Exciting new games, but which one to choose?

Hugh‘s away for a few day’s break, so the supply teacher is taking the class again – over to Johnnie.

Even though I love gaming, and MMOs in particular, I’m pathetically traditional in many ways. WoW is my game of choice, and has been for several years. I’ve dipped my toe into other gaming waters occasionally, but I’ve been pretty happy with Azeroth. Recently, though, I’ve found myself logging on less and less, and eyeing up other, sexier games with a lustful glare. That’s why it’s so nice that other bloggers are writing about their experiences in non-Azerothian locations: I can see what I’m missing.

  • Zubon at Kill Ten Rats has a great general post about how many games force you to be a bystander rather than a participant. This has become an increasingly big problem for me in WoW (perhaps exemplarized by the “PCs do all the work and Tirion goddam Fordring takes all the credit” storyline at the end of Wrath). Call me crazy, but I want to be the one who kills the bad guy. I don’t want to be the sidekick who stands at the back, cheering on the NPC hero as he gets to kill the bad guy. As Zubon says

“I’ll take fighting at the side of the Fellowship and being second banana there, and I’ll take being the hero of the B-plot while the Fellowship saves the world. I’ll not take being second banana in the B-plot.”

It’s a really great post, and eloquently sums up many of the frustrations I’ve had with recent gaming storylines.

“Maybe it was Tera’s action combat, or perhaps a general ennui with the genre as a whole, but I couldn’t find any spark of enthusiasm for Rift whatsoever. … The game was still as pretty as ever, but again, the incredible fidelity of a game such as Tera, whether you can stomach its design decisions or not, leaves other MMOs looking like so much aged tarnished brass.”

  • Guild Wars 2 is the game that I’m really excited about. If I’m honest, I wasn’t really too enthused at first, but after researching the game for a few of the Melting Pot’s info posts I’m totally sold. It’s been great to read accounts of the various beta weekends. Both Ravious and Hunter’s Insight have reviews of the latest changes. GW2 is looking excitingly pretty and pretty exciting!

  • GW players, incidentally, might be interested to hear that qq & pewpew are giving away 300k of in-game gold. All you have to do is reblog the competition stating what you’d do with the cash.

All of this is completely immaterial, though. I know exactly what game I’m going to be playing next. Mechwarrior Online didn’t appeal to me at all … until I saw Razer’s concept for a dedicated hardware controller. Woah, boy. It will be mine. Oh, yes. It will be mine.

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Why Not Try It In First?

Fancy a new perspective on your favourite MMO? We might have just the thing.

You see, Game By Night’s Chris has been playing That Solo Game That A Lot Of MMO Players Really Like (four words, kinda rhymes with “miring”), and noticed that its primarily first-person view really immersed him in his gameplay. And so, he decided to see what the results would be if he adjusted his viewport to be the same in RIFT

“I wouldn’t want to PvP with it, but for questing? What the hell. I ran towards my nearest quest indicator and along the way started to see things in a whole new light. This limited field of view forced me to focus on a much smaller window of greater detail — and the game stood up fantastically! I started to appreciate how the light filters down through the leaves and how good some of the textures are. (Mostly). I actually spent time to appreciate monster models beyond that cursory look before killing them dead. There are some really great models that I’d never really “seen” because I’d been zoomed out of the world. At times I felt out of my comfort zone, but I stuck with it. Telara drew me in like it never has before.

What’s more, I started to see my character like I hadn’t since making him. I always felt that player characters in RIFT were lacking, that they were little more than an avatar for destruction. When I panned the camera around, I took a minute to look my character in the face.

Who is this guy? Why does he frown? What kind of past would a person who looked like that have? These are questions I don’t think I’ve asked of any of my characters in RIFT. It took me being forced to spend some time a salt’s throw from his shoulder to make me do it.”

I’ve occasionally played WoW or LoTRO for brief periods zoomed in, and it’s amazing how much the perspective changes your feelings about the game – it’s more threatening, more immersive, and yes, harder to control. I’ve never stuck it out for more than a couple of minutes, but after Chris’s post, I might just give it a go.

If you do the same, let us know how it goes!

Would you, or have you, played an MMO in strictly first-person mode?

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Danger: Playing Alts Can Harm Your Gameplay?

Vidyala has a great post fresh off the Manalicious press about how playing alts could do bad things to your playing ability. That’s a big statement given the perceived wisdom in character-centric games is that the more characters you play the better your overall knowledge of the game, but Vidyala’s got a good argument here.

First off, rest assured she’s not saying you should never ever play alts and there aren’t any benefits to doing so. What she is saying is that spreading your focus amongst several characters can get in the way of your concentrating on playing your main to the best of your abilities.

There’s just one possible pitfall, and I’m afraid it blindsided me…There’s no right or wrong way to play a game, there’s only deciding what’s right for you. But if you are a progression raider looking to maximize your play, I’m going to suggest something radical: playing too many alts might be hurting you, as it was me.

It’s one of those “so simple it’s obvious but I’d never have thought of it” things. Vidyala talks about how, once she realised how alting was affecting her playing her main mage, she buckled down and found she could vastly improve her playing. And she’s got some ideas about how to play alts while still focusing on your main, too. Now I don’t feel so silly for having so many warriors!

What do you think – is it a good thing to have alts of many different classes or not? Does it depend on what you aim to achieve in WoW?

_Quote taken directly from Vidyala’s post

You can find Vidyala’s Manalicious homepage here_

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MMOs Would Be Better If…

Have you ever daydreamed about how you’d like games to be? Or how you think they should be? If so (and c’mon, I suspect most gamers have) you’re in good company. Nils has let his mind wander and written down the results in a curiously accessible daydream style post. So, Nils says, what if we removed Character Power Progression?

Well, he says, MMOs would get a lot better. He starts off with a few pointers for premises and builds up to saying that having to wait until your character is powerful enough to do things is a huge barrier to a game’s accessibility. Ideally, Nils says, a mixture of lesser and more powerful friends should be able to work on the same things together. I see what he’s getting at: whether or not they can slay dragons on a hunting trip, the less powerful party members can help out with scouting, cooking and being bait. Might be fewer volunteers for the last option.

While combat would still be important in such a game, it wouldn’t be what you ‘naturally do’ while playing the game. Exploring a cave with your guild, listening to sounds inside, picking fights, looting treasures and carry them home into your self-built castle to sell them for gold in the nearby town to pay for the next tower of the castle. This is the experience I have in mind.

It sounds like a good idea and there’s been a smattering of chat around the blogosphere recently about character power progression and its problems. I got the feeling looking at Nils’ post that a lot of it was heavily inspired by the best parts of other games *cough*Minecraft*cough* but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

So what do you think – is how powerful you character is (or isn’t) a barrier to gameplay that should be removed, or do you have other daydreams of how games should be?

_Quote taken directly from Nils’ post

You can find Nils’ MMO Blog homepage here_

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Does Age Affect Gameplay In MMOs?

Peashooter’s in a bit of an age-related quandary. He went on a guild Heroic dungeon run the other night and there was a particular part of it some of them could do and some of them couldn’t. The obvious difference between the five guildies? According to Pea, nothing but age.

Peashooter says during his social interactions in the game he’s come to realise he’s a jot older than most players, and the majority of people he’s met are below 33 years old. That’s quite a specific data point, and I find it interesting as the playerbase I know well are much more balanced but the average is still around 33. Even so, Pea doesn’t consider himself old.

When people address me as “Mr.”, I still immediately assume they are referring to my father. Sure, I’m married (for 13 years now!), I’m a father to 4 children, and I work full time.  But… I still make time to play a video game. Gamers can’t be “old”, can we? … Two of us in the group struggled with dodging the poop.  We were the older players. The three twenty-somethings had no issues…

That’s why Peashooter’s wondering whether age plays a part in game performance or whether it’s just a case of how you relate to the situation at hand, regardless of whether you’re a spring lamb or a stately tortoise in years. He’s genuinely asking for feedback on whether he can put his Dying In The Fire ™ on one single portion of the dungeon down to age and put the incident away, or whether there are other ways to think about it.

I meanwhile suspect it’s a combination of the two and different ages favour different parts of gameplay. But what about you – do you know players of various ages, and have you noticed performance differences?

_Quote taken directly from Peashooter’s post

You can find Peashooter’s Target Dummies homepage here_

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