Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Something Different...

The following conversation took place between my friend Brendon and I via e-mail yesterday afternoon as the work day waned. Minimal editing (mostly to make us look a little less moronic) has taken place. Feel free to chime in if our debate at all sparks a thought in your brains (mmmm, brains).


Brendon: Ugh... it is hot in this room... and I am fading fast...

Bildo: I’m writing a very long post about the faults in gameplay and design of TR that should be ready soon if you want to know the still present “bad sides” of the game.

Brendon: I was wondering when you were going to get to that. You think you will continue playing after your trial is up?

Bildo: Very likely, right now. We’ll see how the game goes in the later levels. That’s the question mark right now. I can see myself playing for a few months or more if the soloability holds up. It’s really quite fun.

Brendon: You need some good old fashioned single player games. I am surprised that you aren’t burned out of the MMO thing yet. It doesn’t matter which one you play, the ultimate goal is to grind 70 or 80 levels to get to the level cap and then “brag” about how leet your character looks.

Bildo: Not for me. Not for many. For me, I just like being part of a “world”, having people to chat with or play with while playing, and having huge open places to explore. It’s not about the levels, the gear, or the destination, it’s about the adventure, the exploration, the quests, and the good people you can meet.

Perhaps we look at them differently. I’m more MMO-minded than single-player minded, though I still relish a really solid single-player game. I have 37 more stars to get in Mario still, and a butt load of the Witcher to finish. Finding time outside of the weekend is hard though, and even then it can be.

Brendon: If I had a close group of friends to play an MMO I might feel differently, but at the moment I don’t so I don’t enjoy partying with complete strangers online. I don’t like strangers in real life so why would I like them online?

For me, the idea that the single player game (KOTOR, Mass Effect, Final Fantasies) are made specifically for the enjoyment of that single person playing the game. I don’t have to worry about a company making my game easier because little Bobby has a problem with the 5th boss in the game. Or I don’t have to worry about a gay/lesbian guild in my game and whether or not that offends anyone (doesn’t offend me, actually I think it was kind of funny). Point is the game is tailored for my enjoyment and my enjoyment only.

I like awesome looking gear and all that but at the expense of 7 or 8 days in real time. That is a freakin' long time to sit at a computer. On top of it you have to pay a fee every month. I don’t really care about the money part, it's just the time sink. I haven’t had a Saturday that I just wanted to sit down and play an MMO for 4 or 5 hours. Maybe I have grown out of MMO’s, I don’t know...

Bildo: I don’t think it’s “grown out” of MMOs, as that implies you’re “better than MMO fans” like myself. I know you didn’t mean that, but you see my point. Pick words wisely.

A better way to put it maybe is that you don’t get the most for you money out of them. You prefer offline games. Nothing wrong with that. I love MMOs, and could honestly not imagine only doing offline ones now that I’ve gotten hooked. There’s more for ME personally in MMO than what I can get from an offline game, just as you see the things you mentioned as faults, I see them as strengths oddly.

For instance when you say, "I don’t have to worry about a company making my game easier because little Bobby has a problem with the 5th boss in the game..." I like this dynamic. Not the easy boss or little Bobby thing, but the idea that the game’s always being changed. I love it. WoW today is a far different and better beast than WoW of 2004.

When you say, "Or I don’t have to worry about a gay/lesbian guild in my game and if it offends anyone (doesn’t offend me, actually I think it was kind of funny)." I like this too. I love the people aspect of MMOs. In general I’m a solo-er. But I love watching people. People, not persons, fascinate me. Their actions, the mob mentality. MMOs really are like little worlds because of this.

When you say, "I like awesome looking gear and all that but at the expense of 7 or 8 days in real time. That is a freakin long time to sit at a computer. On top of it you have to pay a fee every month. Funny thing is that I don’t care about the money part, its just the time sink."

Really, It’s all in the way you play. If you’re playing to “get to the end” or to “get the best gear because I have to”, that’s what you’ll feel like. That’s the main gamer mentality, because that’s what we’re told about games since Mario. The goal is the end, the best, the highest score. Once you can see past this, and see that it’s not what the game’s about, then you’ll likely enjoy MMOs more.

Of course, there are those who define themselves by their online accomplishments, and to them games become jobs. I did that when I started WoW, I got caught up in the loot-wars. Never again. It made me someone I didn’t like, caring only about the game and not really about anything else. Much prefer playing for fun 1st, for rewards later. The gameplay should be fun, not just the loot aspect. If it’s not fun to you, then definitely get out while you can.

LotRO was boring after a while, AA was too, WoW can be though it seems to last longer in spurts than most for me. EQ2 gets boring to me as it loses focus between 20 and 50, and so on and so forth. But with each MMO I’ve played, even SWG's NGE I’ve had enough fun that I can say I’d justify their purchase. But I’ve never been one to play a game I don’t think is fun, so when it loses that part I stop, take a break or whatever and come back if the curiosity ever rises. I like game-hopping really.

Different breeds you and I.

Brendon: Actually... I did pick my words wisely... I meant what I said. I don’t see myself as “better”, but I do have other things taking up my life (not that I want them to take up my time). Spending that much time on a game is impossible for me.

I did it before and it caused a lot of tension between me and the wifey and to put it simply, a game isn’t worth it. Not FFXI, not WoW, and not any new game that has come out. Please be level headed and tell me with a straight face what your level 70character is worth in reality... Does it matter to me as a friend that you have a level 70 character? Nope. My respect and admiration for you comes from the things that you do in real life.

I am not putting down anyone that plays MMO’s (although it's fun putting you down, kidding). I am just at a time in my life that I can't play games for those long spurts anymore. I do miss my FFXI for (gasp) my friends and guild there but I will be damned if I waste weeks of my life just to say I made it to level 40.

Dammit, I’m a geek too I just have to take care of my family... ugh.

Bildo: Begud the wonder Hunter? (Referring to the what's a 70 worth question.) Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Again, I didn’t play him to 70 in a day. In fact it took me quite a few months to get him to 60, and then even more months, and some unsubscribing and resubbing to get him to 70. I don’t play hardcore. I think hardcore. I talk about them, blog about them, etc. Because I love it. Like some sports geeks, they’re my main hobby. But I have school, a wife, family, a house to take care of, and work 40 hours a week. 1-2 hours of gaming is my average, and very rarely 4 on the weekends. There’s virtually no difference in our playtimes. Just I can get mine in one set chunk while you have to touch and go or grab early before the evening sets in and dinner comes.

If you think that I, who currently spend 10 hours on school a week, 40 at work, another 5 to 10 on projects for design, and more time still (weekends included) spending time with my wife, if you think I spend tons of time playing MMOs these days I’ve mislead you. They’re my main game, yes. I honestly spend more time writing about them and talking about them on blogs than I do playing them, and that’s because I’m here (work) when I do that.

Though like you, my 1st real cross into MMO world was an addiction. Lasted all of 6 months when I realized that I was scheduling raids and dungeons… ick.

Brendon: I guess I was a bit mislead then. I thought you played more. It must have been your non-stop talk of MMO’s that fooled me. LOL

To be honest Bill, I am a bit “jealous” that I don’t have a high level character in WoW. I really do want to get that high but for some reason I just can’t sit down and do it. I want the kick ass armor for my Pallie and a cool weapon and shield but in the end I just start thinking, god…I need more bite size chunks of play time and an MMO usually doesn’t allow for that. Maybe I need to level my Pallie some more since this patch went in.

Another problem that I have is that I feel alone. The only time I really have fun is when I play with friends. Even if I am in a guild full of people, we rarely do anything as a group.

Bildo: Hmm… what you need is either an MMO that plays like GW in terms of time investment (low), but plays like wow in gameplay (awesome), but has an easier identifiable group of people for you to play with. You need, in other words, the perfect working man’s MMO. LOL. WoW is close, and honestly you’d like it more if we could find a guild that had more people on and focused on grouping, but you ARE behind the curve. So finding people to play with won’t happen easily now until you’re closer to 70. That’s the fault of leaving before capping, I guess, in any MMO. Hard to "catch up".

Which was also led to be the initial level grind being a pain in the 40s (where you’re stuck), and then the end-game being far less than attractive back in Vanilla WoW. Sadly, I don’t think our playtimes gel enough to get you to 70 before something like Conan comes out and makes us both get it. Maybe we’ll be better when we can both start fresh on a launch day for some new game. Maybe then you’ll see that you can play casually like any other game and still get satisfied by the experience. It's not about the desination, so much as the journey.

Oh, and by the way I might be publishing this discussion on my blog, as it’s a good view point from two similar people on opposite sides of the fence.

Brendon: That’s cool. I hope people don’t think I am an ass... I am a hardcore gamer through and through but as I am getting older my thoughts are changing on my gaming habits.

Bildo: I’m not sure it’s even your thoughts, so much as it’s a matter of the time you have. You’re right when you say that for your grouping-oriented playstyle it’s hard to find an MMO that’s casual enough to let you progress in the fashion you want. Here’s hoping War or Conan or SOMETHING is shiny enough to get us both at the same time and then we really can keep playing with static characters even if it's only once or twice a week with them.

See, we’re not different as you think. I like to solo more than group, and you have more fun grouping over solo-ing. Fair enough. I’ll always group with you on static characters... but that doesn’t change the fact we can’t really get on the same page schedule-wise and game wise. But at least you can see that just because I spend a lot of time talking MMO, doesn't mean I get to spend a lot of time playing. We're all busy, we just have to pick the leisure that's right for us. Maybe my approach allows that, and yours doesn't.


And that concludes this round of Bildo & Brendon: The Debates. Chime in if it pleases you.


Sarzan said...

I am kinda glad you posted this exchange. It kinda sums up my feelings as a MMORG vet. The issues on joining a game that is well seasoned, liking to group and having to play catch up pretty much hit home.

I too am waiting for the next great thing to start out with everyone at the starting stage!

brackish said...

@Brendon - I feel the same as you do with obligations and RL commitments yet I am more in line with Bildo in some aspects of this conversation.

Choosing to play a single player or MMO should have nothing to do with time available but it does. I am currently subbed to two games right now: EQ2 and Tabula Rasa. TR i can play for an hour and get enough enjoyment out of it to stop when I want to and know I had my fill of fun for the night. EQ2 constantly pushes my limits of sleep and forces me into a conundrum of even signing on. It is only the friends I have there that keep me going sometimes.

I'm not sure the age of your "commitments" but I frequently talk about how my son (22 months) has changed my gaming "life". (Okay, enough finger quotes. Sorry.) If there is anything I have learned over the past two years its that if I'm going to play a MMO or even a single player, it needs to make me feel that I can accomplish something that night that also makes me feel that the feeling is going to continue.

MMOs are becoming more conscious of people like you and I and you should keep your eyes open and on this blog here as I have no doubt that Bildo will let us know when he has found the MMO that garners the respect and attention of the parent-gamer.

Brendon said...

Hi Brackish. I would like to clarify that I have a 7 year old son and a 6 year old daughter. I also have older children that don't really require alot of attention. I also have a a wife of 12 years that requires some attention. I am 32 and have been gaming for a loooong time and I find myself looking for a game that is worth my time and sometimes that can be tough. I have played pretty much every MMO out there but only one stuck with me and that was my first, Final Fantasy 11. That was a few years back and it was a huge time sink. Now I look for games that are "bite-sized" in play time and I have found most of those type games to be single player. I just picked up Mass Effect and it is really good so far.

Bildo said...

"MMOs are becoming more conscious of people like you and I and you should keep your eyes open and on this blog here as I have no doubt that Bildo will let us know when he has found the MMO that garners the respect and attention of the parent-gamer."

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Brack. Sincerely.

It's funny you mention this, because there are two MMORPGs I know of out right now that have both the quality and the "not a time sink" thing down.

One is TR, and I hope it stays this way into the later levels. The other is a certain other game that may or may not have anything to do with Pirates.

Of the games in the present or immediate future, these two embody "parent-gamer" the most. The thing is, they may or may not be for everyone due to their subject material.

Just because I like them, does not mean they have the broad appeal of your everyday Fantasy MMO. I welcome change, others run from it, eh?

Regardless, I'll say it right now, both games in their core systems and in their many intracacies offer the kind of gameplay anyone on a tight schedule can find rewarding. Especially if said gamer likes to solo as much as group up.

The future looks bright for sure.