Less Massive, more Story: MMORPG’s are Jersey Shore

28 02 2011

I find myself distanced from the MMORPG more every day, as I play less WoW and more other stuff. It started with Dead Space 2, and by the time I was finished i was so enthralled at having spent just under 2 weeks playing a game that had a plot, that had dialogue, that had actual character development… that when I was done, and looking at the WoW login screen, the only thought that occured to me was…


I’m not excited about Rift, as many of my mmorpg playing peers are. I’m still keen on The old Republic, but increasingly for the storyline aspects and less for the multiplayer. I think mmorpg’s are still great, of course, but every person goes through phases in their life, and mmorpg’s are one such phase. And here it is.

They’re the Jersey Shore of gaming.

Everybody trying to one up each other. To get with the in-crowd. To have the best ‘do’. That’s what it is. That’s what drives people who play mmorpgs. It’s about my gear/achievements/guild is better than yours. It’s about the accompanying drama and snarkiness. It’s about brandname purple handbags and dps-meter e-rep and hanging around in cliques badmouthing other cliques. That’s it. That’s everything about the entire genre in a nutshell.

I realised I wasn’t having much fun with it anymore. I enjoy some of the story aspects that mmorpg’s have, and WoW has come a long way in that regard.. but once you ding 85 and hit endgame, the story dries up, and is replaced with dailies and endless raiding tedium designed to keep us competing with all the other fabulously dressed online Snooki clones.

I miss what attracted me to MMORPG’s in the first place. Online worlds of wonder and exploration. Unfortunately, they’ve come to mirror the real-world and all it’s faults. What was once different, dangerous and filled with adventure has become the same, safe, and full of boredom.

They’ve become the online haven of e-guidos.

And it rarely matters which one you pick. They’re all the same, whether WoW or LotrO or Aion or Rift.

All you can do is try and play the games to experience content… and when that’s no longer enough, either embrace your inner guido, or move on. Sometimes a reroll staves off the content-boredom, but eventually you hit a point where even rolling a new character isn’t enough anymore. Where even an alternative mmo isn’t good enough anymore.

I find solace, now, in real life pursuits and singleplayer gaming. I’m enjoying my romps through games like Dead Space 2. I’m replaying Dragon Age:Origins – this time with the intent to actually finish it – in anticipation of Dragon Age 2. I’m looking forward to Duke Nukem Forever, and Max Payne 3… where once all I could look forward to was the next piece of epic lewtz. And i feel relieved. That this time, the need to fit in has finally passed, and I can just be me, and do what I like, enjoy what I enjoy.

And I enjoy nothing better than a good story.




Dead Space 2 is Bad.Ass.

7 02 2011

Holy crap Dead Space 2.

I’m at a loss how to approach this.

DS2 is one of those games that gets it all right. The funny thing, though, is that it does this without deviating whatsoever from the formula of it’s predecessor. DS2 is the same game as Dead Space 2, but it’s so much better.

How can this be?

And yet it is. Chalk it up to a better budget, perhaps, but there are moments in DS2 that are superior to the best that Hollywood has to offer. Calling the game a cinematic masterpiece would be a case of shortchanging it. The setpieces are superb. The artwork is stunning. The running plot is sublime, and flows seemlessly. The challenge is just right, and the gameplay feels ‘chunky’. This game oozes quality-of-design from every pore. It’s a testament to what can be done if your graphic and level designers and programmers are some of the best in the business and are given the resources and time to perfect their art.

EA and Visceral knocked it out of the park with Dead Space 2. This is, without a doubt, the finest game I’ve played since Mass Effect 2.

Time to get mah New Year on

2 02 2011

So, 2011. One month already down, in fact. Where does the time go, eh?

My new year’s resolution was to get proper fit. Not ‘gym’ fit, but lean fit. Cardio fit. So Operation Avalanche (aka Skurm Cycles To Work) is in full swing. Bought a mountain bike and have been commuting to work. So far, so good. Traffic’s still a little bit intimidating (in darkest Africa, the taxi drivers don’t give a rat fuck about some random cyclist) but I mean, if you never take a risk in life because you’re too afraid, you’ll never accomplish anything meaningful.

It’s a blast though. Actually look forward to it. Cycling is far more fun than being stuck in traffic behind the wheel, that’s for sure. And if you don’t live too far from work like I do (a couple km’s only), the time taken to commute to and from work is roughly the same as driving. Sure, I get to the office a little sweaty, but the aircon in here is set to what feels like ten below zero so after a half hour of settling down to read the morning emails and whatnot, I’m cool and collected and definately invigorated. Early morning excercise makes all the difference. Highly reccomended – though it has to be something you enjoy. Forcing myself to cycle on a stationary bike upon waking just wasn’t working for me. It has to be something you look forward to. A hobby rather than an obligation.

WoW has taken a bit of a backseat, and I’m not certain I’ll be able to motivate myself into playing much of it ever again. Cataclysm is a beautiful game ‘n all, but the endgame barrier-to-entry is high, almost BC-level high, and while this is a good thing for the die-hard fans, the more casual players have been feeling a little left out. I’ll probably level an alt one day, but I think I’m finished with raiding and all that.  Level 85 is no longer the casual ‘log in and farm stuff on ez-mode’ game that Wrath of the Lich King was, and as much as people might have derided Wrath’s simplicity, it was also a great way to blow off some steam and just relax while farming a few instances for emblems or whatever. This is gone, now. Instances are long, and tough, and just don’t cater to the working plebs that make up the bulk of this game’s subscriber base. My guess is social/fun guilds will laregely die off. Maybe there will be levelling guilds again, but casual raiding will likely become a thing of the past.

Beyond starting cycling and ‘quitting’ WoW, I haven’t got much else going on. 2011’s started with a bit of a whimper as far as my personal life goes. Lots of stuff going on with the weather and crazy shit going down in the Middle East though. “Interesting times”, indeed. Plan this year is simple. I have no great aspirations. I’m sorta happy with where I am. Sooner or later you realise that while you may not be living the dream… ‘this’ isn’t so bad. We’ve all got stuff we need to work on, whether advancing your career or studying more or losing weight or quitting smoking. Which is good – everyone needs a goal. Mine are simply becoming…simpler. Easier. Actually attainable. And it’s great to see efforts bearing some fruit, rather than setting yourself impossible goals resulting in failure after failure.

Baby steps, y’all.


8 12 2010

So yeah, my dreams and aspirations of plunging headfirst into Cataclym came to a screeching halt yesterday. Upon installing the game (a fresh install…), it hit me with a 9.1 gig patch.

Which is a pretty big deal when you have third-world internet. 512k ADSL means I get about a gig and a half, maybe 2 a day. Which means I’m basically out of commission for about a week. Judging by how fast people have been hitting the level cap (world first was a pally, in 6 hours…lolwtf), by the time I get to play everyone might have already finished the game.

Guess you gotta look at the bright side, it’s a week longer of having some kind of a life in the real world.

Catclysm in T Minus…

6 12 2010

So Cataclysm. Probably the gaming event of the year. Will it suprass the record for fastest selling game ever, a record held by it’s predecessor, Wrath of the Lich King? I suspect that.. yes. It will.

I’ll be picking up my preordered copy in a couple hours.  I suspect blogging will be a little… light as a result.

I’ll be playing my new Tauren priest, and will probably be giving a goblin rogue or possibly hunter a whirl on the side.

To those of you heading into Azeroth – whether the new 80+zones, or as an alt exploring the altered old-world… please remember to surface for air and water and food and other things that you have to do, like work and significant other and kids.

To everyone else… stay away if you value your free time. It’s too late for us. Save yourselves.

What is ‘Titan’?

2 12 2010

So if you like Blizzard games at all you’ve probably heard about the product slate leak. Which may or may not, in fact be a leak. It may just be a fake. But, for the sake of interest, let’s assume it’s a leak.

In essence, the leaked slide depicts what Blizzard’s working on for the next 5 years. Some of it’s expected : more WoW expansions, two more in fact. So Wowfags will have a lot to keep them busy over the next half a decade. There’s some more expected stuff. Starcraft 2 expansions.

The thing that has everyone talking, though, is something called Titan. Which looks set to be a MMO FPS. Beyond that, we know nothing. So let’s speculate. Speculation is fun!

Titan is, of course, Saturn’s largest moon. According to Wkipedia it is…

“the only natural satellite known to have a dense atmosphere,[8] and the only object other than Earth for which clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found.

The moon itself is primarily composed of water ice and rocky material.

Titan is viewed as analogous to the early Earth

It has also been suggested that a form of life may exist on the surface

The kicker is that last bit. That it may host life. So I’m going to take a wild guess that, perhaps, Blizzard’s Titan has something to do with Saturn’s sixth moon. That it may be a science fiction epic. That it may have something to do with colonists from Earth traveliing to the planet, and that they may encounter some form of primitive alien life. Which may lead to some form of conflict.

I’m thinking Avatar – the MMO.

I know I’m excited at the possibility. Can Blizzard, however, succeed where Richard Garriot failed with Tabula Rasa?

You know, I kind of think they can. Bring it on.

Scott Pilgrim = FLCL

1 12 2010

I saw Scott Pilgrim a few days ago. Was not terribly impressed. I thought it was okay. Maybe the comics are better. I dunno.

Today while thinking back on good anime series, probably one of my favourites popped opped. FLCL. It’s about a guy who develops superpowers, meets a mysterious girl, falls in love with her and has to do impossible battle with insane enemies.  It’s filled with guitars and cartoon violence and pokes at pop and video game culture. Along the way he discovers the meaning of life, love, the universe and everything.

Sounds familiar, right?Blatant  Scott Pilgrim ripoff, right?

Except it was done ten years ago.

FLCL is an amazing anime. The animation quality itself is superb, and it’s short enough (6 episodes) to watch over a weekend without being overwhelmed as per the usual anime marathons. It’s got it all, comedy, action, a great story and the best part, it weaves in a truly poignant, thought provoking and ultimately heart rending story that leaves you breathless. It’s a classic, and an example of the greatness that anime sometimes bestows upon the world (in between the usual bishi drivel)

Hipster kids, do yourselves a favour. Get this. Watch it. Learn to appreciate subtitles. Forget about Scott Pilgrim. This is the comic/movie/whatever that Scott Pilgrim wishes it was.  Who knows, perhaps it was O’Malley’s inspiration… although looking at it now, it seems a hell of a lot more like plagiarism.