I got level 20 yesterday morning. I haven't decided on a surname yet. Today is laundry and housecleaning day. All this housework is preventing me from leveling!
But it isn't quite enough to keep me from blogging. The great thing about writing is that I can go AFK and come back to find that none of my buffs have worn off and my blog has barely been attacked at all while I was gone.
Last night was The Night Of The Cute Anime MMORPG. I went to try NosTale and Asda Story. I know, I know, more Asian grind wrapped in pink fluff. But, as I am certifiably insane, I sometimes like playing those. I played Scions of Fate for nearly two months before that particular episode of the galloping crazies was over.
I played the UK release of NosTale, and I have to say that the tutorial bit was better than most. It was short, simple, and had pictures. Even I could figure out what they were getting at. But I didn't play for long, since that was the one I installed right before bedtime.
I've got a pet chicken in NosTale. For some reason, that makes me happy. See? I am totally lost in the depths of madness.
Earlier, before dinner, I ran around in Asda Story a bit. I decided to give it a try because I saw ads for it on various sites after getting an email about it from Game & Game, where I already had an account. It was either Fate coaxing me to try it or an advertising blitz, but I was weak and gave in. It features a couple of interesting things that have some potential.
First, they have a "soul mate" system that allows you to pair up with another player. There are special "soul mate" skills and items, and you can log in as the other person's character, as I understand it. It lets you play each other's characters without exchanging log-in information. I haven't actually tried this feature out yet. I am still trying to convince my husband to come be my soul mate.
The other thing that I thought was interesting is that items are "empty shells" until you add "sowels" ("Soul + jewel") to them to give them their traits. This allows you to customize your items and gives you more control over what you look like, since your graphics are not tied to your stats. I've gotten a sowel and some armor off of monsters, but I haven't put them together yet.
Isn't Chronicles of Spellborn doing something along the lines of separating your look from your stats too? I think this is an idea with some potential. Being able to choose how you look and not have it interfere with how you perform sounds cool. It sounds like a fun feature.
On the other hand, I know that there have been times when I've felt a little twinge of pride at wearing particular armor or weapons as a trophy because of unique graphics that make them easily recognizable (or that are different enough from other items that people look or ask about them). I am not really sure how well making look a matter of choice and not a matter of achievement will go over with the people whose Bartle types start with "A". Some people want to have to work to look cool, as odd as that sounds to others.
There's a fine line between work and fun in MMORPGs. Some people have no tolerance for anything that is even remotely tedious. Some people don't want to try anything difficult that they might fail at repeatedly. Some people thrive on that stuff and are bored quickly by games that give them too much reward without enough time or risk. I don't necessarily think that every game can or should try to cater to both crowds.
Despite the spectacular success of WoW and the crushing failure at launch of Vanguard, I think it is too early to say that there aren't enough "hardcore" players out there to support a not-so-casual Achiever-oriented game. I think it is fair to say that a game with lower system requirements that is polished and runs smoothly for most people will consistently beat the pants off of a rough game with high sys reqs and crappy performance. At the same time, any "hardcore" game that comes out now will really have to pour on the finesse-- even the most insanely dedicated player may not be willing to sit through a pure timesink that isn't cleverly disguised as something fun in the post-WoW world. (Believe me, though, a few will still do it, just to wave around the shiny bauble they got as a reward, chanting, "Ha! I am the most hardcore at sitting around waiting for a spawn!")
I don't think MMORPGs have even begun to reach their potential yet. WoW was both a step forward and a step back. It is undoubtedly a well-made game that shows a lot of thought on the part of the devs. On the other hand, the success of WoW has spawned a whole new generation of EQ-WoW clones.
I am not sure how the term "MMORPG" will stand up as an umbrella genre if or when the massively-multiplayer technology starts to stretch out into other possibilities. Already there have been forum wars over whether Guild Wars or Hellgate:London are MMORPGs, and people write off Second Life as "not really a game at all". There are MMOFPS and RTS games out there already. There's some merging of single-player and MMO games not only in Hellgate:London, but in Age of Conan as well, and the already-released-but-less-known Minions of Mirth. In another entry, I suggested that there might be a potential niche market for marrying social networking with a 3D (serious) fantasy (or sci-fi) RPG. Done right, that might be more than just a niche game, but it also might stretch the definition of MMORPG into new dimensions.
The Internet has changed gaming completely. From the exchanges of Norns for the Creatures series over websites to MMORPGs to social sites featuring casual games to the forums where gamers beat each other over the head with their... ah... enormous knowledge of gaming mechanics... to NWN persistent worlds to the promised asynchronous populating of your Spore world with the creations of other players, games are not just you and your computer anymore. Right now, people can point to MMORPGs and say that they are this-and-this-and-this, persistent worlds and fighting monsters or whatever, but there may be a time when it is hard to tell one kind of game from another. And that time may be now.
((EDIT: Today is not my day for spelling or grammar. /sigh.))