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Once upon a time I had fallen in love.

Posted by Nominal Saturday July 5 2008 at 4:28PM
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I've been playing Massive titles since roughly 1999. I played many of the early titles, UO, EQ, etc. Beta tested games starting with Ragnarok, then Dark Ages of Camelot, Anarchy Online. I decided recently that there were probably a few games I chose to love preemptively, long before release, ergo I did (Anarchy and FFXI being the best examples). I've occasionally been surprised (RO, EVE, Shining Lore). Though due to changing times, age, groups of friends, and the monster that is WoW, I'm feeling entirely disillusioned at the moment.

I realize I simply want the game I'm playing to move me. I want it to drop me into a real experience. Something that makes me truly feel I've escaped the grind of real life. Of all the aforementioned, and dozens of other titles I've tried in the interim, two continue to stand out.

Final Fantasy XI, despite the awful control scheme. Despite the two years post development it took to reach North America from it's launch. Dated graphics, limited resolution requiring registry edits, tedium and lack of solo game play, it touched me. I quickly had formed a static party with local friends, and we were working together through the storyline, leveling various jobs as we went. There were no structured guilds, no DKP minus (did anyone adopt this in XI?), just simple linkshells. End game was a sprawling adventure, with a point, story, an end. You didn't fight through end-game content for the epic gear, you fought through it to see the outcome. The sense of comraderie I felt was tangible and amazing. Never mind we weren't at war with another faction we couldn't even communicate with.

The other title that stands out, EVE. Easily the most beautiful environment I've been privledged enough to explore, I adore that I can spend hours doing absolutely nothing yet feel so relaxed and entertained while doing it. Sure there is this tremendous possibility that the next jump will lead to your undoing, but money comes and goes so easily. You learn quickly not to fly anything you can't afford to replace. Exploration is amazing, and CCP continues to give incentive to do so (scan probing anyone?), and the bounty system (though I've yet to explore hunting/pirating myself) looks like a blast.

World of Warcraft succeeded because they themselves managed their own unique innovation. They took elements from a huge number of previously successful titles and polished it until it sparkled. Since then it seems like a good half of other developers are attempting the same, releasing the so-called "WoW Clones" (which is an absurd statement) and wonder what they're doing wrong.

I personally feel it goes something like:

"Gee. I'd like to play a MMO. That will run with my existing hardware. What are all of my friends playing? Well I really like this other IP better, but since everyone is playing this other game, and it's still pretty fun, even if it's not what I really want to be playing... now I have six level 70 characters and this expansion is coming up. I've already invested so much time in this character. Dick and Jane need a tank. Oh well."

That is certainly where I am right now. While eagerly anticipating Aion and Earthrise. Hoping maybe, just maybe, one of these two might perchance be intriguing enough to lure a handful of my friends from Feathermoon to try something new. Maybe then I can stop dual subscribing.