Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Update: Official Statement About Same Sex Relationships in Star Wars: The Old Republic

There is now an official announcement about same sex relationships in Star Wars: The Old Republic:
Due to the design constraints of a fully voiced MMO of this scale and size, many choices had to be made as to the launch and post-launch feature set. Same gender romances with companion characters in Star Wars: The Old Republic will be a post-launch feature. Because The Old Republic is an MMO, the game will live on through content expansions which allow us to include content and features that could not be included at launch, including the addition of more companion characters who will have additional romance options.
At this point, I guess this is the best solution we could have hoped for, though the phrasing of the announcement says to me "You people weren't important enough to spend resources on from the start." I hope I'm wrong about that, but I can't help but wonder why a game that's been in production for years didn't have this from the start. Surely it didn't take them three years to remember that gay people exist and might want to play their game. 

Still, it's coming some time in the ambiguous "after launch" time frame. I'm sure some will be happy, but I'm sure for others it's a little too late. 


And it doesn't change my mind about not playing it. 

City of Heroes VIP Access to Issue 21 and Freedom Launches Today

City of Heroes is having an estimated ten hour downtime today to prepare the servers for the launch of the VIP launch of City of Heroes: Freedom and Issue 21: Convergence. I21 is a HUGE patch, nearly the size of a paid expansion. There is a new zone, First Ward, which is spooky and magical and extends the content of Praetoria which was added to the game last Summer. There is a new raid encounter, Seed of Hamidon, that has new raid strategy and interactions. There is a new Incarnate Trial, the Underground Trial, new costumes, new powers, a new starting zone, new tutorial with brand new tech, and new low level trial. As of this posting, the patch is available for download through the NCSoft launcher. It's 2511.1MB, so you might want to start downloading now. 


In addition, there is the brand new Paragon Market and the all new rewards system which are part of City of Heroes: Freedom but are being unveiled to VIP players (subscribers) later today. Free and Premium accounts do not yet have access to the game. 


While I am very excited about the launch of I21 and CoH:F, there are a couple of interesting things that Paragon Studios and NCSoft are doing with City of Heroes. First, there is the updated EULA, which includes this new section:
You consent to the foregoing monitoring and acknowledge that NCsoft may conduct such monitoring, including but not limited to monitoring in-Game communications and Message Boards provided by NCsoft as well as third-party Message Boards and the like. You also acknowledge that NCsoft may take any action, or no action whatsoever, based on such monitoring, including but not limited to action under Section 5, and that NCSoft has no obligation to explain any decision to take any action, or no action whatsoever, based on such monitoring.
(d) NCSoft has the right, but no obligation, to monitor operation of any service, content or software at any time and in any matter, including but not limited to monitoring communications and communications interfaces, storage devices, random access memory or cpu processes related to hardware you use with the game. Such monitoring may also include, but is not limited to, monitoring for the purposes of detecting software under section 8(c) or 8(e). You consent to the foregoing monitoring and acknowledge that NCSoft may, at any time, and in any manner, communicate any information between hardware you use with the game and any mechanism NCSoft may choose for such communications. You also acknowledge that as a result of such monitoring NCSoft may in its sole and absolute discretion take any action, or no action whatsoever, including but not limited to:
Changing any portion of the service, content or software;Seeking recourse against you by way of any proceeding NCSoft deems appropriate under the circumstances; and/orDetermining that you are not in compliance with all provisions of this agreement and terminating your account under section 3(b) or section 3(c). NCSoft has the right, but no obligation, to provide you with notice before such termination.

Most people know that EULAs are broad, expansive, not legally enforceable, and created to protect the intellectual property of a company. It is well within NCSoft's rights to protect its product, and to not want things like beta information out in the public. If someone breaks the NDA, this provision will give NCSoft the leverage it needs to take action. However, the tin foil hat brigade has come out in force with such claims that "big brother is watching" and that all of our online activity will be monitored. I really wish I was making that up. 


They next thing they are doing is introducing the Metric Activated Reward Throttle, or MARTy for short. MARTy is a program implemented to expose and eliminate exploits in the game. This is, of course, not sitting well with everyone (particularly power levelers and farmers), but I think it's a long over-due system. I wish MARTy had been in place before the Mission Architect had been taken from the storytellers (like me) and turned into a power level mill full of easily exploitable missions. As I have said many times, I play City of Heroes for the stories. I had high hopes that the Mission Architect would be a place for storytellers to share their writing and creativity. Instead, it is a far cry from that now, and it makes me sad. Had MARTy been implemented years ago, that might have been avoided.  


But like I said, I am happy with I21 and I'm very excited to play it. I think this is a great step forward for City of Heroes, and I also think it's a rather slick way to create a sequel to an aging MMO without coming right out and calling it City of Heroes II. By all accounts, CoH:F is a sequel. It moves forward a lot of the old stories, creates new ones, and introduces new tech, new interactions, and new ways to be a player. As a long time player who doesn't see herself leaving any time soon, that is very exciting. I'm glad to see so much effort is still being put into a game I love to play. 


I will be sad, however, over the loss of Galaxy City. Though it will be accessible through Ouroborous, it's not quite the same. So I took some time last night to explore the zone and take some final screen shots:
The statue of Galaxy Girl watches over her namesake neighborhood

The often robbed MAGI vault

What will happen to Ghost Widow's bones in the destruction of Galaxy City?

Reporting for duty one last time

Bioware is Taking its Bigotry a Step Further

Bioware is taking their stance on same gender romance arcs (or SGRAs) in their upcoming MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic, which is to say that gayness doesn't exist in the Star Wars universe, a step further and is now deleting posts on the SW:TOR forums that mention SGRAs and punishing their authors:
It's a good thing I had zero interest in this MMO to start with, as I'd never give my money to a company that treats its GLBT players this way. Shame on you, Bioware. This is disgusting.