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WRUP: In recollection of Yuri Gagarin edition

Eliot Lefebvre

Thursday evening was Yuri's Night, an evening celebrating the flight of Yuri Gagarin, the first human being in space. Our younger readers may not realize this, but outer space is a dangerous place that people used to dream about, and human beings developed a great deal of technology to explore that dangerous frontier. Then someone realized that it was much easier to develop technology to show videos of cats jumping into boxes on portable phones. But as a big fan of the space program and humanity's efforts to expand beyond our planet, I like to honor Mr. Gagarin for his brave flight into the unknown.

This week's WRUP, however, has nothing to do with the unknown. It does have a bit to do with space, depending on what games the Massively staffers are playing over the weekend. And it also talks about when a game is dying, which really doesn't have any ties to the header once again. Still, bravely venture past the break and let us know what you'll be up to in the comments.

Beau Hindman, F2P and Mobile Columnist
@Beau_Hindman: It looks like after long attempts to get font colors and backgrounds worked out, I will be playing BatMUD for Rise and Shiny. I have played MUDs before, but my yucky old-man eyes do not allow for it much anymore. With the larger fonts, monitors, and availability on mobile devices, I should be able to try them out again. It's exciting, like being able to play through a good book! I'm also still looking for any new (or old) indie, browser, or mobile games to write about, so please contact me -- and if you know an indie developer, tell him or her too!

I don't really ever consider a game to be dying as long as players are enjoying it. I can see when a game is in decline, for sure, but as long as there are players loving it, then there is something going on that is alive. Heck, I've lived through the 47 closures of Ryzom, and that game is still great!

Bree Royce, Senior Editor
@nbrianna: World of Warcraft for me; I'll be playing with some guildies. I'll probably also swing by Glitch a bit as another round of housing beta stuff and new skills has gone out in the last few weeks.

I agree with other staffers here that "dying" is usually used euphemistically to disparage a game people just don't like. And most games that die don't really go through a dying period anyway; they implode. "Aging" would probably be a better term. "Dying" ought to be reserved for a game that is actually on its deathbed with an impending sunset ahead of it.

Eliot Lefebvre, Columnist Extraordinaire and Senior Contributing Editor
Now that I'm home and can actually relax, I've got Final Fantasy XIV, the latest patch in Star Wars: The Old Republic, and some Mass Effect 3 multiplayer in the online arena. Offline, I've got a pile of games I'm still working through, so that's going to depend a lot on my mood. Thinking of really sinking back into Guild Wars, as well.

Only a handful of games have ever really hit the criteria required for dying. There are a lot of games that shut down and a lot of games that diminish over time, but for "dying" to really be eligible it has to be a slow, prolonged process of no new development, players leaving, repeated server merges, and the like. Oddly, the best indication is usually how much time the developers spend talking about how much life is in the game. A game that's doing well is obviously doing fine; a game in which the developers feel the need to constantly assure everyone that the game isn't dying is frequently in trouble.

Elisabeth Cardy, Guild Wars 2 Columnist
@elixabethclaire: I don't like the way weekends have recently been developing a habit of sneaking up on me. It's the middle of performance season for the artsy and music-y types, and since several fundamental parts of my life are tied up in that, I'll be spending the majority of this weekend listening to people sing and making sure that they are doing so at the right time and from the right place. I'll probably be sneaking in some gaming action in the quiet, in-between times, with whatever non-internet-dependent games I've got lurking in the forgotten corners of my iDevices. Probably Game Dev Story or something equally "ancient." My problem with mobile games is that without multiplayer functionality, I tend to find them tremendously uncompelling.

I don't think you can necessarily point to an exact moment when a game begins dying or maybe even is dead. The process most likely starts as soon as the dev team forgets where it was trying to carry the game and what its playerbase was most attracted to. This question saddens me; I don't like thinking about the death of things people love.

Jef Reahard, Columnist Extraordinaire and Senior Contributing Editor
It's computer upgrade time for me, which means (re)installing 20-odd MMOs. If the patching gets done at a reasonable hour, I'll probably play a little EVE Online and a little Aion.

"Dying" is like "failing" in regard to MMOs. They're both useless terms typically put forth by folks who have no clue about the financials of a particular company (and thus, no clue about whether a game is actually dying or failing). The only time the word dying is appropriate is after the announcement of an impending closure.

Jeremy Stratton, Contributing Editor
@Jeremy_Stratton: I think I'll be playing a lot of Vanguard this weekend. I'm finally making some headway with crafting and learning about brotherhoods and other unique features.

MMOs don't die until the developers pull the plug and there's no possible way to play anymore.

Justin Olivetti, Columnist Extraordinaire and Senior Contributing Editor
@Sypster: Lots to see and do this weekend, for sure! I'm poking around the realm of Star Wars: The Old Republic's 1.2 patch and getting ready for Lord of the Rings Online's fifth anniversary, although a smattering of Star Trek Online and Fallen Earth may creep in there. I've also been playing through the classic adventure game Gabriel Knight: Sins of our Fathers for the very first time, thanks to

I generally don't think of games as "dying," just "stable" or "unstable." If a low-pop game's been around for a long time, then I feel that that's more stable than a high-pop title that's shedding players like crazy.

Karen Bryan, Columnist Extraordinaire
@JayeRnH: I'll be on spring vacation with the kids, so I'll be playing "day hike to a deserted island" at Grandma's beach. (There's a sandbar that leads to it at low tide.) If I am able to rig up an internet connection, I'll probably to be able to play a few games with the kids, like Wizard101 or Little Space Heroes.

As for the bonus question: Games never die; they just go to emulated servers.

Larry Everett, SWTOR Columnist
@Shaddoe: This weekend is packed. I have three betas that I'm doing this weekend on top of Star Wars: The Old Republic's Update 1.2. I created a Sith Pureblood Republic character in SWTOR, which is almost lolworthy, but I'm interested in seeing where this character takes me and whether I can make sense out of it. I really can't speak about the betas.

I would like to preface this by saying that just because a game is "dying" doesn't mean that it's not worthy to play nor does it mean that it can't be revived. I consider a game to be dying after the second round of layoffs. The first round of layoffs usually happens when an MMO transitions from pre-production to post-production. That's normal. I don't consider that dying. However, when the game can no longer support the live team, then that raises some red flags. But hey, sometimes when the team gets smaller and the community gets tighter, the game actually gets better. I don't judge a game because it's "dying."

Matt Daniel, Contributing Editor
@mvmatt: I'll be dipping back into World of Warcraft with my lovely boyfriend. That aside, I plan to spend some more time in the Firefall beta and maybe dive into Fallen Earth to quench my sandbox thirst. Oh, and I'm gonna be doing some MUDing. That's right, MUDs. Remember those?

As far as when I consider a game to be dying... I guess that's when it's hemorrhaging players left and right, when it's shutting down servers on a weekly basis, and when it's clear that the game is about to become non-profitable and therefore is almost certainly going to be shut down. But most of the time, I think it's just used by fanboys to describe the competitors of their game of choice. No, folks, just because a game is losing subs doesn't mean it's dying, especially if it still has thousands and/or millions of subs after the losses. Just because a game is doing a server merge does not mean it's dying. WoW's loss of 100,000 subs is not a sign of the game's dying when it still has millions left over. Warhammer Online's constant server merges, however, may indicate an imminent sunset.

MJ Guthrie, Aion and Sandbox Columnist
Aion. 3.0. Need I really say more?

As for a game's being dead? I don't really worry about it much. I am not the gloom-and-doom sort, so I never really see the negative let alone wail and moan; I just play as long as I enjoy it. I will admit that if my friends move on and I am left alone, I tend to lose interest more quickly, but that isn't a result of the game's dying as much as my just drifting away. And unless the game shuts down, I always peek back.

Patrick Mackey, League of Legends Columnist
@mackeypb: I'm playing... League of Legends. Surprise! Muse Sona went on sale, and I love Sona, so I've been playing non-serious games just to have an excuse to play her and all my other pixel girlfriends.

I consider a game to be dying when two things have happened: the game starts bleeding customers and the developers lose sight of what their profit drivers (the largest paying customer base) actually wants. A lot of games have survived "dying" by making the right choices in these regards, so it's definitely not over just because of a drop in subscriber base. At the same time, a bigger game that completely loses sight of the big moneymaker players could be considered dying if its subscriber base is large but bleeding.

Terilynn Shull, Star Trek Online Columnist
@terilynns: I will be spending some lost time with my husband getting some seriously needed spring cleaning done around the house and prepping the truck for the southwest summer. Other than that, I hope to jump into STO to catch up with the Caspian Division as many of us begin planning our attendance at the Star Trek convention in August.

Since I have so little experience with many MMOs, it's hard for me to say when a game might be "dying." So I'll just have to punt it back to the others on the team.

At the start of every weekend, we catch up with the Massively staff members and ask them, "What are you playing this week?" (Otherwise known as: WRUP!) Join us to see what we're up to in and out of game -- and catch us in the comments to let us know what you're playing, too!

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