Restless gaming

I’ve been spending a lot of time reading lately, instead of playing games. I thought I was just burned out on MMO’s, but single player games are causing the same restless feeling I experienced with MMO’s. I’ll sit down at night to play, and no matter what game I choose, I don’t want to play it after about 20 minutes. Games used to be a way for me to disappear into the Sid Meier zone, where I could lose myself in an evening of play, and I loved that feeling. I’m chasing the dragon now, I guess, getting a “been there, done that” vibe, no matter what I choose to play. I hate that feeling, so after some TF2 I end up logging off and grabbing a book to read.

You know what I need? I need a punk rock MMO. In 1980, I was 14 years old. I got to listen to the punk vs. arena rock vs. crappy pop music/disco wars firsthand. MMO’s feel totally like arena rock at the moment. WoW is the Journey of MMO’s, and I can’t take it any more. And most things seem to be following in the WoW model, making the genre accessible and polished. I want an MMO that doesn’t want to be Journey or REO Speedwagon or Foreigner or Tears for Fears. Can I get a little Circle Jerks in my MMO, please? Because I really want to be playing MMO’s. I can enjoy a single player game, but too much single player is like going to restaurants by yourself all the time. I want the buzz of people around me, even if I don’t talk to them all. I want my MMO to be difficult again, or at least challenging.

I lived and worked in West Yellowstone, Montana (the west entrance to Yellowstone Park) for a couple of years, and I heard a statistic that said like 90% of the visitors to the park never get more than 100 yards from a road. That’s how I feel in the post-WoW era…as MMO players, developers never want us too far from the leveling path. That’s one of the things that pissed me off about WAR. I felt like the content was jammed together, like players couldn’t be trusted to travel through the landscape without signposts to content, like we’d need non-stop attractions to keep our attention. Theme park, right? I hate it.

I want a world that feels open, not a world that has billboards to content everywhere I go. I want more to do than just kill things or deliver things. I want to make things, sell things, collect things, display things…and useful things. I want to fight other players. Speaking of being mad at WAR, another thing that made me mad about WAR was the RvR overkill. DAoC, Counterstrike, and Team Fortress 2 are examples of why you don’t need to include RvR in every zone in three different areas with an overly complicated method of zone control. Those three games concentrated great fighting in a limited number of maps or zones, focusing on the quality of the fighting, not the making sure there was an RvR entrance just steps from any location in any zone. So instead of WAR focusing the people who wanted to RvR in a few meaningful areas, it ended up feeling like you were chasing fights all over the map, all over the factional areas. The fighting was diluted because it was so spread out. The PvE was jammed together, the RvR was too distributed. And they really needed a third faction. Ah well.

Eve’s got the PvP right. I wish Eve’s crafting model existed in other games. I like when players have to make everything. Putting all your good gear behind gated content bores the hell out of me. I guess I want a game like Eve, except with an avatar on the ground, harvesting stuff, making stuff, selling stuff, fighting for control of territory, not control of space. With a house. And a pony.

When did I start to sound so old, by the way? You kids get off my lawn.

Anyway, in my boredom, I picked up Chrono Trigger for the DS. My daughter is letting me “borrow” hers, so maybe some solid old school RPG action will get me through my MMO blues.

There’s a positive in my gaming doldrums, though; I’m getting a ton of reading and writing done for grad school. I bet you’ll never see a scientific study on the positive effects of too much gaming :)

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17 Responses

  1. You should give EQ2 a whirl if you have not already it is pretty much what you are describing to be honest.
    Soon they will be releasing a streaming version of the client so the trial will be quick easy to get going.Perhaps wait till then ,but worth a go definately.

  2. Have you tried Darkfall? If you’re willing to put up with the lack of polish, and a UI that’s the most frustrating thing since blister packs you might really like it. It’s got the unforgiving open-world-lyness of 0.0 in EVE and a pretty decent crafting system. It’s not much more than 10 iron bars + 2 timber = 1 sword like every other game, but you *need* to craft something, whether to trade for other items or to wear yourself since your gear wears out and can’t be repaired.

  3. DarkFall?

    “except with an avatar on the ground, harvesting stuff, making stuff, selling stuff, fighting for control of territory, not control of space. With a house. And a pony.’

    All that DarkFall currently has, with player-run vendors coming in the next patch as well (plus caravans, although no details about what that means have been revealed). Plus you already play TF2, so the twitchy combat won’t be as arcane to you as someone who has only played WoW and can’t do more than tab-1-2-3-tab-1-2-3.

    No trial sadly, so you have to put up the $50 to see if it’s going to work for you, but the game is a lot deeper than just ‘lulz ganking’ that forum warriors try to paint it as. Not perfect by a long shot, but it’s a seriously nice change of pace from the on-rails rides of themeparks.

  4. I am itching for non-theme park too. And open spaces… Hmmm. we’ll see what the future brings. Maybe you should take Syncaine up on that if you have a spare 50 bucks :) If you like those things about eve, they might be similar in darkfall.

  5. I’ve got to second Syn’s Darkfall push for what you described. I’m new to the game, so I don’t have a house or a pony just yet. But I know that they’re available to me. And the game is just very… deep… moreso than any MMO’s I’ve played with the exception of maybe EVE.

  6. Largely, I’m against theme parks… however, the one thing all the current theme park games forget are the elements that make the best theme parks the best. Take a look at Disney World. Every part of the park is designed around leading you through the rides and attractions, but at the same time, when you get to an intersection in Tomorrow-land not only do they show you the path with all the Tomorrow-land rides, but they also remind you that if you’ve had enough of Tomorrow-land Frontier-land is that-a-way. Where most games fail at being the best theme park they can be is that once you get on a path you appear to be stuck on that path, either because they don’t have alternative paths or because they forget to remind you that the other paths exist.

  7. I might consider Darkfall, actually, and I made a silent bet with myself whether Syncaine might post that recommendation :)
    I’m glad you chimed in.

    I’d give either Fallen Earth or Darkfall a shot if they had a trial. In lieu of that, I’ll do some more reading and research about both and see what other people have to say…and I won’t be reading forums about them, Syn, I’m aware of the forum effect on PvP conversations :)

    My one concern about Darkfall is the inability to chose to PvP; getting attacked is always a possibility, right? That doesn’t always work well with my RL situation. I have to be able to duck out of gaming on short notice, and that may be difficult in a PvP-anywhere game. I do like the sound of player vendors, for sure.

  8. Duh, I replied to comments that didn’t require approval (Syn, Thallian) before approving quite a few more comments.

    @Gazruney – I did play EQ2, and it was pretty good, better than I expected, but coming to the game so late, the world felt fairly empty.

    @James and Autumn – Thanks for seconding Darkfall. Autumn, is the UI really that bad? Your description made me laugh. I’ve really enjoyed games where you have to make everything you use, though, or buy what other people are crafting. I’m a little afraid of that in a PvP situation, given my somewhat casual play and the PvP-anywhere model, but the comments here are encouraging.

  9. If you don’t want to be attacked, why wouldn’t you just log off? You *might* be safe in your clan’s city/hamlet, which would be the equivalent of docking up in Eve. Or if you wanted to go the extra step you could just bank all your gear and afk naked…

    but if you were out in the middle of nowhere gathering metal or something, you’d need to log off.

  10. The UI is necessarily clumsy.

    I appreciate their efforts to try and meld intense resource management plus the full-gamut of RPG screens (full loot, no auto-loot) and FPS type combat. You have to right click (? I ended up binding this to something different, so I forget what the default is) to switch back and forth between combat mode and UI mode.

    So lets say you were in combat mode and killed your first goblin. (on your third or fourth try because they’re the nastiest noob-mobs in any MMO, ever.) You walk over to loot his stuff and…. nothing. You forgot to enter UI mode. Ok, so you right click and start dragging his shit into your bag one thing at a time. By this time something has probably respawned and is pumping your ass full of arrows. You go to run over to mess up his day, but you forgot to exit UI mode so you stand there like a dumbass until you remember… it’s just a really confusing system for the first couple weeks.

    I would read through Sera Brennan’s articles on Massively of his month of Darkfall. I think he gave the game a really fair look: http://www.massively.com/2009/07/16/anti-aliased-the-daze-of-darkfall/

  11. Maybe I’m making it more difficult than it needs to be :) And maybe Darkfall’s open world makes logging off in a random spot a fairly safe option, like logging off at an Eve safe spot.

  12. @autumn – about the UI, I know exactly what you mean. DDO confused me with a similar toggle between combat and world interaction, or between movement and interaction. I could figure that out soon enough, I think, but yeah, I don’t necessarily enjoy it. Eventually it’d be second nature, though.

    Thanks for the Massively link. I’m home sick today, so I’ll definitely check it out!

    Is there just one North American server at the moment?

  13. Although I’ve not finished Chrono Trigger, it is a lot of fun. I would also recommend FF3 or FF4 for the DS if your into that sort of thing. Lots of great action and nostalgia.

  14. Thanks Oakstout. I’ve looked at both of them, but pulled the trigger (get it? hah) on Chrono first.

    My daughter is really enjoying CT also, and she didn’t think she would. She likes Pokemon, so I figured the FF and CT games would be a good fit, but it wasn’t until she watched me play that she wanted to commandeer a CT save slot for herself :)

  15. Coming back to this late, but here goes.

    At first the UI (especially the in-game to mouse mode switch) is really hard to get accustomed to, in part because day one DarkFall is faster-paced than other MMOs and you are not placed in a starter area where every mob has zero chance to kill you and you basically can’t screw up. In DarkFall you get screwed by newbie goblins hard, even if you know the UI, and so being in the wrong mode or whatever just seems more drastic.

    With that said, now that the UI is second-nature to me, it’s amazing. Not because of all the shiny crap something like a fully modded WoW UI has, but because it does not hinder you in any way, it’s clean, and it lets you focus on what you should be focused on, the top-notch combat. I’ll take the minimalist DF UI over even the best player-made WoW UI any day (and that’s putting my WoW feelings aside). In all honesty, if after two weeks the UI is still something you think about, it says more about you than the game :)

    The other thing I wanted to comment on is your casual play and need to go afk. Assuming you don’t need to go afk RIGHT NOW, and you can get a 10-15 second buffer before stepping away, you should be able to duck behind a tree or rock and log out of DF. You will stay in the world for a minute still, but the odds of someone finding you and getting the kill before you disappear is very slim (but depends on the area of course). Now if you are being chased in PvP, or are in a group PvP’ing, going afk is obviously going to be a problem, but not more so than in EVE really. More than anything, if you play smart, you will be fine. If you constantly stand out in the open and walk away from the keyboard fully geared, then yea, you are going to die and lose your stuff. And as always, in the rare time or two you do just have to step away RIGHT NOW, nothing you could wear as a casual will cost you that much. No one flies a Titan who has to step away RIGHT NOW either, right?

  16. Hey, just wanted to say, first time visitor to your blog here, I started reading some of your most recent articles after reading a post you made on Gamers with Jobs saying you had just blogged about…well, something. Can’t really remember now :)

    Anywho, I’m a young professional, couple of years out of college, no kids yet, but a serious girlfriend who isn’t really much of a gamer outside of Wii Sports that I live with, so my gaming time has really been cut back. Played WoW for several years while in college, and often get the “itch” to go and play an MMO, but I want something a) new b) more adventurous with less “time wasting” since my time is now much more restricted.

    After reading your articles and the comments, I might have to look into giving Darkfall a try as well.

    EVE has *always* interested me, and I love reading about it, but the few times I’ve installed and tried playing, I just couldn’t really get into it. Like you, I appreciate the ecomony and PVP-anywhere combat, but I just need a character running around on the ground, not a ship in space, to really get into the game, I think.

    Anyways, going to add you to my RSS reader, just know that there are new folks out there reading, and thanks for the info!

    • Thanks for stopping by! I’d be curious to see how you feel about Darkfall. I’m enjoying Eve again, but I think I have to head for 0.0 and join a corp if I’m going to stick with it for any length of time. Hope you stop by again :)

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