The recent changes to Alpha clones had some possibly unforeseen consequences for a narrow subset of the population - namely those of us with lapsed Omega accounts and less than 5M SP of Alpha skills trained. The issue is that any trained Omega skills count toward the new cap, effectively causing lapsed Omega customers who’ve subscribed or PLEXed in the past to be penalized relative to a new Alpha account which has not supported the game.
For example, a lapsed Omega with 1M of Alpha skills and 4M of Omega skills (which are now inactive) has an effective skill cap of 1M before hitting the pay wall, whereas a vanilla Alpha account has the standard 5M. Such paid and lapsed customers get less to work with than a free account, and may have had no way of knowing in advance this would happen.
This was mostly a question of timing. Before the changes, training up some Omega skills first and then returning to complete the Alpha skills could be a viable strategy based on attractive seasonal subscription offers, but after the changes few if any players would knowingly make this choice.
In my original edit I proposed the issue of a one-time refund of all spent Omega SP (only) for characters with fewer than 5M Alpha SP spent. However, upon further thought, this still does not resolve the issue since refunded SP still counts against the cap, and there is likely no existing safe method to allow Alpha characters to apply Omega skills without opening up another can of worms. I think the only two possibilities to address this issue would be:
1) Omit Omega skills from counting against the 5M Alpha SP cap, and adjust extractor rules for Alphas appropriately, or
2) Issue restricted (non-transferable, non-sellable) skill extractors to the affected characters allowing the complete extraction of Omega skills on affected characters, even below 5M. These could then be reapplied to the character later, avoiding the issue and encouraging a re-sub if used (must be Omega to apply the SP back to Omega skills).
Counterargument 1: Database work (building the query and applying the changes) may be dev time intensive and it could be better used elsewhere. There may also be a larger than expected population of such players.
Response 1: While I agree that running database updates is undesirable, in comparison to the other alternatives it is cleaner, has less collateral impact, requires no other changes, and makes players like me a lot happier. For example, exempting Omega skills from the cap impacts extractor use by Alphas and has no simple fix, and issuing extractors has abuse/profit potential and still requires some amount of database work. If desired, the total SP of characters could also be taken into account to reduce the affected player count, with players over 10M (or 15, or 20) excluded. After this one time solution, the issue is resolved permanently without any further changes.
Counterargument 2: This affects a very small amount of people / is relatively insignificant SP and PLEX wise.
Response 2: I agree, but at least for me this is about the principle of the thing. I am fully committed to supporting the future of the game and have had 6 accounts PLEXed or subscribed at one time or another, but this left a bad taste in my mouth and is relatively straightforward to address.
Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear your feedback.
Edit: grammar, clarification x3