My PC is indeed still under warranty. One way or another I'll be back on with a decent rig by the end of the month. Missing most of the CO early start was a bummer. I was playing two slight updates of my open beta characters and enjoying the hell out of them before my PC croaked. Of course given the nerf cannon that was recently applied to the game, it seems as if I would have been in for some anguish regardless.
One quote that really bugs me in that producer letter is "A good number of players were complaining that the game wasn't challenging enough." I find this hard to believe, given that players almost never complain when they are overpowered. It has been remarked by folks more knowledgeable than I that the surest sign that a class is overpowered is that no-one that plays the class is complaining about it on message boards. I think there's a lot of truth to that. I also find it hard to believe that many players were complaining about the easy of combat in CO because it's a Superhero MMO, you should feel overpowered. Finally, the current most popular MMO on the market, WoW, is if anything easier than CO was during the open beta and early start. I know this because I switched back and forth between them in the same weekend (below).
I strongly suspect that what really happened is that Cryptic got terrified of how quickly players were leveling during the early start weekend, and decided that they needed to put on the brakes a bit. They tried nerfing XP gains in the last days of beta, and players whined up a storm. So instead, they buffed minion damage and nerfed defense across the board to slow down the pace of combat. Both inelegant solutions that won't have much impact on the core problem they are trying to deal with: superhardcore players will likely gun through the game and leave in droves withing the next few weeks.
I personally don't see that as such a bad thing, though the bean counters at Cryptic surely will feel differently. To me the strengths of CO are in catering to casual players and alt whores. It just not the style of game that hardcore players are going to dig long term, regardless of how long it takes to level. Hopefully things will have settled into some sort of sane medium by the time I get back to the game.
For the time being, desperate for something my backup PC can play at decent framerates and still run i-tunes in the background, I have fired up my old WoW account again. I had fun running around and buying everyone mounts and epic mounts. I also liquidated a level 62 character (my second highest) because his finances were in such terrible shape.
One thing that is really striking to me when I play WoW now is that the combat difficulty tends to be binary. Either encounters are so easy that you wouldn't have a chance of dying were you drunk and half asleep during combat (this has been tested!), or they are impossible at your level. There is nothing like the happy medium that you can find in most MMOs. For example, in Champions Online (at least over the weekend and in open beta) any time you are in a fight that includes a villain or master villain the game hits a "challenging but not frustrating" medium really well. Combat in general in LoTRO is also a good example of that in my mind.
WoW simply offers no real challenge for a solo player these days, at least not by the mid to high levels where most of my toons are sitting. Good for new MMO players I imagine, but to my tastes it becomes stale and repetitive quickly. I'm hoping that restarting one of my mains as a level one character of a super squishy class (Mage) will provide some entertainment.