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The staff of gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: MMO Pet Peeves

Posted by MikeB Saturday January 28 2012 at 4:52PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight we focus on the thread "MMO pet peeves (the new list)" by PukeBucket. In the thread, PukeBucket discusses some of his MMO pet peeves and polls the community on their own:

"Pet Peeve

a particular and often continual annoyance; personal bugbear:

I have a new one.

Here's some context first. So I discovered a new gaming / comic book shop today and hopped in to shop around and talk MTG, DnD, and the usual nerdness. A group were playing an elaborate game of Star Wars miniatures and it looked cool.

They kept laughing and talking about events I wasn't apart of so I didn't pay much mind. But they kept saying "so-tor" or "sew-tor". It took a few moments for me to realize that's their chit chat abbreviation for "SWTOR". I had to leave.

Sure "WoW" and a few other acronym based verbal words are expected in the community. But just call it TOR "tore" or such. SO-tor.. Two syllables ;bleh;.. I didn't expect it to bug me as much as it did. LoL

SO what's your MMO-related peeves?"

Boge can't stand premade loot and drop tables:

"Premade loot and loot drop tables.  It's stupid to go fight such and such boss for that one drop that every class like you is wearing.  Where is the true randomized loot?  Wonder why people are still playing Diablo II?  That's why!  Give us that kind of loot that has a chance to drop off anything, and then give us our dungeons and bosses to kill, and let us have some fun!"

Terronte isn't a fan of your typical MMO mob A.I.:

"I actually really came to a firm decision in SWeaTOR that mobs standing around waiting for me to kill them is my biggest pet peeve. Seriously I'm blowing your friends up with rockets/lightning/swishy sabers five feet away from you, and you aren't going to help? Lame."

xxpigxx is mostly disturbed by some of the forms of speech he's witnessed in MMOs:

"people who pronounce lol while talking

people who type out lawl

Any form of elite speak...ever

Non-RP names on RP servers

Using already overused meme's (kthxbai, umad, etc.)"

I have a laundry list of peeves, but I'm not going to torment you with them all so I'll just go with two:

Carrot Chasing: I hate playing with people who are only playing towards a carrot. Whether it's PvE or PvP, there are many players who actually don't care at all about what they are doing -- they are just doing it for the reward. I love to ask these people: "If I gave you a button that you could press right now and instantly hit level cap with full PvE and PvP gear, would you still be playing?" The answer is often "No." Carrots are fun to chase, but when they are your sole reason for playing, especially when you aren't actually enjoying what you are doing to acquire said carrot, you may as well just pretend you have the stuff and not play at all.

Crappy character creation/lack of diverse visual styles: There is nothing that bothers me more than crappy character creation. It doesn't matter how awesome your game is if everyone in it looks like each other. It's hard to feel like you're playing a "role" in the world when every other guy looks just like you either by armor or physical details.

What are your MMO pet peeves? Share 'em in the comments below!

What is

Posted by BillMurphy Saturday January 28 2012 at 8:41AM
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Have any of you heard of MMO-FO yet?  If you click that link, you'll be redirected to a Facebook Page  that asks "Are you an MMO-FO?"

Late this week, I received a package that merely had a t-shirt with the MMO-FO logo and a little notecard directing me to the page.  There's a teaser video with a large bald guy beating the crap out of what seems to be a scared-as-poo LARP participant, and a personality test to gauge whether you are an MMO-FO.  

The main page, after liking, shows that the "Cause" of MMO-FO is all about gamers who have grown bored with the usual MMO combat mechanics.  It's also kind of hilarious: "Do you wish your nation's leader used "Need/Greed" to allocate funding?" Yes please!

The little teaser site promises to go live with much more info on what MMO-FO is all about come February 1st, so tune in then.  This little viral marketing trip should help amp people up for TERA's unique blend of action and MMO standards. 

Community Spotlight: Developers Getting it Wrong

Posted by MikeB Saturday January 21 2012 at 4:16PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "How do game companies get it so wrong?" by mgilbrtsn. In the thread, mgilbrtsn wonders how game developers manage to get MMOs so wrong when it comes to what gamers actually want:

I was wondering how game companies who obviously have put a lot of time and money into a game, can so miss the mark on what the gaming community wants.  I'm not talking about nitpicking every little thing a game does right/wrong, becausee those are always up for debate.  Instead I'm wondering at a more Macro level.  Star Trek Online and Champions online come to mind.  Its obvious that a lot of money was spent on them.  The quality shows.  However, they are so far off the mark on what players wanted, that they just fail to attract the masses.  I know that politicians and others do a lot of market surveys and focus groups to help them make decisions.  Do game companies not do this?  Just cruious.

Onomas feels its all for the kids:

kids, they want to make games as easy as possible for the little ones.

As some of the community want indepth, crafting, exploration, open world, streategy, skill, death penalties, and features galore.

They keep making these console style rpg games with tons of eye candy and lack of innovation for the kiddies which now take up most the community.

I wish a company would go back to old school mmos and actualy make a real mmo for a change. WOW realy hurt the mmo community by attracting the kids and the need for easy single player  eye candy games :/

Manarix actually thinks developers listen too much to gamers:

Here is what i think.

I think developpers listen WAY TOO MUCH to their so called customers.

And the endresult is a bland product, that does not excell in anything, while trying to cater to as many as possible.

Ultima Online and Dark Ages of Camelot were games that were made by people with a vision. They made the game like they wanted it to be, games they wanted to play themselves and have have a good time wasting time with. If you didn't like it, well too bad, you didn't play...simple as that. And to be honest, both games went downhill when the developpers started to "listen" to what the players wanted, most times fragmented ideas of people that didn't like a, b or c.

Vhaln believes that decisions are being controlled more by people with money than by creative people as the genre has grown over the years:

Being good at making money and being creative are very different, and as gaming becomes a bigger and bigger business, the more its controled by people with money instead of creativity.  You'd think it'd be a no-brainer for a game company to give creative control to someone with proven creativity, but people with money tend to be ego-maniacs who don't want some peon ruining things with all their vision, imagination, and other worthless crap like that.  Certainly not someone who wastes all their time playing video games, to boot.

So instead they create these formulaic games, based on what they think sounds fun, to people looking at it from the outside, who don't even know what a fun game is, and just figure its like any other industry where you can buy your way to success.

There is certainly something to be said about the "formulaic" games Vhaln mentions. There are quite a few MMOs that have been made with a back-of-the-box bullet list in mind, and these games are definitely uninspired.

However, I'm not sure I really agree with the premise the OP raises to begin with, at least the way it's been worded. It's easy to feel that developers have "missed the mark" as far as what gamers actually want, but consider this:: what "gamers" want today is vastly different from what they wanted 10 years ago. Gaming, both in general and the MMO genre, has grown and broadened exponentially over the last 10 or so years and what people want from their gaming experiences is as diverse as ever.

I don't think it's particularly settled in terms of what gamers actually want from these games. In my opinion, it is frankly evolving all the time. This is particularly troubling for the MMO genre as these games take longer to develop than your typical 18 month console/PC game cycle. Often what players in the genre may collectively want when the project begins may be completely different by the time the project is completed.

What are your thoughts? Share 'em in the comments below!

SWTOR: How Not to Improve PvP

Posted by MikeB Wednesday January 18 2012 at 9:04PM
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Whatever your feelings on Star Wars: The Old Republic PvP are, one thing was for certain: the open world PvP leaves a bit to be desired. Players mostly do Warzones for PvP in SW:TOR, but the best gear is acquired through doing your dailies and weeklies (is that a word?) on Ilum. The problem is, most people aren't actually PvPing to complete their objectives. These daily and weekly quests were set up in such a way that players could simply flip points by cooperating with each other and not actually fighting. This wasn't exactly what BioWare intended Ilum PvP to be like, and so changes were planned for Update 1.1.

The changes in Update 1.1, which went live today, made the notion of flipping points not nearly as rewarding as actually fighting other players, especially if you fight them near objectives. Great! Mission accomplished, right?

Not quite.

As it would turn out, the balance of Empire vs. Republic players is largely skewed towards the Empire on most servers, and with tons of people showing up for the increased Valor, the Imperial zerg has basically been able to farm Republic players for most of the day. Republic players have been pushed back all the way to their spawn points and are basically being spawn camped while Imperials rake in the valor. Let's just say players are pretty upset about this, and rightfully so.

Heck, even if populations were evenly split, the performance on Ilum has been atrocious due to the number of players in the zone looking to PvP.

After complaining up a storm on the forums today (including tons of "I'm canceling my subscription!" threats), BioWare responded with their plans to address the PvP issues raised today. I'll break down the response below.

An emergency patch is planned for tomorrow morning, which will accomplish the following:

  • Factional spawn points on Ilum will kill opposing faction players who get too close, similar to the way Warzones work now.
  • The overall population cap on Ilum will be reduced to improve performance in the zone.

In the interim, BioWare plans on disabling taxi service to the Open World PvP area on Ilum so as to stop further abuse until the patch is released tomorrow morning (servers will be down from 6AM EST to 11AM EST for the emergency patch). If you're still in the Open World PvP area of Ilum, you'll be able to taxi out.

I'm glad BioWare is attempting to address the fact people weren't actually fighting on Ilum, but I'm honestly shocked that they weren't able to anticipate some of the issues players experienced today. I'm getting flashbacks of early Warhammer Online, where players did nothing but Warzones and only entered RvR lakes to flip points. WAR has improved since, but it took a fairly long time before Mythic was able to find the right balance and make Scenarios and RvR equally appealing. I can only hope it doesn't take BioWare as long as it did with WAR to improve the open world PvP in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Community Spotlight: Healing in PvP

Posted by MikeB Saturday January 14 2012 at 4:07PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Thoughts on healing in PvP" by dais. In the thread, dais wonders what the community feels about whether DPS classes should be able outdamage the healing output of a healer:

So I wanted to see if I could get some feedback from some of you guys/gals on something that I have seen pretty heated arguments for and against.  The current game that I am playing until my month is up is SWTOR, and my main is a healer.  I have played a ton of MMOs but the ones that I spent a good amount of time PvPing in was WoW and to a lesser extent Rift.  The question that I have for you guys is do you feel that healers should outheal DPS, or should a DPS always out damage heals (healing resources excluded).  Here are a couple of hypothetical scenarios:

1) Fighter A finds Fighter B afk, and starts to beat on him.  Random neighborhood friendly healer stumbles upon the fight and tries to spam heal Fighter B to save him.  Assuming Fighter A never switches targets and the healer never runs out of mana, should Fighter B ever die?

2)In a 2v2 arena in an open field with no LoS issues, with two teams at exactly the same skill/classbalance/gear level should a 2 DPS team win over a 1 DPS / 1 Heal team?

The purpose of me asking these questions isn't an attempt at a "gotcha" moment, or any attempt at a trick question.  I am really just curious because this is one of those topics that is a constant tug of war, and it is a VERY fine line that seperates being underpowered/overpowered.  In my opinion when I left WoW healers were very strong, and in good gear could laugh with impunity at 2 DPS beating on them, all the while keeping their team alive in battlegrounds.  Rift seemed pretty balanced, but I only played it for a few months after release; I have no idea how it is now.  With SWTOR healers seem very underpowered.  DPS seem to have a very easy time keeping up with if not exceeding healing output, and once you throw in the overabundance of stuns/interrupts/knockbacks the game seems to have showered onto the DPS it's game over for that healer.  Most 1v1 fights with a healer vs DPS at equal skill the healer would be eating dirt.

Ultimately this isn't about any one specific game, but just where should a healers place be in that struggle.  In the #1 scenario above my view is Fighter B should never die, until the healer runs out of healing resources.  Also in scenarion #2 I think the team with the healer should be the winning team.  I would like to see healers in a place where 1v1 if they know their class they should always survive the encounter, but not always kill their opponent.  In a 2v1 all they could hope to do is run away successfully.  In the end if a healer cannot keep up with the damage then why even bring a healer?  At that point everyone should just play DPS and strive to do more damage than your opponent to win.

Ikeda offers a fairly nuanced response on the discussion:

I see what you're saying.  I played a Priest in WoW, a heal spec in Rift, and now have a Sawbones.

If you follow the trend though, why not end with the obviously GW2 "Everyone heals"?


I should be able to heal people.  I wouldn't mind getting the snot pummelled out of me by  DPS'r if it didn't affect my cast time.

For example, I think that if Warrior is being attacked by Warrior, a healer should ROUGHLY be able to heal up the warrior abou 4-5 times from down to full.  By then you should be seriously hurting for mana.

I think that if you were healing said warrior, and  Rogue started punching you in the back, you should be able to protect yourself for roughly half your health, have enough time to get a heal down on yourself, before you dropped.  That seems like the best terms for ME.  For the other Warrior, it'd be a WTF NERF THIS WARRIOR opinion.  For the Rogue, it'd be a PRIEST IS OP NERF THEM!  If a Priest dropped in 2 hits it'd be, PRIEST is so crap.  They need a buff.


Xstyles feels the balance should be even, and offers some commentary on the overall paradigm of healers in PvP:

Healing is the most proactive form of support there is and it's stupid for a class to only being able to heal and do nothing else.

I think that healers often ruin the excitement of PvP. People don't have to play defensive, They just steamroll, because someone is constantly healing them and the team with the best balance of healers/damage dealers wins..

In 1v1 a dps should be able to kill a healer, BUT the healer should also have a chance to kill the dps. That means down the healing output and up the damage of healers.

The most fun PvP I ever had was when there were no healers present.

Guild wars 2 has no healers or tanks. I'm looking forward to it :)

gaeanprayer flat out thinks healers should be able to outheal DPS:

Yes, I do think a healer should be able to out-heal dps. People are forgetting there are more ways to win a battle than simply stabbing someone. If a healer can't really heal you for the damage you're taking, they're not worth having. Likewise, if the only thing you are capable of doing is slashing at the healer, don't be surprised when it's inneffective. Damn near every MMO I can think of outfits even the purest of meleers with a few crowd control abilities (stuns, knockdowns, etc.) to combat the situation. 

First off, thanks go out to dais for creating such an excellent discussion! This is a matter I tend to be fairly opinionated on. Playing SW:TOR with friends, for example, I often find it amusing when they complain about not being able to kill a healer. Well, in my mind, I don't think you should be able to unless you focus it down with at least one other person. If healers can't outheal a single character's DPS, well, they aren't going to be able to perform adequately.

It's a fairly simple balance. It's not always the goal to kill the healer. Even if you can't kill them, applying pressure via your DPS actually contributes to the battle as the healer has to focus on healing his or herself instead of their allies. This is almost as good as killing the healer outright. Where things get out of whack is when there are a disproportionate number of healers on either team (assuming this is a team based conflict). In such a case, obviously the team with more healers will have a better chance at winning, but this isn't always the case. Things obviously get a bit harder to discuss when you start considering the varied ways a team can be built, especially in a PUG environment. But if it comes down to should a single DPS character be able to outdps the heals of a single healer? My answer is no. Healers often deal with even more pressure than that, and they need to be able to withstand a bit of pressure to perform adequately.

Now, if your game design actually supports the role of tanks in PvP, well, then you can get a bit looser with what healers should be able to withstand as tanks should be protecting healers from DPS classes crossing the front line. For all the CC in Warhammer Online, there was just something satisfying about being able to confidently protect your healer as a Swordmaster, knocking groups of enemies away and guarding them from damage.

What are your thoughts on healers in PvP? Share 'em in the comments below!

The OnLive Desktop

Posted by BillMurphy Saturday January 14 2012 at 10:45AM
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When is OnLive going to be a game-playing system on the iPad and Android devices?  It's only a matter of time, right? The basics are available on Androids with iOS devices coming soon, but how long until we have the entire host of games and latest releases available to us?

If you guys aren't familiar with the service, OnLive is a game streaming subscription (and purchasing) platform that allows you to literally stream games over your broadband connect to play them.  No downloads, no hard-drive space taken up, and all the system resources are handled via the remote servers so a Netbook can suddenly play something like Crysis.  It's an extremely promising and quickly growing service.  You can even spend about $100 on a TV adapter so that you don't need to sit in front of your PC.  It effectively puts the industry's best and brightest games at your finger-tips without the cost of a console or gaming PC attached.  For less than the cost of you MMO subscription, you can play a host of stellar titles, buy access to them permanently (or at a minimum of three years as some games might stop being supported after a length of time) for 30% off, and you still never have to worry about system specs or dowloads or any of that.  All you need is a solid internet connection.  It's something I'd recommend to anyone who likes to try a lot of games without te investment of paying $50-$60 each time.

So it was with great interest that I downloaded to try out the OnLive Desktop App this week.  Basically a fully-functional Windows Desktop with some of the basic MS Office applications pre-installed, I was a little underwhelmed by what's currently available on the remote desktop itself.  I mean, I have Pages already on my iPad, so for writing I'm not sure I'd need the OnLive Desktop.  But then it hit me... they're streaming a Windows OS to people for free... to potentially millions of people for free.  You don't need a paid subscription to use this, just an iPad/tablet and a free account.  In time, OnLive will undoubtedly install more and more functionality onto the thin client they're using now.  

Heck, it's only on the iPad now, but it's coming to Androids and even the PC, Macs, and TVs soon.  With 2GB of free cloud space and a suite of Office apps, it's probably the most secure document management system you'll find for zero cost.  If I didn't already have Pages, I might not have downloaded it.  And what's more is that using OnLive Desktop I'll be able to access my documents from anywhere so long as I remember to use the Desktop to store them to the cloud.  

This post was kind of rambling and inessential... I just wanted to share with you my thoughts on how quickly "the cloud" seems to be becoming a part of our lives.  And it makes me wonder what the future holds for gaming in general.  How long will it be before the rigs I enjoy building are no longer a necessity?  

Diablo III on Consoles

Posted by MikeB Tuesday January 10 2012 at 8:39PM
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Stay awhile and listen...

We learned today that Diablo III would be coming to consoles. This wasn't a huge surprise for some, given that a rumored Diablo III console release has been circulating for some time now. Heck, Blizzard was pretty candid about their Diablo console plans going all the way back to last November, but it seems like no one wanted to believe them.

Blizzard community manager Micah "Bashiok" Whiple confirmed the long-running rumors today in response to a fan wondering about the game's console fate. Whiple simply responded, "Yup. Josh Mosqueira is lead designer for the Diablo console project."

Well, guess that's it then! We still don't know what consoles the game will appear on or even when they would appear, but the news has still sparked tons of chatter on the interwebs.

Personally, I don't think it's a big deal. Blizzard actually has a pretty decent track record of translating their games to consoles, going all the way back to Starcraft 64, which was received surprisingly well. This is especially noteworthy since RTS games don't have much of a postiive history on consoles, period. Of course, no one will ever forget the vaporware that was StarCraft: Ghost, but that was an entirely new game.

Adequately delivering a game like Diablo III to consoles seems a lot more plausible than if Blizzard were to attempt to bring StarCraft II over, despite their relative success with StarCraft 64. The main differences in terms of gameplay would be in the control scheme, but given the number of hack-and-slashers you can already play on consoles it shouldn't be too hard to figure out. What I'm more interested in seeing is how Blizzard integrates with the console experience or even the controversial RMT auction house the game will feature.

What are your thoughts on Diablo III for consoles? Share 'em in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: Growing Out of Gaming?

Posted by MikeB Saturday January 7 2012 at 3:10PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Am I growing out of video games?" by Thunderclash. In the thread, Thunderclash wonders if his waning interest has more to do with him or with the direction the industry is going:

     Several years ago I had a blast playing any video game I got my hands on. It didn't matter if it had horrible reviews or did indeed suck, I enjoyed the hell out of it. I owned a HUGE library of games on every console. I loved the concept of gaming in general.

     Now though, it's becoming the exact opposite.  Even if gaming is what I put most of my time into, I only buy about a total of 5 major games a year. I'm interested in very few games now. Most of the time when I see a trailer for a game or a preview, I think in my mind, "Wow, that game is going to be aweful", even if I'm usually right.

     So since I have interest in few games, I've been trying for several years to get into a mmo, but so far I can't find one mmo that I like. I've tried a very wide variety of free to play and pay to play mmos. I absolutely can't stand WoW, I tried it for 6 months, never liked a single minute of it. Right now I'm looking forward to GW2. SWTOR looks alright, but to me it's kind of a reskin of WoW. I really want to try it because I love Star Wars, but I guess I'll have to wait a few months until they release a free trial.

     Because of my recent realization of my disgust of today's mmos, I've been trying to enjoy some rpg's. A few I think are alright, but I can't get my hands on one that makes me melt in my seat. Skyrim is alright, too repeptitive and little content (armor, weapons, creatures, spells) even if the map was HUGE. I loved Fallout 3 though, best rpg Bethesda made in my opinion. Witcher 2 was really good but my laptop can barely run it on the lowest settings. Red Dead Redemption was my favorite game for a while, and I will always remember it's story. I'm not going to sit here and tell you all the rpg's that I've played, but I think you catch my drift.

     Is it just me or is the gaming industry going to crap? I mean look at games like MW3, BF3, Crysis 2, etc., how did they get good ratings!? Did reviewers realize that most games suck now and that these games should be rated high by comparison? Or am I just setting my standards too high? I'm longing for an epic game that will blast me away, whether it's online or not. Do you guys have any suggestions? Am I getting tired of video games?

Do other readers feel the same way? Read on to find out!

Yaminsux feels its a bit of a mix of both for Thunderclash:


It's just you, when you played so many games. You be at a point you'll just generalized everything. For example, you said TOR is a re-skin WoW (which btw is a re-skin EQ). You felt you've experienced everything the industry have to offer, and indeed you are.

That being said, it's not entirely you though. Through the lack of innovative thinking, the industry is getting "stale". Much like the movie or the music industry.

edit: Suggestion? Leave gaming, do other stuff.

Ceridith shares the same feelings as the OP, and offers up indie games as a potential solution to reigniting that fire:

It's not just you.

The majority of games being pumped out by the big name developers are rehashes of the same old crap with shiny new graphics. There's so much emphasis on making games "accessible" and "eye catching" to grab the attention of a wider audience. The result is that actual gameplay, enjoyability, and replayability take a complete backseat in development priority. The result is bland games that all start becoming copies of each other because they don't even try to do anything noteworthy.

Ironically, it seems to me that it's the indie developed games that have comparatively sub-par graphics, tend to actually be a lot more fun to play lately.

IAmMMO asserts that the push towards console gaming is the primary source of stagnation, noting that PC games are essentially being held back by the designs and restrictions of the console gaming market:

  Seven years ago we had Pc exclusive developers for single player gaming going for pushing the envelope with the Pc tech of the time, since then the cross platform age came upon with more able consoles which resulted in developers going for the middle ground compromises that has left Pc gamers  feeling something is lacking from their gaming of old.

 When Intel released their C2D cpu's in 2007, gaming stood still for people to be able to use this gen right up until today and would only have trouble with a couple titles with only a GPU upgrade at most, as that's how dry and stale it's been for Pc exclusives.

 With gaming as mainstream as it is now, we're left waiting for the next gen of consoles for the gaming envelope to be pushed once again, whilst in the meantime we get tossed a few bones every now and then from developers like those behind The Witcher, and of course we all know how the MMO side of things have gotten for a lot of Pc gamers. There is hope though, 2012 is the year of Planetside 2, a name to install excitement into any Pc gamer, a true MMO using our Pc tech of today incoming!

I'm pretty much on the exact same wavelength here as IAmMMO. PC gamers have been essentially taken hostage by the game design philosophy that fits console gaming as well as the technical limitations of the existing consoles since the release of the XBOX 360. The former is not likely to change with the next batch of consoles, but hopefully games will push ahead on the technical side of things when the new consoles roll out. There would be some pretty exciting things going on in PC gaming right now from a technical POV if PC gaming were in the same position it was in the 90's or early 2000's. Unfortunately, games that are prettier but still "consolized" are still sure to dampen the excitement of many of us PC gaming diehards.

This has been a major source of frustration for me over the last couple of years, and while the MMO genre isn't always going in the direction I'd like it to, we at least (for now) have that genre all locked up on the PC side of things. So, I don't feel I am "growing out" of gaming so to speak, but I can definitely empathize with Thunderclash's feelings, even if the source of his frustration isn't necessarily the way the PC side of things has turned out.

What about you? Do you feel like you're growing out of gaming? If so, why do you think that is? Let us know in the comments below!