Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My New STO Blog

For those who are interested, I've started a new Star Trek Online Blog, which can be found here. It was an interesting open beta, and STO is a game with a lot of promise. Please join me there if you have an interest!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Life = Head + Brick Wall

I tried, I really did, but it's just not gonna work.

As much as I love EvE, my life continues to get more, not less, busy. Another of my articles was picked up, this time by a media outlet that's outside of my usual circles and readership. As a writer, this is a pretty big deal for me and something I'm hoping will pay real dividends in the future if it continues. As a gamer, it means I'm going to have even less time to play than I have over the last month or so. It's not the game that's the problem, it's the time commitment and the fact that in order to do anything in EvE right now I need fellow corpmates to be around when I can play. Since my schedule is currently as fucked up as it is with not only no end currently in sight, but likely to get even busier as times goes on, I've made the decision to leave the game, again, this time probably for good or at least for the foreseeable future.

I feel like shit having to do this. I was just really starting to get back into it again when all this jumped off, cool new corp and corpies, new areas of 0.0, all that. I was excited to begin seeing all the parts of New Eden I hadn't gotten a chance to see before. Now, because as always the concerns of real life must trump gaming life (at least for most of us who are, in fact, stable and relatively sane), I find myself forced to leave EvE not because I don't love and enjoy playing it, but simply because it just doesn't comfortably fit into my life as it is right now.

I came to this realization a few days ago, when I'd come to understand that in the immediate future my RL workload will be such that I'm not going to be able to log in reliably on any sort of regular schedule that will likely allow me to be on when most or perhaps even any of my corpmates will be available. These days, most of my gaming takes place in the wee hours of the morning...that is, when I have a chance to play at all.

Given all this, it just doesn't make sense to keep paying for a subscription to a game that I can't find time to play 90% of the time, and it's not fair to my corpmates who are on far more often than I am and should be able to expect me to contribute on a regular basis as well.

Ok, now I'm gonna hit you with the second part of this decision: I'm leaving EvE, but I'm not leaving MMO's entirely. I'm going to be playing Star Trek Online, at least for now. The reason is that because STO is mission-based I can log in pretty much whenever I have time, go do a mission or two, and then log out. The teams form automatically so I don't have to worry about making sure corpies are in-game (it's amazing how many players are logged in and doing STO missions at 4am eastern time, even in beta...this game is gonna be frakking huge!).

And one thing I will admit as far as gameplay goes: I like the space combat in STO better than EvE. It has more of a hands-on, arcade-style feel to it, and that works for me. It definitely still needs some work (STO is still in beta, after all), but I just find it more engaging and easier to master.

Despite that, though, the key reason I'm leaving EvE is the time factor. If I had the time, I'd likely subscribe to and play both games, but I barely have time to play one game right now, much less two.

What really annoys me is that I've tried to log into EvE for the last two days but couldn't, even though my account indicates that my access will be suspended as of tomorrow. The reason it's important is because just before things got crazy my corp CEO gave me a pile of ISK to buy stuff, and I wanted to return that to him. It's not fair that I should just bail out and cost the corp money as a result. I tried twice to log in over the last couple of days with no success. The first time, the game just locked up on me and I could log in but it never actually started the game so I could access anything, it just hung endlessly right before that point. When I tried again today, my login credentials no longer work. That sux...another reason I feel like a jerk. Now there's no way I can give the ISK back unless I get one of those come back free for five days offers from CCP.


Report From The Final Frontier:

Let's state the obvious right up front: Star Trek Online is a shitload of fun. There are still more than a few bugs to be squashed, but I'm having as much fun with this game as I've ever had in EvE. It's far from perfect, and nowhere near as polished as EvE, but as long as I keep telling myself "It's beta, it's beta.." I can deal with it because I haven't run into any truly game-breaking-level bugs as yet.

The combat targeting system desperately needs to be refined. Right now you can't target a ship that's not actually on-screen, even if it's right behind you and pelting you with torpedoes. The extra time it takes to swing your camera around so you can target the attacking ship can often spell the difference between success and failure in combat, especially when you're dealing with a battleship or something significant, but need to take out their much faster but less powerful escorts first.

While certainly classic and expected problems for any game in beta, server overload and lag are also major problems right now. There are times when simply being able to log into STO seems to require a level of luck akin to winning the lottery. Once logged in, it's common to find lag-related issues such as beaming down to a starbase as a ship instead of your human form or vice-versa and having to wait a little while until the server catches up and transforms you to your proper form. These issues really don't bother me all that much at this stage, though they certainly are annoying to deal with. It's only when we're paying for the right to play that I feel players have a right to complain about this kind of thing. Once I'm playing on my own dime, though, I expect I'll be far less forgiving on that score.

It's obvious that Cryptic took great care with the game lore to make it interesting and in synch with established Star Trek canon. The graphics are amazing and truly convey the feeling of being part of an episode of Star Trek. It makes me happy as a Star Trek fan and it makes me happy as a gamer. If Cryptic keeps the game at this level of quality and attractiveness to ST fans, I still believe that this game, more than just about any I've seen released or heard of in development, could actually rise to the level of WoW-killer or close to it.

Not that I think STO could put WoW out of business, mind you, but I do think we could easily see this game rise to a comparable number of subscribers. Speaking as one myself, I say do not underestimate the Trekkie factor. I expect that many people who have never played or cared about MMOs before will sign up for this game in droves just because it's Star Trek. That's the one thing that games like EvE and WoW, as good as they may be, will never be able to match STO in, a set of long-established lore presented in a variety of different media that's so beloved by so many that it actually has a life of its own and the game will gain many players who just love the Star Trek experience no matter what type of media it's presented in.

Is STO an EvE-killer? I doubt it, but I bet it puts a dent in their subscriber totals. Time will tell I suppose, but mark my words, STO is going to be a major player in MMO gaming.

And Now We Say...Goodbye?

Well, yes and no. Yes, I'm saying goodbye to EvE, at least for the foreseeable future, but that doesn't mean I'm saying goodbye to blogging (if you're interested in what I write away from the game, at least some of it, you can find many of my non-gaming articles here).

I'm considering a number of options:

1. Turning this blog into an STO blog.

2. Dropping this one and starting an entirely new STO blog.

3. Starting to post regularly on STO at or a similar site.

4. Giving myself a break from blogging on gaming altogether until my life calms down a little.

At this point, I honestly don't know what I'm going to do, but suggestions are welcome. Post your thoughts in the comments, I'll see 'em.

This isn't a choice I've made easily or happily. It's a choice I've made because the responsibilities of my real life demand it, and there's no other way to make it work.

If you're in STO, you can look me up and maybe we can fly together sometime. I go by my original MMO name, the one I originally created when I first started playing EvE a few years ago, Bekka Jai (note the spelling). I like the name (it's a kind of "sci-fi-ification" of my real name), and so I'm reviving it in STO as a tribute to the first MMO I ever fell in love with. As far as the blog goes, I'll see what readers have to say on what they'd like to see and what my schedule will allow, and then I'll make a decision.

To all of you who have been reading this blog and sharing it with others, thank you. You have honored me with your readership and attention. I hope you'll share your thoughts on what path I should take on my future MMO/gaming blogging, and I hope you'll join me if and when I begin blogging about STO.

To all the friends I've made during my time in EvE, thanks for being there. I'll miss you as much as the game itself, so please let's look to find each other again in whatever universes we play in in the future. It's you folks that make EvE not just another video game, but a truly special and wonderful place to spend some time. Thank you so very much for that.

And now, for perhaps the last time ever, I'll say it just once more as I warp off into the sunset:

Fly Safe,

Bekka Jai

Saturday, January 9, 2010

More From the Void

No, I'm not dead, but my life is just insane right now.

Instead of calming down as I expected, things have heated up like never before. There's just been no way to think about anything else for the last few weeks. I haven't even had the time (or needed access) to change skills. Now, it looks like I may finally get a weekend to myself for the first time in a while.

Eve time, right? Um, well, no. Y'see, I have this Star Trek Online closed beta key I just got and, well, seems like kind of a shame to, um...oh who the fuck am I kidding? I can't wait to see what STO looks like! Eve can totally wait a while, this is new, it's exciting, and above all, it's Star Trek! I need to see what this is all about. I'm sure the gods of New Eden will forgive me.

Right now, I have the time to sit here and write because it's taking a while for STO to patch, going on a couple of hours of downloading and it's only about half-done. Oh well...I'm from a generation that's used to waiting on line. I waited six hours on line in the rain just to see my favorite band, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, and that was just a couple of years ago. Of course, that may not be the best example because there's a lot I'd put up with to be front row center for Joan Jett.

Compared to that, this is a cakewalk, sitting here in my comfy chair, waiting for STO to finish patching so I can log in. Is this what all those people who signed up for AION felt like?

Sad thing is, come Monday it may all start all over again, right now I have no clue. Tonight, though, we explore the Federation.

"Space, the Final Frontier..."