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Wandering Random Thoughts and a the possiblities of a New Idea?

Searching, searching, searching... perhaps this searching for this new game, new idea, is but a yearning or desire for that something new that may be coming just along the horizon. It is that eternal yearning for something more...

Author: hidden1

Oh the new is just around the corner, ever so teasingly taunting ...

Posted by hidden1 Friday February 5 2010 at 5:59AM
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 Today I've been hit by a touch of inspiriational, energy, and have dared to attempt my first blog here. Call it universal providence, wishful thinking, or just dumb luck. Of the first I am little to know and and less do with the spiritual aspects of consciousness expansion, of the second, I suppose wishful thinking is just another way of saying hopefullness, of the latter, dumb luck, or perhaps that spark from some unknown quarter of ones mind manifesting itself for yet even more unknown, and mysterious reasons. Let's just leave it at dumb luck for the sake of simplicity.

One of the questions I have put to the test time and time again, and this after purchasing various MMORPGs in hopes of the next thing to wow me, is when will I find that new thing, that new idea, that newness that will excillerate and tantalize me again? Mind you if anyone has read any of my posts, you'll get a sense that I am a bit of a graphics whore, and really need that visual eye candy to draw me in first and foremost. But what happens shortly after around level 20 or 30 (my usual generic level cap to deciding whether I will stay and play or leave for wild blue yonder yet again)? It is usually around that level range in most MMORPGs I've tried that I usually find myself falling into the cracks of familiarity, and those old mundane feelings of disappointment start to set in yet again. I start to notice the similarities to past MMOs I've played, and start to find my concious mind wandering, as I'm running through reppettive feelings; this occurring almost as if I've driven in autopilot that seemingly endless, straights stretch of highway, only to miraculously find that at the end of my journey, I had no concious recollection of that endless drive. This is how I strart to feel when I play most of these games.

Yes, I said graphics earlier, and yes they need to hook me in, and perhaps this is due to being the male of species, and perhaps this is due to some biological imperative and/or to the theory of roughly 6.5 million years of human evolution; an anthropological idea that vision and 3D depth perception evolved due to the males' gathering and/or hunting game food. Regardless, this is only the entry way for me in deciding which new MMORPGs I want to try, and not the here-all say-all of the matter. Sure I want to try out Berkanix, or TERA online... but graphics alone won't determine wether I'll play it long term, or give up on them after level 20 or so (or maybe even less).

I always have to remind myself, am I still having fun at level 10... then ask that same questions at level 20, or 30 respectively. Am I enjoying the storyline of the world I'm playing in, do I enjoy the gameplay mechanics? Is it a point-n-click "auto target lock" system, or is it closer to a 3rd or 1st person fps? Inasmuch that it takes more user skill to aim at your targets, be they AI-controlled or other players. Is the game's menu's and hotkeys as customizable as possible? Are there proper and logical collision dection checks around buildings and obsctacles for wich a hasty retreat could help you avoid loosing the last few hitpoints of your character's life. Or is the game treat damage checks automatically... basically if you're targeted by the mob, the projectile (be it magical or non) will automatically hit you regardless if you successfully hid behind a wall, or doorway in a vain attempt to avoiding the inevitable? These are just some of the questions my mind goes through; a mental checklist that at times I have not concious control over. And, these questions if answered to my distaste may help to deciding the longevity of any given MMORPG's shelflife on my PC.

One of things I've often pondered upon was that feeling of anticipation mixed with excitment as the possiblities the MMORPG had to offer; of the excitment of connecting with other players, and in hopes world wide. I reckonned that this gaming environment can be socialogical vehicle for self-enrinchment and at best an experience of world curltural growth and understanding. However, reality harshly slapped me in the face when most MMORPGs I've played I've found myself playing solo. This if course is not necessarily the developer's fault, or perhaps not entirely, but may have more to do with generations of younger and younger gamers growing up, getting jobs, getting married, finding a partner, etc... This is to me is quite understandable human condition. It is the situation of the gamers of today, not wanting to fully give up their gaming, but instead allocating less time to for them to get thier gaming fix. It is the environent of today. One must manage their time, as the world grows larger, and populations increase, and immergent countries growing and being groomed for the next "super power" status are productively growing exponentially as if overnight. We are hence forced to allocate more time to our businesses and jobs, to ensure they are more successful against the growing competative world markets. And that is no easy task considering more immergent countries have cheaper labor foreces and higher profit margin goals. What does this all translate to? One thing comes to mind is that we are forced to work longer hours, and even though one is on hourly wages, they too more often than not find themselves staying later and later into the late hours of the night at the office to not only get the job done, but also to ensure that the best quality of work is in par and competative in the current world market. Subsequently, this also means more stress for the MMO gamers out there.

After long hours of work and no play, you may find yourself coming home to your spouse/partner,bf,gf,shitzu, etc... only to realize that your work is not done. You have to now upkeep your appartment/home, make a list of groceries, make dinner for your family, vaccuum the rug, do some laundry, etc... It's now late at night, and after such and exhausting day, all you can think of is a quick shower, and bed. But wait, there's that gamer's craving rearing it's ugly head, egging you on to turn on your pc/laptop, and try to get some exp grind on your current toon? You log into your favorite game, and if you're one of three types of gamer, you'll either play for 4 hours and think that you'll only need the remaining 4 hours sleep for work, play all night, all the while nearly overdosing on your 8th energy drink of the night, or login and kill 10 mobs, shut your computer off and head right to bed. I believe that these three MMORPG gamer archtypes are what seems too push the market in regards to the target audience that many of these companies are trying to get.

While some companies trying strategies of using f2p models, all the while hoping that the more afluent 1 or 2% of their subscribers base are feverishly buying in their items/cash shops, and that it will make enough money to break even or make a marginal profit. It is my general belief, and not stating this as fact, but more of a loose, or broad, generalized theory/speculation, that this model can only successfully work by the wealthy few subscribers, and that the f2p game in question is popular enough to make some profit or just break even. Most of the other gamers seem to fall under middle class, to lower middleclass and are not privy to continous expenditures on such a model. For the most part we will either play the free portions of the game as it stands, or have a small budget equivilant of something we would pay monthly. So hence, most of us gamers will plan to roughly allocate 10-15 dollar monthly budget for items/cash shop purchases. And in most cases, you can't get much for 10-15 from these shops. Is this to say that f2p models can't succeed like p2p, ... not at all what I'm suggesting. Mearly stating that f2p models and their respective companies have to understand their market. Whether a f2p MMORPG fails or succeeds is in part planning and knowing their target audience, and the rest just dumb luck, or ... in most cases, some new f2p mmo that's just around the corner offering the a similar gaming experience with the benefit of offering new looks, new worlds to live, better software technologies to showcase better graphics.

P2p models seem to offer the best bang for the buck (in theory anyways) when it comes to MMORPGs, and this I can only surmise that has as strong appeal for lower to upper middle class gamers. I for one like being able to acquire unique items, bosses, and play all of the games content for a monthly fee. In p2p models if you are a frugal, middleclass gamer like me, I would immagine one would feel less inclined to rush through the game, and get your bang for your buck, as that is how I usually roll when it comes to p2p models. I like to explore every area, and every nook and cranny, occassionally finding my character in areas that I'm not supposed to be at due to bad planning in their collision detection check, wherin my character would either fall through the game world's geometry, or simeply crash the game. I'm not really bug testing and doing world collision dectection checks, but respectly following my heart and try to experience every moment of the game (and usually I'm disappointed by incidently finding some sort of bug instead). I mention this so that you all get an idea as to how I like to squeeze every bang for my buck. I like to craft in games, and try to craft every possible special item, and I like to experiement with different skill builds and make multiple toons to test out new skill/character builds. I'm just curious that way. I also like solid game content in regards to pve, but not only good story-driven content but a type of group dynamic of teamwork and puzzle-solving in certain quest (DDO is the best example of this that I can think of as some quests required the party memebers to split up, and yet other quests required a certain class to unlock other parts of the quest line for the party). I've never been the type of gamer who is heavily into pvp, but I do from occassion and time to time as a change of pace from continous questing, have enjoyed some what I would personally call "light" pvp. I would say I like the racial or factional pvp as apposed to FFA. I don't have anything against FFA or full loot pvp MMO's but it's just not what I prefer. I like to have some safe areas and/or safe zones to get away if needed, and not get constantly ganked/griefed as it seems to be the case in the more hardcore pvp MMO's. I suppose it is because I'm more a cooporative than compettative personality type overall. I get a rush in helping party memebers, often saving any of them in the nick-of-time, and enjoying giving any item/gears that othe party members and specific classes could use. I've never been into the economy of any MMORPG I've played, however I do understand that economy seems to be a popularly discussed topic in most MMORPGs. In retrospect, it is these types of aforementioned substances, or ideas that I like to enjoy when playing p2p model MMORPGs... just to give you an idea of where I'm coming from.

And what to say about the hybrid models, except that they get better gas mileage, and are more ecofriendly? Yes I call them hybrids and suits my needs for describing any MMORPG that employes both a p2p with an item/cash shop. This seems to be one growing trend in that some, if not most (and if successfully excecuted) new developers/publishers seem to be leaning towards. On the one hand my personal belief is that if there is certain game content that can only be bought in the shop, and I'm paying monthly for it, then I start to wander why I'm paying monthly. I would hate to think that the future could be monthly fee's with the gamers being forced to pay for additional content (i.e., One time instant dugneons/quests, and entire new map with new quests and item drop content). I have no problem with this in a f2p model, but if I'm paying monthly then this should free in my humble opinion. Having supreflous item shop electronic items that don't add and/or change your character's attributes, but are merely for "bling bling factor" is acceptable to me, as bling items are for looks and not in any way change the game's paramters or the character's attributes in any way to give some sort of advantage (either in pve or pvp). Hybrid models can work, but it's success might be dependant of how transparent they are with their target audience. What I mean to say is information and plans about the game's development freely and in a timely fasion disseminated into i's target community, or are they tightlipped and stingy, and pretty much uncarring as to their target's input and/or reaction. Whether they be forthcoming with their ideas in regards to what you get to p2p and what is sold in the item/cash shops and what kind of impact it will have on the gaming subscribers? If they are honest with what they are attempting, informing their target audience such that there will be a p2p model, and will be selling "chash shop only items" that happen to change your character's parameters to some sort of advantage in pve/pvp; perhaps that could work, honesty goes a long way. How much information should a company give out pre-beta/open/launch to it's target audience/community? I for one would prefer to be in the know as to what billing model they may adopt. Some information about what their plans are in regards to the item shop, and respectively what type of items (wether supreflous or passivley stat affecting) could be communicated and plan such that a "happy medium" is reached. They could offer through their item shop such items that may even be dropped by bosses/pittbosses/various "elite" mobs. I would tend to wonder that most people would frown upon such a model that employs item shop only weapons or weapons dropped by certain mobs. However, if done correctly such that the developer allows for in-game only super items that will never be sold in the shops but are in some way an equvilant or "equalizer" to the item shop only weapons. This creates an option that can be beneficial to those who game and don't have time due to various real life time constraints, and don't want to spend hours grinding a boss for a certain "special" drop, and equally beneficial to those who have the time to grind for "special" in-game only weapsons/gear, and so would have no need to buy an item shop weapon. As long as both types of gamers have an option there should be no problems. As far as selling cash shop items dropped in-game by certain mobs, that could help those players who don't have the time to aqcuire them due to the minute every day to day life, such as work, family, or what-not. This in a way creates a certain fairness to those who won't or just simply can't afford the item shop only weapons/gear/item. So will the hybrid model be the way for upcoming MMORPGs?... Only time will tell.

As for "that something new" around the corner, that new idea, that new evolotion of MMORPGs; who can say for sure. Often times I've seen various people complain about how every MMORPG is a clone of this that or the other, but when you look at evolution in nature, does it not stand to reason that those same forces of evolution apply not only to the evolving animal kindom and ecosystems created thereof, but also apply to the various art movements thorughougt human history; of which trying to represent in their respective art styles the current human condition and the current state of human conciousness (and where it's heading towards), to the evolving permutations of MMORPGs with all their similarites, and also slightly different renditions and variations of the subject. Can you call them clones or permutation? Or are they both? Are MMORPGs subject to and pertraining the characteristics thereof akin to art movements, nature and it's continous cycles, the rise of and fall of past empires, not disimilar enough to merit such a comparison. And yet these games of an ever evlolving genre that is subject to the same forces of lifeclyles and eveolutionary permutations as though living itself, should they also give birth, not eventually, but innevitably, birth to the new idea... all of which these MMORPGs, currently released exponentially faster and faster as each year goes by. With shorter development times, and and usually released in a somewhat unfinished state, rapidly so to the chagrin and disppointment to many gamers, MMORPGs seem to sprouting at what appears to be an overaboundance. Choices are nice, but don't sacrifice the quality! To me it's not what is the next, new thing, or idea wether small or humble, grandoise or revolutionary, and latter being ofwhich of the of highest risks for any developer, but when this new idea will appear? In understanding the scale of historical chronology of gaming as both a possible art form, pontentially social tool for new types of human interaction and sharing of experiences, or to simply offer a humble to grand vision of something new, it will probably be the biggest of risk takers, developmently speaking, that will usher in this new idea. I don't know what the "when" will happen, or to even speculate which company will be the one to find this "new idea," but I do know we will all know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, and without reservation when it does finally show itself, unveiled in all it's glory as it hits the market. It will be something to perhaps revolutionize in some way (and this could perhaps be graphical in nature and/or combined with a new system for gaming, and interacting with other players... or perhaps it could even be a hardware technology that will surprise us in the end... Holographic MMO stations/buildings designed to put the player directly into the world somehow, 3D Monitors, or using true evolutinary software algorythms to cause random mutations based on complex formulas such as what your character kills, what skills you use the most, your figthing patterns, wether you are an agressive player risking death on nearly every encounter, or simply a 'sniper' type player... perhaps even what your character eats may factor in as your character gains levels and discovers some new skill/power/ability randomly selected by this non-transparent algorythm). Well the sky's the limit, and imagination is but the germ of a future seed yet to happen.

Before every age of art, there lies the putrefaction of the old established knowledge or art style, until someone finally breaks through the old with a new art style/movement. The question here then becomes moreso a question of wether MMORPGs can be considered their own artform, with their own "ages" so to speak. Looking back one could argue that video games in general can and should be considered an art form, though it's an artform that is heavily biased by market trend.... Considering our economic capitalist system, that influence cannot be helped. However that's not to say that MMORPGs don't have to be creative or offer something new, and evolve as they have (some by leaps and bounds, while others by minute permuations to some system or aspect of the game) simply because of "bottom line". It's also not to say that economic considerations like marketting release dates, and prescheduled time slots at SDM for mass disc production doesn't have a negative impact on the creative process, as those pressured release dates loom clooser and clooser as each day passes. Sure economic factors will, can, and have affected the creative process of many a development studio? Again that is the nature of the beast when regarding scheduling and target release date. I suspect, the new idea will be from a combination of a really creative devloper studio, who perhaps is new, and full of that fresh and vibrant potential energy, with employees fearlessly asking the questions of what can we create that is this "new idea"? Questions that lead to ever more questions, as this new idea is flushed out into a Story.... until the "new idea" is tested as valid, and not just some permutation of the established studio/publisher status quo, of which a plethora of the mundane seems to be the standard. And so you have a studio house/developer, taking a big risk, and huge 360 degree view on perhaps the mechanics of gameplay, how players interact, or and even scarrier question, why they would want to interact, and what are the reasons, incentives, and/or opportunites to do so? I forsee this happenning, now as we speak. This new, fresh idea, in my mind's eye is so clear and vivid I c an see the art team talking with the Game Director about the character's look, and and impact of animations for every type of skill to be different and unique. I can see them coming in on the morning, and this group of individuals, perhaps a small development house of 40 or so employess, getting together casually yet passionately, continously asking those tough questions. They're not talking about WoW or what we can do to make shaman like character build... they're not talking about some cool flying idea that AION employed for travel..nor are they disscussing what new type of tank class skills haven't players seen, nor what new spells and their effects on mobs/other players have gamers not witnessed? I see them asking about certain NPC characters, their specific story, and why this character is motivated and for what reason (perhaps a story of vengeance, or redemptions of the character struggling with an inner-demon of his/her violent past, and shaped by the events of their lives, their parent's lives, ...) What type of training this character started with(and perhaps this could start a creative dialogue of the beginnings of the first class (or skill if non-classbased), the city he/she started his life in, his/her relation to the other townspeople. Perhaps his hometown he/she lived in for most of his life in is constantly raided at night by some mysterious creatures who leave in their wake missing people. Perhaps this character wants to solve the mystery of it, and is a novice archeologist (again, a class that could usefull in parties to unlock areas or special questlines as one idea, or with other abilities, the archeologist could somehow use ancient artifacts that other classes can't use... again this is just an example of one of many possible ideas). The imiganition of this development studio, fueled by it's "new" energy, is constantly meeting in the mornings as a company, discussing in a roundtable type, open and casual open forum, each day feeding off and respectively inspiring their co-workers to newer imaginative heights.

These dangerous, new, risky questions, and their almost subversive approach to the creative process leaves a strong impression in my imagination. Who can this new development studio be? When will this all come to fruition? What new discovery have they cooperatively worked and reworked from their ideas, constantly sharing, and asking more inspired questioning? In my hope I can only await as my own imagination for this "new idea" to be given birth, nurtured daily by the fluid minds of those creative thinktank people, ofwhich are bouncing thoughts, questions and ideas back and forth, soars to heights undreamt of, fueled by the winds of anticipating the nearness of this new idea. All I can leave you all with is just a glimmer of hope, a hope that this is not just in my imagination, or that I suffer from an optimism percieved from the standpoint of rose-colored glasses, but from and understanding of how things evolve. How nature is in a constant state of flux, and change within it's subsequent lifecycles occur generationally. How countries, and empires and historic ages rise, expand then fall, leaving in it's death a vacuum for some new immergent country to have a chance to start the process all over again; adding its own distinctive mark in the pages of history. Where does that leave you and me, and all bewildered, yet hopeful gamers...
it leaves us with endless possiblities.