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Nothing to see here, move along

Author: postmanGG

I like my MMOs like I like my women, full blouse and an empty head.

Posted by postmanGG Wednesday March 17 2010 at 12:20PM
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 When did our MMOs stop being intelligent?

I have a confession to make. Until recently I had never played any of the games in the Half Life series. I finally beat Half Life 2 for the first time this last weekend and all i can say is "damn". HL2 is a fantastic game, and I am glad that I took the time to play it through. I immediately bought the Orange Box on Steam for EP1 and EP2 because it is like a good movie; I don't want it to end.

On that note, I have this massive collection of half beaten single player games, games that i started and played maybe 3/4 of the way through and never finished, usually because whatever MMO I am playing at the time ends up taking priority. Borderlands is one of those, which I completed my first play through the day after finishing HL2. I absolutely love the art style and the feel of Borderlands, I think it would have made a fantastic MMO, but after opening the Vault and (spoiler alert) killing the giant vag**a mouthed cyclops monster without much effort all I could say was "ARE YOU F*CKING SERIOUS, I PUT ALL THAT TIME IN AND THATS IT? YOU EXPECT ME TO PLAY THIS THROUGH AGAIN AFTER THAT!". I was very disappointed. It's like they ran out of time during development and just tossed in a shitty boss at the end and called it good. I still love Borderlands, and will eventually get around to picking up the downloadable content on Steam. It serves its purpose in its own genre of fancy graphics low content games, buts that’s about it.

While Borderlands is a pretty standard shoot em up FPS it lacks what HL2 has, intelligence. Borderland has a full blouse and an empty head (blame my father for that term, if you don't know what I mean just think Lindsey Lohan).

Its pretty, but you would never be able to take it to the bar and have an in depth discussion about the recent trend of post apocalyptic movies and how this recurring theme is promoting technophobia in a very basic sense of nature vs. technology. HL2 however is the full package, it forces a player to think, to be observant and use your brain, along with asking you merciless defend the earth against hordes of slighlty creepy badguys. HL2 gives a feeling of gratification when you figure out that you need to use the giant magnet crane to get your dune buggy back up on the dock (after dropping containers on Combine soldiers of course). HL2 forces you to stop for a second and think when reach the top of the citadel and have to stop evil Dr.whatshisname from teleporting away by shooting the glowy balls at the rotating plates. There is sense of triumph when you drop that cinder block in the basket as a counter weight to drop the other basket down far enough to get the health packets out of it. Its intelligent, it is basic and simple and intelligent. When I finished HL2 it made me feel like I accomplished something, not just with my trigger finger, but with my brain.

After thinking about it for a while, I honestly couldn't recall when an MMO had made me feel that way. I would like to think that its not a lack of experience, my MMO resume is pretty diverse. How is it though that a 6 year old game, that I have just beaten for the first time completely outweighs any accomplishment I have made in an MMO? 6 years! That’s an eternity in videogameland.

I cannot remember a time when i sat back in my over sized dilapidated leather office chair and though "holy shit that was cool". At least not in the same sense as HL2. I have stopped and admired the wonderful world of Agon in Darkfall, full of fantastic compounds, structures and architecture (though these places always seem to be vacant). I have sat triumphantly in my chair after killing my forum trolling arch nemesis in pvp, or hit level cap, or looted a wicked piece of [insert loot] but it just isn't the same. More often than not hitting level is cap is more of a "finally" kind of sensation. Killing that mouthy asshole in PVP is a matter of geekragerevenge more than anything.

These accomplishments are more based on time or hand eye coordination. If you live long enough you will eventually loot x item, or if you try over and over you will eventually kill x player in pvp. Not to say that a lot of thought isn't put into specs or theorycrafting or strategy, but at the end of the day it simply isn't the same. Most MMOs are simply a numbers game. Even in my fondest memories of pre-NGE SWG with its fantastic crafting system, it still came down to RNG, grinding and patience.

So how do you make an MMO the full package. Good looking and able to have a conversation in a bar about how while Bukowski was a bastard in writing, but he was probably a pretty normal guy in real life and most of his stories and actions where simply a show? I think Bioware is attempting this with SW:TOR by emphasizing its extra pillar of storytelling goodness, but in my mind it will simply be an MMO version of ME or KOTOR, where it has depth, but even the virtual consequences of your actions still have some redeeming quality, just with a lot more people around. You simply can’t make an MMO that forces players to really face the consequences of their actions on a permanent level, the MMO gamer just won’t be able to handle. I cannot think of a game that is due out in the next few years that really takes the genre on a huge step forward in evolution as far as just plain neat; simple, basic raw intelligence. Even my beloved Earthrise will still have all of the qualities of a standard MMO, just with a new twist and a new skin, it’s not going to be intelligent. Most of the upcoming games still have the basic MMO features. Standard UI, Crafting system, PVP, PVE, Holy Trinity of classes etc etc, its simply a matter of how the puzzle pieces are placed, and which game is showing more boob.

I do not have the answer; I am not a game developer or a visionary. I am troll that has a blog on his guilds website and that’s really it, but one thing I do know is that MMOs need to evolve into something better, and stop moving laterally. They need to take a leap forward and give gamers that sense of accomplishment that is only found in some of the best single player video games the industry has to offer, not the kind of accomplishment that comes from being unemployed and able to spend 40 hours a week raiding.

originally posted here: [shameless guild plug]