Halcyon Epsilon Fleet is a role-playing fleet for Star Trek Online, formed several months prior to launch — or, it was. HEF’s doors have closed for good, and I feel like examining what went wrong that caused it to die not with a bang, but a whimper.
Now, I did love HEF, and still do – without it, I never would have gone on to form Halcyon Academy (which is still going strong and is insanely fun, and I am very proud of it) or met some of the awesome friends that I have to this day. But a number of factors contributed to the guild’s death.
- The Member Cap
A decent idea in theory, we instituted a member cap of 25 in an attempt to ensure that the guildies we did have would be more encouraged to interact, get to know one another and play together. That, and at the time we instituted it, Halcyon Academy had swelled to well over one hundred individual players (nevermind alts!), something that made my fellow officers’ eyes go wide in sheer terror. I can’t blame them. Managing that many people is intimidating as hell in a group like HEF, where there was such an emphasis on cohesive storytelling.
This worked well — for a time. Then the second contributing factor reared its head.
- The State of STO at Launch
STO, like many MMOs, had a rocky launch. There were bugs, there wasn’t quite as much Trek in the game as people would have liked, and most importantly, there wasn’t as much game in the game as people would have liked. There was barely enough content in place to hit the level cap, and what there was was pretty repetitive. As one of the members put it, STO blew at launch. It just did.
Between this and how quickly people hit the cap and found themselves out of things to do — I hit it within the free month, and I wasn’t even trying that hard! — a lot of people got frustrated and took a break from the game… including a lot of HEF’s members.
The same problem occurred with HA. Champions was really rough at launch, and the Day One Rebalancing Patch of Doom sure didn’t help matters. The thing is, HA had a hundred people. Lose ten of them and you won’t even notice. It sustained itself and carried on. When ten people is over a third of your guild, people notice it a lot quicker. They also tend to notice when the officers stop connecting regularly, which brings us to…
- The Officers Stopped Connecting Regularly
When you are an officer in a guild, you have to be visible. If you don’t show an interest in things, why should anyone in your guild? When even the people in charge aren’t logging in, why should the members stick around when they could find another, more active guild to join? They aren’t there for the words that appear under their name — they’re there for the company.
Unfortunately, there was little way of foreseeing or avoiding this one. One officer was unable to purchase the game right away – that’s one. One officer had a sick baby and a new house to worry about – that’s two. Then, there was me. In addition to helping Corwyn survive a crazy term at SCAD, I hit the level cap very quick, and then I started to see members logging in less and less frequently. It didn’t help that I was not a founding officer (I was “hired” later, after one of the founders went MIA), and thus had less invested in the guild in the first place. Those factors, paired with seeing the changes happening over in Champions (and having Lifetimes for both), led me to decide that a change of pace couldn’t hurt, and I started playing CO again while keeping an eye out for STO-side guildies via the global friends list.
I rarely, if ever, saw anyone. This did not encourage me to log back in. Not when I had a vibrantly active guild in CO to spend time with instead. So… that was that.
HEF died a slow, agonizing death. It didn’t happen recently, though we only this week actually dismantled the guild – it happened within two months of the game’s launch. The guild was too small to survive the inevitable exodus that comes with low content and realizations that the game isn’t what one had hoped. It just took us a while to admit that it died (or, it took us a while to care enough to admit it).
Happily, with the state that STO is now in, I’m having fun playing again — and a lot of people are wandering back. Being able to see what went wrong with HEF, and what went right with HA, is proving invaluable as I lay the groundwork for the fleet that’s going to be replacing it. A looser theme, no member cap, an application process designed to weed out anyone who would be a poor fit… and being able to access the in-game chat channels via Trillian should be very useful for maintaining an active presence.
I’m spending my evenings writing up documentation for the guild and making plans for the inevitable website and forums that will be coming this fall. Hopefully things will go a little better this time.
Even knowing the player in question is married, I can’t help but be amused by the ending of tonight’s RP event.
One of HEF’s characters is a bit of a flirt. He likes the ladies, he flirts, he’s playful, etcetera. As the night progresses, people start wandering off for sleep – including the various women of the fleet. Once all of the female characters have gone, he leaves, and I am alone.
Me. The only female player in the guild.
So, I’ve been having a ton of fun with Star Trek Online. My main character’s just hit Admiral and gotten her kickin’ rad new starship, which I’ll be working into her RP via a story just as soon as my muse comes back, and my alt has just hit Lt. Commander and gotten out of his newbieship. The guild’s even scheduled its first “come RP rather than pew-pewing” event for next weekend. A good time is generally being had by all.
Ever since this most recent patch, though, my connectivity has (to use a technical term) gone to shit. Immediately prior to writing this post, I was disconnected three times from the same mission map, all within the space of maybe fifteen or twenty minutes. Needless to say, I’ve decided to set the game aside and go do something else – which is a bummer because I’d planned to spend some time with a guildie tonight, but now my connection to the game itself is so unstable that I can’t.
At first, we thought it was our wireless router… hub… thing (I am not the computer literate one in the house, ok, I just play on them), so we went out and bought a new one. The old one was one we’d had for five years and used nearly 24/7, so it seemed reasonable to assume it was finally on its last legs. The new one seemed to be going great at first, but then came the same disconnects we’d both been experiencing since the patch.
Okay. Maybe not that piece of hardware after all.
I’d start eyeing my laptop sidelong and assume something was wrong with it, since it periodically decides it can no longer see any wireless networks whatsoever and needs a swift kick in the junk, except that Cory has been getting these disconnects as well. That’s why we initially assumed it was the hub.
So if it isn’t the hub, and it isn’t solely my laptop… it has to be something either in the game itself, or between us and the game’s servers.
Either way… all I can do is wait for it to be fixed.
So in the meantime, I suppose I dive back into my second time through Mass Effect 2. If it’s not fixed by the time I’m done with that, I suppose I could reinstall Dragon Age, though I’m not very excited by the prospect. I didn’t enjoy it enough to keep it installed in the first place, after all.
I do have some volunteer work (which I cannot be too specific about yet) to do, but I’ve hit something of a wall with it and am not sure how to proceed. I’m at that point where I need help and am reminded that, of the people on the project, I’m the only one with nothing else dividing their time – which is fair, but it’s leaving me with my hands tied and so I’m kind of flailing uselessly until schedules clear up, and all that.
Too cold to get back into jogging quite yet, and I’ve not been feeling the writing or art groove for a little bit now.
I did see Tatsunoko vs Capcom for the Wii at the store the other day, though. Maybe I’ll go pick that up.
My current art project (aside from general GET BETTER work leading up to that sketchbook/print series idea that I want to do this year) is drawing shots of my STO character and her ship’s crew. I’m nowhere near finished yet, but here’s who I have thus far.
I’ve finally hit a critical point as an artist – I can now look at a reference photo and draw the person pictured in my own art style without feeling like I failed to capture any of their likeness, while at the same time making them unique enough that you don’t sit there and go “O HAI I KNOW WUT PHOTO OF WUT PERSON DAT IS FRUM.” This, for me, is huge.
Special thanks to Felicia Day, Richard Dean Anderson, Emilie Hirsch, Matt Bomer, and Lance Henriksen for looking so awesome.
Despite it being in the thirties outside, Couch-to-5K Day Two was completed successfully. Cory even came along this time, which was pretty rad – most things in life are more fun with company, and it was nice to get out and do something with him before his new term starts and SCAD goes back to devouring him alive. Poor bastard.
I watched episode five of Cosmos tonight, and I think it’s one of my favorites thus far. I love Mars to death and it was fun to watch humanity’s fascination with the little red ball go from science fiction to a kid in a cherry tree to landing rovers and planning manned journeys. Sagan’s way with words just has a way of making things that should be apparent so much moreso and really drives home not just how amazing our universe is, but how amazing humanity is, when we stop bickering long enough to work together and do something great – or, if you prefer, when we get excited and make things.
One thing I’d like to do this year is get excited and make something. I just haven’t figured out what I want to make yet. Suggestions are welcome – all reasonable ideas will be entertained, and even some unreasonable ones if they’re cool and/or funny enough.
Spending the rest of this evening chillin’ and writing more dorky stories for my STO guild. Open beta starts soon, which has me excited, despite already being in the beta – because once that NDA drops, oh man, I can start talking and and and fffffffff I am so excited you guys. Without going into details, let’s just say that I am impatiently waiting for tomorrow because Steam’s insane sale on Atari games will be over, which means their STO pre-order page will probably go up and then I can give them my money. Come onnnnnn, digital deluxe edition.
May also poke at some vidya gaemz once I get tired of writing/run into a brick wall. Maybe Wii Sports Resort, maybe Rock Band, maybe Mass Effect or Prototype… I dunno yet. I’m sure I’ll think of something. I do have a copy of Broken Sword 2 now, thanks to Steam’s holiday sales, but man, I have such a love/hate relationship with adventure games. I love them to death but I hate how inevitable getting stuck and needing to consult a walkthrough is whenever I play them.
I’ve spent the last few hours agonizing over what to dedicate this blog’s first entry to.
You know what? Screw it. I didn’t get this far by thinking.
I would begin with an introduction, but that seems silly – there’s an about page for a reason, after all – so I will instead tell you all what you can expect from me and start babbling.
First off, you can expect babbling. My brain, she is a strange place, full of multiple trains of thought running in tandem, creating a big beautiful plaid-patterned mess of ideas that come spilling out of my mouth and/or fingers in no particularly ordered way. You know. Babble. (Because this is the state of my brain at all times, you can also expect frequent, minor typos that I don’t notice until two or three months from now. Courage, readers.)
You can also expect a bit of profanity. Here’s the deal: I am an adult. Sometimes, I use naughty words. Now, I am going to do my best to avoid any particularly NASTY naughty words, but if this kind of language bothers you, BE YE WARNED. Turn away now.
I will talk about things that interest me. That means video games and things related to them, primarily. If you don’t give a damn about video games, well, you’re probably going to be bored to tears by about 99% of the content that will be filling this blog.
Even as I type this, I am watching Ace of Cakes and chillin’ out in my Star Trek Online guild’s Steam chatroom. My fellow officers and I are reviewing applications, and one of them has come up with a rad guild-wide collaborative story project that we’re going to kick off and try to have done before the game launches in February. It’s coming together very quick and easy and has the potential to be a ton of fun, and get people used to writing together cooperatively even before we’re in-game and rockin’ out. Fostering community is awesome and a whole lot easier than a lot of people think.
See that? See that paragraph right there? This is the kind of stuff that I do for fun. I find it interesting and enjoyable. I will be writing about it frequently, to varying degrees of detail.
While we’re doing that, I’m also trying to figure out my next story for my character in said guild. We’re a role-playing group, see, which basically means we’re a bunch of gigantic nerds who play pretend together over the internet. I never got to play D&D growing up. Instead, I had chat rooms, MUSHes and MMORPGs.
So, anyway, yes. Next story. I know what the story AFTER the next one is going to be, and I think I know roughly what this one will consist of as well, now that I think about it. Yeah, I do. Should be fun and quite Trek-y, which is what my goal always is with the stuff I write for this guild. If it isn’t fun, it doesn’t belong anywhere near a game, and if it isn’t Trek-y, it doesn’t belong anywhere in my Trek. Simple rules.
I’ve never actually just written like this before. I’ve been roleplaying via text for a little over a decade now, but I’ve only been writing stories on my own since I joined this guild. I have friends who write and my mother writes – horrible, unspeakable things involving herself and Legolas, we shall not speak of it (today) – but I’d just never tried it. It’s actually not as difficult as I’d thought. I’m sure that my writing is technically crappy, but then, so are my drawings. As long as people enjoy what I put out there, I’m happy, and I’ll improve more by doing than I ever will if I never try.
The saying is not study makes perfect; it is practice makes perfect. Practice, practice, practice.
2009 has been, for me, a mixed bag. While those around me continue to evolve and progress, I have felt stalled, just as I have for a long time. It’s a silly feeling, really – I’ve started one very successful guild and am helping run a second, which may not mean much to most people but means a lot to me; I’ve slowly come to terms with the fact that I am not a dude with boobs but, in fact, an actual female that is allowed to dress in something other than baggy t-shirts and ill-fitting jeans; I’ve picked up a new hobby that I enjoy a great deal; I’ve started eating a little better and exercising more, though still not enough; and perhaps most importantly, I think I’ve figured out why it is that basic math turns me into a blathering idiot (dyscalculia).
I’m still uneducated, unemployed and uninsured, but I’m also still here, engaged to my best friend (status should change to “married” sometime early next year – STAY TUNED), writing and drawing and playing and having a good time. I have bad days, but I wouldn’t feel as bad as I do on those days if I didn’t feel so good the rest of the time, and as difficult as it is to remember that, it’s important to try. I have a roof over my head, a family that loves me (in-laws included), friends galore and Cute Overload exists.
I have a functioning PC, 360 and Wii, with plenty of games for each. I have a guitar that I cannot play but am determined to learn. I have a phone with a camera in it. I have insanely affectionate cats. I have a stack of kung fu movies a mile high that I can watch on an HD TV, from a couch, whenever I want.
Life is hard, but it’s also good.
I know where my towel is.