Hello again all! It's nice to be back after a break for vacation and then a rather fierce focus on catching up at work. How's your new year going?
For me, it's been a bit of a shocker. You know that whole Star Trek Online thingy where you got into the Beta cause of having a File Planet sub? Yep. I have a File Planet sub and yes indeedy I went ahead and beta'd my heart out for STO. Nothing shocking there - you know I'm hooked on the new and have mad haxxor typing skills when it comes to reporting bugs.
But I did not buy STO. That's right. I downloaded the files, then lived through the patching, then made what has to be the most adorably mixed up alien ever in character creation, then played her for a few weeks but did not buy the game. I did not pre-purchase so that I could get the uber special collectors item perks, I did not even buy the regular version of the game. Mai Gawd y not?
Hold on to your hats - I'm not ill and did not suffer a sharp blow to the head. I just did not like the game. I loved some parts of it, don't get me wrong. But I found that just liking or even loving parts of a game is no longer enough for me to shell out $50.00 to $80.00 and a sub fee on top of that. Same thing happened when I trialed Fallen Earth. I loved parts of it but could not in the end justify buying something that was more an experience of obligation and less an experience of intense immersive fun.
STO has a fantastic character creation system and a super fun mapping setup where you drive your ship around a mini 3d version of all the star systems. VERY spiffy. Having an away team and bridge officers was a blast and beaming here and there was immersive and effective. But I could not drive my ship from the bridge... something that even clunky old SWG lets me do... and communication on a server wide or even an inter-regional scale was difficult at best. Auto-grouping is annoying, and even the multiplying tribbles in my inventory could not generate enough giggles for me to overcome the lack of basic funds at lower levels. I wound up just looting in space in the hopes of getting enough junk to sell and maybe afford one or two of the dozens of upgrades my gear and ship needed.
When I think back on when I started SWG, it was pretty annoying too. Trying to unlock Jedi while running around dealing with server lag and then hearing everyone screaming when they changed the game - this was not fun. But somehow I did not expect something different at the time and I just kept playing and learning and it wound up being years and years of life on Tempest (RIP Tempest!). So.. clearly it's me that has changed.
I fume at huge, slow downloads now. I mutter at patches bigger than the original game download files, and I no longer drool at prespecialadvanceorder offers of l77t gear or skills. I judge a game on the crafting and housing as much as I do on the leveling possibilities and the class interaction and while I'm forgiving about lag and bugs I'm relentless in my insistence on basic grouping and communication tools. It's not that the game has to be perfect. It's that we have to be able to enjoy the game as players. We know a new game is gonna be buggy and laggy. But if there's nothing there other than solo grinding without even a discussion in chat to cut the dryness then why not just play a standalone FPS?
I will say this. Back when I started SWG, there was no server wide chat. Groups were with those you ran into when in the area for the quest at hand and everyone was juggling several goals at once. But what a feeling of community and comraderie and there was never a sense of competing with the game or beating it. It was all about exploring and finding the way around something or the skill to get through it. Perhaps the change is in the gaming community as well or perhaps I've just lost the ability to find my peers ingame to hang out with. But no matter how fun the character creation is I'm not going to buy another game until I feel that connection and excitement to the game and community that makes the price seem small in exchange for the fun.
I'm not buying STO. Or Fallen Earth or Global Agenda or any of the other MMO's out there that leave me feeling isolated on a server full of people. I'll hang with LOTRO and trial/beta what shows up here on MMORPG.com and in my inbin. But until the MMO's start adding in the community tools and let the players interact with each other in a way that is fun, I'm not buying.