Well, here we go! The very first episode of Lounge L33ts. There was a bit of trouble with recording for this episode. Like I said in the inroduction, this was an episode of firsts. If FRAPS shows numbers in a magenta/pinkish-puple hue, it may not be recording properly. When we finished, I opened the file to find that only the last three minutes had been recorded. Then Matt let me know FRAPS should be loaded (although not necessarily recording) before the game is loaded. In order to get the backup footage to me through the dropbox folder (restricted to 2GB in the free version), Matt converted the file to an flv file. Unfortunately, Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD doesn't read flv's and I had to use Total Video Converter to convert the file into a wmv, a file type I knew the editing software would recognize. After editing, it was rendered into one of the "Internet HD" file types offered and sent through Total Video Converter to become an flv file again. At 1.9 GB, it was too big to post on Bliptv. So I went back into Sony Vegas and rendered the edit into an "Internet SD" file, which was small not to have to be converted in TVC. It was a bit of work, and hopefully the next episode will go more smoothly. Anyway, in this episode Matt Winchell, Ran-san, and I meet up in Anarchy Online's The Grind where we discuss how we all got caught up in MMO's, the news on Game Director Fia "Lindelu" Tjernberg's departure, and the prospects on the future of the game:
So why am I doing this? Well, I've been sitting on the sidelines for a while, enjoying other people's webseries and podcasts, always with an itch to try something of my own. I have always wanted to do a Let's Play series, however I don't feel that I could bring anything new to this over saturated field. At least not just yet. Video games are my latest interest, but I wanted to do something I felt hadn't been overdone. I don't know of any webseries that focus exclusively on recording podcasts/vlogs from within taverns and bars in MMO's. I'm sure they exist. I know some shows will do a live streaming broadcast of at least one episode from within an MMO or other web based game. But when compared to the glut of Let's Plays, Playthroughs, and Walkthroughs out there, it still feels like a novel idea. At least to me, anyway.
When I have a question about a game, "Mad" Matt Winchell and Randy "Ran-san" McCullick are usually the people I go to along with Robert "bob" Laib and "Drenivian." So I naturally turned to Matt and Ran-san as guests for the first episode which took place in Anarchy Online's The Grind bar, Atlantean server. For now, the series will probably just focus on me and my friends sitting around in various bars and taverns in our favorite MMO's. I have no idea how people will react, though. So far, I'm assuming people with either like it, or think it's boring and move on to something else.
There are quite a few bugs to work through still. The pilot episode was the first time I uploaded a video to Bliptv (I've only ever uploaded one video to Youtube before this). It was the first time I tried to record video game footage with FRAPS (it failed and I wound up having to rely on Matt's backup footage). It was also the first time I'd used Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD (or other video editing software) to edit a video, and the first time I used Total Video Converter (rather than TsunamiEnc, which I used in 2006 to make my own DVD's). Bliptv also wanted me to come up with promotional materials, which I was kind of expecting. However, screencaps of the episode, while they worked well for filler on the Facebook page, would not do for the actual show's webpage. Fortunately I came up with the basic idea of the beer and martini glasses lit up in neon under the "Lounge L33ts" title. We'll see how this goes.
I also have a Facebook group set up here: http://www.facebook.com/LoungeL33ts
"The lounge is open 24 hours with no age limit."
Surprisingly, Sledge was a lot harder this time around. When we first fought him, he went down pretty quickly with my Soldier and Matt’s Hunter. It could just be that our load outs weren’t the greatest, or that we pretty much just charged in there thinking it’s be easy again. We may have been a higher level in first playthrough, too. I did notice a lot of henchmen around Sledge that didn’t seem to be there the first time. In other words, we wind up dying…a lot. I haven’t sat down to watch this episode yet, but I’ll post if I see anything which may have caused this.
This one…This is still a pip to get through, although we had more trouble with the bandits this time rather than the skags. I also have to remember to let the tank do their job and re-release the turret in a timely manner.
If you had asked me which game, City of Heroes or Anarchy online, was most likely to shut down first, I would not have guessed City of Heroes. And yet here I am, writing about something I never figured I'd be writing about. I was on Skype when my friend “Namiru” messaged me: “GW2?” which was the status on my profile. I told him that I had picked up the game at the behest of one of my coworkers, despite also playing both The Secret World and World of Warcraft. I was interested in the fact that GW2 had an open world system in place, rather than the persistence based world from GW1. To which Nam responded: “I'm not TOUCHING anything NCSoft made after what they pulled today.” That's when I found out they were shutting down City of Heroes/Villains/Rogues in November. You can read the official notice here:
I was totally shocked, as were many other devoted players. I did notice a decrease in population between when I joined on May 19, 2008, and when the Dual Pistols power debuted (for those who pre-purchased the Going Rogue expansion) around March 2, 2010. After that, the population seemed to spike and fall again until Going Rogue finally hit. I noticed yet another spike ending in a plateau in November 2011, when the game went Free-to-Play/Freemium. At first, nearly all the servers were in the red, but by the time I came back to game they had returned to either green (low) or yellow (medium). Occasionally on the weekends, Freedom and Virtue would reach red or be grayed out as full. Still, after the conversion to the f2p model, the population on Virtue seemed to remain substantial and never dip as low as it was in mid-2009.
Once the rage around the fact that I had just spent $143 for a 1 year sub, only to get about 7 months of game play out of it had subsided, the questions started surfacing. What was going to happen to all the proposed content? Hadn't the team at Paragon Studios just added the new Staff Fighting, Water Blast, and Plant Affinity power sets? Weren't they working on new content for Praetoria? Might there actually be a City of Heroes 2 planned that would make them do this? And most of all: “Why?”
Most people I've talked to suggest that it's financial. I find that hard to believe, though. As stated before, several new and intriguing power sets had been introduced, along with new enhancements, inspirations, travel powers, emotes, and some very detailed costume sets. There was also the Blockbuster Summer event where the players participated either in gladiatorial combat in an arena, or in a casino heist. LOTRO has done a similar thing during their Yule Festival at the theater in Frostbluff. I saw many players partaking in these activities with cash shop products. Why keep developing an unsuccessful game for nearly a year instead of simply axing it and cutting losses?
I think the most likely reason (cited by ChaosD1 on MMO Grinder:
http://mmogrinder.net/2012/09/02/r-i-p-city-of-heroes/#comments ) is to try to push players off of an old acquired IP on to Aion, a title more inline with the company's Korean “grindfest” themed MMO's.. Some people are suggesting in the comments of the above post, that Nexon may somehow be responsible. This theory is based on their buying up a significant amount of NCSoft's stock, effectively making them the biggest holder:
For NCSoft's financial earnings, check here. I've not been patient enough to really sift through this information:
I was on the Massively website looking up articles on this closing, and came upon one that asked what the reader's favorite memories of the game were. One of mine was when I first started playing and was running around a park to the North of Kings Row. Spotting a purple named enemy below me, I made a quick escape. Then out of curiosity, and the fact that it wasn't following me, I returned to carefully observe what I'd stumbled upon: the Clockwork “Paladin.” Over the years, I would catch a glimpse of someone fighting this Giant Monster, or see alerts of it's impending assembly. Once I even saw a solo level 50 controller take it down with pets.
Kings Row was one of my favorite areas, although even Galaxy City had some fun nooks and crannies before the rock slammed into it. Gemini Park was where I first encountered my dreaded enemy, the Vahzilok Eidolan. At least in the lower levels. Valor Bridge in Independence Port was another favorite hangout, especially when you Super Jumped off the top down into the bay. Another fun place was Croatoa, the monsters there having also been used in the Halloween Event. They would jump out of the door every time you got a “trick,” whereas a “treat” earned you temporary costumes, inspirations, special salvage, etc. I'll also miss the Ski Chalet and trying to earn the special badge from the ski jump ramp. It was fun slipping and sliding all over the place! And the lodge at the top was great for sitting around and chatting with friends.
Then there are all the things I never got to do, such as get a character to level 50, explore the Incarnate abilities, do a Task Force or Trial, not to mention fully explore the new Dark Astoria or Praetoria. Hell, my Praetorian is only level 15. There were ideas for future characters and rerolls of current heroes and villains, too. I was also working on a few CoH themed projects for the blog here such as a “Grand Tour” themed series where I explore various parts of Paragon City that might fly under people's radar, probably linking to Paragon Wiki for people looking to collect the exploration badges. Hopefully I can get a few screen caps of the House of the Wayward Soul super group base. I was also working on several character profiles such as the Vellum one posted.
It seems most of the Legendary super group and my friends are giving Champions Online another try. Namiru says it's a bit better than when he last tried it. I have only just fired it up on the new gaming desktop, and am out of the tutorial zone with a CO version of archer extraordinaire, Elsie Dracona. I'm also going forward with the “Grand Tour” series, only it'll probably focus on LOTRO now, with maybe whatever I can get of CoH before it shuts down. I'll be taking screen shots of all the CoH characters I can unlock and putting up profiles of them.
A lot of people also seem to be holding out for a last minute save for CoH from someone willing to buy the rights to the IP, the characters, and the engine. There is also talk of a fan run server. Author Mercedes Lackey, apparently a long time player, has thrown her support behind the campaign to keep the game going and there has recently been a large protest staged by players across 30+ instances of the Virtue server. TonyV has organized a special message board found here:
A writing campaign has been organized on the Titan Network forums. The etiquette guidelines and addresses for CEO Mr. Taek Jin Kim can be found here:
The heroes of Paragon City have always been there me. It's high time I be there for them.