Friday, May 12, 2023

Use It Or Lose It

A mere three weeks ago, in one of my Friday Grab Bag posts, I issued a Public Service Announcement concerning the imminent Name Reclaim event for DC Universe Online. To recap, I quoted Dimensional Ink, the Daybreak subsidiary responsible for DCUO, as saying that "on or around May 12th" they would be reclaiming names from inactive accounts so as to free up those same names for active players who might want them.

I claimed in the post that I'd be "logging both my accounts in" to make sure all my characters kept the extremely imaginative, hand-crafted names I'd sweated hours over at character creation. Or something like that.

It won't surprise anyone, I'm sure, to learn that as soon as I'd committed myself in writing to that very definite course of action, I immediately forgot all about it. Luckily, I'd already secured the names of characters on my main account by logging it in on the day I wrote the post but if it hadn't been for a "serious bug" in the name re-allocation process, as reported today at Massively OP, I would have missed my chance to nail down the name of my original DCUO character, the one I made back at launch all those years ago.

Except, as I found when I did finally get around to logging him in today, I already had miss my chance. He used to be called Flying Fox, which isn't a bad name for a super-hero, but now he's called Flying Fox_PE_I which is a bit abstract, even for my tastes. I have to say it does not trip liltingly off the tongue. It appears I neglected to log him in last time there was a renaming event, which would be because I didn't know until last month that there'd even been one. 

I'm sorry to have lost the rights to call myself "Flying Fox". If all they'd done had been to stick an X on the end, as they've done in the past, that wouldn't have been so bad. Flying Foxx is a pretty good name, too. Someone must think so, anyway, because it's already taken. So, of course, is Flying Fox itself and also The Flying Fox. Or at least they won't go through the name-check verification. I tried them all.

I can't say I'm broken up about it. To be cruelly honest, if you'd asked me an hour ago for the name of my original character, the one I made when the game launched back in 2012, I wouldn't have been able to tell you. I certainly wouldn't have remembered he was an actual fox, that's for sure. I'd forgotten you could even make non-human characters in DCUO.

If you'd asked me to describe that first character, I'd probably have guessed it was a human female, most likely a melee fighter, using some kind of staff. In fact, that's the main character on my current account, insofar as I have a main character in DCUO. She's the one with the best-furnished lair, at least, which is as good a criterion for "main character" as any.

So why did I drop the fox and restart as a human, anyway? It's a long story.

In 2010, after consultation with the playerbase, Sony Online Entertainment launched a parallel service for EverQuest II under the name of EQ2X. This was SOE's toe in the water for the then-controversial shift taking place across the mmorpg genre, the movement to have some kind of free-to-play payment model replace the traditional, mandatory subscription.

For about eighteen months or so, SOE ran the two models side-by-side. Mrs Bhagpuss and I continued to pay our All Access subs but we started new characters on the EQ2X server, which quickly became our new home.

I'm betting Nini Mo and Cassie Praxis would be safe anyway but maybe not the others.

I don't recall whether it was technically possible to play on EQ2X using an All Access account back then (The wiki entry on the topic is less than helpful on the precise details of how it all worked.) but I seem to remember it wasn't. Whether we needed to or not, we chose to make brand-new accounts for the adventure, probably because we only intended to try the new gimmick out, not to leave for good. 

Once we we'd made the move, though, we never came back. EQ2X felt like a much cheerier place than regular EQ2; the people seemed friendlier and everyone took themselves less seriously. Bitter vets were dead set against the whole thing so they kept to their side of the fence and I, for one, was happy to leave them there. 

In another of the peculiar convolutions that have dogged the history of our SOE and later Daybreak accounts, we ended up paying two subscriptions for accounts we weren't using, even as we played full-time under the F2P ruleset. It wasn't ideal by any means but then, when has it ever been? The entire history of our time with SOE/Daybreak could be summed up by that classic piece of advice "Well, I wouldn't have started from here..."

Eventually the situation resolved itself, with Mrs Bhagpuss leaving EQ2 for good in favor of Guild Wars 2 and me dropping the subscription on the account I wasn't using and taking one out on the one I was instead. Even so, there were quite a few years when Mrs Bhagpuss was paying for an account she didn't use at all (On the grounds she might return at any moment, something she has never done to this day.) while I was playing only sporadically and only then on the account I wasn't paying for. Daybreak's accounts department must have loved us.

The Feat for completing the Tutorial. It shows - approximately - when I made the character.

But all that came later. Back in December 2011, the experiment had obviously been deemed a stormimg success becasue SOE moved to a F2P model for all its games, with an optional subscription that provided enhanced benefits, as was to become the industry norm. The EQ2X server was renamed "Freeport" and it effectively became my long-term home in the game, although it's long been merged into other servers. The Freeport name continues only as a heritage title. Some of my characters proudly display it even now, to remind everyone of where they started.

What does all this ancient history have to do with DCUO? I'm getting there. Just hold your water!

DCUO launched in January 2011 with a mandatory subscription. I'd played in the beta a few months prior and knew I wanted to play the game when it went live, although even then I didn't think I'd be playing it for long. I certainly didn't plan on playing DCUO instead of my other mmorpgs. It was always just going to be a side-game, a role to which I've found it very well-suited ever since.

Fortunately, DCUO was included in SOE's All Access subscription package, so I didn't need to pay a separate sub. For that reason, even though I was mostly using my EQ2X account then, I made my first character on the older account, the one I was paying for. 

I have two of these. Now I just need a name.
As it turned out, I only lasted a few weeks. DCUO at launch was a somewhat awkward experience. It
wasn't buggy as such but there were a lot of rough edges. I was also on a PvP server and even though I enjoyed the rough and tumble of hero versus villain, it did make levelling a bit of a challenge.

By the time SOE added DCUO to their roster of free to play titles in December 2011, I was already long gone. Whenever I came back, as I did ocasionally, it was only briefly. When housing was added in 2013 I might have stuck around a while, only my choice of PvP server came back to bite me. As I said at the time "... much though I enjoyed the mayhem while I was playing regularly, for infrequent pleasure trips I really would like to be able to fly around gawping at Metropolis without three or four level 30 muscleboys introducing my face to the sidewalk every five minutes."

That's presumably why, when Daybreak finally made housing available to non-subscribers in 2015, I restarted on a PvE server using the account on which I was then playing EQII, namely the one that had originally been created for EQ2X. That account is now the one I pay for, although just to make things difficult, on the increasingly rare occasions I go back to original EverQuest, I play on the old one.

Confused? How d'you think I feel!

I do have quite a lot of SOE-now-Daybreak accounts, of course. Half a dozen or so, not counting Mrs Bhagpuss's, to which I have access. As far as I know, there aren't any DCUO characters on any of them but even if there were, I'd be happy to release any names there to anyone who might want to use them. I won't be playing any of them again.

Just as a final FYI, Dimensional Ink say they "now expect to perform the Name Reclaim on or before our next Game Update, which is currently scheduled for June 1" and they'll "confirm the new date as soon as possible". I'd suggest logging in pronto in case of "or before" but until there's a firm date I wouldn't go booking any days off work in the hope of camping the login servers to beat everyone else to the names you want.

Actually, don't do that anyway. It's not a good look.

Still, I might just log in quickly, when it happens, to see if I can nab "Flying Fox" again. Then I can sit on it for the next five years until we do this all over again.

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