Yesterday when I went to read my RSS feed, I got the same popup most other users of Google Reader got: the service is going away in a few months, apparently for lack of users.
Which is mildly ironic. I have a blog, a lot of people I know have blogs (which is how I got to know them) and a pretty large proportion of us seem to use G-Reader to keep track of each other’s posts. According to one article I read yesterday – I didn’t bookmark it and can’t find it now, so you’ll have to take this on faith – RSS feeds are for nerds and nerds don’t need dedicated stuff because they can find other ways to do what they need. And they’re nerds, so they can suck it up. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, direct RSS feeds aren’t “sexy”, apparently. Ah, right. I never realised that what I want from my software is sexiness.
The author did have a point. RSS is kinda nerdy and there was no easy way to explain what Google Reader does. Or did. But just because something isn’t easy to explain (or grasp) doesn’t mean it’s useless or that it shouldn’t be used. If that’s the equation we’re making today, then it’s not just MMOs that are dumbing down.
Anyway, I’ve been looking for alternatives. A friend kindly pointed me in the direction of Feedly, so I’m trying them out first. They were slammed yesterday but seem to be doing a little better this morning. I have to say, I do kinda like the magazine-like presentation. I could like this service. And if not, there will be others out there.
Because if there aren’t, I’m not going to be reading very many more blogs. It may work for some, but I cannot and will not use Facebook and Twitter to keep track of what 100+ people post and when. Yech. I want my feed to be there when I need it, and I don’t want to have to ‘llike’ a bunch of FB pages and trawl through my timeline.
If you ask me, it had nothing to do with popularity, or not directly. Ultimately Google Reader went away because it couldn’t be monetized.
While lots of people are probably going to say this isn’t enough, it’s still nice that they’re trying to do something.
The full post is worth a read – it’s pretty short, but I don’t want to reproduce it verbatim. TL;DR below.
So what went wrong? The short answer is: a lot more people logged on than we expected. More people played and played in ways we never saw in the beta.
OK, we agree, that was dumb, but we are committed to fixing it. In the last 48 hours we increased server capacity by 120 percent. It’s working – the number of people who have gotten in and built cities has improved dramatically. The number of disrupted experiences has dropped by roughly 80 percent.
So we’re close to fixed, but not quite there. I’m hoping to post another update this weekend to let everyone know that the launch issues are behind us.
And, by way of apology, “we’re going to offer you a free PC download game from the EA portfolio”. Again, lots of folks will say that’s like piling poo on top of crap, but I like that they’re trying to do something, even if it’s not something that costs them all that much in terms of bottom line. ANY effort to make things right is better than no effort at all. Mistakes (or major screwups) happen – what matters to me at the end of the day is acknowledgement and some attempt to fix things down the line.
Since it was covered extensively elsewhere, I didn’t comment on last week’s news that City of Heroes is being shut down by NCSoft – you know: work, travel, yadda yadda.
Dusty Monk, however, has an excellent and personal reaction post to the news, and it seems the fanbase are getting organised to try and prevent the game from closing its doors. Go read it. Snippet:
I don’t usually participate in fan or community organized movements. I’m keenly aware that businesses are businesses, and once a decision has been made, most of the time no amount of fan outcry will change that. But this is important to me. And there are some cases where the community did make a difference. Perhaps this time it’s different – perhaps we can show that are making this decision that it does matter, and that there is still money to be made here. So I’m getting involved, and I hope that perhaps you will too.
I agree with Dusty that once a business decision like this has been made, it’s usually pointless to Canute the inevitable – but I also agree that when we care a great deal about something, we should be prepared to speak out for it. I could make political parallels… but I won’t (other than saying: whatever you believe, politically, GO VOTE; democracy doesn’t work if people don’t show up).
I played City of Heroes at launch, leaving a still-buggy (if enjoyable) Star Wars: Galaxies to do so, and still remember my friends making fun of me for spending literally 3 hours on my first character’s costume. Actually, it may have been 4. I didn’t play it for more than a few months, because that was the Year of Major Game Launches (WoW, EQ2), but a bunch of us had a blast for the time we were there, if only because of:
– KAPOW; come on. No combat beats KAPOW!! combat.
– FLYING; ’nuff said (but boy CoX did it well).
– COSTUMES; also ’nuff said. Actually, that one needs to be COSTUMES!!!
– FLEXIBILITY; alone, in groups, in duos – didn’t matter how you wanted to play, you could do stuff and you could usually get to doing stuff pretty quickly.
I returned to CoX a couple of times over the years, and always enjoyed my stay. It didn’t grab me, truss me up and enslave me the way some of my other games did, but it was there, it was fun, and it tried to do some interesting things. I wrote about the Mission Architect system a few times in 2009, and although it was immediately picked up by players as an excellent venue for exploiting xp and whatever, the idea was still brave and I’m glad they tried it. I still think we need some way for players to create some of their own content, and I’m sure it’s something we’ll see more of in games as the years go by.
So when I heard the news last week I was a little shocked, though the game is over 8 years old and we all know no MMO lasts forever (especially not at NCSoft, it seems). I’m not much of one for post-mortems, but I am interested to see if fan reaction to this news can actually make a dent in a decision that was probably made thousands of miles away and based purely on numbers and finances. What if the game were concatenated down to a couple of servers, instead of however many they currently have? Could it be run by a skeleton staff? Is it worth it? We don’t know that, but we won’t find out if we don’t try.
And I happen to think City of Heroes might be worth saving. /insert saving heroes ironic joke here.
Per Dusty’s post: go here to sign a petition trying to keep City of Heroes open – and keep a few Devs in their jobs, incidentally. There have been entirely too many layoffs in the games industry in the last few years already. At this moment the petition is 13,550 strong – make that 13,551, since I just signed it.
And, if you think you can do it politely (and all of you are paragons of courtesy here), it might be worth posting on this forum thread. Staff may never see the petition, but someone official will be moderating that thread, so we can add our voice there (until it gets locked, says the cynic in me).
Go forth and protect!
EDIT: Sente has also posted on this, as I’ve discovered upon catching up with my RSS feeds… Sente’s had a lot of interesting things to say about CoX over the years, so if you don’t read his blog already, you should do so now.
EDIT: Pete at Dragonchasers has also written. Lo, the movement grows and I’m late to the
EDIT: But wait! There’s more! Syp and Ardua, respectively. I’m running out of amusing things to say on my edits. And Tobold thinks we’re hypocrites because we didn’t play the game this year. Whatevs. That said, his Kickstopper idea is pretty funny.