Tuesday, April 27, 2010

the taste of you upon my lips, the fingers in my brain

Miss Neome sent me an advance preview of some of the new features of the upcoming City of Heroes/City of Villains expansion, tied in with Going Rogue--the instance called Dark Mirror, I believe. I don't play City of Heroes--yet, apparently--so I don't really know how their expansions work, precisely.

How'ver, that's not the main point. While the video is--I think I can justifiably say this, even knowing nothing about the game system--awesome, there was oddity surrounding the video.

Let me explain. This is a screen shot of the video page:

City of Heroes,City of Villains,weirdness,rap

The larger version will also show you the tabs I had open in Chrome at the time. Yes, I'm back to reading Prokovy Neva's blog, trying to figure out what in the hell is being said through the murk of paranoiac raving

You're looking down the right-hand side.

Didn't catch it? Let me make it plainer:

City of Heroes,City of Villains,weirdness,rap

One of these things is not like the others. Literally, all down that row, it goes City of Heroes vid, City of Heroes vid, City of Heroes vid, City of Heroes vid, MC Hammer, City of Heroes vid...


That had to be a joke, right? How does "U Can't Touch This" factor in to machinima about a virtual superheroes/supervillians world?

City of Heroes,City of Villains,weirdness,rap

I have no idea. But that is the actual video. Either YouTube has started being way more random than they have been in the past, or they know something about MC Hammer that the rest of us don't.

So here's my question: is MC Hammer secretly a superhero, or a supervillain? And why pick now to reveal his secret identity?

(And what is his secret super ability, then? Dancing in balloon pants?)

Moving on from that--why Blizzard recently got a free pass on something that would normally incite outrage. I think Webb is right; if any other company had done this, there would have been screaming and negative blogging and forums packed with divisive comments.

I compare this to Runes of Magic, which is a free-to-play game, that has also always had an item shop, and mounts available in it. They've gotten very very good at limiting access to certain mounts, too. Some are standard--the horses, the berhu, the war tigers--and some are only offered for a month (Moa's Nightmare steed), a week (the Rune Disk, the donkey, the broom), or a weekend now and again (the dragons, the mammoths, the riding...mushroom...whatevers).

But what Webb points out has happened in WoW as a result of Blizzard's Celestial Steed offer is something I'm seeing on the ground in Runes--it's starting to striate from those of higher levels with the cool gear, and those who are just plugging along and grinding away (sort of fashion against utility, I suppose) and moving defiantly into "money" vs. "no money". And the whole poor vs. rich resentment thing in a game I like to play? Not cool.

The Rune Disk in action:

Runes of Magic,mounts,games

Seen in the Auction House at Varanas with "Wraithmasta", who's also pimped out his entire armor set.

The Rune Disk retails for 499 diamonds, which--because they're not on sale this weekend--will set people back twenty-two bucks.

In comparison, the Celestial Steed:

World of Warcraft,WoW,Celestial steed,games

This set players in World of Warcraft back by twenty-five dollars, which is very nearly twice the cost of subscription to the game in the first place.

That people are willing to pay this much for virtual things is not the point--hells, many of us in SL have spent thousands of dollars, over the course of years of play, to maintain sims, pay rent or tier, buy clothes, cars, homes, aircraft, horses, pets, whatever--and that's not counting fees for educational courses, tutorials, or tipping dancers, DJs and hosts at events--and let's leave charity work like the SLRFL out of it, because some folks have spent thousands of dollars on those events and limited-edition offerings alone. It's not that.

It's that we expect this from free-to-play games; we expect that if we want better gear, better mounts, fancier houses, that we will, at some point, be putting cash on the barrelhead to upgrade. It happens in Second Life; it happens in Runes of Magic; it happens everywhere.

It didn't happen in World of Warcraft--until recently. And that recent change may change the game entirely, or it may just be a blip in the stream of Blizzard testing things out, and--as Webb points out, again--possibly testing the potential of an upcoming free-to-play MMO.

Me, I'm wondering if Diablo III is going to be that MMO. Because if it is, it is tentatively back on the table as a possible--even if it does still look like World of Diablocraft.


Btw, make sure you upgrade to the latest emerald viewer. The emerald team recently brought their viewer into alignment with our third party viewer policy, and this Friday 4/30 we will be blocking older versions which enable users to do things that violate the terms of service.

Hope that helps,

T linden

So, heads up for anyone who hasn't upgraded to the latest Emerald: that's the one you're going to be stuck with, bad texture loading and all. And if you use any other browser past the 30th, that isn't on the approved list (I use Henri Beauchamp's build of CoolSL as an alternate, when using Emerald, SnowGlobe OR the official viewer 2.0 just doesn't work of an evening), I think I can go out on this limb and say the Lindens will be blocking it from accessing Second Life.

I'll be sticking with Emerald.


Edward Pearse said...

Maybe the MC Hammer video is grouped with other people wearing outfits that have stupid pants?


Lalo Telling said...

Mixed signals... again!

LL's official blog (posted by Marty Linden, whoever that is) said:

The steps we will take may include blocking viewers that do not comply with the new conditions for access to Second Life. (his emphasis)

The quote from "T" above does seem to pertain only to older builds of Emerald...

Meanwhile, I've been shopping around to see if there's a viewer I can use consistently in SL and OSGrid. Hippo is adequate -- barely -- and it's what I currently use in OSG, but its developer has made no statement about the TPVP... not a peep, for or against. Emerald is useless is OSG -- it won't load textures, and its developers ignore the bug report about it. I've read lots of good things about Imprudence from serious builders... but as of today (April 28), they're still dithering:

But, being listed in the Directory is not a requirement of the policy, so it should be safe to use SL with our future releases even if Imprudence is not in the directory.

We are working on a TPV compliant update of the 1.2 series viewer, plus a new beta release of the 1.3 series, which will also be TPV compliant. We hope to have them both released before April 30.
(emphasis mine)

They've got two days.

Frau A. S. Lowey said...

Surprisingly, there *is* a connection between MC Hammer and superheroes: http://www.retrojunk.com/details_tvshows/45-hammerman/

Not a very good one, but it is there.

Emilly Orr said...


Maybe wearing stupid pants is a requirement for certain forms of stardom and superheroism? At least, in the 90s...

Emilly Orr said...

Mr. Telling,

I saw the note from Marty Linden, too. Mixed signals, indeed.

Imprudence is good--basic, non-flashy, not a lot of bells and whistles--but stopped loading ANYTHING for me about a month ago, including shape and skin, so I stopped using it.

I really like CoolSL, but I have no idea if it's going to be able to be used past the 30th, OR can be used in OSG.

I s'pose I should log into OSG at some point and test things out there...

Emilly Orr said...

Fraw Lowey,

*jaw drops*

I...did not remember that.

Now my brain is frightened.