Am I Done With MMO’s?

I was reading through the list of BioBreak’s poll: “What upcoming MMO’s are you dying to play?” I fully expected to be checking several boxes, but as I went through the list I realized the answer might be one he didn’t have on there.

None of the Above.

The list is underwhelming to me. TESO looks to be a group based dungeon crawler, instead of the sandbox experience we have all come to love in the series. And Syp is right when he ponders that maybe this was the wrong focus – instead maybe we should have gotten a new TES game with the ability to invite a few friends along for the ride (This was the impetus behind Two Worlds, which remains an under-appreciated game, if for not reason other than that alone).

I also skipped over all the games that are not MMORPG’s, but rather online shooters (Firefall, Valkyrie, DayZ). Not that I won’t come to enjoy them, but they are not MMO’s in my mind. I also dropped out a few others for the same reason. My enjoyable days in Shadowbane are the exception rather than the rule to my usual playstyle, so Camelot Unchained is not on the list. Pathfinder and WildStar are two games that are baffling to me – I have no idea why they are getting the attention and generating the excitement that they are. Maybe somebody needs to explain it to me? Same with EQN I suppose.

Transformers Universe gives me heartburn. We’ve been begging for the IP to be used in an MMO for years and instead all we’ve gotten is some MOBA PvP crap. Do people really think that Transformers nostalgists (who will spend any amount of money on old toys and cons) are also hardcore PvPer’s? Is there no limit to how out of touch a developer and investor can be?

The Repopulation gets a nod for its hardline sandbox design, but setting wise, I’m just not a fan. As Wilhelm has mentioned before, simulated sword fights are a little easier to make believe with than simulated gunfights where you know that one shot would normally do the trick.

ArcheAge is about the only thing on the list I’m interested in, and I know its at least another year off. So while I’m interested, I’m tempering it with patience and a dose of “wait and see” for how all that PvP is handled (does the judge, jury, jail system really work?) and what cultural translation issues are going to crop up.

Is this it for me?

Even Rift has not been as engaging this time around. Last time I couldn’t wait to log in, this time I do it, and enjoy it, and enjoy the company in it. But I have no burning desire to log in on an off night and do a few Rifts or dailies.

Shortcuts for TSW and EQ2 are also currently sitting on my desktop gathering dust.

Maybe I’m just not phased in right, maybe I’m not in the mood. Maybe Tanks has become that one game for me. Or maybe I’m just done with MMO’s. I don’t know.

Somewhere within me though, a voice says that I’m not done, and that I need to rediscover some of the fun that I was having before. I’m not quite sure how to do that, but I would like to. Maybe its time to experiment a bit and see what I come up with. Because if anything is going to generate some excitement from me, for the time being, its going to be something that’s already available.

Shocker Alert: I’m Not Supporting Camelot Unchained

I know, I’m taking another day off from the Twenty Days.  But this is a time sensitive topic.   In just under one day’s time, we will know if Camelot Unchained will success in its $2 million Kickstarter campaign.   In truth, its already a done deal.  Not raising the final $150,000 would be shocking given how much its pulled down even in the last two days.   I bring this up first so that it tempers the reaction I get here.   Your precious is safe, and there is nothing I can do to stop it from succeeding at this point.


But I will not be supporting it.  I have heard lots of impassioned pleas in blogs and on Twitter.    Wilhelm says we should do it to promote the genre (and to support a niche sub game).   Doc says it will support the industry.   Psychochild says we should do it to shake free funding for other MMO’s.   But I’m afraid I just don’t understand any of those arguments.


There are plenty of niche subscription based MMO’s around.   And plenty of F2P niche MMO’s around.  And most of them are PvP based.  Please don’t tell me that one more (by the same guy who has built two of them already) will somehow improve the genre any.   And if the genre is MMORPG – I think we have made plenty of progress in the PvP and RvR areas of gameplay.  We need to stretch the genre in other ways.


What about the industry itself?   Will this be good for it?   Will it promote positive change?  Sure I guess.   Did Ouya change the console market by getting nearly ten times is almost one million dollar goal?   Did Kingdom Death: Monster change the board game market when it dragged in nearly thirty times its goal, making north of two million dollars?  Maybe its too early to tell,  but aren’t we overselling the reach of a Kickstarter campaign here?   Will its success or failure really promote  the industry to a game-changing level?


What about funding for MMO’s?  Did the failure of TOR-tanic forever put a scare in potential investors?   You bet it did.  Will CU somehow erase that bad taste from their mouth?   Nope.  Will it sell them on smaller MMO’s?  Given the proliferation of (especially smaller) MMO’s – I can’t believe we are hurting all that much for funding for them.   And if we are…isn’t that what Kickstarter is there for?  To fill that void?


What about Mark Jacobs and his crew?   They are skilled, they are industry veterans!  Shouldn’t we toss them a bone?   Not if they are not creating the kind of game that I would want to play, no.   In fact, the only leverage I have is *not* supporting their game.   If I’m not a fan of niche sub-based PvP MMO’s, I can’t do anything to help the market innovate something new if I continue to let it do what its been doing for the last dozen years.


Clearly I’m in the minority here.  And I’m okay with that.   If this is where the industry is headed, there is nothing I can do to stop it.   I’ll keep supporting the games and ideas I like.    And if you are supporting it, good for you.   It looks like you are getting what you wanted – the CU Kickstarter gained another $30,000 just in the time it took me to write this post.

Plays Well With Others

I re-learned a very important lesson this week.  Sometimes its not the game you are playing, its the company you are playing it with – and how you play it.


I really got back into Star Trek Online last year because of two things.  One was Rowen sounding off about the second anniversary of the game – a post that still makes me jealous, since I missed out on the Odyssey and Bortas classes, and both are quite nice.  And the other was a friend of mine who knew I was into MMO’s asking me if I had played it and would play with him.  I gave him the “whatever” but he persisted and I finally logged in and…well, stuff happened.


As it turned out, by the time I finally gave in and got my lazy butt online, his life was going through some shifts, and we never did get to play.  So the roles reversed and I kept after him.  And finally on Sunday afternoon, we got it  together.  In a rarity in online gaming, we just hung out at my house.  He played on The Beast (my Bulldozer/Nvidia equipped desktop) and I played on my aging laptop.  In the same room.


The classic muscle car of the Star Trek IP…


We had our hiccups.  We had set the day and time up with an eye towards getting our Ambassador class ship for the 3rd Anniversary party together.  But in what I would say was a rare mis-step for Cryptic, the 3rd Anniversary mission can only be completed solo.  Seriously. If you are in a team, you have to *leave* the team before you can enter the mission.  Still not sure what to make about that.


But hey, we weren’t going to waste the moment.  So with him still leveling at 24, I just told him I would tag along.  He was wanted to complete the daily exploration mission, so we jumped off to that.  We drew combat on the first unknown system, and he died in about three seconds flat when somewhere between six and eight ships spawned on top of us.  It took a minute to remember that we needed to hit the level matching button to promote him to 50.  Once we did that things were still challenging but much smoother – and to Cryptic’s credit, he earned the same XP that I was earning.


When I had asked him about ship selection, his only response was “firepower” – and he indicated I should bring as much as possible.  With my fleet, that means only one thing – it was time to reach for the HEC with its triple Dual Heavy Plasma Cannons and wing of Peregrine fighters.  I assigned the fighters to defend him, and kept an emergency heal on standby for his Heavy Cruiser, and it worked out pretty well.


To boldly get jumped by renegade Klingons...
To boldly get jumped by renegade Klingons…


After warming up on the exploration mission, we wanted to take on the next Romulan episode he had been working on, and I was able to easily cue it up for a “Replay” with rewards for my level.   That was a little tougher.  And you will think I am crazy, but at times it felt like we were in the middle of a JJ Abrams Trek movie, and I’m not talking about lens flare.


I remember at one point him yelling for help and desperately throwing power into my engines to break the tractor beam lock on me, so that I could get within transporter range and beam over an engineering team to assist in damage control.   And him coldly noting “its over” as an Orion battleship, its hull failing, tried desperately to escape the web of plasma fires and Tyken rift that we had caught it in.  And it wasn’t just the battle sequence.  It was the little things.  He was short a bridge officer, so I went through my personnel files and we talked about which officer to transfer to him (he opted for one of my human ones, complaining in a very un-PC way about the number of aliens on his ship, lol).   We talked shop on console set ups and somehow in the midst of all of it, were surprised to find him sitting at level 26 when we quit for the day.


Refitting between battles.
Refitting between battles…


My takeway was twofold.  One is that STO, despite some good features, like the level match and replay, its not a great multiplayer game mechanically – the missions require us to do the dialogue separately, and its possible to get caught in a 30 second timer for a map transfer when you haven’t finished up your part of the mission.  But all that fell away when we put two enthusiastic heads together.   The shortcomings in the game itself didn’t matter.  My second was that there is still something magical about playing together that typing and even the best voice comms can not replicate in a meaningful way.  The concentration, laughter, and that enthusiasm above set an atmosphere in the room that transcended words.  That’s not to say I don’t have some great online friends – but I was reminded that if I could play with those friends in the same room – it would be a whole ‘nother experience!I  ndeed, it has made me deeply miss the few occasions over the last year or so when my dad and brother and I played World of Tanks in the same room!


But mostly I thought,  as we played – “this is why this is fun for me.”  This is why these games are my hobby, my fun time.   That’s not to say I wasn’t having fun before.   But something in the game time yesterday made me sit back and enjoy all those joint game sessions *that much more*. on people.  Enjoy your time this week.  Now excuse me while I go grab my Ambassador class.  I’ve only been waiting for it since before STO’s launch…