Friday, June 24, 2011

SWG shutting down

This has to be the most stunning MMO news in a while to me: Star Wars Galaxies will be shutting down on December 15th. I saw "SWG shutting down" as the title of a thread over at MMORPG.COM and just assumed it was a troll post at first. But, no, really, it's shutting down (official announcement here).

You can find an interview with John Smedly about it here. It contains as direct an admission that the NGE was a mistake as I've seen, it's kind of a gloomy read. While I can't say I was a huge fan of the game personally, I did find the sheer number and depth of sandbox activities available there impressive as hell. It is also a game that had a really devoted community. The few times I tried it I always found players of the game to be helpful and welcoming.

I really thought that we were going to see two full featured Star Wars MMOs coexisting peacefully for the next few years. The mechanics of SWG and The Old Republic are so wildly different they really would have competed very little with each other. I feel really bad for all the players still devoted to the game. If an announcement like this came down the pipe about LoTRO, it would be a real kick in the gut to me. I also feel bad for the devotes of sandbox MMOs, we will be losing one of the more expansive ones.

Rest in peace SWG, you'll be missed.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

LoTRO: after a while the free stuff really adds up

I've been playing Lord of the Rings Online since open beta. I've pre-ordered at every opportunity, and gotten free stuff each time. I also went lifer fairly early on which got me more free stuff. I got yet more free stuff by subscribing to PC Gamer around the time LoTRO launched (it came with a code as part of a promotional preview). Finally, I decided to buy the most expensive version of the Isenguard pre-order that went live last week, because I simply could not commit to one color for the cloaks, horses, and outfits for all of my characters (yes, I can be squirrely like that). Just for giggles I started a new level one character and unpacked everything he started with, this is what his bags look like:

The list of stuff he started with includes 2 pocket items, four cosmetic items, five mounts, and nine cloaks, in addition to miscellaneous items like a writ of passage, Ithilden coins, and scented candles. I have my choice of 8 basic looks for my cloak (2 of the 9 are nearly identical):

One of these...

or these...

or these:

I can also pick between two different cosmetic outfits:

I have three colors to pick from for the one on the right.

In addition, I'll get a slow horse at level 8 and four additional mounts as I level, a goat and three full speed horses at 20 (if I recall correctly). The horses are especially nice since they start with 200 hit points, 100 more than a normal mount, but 50 hit points less than a faction mount.

I'm certainly not complaining, it's actually a lot of fun to be able to customize new characters so heavily right out of the gate. Not having to use level 1 hobo gear for my appearance slots is very nice. However, I'm starting to wonder what else they can reasonably offer as pre-order bonuses that won't be unbalanced or completely redundant with what's in the game already. For newer players it's not much of an issue, I doubt a ton of players are getting 9 cloaks to pick from every time they roll a new 'toon. However, for old timers like me the amount of stuff you get with a new character is starting to border on the absurd, and much of it is definitely redundant.

All that said, Turbine seems to have found the Achilles heel of my wallet. I'll likely happily keep pre-ordering expansions for the random free stuff every single time I can.