I was weaving amongst the stalls in market today, lost in the odors of exotic spices from the far west lands, when I first heard the voice. From far away it rose above the din of the crowd, the sounds of mothers admonishing children and beggars bemoaning their pitiful fates. At first I dismissed it as just another pointless attempt at rabble-rousing, content among the various sundries of the always busy bazaar. As I drew closer though, I found it harder and harder to ignore that cry, the lilting speech of one so absorbed by their passions that they can’t escape them.
“Subscription numbers are down! Flee now before we’re all cast into the raging hellfire of free to play! Watch as the servers merge and your Legacy names are coldly stripped from you! You! Starkiller! When the end times are upon us you shall be named Starkiller83, lost amongst a sea of the damned! All is lost! ALL IS LOST!”
The doomsayer threw his arms up and beckoned towards the gods, desperate for some response. His eyes were those of a crushed man…one who had thrown everything (his wife, his children, his trade) away to follow the faith of The Old Republic, but now doubted whether or not it actually existed. For no price you could stand here on this wonderful summer day, amongst the people, and watch this man completely unravel. As he collapsed into a sobbing pile, some kind hearted people gathered him up and carried him away.
“I hear there’s this Guild that’s taking all comers. After that debacle with the Final Fantasy doom cult…who knows anymore.”
It’s like this with every game these days isn’t it. At launch, it’s a rush. Server queues, hours long, dominate the new player experience. Everybody wants a piece of the hot new kid on the block, sometimes going so far as to force them into seclusion (Remember when WoW was pulled from shelves?). For a while it’s good, so good!
Then, like a barbarian horde, the masses find themselves bored with raping and pillaging this particular IP and shuffle on. No, barbarian horde is the wrong term for this. Barbarians leave their spawn in the bellies of their poor victims, ensuring their mark never leaves. These players leave nothing in their wake but the scuttled husk of a MMORPG.
They’re locusts. Content locusts to be precise. You may have heard the term before, especially applied to SW:TOR. The bane of all MMO designers, content locusts turn the fields black with players during the opening weeks of a game, desperate for whatever morsel of content is left unattended. The servers buckle under the sheer bulk of their chattering bodies, flooding channels with incessant rambling and rehashed memes. The sound can be heard for miles “Where’s Mankrik’s Wife? Where’s Mankrik’s Wife?” It’s deafening. It may seem like there is no end to the undulating mass of consumption.
But then, suddenly, they’re gone. Convinced that the invisible God Hand has stopped feeding them (No raid content in 1.3, GG TORTANIC!) they leave, never to return. Those few who are left stand silently on a hill overlooking their wasted crops, their farm lands torn asunder. In that moment all seems lost. The doomsayers wail fruitlessly, their edicts haphazardly nailed to church doors.
We’re better than that though. I stand among those few, idly picking the remains of a vanity pet I once loved, that I spent hours hunting down and obtaining. It slips from my fingers and lands amongst the detritus, dust filling the air. What is the purpose of all these things, transitory and weak, just creations of some mad God. What is the point of it all?
This is not a time for mourning. Leave that for those fools who cast themselves into the arms of despair. We who remain are strong and love our land. Let us band together and pick up the pieces, fashion something stronger than before. Fire doesn’t destroy, it purifies. Those that hid amongst us, the locusts, made us weaker. Now, the doubtful gone, we can finally become what we should’ve been all along. A community of people passionate about our game, the world behind our game, and the characters that drive it.
This is a time to rebuild. So let us be like the phoenix and rise from these ashes, stronger than before.