Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hey again, figured since I'm bored and need something to do, I'd write up a post.

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So, I've been kind of bored lately, especially since I've finished all the really good SP games I have. I still have quite a few games I can play right now. Far more than I'd need, but they don't seem to draw me in that much anymore. Even after re-subscribing to EVE I haven't really played it that much, just a mission here or there.

Let me give you a list of the games I have right now, just to put this into perspective:
- Crysis
- NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer
- Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich
- FEAR: Perseus Mandate
- Skate

Those are just the games I have that I haven't finished the SP parts of. I still have EVE for online play with my friend Kofi, Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat for LAN MP with my roomies, and my one roomie still has all those other games I haven't played. Like Timeshift, Kane & Lynch, etc.

But I keep finding myself not playing any of them. Skate is about the only game I seem drawn to, and that's simply because I can just do the Freeskate mode and go skateboarding around the city. I loved skating in junior high, so I'm a sucker for skating games. And it's a lot better than the Tony Hawk series of games IMO, as it requires some finesse not simply button combos/mashing. It has a much steeper learning curve than the TH games, but when you pull off a sweet trick in Skate you get a better feeling of accomplishment. And the replay editor is fucking sweeeeet. I love being able to edit my replays to change camera angles, video filters, speed, etc. It's pretty amazing.

Skate has a fun MP component to it, but the best parts are all XBox Live stuff, of course. On Live you can team up with someone else and just go skate, which I think is the coolest feature. The skate battles are okay, but there's only so much you can do with them. And it doesn't give people the freedom to learn the controls, so everyone you play with pretty much needs to make their own skater and do the tutorials. But enough of Skate.

As for my other games, they are fun, but they just don't get me excited to play. Call of Duty 4 was awesome after a point, and really got me hooked, but it was over in less than 8 hours. Playing over the LAN with my roomies is hella fun, and the unlocks and promotions add that RPG element to it that makes me want to play more. Kind of like Battlefield 2142 and their unlocks. It adds a slight grind to it, like an MMO, but with less tedium. You're going to run around and kill the other players anyway in a Deathmatch, you might as well get rewarded for it. I think that's a better way to make Achievement-based gameplay than the MMO model. It seems people are getting sick of MMOs now, as WoW has saturated the market and exposed MMOs to almost everyone.

Speaking of the MMO market, it looks like it's not going as well as some of the Developers/Publishers hoped. I think they were all banking on the WoW model bringing in billions of dollars, but the sad fact is that most of the new MMOs are failing, or performing far below expectations. Tabula Rasa is a good example, in fact. Richard Garriot, the lead Dev and creator of Ultima Online, and his team spent /millions/ making Tabula Rasa and so far it's subscriptions are below most other MMOs like Lord of the Rings Online, City of Heroes, etc. TR might just bankrupt NCSoft. or at least make a huge dent in their wallets. I know that many shareholders weren't happy with Garriot or his brother (the CEO of NCSoft America), and wanted them fired for wasting so much money on TR.

Fury was another MMO that came out a while back, and it looks to become a free to play (f2p) game with a RL money for items market, or it will simply be shut down. Pirates of the Burning Sea wasn't received too well in it's open beta, and most people don't seem interested. They also have many bugs and features missing, like TR was at launch. Vanguard was supposed to be the next huge hit and it tanked completely due to all the bugs. The developers Sigil don't even exist anymore, and the game continues to survive on life support (ie. SOE's All Access Pass). Auto Assault was cancelled last August, Star Trek Online looks like it will become vapourware as Perpetual Entertainment lost the rights and is being sued by their PR company, and Warhammer Online and Age of Conan keep getting delayed. MMOs don't seem to be growing like the speculators had said, and many people are becoming sick of WoW. I think it's subscriber numbers are actually going down now.

Basically, it looks like the MMO market has hit that critical mass point where there's too many games, many of which are shoddy/unfinished, and people are more hesitant to play them. There was a similar event back in the 80's when there were scores of Atari and Colecovision games, so many that were made like shit that people just stopped buying them, and many companies went bankrupt. One infamous game (which I actually have in a box somewhere) was E.T. for the Atari 2600. It was slightly based off the movie but most of it made no sense, the manual was incoherent and didn't really tell you how the game worked, and it seemed impossible to finish, let alone play. Apparently the guy who made it was rushed and hadn't even seen the whole movie, so he made the game on hearsay and trailers. It was freaking terrible. Let's just hope that it doesn't come to a crash point. I don't want to see and end to MMO gaming, I'd just like to see a shift towards more virtual worlds and finished products.

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So, if I've been bored, what the hell have I been doing?

Mostly, I've been thinking about Dungeons and Dragons. o.O

I guess it's because we're getting into more RP with our group, my character is actually fun to play (mechanics and RP wise), and we've been able to play every week for a while. Tabletop is so much fun when it's good that I could see doing it more often than we do now. Except that puts a huge strain on the GM, especially for DnD as everything has to be pre-made to account for XP, CRs, gear, etc. Not like my Aliens game for GURPS where I just create new enemies on the fly and dole out character points each session.

I've also found myself getting into DnD more because for some reason I've developed a "powergamer" personality. My gnome ninja is a perfect example, as is my secondary Cleric character. Both are designed with a background story and all, but also built with the rules in mind and how to best use those rules to my advantage. My tabletop group was quite surprised at how powerful my Ninja is, especially since he disabled a Drow Cleric and took her out almost all on his own. My Cleric is the same way, but he's never been used yet, as the secondary characters are basically shelved at this point. Once the Super-Campaign™ is done, we'll probably go back to them as a backup game, or shift over to something else entirely.

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Hmm ... I'd better stop here. I really don't know what the hell I just wrote. It kind of just all came out at once. Hence the rambling, incoherent nature of it all.

Sorry about that,
The Rev.

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