Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Can You Ever Please the Middlecore?

Psychochild has a great series of post over on his blog, rounded off recently with the post "Defining the Middlecore".

His essential definition, and one I'm inclined to agree with for the most part, is that today's "middlecore" players (both console and PC) are those lads and lasses that were once the hardest of the hardcore in their youth and now due to real life commitments are cattled into playing under "casual" time constraints. The middlecore gamer still wants the hardcore games... just on a casual time schedule.

I say I agree with this, because this is what I am. It fits me perfectly. When I started playing MMOs I was in high school. I had a very lax part-time job and a girlfriend. Now I'm a graduate, I have a full-time job, a wife and all of that baggage. Suddenly I find myself with 2 hours or less to play most nights, and yet I'm still in the boat that I want a game that's deep and meaningful. I want something rewarding with plenty of details to dig into.

I own a Wii. I love the controller. I love playing tennis. But dammit if I see one more mini-game announced for that little white system I'm going to explode into tiny pieces of Bildo all over my house. So here I am, a longtime fan of Nintendo, still clinging to them and absolutely thrilled that their kicking ass in sales these days once more... but nothing in the very near future outside of Metroid Prime 3 holds any interest for me. Manhunt 2 did, but now that's not coming anytime soon either. The Wii is a casual gamer's haven. And every so often I love to sit down and play one of its games for a little while with a family member. But, a deep and compelling experience, thus far it's not.

So I can turn to my PC... if I have the power to run the games coming out there. There was a time when 2 gigs of RAM and an ATI x1650 would have been a beastly machine... that time was 3 months ago. The PC hardware race moves too fast for most people like me to afford to keep up with. So many times, unless I have money to shell out on a new card, new PC games aren't meant for me.

Thank God, then, for the MMO. And as much as I'm sad to say it... thank God for WoW. Had WoW not come along and shown developers that it's okay to make solo play viable; that it's okay to make leveling less of a pain, I'd be sitting at my desk every night wishing I had the time to play EQ1... then ultimately resigning to Peggle because I only have an hour to play for the rest of my life.

I guess what I'm getting at, albeit in the form of a long-winded rant, is that if you're anything like me, you're probably pretty confused as a gamer right now. The industry is going into a "casual" creedo phase... and while the notion of casual works for our busy schedules, the content of the games does not satisfy.

So what does it take to feed the "middlecore"? Because my stomach would like to know.


Kanthalos and Anaktoria said...

Yet again, I completely agree with you. I played Asheron's Call in high school for probably about 40 hours a week and I loved completely immersing myself in the game, but now a) I just don't have time for it and b) I can't find a game to do so because everything is goign so casual friendly, which would be fine if it had more depth to it, which they don't. I think for me this is a meaningful and well done skill based system, which Ryzom fits, but I have other problems with it. We'll see what comes along soon...

Adele said...

I've never been much into console games, but MMOs I love. I like soloing ok, but I'm more into group play. I think group play is a main reason why I want to play an MMO to be around other people.

Although I must admit sometimes I don't have the time to sit in a group for hours to get something done, or the length of time it takes me to find a group takes up all the time I had to play.

Most solo quests are boring... and so perhaps they just need to make more exciting solo quests. Hero's Journey plans on making most of their quests in zones so that when you zone in it scales to fit your needs. If you have 2 people in your group the quest will be a 2 person quest, 6 people the mobs are harder, or just yourself it is a solo quest so that everyone can complete them.

Bildo said...

I would love to love Ryzom... but it's not very solo-able last I heard. Has that changed?

I'm very much into solo-ing, as by nature I'm more of a lone wolf than anything else. I like to be left to my own devices and not need to rely or be relied upon by others. I'll group from time to time, but by and large I prefer to explore the world alone.

Why MMOs then? I like chatting with friends, grouping with them on occasion, and being in a "virtual" world. I like logging off and knowing that goes on without me and could be changed when I get back in.

I agree, Adele, that most solo quests are boring... but I put up with them because it fits my playstyle. I'd like to see more solo-quests take the CoH route, where there's a storyline tied to each quest you take.

In CoH they get quickly repetitive due to the dungeon tilesets and general whack-a-mole feeling, but at least there is a reason you're there, and it feels more immediate than "go kill 10 boars for me so I can feed the camp".