Computer Games used to be the realm of kids and teenagers, but social networks brought simple, easy games to the masses Soon everyone from grandmothers to small children could raise crops, fight rival mobs or adopt pets. Superpoke Pets is one of the latter games. Players adopt a virtual pet and decorate habitats for it. They play with friends’ pets and complete quests to earn virtual coins to buy more stuff to decorate more habitats with. Some players (myself included) even drop real money for “gold” items, all for the sake of decorating even more habitats. It’s a never ending cycle that keeps players busy and, generally, happy.
Or it was.
The first sign that something was wrong came on June 1st when a banner at the top of http://spp.com told players that there would be no monthly “passport” quest for June, though the previously created quest items would still be available in the shop. An announcement quickly followed that the monthly plushie collection quest, where users collect a unique set of plushies themed for each month of the year, was also cancelled. Players were surprised, but assumed that the staff was busy working to correct bugs with some of the recently added features, such as the marketplace and friend’s ladder, and that the monthly quests would resume in July.
Then, on June 6th the Slide/SPP team announced in the Superpoke Pet’s forum that there were many “new” changes coming to Superpoke pets. The Thursday item releases, central to the game, will end in July. There will be no new items, whether gold or coin, no new seeds (to grow in the gardens), no feature updates, no spa treatments, free retro plushies, new quests, new free gifts, secret items or new bonus wheel items. After June 30th players will no longer be able to become VIP players – a “status” that users pay $5 a month for to gain access to features such as resizing items int he habitat and visiting the “pet salon” – though all active VIP players will have VIP status for free “so long as the program continues”. Even stranger, players will no longer be able to play on their social networks, but instead will be redirected to the SPP website to play. On a side note, the suggestion room of the forum will also close – not that there would be anything to make suggestions about. These changes will be made slowly through the month of June into July. With no new content, the game will essentially be “frozen in time” by August first.
Like robots with preprogrammed lines, Slide’s SPP team has assured players that the game will not close down for “the foreseeable future” – a quote that has become their mantra. They insist that with the new marketplace – a “shop” where users can “list” items in their inventory and sell them to other players for virtual coins – and all the previously created items the game will not only continue to be fun but will flourish. The Administration have been very prompt to tell players what will stay and what will go, but they haven’t been very straightforward when it comes to WHY.
With no definite reason given, players have been left to create their own theories. Does it have something to do with the Class Action Lawsuit Slide and Google face over another application, Disco? Is it backlash from the thousands of dollars that many players incurred in overdraft fees when the credit system erroneously charged their accounts multiple times for VIP membership (One speculation is that they may have lost their merchant license)? Or maybe it’s because Google wants to break into the social networking business and only bought Slide for it’s designers and equipment, not for it’s games? Is it only a coincidence that items will no longer be for sale and that Facebook links to the game now redirect to the spp homepage when, starting July 1st, Facebook requires all it’s games to accept “facebook credits” for in game goods?
Those who know aren’t telling, which leaves player unsure about SPP’s future, despite the Admins’ insistence that it will be available for the “foreseeable future”. The problem is, how long is the foreseeable future? Quotes such as “Select Coin Items will be given unlimited stocks, so that you can buy them for months to come” – don’t bode well to some players. Neither does the fact that Slide is doing the same thing to other games, including Superpoke Pet’s Ranch, who recently announced, in almost the exact same verbiage, that they would be open for the “foreseeable future” but would have no new updates, either. Superpocus and TopFish, two of Side’s other games, suffered this same fate a year ago. Though those games are still opened, the fact that Slide hasn’t even bothered to update the News section of their website since mid 2010 says something very sad. Perhaps Google’s purchase of Slide was really a death knell?
Player reactions have ranged from anger to sobbing depression and even, in some bizarre cases cheerful, acceptance. There’s not really much that players can do, though some are still trying. A discussion on Google Apps was started, but admin quickly assured posters that though “We have heard your feedback and have escalated it to the appropriate team… This forum is dedicated to Google Apps, one of Google’s many other products, and unfortunately it is not an appropriate place for a discussion about SPP.” Meanwhile a group of users who believe in the power of the people have started a “Save Superpoke Pets” Petition and have asked that all players sign it.
For an application that was so popular it even had it’s own youtube channel , Google/Slide’s decision came as a horrible shock, especially given all the recent improvements. In June 2010 the Quest feature was added to the game to give players something more to do, including monthly “passport” quests where players purchased and decorated themed habitats for their pets, and The Gallery, a place where users add “snapshots” of their habitats to collect votes, was also added. In December 2010 Slide rolled out new versions of their popular pets; redesigns that made the animals more uniform in shape and size so that players could starts dressing them up in clothing items. Though controversial at first, many players had come to see the new, more animated pets as an improvement. With the new pets came the VIP status which included a salon to change your pet’s color and markings, the ability to move your pet in the habitat, decorate behind your pet and resize items in habitats, things decorators had long been asking for. In March the Slide team did a complete redesign of the site and made it more user friendly, as well as giving it a visual update. Other more recent changes included changes to the Spa, the Friendship Bracelet program, the new Friend’s Ladder and the Marketplace.
Why spend so much time and money on improvements to a game you plan to basically dump? Why create items for a puppy quest that you know isn’t going to happen? Questions like these leave many players suspicious that it was a very sudden decision made by Google, either in response to something legal or a finances. With no answers forthcoming, and the future of the game uncertain, the only thing left for users to do is either sell out and quit, or hang on for the ride and hope it last longer than “the foreseeable future”.
This is another two-fer because, as I so often do, I’ve re-written the story. The newer version is technically better, but I’m curious what other people think, so here they are, for your amusement.
Of note, it probably has a name somewhere, but damned if I know what it is. I think it might be called Haunting Eyes somewhere. Titles are very fluid to me, which is a bad thing, I know. Oh well.
(vs 1- originally written August 2007)
The darkness gathered in the graveyard, wild shadows splayed upon the tombstone, cast by the silver moon hanging bloated in the velvet sky. The wind whistled through the tombstones, singing a lament for the dead and the forgotten.
She lay on the pale marble, white gown dripping from the stone in pools of frothy lace, her blue eyes closed against the darkness. He leaned over her, his dark hair falling over his shoulders and his eyes burning as they caressed her. The face that had haunted his dreams shimmered before him, lost in a cloud of pale hair that danced in the night’s whispering breeze. The time had come. With a final kiss she would belong to him forever.
He brought his mouth to her pale throat; lips curling back to reveal long silver fangs that glittered dangerously. Her blood was sweet as summer honey on his tongue and her pressed his mouth to hr tender skin, hungrily, greedily, consuming everything she was and ever had been, making her his own: his bride of darkness.
When it was done he stood back, wiping blood from his lips, thick and dark like black ink under the moon’s glow. He watched as she stirred beneath his touch, finger tracing fiery trails over her skin while a smile danced upon his lips.
Her eyes opened; as blue as the sky in the first rays of morning, pure as the untouched spring. They gazed around, filled with confusion, awash with uncertainty. And then her pale eyes met his, the blue of morning and the black of night clashing in an instant.
Her scream echoed in his ears and tore through his flesh, ripping at his very heart. She sat up, hands clawing at her face and mouth, tears streaming down her porcelain cheeks.
“What have you done to me?” she cried, shrieks of sorrow chasing the wind as they filled the night. “What have you done?”
He reached for her, but she pulled away, shuddering with her sobs, her blue eyes buried behind trembling hands. “What have you done to me?’ she asked again, her anger lost to hopeless misery as she already knew the answer.
“I won’t live like this,” she murmured at last, drawing away her hands to stare at him, he who had been her lover and was now the monster who had taken her life from her. Her eyes, dark and determined, showed her hatred for him now, the gentleness he’d known forever gone. “I won’t.”
A pale streak of dawn was forming to the east, the world holding it’s breath as morning approached. He took a step back from her, his soul pleading to her silently, his hand extended, but she slapped it away and lost herself to bitter tears once more.
The screams would haunt him forever, making his blood run ice in his veins at the memory. He’d left her in the graveyard, left her crying on the marble slab, left her to the mercy of the sun, her anger wounding him beyond reason. From the shade of his crypt he’d heard her cries, heard her scream his name in agony, but he’d turned from the golden light, sinking into cobwebbed shadows where he belonged. Embracing the darkness while he left her to her sunlight.
(vs 2 – rewritten Feb 2010)
Darkness gathered in the graveyard. The silver moon hung bloated in the sky and cast wild, twisted shadows while the wind whistled through the tall grass, singing a lament for the dead and the forgotten.
She lay motionless on the pale marble, lost in a land of deep sleep. Her long white gown dripped from the stone slab in pools of frothy lace and her soft face lay untroubled by her surroundings. Dark lashes curled against sweetly tinted cheeks and pink lips beckoned as her breath slipped gently in and out between them. She was beautiful; beautiful and inviting. A bride waiting for her groom.
He leaned over her slowly, savoring her scent. His dark hair fell past his slumped shoulders until it almost touched her but he hung back as though to memorize the moment. His black eyes burned as they silently caressed her and took in every detail, from her delicately naked feet to her face.
It was the face that had haunted his dreams for so long.
He had waded through trials of fire and patience, through years of waiting for her to reach her womanhood, all the while fighting to appease her father. Always pressing onwards, always looking to this moment when her father would make good on his promise and deliver her to his hands. Always longing for the moment when he would see her softly dreaming face shimmering before him, lost in a cloud of pale hair.
He watched the golden strands dancing in the night wind and delight consumed him. The time had finally come. With a final kiss she would belong to him forever. No longer would he have to skulk and hide in the shadows with only a chance meeting now and then to sustain him. No longer would she see him as a foreign gentleman or her father’s associate. No, she would look at him as a lover; the way she did in his dreams.
Without a breath to stir her slumber, he gently brought his mouth to her pale throat. Her scent was intoxicating and he could see the pulse of her life as it jumped beneath her skin; each movement symbolic of her beating mortal heart.
His lips curled back to reveal long, silver fangs that glittered dangerously. Like daggers, they pierced her tender flesh. So deep was her sleep that their penetration elicited not even a moan from her silent form.
Her blood was sweet as summer honey on his tongue. He pressed his mouth to her, hungrily, greedily, consuming everything she was and ever had been as he made her his own: his bride of darkness.
He drank until he could drink no more and then he cut through his own wrist. His blood was bright and fresh as it flowed from the new wound. Wordlessly, he pressed it to her mouth. Though still wrapped in enchanted slumber, she took the drink that was offered. Like one possessed, she swallowed obediently, unaware that she had been given an order and was following his silent command.
When it was done he stood back and wiped blood from his lips. Blood, thick and dark like black ink under the moon’s glow. He waited for her to wake to her new life, but the waiting was agony. Unable to restrain himself, he reached for her. His finger traced fiery trails over her skin while a smile danced on his lips.
She stirred beneath his touch and her eyes opened; the beautiful eyes that swam in his dreams, always haunting. They were blue; blue as the sky in the first rays of morning and pure as the untouched spring. The taint of immortality had not corrupted them, and in their innocence they gazed around, filled with confusion and awash with uncertainty. Then they met his. The blue of morning and the black of night clashed.
All her answers were reflected in the black depths. All his yearning, waiting and final fulfillment were echoed in perfect clarity for her to see.
Her scream echoed in his ears and ripped at his very heart.
She sat up violently. Her hands clawed uselessly at her throat and mouth, horrified at what they found there. “What have you done to me? What have you done?”
He reached for her, but she pulled away, shuddering with her sobs. She buried her blue eyes behind her trembling hands, hiding his view of summer beauty behind the pale veil of wintery skin. Desperately, he made some noise, a sound that was meant to be comforting, but still she cried.
“What have you done to me?” Her voice grew thin and lost. Her hopeless fingers grabbed her hair by handfuls and she shrieked, “What have you done to me? You’ve made me a monster!”
He drew away, shaken. Incomprehension trembled on his lips, but no words would form themselves. This was not what he had been promised. Her father had promised him that she held affection for him – love even. Had he not seen it himself when they’d spoken, though brief the encounters might have been? How could she now cry such things?
“I- I don’t understand.”
“I won’t live like this,” she murmured, then drew her hands away from her face. Instead of a sweet summer day her eyes had become dark thunderclouds waiting to unleash their fury.
She stared at him, a stranger she barely knew, now the monster who had taken her life from her. Her face hardened to reveal the depths of her hatred for him. The gentleness he’d known in her glance was forever gone, replaced by this new darkness.
Her voice was venom as she repeated, “I won’t.”
He glanced from her anger to the east where a pale streak of dawn slowly formed. The air was changing as the world collectively held its breath in anticipation of the dawn. He knew that there was no time now. He had waited as long as he could so that she might enjoy the last of her mortal dreams.
He looked back to her quickly. He extended his hand to her, and his soul pled silently for to accept and come, but she slapped him away.
“Don’t touch me, you foul creature!”
Her words, her anger, wounded him beyond all reason. Her eyes, no longer the sweet melody he knew but hard and angry, were the eyes of a stranger.
He left her in the graveyard. Left her sobbing on the marble slab. Left her to the mercy of the sun. From the shade of his crypt he heard her cries. He heard her scream his name in agony, but he turned from the golden light and slinked into cobwebbed shadows where he belonged; embracing the darkness while he left her to her sunlight.
The screams would haunt him forever.
So, which one did you like better? You may notice that the stories are a bit different. In the first one he is already her lover, and one would assume she knows what he is but doesn’t want to join him. I’d assume he knew that in advance, but did it anyway. In Version two he’s been duped, presumably by her father, no doubt in exchange for something, so it’s not his fault. I think version two is sadder because they’re both victims, while in version one he was just selfish…
Okay, outta here!