Not much to say about yesterday. We were tired, so we stayed in, and likely that will be the case today. Only, not because we're tired, but because of all the Labor Day ruckus. Especially all the goddamn drunks and foolishness. Drunks on the road. Drunks at the shore. America pays tribute to the economic and social contributions of its workers by getting drunk. Oh, and never mind that Labor day isn't until Monday. Maybe that ought be called Hangover Day, instead.
Tomorrow, though, we might make our second trip to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, and next week, maybe another swim at Fort Getty, if I can fit it in amongst getting back to work. Ironically, my semi-vacation ends on Labor Day. Monday, we'll devote the day (and only one day) to the ARC of Blood Oranges (Caitlín R. Kiernan writing as Kathleen Tierney).
Sometime last night, a 13-foot (1,700 lb.) Great White shark washed ashore at Goosewing/South Shore Beach, which, as it happens, is only about 14 miles (as the crow flies) from where we were swimming on Wednesday. Which somehow makes that swim far more exciting. Mystic Aquarium is on its way to handle the carcass. Great Whites have been common on Cape Cod this summer (preying on the seal population, which is rebounding), with one nonfatal attack. Add to this that we've heard unsubstantiated reports that a Great White was caught off Narragansett Beach (much, much closer to where we were swimming) back in July.
A good Kindernacht last night. Pizza from Fellini's, and we watched both The Princess Bride and Serenity. Oh, and there were chocolate cupcakes and Mexican Coke, violating my no sugar rule.
Today is Hubero's "Gotcha Day." That is, since we don't know his birthday, we celebrate the day we got him, back in 2006.
But the BIG news, for MMO players, last night was that NCSoft has fired the entire staff of Paragon Studios, and will be shutting down City of Heroes and Villains (Cox) on November 30th. I want to put down my thoughts on this event, on this abrupt conclusion to a game that launched in 2004, because I returned to the game, after an absence of a year and a half. I desperately needed roleplay. The RP potential for our two Rift guilds had, once again, failed to pan out. And I wasn't about to return to the sewers of Second Life. And there's simply no such thing as good RP in WoW. And a brief spate of good RP in SWtoR had crashed and burned back in January. SO, I returned to Cox.
I will say upfront that, as a game, I hate Cox. The premise is absurd, and it plays and looks like an MMO from 2004 because, near as I can tell, there was never a serious overhaul. Add to that my strong dislike for traditional superhero comics. The games mechanics are, at best, entirely nonintuitive and unnecessarily complex. But. The role-play is very good. The players are, for the most part, well behaved, polite, mature, and tolerant (or at least that has been my experience). With the much-appreciated assistance of stsisyphus, I entered a great guild, and later switched to an affiliated guild. I had a great main character going (who will actually appear, slightly altered, in Blue Canary), and the RP outlet was not only good for me psychologically, it was helping my writing at a very difficult time in my career. I overlooked the more superheroish aspects, and made for myself a niche that was mostly concerned with demons and magic and obscure gods and whatnot.
Then, last night, the sudden news, which I received via an email from stsisyphus. I logged on to the very same sort of confusion and anger I saw when Farscape was unexpectedly cancelled back in 2002. And to much the same rumors, conspiracy theories, and desperate and unrealistic suggestions for ways to save the game. It was, to say the least, a disheartening shock.
Anyway, lose the suppositions. Here's the truth. As I was fully aware, the player base for the game has been steadily declining since its peak in the first quarter of 2005, when the game boasted about 15 million players. As of the second quarter of 2012, that had shrunk to a paltry ~2 million (by the way, here's my source, which seems very reliable). Compare this to WoW's ~11 million players* (which, after the release of SWotR, shrunk from ~13 million, though SWotR has fewer subscribers even that Cox - a mere 1.3 million as of May).
I saw this coming, just not so soon. And it may sound cold, but to quote the blog I linked to above, "NCsoft wants big successes, not titles that have limited future potential for growth. If the money might be better off going to ArenaNet (you bet NCsoft wants Guild Wars 2 to [sic] an incredible success) or Carbine Studios (Wildstar is on its way) than staying with Paragon Studios, then it makes sense to divert the cash." This is about the bottom-line, period. End of story. Like I said, that may sound cold, but as with publishing, this is an industry, not a community that succeeds because of dedicated, loyal players. TPTB simply do not care (though the developers have been very sympathetic towards Cox players).
Despite my mixed feelings about Cox – and admitted hostility and avoidance (whenever possible) to the gameplay itself – this is still sad. An MMO is dying, an old MMO that paved the way for many others, and that does have a dedicated community that has been left in the lurch. I'm grateful for what Cox has given me, and damned if I know where I'm going to find a replacement. I know I'll be playing the new WoW expansion (on sale September 25th). I know I'll be sticking with Rift indefinitely (we have a major expansion this winter). But RP? Do I make another attempt to lure players to our Rift guilds? Do I try SWtoR again? No fucking idea.
Our Cox guilds intend to spend the next three months wrapping up all its myriad story lines, and I applaud them for that. Still, I will likely RP out over the next couple of weeks (probably, not definitely). I just don't think I could handle sticking around to the bitter end.
When all is said and one, I think Cox had an astounding run. Not many MMOs can boast having survived eight years in a fiercely competitive market. And I hope that will be celebrated, as much the end is mourned.
* I'm getting conflicting numbers for the current WoW player base, though all sources agree it is by far the most popular ever (despite a general sort of stupidity and rampant racism infecting the game itself).