The MMO effect
Posted on Tuesday, March 4 2008 @ 13:30:52 Eastern
Since when did all of PC gaming revolve around World of Warcraft? I mean, looking at it's unprecedented dominance in the PC market for the past couple of years is impressive yes, but is it really that big of a deal? So 9 billion waste time online doing level grinding and monster hunting, or looking for that one item that will make them kick more ass then another guy.
While there is nothing wrong with MMORPG's, the influx of them the past decade is staggering. Beginning with Everquest nearly ten years ago now, we have had dozens of MMORPG's on the market. Some, like City of Heroes and the aforementioned WOW, are really good. Others, like the poor Star Wars Galaxies, fail to meet any expectations that were given. But what about these games does it attract people? What element in the gameplay let's people be a pink dancing wookie, or a gnome druid who looks like Danny Devito?
I guess first and foremost is choice and customization. Let's face it, we like choices, and customization. That was actually one reason why I bought City of Heroes, and later City of Villians. The choice of making villians and heroes with clever costume designs is a fun passtime. I would spend hours crafting costumes, just for the hell of it, and clever names along with the costumes. That was part of the fun of City of Heroes.
Another reason is choice, do I want to be a shaman or a warlock? That would affect my role in the game, be it a healer or a tank, things that craft a degree of strategy that is not seen often in regular RPG's where you have a specific character for that role, or your character can be adept in everything, like in Oblivion.
But besides the addicting customization and leveling up, the gameplay is actually, well, shallow. You go to X npc to do task Y for reward Z. Thats it, in a nutshell. Your quests are almost all fetch quests, looking for 10 boar hides or clearing a building with evil minions. It never changes. Oh sure, some areas you need a group to do them, but even with that, the game comes to a halt when it drags onward with these type of quests and level zones.
And what is worse, this type of gameplay is starting to translate into single player PC games as well. Recent games like The Witcher are essentially MMORPG's that are for single players; you do the same amount of quests for items and eventually you move onto a harder level zone. It is, in all honesty, a chore.
Yet people are playing the MMO's religiously, getting to the level cap so they can partake in wide-scale battles with other players online. This is a neat idea, but at the same time it's also kind of pointless in the end. Sure you can have a match and it will never be the same match as far as you go, but the problem is that it takes so damn long to GET to that stage of the game, and once your there you are likely outclassed by everyone who is involved with capture the flag games or sport arena gladiator combat.
So in the end, MMORPG's live and die by the dedicated diehards, but a lot of people out there are not interested into putting up the work for it. I don't blame them, because a lot of people find pleasure in other things, be it games, movies, TV, friends, or sex. It is not necessarily a bad thing, that MMO's are the king of PC games, but I think we should look through the hundreds of titles online, as well as the single player PC MMO's and think about this critically. Why is it so addictive? Is it just the degree of choice, or is it truely the work thats involved to attain a level of Nirvana in the game itself? Whatever the case may be, one thing is clear. MMORPG's are the in thing right now, and along with that, they also contain a dedicated fanbase that will ensure it's survival, even from the naysayers or the non-hardcore crowds.
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Simple Pleasures and Retro Memories.
Posted on Wednesday, February 6 2008 @ 23:11:32 Eastern
I feel like I watch too much of the same movie lately. What movie you ask? Why, none other than "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters." This was a DVD that I actually won in a contest recently here on GR, and I have to say, I choose wisely.
The entire documentry is a comedic look at competitive classic arcade gaming as a guy named Steve tries to break the high score record on Donkey Kong, which is owned by a infamous gamer known as Billy Mitchell. Mitchell had numerous records before, one in Centipede, one in DK Jr, and he recently scored a perfect game in Pac-Man, and by perfect, I mean he ate every pellet, piece of fruit, and ghost for 226 levels without dying. Yeah, thats a feat.
While I won't spoil any of the movie to you guys, I will say this; it is a welcome trip down the memory lanes of yesteryear, and makes me reflect on my own, as an avid gamer from the late 80's and early 90's about my own triumphs and trials with games like this. Games like Asteroids, Missle Command, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders; these are simple, classic games that were low on graphics, short on sounds and restricted in movements, but above all else, they were fun to play.
Let's face it. Arcades in the United States are a relic now a days. Console games were great, and are frankly my choice of medium to begin with. We all, at the very least, have grown up with console games in our homes. But how many of us were arcade rats, scurrying to the nearest free machine of Galaga and Gauntlet? What about the archaiac gun games, like Police Trainer and Virtua Cop, some of the first rail shooters in arcades. The graphics slowly, over time, became more complicated.
The games never did though. Playing a game of Berzerk today would be the same as playing it ten years ago, short, fast, furious and fun at the same time. Classic arcade games were simple pleasures when we were all younger. The famous, like Pac-Man and Galaga, to the not so famous, like Crystal Castles or Ladybug, touched numerous gamers for years, and still do. Even today, some thirty-somethings compete each year in classic arcade games, just for the fun, the thrill, and the competition. Hell, I challenge any of you not to find a game of Pac-Man, Defender or Galaga in a local arcade, they were so fun and addicting, it is almost mandatory to have them in an arcade.
But I guess that is turning into nothing but memories now, as classic arcade games are ported, emulated, and removed from the very medium they belong in, quarter snatching machines that are unforgiving in their difficulty. Those thirty-somethings who play these classic games are a dying breed. New, young gamers around my age, the barely twenty-somethings, would be lucky if they even heard of Centipede or Missle Command, and it would even be rarer if you found someone who knew how to beat an obscure game like Berzerk or Depth Charge. Classic arcade games, and classic games in general, are now becoming the retro games of todays super power-shoot em up games and expansive MMORPG markets. They are around, but are played only when were bored or waiting for something to load.
But one thing that will never be captured again, however, is the comaraderie that accomponied classic arcade games. I remember years ago I was with a group of friends at a local Fun Station, playing a game of Defender and Hogans Alley in the corner of the arcade, as they had to make room for new machines like Dance Dance Revolution, which is now the most played arcade game in the world, and Time Crisis. While I love games like Time Crisis, I think my group of friends enjoyed the classics over the new age technology at that time, simply put because of the inspiring competition to outdue each other in scoring.
I guess the simplicity of these games is what hooks people, and the competition that goes into learning it is even more admirable. Learning patterns, true hand-eye coordination and skill is something that is bred from classic games, and mastering these makes you a better gamer overall. I guess that is why those same thirty-somethings who love classic arcade games so much still play them to this day, for competition and for recreation.
In the end though, thinking of classic games like Donkey Kong should be fun. The simple pleasures they brought to us, and to the industry, are what makes them classics in their own right. These games, which many would consider retro now, are not retro in the sense that they are old and in fashion again. At least to me, and to perhaps everyone in "King of Kong," these games are still in style, and never will lose that edge to the higher polygon counts of arcade and console games. Simply put, arcade classics will never go away, and there is nothing like playing it in the darkened warehouse that holds arcade machines in long rows, waiting your turn to jerk a joystick and multi-tap two simple colored buttons as you rack up points destroying mushrooms, missles, spaceships, barrels, robots, bombs, or even ghosts. This is where this simple pleasure comes from, and nothing can take that from these ever important machines.
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Posted on Wednesday, January 16 2008 @ 12:59:06 Eastern
Well, it was bound to happen.
With the recent blog in the manifesto about the creation of the PAC, video games is no longer a "fad" or an underground phenomenon. Were now a respected member of the media community, working with lobbyists and handing out wads of cash to politicians who pledge to be pro-gaming. This, coupled with the Video Game Voters Network, are setup to give gamers the power they rightfully deserve in the political arena.
But in all honesty, will there actually be a change?
But now what are we seeing too? A lot of smaller companies, unless by some miracle like in the case of Bioware, are left in the dust as subsidiaries to the major players. Fledging developers lose money and power from the big game, the prey is being eaten by the predators in the corporate jungle, and sometimes great ideas are being left behind.
B.C, Mother 3, Starcraft Ghost, Shadowgate, Dead Phoenix, Thrill Kill. All of these games bit the dust, for varying reasons, over the past ten years. Would these be great games, who knows? There is so much risk in making a new game franchise, it's very rare when a game breaks through into the mainstream. The last one to do it so far is Halo, and the impact it has had is alsmost as big as the industry itself; the first true blockbuster under the new regime.
So what is my point? We as an industry have grown up already, and the entrence into the political race is likely poised to not help us in any way, but hinder us in the long run. Sure, we can give money to candidates who are pro-gaming, but it won't stop other candidates condeming the realistic violence that the games have. It won't stop *******s like Jack Thompson who believe that video games are the devil incarnate. I doubt it will do any good to get rid of the real problems in gaming; the stupid redundancy and the staggering drop of creativity we see now a days. Sure, Galaxy, Zack and Wiki, Bioshock, Rock Band,Gears of War, etc. have done new things, but games like Halo, Guitar Hero, CoD 4, Tony Hawk, are the major movers and shakers in the industry. There is nothing wrong with that, because they are good games, but it's kind of like the movie industry, make the sequels because you know they are safe, and don't experiment with anything new that could revolutionize how we think or how we play video games.
This, is a grown up industry. We will become nothing but a string of smash hits and lackluster sequels that will regulate us more than the politicians can, because we become stuck with that, or nothing. So if gamers really wanted to become political, it should go back to a simpler time, a time when game developers and artists worked side by side to create an artform. When the atmosphere is a trademark as much as your protagonist, when you had great gameplay mechanics that are obviously or subtley innovative. Games like Bioshock do this, but they are now few and far between.
So, in essence, it may be a good step forward in the creation of the PAC, but in the end, is it really in the right direction. In the end, were just cementing our hold as a corporate industry. That gives us respect from those who know nothing, but those who are on the bottom, the hardcore gamers themselves, are fighting a battle in a nonsense war it seems. Respect is nothing without honor, and while we may have one of these traits, we need to work to gain the second one.
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Merry Christmas from the poorhouse
Posted on Monday, December 24 2007 @ 11:19:53 Eastern
Happy Holidays guys. You know, it is funny but every time this time of year rolls around, I feel like a homeless man on the street, partially because I am broke after gift-shopping, and partially because I AM broke.
No jobs avalibale, all... read more...
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Posted on Monday, December 17 2007 @ 13:12:11 Eastern
enjoy it if you like it.
Always happy as I catch the air,
Flying high without much care.
Sensations take over, my world turns to distort
my mind races as my body cavorts,
laughing, grinning a toothy grin... read more...
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From Rise to Ruin, the story of Acclaim
Posted on Wednesday, December 12 2007 @ 13:54:54 Eastern
Back in 1918, a group known as the Bolsheviks, lead by a man named Vladimir Lenin, stormed the capital of Russia, and in a bloody revolution, took control of the Russian Government. Lenin was a Marxist socialist who wanted to start over in Russia;... read more...
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Posted on Tuesday, December 11 2007 @ 20:14:22 Eastern
Ok i\'m not the best poet, but humor me on this one.
Take up arms! Join our cause!
Leave your thoughts with little pause
to change our world we need violence,
to quell the discontent and silence.
Let our voices be heard, j... read more...
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Gamegate: The firing of Jeff Gerstmann
Posted on Friday, November 30 2007 @ 21:11:01 Eastern
It is not everyday so much **** goes on around the world. Evel Kinevil past away today, some nut took over the Clinton campaign building in New Hampshire, Chavez is probably going to win another election, and now this!
By now it\'s obvious... read more...
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Quality on the rise
Posted on Wednesday, November 28 2007 @ 15:48:20 Eastern
It seems like suddenly, after three years of the Game Revolution Beta, the member reviews are picking up. Gone are the constant A+ games that have just three sentences of barely readable praise over some aspect of the game that is liked, and inste... read more...
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Posted on Tuesday, November 20 2007 @ 21:17:39 Eastern
After a class on Robert Frost in my English class, I felt compelled to write a poem. So, I wrote this little ditty.
I guess the fact that Thanksgiving is coming soon I felt compelled to write a poem about food. Enjoy.
A Boun... read more...
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