Most MMOs Don’t Do It For Me

Short notes for a Thursday morning:

  • My CBS Evening News spot has been moved tentatively to Friday, I’ve heard. I guess the Congress signing a massive pork-tastic spending bill was a more important story. Yeah, spending $2 billion on national parks is really going to stimulate the economy. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
  • I’m blown away by the animation, environments and characters in Prince of Persia. I was about to complain that no one is giving them any credit, then I looked at the AIAS nominations and the game is nominated in Art Direction, Animation and Adventure Game. Whoops. I’m really enjoying the game, but it has some serious QA issues. Still probably the best in the series, though.
  • I updated the “About Me” page to better reflect my current situation.
  • Even after having the greatest celebrity cast of all time, Red Alert 3 ups the ante by adding Malcolm McDowell and the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair to the cast for the expansion. And I still won’t buy the game because I really don’t care for bread and butter RTSs. How much did all these celebrities cost? Red Alert can’t exactly be tearing up the sales charts, can it?
  • Yinzer point. If you are going to have a food-off between Pittsburgh and Phoenix, then maybe you should have a Pittsburgher submit the Pittsburgh choices and a Phoenix….er Phoenixite? Phoenixian? submit for the Cards. While the Primanti Sandwich is often featured due to it’s uniqueness, I think most Pittsburgher’s would call it overrated. Vincent’s Pizza is an inspired pick, although burgh snobs like to call Mineo’s tops. I personally give the nod to Vincent’s. They wrap the Pizza in butcher’s paper instead of boxing it. How blue collar is that? But not going to The O for the hot dog is silly. And I don’t even drink beer, but a beer with a damn chili pepper in it is just a stupid and nasty idea. Where’s the Arizona equivalent of Heinz Ketchup, Pierogies or O Fries?
  • Good old Tom Chick explains why MMOs are crap. MMOs don’t have to be crap, but his five reasons are easily on my top fifteen or so reasons why I hardly ever play MMOs. I’d add to the list the following (with the caveat that there are some MMOs that avoid these issues):
  1. Required time investment: This ties into Chick’s complaints that he can’t play with his buddies unless he is the same level and his complaint regarding subscription fees. I’ve seen how WoW ruins lives. And for what? So that you can have a Lvl MAX_LEVEL? I don’t want to have to “pay my dues” to get into the meat of a game. This counts double on Korean MMOs where if you don’t live in the game, you can’t even play the game. How hard is it for other MMOs to get off the ground when they know people won’t quit World of Warcraft for fear of being left behind? Why can I play Left 4 Dead online with people of uneven experience and have a great time but I can’t on a stat-based MMO?
  2. Ridiculous patois:  I had to read the “Aggro” paragraph in the linked article three times before I understood what was being said. Aggro, mezzer, dps, tank, gimped, buff, nerfed, pally, gank… speak English. The developer can’t regulate this directly, so I don’t particularly have a solution without going all word police like the French.
  3. Reliance on Tolkien or Star Wars: Everquest, World of Warcraft, Ultima Online, Meridian 59, Warhammer, LoTR Online (obviously), The Old Republic (obviously), Guild Wars, Final Fantasy XI, even MapleStory. And you thought the WW2 setting was tired! Puzzle Pirates dodged this bullet pretty well, so did City of Heroes. What else? Goal Line Blitz doesn’t count. Of course, non-MMO RPGs have this disease just as bad. Here’s a suggestion: one based on the American Old West. Here’s another: a Ghostbusters MMO. Or even put the Tolkien archetypes in a new setting. How about the Great Depression?
  4. Skinner-esque reward structure: Grind grind grind. Oh, look a food pellet. Grind grind grind. Oh, what fun. How about some puzzles? Or some social objectives? Warhammer’s public quests have the right idea, but all the public quests I took part in were just aggregations of personal quests. Instead of you killing four rats, there were ten people killing forty rats together. It’s a start, I suppose.
  5. Having to buy the box AND the subscription: My boss made me try Warhammer Online a few months ago. There was no “demo” per se. I had to buy a box just to check out the game. Yes, I got a “free” month with it, but I didn’t end up caring for the game. Console games let me try before I buy with downloadable demos in many cases, but many MMOs don’t. Let me download the free trial and then if I want to extend, add the price of the box to my first month’s payment and mail it to me.
  6. Thirteen year olds. I’d love for an MMO to have a server where you have to be over the age of 21 and where acting like a dick is a bannable offense. Sure you will get a lot of false positives, but those who remain will engage in a civil and helpful gaming experience. Make it something that one can earn, a platinum club.

1 Comment

  1. I ran across the Sentinel article about the EA layoffs, and spoke with my mother who is the Director of Orlando Tech. She would like to speak to you directly if you’re interested in a potential 3D Animation/Game Design teaching position. Sorry to post on your blog like this, but I couldn’t find a “contact me” link and I’m in a bit of a hurry right now. Best of luck to you!

    Lynne Voltaggio

    (407) 246-7060

    ferol.voltaggio@ocps.net

    http://www.orlandotech.ocps.net/

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