Champions Online Reinstates Lifetime Subscriptions Deal; Players Are Not SOL

Update

As of August 26, 2009, 10pm PDT: Cryptic and Atari have reinstated the discounted subscriptions.

Original Entry

Cryptic Studios, the developers of the upcoming superhero-based MMORPG, Champions Online, announced yesterday that all of the discounted Lifetime Subscriptions and 6-month Subscriptions were sold out and they would not be permitting any further purchases.  This came after a post on their website that there were only 1,000 Lifetime Subscriptions left and 500 6-month Subscriptions before they would be sold out.  Their previous announced deadline was September 1st, but also included the line about supplies being limited, though neither Cryptic nor Atari (the producing studio) has admitted what the total numbers were for the sale.  This announcement subsequently enraged those players who were waiting until payday or for reasons unknown to the last minute to pull the trigger.

For posterity, the different subscriptions offered the following perquisites:

6-Month Discounted Subscriptions:

  • Price: $59.99 USD, $65.99 CAN, €44.99 EUR, and £35.99 GBP
  • Saves $29.95 USD (33% off!) over regular monthly subscription!
  • Retro Future costume set
  • Access to the Star Trek Online Closed Beta, beginning later this year!

Lifetime Subscriptions:

  • Price: $199.99 USD, $219.99 CAN, €147.99 EUR, and £119.99 GBP
  • Access to the Star Trek Online Closed Beta, beginning later this year!
  • Exclusive Art Deco costume set, available only to lifetime subscribers
  • Retro Future costume set
  • Unique Mirror Universe outfit for Star Trek Online, available at the game’s release
  • Exclusive in-game Foxbat action figure, available only to lifetime subscribers
  • Eight additional character slots!

Having been a fan of the MMORPG genre since the early days of MUDs and joining the GUI-based games in 1999 with EverQuest, I’m no stranger to the wild and craziness of pay-for-play online games.  I’ve carved a path from EQ to Anarchy Online to Dark Age of Camelot to the late, great Earth & Beyond to World of Warcraft to City of Heroes and beyond.  I’ve actually dropped all of my subscriptions except CoH/CoV and have been really looking forward to Champion Online so much so that I’ve been playing the Open Beta event after a lengthy 2GB+ download from FileFront.com.  After playing the Open Beta for an hour, I pulled the trigger on a Lifetime Sub immediately.  As a lifelong Trekker who’s been dying for Star Trek Online since 2006 during the Perpetual Entertainment debacle, it was a no brainer to suck it up and nab it ASAP.  Offering the STO Beta was pure genius, but I’m guessing that they were counting on the rabid Trek fanbase (carrying their massive disposable income with them) to eat up every subscription in short order.

Obviously I had some disposable income to play around with, but not everyone did.  But now all I’m reading on the forums is a long list of players who’re swearing up and down to cancel their pre-orders (impossible if they used the beta code that came with it).  So much so, that the Cryptic online community moderators are passing up a suggestion from many of those raging players to at least offer the discounts to those who pre-ordered, without the STO Beta offer.

My opinion on this is pretty simple: As with everything else, you snooze, you lose.  I’m not indifferent to the notion of not having the money, but if a car dealership offers a sweet deal on a ride you want so bad it hurts and every model of that car sells out in the first day of the sale before you get to the lot with your money in hand… do you blame the dealership or do you just taste the bitter regret in the back of your throat that you didn’t camp that bitch the night before?  How bad do you want it?!  The early bird always gets the worm.  And if you can’t afford it, then you’re probably better off just paying for the monthly or maybe the not-so-discounted 6-month offer at 17 dollars more.

By the way, if you’re looking for a review of Champions Online?  In one word: Awesome.

Publisher: Cryptic Studios/Atari
Platform: PC and 360
Release Date: 9/1/09 (US-PC), 9/10/09 (AUS-PC), TBA (360)
Price: $49.99 box plus 30-days free, $14.99 per month thereafter.
http://www.champions-online.com

Subtitles Gone Mad!

It seems that in the course of the history of fansubbing, sometimes you have groups that take it a little too far. I remember back in the old days, watching Fushigi Yuugi for the first time fan subbed by a group called Tomodachi Anime. Tomodachi has taken it upon themselves to add to the watching experience by setting the subtitles on fire whenever one of the character spoke with anger, or bouncing them all over the screen if there was dialogue during a scene wherein someone got smacked.

feature_fansubs

There is absolutely no need for this kind of extravagance in a fansub.  Fansubbers have to be careful of many things as it is; errors, timing, translations, font, and color. A majority of the groups out there right now have no issue with those priorities, and on the whole, I don’t have any problem with watching fansubs. However, there are a few exceptions to the rule. Now, I’ve always believed that if you can’t present a solution, you’re part of the problem, and speaking as someone who’s been loosely affiliated with fansubbing (error checking, timing, and translating), allow me to list a few helpful hints to those out there as to what makes a good fansub:

  • Be consistent with your subtitles. This means, keep them the same color(s) and in the same location.  I like how some fansubbers assign colors to characters or inner monologues. Those are cues taken from excellent subbers like AnimEigo or Soulsword Studios.
  • Never place your subtitles in an unreadable position. Don’t align them along the side of the screen or against a similarly colored background. As above, you want to keep them in the same place at all times and of course, you want them to be legible!
  • Try not to put too much information on the screen at the same time. Our eyes are trying to watch the show, and some of us occasionally have to focus on words, while some of us are able to take in the whole picture at once without difficulty. If you have notes from the translator or liner notes that go beyond a single line, then you need to either put your information at the beginning (ala AnimeMPEG) or keep it on the screen long enough for everyone to read it and understand. Do not assume everyone speed-reads.
  • Do not add to the presentation. This means, keep the font/style to something readable and don’t have words explode on or off the screen, bounce around, flaming… just subtitle it and try to keep the vanity/ego to a minimum. If you want to make the words dance around and do all that crap, put it on your logo and then go back to number one.
  • Finally, karaoke should not distract my attention from the opening/ending animation. I don’t mind the color-changing, but I do mind it when words scroll in from off the screen or explode into existence in an eye-catching fashion.  I really don’t care for karaoke; I think it’s unnecessary as a part of the fansub presentation, but I can live with it.

Not following these simple tips makes your production look like an amateur hour. While I realize that fansubbers don’t get paid (having been one), there’s a certain standard to which all fansub groups must follow in order to be considered a reliable group. Those groups that follow these guidelines get it, and this is why they’re popular and downloaded more often than others. In the end, fansubbers have one job: to present an English translation to the audience. Subtitles are a support mechanism; they’re not the whole of the show, so don’t bloat the subs so much that they take away from the awesome artform we love.

Notes

Based on the rant presented in U104: Unusual Girlfriends & Lovers.