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Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Champions Online back on track

February 14, 2010 Leave a comment

I decided not to rant against Vibora Bay when it was announced and I am glad I did. After weeks of almost no communication, the front page of the Champions Online site is again filled with real news. As I wrote in a previous blog, there are three things I expected from Cryptic before I would start to trust them again: honesty, apologies and recompense, although the latter was a minor point. The State of the Game of February 9 actually addressed all three.

Revelation will feature a half demon/half angel. I'll admit that I made one in the costume generator some time ago...

Chronomancer admitted that they had not tested enough and promised to improve both testing and communication. There’s a GM blog up that shows they take their promises seriously. They biggest announcement, however, was that the Vibora Bay expansion would be free. It was renamed to Revelation and it is coming somewhere in March. I think that giving an intended paid expansion for free serious recompense. At least the marketing department finally realised that they needed some good press. One may conclude they had a revelation. It does not matter whether it was realistic of Cryptic to expect that people would pay for the expansion. They put effort in the project expecting that it would have to sell itself to the players. That simply must put it on a higher level than, say, the Winter Event. If Revelation is received well, it could revitalize the game.

Meanwhile, several PvP breaking powers and advantages like Swallowtail Cut (single blade), Where is the Kaboom! (archery) and mini-drive (gadgetering) were fixed. Their overpoweredness was not caused by design, but by lack of Quality Assurance. Since Chronomancer promised better testing, there should be less overpowered abilities that make it from the test shard to live. While there will always be strong builds, the reduction of power difference between normal and pure PvP builds will increase the amount of people who play PvP: getting steamrolled drives people away, but losing a good fight will encourage people to improve.

What’s next?

The future of CO purely depends on the number of players: enough income to make a decent profit for the company will keep the game online. Good expansion followed by good press will make the game thrive, althoug the superhero genre will probably never get the same interest as Fantasy and SF. Although Cryptic has lost points with the community in the last months, they are apparently working hard to improve their reputation. I hope it will be enough. For now I will keep my eyes on any revelations about Revelation.

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Honesty, apologies and recompense

January 24, 2010 1 comment

The official PvP forum in Champions Online has been filled with ‘goodbye’ posts. Normally, I detest these kind of posts, because most do not add anything to the discussion about making the game better. However, in this case several people who have been very active in the Hero Games and on the forums, even testing things on the Test Shard, have announced their leaving. Some of them had enough confidence in the game to buy 6 month or lifetime subscriptions. Their threads in the forum have been locked after a while. PvP needs a healthy amount of players to thrive and that means that CO PvP is currently on life-support.

The lack of updates on the website (the last front page item is from twelve days ago) indicates that all of Cryptic’s efforts are going to Star Trek Online. And, frankly, given the state of that game, they should. I understand that the time before the launch of a new game is hectic, especially one with a famous IP like Star Trek. I understand that it is next to impossible at this stage to get and train new people to help out with programming and bug fixes. I even understand that Cryptic’s future is dependant on the success of STO. However, I do not understand that they have not communicated about this to the Champions Online community.

Let me make something up:

The launch of STO is stretching Cryptic’s resources more than we expected. Therefore we have moved most of the CO team temporarily to STO. While there are no content updates to CO any engine fixes and new technology that we make for STO will also immediately benefit CO.We are still fully commited to Champions Online and there will be regular updates to the game again starting February with [insert moderately exciting announcement here].

As an apology to our heroic playerbase we would like to offer Open Beta keys to everyone with an active CO subscription. You will receive an e-mail about this today. Also, we will give everyone a free month.

My mock-up contained three elements: honesty, an apology and recompense.

It is probably too late to get players back on short notice. While I still love the whole theme and look of CO, Cryptic will have to regain my trust. That starts with being honest about their situation. Then they can admit they’ve been treating their players wrong by offering an apology. Recompense is not that important to me, because I have a lifetime subscription, but people who have been paying for these last few months with sparse updates and lack of bug and balance fixes deserve something, in my opinion.

Global Agenda

I bought Global Agenda, which automatically gave me beta access. After trying it for a bit, I decided that I liked the game, but I do not want to burn out my enthusiasm on beta. Contrary to my expectations, Mass Effect 2 is going to get some competition for my play time.