First of all, let me just say:
Spiral Knights Crusaders Knight Out in Seattle!
It was great to meet people I’d only interacted with online. We were online friends long before Spiral Knights’ Preview, and friends throughout that. Spiral Knights deepened our friendship in some ways because we got to interact “physically” with each other, especially when combining our game sessions with Mumble, which allowed us to talk in real time together. And, well, once you chat with someone while battling for life and limb repeatedly against three mobs of retrodes in the lower reaches of Tier 2, it’s much less daunting to meet up in real life.
What did we do?
Well, we did touristy things in Seattle. Even though I live in the area, I never did the touristy things on account of trying to survive my first years at a demanding job, plus playing tourist does… bad things to my head. It helps that the other Crusaders are two of the few folks who are understanding of my bipolar 1 comorbid with PTSD situation, which did come into play during their visit, and which I may talk about in another blog area. They were highly supportive, and among other things it’s why we will never leave a knight in the team to battle the phantoms alone in any graveyard.
As we walked to various places, including Smith Tower where I snapped a picture of Not a Wolver and freaked out a bit over the height we were at, we talked about the game. Not all of this was dour talk; at one point along 1st Avenue’s many many many eateries, the day was so sunny, pleasant, and un-Seattle that we wondered when the Wolvers would spawn. Wolvers always surprise you in the pleasant green areas of Cradle, and in Seattle we were without Steamwolf’s Magnus, Sparkywolf’s Flourish, and my Crystal Bomb.
We also played boardgames (with the requisite several kinds of beer and spirits, and snack foods) one night (Steamwolf’s birthday, in fact), mostly 7 Wonders. At several points during this we talked about the state of Spiral Knights.
As the Spiral Knights Crusaders split up again in real life, I must face the situation I’ve been dreading ((You know, along with those being posed by my bipolar/PTSD mash about being alone IRL again.)): that the Crusaders will not reunite in the game for the time being. They’re not rich, what with being University students, and need to conserve their resources for things like the occasional important trip to another city, medication and health care, cost of living, etc. We all want to advance down to the Core together, but that will require expensive advancement, as you can’t survive to the Core without leveled 5* gear.
Of course, advancement can be expensive in terms of either time or money. You need around $4 worth of Crystal Energy per item to get to 5*, and that’s assuming we don’t get involved with the unbind shop which would bring that to $8 per item. We had always shared crafting to lower costs, and, well, the game no longer allows that. At minimum, we’ll need, for each Crusader, one helmet + one armor + one shield + two weapons (not even a Divine Avenger will let you battle everything down there with ease) = $20 x 3 Crusaders = $60.
Sixty smackers. I could… pay all that for my friends… given time… but neither Steamwolf nor Sparkywolf will hear of me doing this for them. We were fine with $5 a knight (so $15 total). We’re not fine with this.
It’s worse for Steamwolf and me; gunslingers and bombers often feel a keen need for at least one more slot, which adds another $4 per weapon with the present system rather than $1 per weapon.
Alternatively, we could spend much more game time to get enough crowns to turn into Crystal Energy, but our assumption is that the Spiral Knights team and SEGA want us to spend that $60. Who’s to say that, in the weeks and weeks it would take us to do this, that they will see they’re not meeting their quota and to remedy this will simply raise the cost of crafting yet again, setting us even farther back? No developer has come out with a promise that this kind of increase won’t happen for X months, so the future being that uncertain is morale-destroying.
I know there will be a few who’ll take us to task for not caring enough about the game to dump $20 a knight into it—and that’s assuming we’re not going to explore different weapons or armors, which raises the cost per Crusader even higher.
And with the higher cost to crafting, there’s been apparently a rise in people who only use swords, because with guns and bombs you’d need to spend much more to experiment and use weapons that the tutorial actually taught were useless, and who would spend money on that? Swords just are more practical, since they deal more damage more quickly, if often straightforwardly so. But it’s sad to see the variety go because experimentation is just that much more expensive, plus it points to a lack of seasoned veterans to show off the excellence of non-swords. Or even, so I hear it, the excellence of non-main-path swords like Flourish.
I don’t know that I can continue without the Crusaders. Even if FailPatch never happened, the social features of the game need improving. I feel now that the game was released too early; that if they had waited, they could have sorted out the micropayment system (i.e., Crystal Energy) better. But they did not wait, and so even after Release Day I think we can all agree that this is just another Preview. It’s never Release Day; it’s always Preview, it’ll always be volatile, and not everybody’s signed up for that.
The other Crusaders, for reasons of money, feel like they aren’t welcomed, and I will not stay in a game that does not welcome my friends. For better or for worse. Some may say we don’t deserve to be part of the game, and to that, I say, fair enough. Perhaps we don’t.
And that’s the ultimate in morale destruction, even for me.
So I don’t know if I can go on, all alone in the Clockworks. I don’t feel like subjecting my sometimes insanity on unknowing knights. It’s tragic but life isn’t fair and all that jazz.
The Spiral Knights Crusaders will still hang out together online, it just won’t necessarily be in Cradle. We have all of BrettSpielWelt to explore, and online boardgames are definitely improved by the presence of Mumble or similar programs.
In the end, the Spiral Knights Crusaders are about hanging out together, not about Spiral Knights. And if that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.