This page covers a long time. About 7 months, so there is a lot to talk about -- some good, some bad, but that's just an opinion. Let's get to it.
Overall, it seems the development pace slowed down a bit. That's to be expected. The devs had a lot of crunch time around CR 2.0, and this might have been their first chance to slow down since launch. "Calm down" is probably a better way to say it, because there weren't a lot of chaotic releases during this time. Bugs and stability were becoming less of a problem and the devs were getting into a groove.
With CR 2.0 and the anniversary event behind us, you'd think that they could pick up the pace on the storyline a bit. Instead, they slowed it down, releasing one critical mission per org each week, with a new subchapter and cinematic about every six weeks. The intent was to allow the devs to work on new static content for the game while continuing to roll out the story. I'm all for that, but I think slowing down the story this much was a mistake. It was already too slow before, and now it's worse. This story is hard enough to follow without having the missions one week apart.
The new cinematic style is something that's obvious. The cinematics for chapters 1-4 were done before launch, back when the game was expected to be a mega success. Can you believe it took this long to get through those chapters? Anyway, those cinematics were a lot of work, and the lean MxO team under SOE no longer has the resources to put those together. Some people like the new style, but I'm not jazzed about it. I don't mind the fact that they are hand-drawn and the style is not bad. I just think they could use more color and animation to make them less dull. These are basically animated storyboards, cinematics on the cheap. The MxO team has chosen to tell key parts of the story using cinematics, so I think they should raise the quality of them a bit.
Another change was related to live events. They aren't the huge events of times past, but small affairs that can be done on a daily basis. These had been going on for a little while, but now they were being directly tied in with the storyline and current subchapter. I thought that was kinda cool. LESIG -- Live Events Special Interest Group consisting of real players -- started getting involved as well, acting as liaisons for each organization. The problem is you never know when, where, or which server they will occur on. Some people must have figured it out, because a lot of the same people seemed to be present at the events. Plus, the devs work roughly the same hours as I do, so the live events I was able to attend were few and far between. I understand why the events were kept small, but there ought to be a system or schedule so more people can participate.
As far as new developments, some progress was made. Archival Missions were added, so players could finally experience past critical missions themselves, instead of just reading about them. This doesn't give them the entire picture, but it goes a long way. The next development was White Hallways. These led to special constructs where players from each organization could have private meetings. I blew $i100 million info on a key. I got to walk through Merv's chateau, but I don't think it was worth it. Since then, simulcra spawns of popular characters have been added as combat training. Organization abilities were talked about to give some variety to PvP, but the dev working on them (HCFrog) left the MxO team to work on another SOE project, and we haven't heard about them since. Lastly, a mission to obtain an "Area K Trenchcoat" was added. This is more of a quest-style mission like you see in other MMO's, and more of these are supposed to be on the way in the future.
Now, let's talk about this part of the story. It just didn't do it for me. Many people complained about the "laser pew pew" as not being very Matrix-like. For me, the whole Cheat Code, Unlimit, Anome plot just wasn't interesting. I can see what Chadwick was trying to do, creating a villain you could sympathize with, like Cypher, but it didn't connect with me.
It's obvious my attitude about the game was becoming more negative. Real life was taking up the majority of my time, and I wasn't jacking in as much as I used to. Hell, I complained about the slow pace of the story, but I didn't even bother to run the 5.3 critical missions when they came out. It became evident it was time to take an extended break from the game, for the first time since launch. The intention is that it will be temporary, real life demands will let up, and I will be drawn back into the game. We'll see what happens. I won't write any journal entries for the time I'm out, which is why you don't see any for 5.3 and 6.1. In fact, I think the cinematics, critical missions, and live event logs pretty much cover it now. So, until there is a major live event to cover, SuperJenius The Character has gone on hiatus. I hope you've enjoyed his work. Of course, the links will keep coming.
Next: Chapter 6: Episode 2...