Wednesday, January 18

What is missing?

So I have given up on SWTOR for now. And in stead I have had fun the last two days playing a completely desolated City of Heroes and Bastion. But games are fun. But here I am sitting at work and there is nothing game related I can or should do. Nothing to research, nothing to read or comment. I am actually forced to do just my work.

My mind wondered off a bit, and I realized that that is one of the biggest problems of SWTOR (and Rift before that). The game is made too perfect. There is no need to discuss it, to share screenshots, to argue its merits, or maintaining some sort of loot sheet. They are as clear cut and dry as a little game like Bastion. You play them for a while, and then you go do something else.

In the Heydays of Gameamp I lived City of Heroes 24/7. It is not actually the game but the community that made the game. I didn't even played with Ampers that often. Fallen Earth got that back for me for a while, but I didn't play it enough to feel part of the community. That is/was more my fault than the game. In Rift and especially in SWTOR everything is cut out for us. No need to argue over anything. Even looking up stuff on Wiki or Zam is rarely needed.

So what is the solution? Make games mechanics obscure like in Anarchy Online? I think for a part that is something I would like. The period I played AO this year I had a lot of fun making a clever custom spreadsheet. And there is plenty to research about obscure quests and items. I even joined a clan to boost my social activities in game, and via the clan forums. But it showed the game is getting old. The forum was mostly dead, and in game it was about tweak this and advanced option that. And I just had nothing really to say to that, so I went off to do my own thing. Pretty much being alone in and outside of the game.

I would like to blame it on not having enough time anymore, but I don't think I am playing less than 5 or 10 years ago. Mostly it is that it adds no entertainment value anymore for me. The social types in MMOs seem to have become mostly the e-peen types that want to show off their knowledge, money or prowess. I have no business at all with them. But I am sure there are a whole lot of people like me out there. We all love to socialize over our 10 killed rats.

The answer must be that we do that while trying to achieve something that will take us months to complete. Short term quests work much better solo. But what goal could there be in a game that I would be interested in to spend months on? For me personally player housing or guildhall are wasted fluff. Although it was a good goal in Vanguard for our guild. Maybe a house is it, but then really in the idea of a real town. Not just some artificial area with unconnected buildings you never want to visit.

And it is essential that it is not some sort of grind fest thing. The e-peens can get their whatever, and I will go play a different game. Me doing my bit should be meaningful for the larger group, and at the same time meaningful for me personally. A real village could be it.

But maybe I am just dreaming here. And what does it matter even what I think? It doesn't, but I just needed to talk about my favourite hobby. My hobby of talking about massive mulitplayer video games.


  1. That cough sounds a little wet.
    Maybe have it looked at?

  2. On a more serious not. Some blogs today are talking about the 2003 MMO scene vs now.

    Something they seem to be missing in comparing the COmmunties of pre WOW to the MMO's of a Post-WOW era is (besides that they're comparing communities to games) that what WOW mainly did is explode the playerbase about tenfold.

    This changed the playerbase in a way not covered in Bartle's simplified 4 archetypes, and the people like you are no longer the majority, but a minority now.

    Possibly a big reason why today's games hold less interest for you, and myself is that over the last 8 years the need to communicate/socialize with other players has been eithe rminimalized, or downright treated like something unwanted.

  3. P.p.s Go grab UFO Aftershock or Afterlight from Steam/ and I'll be happy to talk strategy with you :-)

  4. I'm going to echo Lani's words. We all came from the same community and from a place that fostered community in the same time period, look what's happened since then. Games have become less social and mostly failed to recognise the importance of social activitiesand the longevity it fosters. We have a massive migrant population, happy to flit from one game to the next, never giving the time to build a new community, developers see this and fail to react by providing even the basics to encourage social activities and long term communities to grow, just give em the end game, a not too boring journey and new shineys to chase, they'll be fine...who could blame us?

    Data mining hasn't helped, need info? that database has it on day one, there's no need to post questions on forums (you'll be told the same too if you dare to), go look it up. No need to create maps like this (looks familiar...)

    Times have changed, just the waiting game now for something to help change that, there are glimmers on the horizon and some developers with a focus on community, barring that if anyones got a spare few million lying around - Ive got a great idea for a game.....

  5. Gosh! That map brings back memories.
    No-one today would even know how (or why) we even did that.
    Collating a bunch of Minimap circles lifted from screenshots and put them in some kind of semblance of a map :-)

    But it points out another element that's slowly been drying up. I call it the Hobby Element.
    In 2004 Wikimedia were far and few between. Forums were still the main source of information, the signal to noise rationwas actually in favour of the signal.

    But just as the WWW moved from initially Informational to communicative to spoonfed tell me what I want to know, not what I need to hear, the same's happened with MMO's.
    Streamlining, polishing everything as well as datamining and wikifying everything in MMO's killed the need for researching, for communicating outside the games as well.

    It's like how the Internet killed the traditional Adventure game experience. No more schoolyard / watercooler discussions about the devilish puzzles. It's all available on some webpage already.
    So that kills it for the socializers, the puzzlers, the builders and the explorers. That's 4 out of the original 9 palyer archetypes people. And most people only know 2 of the remaining 5 by name...

    And all this ties right into my worries for Secret World. My fear is it's either going to be to brainy, or it's going to be "watch the don't stand in the fire Youtube video before we go solve this mystery".

    Anyhoo, my original point was actually that when the MMO playerbase expanded explosively, the percentage of socializer / builders and explorers did not grow by the same measure, their (our) numbers stayed more or less the same, but got spread out over an equally exploding number of games. So that solid core that any community needs has really become too small.

    That and we're getting old. Where we wrote/write walls of text, the next generation does Youtube vids. SOme of it is just the wolrd changing while we remain the same and discover we've gone from left wing radicals to conservatists :-)

  6. Of course I read the posts from Syp and Syn too. I have tyo get through the day somehow :) The thing I am missing in the blogosphere is that posting on nearly any blog doesn't get me the reactions I am looking for. Blogs could be it, but they are too clique-y and filled with fan boys of the writers.

    My view on 2003 games vs 2012 games is that it is not very interesting conversation. Right now the old games are old, and the new games are not interesting enough. The idea of this post was maybe a bit trying to figure out why the current games are not fun (enough). Websites like Zam or Wiki have something to do with communities not being as strong. But that is only half the reason.

    Even the three of us with all our desire to talk and analyze haven't made a single post about Rift or SW:TOR game mechanisms or problems. There was just nothing to talk about.

    I am convinced there are a lot of people that want to play a social game. Facebook (not facebook games) proves that. We love company. But more than being social we don't want to be ridiculed or feeling inferior. And that is where things go wrong. WOW did a lot of harm in making players feel inferior to the extend that most people chose to play alone together.

    The problem is that no developer has it really figured out yet. And nothing seems to be on the horizon. Does that mean I will have to stop looking for social gaming communities online? And in stead I should pick up twitter maybe?

  7. Yay! We still know how to talk. Thanks both of you for making this a lovely evening.

    It is definitely true we are getting older, and our views on what is fun has changed. Maybe the next generation of a longer lasting game is not something we'll like. But I am convinced there is still a big market for it. We, humans, just enjoy doing things together. And the tools that a game provide us are just too perfect for that.

    Also the number of 40+ year old players keep growing. That is a complete new market that never existed before. No wonder the developers haven't made something highly successful for them yet.

  8. Just noticed your reader actually has fresh items again. Another source of things to read and check. Thanks!

  9. Oh I've been doing a lot of serious moaning about specifics in SWTOR (Damn the latest patch and the PvP is a maelstrom!), just not here. Official forums and have filled my need for that :)

    Yes, good to see some action here again, it's been a drought for sure. There's not a lot that get's me excited in the gaming world of late, without rehashing the same old ground. We have at least two MMOs that could get us talking too, TSW - the only game on the horizon not aimed at the WoW crowd and GW2 firmly aimed at everyone.

  10. Just noticed also that your reader actually has no fresh items at all. It was just one day back in October. So no other source of things to read and check. Thanks!

  11. Maybe I'll get run out of town for suggesting this, maybe not, but have you tried DC Universe Online yet? It has a free to play model now as well as bonuses for paying the subscription.

    I've been playing it lately and it holds my interest well enough. Seems quite a bit like CoX, with the exception of the controls setup. You've got melee and ranged attack on your mouse buttons, and depending on the order and quantity of clicks, you can use different skills. You've also got your skill bar too with powers, etc.

    I've been in a kind of slump too. Seems like nothing online game-wise interests me any more. It's like it's all been dumbed down so much that it's not worth my time, effort, or money, or doesn't hold my interest long enough to keep desiring to go back to it.

  12. The reader died with the birth of Google+

    Apparently Google+ couldn't co-exist with old Reader functionalities like the ability to Share your Read Items.

    I gave a bit of a rant about it, you said you liked the new layout of Reader so it didn't bother you.

  13. My main reason for not trying DC Online is that I understood it was designed for Console Market, which to me spells:

    - Button Mashing (with fewer than usual buttons)
    - Voice Chat based communications
    - Text-speak text messages
    - Console quality level graphics

    None of which appeal to me any more than Yet Another SOE Failure does.

  14. Off-topic:

    Rift is currently having a free weekend, if you have some time I recommend taking a look. I got the download again a few hours ago, had a great time in that few hours. Played through one of the Chronicles (getting your planar attunement), they are repeatable on a timer. The chronicle I played was incredibly well done, even partly voiced, all about you being celebrated as a hero, but as we all know parties get catecrashers....Finished that and there was an invasion at Stillmoor, good fun after you haven't done it for a while. Went off for a quick explore of Ember isle, very colourful and stunning start to the zone, did one simple quest then decided to check out the instant adventure system, seems it bungs you in either Stillmoor or Shimmering Sands with a series of timed quest objectives (kill ten that click 15 of that etc), I got through to the third stage and needed to retire for the night (via here of course) so have no idea of rewards, don't know how random the system is either, good use of current content though. Looking forward to exploring Ember isle over the weekend. Impressed.

  15. Yeah, I forgot about the Google+ discussion. My years are starting to count, I guess :)

    Thanks for the suggestions, but ... DCUO and Rift have both the same uninteresting appeal to me right now. Both might be fun for a week or two. But I am not looking for fun for a week or two. I have a huge pile of single player games that will no doubt be more fun than rehashing an old dumped MMO.

    And now to double back my own thoughts I still feel this great urge to play an MMO. Fallen Earth and Anarchy Online are both sitting on my desktop. I might fall for it again. *sigh*

  16. To be honest, on gameplay merits, I'd sooner resub to SW:TOR than RIFT. Then again, RIFt'd be F2P for a weekend.
    Still... Not very much enthusiasm for it now.

    I've started a new UFO: Afterlight campaign and having fun with that.

  17. That's where I'm different I guess. I've tried single player games, and I have nearly no interest in them any more. I would rather have fun for a week on a crappy mmo (when it's free, what have you got to lose, really?) than spend my time and money sorting through crappy single player games to find one I like.

    Maybe I'm just jaded. I don't typically end up liking the same games that everyone else does, so it takes more effort and resources for me to find that one gem that will hold my interest for a while. For a while now, I've had half a mind to give up on gaming all together. Too much of the same tired old crap being cranked out these days with nothing but a new coat of paint on it.

    Or maybe I'm nothing but a man-child throwing a hissy fit because no one wants to play with me anymore. lol Seriously though, the quality of the player has gone to crap these days. The time for lamenting the passing of the gold ol' days seems hard upon us.

  18. Not *this* is something that tickles my possum:

    DDO getting its first expansion after 6 years, and it's st in the Forgotten Realms (i.e. where the original should've been put in the first place in order to grasp the imagination of most D&D fans).

    P.s. TOny, being a fit throwing man-child doesn't invalidate your points at all :-)