Why am I not excited about the release of Star Trek Online? It’s in open beta at the moment — for all that “open” apparently doesn’t mean “open” at all — until the 26th, and is set for launch on February 2nd.
I’m not anti-excited about it. That is, I have nothing against Star Trek or STO, and in fact I’m sort of looking forward to it. But not. While I welcome the arrival of pretty much every new MMO, because more is better in terms of choices, options, playstyles, payment models, and generally keeping the industry going and growing… it’s not the jumping-up-and-down, frothing at the mouth excitement it used to be. Which is probably a not such a bad thing; I don’t look good in froth.
Still, thinking back over the last couple of years, I think the last game launches I was really excited about were Vanguard and Warhammer Online. Vanguard was going to be my game to end all games, especially with its separate crafting sphere and blah blah blah we all know how that ended up. (I could say more but I won’t, because I have some major, major issues with how things were done in the crafting sphere both before and after launch and the person who did them is now in charge of the whole shebang (I think), so I’ll just keep my mouth shut. Bygones.)
As for Warhammer Online, I’m starting to think my excitement was less for the game and more for the fact that I also discovered blogging and a pretty cool blogging community alongside it back in beta. It’s easier to hype yourself up if you’re writing hype-y articles. I dunno — these things are always differently-tinted in hindsight. Warhammer did have a lot of potential, but ultimately the crappy crafting — among other things — killed it for me.
Yes yes, I know, for lots and lots of you a game’s crafting environment is very subordinate to everything else and I shouldn’t leave a game because it has crappy crafting. Different strokes, okay? I don’t give a stuff about combat systems if the crafting is absent or sub-par. It’s why I’m not playing LOTRO, incidentally. Though maybe I should revisit. It’s been a long time since beta and maybe it’s different now.
In any case, when LOTRO launched just a few months after Vanguard, we were still playing the latter and hoping it would somehow salvage itself. A year later, I watched the Age of Conan launch from the sidelines, mostly because it was apparent even before launch that the computers we had at the time wouldn’t be able to handle the game without having fits. Oh, and earlier in 2008 we let Pirates of the Burning Sea pass us by too; we’d beta-tested that for a while and while the beta was fun (and we’re nerdy enough to enjoy doing bug reports), it was fairly clear the final version wouldn’t be for us; another weak, weak crafting system/environment, among other things.
The came Warhammer Online. That was exciting for a few months, especially before and just around launch. After that it all kind of went downhill.
In 2009 we had Champions Online, Aion and Fallen Earth. Yes I know, other stuff launched, but it wasn’t on my radar. Non-MMO-wise there was Sims 3 and that’s turned out to have a limited appeal in the end too. Oh, and Dragon Age — I did froth about that, didn’t I? Well, I haven’t played it since my last post about it and my char is still stuck, probably forever, in the mage tower section.
I expected to be interested in Champions Online, especially since there was quite a buzz about it… but when the day came I really wasn’t. Cryptic’s shenanigans with lifetime subs and other stuff didn’t impress me, but that in itself wasn’t it. I just wasn’t very interested. Even less so in Aion, though I’ll admit it looks very pretty from what I’ve seen in the screenshots. Fallen Earth might have been a contender — we beta-tested that one too and I enjoyed it very much — but I’ve discovered in the last year or two that I’m serially monogame-ous when it comes to MMOs. I can’t play more than one at a time. And the pull of Fallen Earth wasn’t enough to drag me from EQ2.
It’s not that EQ2 is better-than-anything-else great. It’s a good, solid game and has been vastly improved over the last few years, but it does have its drawbacks, Uncanny Valley char art being one of them and chunky performance even on pretty decent machines being another if you want graphics that don’t look like they were made by Fisher Price. (“Let’s make the processor do all the work, there’s no future in graphics processors anyway!” Really? I wonder who’s kicking themselves now.)
Is it MMO lassitude? I don’t think so. When I have time to play I enjoy that playtime and I don’t wobble about sadly wondering what to do with myself. (Piece of advice: if you don’t know what to do every time you log on, it’s probably time to not log on for a while.)
I just don’t feel all that excited about launches anymore. Maybe I’ve been burned by the hype one too many times. Hey, at least I picked nice big hype-juggernauts to get burned by, right? (Vanguard and WAR — pay attention you at the back!) Maybe I’m just older, wiser and much more cynical. Maybe the fact that I’m blogging makes me keep up with gaming news more than I used to (which is true) so that what I see about upcoming launches is more than just the Yay-rah-rah! hype and also includes potential downsides. Eh, but then again — the potential downsides are always the same: lag; disconnects; non-working mechanics; lag; broken systems; lag; disgustingly ugly UIs; lag. The execution may change somewhat but launch plots are always the same.
When I’m excited, that kind of stuff doesn’t bother me. It’s part of being part of launch. The problem is I don’t really care about being part of launch anymore. These days I don’t even really care about trying out all these new MMOs even though there are literally dozens to choose from. A few years back the buffet selection would have looked a lot leaner, that’s for sure.
Have I become truly spoiled for choice? I mean spoiled in the nasty sense, not in the indulged-child sense, though that probably applies too. With so many new MMOs coming out, maybe I don’t need to get all excited anymore.
Gotta go. I just noticed that the launch of CitiesXL totally passed me by!