MMOs are not dead because people aren’t forced to group or because people can’t commit 18 hours to camping a spawn anymore. MMOs are dying because the generation that loved them is growing up, had kids, and generally has other things to do. The newer generation visits MMOs but doesn’t live in them the way we did.
Maybe it’s time for a new paradigm in online gaming.*
I posted this as a comment on Facebook earlier today and am wondering if maybe I hit a nail on the head, at least as far as my own MMO experience goes. I play them, but I don’t live them anymore like I used to; and even then, I don’t play them nearly as much as I think I’d like to.
(It’s like the person who keeps waiting for that other person to call because they said they would, but they haven’t yet and it’s been 3 weeks. If that person wanted to call they’d have done so by now. We make time for the things we find important.)
I still call myself a gamer, I still keep a bunch of games around, and I even keep some of them up to date, but I don’t really actually play all that much. I do way more thinking about gaming and talking about gaming than actual gaming, and even the thinking and talking are down to an all-time low compared to, say, 2009 and the heyday of this blog. (Man, time really flies.)
I suspect MMOs will end up being a mere blip on the evolutionary landscape of whatever gaming is turning into, because whatever it becomes it’s clear gaming itself isn’t going to go away anytime soon — it just probably won’t look like what the dinosaurs from the turn of the millennium think it should or would.
In the meantime I’m downloading The Elder Scrolls Online again, mostly because of this fascinating article that a friend linked on Facebook and that led to the above-mentioned comment. Sometimes MMOs are a cynical labour of trying to screw as much money out of people as possible, and sometimes they’re a hopeless labour of love, but they’re almost always made by at least a few people who are literally pouring themselves into something that usually doesn’t have a whole lot of chances of succeeding, or not for any length of time. And when someone cares that much, it makes me want to take another look at a game I tried and cavalierly abandoned after a few weeks — not because it was awful, but because it didn’t galvanise me the way Asheron’s Call and the early MMOs did.
The problem is, no game can. One can’t go back. Maybe it’s time for me to admit that, move on, and find my own new paradigm.
PS: Yes, I’m still mad at World of Warcraft.
*I don’t think I’ve ever quoted myself quite this blatantly before. I don’t know whether to feel cool, conceited or just a little bit dirty.
OK, so I’ll admit the new Demon Hunters do look pretty cool.
And as far as leaving a stylish corpse goes, I can guarantee you that I’m really good at leaving a corpse, at any rate. The pre-Legion demon invasions are in full swing and I’ve spent a (relatively) quiet afternoon going from one to another and getting some new gear.
And dying. Lots and lots of dying. The fact that I’m not really bonded with my character yet, that she’s melee, and that I’m throwing myself at the bad guys like the stubborn guy in that Kids in the Hall sketch might have something to do with it, not to mention the fact that some of those demons do a lot of damage.
If you want serious leveling coverage of this event, go read Stargrace’s blog. Me, I’m just a tourist.
Finally and utterly a propos nothing, I have almost 700 screenshots in my WoW screenshot folder. It takes forever to load. I should probably archive some of the older ones or something.
Almost exactly a year ago I was terrifically underwhelmed by the whole Demon Hunter and Legion thing. Mostly because I was taking part in Blaugust and needed something to write about, but partly because it does seem as though we’re rehashing some material these last couple of Warcraft expansions. I say potato, you say deepening the fantastic amounts of (utterly incomprehensible to me) WoW lore.
So now here they are, the Demon Hunters, or will be when the servers come back up in a few hours, hot on the heels of the biggest class changes I remember ever seeing in World of Warcraft. Am I excited? I’m not sure.
Ever since I started playing tabletop RPGs my favourite classes have been the pet classes, either the ones with pets (rangers) or the ones who can be pets (druids), so it’s no surprise that my absolute fave classes in WoW are Hunter (since beta) and druid (I came late to that party but I love me some feralz). And hunter seems to have taken a bit of a beating on the pet side for the latest mega-patch.
All the classes have had their spells and skills reduced by what seems like 50%, and I’m actually OK with that after having played it a few days, because 3 full hotbars is just too much for an elderly brain to remember. (EQ2, are you listening?) I started a handful of newbie characters on Dalaran server just to see what it’s like from scratch, and while the plethora of skills has been rationalised a little, the feel for most of them is still the same. (Almost. What most of them feel like at the moment is “I’ve really only got 3 skills I keep mashing,” but I’m not sure that’s very different from “I’ve got 19 skills at level 10 but only 3 of them are worth mashing.”) The notable exception seems to be my Elemental shaman but don’t take my word on that — my ‘main’ shammy is only in her 60s and the new one is level 20, so I don’t speak from a position of great experience.
But back to the hunter, and specifically the Beast Master hunter. It feels very different now, it’s more like the (Summon-lots-of-temporary)Beast(s)-Master hunter and not the one-woman-and-her-dog/cat/bear/spider it used to be. I miss that. But perhaps I’m just resistant to change. Apparently the Marksmanship and Survival talent specs got huge boosts (which IMO they needed because they both bored the pants off me play-wise in the last few years), so good for them. I guess I can be a MM or Surv hunter for a few years, until the next expansion mega-patch changes everything again.
What does all this have to do with Demon Hunters, you ask? Nothing, really. I was going to write about them but I’ve done ZERO research on them and I’ve been far more interested in whether my favourite chars have been chopped off at the knees. But they’ll be in early access in a few hours so we’ll see then.
Will I make one? OF COURSE I’LL MAKE ONE. You clearly don’t know me at all.
[For the benefit of Gamer Girl’s sanity, these are pix 22-43.]
I have not finished a single one of the Dragon Age games, but I still enjoyed the hell out of what time I spent in them — which is almost none for DA:Inq, but I’m sure I’ll get to it eventually; it pouts at me every time I open Origin and then click on the Sims 4. And I have literally five million screenshots from the various games, which in non-hyperbole-land translates to somewhere around 1,000. Which is still quite a lot.
So here are a few of them for IntPiPoMo. Click to enlarge as usual.
Dragon Age: Origins
[Edit — so I didn’t mean to put in quite so many DAO pix but seriously, they’re all awesome and they all bring back memories, which is exactly what screenshots should do. I might just have to play the game again over Thanksgiving…]
“What’s all this Ridley Scott pollen shit in the air anyway? My allergies are killing me.”
One of my favourite characters ever, looks-wise. Even though bald and tattooed isn’t usually my thing. She was just BADASS.
Another badass DAO character. Come to think of it, they were all badass, even the elves (and that’s saying something).
Yes, I really liked playing the Origin stories. Don’t judge me.
A) I’m kinda liking this bald thing. It’s a lot more comfortable under helmets. B) My armour may have totally ridiculous cleavage, but at least I’m not wearing a belt over my boobs like that witch bint up there.
But she does get all the best lines.
Shit just got real, yo.
Hey hero lady, I don’t suppose you can do something about us constantly being covered in blood? My dry-cleaning and armour-scouring bills are killing me.
And of course, a dragon.. or eight.
Dragon Age 2 – The Unsubtitled
Still with the dragons?! Oh right, it’s Dragon Age…
Morrigan’s mum, also dragony, also clearly a graduate of the Maleficent School of Sartorial Style.
If the kid says “Enchantment? Enchantment!” ever, at all, where I can hear him, I’m going to gouge his eyes out with a spoon. And I’m not even sure why…
And, uh, that’s it apparently. I got a bit further than that in game but it just wasn’t grabbing me as much.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Which is still better than how far I got in this game: maybe 3 hours and barely out of the tutorial (I think). Even so, I have 90 screenshots, which averages out to one every 2 minutes, so either I knew IntPiPoMo was coming up (a whole year down the line almost to the day), or I just thought the game was very pretty. Hell, even the “Game is loading” screen was awesome.
I should actually play this sometime, I suspect.
I’m only in the character creation section and already I’m way more badass than the other bints you made. Keep me. We will kill many things together.
Holy crap these game controls SUCK. Or YOU suck. You almost made me shoot an arrow up my own butt!
I swear, guys, I have no idea where that’s coming from!
DA:I demon – now with 25% more arachnid!
Did I die and end up in Medieval Band heaven? Well, at least the outfit’s not bad.
I have to do some Warhammer Online screenies, because getting into that beta and joining Casualties of War (a guild by bloggers for bloggers (and anyone else)) was what started this blog. And through this blog I’ve met millions and millions of new people — okay, a couple hundred maybe. And a few dozen of those I like a lot and am friends with (is it YOU? Is it not you? And if it isn’t you, why isn’t it you?!). And a handful of those I am now good friends with, some of them even IRL. So yeah, definite turning point that was.
Besides, it was an excruciating amount of fun, if only for a little while. It’s also the only MMO ever where I played a healer as a healer (as opposed to playing a Shadow Priest or a Feral Druid) and had fun doing it. I don’t seem to have many screenshots of Amariel the Archmage, but that’s probably because I was too busy spamming heals in scenarios to actually stop and take pictures. The pix below are therefore from Ysharros, my solo char.
I don’t remember what all the places are, but that’s ok. I remember the fun. And as a little nostalgia kick for anyone else who played, here’s a link to THE DUDE WITH THE THING. It actually applies to pretty much any PvP carry-the-thing scenario. There is one rule: KILL THE DUDE WITH THE THING.
Well. I guess instead of moaning about it on Twitter as I’ve been doing for the last half-hour, I might as well moan about my lack of motivation here — especially since my lack of motivation includes the lack of motivation to write a blog post, so complaining about my lack of motivation with my waffly skills should use up at least 200 words, by which time I’ll be 40% there. (There being the Blaugust 10-sentence, 2-paragraph, to-my-mind 500-words-ish rule of content requirement.)
Twitter has been no help at all — well, except for TAGN, who alone responded to my plea for help — and maybe MrC, who totally enabled my displacement activity.
Apparently some people actually have lives and jobs and things to do on a cool and breezy Friday morning other than post a week’s worth of Tweets in an hour. Or provide a desperate blogger with post ideas. Or, better yet, write them for her.
OMG there it is! I should have found myself a guest blogger! That would have been such a cool thing to do for Blaugust, too! Curses.
In the spirit of carpe diem, does anyone want to do a guest post on an incredibly high-profile, Jon Stewart reads this, up-to-the-second, content-stuffed bloggy mountain of infinite delights? If so, apply to the Huffington Post. If you’d rather an obscure cavern of confusion, apply here.
You’ll get acclaim, pride, self-confidence and the absolute guarantee of no free T-Shirt ever. And you’ll be the first guest poster here. (And quite possibly the last.) (Despite the tone, this is a serious offer.)
[Okay, 238 words, only 262 to go. I can do this!!]
TAGN inspires, I perspire
Under the Drunder You Go
Drunder Prison-World may be the most awesome thing ever… It’s basically EQ2’s answer to Lord of the Flies or Escape from New York* with 8,000 Snake Plissken wannabes. You can read the whole post for yourselves, but the basic idea is that the biggest asshats in EQ2 will find their entire account banished to an exile server from which they may never escape, as determined by Customer Service GMs. People can also opt for a one-time, no-refund, one-way transfer to Drunder if they think they’re hard enough. People also have to have a paid subscription account to EQ2 for this, which is just kind of weird. Because the rest of the scheme is totally not weird.
Aside from the obvious issue of let’s-just-make-a-new-account-they’ll-never-know-it’s-me-bwahaha, which I assume they’ve thought of (no of course I haven’t read the entire thread, what am I, made of time?), and the inevitable whining that will ensue when people transfer over for a lark and are forcibly made to understand the meaning of the term “one-way only”, does this have a chance of working at all? My guess would be asshat players will either find a new account to be an asshat on, or will find a new game to be an asshat on; of course if they pick the latter it’s no longer the EQ2 staff’s bailiwick so problem solved.
At any rate it’s a new idea in an industry that always needs new ideas, and it could lead to some interesting server-ruleset variations if this experiment works. And if it removes the worst offenders that’s a good thing. Not that I have any idea who the worst offenders are or what they have to do to earn that dubious distinction. Even in EQ2, which is one game where I follow global channels, I don’t follow the global-global channel because it’s invariably full of over-sharers, eejits, or crashing bores who think they aren’t.
My favourite MMO mount
Hrm. All of them. Okay, probably this one — as the mount you can’t actually ride except for 10 seconds in a specific zone with a one-hour cooldown. (Can you say L-A-M-E?)
I’m terribly boring when it comes to mounts. I like to get the weird and wonderful ones but when it comes to actually getting around I’m 100% utilitarian. They need to move without too much jerk, wobble or bounce (yes, the mounts), they need to not fill my entire screen (Pandaclysm dragon-mounts FTW), and they need to match my outfits — by which I usually mean my pets. So here’s my most common mount in WoW, which probably counts as my favourite.
A crafting profession memory!
That’s easy. All of them. I’m a crafter in games, it’s what I am as much as what I do, and any adventuring that happens (including levelling, in most games) is an incidental by-product. Most of my EQ2 characters are max-level crafters — or were an expansion or 2 ago — but haven’t made it out of the teens or twenties for adventuring. I had no less than three accounts for SWG back in the one-account/one-character days so that I could experience all the crafting professions. I pick games based on their crafting options — and yes, I’ve been disappointed many, many times. Which doesn’t mean I don’t play games where the crafting sucks (WoW is an obvious example), but it does feel sort of like playing with half a game. And so we segue neatly into…
Why is there so much Cheese in WoW?
Because cheese is awesome. Because cheese is better than cake and better than pie, as I have stated before (see the no free T-shirt link above if you really want linkage). Because a world without cheese might as well be a world without air. My glorious leader said so:
Yes, I’m French. What of it? You wanna take this to Drunder? EDIT — WordPress is either Francophile or Anti-French. It ate my DeGaulle caption. But since it was about cheese, maybe WordPress just really likes cheese. Thanks for spotting that TAGN!
In reply to my previous post, pskinner mentioned Trove, which apparently could be a crafter’s paradise. I saw that this morning, just before checking my mail…
In which I found this:
And then I remember why I quit ArcheAge before the alpha phased into beta, and why I’m unlikely to ever pay for a Glyph game again. It’s one thing to give actual perks for subscribing; it’s quite another to offer features that nobody would want to be without. If you’re going to be free to play, BE free to play. If you’re going to be subs-only, then man up and admit that’s what you are – it works pretty well for WoW after all.
Maybe the whole ArcheAge thing just left a sour taste ($150 for the privilege of Alpha testing being the first thing, and I won’t get started on the rest or this will become a rant of epic proportions). It was my choice to spend the money, after all. Just like it’s my choice to not play any of their other games now. There’s just something too… grasping about the whole Glyph money model.
I’d also forgotten Trove is supposed to be a Minecraft-alike. If it’s very much like it — specifically with how the camera works — then the only thing that will happen is me hurling my breakfast all over the room, so that’s another no right there. I think if I want a voxel game I’ll just go back to Landmark; it’s been over a year and a great deal of water has gone under that bridge (which isn’t even a Sony bridge anymore), so maybe those pesky graphics issues — the ones where anyone with an nVidia card would crash — have been fixed.
… you think Oh jeez, I’d better log into an MMO or my harvesters/garrison/housing will go up in smoke. It’s the summer doldrums, which means that despite the lovely Steam sale and all, I’d rather be anywhere but sitting at my desk staring at a screen. I have a million games to play and nothing’s really grabbing me.
I haven’t even logged into WoW since the 6.2 patch, so I really should check that out.
My harvesters are almost certainly burning to the ground in SWG. Almost everyone from the early return-rush seems to be gone, and I’m in a really big guild (with lots of names) that has absolutely no guild chat, which I admit is a little disheartening. I don’t always want to be on TeamSpeak, dammit. (Actually these days I don’t want to be on voice chat at all. I’m having a hermit month.)
It’s The Secret World’s third anniversary event and there are goodies. Or it was. For all I know I’ve missed that too…
The spousal unit is back in EVE and making beckoning gestures; apparently it’s somewhat improved since our last foray in… (checks old posts) 2010. Eh, maybe. Maybe not.
Everyone’s raving about the FFXIV expansion. Eh, maybe.
The Repopulation has sat unplayed on my desktop for a couple of weeks. Not that I didn’t like it, but apparently it didn’t grab me. Which may have more to do with the whole summer doldrums thing than with the game itself, which is okay (up that to “pretty good” considering the development stage it’s in).
I’ve been a contributor to Shroud of the Avatar since, err… last year sometime? And have logged into it exactly once. I should check that out too, since I did put money into it and I love the folks who are developing it.
And then there’s all the non-MMO games I haven’t touched either… Sims 4, various Steam games (including Torchlight 2 and I’ve already forgotten what else), Dragon Age Inquisition (remember that first session I blogged about? Well, that was also the last session)… The list goes on.
But all I feel is meh. Meh MEh MEH MEH MEEEEEEEH. In a couple of months it’ll cool down and I’ll want to play again.
It’s on sale on Steam for a few more days. Find out more about the game here, or do a Google search you lazy bastards. Here are my very brief first impressions.
It’s in alpha. Read it again: ALPHA. Repeat after me: Aaaaalllph-aaaaaa. So stop crying about the bugs, the disconnects, the crashes, the bugs. (And it’s running very stably for me so QQ bitches.) If you don’t want that experience, wait a few months. It’ll be on sale again and it doesn’t launch till Q4 (that’s dev-speak, so I’m guessing May 2016).
It’s a sandbox. There’s a basic “here’s how you walk, talk and shoot things” tutorial and then you’re dumped in Mos Eisley one of the two faction starter-cities to sink or swim. However, NPCs are literally spamming your inbox with mission offers and the rest is pretty self-explanatory for anyone with a working braincell. Want to harvest? Find some nodes, swing that axe. Want to fight? Find some mobs, pewpew that pistol.
It feels a lot like SWG and the UI elements borrowed all the nastiest, clunkiest, screen-hoggingest crappy bits of the SWG UI (of all the things to copy), but it is most definitely not SWG or UO, so don’t go buying it because someone said it was. It’s ‘inspired by’ — and that’s definitely true. It’s not a clone. Your character may be, but it isn’t.
I’m not a huge fan of the graphics or even the art style, but that’s highly subjective. Bodies are reasonably well-proportioned and fairly realistic (moreso than in most games). The buildings in the starter cities are suitably grimy. The outside bits are suitably tree-y and rock-y… But somehow it leaves me cold. I’d almost rather SWG’s cartoonish art than this gritty, realistic and ultimately unpoetic view. So far the landscapes haven’t made me catch my breath, but I haven’t gone far. AND it’s alpha. Always remember alpha.
The crafting system looks complex. It may still depend on grinding 1000 craft-foozles to master, but there’s very little way around that in an MMO – at least no fair way. I haven’t really crafted anything but I have chopped down some trees and harvested some flowers and ore. Oddly enough if it reminds me of anything, it’s Anarchy Online, simply because it’s so freaking complex and there are so many recipes and Recipe 1 depends on subcomponents A – M each of which is made by a different crafting profession…
However, the game does have a Work Order system, which is the only way you can make genuine crafting interdependence work. I have already sold little bits and pieces to people who needed them for whatever mysterious purpose they needed them for. I’m guessing grinding.
I have no idea what combat is like, other than a bit buggy. I pewpew-ed shit with my trusty handgun as needed to reach nodes. I don’t care about combat.
I have a feeling there is a LOT to discover under the surface, especially with harvesting and crafting and perhaps even housing. I will probably carry on discovering, but I doubt it’ll pull me away from SWG or WoW or my main games, not for a while.
It’s possible my finger slipped and I purchased The Repopulation; I don’t know much about it but I have an old friend very much involved with it and a few other friends have said nice things and hey, new MMO with SWG and UO flavour, TAKE MY MONEY I’M IN!
The spousal unit purchased the entire collection of Heroes of Might & Magic games, which I stopped caring about around number 5 (or 6, whichever one was the amazing disappointment) and got us hooked up on the family dealy so now he’s trying out games I bought on other amazing sales and have *cough* never even tried, like LA Noire.
Meanwhile the SWG honeymoon continues, perhaps fanned by the fact that there’s never enough time to play it. Absence, heart, fonder, etc. I’m logged in a lot, but mostly I’m AFK sampling which doesn’t really count as playing. When I do get to play I have fun — but not in the way I expected. Crafting is entertaining, yes, but there’s very little impetus to get up and running because the server is choking on a surplus of great crafters, largely because everyone can make 10 characters so everyone can have all the crafts. I know, waaahmbulance.
So I’ve been doing combat here and there – initially to pay the bills (which still strikes me as backasswards – I made a fortune as a crafter back in the day), and now because it’s rather fun even though the SWG combat system is probably one of the clunkiest ever. 2003 and all that.
Publish 7 went in the weekend before last and now you can no longer disrespect Imperial soldiers without having to pay for it:
Yay! I used to slap at least one stormie a day with my Sword/Doc/Rebel back on Shadowfire, just because.
Oh yeah, and there are working droids now too. And Bio-Engineer got an Image Design makeover by a Rodian hopped-up on Skooma or something because it’s just… weird, now. It’s being tweaked, thank goodness. In the meantime master BEs are producing CL10 non-CH creatures with 9k HAM – which means nothing to anyone not playing SWG and should make SWG-players’ eyes bug out.
That’s it. I’m off to try The Repopulation since SWGEMU-Basilisk just took a nosedive. Ah, post-patch weeks. Gotta love em!