple other instances of hubris lately.

EVE Online has had its moment of hubris.  The last expansion, Incarna, introduced the opening stages of “walking in stations” and their own microtransaction shop.  The pricing was…well, let’s say on the high side.  People got hacked off enough at that, before an internal email became public hinting at the prospect of “buyable special ammunition” and other game-changing toys.  Add to that the loss of other emotional details like “ship spinning” and the reports that the new “captains quarters” were melting video cards, not to mention the fact that there was only the Minmitar quarters available…the EVE playerbase went on a revolt.

The short term fallout?  A massive lack of faith in their devs.  A drop in subscriptions.  And their CEO admitted that their reach may have exceeded their grasp just a tad.  In other words, the players spoke, and-it seems-the devs have listened.  But there was a long term cost.  CCP, the studio making EVE, had to let go of a chunk of staff because of the sudden revenue drop represented by the anger of their players.  This in turn will delay-in all probability-their World of Darkness MMO (especially since it seems most of the cuts came from their shop in Atlanta, where the WoD folks tend to operate), and may impact the release of their DUST game.

CCP isn’t the only one.  Paragon Studios had a moment of hubris themselves recently, when they rolled down some information in the beta for the 21.5 release.  Some of the changes angered the community pretty badly.  The community had already had a bit of rage when the devs changed the look of the Circle of Thorns enemy group, and had to do some minor modifications to mollify them, but these changes affected the endgame gameplay.  However, the devs made the right move here:  they listend to the community while the changes ARE in beta, and will be backing out those particular changes.  Their motives were somewhat pure:  they wanted to encourage people to spend time on some of the newer content instead of replaying the older content.  They just went about it the wrong way:  taking away from something instead of incentivizing the newer.

There were plenty of examples of what happens when you don’t listen to your customer base, and think that you can hack off large portions of them with impunity.  The New Game Enhancements of Star Wars Galaxies remains a perennial lesson on what not to do; the damage done to the game is very likely the reason why we have an Old Republic game coming up fast, and why SWG is closing down five days prior to that release.  In a non-MMO example, Netflix just posted a massive loss of its subscriber base thanks to its ramping up fees and attempting to split its service between streaming and DVD content.

The Internet is not a place filled with sheep.  It’s broad enough that people will find other outlets to entertain themselves, whether it’s MMOs or other content.  The executives of these studios would do well to remember that none of them are the sole providers of their style of content-and cancelling such services is as simple as a single click.

The customer is not always right…but when a large percentage of them is telling you something, perhaps you should take some time to listen.

Exclusive

As most of the folks in the MMO world know, Star Wars: The Old Republic is coming upon us soon-about two months off.  And people jump on any information about it like starving hyenas.  One of the sources of info that hit the web was from the New York Comic Con.  And there was interesting bits, like how your character can start looking corrupted by the Dark Side, and how there would be Flashpoints (group content?  Something like dungeon running in WoW?) and War Zones (PvP, obviously), and Operations (raids).  But there was another detail that jumped out at me, and after reading a few comments on some of the MMO news sites, I felt compelled to shell out my thoughts on it.

One of the things the devs at Bioware have put in is a “Fleet Zone”, which they anticipate will be a social hub for players; one for each faction, I would presume, but you know what happens when you presume.  (On the other hand, the liklihood of a fleet zone where Sith and Republic are together singing Kumbaya is pretty far fetched, isn’t it?)  The zone will have vendors, access to the Galactic Trade Network (auction house), launching points to the aforementioned flashpoints, and a special VIP lounge for people who buy the Collector’s Edition.

You can probably figure what I’m about to talk about here.

There haven’t been many comments I’ve seen on this, but the ones I have seen are pretty universal:  “Whuh?  A CE only VIP lounge?  RIP OFF!  Elitist bait!  Cash grab!  Evil devs!”

Look.  It’s not that big a deal.

Fact One:  it’s known on the TOR preorder page that there was gonna be a special vendor for CE purchasers.  It makes sense that it would be in a special section in the game somewhere.  (I suppose folks might have thought they could summon it somehow; this makes a lot more sense to me.)

Fact Two:  and this is the bigger one.  Nobody’s going to be using it after a month.  Seriously.

How can I back this up?  Let me point you to a little game called Star Trek Online.  Yes, I realize that there aren’t anywhere near as many folks there as they’re expecting for TOR.  But the general principle stands.  For folks who bought a lifetime sub-or stuck around for about a year-there is special access to the Captain’s Table.  It has basic station amenities, minus places to turn in exploration marks or customize your ship.  And it looks pretty.  And that’s it.  Want to guess how many people I see in there at any given time?  Here’s a hint-you only need one hand to count ’em.

Let me point you to a little game called City of Heroes.  Again, not as big as what TOR is projecting, but bigger than STO.  If you bought a certain version of the game-or purchased it separately, now that it’s in the Freemium arena-you got access to the Tiki Lounge in Pocket D.  Want to know what’s in there?  An inspiration vendor (which isn’t unique to the Lounge-they’re the main area of Pocket D too) and a Tailor to change your costume-which isn’t unique either, since Tailors are in multiple locations for villains and heroes, and now that trainers can do the same functionality too, you can even do it in the D with the War Witch trainer.  There’s usually more traffic in the Tiki, but it tends to be commuter related:  folks teleport in, and leave; or they see the tailor.

Sure sounds like stuff to get upset about, don’t it?  Those horrible, evil devs.

So I don’t have any issue with this exclusive VIP lounge in TOR.  Why would I?  It’s only a bit of eye candy that will be seen only occasionally, and will hardly be a social hub of any import.  After all, if you want to socialize, you’re going to go where the most people are-and that’s not going to be in a by-definition exclusive area.  It’s going to be in the main areas.  And I won’t be surprised if, eventually, it becomes a veteran related reward too.

Take a breath.  Relax.  Your world won’t come to an end if you can’t get into one small area in the game that will mean nothing, and mine won’t either.

Insanity at Cryptic?

I realize that it’s still in its beta stages; I realize that it’ll be a longer time on the test server than usual because of the transition.  All the same, I can’t help but wonder if the Star Trek Online devs have started taking drugs.

Due to a number of details I can’t get into here, I haven’t been able to spend much time on the Tribble server (which is now the F2P test server; the “normal” test server is Redshirt; and Live is Holodeck.  Got that?), so I haven’t been able to see too much personally.  What I have been reading, however, concerns me.  While there are good things to be seen-I hear that DS9 is having its makeover, and the duty officer system is being tested-there are things that make me scratch my head and wonder what they’re doing over there.

Take dilithium.

As Trek fans know, dilithium crystals are the magic fuel that makes starships go.  (Okay, it’s more complicated than that, but stay with me here.)  STO has suffered from a massive glut of currencies-marks of exploration, which consist of five types; emblems; marks of valor; merits; energy credits.  So the devs are looking to consolidate it all into one currency:  dilithium.  Good so far, right?  Here’s the rub:  this is also replacing the free ship token upon promotion in rank.  So suddenly, getting a ship requires a grind.  Better yet:  it’s been explicitly stated that you WILL have to grind for them, because dilithium via normal play won’t get you QUITE enough for the upper level ships.

Players, as a rule, prefer it when devs make life less complicated.  They also prefer not to get screwed over.  They’re getting it both ways here.

Then there are the C-Store prices on the test server, which seem to be higher than what’s in Live.  Not a big shock there; given that most of their current player base may well be Lifetime subbers who will be getting stipends.  On the other hand, if that’s not true, then folks currently subbing (who also get the stipend) are very likely to drop the subs-especially since they lose very, very little by doing so.

Honestly, when looking at Champions Online and STO, both by the same company, one wonders what happened between them.  CO is a pretty reasonable setup for a F2P game.  Free players get access to just about all the content, but can’t put together “freeform” characters-they have to go with archetypes for character progression; the subbers get to customize greater, both in powers and appearance.  That’s a big perk for subbing.  The big perk for subbing in STO is…well, being able to design content via the Foundry.  Which free players can purchase to do to a limited extent as well.  So far, everything I’ve been reading seems designed to hose the subscribing characters in favor of a larger playerbase they expect to get after the transition.

Gosh, put that way, it sure sounds like another game I played back in the day, doesn’t it?  How’d that work out?

I don’t have a horse in this race.  I’m a lifetimer in STO whose membership has matured.  It’s already effectively free to play for me; I’m considered subbed for as long as the game exists; I can put the fifteen a month directly into C-Points should I choose and it wouldn’t bother me a bit.  But for the folks who’ve paid month by month, or semi-annually, or annually…well, they’ve got to be looking at all this and wondering-what the Hell?

And it’s hard to come up with an argument on the other side of things.

Assimilate This!

One of the annoying side effects of Star Trek Online going F2P before year’s end has been what forum posters are calling “the content drought”.  In some ways, they’ve got a point.  Since the last feature episode all the way back in February, there hasn’t been much-as in, any-new missions the like in the game.  This isn’t to say that nothing’s been going on; new Klingon homeworld, new Starfleet Academy map, ground combat revamp, the Foundry-but it seems that the most popular bits of stuff that were put in to the game post-launch have been shoveled to the side:  feature episodes.  Those episodes were almost universally praised in game and on the forums as the devs finally getting it-getting what Star Trek was about, and delivering the ST experience.  When the announcement for F2P, it was also mentioned that we could expect the next feature-last stated to be on-deck for October-to be on-hold UNTIL F2P hit.

That went over about as well as one could expect.

Fortunately, or not so fortunate for the people of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, we have the Borg.

Recently put in has been the “Borg Invasions” although it only covers a series of attacks in space.  The logic is pretty simple:  at various intervals, a red alert goes up in the sector block, and clicking the button puts you in an instance of a Borg assault force.  It can happen in virtually every sector block except Undine controlled space, Borg controlled space (really, why invade what you already got), and the Neutral Zone.  These are honestly glorified deep space encounters, but there’s something about reacting to an alert to defend against the Borg that seems to get the attention.  The accolades probably don’t hurt either.  Not to mention the command ships.

Yes, the Borg send in no less than ten command ships (although not in the same instance; that would be wrong), one per sector block-and which one is apparently randomly determined.  These command ships are unlike almost any vessel ever seen in Trek.  Smart forum goers have remarked upon the striking resemblence to one other vessel in Trek, and that one vessel was enough to nearly wipe out a planet once.  It’s tough-especially in the Orellius sector block, where it’s at the max level of difficulty.  (Most of the encounters lock everyone in at a given level; two go higher.  Orellius is the biggest.)  But a team of ships working together can usually do it in.

It’s pretty fun.

Indications are that there are plans in the offing for a ground invasion of a species homeworld, where the Borg are going to try to take out and assimilate.  I’m going on record now in skipping the obvious of the Fed or Klingon species, and say that that the target will be Defera, the homeworld of the Deferi-conveniently in the Orellius sector, hosting the most powerful Borg in space for the deep space encounters, and conveniently the location of technology that the Borg would want to assimilate.  Watch this space-if I’m wrong, I’m sure I’ll mention my oopsie; if I’m right, I claim the right to brag on it.

On a side note unrelated:  Premium accounts for City of Heroes have started being activated, meaning if one had a sub once upon a time, they can now play the game for free (under the restrictions under its F2P matrix).  The official Freedom launch, I figure can’t be far away-possibly next week.  In which case, my prediction of an October Freedom launch will technically be accurate.  (I’ll take my victories where I can get them.)

More Free

Seems like every post I pop up here lately involves something going Free to Play.

This time, it’s SOE’s DC Universe Online.  That one wasn’t hard to guess at; Champions Online is F2P; City of Heroes will be going F2P in the VERY near future (since the VIPs are doing its headstart now)-it may even be Live before I finish posting this, for all I know.  And the general consensus of DCUO is that it was nowhere near worth a sub fee.  So, it seems that it was inevitable that it would go Free to Play.

The thing that surprises me is that they’re targeting a Live date of October.  That’s one helluva turnaround time.  This screams of SOE’s usual slap-dash work again (or heavy work behind the scenes in advance-which kind of tells you something about SOE since the game came out less than a year ago).  I’d be very, very leery about purchasing anything from their cash shops….  Still, the basic structure of their upcoming model is pretty much the standard-three tiers of play, from the straight free people, to the folks who purchased the game, to the people who continue subbing, with various details limited or nonexistent for the free guys, everything available (mostly) for the subbers, and something in between for the the folks in between.

Since I’m pretty much on-record as not being willing to give SOE another dime, I obviously would fall into the former range.  I’m sure I’ll take a look at it now-well, in October if they hold to schedule-and see what it’s like.  But I’m certainly not likely to throw over City of Heroes for it.

It’s amusing to see in their forums the same kind of things I saw in the CoH forum and the Star Trek Online forum when they announced:  pronouncements of doom, rage/fear of the free players to come, etc.  You would think there would be less of this since the model is becoming more and more established.  Guess everyone still judges by the WoW standard-if it doesn’t get WoW numbers, it must not be as good.  Whatever.  I’m tempted to look over at the Star Wars Galaxies forum to see what they think of that news, since they’re not going F2P, instead getting thrown under the bus….

Speaking of City of Heroes-I did mention it was in a headstart period, right?-the changeover seems to have gone more or less okay.  Got a kick out of the new Sewer trial, and hope to get a shot at the Underground trial for Incarnates this weekend.  The market…well, it’s got good and bad points.  Some things seem priced right-the Beam Rifle powerset was worth the price, especially since it was on sale.  I’m really, REALLY enjoying it.  On the other hand, the sale announced last night was a Pirate outfit “temporary” power (it’s actually permanent, but that’s how we tend to look at it); the problem is that it’s horribly overpriced as being more expensive than full costume sets-even on sale!  That seems like such a poor value to me.  There’s a number of those kind of “costume powers” out there, which would be terrific for RP kind of stuff due to the fact that you can’t reasonably make some of those costumes with the game’s costume editor-but at those kind of prices, I’d rather gnaw off my leg.  Thanks, but no thanks.

The new tutorial is better than I’d given credit for.  Originally, I figured it was just the Galaxy City mini-zone (that’s the kind way of putting it; what was lost compared to what we got is…tragic, honestly.  It’s puny.  I have hopes that we’ll see something more in the future…).  I had at the time really put it down because it told new players almost NOTHING about how to play the game.  Well, it seems I only looked at part of the story:  the game throws a tutorial contact at you at level 5, 10, and 15, which kind of makes learning about the various details that make up the game a part of mission arcs.  It’s rather well done, although I kind of think they might’ve been better to do some of it with the initial arc you start with when you leave Galaxy.

All things considered, it seems that the F2P model (or at least the “Freemium” model) is taking over the world of MMOs; I’m half expecting to see EVE Online throw its hat in the ring soon….

Free to Play is Blowin’ in the Wind….

Well, it’s not like nobody saw it coming.  As mentioned on a number of reputable sites by now, Star Trek Online will be going Free to Play, quite likely by the end of the year (well, we’ll see about the timing part).

Each step taken by Cryptic seemed to lead to this inevitability.  First, there was Champions Online.  When it went F2P, that led to serious talk about STO’s future; it got louder when CO apparently thrived under that business model.  Then came the sale from Atari to Perfect World, a company already known for free to play MMOs.  At that point, it seemed highly unlikely that STO would remain as-is.  Now, while the “official” announcement has not yet been made, the devs on the forums have all but confirmed it.

Unsurprisingly, some of the MMO-sphere is already laughing at the lifetimer subs.  Of course, those geniuses don’t seem to have much math education or knowledge of history.  The odds favor STO being treated similar to CO, in that subs will likely still be available for a “gold” membership, and will include a stipend of C-Points for the cash shop; and since lifetimers are considered subs, they’ll be receiving that stipend without additional subscription fees.  (And as mentioned in the past, those of us who grabbed the lifetimer sub pre-launch are ALREADY technically F2P-even if it happened tomorrow.)  Who’s laughing now?

What this means in term of actually getting content is still an open question.  What it means in terms of what the free players get access to is still an open question-but I expect to hear more on that point sooner rather than later.

On top of this news, of course, is the impending City of Heroes F2P transition, which is also likely to be sooner than later.  While there still seems to be some issues to be worked out, I am forced to revise my estimate of an October target to a September target-a bunch of marketing actions taken by NCSoft and Paragon Studios is indicating to me that the time is coming VERY soon.  They have confirmed a “headstart” for those who are currently subbing, but no official release date has yet been announced.  But at this point, unless something truly horrible happens, I’m expecting to see it hit live in the next couple of weeks.

It’s an interesting sensation to realize that I technically won’t have to pay to play the two main MMOs I currently play.

However, I’m still likely to pay my sub for CoH, as I suffer from major altitis there, and don’t see any reason to stop; but I can see putting that 15 to somewhere else for a month, without losing all THAT much thanks to the vet time I’ve accumulated.  I’m free to spend another 15 that I’ve budgeted per month on just about anything else at this stage-and still be able to play STO as it is.  I can visit EVE Online, go back to WoW, pay a month for Champions Online.  (However, SWG is right out; let’s face it, I’m unwilling to give them another dime over in SOE land.)  Could be I’ll even take a peek in The Old Republic, depending on what I hear and see.

The whole CoH F2P deal is being called “Freedom”.  Well, if all goes as two different developers plan, I certainly will have a lot of Freedom coming up soon.

Blowing Off the Dust

RL’s been a bit hectic, and in the shuffle, I haven’t had the time to do as much as I’d like in MMO-land.  Which would be one of the reasons why there hasn’t been a lot of posting in the blog here recently.

So:  I ain’t dead yet.

Let’s see, where to begin.  Since the last post, my free time in Star Wars Galaxies ended, officially, so that’ll likely be the last time I log into that game-particularly since the game itself is heading out the door.  At some point, I’ll probably try to consolidate some of those screenshots and put them up somewhere for general viewing.  Given the volume of shots, though, from this latest period going all the way back to pre-Combat Upgrade days in early/mid ’05, it’s probably not very high on the list of priorities.

I spent a little bit of time in Vanguard-that other SOE game I got free time for.  I could certainly see the similarities in things to the pre-CU days in SWG; you’ve got a bit of triple advancement going on, with your class, your diplomatic skills, and your “craft related” skills (whether for making or for gathering).  My original character there was long dust-a victim of server merges.  The name was also in use by someone else (multiple someones, apparently, judging from the Vanguard website), so I went and created a Dark Elf Dread Knight named Zhaven.  Playing him was kind of rough; of course, I can’t rule out the possibility that he wasn’t awesomely geared, nor the possibility that I just didn’t get aspects of the playstyle of the class.  Only got him to level 10 via the Isle of Dawn, and it was only through the assistance of Pizmo-who had characters in Vanguard-that I even got that far.  Long enough to peek around the wider world-then RL intervened.  Life happens when you aren’t paying attention.  I’ll give kudos to the game’s designers on the diplomacy system; it plays like a trading card game, but it does give a certain rush of its own.  “I’ll destroy you with DIPLOMACY!!  HAHAHHAH!” came from my lips once or twice.  “I got my ass kicked” was another phrase that passed through my lips….

I’ve perceived for a while now that I’m in a bit of a rut in CoH.  My involvement with various supergroups claims a chunk of that precious free time, but the bigger issue is that I’ve paid a lot of attention on characters who-honestly-aren’t advancing anymore.  My stable of maxed level characters is substantial, and several are in SGs.  When I play with those characters, it’s a recognition that I’m playing for the enjoyment of socialization more than any thought I’m going to improve the character in any way.  This attention on high level guys tends to cripple the advancement of lower level characters-even ones who are at level 40+.  With this realization, I’m looking to concentrate more of my non-SG time to the characters who aren’t in a group to give them a boost.  Ordinarily, I’d use a villain for the upcoming double xp weekend in a couple weeks, but unfortunately, I’ll be out of town.  Ah well-there’s that RL again.

I continue to keep up with the details released by the CoH devs on where things are going when it goes free to play.  Some info is “eh” (hoverboard power?), some info is “awesome!” (“I can purchase to a maximum of 48 character slots on a server now?  Where’s my wallet..?”), and some info is “What the HELL are they thinking?” (Circle of Thorns costume redesign).  Some new powersets incoming that could be sweet (Titanic Weapons?  Time Manipulation? Beam Rifles?), and one I am a bit iffy on (Street Fighting) and one that may or may not be real since the info came from a “leak” (but if it’s true, it’ll be sweet).  Some of these are purchase powers, regardless whether or not you’re a VIP; I anticipate some screaming when the time comes.  Pricing will matter a lot, and we still don’t have anywhere near what we’d call a complete list.  However, due to some stuff released by the devs, it’s now pretty certain that sales will happen-which I never doubted for a moment.

My other MMO, STO, officially became free to play-for me, anyway.  So the first thing I did was dump ten bucks into C-Store points and went on a spending spree.  I can consider any and all C-store purchases to be part of my monthly sub (that no longer exists since I am a lifetime subscriber).  And conveniently, there was a sale on costume parts….  I have a feeling that my purchases there are gonna be on sales only, to take ruthless advantage of the spending power.  At the same time, of course, I also expect to stay in budget; microtransactions only have the power you let them have.  I admit I’ve made sure to drain all the points of a purchase down as low as possible, because I have no idea what’ll happen when the Atari sale finally goes through.  I do NOT want to discover that the “Atari Tokens” won’t be honored because Atari owns them, and wouldn’t I like to use them on the latest Atari game?  Content-wise, we’re in a drought; no Feature episodes rolling until September, although it seems that the Borg will be doing something near the end of the month.  Still, that’s a long time to wait.  Fortunately, I DO have characters to level in STO still, primarily KDF side, but one over in Fed-land.  So that should hopefully make the content gap easier (especially since free time should open up again-well, until the middle of the month again…).

Nothing else is coming to mind that jumped out at me since the last post; even the EVE Online controversy has died down in the MMO-sphere.  Well, okay, technically there was also the unleashing of the pre-orders for the Old Republic MMO, but as I won’t purchase without knowing what I’m getting into, there’s prety much no prayer that I’ll be doing that.  It’s free trial (even if it’s a 3 day trial) or a buddy key for me.  Or, yes, technically an open-beta slot, but I’m reasonably sure that given my luck at being selected for any betas, the odds are roughly the same as me hitting the big jackpot in Vegas.  That said, I do know exactly what characters I’ll mess with as far as concept goes, one Republic and one Sith….

That pretty much covers it this time.  Here’s to hoping it’s not another month before I post again!

An Insane Week in MMO-Land

First:  originally, this blog entry was only going to cover one subject.  However, the blog software here had a stroke and I couldn’t post anything until now.

Which may be for the best, because it’s been BUSY this week.  So time to scrap my original post I’d saved locally, and off to the wider view.

The big news of the week covers the riots in EVE Online.  I know-what do you expect out of EVE?  This is a bit different.  You see, the Incarna expansion finally came out-the fabled “walk in stations” expansion, although it’s a bit more limited than that.  Actually, that’s like saying the NGE was a minor change to SWG.  But that’s not what’s really causing fits.  What’s causing fits is the microtransactions.  Some enterprising souls did some calculations, and the cost for some of those vanity items-new clothes, mostly-is heading for the kind of prices you’d see in real life.  For single items.  Add to that a leaked memo that indicated that the devs at CCP were considering a business strategy that sounded like they were looking toward putting up stuff for a “pay to win” attitude-and gouging customers, although not phrased like that-and suddenly you have rioting spaceships in Jita.  Some folks are comparing this to the NGE; while that’s a bit extreme (nothing has compared to the NGE to date), the apparent attitude of those in power at CCP sure seems similar.

Of course, that doesn’t really affect me anymore, since I don’t play EVE these days, but I’m following the developments with interest.  In part because of the bigger news of the week.  City of Heroes is adopting a free to play model.  That statement still gives me a sinking feeling a bit, although it’s more emotional than intellectual.  It’s nothing new-ever since Dungeons and Dragons Online did it, it’s been the big thing.  It’s following a similar model type, although not identical, to Turbine’s.  As I plan to keep paying my 15 a month, however, I should be in decent shape.  But I’ll be watching the “Paragon Market” carefully, because it’s still ingrained into me to not trust this kind of thing.  My sense of paranoia is balanced by trust in the CoH devs, who haven’t really steered me wrong yet (aside from certain issues with the copyright filter in the Mission Architect, which still infuriates me quite a bit).  I expect this to hit in late Fall; I20.5 is being released on Tuesday, and I expect the beta to take quite a while before hitting Live.  I’m betting October; we’ll see how accurate my guess is.

That one was going to be the subject of this blog entry all by itself, honestly, but yesterday I got hit with the biggest news of the week.  Star Wars Galaxies is closing down as of December 15.

Now there’s a spot of mixed emotions if I ever had ’em.  Readers of this blog are well aware of my long history with that game.  NGE effectively killed it back in ’05, but like a huge beast, it’s taken a long time to actually die.  With Star Wars: The Old Republic on-deck at around that time, it seems that SWG has thrown in the towel.  On one hand, there’s a certain satisfaction to SOE doing that; I’ve been known to carry grudges for a long time.  But SWG was my first MMO, primarily because it was Star Wars, in the era that I knew best-the Rebellion era.  There’s a certain wistfulness at thinking about what could have been, if things hadn’t gone so wrong almost six years ago.  That disaster cut me free to see the other games out there, but SWG as it once was always held a special place in my heart.  And of course, I know that there were people who liked where SWG was going, what it was becoming; even though I wasn’t one of them, I couldn’t hate them for enjoying something that had soured for me.  And I don’t have any real sense of glee that they are now experiencing what I’d experienced back then (although they certainly got more warning than I’d gotten); it just brings back the memories.

But I’ve spent the last 40 days for free in SWG taking screenshots allowing me to preserve the best parts of my memories; I have the stories I’ve written about the character of Coreth Landwalker preserved.  They are my scrapbook of days gone by, and as long as I have them, I’ll always remember those days when Coreth walked on the worlds of Corellia, Dathomir, and many others, doing what he did best.