Wednesday, June 22, 2011

one light burns in a window, it guides all the shadows below

Most of the time these days, I've been entirely too tied up in parcel management, but on occasion, I've been trying to push past my strange little bubble-space and wander around the grid. On one of the wandering trips, I found a store giving away sheep.

(from the shopping album)

It took two days and several hours, but I finally won a black sheep from the multitude of lucky boards! It's animated, and scripted--you can make it move, and name it--and...well. Yeah. That's about it.

Black sheep. To carry around.

)from the shopping album)

Another carryable is this lesser panda, or red panda. It doesn't move, but it is cute.

(from the shopping album)

This holdable giraffe also does not move, but it does come with a separate packing crate, with another giraffe in it, for display.

(from the shopping album)

I didn't even realize until after I'd taken this, black mynah bird against dark hair might not show up. I tweaked the brightness a bit, but mostly, that just washed things out. This seems to be the only shoulder pet offering.

(from the shopping album)

They're calling this the 'Bambi deer'; I call it a holiday raindeer stuffed toy, and it's also immobile. Cute, though.

(from the shopping album)

And this is the white sheep variant, also with moving head and ears. I think the black sheep's cuter.

They have other animals--they have an entire wall of lucky boards, all near the door, and there are frequent wildcards--but this gives you a good example of what Stray Pig does as a store. For actual purchase, they also have furnishings and more stray carryable animal variants. Try your hand if these shots have intrigued you; I know I was happy to get my black sheep, but I still have no idea what I'm going to do with it.

Other than carry it around while it looks faintly baffled by the proceedings.

Meanwhile, City of Heroes is currently working out the parameters to go free to play. It's not open now, and they still have kinks to work out, but they're currently overhauling the Veteran Rewards system, adding a new server, rebranding, and adding a micro-transaction-based cash shop.

But they're doing it a little bit differently. There will be three 'tiers' of access to the revised game. Among those benefits will be:
Play for Free:

* eight different archetypes
* expansion packs purchasable
* level 50 cap (no Incarnate Shard access past 50)
* 100+ power sets available to mix and match
* restricted to First Ward zones (City of Heroes/City of Villains, no Praetorian access)
* First Ward special missions purchasable
* no access to In-game Mall
* no SuperGroup access
* chat on Local and Team chat only
* two character slots
* use of Auction House limited
* no free Paragon Points for use in the cash shop
* Forum access Read only

Premium Play:

* eight different archetypes, plus any "special" archetypes old players returning may have unlocked earlier, like the War Shade
* expansion packs purchasable
* level 50 cap (no Incarnate Shard access past 50)
* 100+ power sets available to mix and match
* restricted to First Ward zones (City of Heroes/City of Villains, no Praetorian access)
* First Ward special missions purchasable
* In-game Mall accessible
* can join SuperGroups
* chat restricted to Local, Team, and Whispers (aka Tells, and why yes, I hate that term, but I try to grit my teeth and not go postal when it comes up)
* no free Paragon Points for use in the cash shop
* use of Auction House limited
* two character slots, plus any that were previously unlocked through missions or purchased
* use of Auction House limited
* no free Paragon Points for use in the cash shop
* Forum access Read only

VIP Players:

* 14 character slots
* level 50 cap (with access to Incarnate Shards and specialty missions to amp past 50)
* 150+ power sets available to mix and match
* expansion packs included
* all zones included, as well as all missions in those zones
* can join or form SuperGroups
* can chat in all channels, plus form exclusive ones
* In-game Mall access included
* use of Auction House unlimited, can Buy/Sell/Store up to the max for that character's level
* 12 character slots per server, plus any that were unlocked through special missions or directly purchased
* 400 free Paragon Points per month to use in the cash shop
* can read or write in the Forums
Essentially, since I'm already a subcriber, nothing overly changes for me, save I get some spendable points in the new Cash Shop. How'ver, should I ever default for any reason on my subscription price, the outcome seems to be favorable: while I would lose some access, I would retain any character slots I'd already unlocked, and be able to pick from my characters remaining for which eight I wished to retain. It could be worse.

However, none of it's set in stone just yet. They're still revising, and while they're rebranding as of yesterday, there may be changes to come.

Of course, many existing subscribers are already waving "THE END IS NIGH" signs, and that wave of protest has made them promise to open a VIP-only server. Amusingly, the comments seem to be mostly contemptuous of the rising tide of leeches, spammers and clueless newbs who will flock to the once-gated shores of the game.

For me personally, while I dread ANY rise in spamming, we already HAD leeches and idiots in the game, so I don't think it's going to change as much as people think it will. But it'll be interesting to watch nonetheless.

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