That shiny new smell

On the one hand, Dragonchasers writes that after a few days “off” games, it’s hard to remember why they’re so addictive and why you should log into GameOfTheMonth instead of, say, reading a good book. (Very true — personally, I’d pick a good book any day.) On the other, you have Syp explaining why he’s happy to play “slowly but steadily” — I think Syp is the extreme opposite of a content-locust, and that his playstyle is the only sane one to adopt to avoid total burnout.

And on the third hand, there’s the heady joy of the “new-game smell” you get when you start something new, or even — as I’ve discovered — when you go back to a game you hadn’t played in years. I find myself really wishing there were payment models other  than the subscription one (for games I like, that is), so I could maintain more than a couple of subs; not necessarily as a matter of budget (though right now, it is), but mostly because paying $15 a month for a game I may only play for a couple of hours just isn’t something I’d consider justifiable.

A quick and sad tangent — despite my best efforts to want to, I’m just not feeling it for WAR. More to the point, I have two other games on the go now and only enough time to really play one, where “play” means a handful of hours to log in over the course of a week, if that week is work-heavy. The events leave me entirely cold, probably because at the end of the day, and despite my best efforts, I’m just not a player-v-player (or RvR) kind of player. If I were, WAR would certainly be what I’d play because I prefer the greater structure and the feeling that you’re not always being personally ganked just for the sake of being personally ganked. But I’m a crafter and a packrat, not a PvPer, and it’s about time I just admitted it. I’m still subbed to WAR, partly because I may want to try out the Slaya, partly so the spousal unit can use my account for storage chars while he carries out strange and arcane crafting/craft looting experiments post-1.2. (Like, how come you can’t sell seeds or their products to vendors? Granted you probably wouldn’t want to, but you can sell the stuff you butcher, so… I detest inequitable systems in games.) I just don’t really see myself logging in much.

But in the meantime, after reading and writing about that PCT (player-created content tool — remember kids, you read the acronym here first!) “Mission Architect” thing that’s hitting City of Heroes/Villains sometime this monrh, I decided to fire up a trial account for said CoX and wait for the patch.

It took me about 5 minutes to realise that trial accounts in most games suck, and the CoX one is no exception. It’s the equivalent of an MMO cavity-search to make sure you’re not an evil gold-spammer. I’m amazed they actually let you MOVE and, you know, fight stuff. You can’t start groups and you can’t send tells, which is great for stopping gold spammers and also great for stopping legitimate players who just want to take a look. Anyway, I sorted out my old account details and re-upped fully for a month. I want to see this Mission Architect in play. Besides, I also wanted to try out all the stuff that had come out since I played, which was only for a couple of months after launch — like Villains and Supergroup Bases and the like.

That’s two games I’ve gone back to in the last 3 months, both of them games I hadn’t played in almost a handful of years and both of them games I thought I’d left happily buried in my gaming past. Forever. I should have known, however, that old games don’t die, they just get unsubscribed. “Never say never” is as true of MMOs as it is in general; there’s a reason things end up being cliched.

todestraum_base1WoW has turned out to be an enjoyable PvE excursion that I can play without feeling too heavily invested — which means I can bog off for 2 weeks of intense work and not feel like I’m letting anyone (myself included) down. And CoX is turning out to be… I’m not sure, but if nothing else it’s somewhere I can spend TWO HOURS just designing a costume; a costume I’m still not happy with, as it turns out, because it makes her bum look big (which was sort of the point, she’s supposed to be a little more corpulent and “realistic” than the quadruple-D teenager-controlled stick insects you see running around, but because of the way chars are drawn in CoX, picking a wide hip-setting just makes you look like an alien when you run). And two hours is probably low in the time-spent-designing department. Not that I time myself, you understand — I just happened to notice that I thought “Oh I know, I’ll make an energy blaster real quick” at around 10PM, and it was gone midnight when I finally logged her in.  (Not the chick in the pic — that one is supposed to be rail thin, she’s dead. Long story. Well not really, but not relevant.)

Sadly, while I appreciate other people’s great screenshots I always forget to take them myself, so I’ve only got a couple right now and they’re not very good — mostly they’re of my nostalgia-recreation scrapper running around a couple of bases Ardua was kind enough to show me, going Oooh! Aaaahh! Oooo look at that! Any game that puts in player housing, of any kind, immediately wins about 1,000 brownie points with me — it’s just a shame Blizzard doesn’t care enough about my Stylish Brownies to put housing into WoW; ungrateful curs that they are. Anyway, moving on.

There’s not a lot TO CoX to keep someone like me really invested, though they’ve added quite a bit to the bare bones they had at launch. But it smells almost-new and very interesting-shiny right now, and maybe NOT getting too heavily invested when work (and RL in general) are a little hectic is exactly what I’m looking for. I was already starting to feel a little pinned down in WoW — too much packratted crap to track, chars tradeskilled up to where I HAVE to level them if I want to progress, blah blah blah — whereas in CoX you sort of know what you’re getting. It’s not as expansive but, in its own way, it’s just as rich. And in the meantime I get to bimble about trying to figure out how to build my own base, which should be fun. (Oh, yeah, did I mention I talked the spousal unit into getting an account, if only for a month? We’ll just eat beans and other cheap stuff for a few weeks. *cough*) I’ll keep you posted.

For those of you playing, my global chat handle is @Alptraum1 — I may change it, but I may not, since that was the name of my original character at launch (minus the 1), and I’m sentimental that way. The name is long gone, because of the 90-day rule or whatever it is for name retention — which I approve of, even if it did bite me in the extremely skinny creature-of-the-night hero ass. So, I’ll keep the handle, especially since @Ysharros is taken by the trial-now-full-but-spousal account. I, and a few other bloggers (SOAGCKIASAArduaMakkaio) are bimbling around — I’m on Virtue server. Nerf the Cat’s Arbitrary is also supposed to be there but I suspect she’s busy Slayering it up, not to mention getting all drunk on real Irish Guinness and all. Not that I’m jealous or anything.

I’m going to see if I can’t get some sort of static CoX group set up on a weekly-ish basis. Since Mort and I both work from home right now, we’re Euro-time friendly. If you’re reading this and vaguely interested, let me know. I’m thinking no more than 2-3 hours tops — just enough time to socialise, kick a few bad guys around, and call it a day. Nothing heavy, but it’s evident that CoX is much more fun with a group, being designed that way — and since it’s relatively close to bite-sized (as Pete calls it), I don’t mind; in fact, it strikes me as the perfect opportunity to spend some time hanging with my homies, trans-Atlantic or otherwise.

And… d’oh. I was going to try to keep my posts under 1000 words. I guess I’m just not cut out for the soul of wit.

14 thoughts on “That shiny new smell

  1. If WAR would just add a little bit that wasn’t centered around RvR, if there were just a bit more fluff and fun I think they’d have retained a whole lot more accounts than they have. Because a hardcore RvR game is a niche, but it’s still fun for those of us who aren’t into RvR for the duration of our play time. I’m in the same boat as you, but my boyfriend and I have to play the same game or we go insane and he’s not going to let me leave WAR till Aion so …

    It wouldn’t kill them to diversify a little, and realize that “fluff” (casual clothings, non-combat pets, housing, more crafting … sitting down) doesn’t mean that it will ruin the RvR of the game. It just means they’ll keep more subs. No one is going to quit because of housing but plenty of people would give the game a go because of it.

  2. @Anilome — You’re quite right, of course, but I suspect just doing what they’re doing and getting it right is probably gobbling up most of the development time available for WAR. And you can make the opposite argument: if you’re going to do one primary thing (RvR), then you have to make sure you do it well.

    Part of my problem with WAR is that it never ran all that well on my machine, which turns out to be a much bigger deal for me than I thought. What I live with quite happily in beta, I don’t like so much when it’s *not* beta anymore — so right now, I’m playing games that run smoothly and on decent settings for the rig I have. That’s not something WAR can really help.

    That said, there are several graphically-ambitious games around that, I suspect, have lost players because of that ambition — Vanguard was a very striking example of that, EQ2 is also to some extent, and so is WAR. They’re all gorgeous games (less so EQ2 at least for me, but there’s no denying the gfx are pretty complex there), but if a gorgeous game will hitch on decent settings OR requires me to turn those gorgeous settings down to where I can’t see them anyway, it seems a little pointless.

  3. I was playing the Freaky Creatures beta this weekend and it really drove home the “I am not PVP” point for me. It’s a game where you create creatures (that are, um, freaky) and equip them with all kinds of attacks. Then you enter these zones (graphical lobbies, essentially) and challenge other creatures to fights. I did ok. But when I won, I felt bad about beating the other creature. Or worried I’d fought ‘cheaply’ in some way, or something. And when I lost…well actually that didn’t bother me so much. But if I’m going to feel bad about winning in PvP, it probably isn’t a place I’m going to excel. 🙂

    Re: CoX, one of the nicest bits of the game is the sidekick systems. I don’t know why every game doesn’t have that. I was going to follow you to CoX but the $$ just isn’t there right now. Credit cards maxed, bank account hovering around overdrawn… boo! 2nd job income will kick in soon though, and then maybe. And it’s nice knowing that if I join you a month from now (assuming you’re still playing) some kind soul can sidekick me and I can still play with you (all my heroes are on Pinnacle).

    The performance thing is why I’m really looking forward to MMOs hitting consoles!

  4. I’ve always been a one-MMO-at-a-time gal, but all your talk about CoX makes me want to play again. :p

    WAR has a lot of flaws. I am still finding it fun at the moment, but I’m constantly worried about when I will no longer find it fun (mostly because so many people I know are reaching that stage right now). Will I hang on as long as can in the hopes that things will get better, or for the sake of the blog?

    My SO is very dedicated to WAR, just like ainilome’s, so it’s probable that I’ll stay for as long as he wants to play. That’s kind of how things went with WoW. Once he lost interest, I no longer felt the need to play.

  5. Cough

    I’ve been interested in the CoX Mission Architect thing as well, but I’ve just assumed that it’s off limits to trial accounts, and I don’t feel like subbing just for that. Lazy (greedy) sod that I am, I’ll just wait for some reports on it.

    Here’s hoping you have fun!

  6. And here I just upped and closed out my CoX account!


    If I ever re-up my handle is @parabellum. Iridar also has an account there – they have a Supergroup called Project Slipstream. Not a lot of active players, we were a mostly RL friend group.

    1. Oh .. heh … we’re on Virtue too. And Pinnacle (our Villains) … and Triumph (alt Heroes) … and … well you get the idea.

  7. Can’t see it arriving on the horizon anytime soon but surely a ‘pay to play’ subscription method would suit MMO players down to the ground & release the pressure from ‘having to play’ because you’ve spent another £10 for the month.

    It could work as an opt in scheme rather than be the norm.

  8. @Tesh — no need to cough, there’s a reason I said what I did. Haven’t had time to comment much lately but I did read. 😉

  9. Ah, good. Nothing like sowing seeds of dissent, er, expressing non-standard opinions. 🙂

  10. Ysharros you temptress!

    Not another old game to resubscribe! Too many games, not enough time.

    And it won’t be long before the next superhero game is out. Hopefully they don’t skimp on the character customisation!

  11. How funny, I just re-subbed my CoX account yersturday because I was wanting to play something that wasn’t fantasy based, so dabbling a bit as a superhero seemed like fun.

    I still have WoW going, but I have lightened up on it some because I have some single player games I want to play like Empire Total War which has been staring at me for a few days now just begging me to play it!

    So Virtue is the server eh? I have no problem creating a new toon, would be fun. By the way, hero or villain?

  12. Oh, awesome. Another face to keep my eyes open for on Virtue. Hit me up at @Sephorus if you’re ever around, and I’ll try to be at least somewhat entertaining. 😉

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