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Gaming To Hell In A Handbasket

The trials, tribulations and musings of an MMO veteran trying to find the next holy grail.

Author: Strayfe

The Sky is Falling

Posted by Strayfe Wednesday September 29 2010 at 8:30PM
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Today I am not only the Devil's Advocate, I'm his best friend.  Today, I prove that there are people out there who are not fooled by endless hype and shiny press releases.

Those who have read any of my previous blogs know one thing about me.  I am quick and ruthless with my criticism.  If something pisses me off while I'm gaming, I don't hesitate to call a spade a spade, then whip out a spade and beat it more thoroughly than a dead horse in a Thai meat factory.

Time is precious.  When I offer mine to a company by choosing to play their product, I expect a certain level of satisfaction, or else I simply disengage and find a more worthy recipient of my attention.  As the days go by, and I become older (22 now... joy...) and more jaded, I find that I'm becoming more and more picky.  I no longer have the inclination to grit my teeth and sit through hours of mind-numbing shit to get to the mediocre part of a game.  It's no wonder then, that I also find myself unable to stick with a game for very long.

... and by very long, I mean more than a day, or even a couple hours.

Sadly, most games ARE that bad.  They're so bad that I wonder on a daily basis what the hell happened to the gaming industry.  I wonder what sorts of things people look at and say, "Hey, this is a good game, I think I will keep playing it."  I wonder what sorts of things other people look at and say, "BOOOO, this is a terrible game, why would anyone play it?!"  I wonder if somewhere along the way wires were crossed and people lost the ability to distinguish quality from gimmicks; depth from tedium; content from a boring, pointless grind.

I know the answer of course, but it still bothers me to see so many people salivating over certain games that are pulling the wool over everyone's eyes with the cloth of "innovation".

People are drooling over Guild Wars 2 because of "Dynamic Events" and "Personal Stories."  I look at the available information about these systems, and all I see is "Public Quest Chains" and "Single Player Instances."  Meh.

What else are we cheering about?  The graphics?  The combat?  TERA is better on both counts.  And even if you give Guild Wars the nod in the graphics department, there are games with far better out there.  Namely FInal Fantasy XIV.

"But Strayfe, it's ArenaNet.  Surely they won't put out anything bad!  Look at how great Guild Wars 1 was!"

... What?

The original Guild Wars was successful for three reasons.  #1 - It has no subscription fee.  #2 - It has no subscription fee.  #3 - It takes absolutely no effort to get to max level... hell, you can even START a character at max level.  Talk about taking all the fun out of advancement.  If you want to play a game where everyone is on equal footing, starts at the same level and is skill-based, play an FPS.  To top that off, the game is entirely instanced and has a horrible community.

What has ArenaNet done to garner this much faith from gamers?  If it were Blizzard? Definitely.  Mythic?  Probably.  But a company with only one mediocre game that is not even an MMORPG?  I'm not following the logic.  Read this article and tell me it doesn't make you sick:

Don't care to read that much?  Let me give you some highlights. 

Extremely minimal death penalty, all classes can heal, all classes can raise from level 1.

Challenge Rating: -3.9 billion

Game Rating: -Infinity

Can someone please explain to me why people want to play a game that has NO CHALLENGE?  NO RISK?   If you don't stand to lose anything by dying, there is no incentive to avoid it.  Killing anything simply becomes a matter of bashing your face against it until it falls over.  I can't possibly think of anything more boring.

All classes can heal and raise?  Really?  What is the point of making everyone self sufficient in an MMO?  There's only one.  To discourage grouping.  I'm glad we have that all sorted out.  Guild Wars 2 doesn't want you to group with other people.  An MMORPG should foster dependency on other players, not discourage it.  This line of reasoning is unfathomable to me.

Moving on...

People are drooling over Star Wars: The Old Republic, because it's going to be an MMO with a story and also because it's made by BioWare.  Sure, games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect had deep, involving storylines, but lets face it, neither game had particularly impressive gameplay.

I'm also amused by this little tidbit of information:

"Unlike traditional MMOs, classes in the Old Republic are not limited to the typical archetypes (healer, tank, melee dps, ranged etc...). Bioware has stated that each class will support on-the-fly customization that will allow any class to fill any role within a party, eliminating the need to spam channels in search of a specific class needed to fill a role within a group, which can delay or outright stop parties from completing group quests. While each class in The Old Republic will still favor a certain play style (be it ranged, melee, or otherwise), customization combined with companion characters will make for having a class be able to tackle many different situations, with or without the support of other player characters, and without requiring specific other classes in order to move forward."

Let me translate this from Pre-Release Hypespeak into something everyone can understand.

"Unlike good games, classes in the Old Republic mean absolutely nothing.  Bioware has stated that everyone will be like everyone else so that casuals don't have to wait to do their one instance a day.  While each class in The Old Republic will have a different name (be it Smuggler, Jedi or otherwise), lack of customization, combined with a poor man's pet system will make for everyone being able to do anything.  Screw individuality.  Screw grouping.  Who needs anyone else, this is a single player game."

That aside, if you're making an MMORPG, your goal should be a world rich with lore and background, NOT a linear story.  Nobody wants to be led around by the nose in a genre that has always been about making your OWN story.  If you want a story, play a single player game.  Read a book.  Don't suffer through $50 and another $15 a month for a piecemeal approximation of a single player game, developed by a company whose expertise only includes single player games and whose only gameplay innovation is cover mechanics for combat.

Cover-based combat got old after Gears of War.  I guess BioWare is a bit late to the party.

Anyways, I fully expect buries and comments disagreeing with me.  My motto has always been Nemo Me Impune Lacessit.  It means, "Nobody Provokes Me Unpunished".  I think that motto would be better suited to MMO bandwagons.

The sky is falling, like it did with Darkfall last year.  I have dared, once again, to insult everyone's babies.  But before you put fingers to keyboards and prepare a verbal salvo that would flay the skin from a drunken sailor, consider this:

I was right about Darkfall.