Playing With Others (instead of just myself)

As my darling wife has mentioned (What’s that? You didn’t know she was blogging? Shame on you, go read her awesome posts, I’ll wait), there are several MMOs of various flavors on their way. Following her fine example, since she followed mine in getting a blog started in the first place, I’m going to take some time to talk about why I’m interested in playing some of them, and why some of them don’t interest me at all.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

Deathwing
Woke up on the wrong side of the continent.

As a former WoW player (my weekly twelve-step meetings are going well, thanks for asking) I do understand the appeal of a new expansion. Some areas of the old world map have fallen quite behind in terms of quest quality, population and overall aesthetic. New dungeons promising better loot is a major draw as well, and tying in old threads from previous games in a way that’s loyal to the typical Blizzard atmosphere of a world going dark (Diablo, for example) isn’t all that bad.

When I wrote this section earlier I was focusing on the few bad experiences I had that turned me off to the repetitive dungeon grinding in MMOs in general and WoW in particular. I however had some good experiences as well, rendering this entire section moot as well as making me out to be a blatant liar. Therefore I have redacted this section and will be spending the rest of the evening in an act of contrition too horrific and stomach-churning to relate here. Suffice it to say it involves jumper cables, running water, a roll of duct table and no less than six very angry ferrets.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Kotor 2 Poster by some artist who isn't me.
Nostalgically delicious.

I’ve said on several occasions that I used to love Star Wars, but George Lucas slowly and surely strangled all joy out of the original films and my childhood memories of them. The closest I’ve come to the pure enjoyment I once got out of Star Wars was playing Knights of the Old Republic. Both of those games had a heavy emphasis on story, being rooted in BioWare’s development mentality, and those stories were, unlike those in the prequels, very well told. The Old Republic setting, from the original graphic novels to those two games, painted a much deeper and more vibrant picture of both the Star Wars universe in general and the Jedi in particular.

When it was first announced that the Old Republic would be the setting for a new Star Wars MMO, I was excited. Despite some major problems, Star Wars Galaxies still had something to offer in terms of both gameplay and nostalgia. However, it’s diffcult to balance the classes when you’re pitting normal beings with high technology against space samurai with psychoflexus powers that can toss heavy objects and people alike around a room with almost casual ease. There’s also the fact that, as rich as the setting might be and no matter how much text BioWare will be dumping on the players, all of it is eventually lurching towards the time in the future when all of the Jedi will get murdered at the hands of a super-powered politician with a partially melted face and an asthmatic boy-man who spends most of his formative years stomping his feet and bitching people out over the unfairness of his life.

I feel like I want to vomit already.

Star Trek Online

Hot Trill for Beta testing
If I’m going to deal with lag and bugs, I might as well have something nice to look at.

Star Trek, on the other hand, has had ups and downs in all sorts of flavors and colors, and I still think there’s lots to like about it. The MMO is set in the ‘prime’ reality, rather than the ‘alternate’ one created by Abrams. You know, the one people say craps all over Roddenberry’s dream of the future, which would be biting comments if they hadn’t been said about episode of Deep Space 9 or Voyager or Enterprise or some of the later films? Anyway, my feelings on that subject are well-documented and I’d rather talk about the game.

I’m working on a ‘first impressions’ that encapsulates my experiences in the open beta of Star Trek Online, but suffice it to say I’m liking what I’ve experienced so far. Fleet actions that work a bit like WAR’s Public Quests, skill trees that take the place of arbitrary levels, an Away Team system that ensures you have help when beaming into hostile areas and the ability to customize just about any visual aspect of both your character and your Bridge Officers are a few of the highlights of the game’s current build. I’m still toying with the Away Team AI, looking forward to more missions that don’t involve the usual straightforward “go to location X to kill Y hostile craft/creatures belonging to Z”, and curious about this Replicator system that allows me to sell random drops without having to visit a vendor. More to come on this, but up until now my experience has been positive.

Warhammer 40,000

Stole this one from the wife.
Unprotected sex is heresy. Heresy is punishable by death.

I love the world of 40k. There’s a lot going on, plenty of diverse and dangerous cultures and situations and the overall grimdarkness of the atmosphere puts it far and away from the worlds of either Star Trek or Star Wars. Characters in crapsack worlds tend to be more interesting, which is why encountering people in Fallout 3 is a treat more often than not. However, I think a lot of people are going to look towards this game and try to find out if they can be a super-powered Space Marine.

Screw that, I say. Being overpowered and motivated by faith and loyalty alone gets really dull after a while. Ask most Jedi, if they’re not just interested in waving their dicks lightsabers around. I’ll take Ibram Gaunt over any Space Marine any day of the week. A former Guardsman pressed into service as a mercenary to try and make a living, the assassin masquerading as a nobleman to get closer to his targets, a Dark Eldar privateer looking for his next big score… you could probably come up with many more character ideas and possibly port them into the other sci-fi MMOs, but 40k’s world is so grim and so dark that it’s probably the best and most interesting sandbox in which they can play.

Final Fantasy XIV

Stole this one from the wife, too.
Stole this one form the wife.

A few of the Final Fantasy games turned out pretty well. I particularly like games in the series that incorporate the Job system. Apparently, in this upcoming MMO, the system will be returning in a way that sounds intriguing. From what I understand changing your equipment is what changes your job. My wife covers the game a bit more in-depth and I’ve already stolen both the concept for this post and a couple images from her, so I’ll let her take it from here.

It seems like just about anything can be made into an MMO. My interest stays mostly within speculative fiction, however, so I’ll be keeping an eye on the aforementioned IPs. Hopefully the soulless corporate money-makers won’t try to make absolutely anything into an MMO. At least, I hope not. It’s not like there’s a Twilight MMO in the works.

…What? There is?

Twilight


NO. NO. NO NO NO JESUS O’ BASTARD WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE THERE WILL BE STABBINGS THESE PEOPLE ARE JUST BEGGING TO BE STABBED NO NO NO CHRIST NO.

I really, really need to see Daybreakers. I need to restore my faith in the fact that people out there know how to portray vampires that act like fucking vampires. For your own safety and the safety of others, await my review of this film. Help support me seeing it, and avert the oncoming torrent of hate-filled stabbity death.

8 Comments

  1. Just say no to Twilight. Then repeat. Then hit whoever is closest to you till they repeat it. Then they hit two friends… and they hit two friends… and they hit two friends…

    I’ve been talking a lot about MMOs in different blog comment sections (seriously, I may compile a “best of” album) so I will keep this one fairly short: MMO’s are getting very derivative, and I really hope some of the new IPs step away from the safe model of WoW and do something spectacular. What that innovation could entail? I don’t know. Right now, I want to be amazed. I want to capture that feeling when an MMO finally hooked me (Anarchy Online in my case) and made me think about it hours after I was done with a play session.

    I am excited for these games, but not of them hit me like that.

  2. I think we should work with Danielle on a time travel MMO. I know at least one person out there in the industry who’s all for the idea.

  3. Vampires that act like vampires?

    Shit. Vampires are real? I’m going to have to get a cross in my house. Oh wait, in some stories, vampires have no problems with crosses. I think I’ll just have to eat more garlic. But no… They’re different in different stories. I know! I’ll get more mirrors, because then I can watch for people that don’t cast reflections. Nevermind. I guess I could keep an eye out for normal people that sometimes get ridges on their heads and lose all self-control. Oh… I could wait for overacting guys in outrageous capes to hiss at me and wax poetic about children of the night. But I guess that’s not particularly monstrous, now.

    I can take a shit on Twilight with the best of them. But declaring that there’s a definitive way that vampires act… Well… Meh. I like playing Vampire: The Requiem. Why? There’s almost seven billion potential vampires in the world. Each one would act differently. Vampires are individuals, not a strict handful of behaviors. As far as I’m concerned: Does it need to drink blood to survive? You’ve got yourself a vampire.

  4. I’m down for that. Let get a design document going. Call it PROJECT AWESOME TRAX! and make sure the logo has a shitzu in it… with space armor!

    Seriously though, I’d be down for it.

  5. Also: Time travel MMO, while hard to implement, would be outstanding.

  6. I heard that Twilight MMO was just a fan work and isn’t really some real project.

    But if I’m wrong… well, hold on a sec.

    -pulls up Amazon, orders a sparkly vibrator-

    Ah, there we go. Totally prepped for the ERP-fest.

    … In seriousness, a time-traveling MMO actually sounds like a pretty interesting idea. I’d be curious to see what kind of concept for gameplay could be dreamed up for it.

  7. Copycat. :<

    I take issue with some of the things you mentioned about dungeon grinding because they're blatantly false. As I mentioned to you, everyone hates the *idea* of grind, but in practice it provides a sense of familiarity that's comforting. Some grind is good, too much or too little leads to Game Death (TM).

    On another note… I also object to your statement that expansions are just there to milk money out of people who "worked hard" for items. The problem with building outward instead of upward is accessibility. Look at EQ2: The Shadow Odyssey didn't increase level cap, and because of that it was damn near impossible for a fresh level 80 to break into the raiding scene. You're always going to have to expand, assuming you don't want your game to die, and therefore render items moot. If you don't increase the cap, thereby rendering items even.. er… mooter, it's hard for new players to find a group who are still doing the old stuff they need to complete in order to be able to tackle the new stuff. In short, level cap increases are a generally a good idea.

    @Dave: this is one reason I don't really enjoy playing Vampire games, other than the society thing we discussed previously. I like vampires who act a very particular way, but that way isn't really… conducive to group play.

  8. I like piggies the way they are in Charlotte’s Web. But to say that a piggy that acts like Miss Piggy isn’t acting like a piggy doesn’t really work. You know what I mean?

    I still don’t entirely understand your issue with vampire games. Maybe you’re bringing in preconceived notions? Characters in a game like that are just as versatile as a character in say, D&D. But you like D&D. I don’t get the disconnect.

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