Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling reports from the front lines* of the Massively Multiplayer Multiverse.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Templars and Dragons and Zombies, Oh My! The Secret World Preview

The Secret World early access starts tomorrow! I will not be part of it for nongaming reasons, though I do plan to purchase the game soon and dive in. This preview will probably be more brief and less detailed than I originaly intended, since I'm writing it four days after the last time I played the game. I also wish I had screenshots of my own play time, but the snapshot function didn't work for me.
There's a lot of negativity about the game based on the weekend beta. Ten Tentacles had some issues with the client that I did not encounter, and also the clunkiness of the game controls and graphics. Buhallin, on Syp's poll whether people will be playing, echoed the "clunky" sentiment and went on to say the story is lacking. Thade played in the closed beta and also didn't like it. Scarybooster posted two lists of what he read from various sources:
What [Scarybooster] mainly noticed from weekend beta testers were these statements:
1. Clunky
2. Poor character customization
3. Lacking graphics
4. Dated combat
5. Too niche
On the other hand, these are the things [Scarybooster] heard from closed beta testers after the NDA dropped:
1. Beautiful world and setting is perfect
2. Refreshing complex quests
3. Wonderful developer feedback
4. Very fluid questing
5. Amazing story
I'm really interested in playing a bit of GW2 (hopefully tonight) since Ten Tentacles compared it favorably with TSW's controls. Maybe I'm not critical enough of the current batch of MMOs, but the interface mechanics all seem pretty much the same to me: click on a target hit/click some buttons on the action bar, rinse, repeat. I haven't played a game that didn't feel essentially the same as WoW with nuanced differences. Often, the differences were a detriment to the "new" game. So I'd like more explanation from people who say this or that game is clunky.

As far as the character graphics go: hmmm, they're certainly different. I'd say from a basic art design perspective, I like Rift's female characters and Bahmi males the best, with SWTOR having done a better job with the (average) male characters. But from and animation standpoint WoW engine seems to be the most natural to me, after all these years. Other games just don't quite have that down, IMHO, though SWTOR comes close. Having said that, I am not too concerned with TSW's character animations, as some other folk are. It's a matter of taste, I think. Could they be improved? Certainly, but the game is already kinda creepy, so the "uncanny valley" stuff just adds to it.
I would like some prettier faces in the character customization screen. Oh! and along those lines, can a game besides WoW PLEASE enable graphics settings adjustment BEFORE I get to the character screen? Characters that seem too fat end up looking like sticks, because the default settings assume I'm on a 600x800 screen. (Maybe TSW has settings available and I just didn't see them.) [EDIT: Yes they do have video and and settings available at the login screen.]

Dated combat? Compared to what? I'll admit the moment to moment combat is similar to pretty much all the games I've played. AoC combat was very much based on position, and STO's space combat feels different enough. But a lot of games have some abilities that have a chance to hit as long you're "facing" the target, no need to aim, and other games have AoE and Cone effect spells. What more modern combat system did I miss? Don't tell me Tera, because, just no. I happen to like the combat mechanics in TSW and SWTOR and WoW, etc. I don't like FPS games. I don't think it's a matter of modernity, but preference.

[ADDED] The skill system is new and different, "classless," in that given the time and effort, you can gain all the skills available in the game. Right now there are no respecs, partly for that reason. This was seen as a problem by Thade, but I disagree. He thought he would have to grind the initial quest region in order to gain points to spend in a different school of combat. I figure I could just continue on, spending points to transition while still keeping the skills I have already gained in the meantime. But then, having played multiple classes in multiple games, I don't really worry about the specific way I am causing or healing damage, only that I am.

In The Secret World, your decisions matter, but they aren't crippling. I had an IRL friend concerned that so much choice would lead to vaporlock. However, the decks (essentially suggested builds) give you some goal to work toward, and involve abilities deep in the schools covered. I would say once you've picked a weapon you like, work toward filling out that school of combat completely, only putting some abilities in a secondary school if you want to mix it up a bit. Much like the Soul system in Rift, TSW's wheel takes some getting used to. But I like something different than a talent system that I've seen in every game, locking my character into a certain role unless the devs see fit to let me dual spec or something. [/ADDED]

I loved the clue-based Investigation quests. I liked that, although some quests seemed to be of the simple "Kill x Ys" variety, there was more to it. There were always clues to learn about how the World I had stepped into works. I liked the modern pop culture references from the first Dan Brown joke, references that fit the world instead of reminding me how clever the devs are. Yes, I love WoW's pop culture references, but they are silly. TSW's are organic to the game premise that this is our world, I've just discovered a new, terrifying aspect of it.

I loved that one of the first NPCs I met reassured me that I was a nobody, a cog in the wheel that was simply more aware of the machine. I loved that I had to look up information on the internet, not to figure out how to get to the datacron, but who that composer from the early 18th century was. (I thought I knew, but was mistaken.) I'm glad I knew about how church services work, but I still had to go back and actually read the clue again; because, yeah, it's not all there in the quest log. I want to spend the time necessary to really get to know this world. Ragnar Tørnquist and his team have done a wonderful job detailing it.

TSW will be a niche game. Niche is not a four-letter word, folks. There will be many who "get" this game; there are many who don't. And that's OK. It's not for everyone. Heck! WoW isn't for everyone, even though Blizzard tries, oh so hard. When Guild Wars 2 comes out in late August, people will flock to it. And that's great. I'm excited for it. Others won't like it or don't care.

TL;DR

The Secret World drew me in, just like games I have enjoyed in the past: WoW, STO, Rift, SWTOR. I don't know how longI'll play but I will play as long as it stays interesting. After maybe 12 hours of gameplay this past weekend, I had one character barely into the second area (and another barely started), and had not done everything I could in the first area. I haven't stopped thinking about it since: names for characters, backstories, mysteries. I've discussed it with several others who've played, read reviews, trying to figure out why some people like it, and others don't. Like many other things, it has little to do flaws in the game, and everything to do with personal preferences and priorities.

I'm very excited for the chance I'll have to get into The Secret World, when I do get that chance.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pic of the Day: My Little Death Dealer

I saw this pic on Tor.com and had to post it here, given my background with Frank Frazetta's original painting. If you like it, head over to Zedew's gallery on DeviantArt.
My Little Death Dealer ©Zedew 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

QOTD: Inter-Faction Interaction

From Ardua on Twitter regarding The Secret World:
All three factions can interact. There are persistent warzones if you want to interact with fists.
Reminds me of the Jedi definition of aggressive negotiations.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Times They Are a-Changin'

Cynwise of Stormwind waxed a bit nostalgic yesterday for the Good Ol' Days of WoW. Well, what he talked about was the impending sense of pressure he had felt to try and experience as much of the world of Azeroth before the Cataclysm changed it. What he had not anticipated was the amount of change that happened to his own character:
Cynli [his Druid] was one of many attempts by me to thumb my nose at Heraclitus. All things are change, that ancient Greek philosopher maintained, and yet I tried to step into the same river over and over again. I was upset that Cynwise had changed beneath me, that not only had the foundations of the world been torn asunder, but my vehicle for experiencing them had, too.
He also struggled through the game itself after Cataclysm, trying to enjoy it. But in the end:
 I thought I would love Cataclysm, but I didn’t. I don’t think I really even liked it very much, as a whole.
Time marches on, and all that. I eagerly anticipated Cataclysm, as well; I even bought the Collector's Edition. But then in the months leading up to the release of the expansion, I became involved in real life activities, a new relationship, etc. Certainly no fault of Blizzard or the game, but my interest diminished slightly. And then the Cataclysm "hit." For various very practical reasons, players didn't experience the cataclysm itself, only the aftermath. But I think an opportunity was lost, an opportunity to involve the player community, maybe like the opening of the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj. I don't know.

The World was different, and my new girlfriend and I explored it together, she for the first time, and I to see what was new and what was unchanged. I was disappointed to be honest. I never got my main, Rowanblaze the priest, past 81; in fact I'm not even sure I got her to 81. I never experienced Hyjal or the Firelands, it didn't interest me any longer. I finally unsubbed after spending months only running through lowbie dungeons with a small group of friends. We got up to Scholomance—and The Sunken Temple, I think.

Meanwhile, every other company I game with managed to piss me off yesterday evening, or I was already irritated. I'd love to love SWTOR, but the atrocious customer service of BioWare(!) has soured my taste for the game. Sctrz said she was bored with it last night, I seriously doubt we'll still be playing SWTOR by the end of this billing cycle.

So we tried something different. Guild Wars 1 had funky mechanics that I was willing to try out, but then discovered that because Sctrz and I were on trial runs, we couldn't group up. And I could not talk in general chat to ask someone for help. She downloaded STO, which took forever. I still don't know what she thinks of the game after playing the tutorial and the Azura mission. Meanwhile, Perfect World Entertainment is forcing all STO players to get PWE accounts and merge their Cryptic accounts; which is fine, except they screwed up the merge process by reserving people's screen names in such a way that the individual cannot retrieve the name. Hopefully, this will be fixed shortly.

I look at news of Mists of Pandaria with mild interest, but I don't honestly think I'll re-up. To paraphrase Cynwise, it would not be the same river.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Objectifying Others: Another Trip Into the Monkeysphere

Raghead, Cunt, Faggot, Nigger, Retard, Spic, Papist, Mormon, WASP, Gringo, Kraut, Geek, Bible Thumper, Moron, N00b, Gay, Chink, Feminazi, Charlie, Gerry, Honky, Nerd, Whore, Gook, Slut, Haole . . .
It's funny, until you realize some people actually think that.
Offensive words, they are jarring to read, jarring to hear. In some cases, they end up co-opted by the the group they are used to describe in an effort to empower themselves, with varying degrees of success. Used outside the group, they are almost always harmful—or meant to be harmful. And they are all used to objectify an individual person by superficial characteristics, lumping them in with a group so you don't have to include them in your Monkeysphere.

"But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought."

Political rhetoric is full of fallacies, often dismissing the arguments of the opposing view as wrong simply because they disagree on some other unrelated topic. They twist words in an attempt to demonize the other. Therefore, to the "conservative" view, nothing the "liberal" side says is correct, and everything is part of some agenda to overthrow society as we know it. The liberals do much the same to the conservatives, vilifying everything about them, even when both sides may have legitimate concerns.

Yesterday, I talked about sexism in the computer game industry. I mentioned the Orwell quote about corrupt language corrupting thought. I am a fan of precise language, and often take people to task for using what I feel are improper terms to either minimize or overstate the seriousness of an issue. Naturally this upsets people, because their use of a given word can be wrapped up in a great many personal connotations that reflect their fundamental beliefs about society and the universe.

I am not immune to this myself. For instance, on Tuesday, I got into it with @Petterm (for the second time) over his use of the word "copying" vs. my word "theft" to describe copyright infringement through downloading of Intellectual Property from the internet. Naturally neither of us can agree which is the proper word, because the words themselves related to that activity reflect deeply held beliefs on both my part and his. He accused me of painting him as a villain, which was not my intent. He still follows me, I still follow him. We both agree that copyright infringement is wrong, and that the penalties are overly harsh. But he feels my word for it overstates its wrongness, and I feel that his understates it.

The severity of sexism in gaming can also be overstated or understated. While it is a form of entertainment and art, it is a commercial venture, with producers and consumers. And some of those consumers have expressed concern over how they are made to feel while participating. As I said yesterday, reaction to these complaints ranges from minimizing the the issue to misogynistic threats against the complainants. Those more severe reactions concern me far more than the original issues brought up by the women.

"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing."

Those reactions have to do with these women being outside the Monkeysphere of the men and boys making the threats. While there are some sickos (another epithet) out there who might make good on their threats, who have done horrible things (a euphemism) to women, I would like to think most of these threats are from folks "letting off steam" who would never dream doing such things in real life. But why say it in the first place? Are you threatened by the prospect of insufficient boobage in your video game? Are you so incapable of making a coherent argument for your position that you simply attempt to minimize the severity of the problem itself; or worse, use ad hominem attacks, "clearly the lady has a feminist agenda." Worst of all, are you so disturbed that you have to threaten the person in an effort to shut her up?

That certain members of the gaming community display hostility to other people on the basis of their gender or sexual orientation is reprehensible. Attempts to hide behind some Freedom of Speech clause do not excuse the speakers of their harassment, any more than it protects businesses from harassment claims by employees. Mind you, I am not saying that there should be laws against this behavior in voice chat on X-Box Live or any other chat system, voice- or text-based. But maybe the companies involved could think about the communities they are fostering, and the money they could be making, if they didn't assume that all gamers are straight males.

So, before you turn a person into an object by using some epithet to minimize their competence—to minimize their personhood—remember that the same may happen to you. And how would you feel? You might bristle in anger calling the person out for your unjustified treatment, or maybe you might just sit in shock that objectification just happened to you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Soapbox on Sexism in Gaming

I won't go into a deep treatise on this, since I have a feeling I'll be preaching to the choir, but the sexism in the gaming industry and the gaming community has got to stop. After I'd read various reports during the event of the "booth babes" phenomenon, yesterday Katie Williams of Kotaku posted yet another story that outlined the casual sexism pervasive at E3 2012 (and presumably all prior E3 events). By casual, I mean the casual assumption that she didn't know what she was doing or couldn't possibly really be interested in covering the world of software based gaming. That is huge mistake given recent studies about who exactly is gaming these days.

It's one thing to fill your game with ridiculously sexy outfits for female characters as a "sex sells" fantasy for horny men. (Protest all you want, "horny man" is a redundant phrase.) It's another thing entirely to casually dismiss 47% of your potential market.

And the gaming community is even worse. In the comments section of the Kotaku article, Ms. Williams was blamed by many for putting up with the situation. What her reaction should have been is not relevant to the issue. The attitudes of the booth presenters were unacceptable. No one should have to put up with that sort of treatment.

Reactions to other women who have tried to bring up discussions about sexism in the industry have ranged from dismissal of the problem to death and rape threats, including sharing the woman's address in a public forum. Those threats, by the way, constitute assault in most jurisdictions of the United States.

The reactions to women in-game also range from mild disbelief to full on sexual harassmen tthat would not be tolerated in any workplace or most public venues either. And I haven't even begun to address the topic of homophobia, racial epithets, etc., in voiced game chat.

I got into two discussions on Twitter yesterday about the meaning of words, and how the choice of some words over others influences the thoughts and quality of a discussion. I added the George Orwell quote to the top of my page to illustrate my point. "But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought."

Using improper terms can exacerbate problems in civil dialogue. Whining about "political correctness" is not an effective argument when you're talking about how people should be treated. Even the term "Girl Gamer" which is often used, much like Woman Doctor a few decades ago, shows a sexist bias. They're just Gamers.

I'll have more on this tomorrow.

The Loot Piñata: or Who Has a Right to Roll?

So yet again I have a post inspired by Syp over at Bio Break, but this time also inspired by Syl's Raging Monkeys. Today, Syp has asked what is the appropriate etiquette on rolling for loot when you join a PUG on late in a dungeon run, in this case on the last boss. Syl gave a nuanced response about the problem of loot rolls and merit.
Syl put forth a great set of arguments for a merit-based distribution system, like DKP in an established raid guild. However, in my not-so-humble opinion, all that logic goes out the window in a LFG-tool-based Pick-up Group. Syp didn't ask to be put in a PUG that only had the last boss to kill, the random system put him there. Therefore, whatever went before was irrelevant. Though I answered Syp a little differently, I reconsidered and would now say he would have even more right to roll if he were asked specifically by a member of the current group to join and help finish the boss. After all, as was said in the comments on Bio Break, they wouldn't have been able to finish without him.

I voted for the first option in Syp's poll: "You fought in the battle, it's an upgrade, and you have a right to roll on it." From Syp's description of the group dynamic once he had joined, I’m guessing the player he replaced probably left voluntarily after they couldn’t take the douchebaggery of the other two. Even if the missing player was vote-kicked, they still needed a fourth—Syp—to kill the last boss. Therefore he has a right to the roll, no matter what entitlement the other players felt they had to the loot.

In a broader sense, this highlights an issue I have with the way most MMOs distribute loot. Which is to say, based on random tables. I'm not sure if I've written about this before, I'll have to look, but I want to get this post out quickly. I'll pretty it up later.

I don't know if the loot system in WoW and its many competitors comes from older MMORPGs or Tabletop games or what, but I really think it's got to go. In some senses it is realistic, after all, if we were real treasure seekers, there would be no guarantees that we would get something we need by killing creatures and rifling through their pockets. On the other hand, even if something does drop that we can use, how is it that it is always a perfect fit, whether clothing or weaponry, most of which is custom made for the user?

Questions of realism aside, there is a fairness factor that has been touched on by both Syp and Syl, and varying opinions given regarding what is a fair way allocate loot. Syl advocates a Dragon Kill Points, or some variation thereof, the rewards players for continually contributing to a raid over the course of weeks or months. While I don't completely agree with DKP, it is a reasonably fair way of doing things. When I was raiding, everyone in the raid had a chance at the loot, based on the good of the raid, need, and suitability. Unfortunately, WoW's system of stat allocation during WotLK meant that, while as a healing priest I couldn't roll on something with, say, increased hit (because heals always hit anyway), all the mages rolled on everything cloth, because there was nothing that indicated healer-only gear. To me, that wasn't fair.

TishToshTesh, commenting on Syl's post, mentioned that DDO has a system that guarantees something useful to each member of the group. I would prefer the DDO system more, or a currency/vendor system. The tokens in WoW were sort of like this, but each time a new tier of tokens came out,  it basically invalidated any work done to accumulate prior tokens.

I would prefer a standard currency (gold or whatever), with more being available to loot for more difficult bosses/dungeons. Then have meaningful items available at the vendors, and/or craftable. There certainly shouldn't be more than two currency systems in a game, again in my opinion, preferably only one. I'm sure there are those who would disagree. This would have solved Syp's issue from the get-go, as everyone in the PUG receiving and equal share of the gold, rather than three-quarters of the group walking away with nothing to show for their efforts.

Friday, June 15, 2012

MMO Economics: Quoting Syp's Quote of the Day

Reading Bio Break today, I got into a discussion which I decided to bring here. The original quote follows.
Things you’ll see in MMOs going forward (IMO):  More player created content MMOs (easier to ship and player demand is there), and more big IPs doing games/box games going to MMO (there’s too much money in the MMO model, F2P or subscription compared to box sales).
Tanek, a commenter on Bio Break, questioned the veracity of that last statement about there being more money in MMOs, regardless of revenue model, than box sales. Failed MMOs notwithstanding (after all, box games fail, too), I can totally understand the developers' motivation to get involved in an ongoing revenue model.
"I've got the brains, you've got the brawn. Let's make lots of money."
From my own comments on Syp's post: 
With a box game, even a series, you have to invest money in development and then hope for sales to recoup that investment. This includes DLC, which only sees revenue after the fact. With on an online service, whether subscription or cash-shop, you have an ongoing revenue stream that can be reinvested in further development as well as extracted as profit.

This is why, despite all the complaints by players, so many MMOs ship “unfinished” or missing features player have come to expect. The developers are using sub or cash shop revenues to further develop the game.
Smarter people than I have studied the business model known as razors-and-blades and reached no better conclusion than that it seems to work—and work well—despite some logical economic ".intuition" to the contrary. Regardless of whether the initial box (or razor) is profitable, the subscription or cash shop (the blade), creates a potential for further profits even if the project is temporarily in the red from an investment perspective.

I promised some math on Syp's blog, so here it is. Keep in mind I have no idea what the actual income statements look like for any game developer. I can only some assumptions, one being that the month-to-month operating costs of an MMO do not exceed the revenue, if they do, the company really only has a couple options, change the model or close down the MMO. We've seen both scenarios in real life.

Boxes, or One-time Revenue

 ($100,000,000=$50x2,000,000)

Here is the math for a box-only game. If the company invests $100,000,000 to develop the game and wholesales the boxes for $50 (MSRP $60: remember, the store has to make a profit, too), then 2,000,000 people have to buy the game before the company breaks even on their investment. If they don't move that many boxes, they're basically done. They can reduce the price a bit, but that just means they'll have to sell even more boxes. Oh, and from the time they commit the money for development until the two-millionth box is sold, they're basically operating at a loss of $100,000,000. Chances are that they will have to break even in the first week, or the game will be considered a failure.

One last thing: Once the boxes have been purchased any further revenue for that investment ceases. For a franchise like Madden football, this means the sequel has to be developed with profits from the prior box sales. I'm not saying this is not a profitable business model, but it has its drawbacks compared to the MMO model.

MMOs, or Ongoing Revenue

 ($100,000,000=$50x1,250,000 + $10x3x1,250,000)

Now if we factor in ongoing revenue, the potential for seeing a profit goes up. Same $100,000,000, but now, because we have the ongoing stream, our box sales don't have to be as high. Remember this is based on the assumption that the monthly MMO operation is in the black, making a profit. Let's say we anticipate a $10 profit per month per player and a four month window to break even. To break even on that same $100 million investment, we only have to sell 1.25 million boxes and have people pay for three months of subscription (the first month is typically included). If the game starts at free-to-play, then the cash shop revenue has to generate at least $90 profit per player in the first four months to achieve the same goal.

This does require some patience on the part of the developer/publisher of the game, but the long term profit potential makes it worth it. Obviously, more people may buy the box than will play past the first "free" month. That only lowers the number of people who need to stick around for the entire three months.

If the developer is even more patient, and is willing to push the break-even goal out to six months, less than a million people have to buy and play the game for six months. If two million people buy the box, then the game breaks even on the investment, and every cent of the ongoing profit (operating revenue less operating expenses) goes into the company coffers, enabling future development, updated content, expansions, etc. Welcome to Blizzard.

The Wrap-up

This is why the layoffs at BioWare a few weeks ago and the collapse of 38 Studios are very different situations. 38 Studios never got a chance to see a return on the investment. BioWare is working to bring monthly costs lower than revenues. The recent "soft mergers" are another effort to streamline costs while at the same time improving player experiences. (This has met with mixed success, for various reasons.) There is also talk today that BioWare is considering a move to F2P. While there are many who scoff that this is yet another sign of the failure of SWTOR, I point to games like LOTRO and STO that are still around and arguably doing just fine after changing to a F2P model. LOTRO is well on its way to, what, the third expansion, "Riders of Rohan"?

Obviously I used relatively simple numbers here and pulled them out of my butt. But the principles behind the numbers are sound. Any variances in the profit margins only change the timeframes. It's becoming a recurring theme on this blog that I don't think a game has to boast WoW-like populations to be a success, and comparisons to WoW are not helpful.

The key thing to remember here, from both an economic and accounting perspective, is the concept of sunk costs. Every dollar that goes into development prior the the release of the game is sunk cost. For a box-only game, the only way you'll get further investment is to make a profit on the box sales. In an MMO or other ongoing, service-based game, keeping the operating revenue higher then the operating costs is the only thing that matters. An MMO will continue to function as long as the developer/publisher can accomplish that, regardless of the long-term return on investment. As long as there is a profit to be had in the operation, the investment will eventually break even, given enough time. After that, all you have is profit, which can be reinvested in updates, expansions, and new games.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hoppin' Servers

For those of you who are interested, this is what the server list looked like on SWTOR last night. For those of inside those Very Heavy to Full servers general chat was exctied and exciting. For those waiting in the queues it was not so exciting, but at least the waits weren't super long. Now, the light servers that compose most of the list were or soon will be complate ghost towns, and the people who haven't moved will be forced out in hard mergers, for better or for worse. Click on the pic for the large version.

To anyone on Ebon Hawk, here is a quick character list. PST if you see me in game.
  • Versteckt, Imperial Mercenary Corps, Operative
  • Tollkirsche, IMC, Assassin
  • Weiden, IMC, Mercenary
  • Banyanbaum (formerly known as Banyan), IMC, Marauder
  • Achillea-alpina (formerly known as Achillea), Republic Mercy Corps, Commando
  • Ro'wan, RMC, Sage
  • Zen-rafell, RMC, Gunslinger
  • Valon'soturi, RMC, Guardian

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

An Offer We Couldn't Refuse: SWTOR's Soft Mergers Strike the Sanctum of the Exalted

I'd hoped against hope when BioWare announced impending character transfers that Sanctum of the Exalted, the server where my characters had resided, would be a destination server, and I would be relatively unaffected by it. 'Twas not to be however, as BW announced that SotE was open for transfers to Ebon Hawk, another RP server using the Eastern Time Zone. I found out about it as the discussion of what my double guild should do spilled out onto Twitter. The guild leadership saw the writing on the wall and made the decision to move the Republic Mercy Corps and the Imperial Mercenary Corps to the destination server.

As did many others, I recognized the mechanics of the transfers—certain servers designated as destinations and others as sources—as a soft merger effort by BioWare, especially since there was basically only one server to move my characters to, no selection of destinations to choose from. So players had two choices: stay on the source server and watch them become ghost towns or make the jump to the other, higher population server. Make no mistake, this is a set of mergers in all but name.

To their credit, BioWare made the transfer process extremely simple and quick. Most reporting on Twitter and in my own experience is that transfers are almost instantaneous, rather than the hour or so BioWare is warning it could take.

The process is simple, but not painless. If a character name is already taken on the new server, the newcomer has to come up with a new name. I was lucky, I suppose. Only two of my eight characters required a new name, and my Legacy name was also still available. My lovely bride had to rename all four of her characters, as did many other guildmates. Some lost their Legacy names, to boot. [EDIT] Harbinger Zero has even sharper words for BioWare than I. MMOGC has weighed in, as well.

I guess that's what we get for choosing the wrong server. Oh wait. BioWare chose our server for us—at least, if we wanted to play with the people in our guild. Thanks, guys.

The beauty of Cryptic's @handles becomes more than clear at this point. In STO, you can name your character whatever inoffensive thing you want, because your handle is unique. The legacy could have been this, but wasn't. Realistic expectations of how the game would perform after the initial enthusiasm died down might have led to wiser naming policies and mechanics.
I do think the mergers are good. Almost everyone on Ebon Hawk was enthusiastic tonight about the crowds on the Fleet Stations and the various planets, General chat was lively. There was one complaint from a person whose RPing was interrupted by all the out-of-character general chatting, but they could disable general chat if they choose, or hide it in another tab.

Kudos to the members and leaders of the RMC/IMC guild, the transition has been flawless, with people stepping up to help out and get the guilds organized on our new home server. My condolences to everyone whose characters had to go into witness protection. But welcome, the best is yet to come! :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

QOTD: Fingers, You can't Trust Them With Grammar

From The Ancient Gaming Noob, truer words were never spoken:
My brain knows exactly when to use there, their, or they’re.  My fingers seem ambivalent on the subject.