Saying Goodbye

I have to get this off my chest, because it hit me harder than I thought it would.  Six weeks ago, I lost a gaming buddy that I met back in Beskar.   And while the guild leader of Beskar, these days leading a crew in Guild Wars 2, has already written a fantastic memorial to him, I guess there was a part of me that wanted something for myself as a matter of celebration, reflection, and closure.   Though he was an “online friend,” those friendships can be as meanginful as our face to face ones, as Flosch has pointed out before.  And that is the reason why I picked TOR back up, and that is the reason I logged in and played all weekend, despite being mad as hell at Bioware.  TOR was the last place I “saw” him, and so that is where I wanted to go.

 

While his name was Mike, we often referred to him by his gaming handle of LP – short for Little Powell, a nod to his favorite Civil War leader (he was something of a history buff).  Without going into too many details, LP had a medical condition that meant, basically, that he was going to die within a few years of that diagnosis, and that it would be unpredictable.  His health was never good, and there was always the sense that each day could be the last.  His handling of that was, to me, the single greatest example of courage I have personally witnessed in life.

 

Because of this, he was often stuck at home, and so was light year’s ahead of me in the leveling game.  I still don’t have a character to 50 in TOR, I know at the time we disbanded he had at least 2, maybe more.  He loved crafting, and he loved PVP – the bigger, the more open, the messier, the better.  So while I talked to him every day for over a year and a half, I rarely saw him in game.  Maybe that’s why I needed to go looking for him there – at least in some spiritual fashion.   So I spent the weekend on Tattooine on my newly christened Sith, the name a hat tip to him, though he was a Mando to the core.  When I got to the Dune Sea, I remembered him talking about the balloon that flies over the zone and I thought maybe that would be nice, a chance to do something he had done and reflect and remember.   So I started my questing in the zone, figuring I’d run across the landing dock sooner or later.   And I quickly remembered something about the zone.

 

We know this is the deep desert and all, but if you could just make two trips instead of one, that would be great.  Mmmm'kay?
We know this is the deep desert and all, but if you could just make two trips instead of one, that would be great. Mmmm’kay?

 

The class quests will lead you around the zone in a counterclockwise fashion, while the world quest, common to all classes…leads you in a counterclockwise swing.   Genius.  In any case, after a full time of questing and wandering, both clock and counter-clock wise, I had seen the balloon…but never found its landing spot.   I could have kept looking, or wiki’d it I’m sure, but it was getting late, and somehow – it seemed fitting that I couldn’t catch up to the balloon, much in the same way that I just can’t catch up to LP right now.

 

So, I settled for returning to the wrecked space cruiser deep in the Dune Sea, and much as Luke would do, several millennium afterwards, gazing at the twin suns setting and wondering what the future will hold.

 

The lone Sith ponders the universe.
The lone Sith ponders the universe.

 

LP, you were a good friend.  Full of great advice.   If blur was the platoon leader, you were one of the veteran sergeants, equal parts gruff toughskin and kind denmother.   I’ve always wondered if you admired General Hill not only for his tactics and for the parts of his personality that he shared with yours, but for the ironic name he gave to his troops – the Light Division.   It didn’t actually fit, as big as they were, but one of his soldiers after the war, commented that it was a fitting name, “for we often marched without coats, blankets, knapsacks, or any other burdens except our arms and haversacks, which were never heavy and sometimes empty.”   You marched everyday with so little in your packs, and yet you made it work with what you had – and still had some to share with others.  Your stories, your film reviews, your outrageous avatars on the forums, the wisdom you shared in our emails – thank you for those.

 

I hope that one day I do catch up to you, in levels and in life.  For for right now, you marched too far ner vod, and you outpaced me.  And I miss you.

 

Ni su’cuyi, gar kyr’adyc, ni partayli, gar darasuum.

 

“I’m still alive, but you are dead. I remember you, so you are eternal.”

The End of a Gaming Era

Saying goodbye to SWTOR has not really been hard at all.  I’m sure I’ll be back when they make the transition to F2P, which seems more and more like a certainty with every passing day.  The fateful day for me is tomorrow, July 18th, when my sub goes dormant.  But there is a date which has caused me a good bit of sadness and melancholy as it approaches:  July 22nd.

 

You see, July 22nd is the day that my guild will turn off the lights and close and lock the doors for the final time.  Beskar has been one of the greatest guilds I have ever belonged too, and also marks the longest time I’ve ever been in one guild.  Beskar opened its doors back in 2008, if you can believe that, in preparation for the release of SWTOR, which back in those days was thought to only be a year or so away  (Looking at the timeline now, and having done some probing, I firmly believe that at that point in 2008, they were just starting technical development of the game).  I joined up in November of 2010, as the guild was getting ready to mark its two year anniversary, and was anxiously awaiting the promised release date of “Spring 2011.”  As it would turn out, I would be spending my first year in the guild with nothing to do in SWTOR *but* the guild!

 

Not that I minded.  Beskar had strict rules about being active and present, even before launch.  Be absent from the forums for a week and you were made inactive, two weeks and you were kicked.   Though no absolute posting policy was ever adopted, 50 posts a month was unofficially among those of us who were active considered a good “eyeball test” for making an effort to being an active part of the community.   I wish I had the server stats in hand to give you, but our guild, which mostly hovered around 50 people, carved out a wonderful little home for ourselves.  There was a lot of turnover, particularly as Bioware fumbled the ball  time and again before launch, and continued to back the game up (I wonder if this didn’t hurt launch sales and stability by the way.  I would say we lost 1-2 people per month who just flat decided it wasn’t worth the hell that Bioware was putting people through).   When the game launched, we had around 60 people, chomping at the bit!

 

Yet, within two months, we had begun bleeding members.  Revved up members who had been waiting three years at that point, lit into the content like a bat out of hell.  We had people who had level capped within a week, and spent the next seven chewing up dailies and pvp and maxing out crafting before realizing that Bioware had neglected to put together an actual world for people to explore, play, and -yes- even live in.

 

As of right now, we can barely scratch together a dozen members, and most of those are playing on the Republic side (we were an Empire only guild until Bioware belatedly announced that this would restrict your gameplay…) at levels so widely varying that its impossible to group or do content together.  So the guild leader, himself retired from the game, made the decision that it was time to close the doors.   And I am in 100% agreement.  The guild is not even a shadow of what it was a year ago.   And the irony, and the moral, of the story is this:

 

Every other guild I’ve been in has been killed by either another game, or by internal drama.   Beskar was killed by the game that its members was playing.

 

Just let that sink in a moment.

 

So…I will miss the people that I have spent the last two years getting to know so well.  Some of them are moving over to Guild Wars 2 together, some are sticking around in SWTOR for a while longer, one or two are headed to TSW, but the remainder are just….done with MMO’s in general.  That hurts all of us.

 

I think its appropriate that my guild leader for the last two years have the final word.   While I will miss individuals, I will also miss the environment  and home that Beskar provided me with.  And, like the leader, I know I will not be alone in that:

 

You might think I’m joking, but by early May, reports were coming in that the game had lost 400,000 subscribers.

So if there’s any saving grace in what was happening, it’s that we weren’t alone. We weren’t some strange mutant strain of gamer that obsesses over a game for years, then hates it as soon as it launches… it seems we had hundreds of thousands of other gamers, literally, who all thought the same thing, to keep us company. It’s an incredible statistic, isn’t it?

 

Writing from the website and post of his new GW2 guild, he reflects on what the loss cost us, and the hopes we still hold for the future.  But mostly, he is reflecting on the fact that Bioware, like Sony before them, managed not only to fail to deliver a top notch MMO (something that would be frustrating, but understandable), but managed also to kill communities.  Ouch.

 

To my Beskar vod’e – I wish you all the best in the future, and I hope that whatever game or guild you are headed too, it treats you well, as you deserve, because you are awesome people.

 

Mishuk gotal’u meshuroke, pako kyore!