Archive for the ‘EVE Online’ Category

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Try New Things

May 28, 2010

As I’ve reiterated so many times before on this blog, I’ve just started playing World of Warcraft again after a long period of being away. But I realized I never really explained why I took my break. Yes, I was a little tired of the raiding, the heroics, the dailies, the treadmill and all that jazz, but the ultimate reason was much more than just plain old burnout. You see, back then I was mostly just playing WoW. Meanwhile, as the market expanded, new games were popping up left and right. All of a sudden, I felt like I was missing out on these other great titles because I was too focused on just one game.

I also want to take this opportunity to talk about a disturbing trend I’ve been noticing. Certain segments of the MMO community seem to treat WoW like a disease, don’t you think? That’s nothing new; people can say what they want about a game and it doesn’t bother me. No, instead, what really irks me these days is the ostracizing and belittling of all the game’s players like they’re mentally handicapped or that their opinions don’t count or matter if they “only play WoW”.

Well, I think dismissing people solely based on their game of choice is a bit elitist and unfair. But then I’m also going to play devil’s advocate here and say that if you look past the insults and attitude there’s a smidgen of logic there, even if it’s just barely. If your only focus is on one game, whether it’s WoW or some other MMO, you’re limited to a very narrow view of the genre.

So with this post, I want to talk about the matter of playing one game versus many games, and the notion of branching out and trying new things. Now, I don’t think it’s a bad thing if a player only sticks to just one game, because what it really comes down to what you enjoy. In the end, you should play the games you want to play, not because of what anyone else thinks. Yes, I used to only play WoW…and am currently playing it again along with a few other MMOs. Its critics can crap on the game all they want and I don’t care; they’re entitled to their opinion and the only thing that matters to me is whether or not I’m having fun. Sometime last year, however, I made the decision to experience more MMOs and broaden my horizons. It was my own personal choice, and it had nothing to do with anyone or anything else.

For me, my hiatus from WoW availed me to try many other MMOs out there and I don’t regret any of them at all. Especially now that I have this blog, I find it easier these days to engage in meaningful discourse with other gamers like the ones on my blogroll. Whether or not I agree with a certain point of view, I feel more informed and thus more comfortable now with piping up on many MMO topics than I ever did before. It’s wonderful when I find that I actually “get it” when I read about someone’s unique take on things, or their thoughts on certain playing styles. Even when they talk about a game I’ve never played before, at least I feel I can add to the discussion by drawing parallels or giving examples.

My time away from WoW has also taught me a lot about my own gaming habits. I look at the games I’ve played over the last couple of years, and see all these titles I’ve tried (EvE Online, Champions Online, etc.), subscribed to and dropped for good (Warhammer, Aion, etc.), or canceled only to be picked up again (Age of Conan, Lord of the Rings Online, etc.) Regardless of the result, I think each game was a valuable experience. It made me realize what I liked, or what I didn’t like.

For example, while it’s arguably one of the most polished MMOs on the market, WoW isn’t perfect. I knew that before, of course, but it was hard to pinpoint exactly why. But now that I’ve seen some of what’s out there, I am more aware of the various mechanics, features, systems and other things related to gameplay. I think to myself, I love this from Game X or that from Game Y, or I think such-and-such in game Z isn’t as well executed compared to Game A, B, or C, etc.

Playing more MMOs has also given me a new perspective on how their developers operate. Obviously, not every company has the resources Blizzard has,  and it’s interesting to see how different teams tackle the same challenges. I’ve come to recognize that while a certain solution might work for one game, it doesn’t automatically mean it can work for others. Instead of making me go, “Well, Blizzard can do it, so why can’t they?” it’s actually made me a lot more open-minded and sympathetic.

So speaking of which, if I seem overly positive in some of my articles, it might also be due to the fact that many things are still so new and fresh to me. After all, I’ve only been playing MMOs for about four years, and for more than half that time I was only playing WoW. So admittedly I’m a noob compared to some of the MMO veterans out there, but just give me another ten or so years and a few dozen more MMOs! Who knows, you may make a cynical and jaded gamer out of me yet!

All joking aside though, I thought I knew what things were like until I took a break to try new things. Some MMOs have pleasantly surprised me, others have lead to disappointment. Regardless, I’m still having fun and my eyes have been opened ever since I started giving more games a chance.

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DAW: My Dev Appreciation Post

March 24, 2010

A toast...to game devs everywhere!

Following in the footsteps of others, I’ve decided to participate in Developer Appreciation Week with my own post to honor the people behind the games we love. DAW is originally the brainchild of Scarybooster, who is showing his thanks by spotlighting a developer for every day of this week. It’s a nice breath of fresh air to see something positive like this, and I loved the idea as soon as I saw it. Game developers get dumped on too much these days; instead of complaining, it’s time to turn that around and tell these hardworking folks that you appreciate them and everything they’ve accomplished. Blue Kae and others have already done it, now I’m going to do it too! It’s not too late to join in the fun, simply pick a day to post and share your gratitude for something great you feel a developer has done.

For myself, I have a lot to be thankful for from a lot of developers. Some bloggers are showcasing individuals, but it’s hard enough for me to pick just one creative team, let alone a single person! It’s been a great year of gaming, after all. However, I really liked the format Scarybooster used in an earlier post, so I think I’m going to adopt it for my own use here. This way, I can also thank the entire crew for bringing me the games I have enjoyed over the last twelve months.

So, here we go!

1. Aion team: You guys have one of the most beautiful looking games out there, and while I don’t play anymore, my mind is still filled with many wonderful memories from the two months that I did. You guys gave me a chance to soar over Atreia, and I thank you.

2. Funcom team: Wow, you guys are awesome! Thanks for all the hard work you’ve put into Age of Conan since launch, it really shows. I recently resubbed after more than a year of being away, and I have to say I’m impressed with all the improvements. Keep up the great work and I’m looking forward to seeing what you guys can come up with in The Secret World.

3. Allods Online team: You guys were my first free-to-play experience and I still remember being completely floored by the excellent quality of your game. Thank you for the fun times and I’m definitely keeping the game around because I just know I’ll be back very soon.

4. Cryptic team: I want to show you guys some extra love because it seems like all you get is hate these days, and not all of it is deserved. Yes, you’ve made some harebrained decisions in the past but you guys are always quick to own up to your mistakes, which is becoming more of a rarity in this day and age. I want to thank you first for Champions Online, which was a great game that I think I would have kept playing if my computer hadn’t had stability issues. I also want to thank you for Star Trek Online, which I am still thoroughly enjoying. I want to give credit where it’s due, so let me just say this: space combat — you guys got it right. Considering the constraints, I’m willing to overlook the trivial flaws and enjoy it for the elaborate and entertaining system that it is. It’s obvious you guys work hard, so keep listening to your fans and improving your games, and I wish you all the best!

5. EVE Online team: You guys aren’t afraid to make the game you want to make, and kudos for that. In the end, EVE just wasn’t for me, but I appreciate the time I had with it all the same. Thank you for your unique vision and innovative ideas. You have given thousands of gamers a MMO they can call home.

6. Lord of the Rings Online team: I’ve always wondered what J.R.R. Tolkien would think of your game if he was alive to play it today. And you know what? I think he would be damn proud. Turbine, you guys have brought Middle Earth to life and I thank you for it. I might not be playing LOTRO now, but I’ll be back one day! You guys haven’t seen the last of me!

7. Blizzard team: I can’t thank you guys enough for World of Warcraft. It has given me years of enjoyment, and while I’m taking a break from it now, my reasons for it have nothing to do with the state of the game. I just really wanted to broaden my MMO horizons and see what other games were out there. See you again when Cataclysm hits!

8. Bioware team: Would it be terribly clichéd of me to say something like, “You had me at ‘hello'”? I’ve been a fan since Baldur’s Gate, and while you guys haven’t made an MMO yet, I’m liking what I see when it comes to Star Wars: The Old Republic. Thank you for making excellent RPGs. You guys pour your heart and soul into your games, that’s how I know SWTOR will kick ass.

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Searching for my Sci-Fi Fix

January 17, 2010

Over the last few days, I’ve been trying to divide my time between playing the Star Trek Online beta and my EVE Online trial. And I gotta be honest–most of the time, STO wins out.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy EVE Online. It’s a fun game…just a different kind of fun. It’s not surprising that most gamers call it a “niche market MMO” as it’s certainly not for everybody. I personally don’t even know if it’s right for me yet. Sometimes I think, “Gosh, I don’t really feel like playing the game right now, but I really should log in real quick just to queue up my skills training.” Fast forward to two hours later, and I would find myself still in the game, and whether it’s doing some mining or carrying on a mission, I just don’t want to stop playing.

It’s a little hard to explain. There are times when EVE feels less like fun and more like work, and after a long, tedious day the last thing I feel like doing is play the game. Yet, once I’m actually in it, I get hooked instantly. When it comes to theme park MMOs vs. sandbox MMOs, I thought I would naturally gravitate towards the former simply because I’m a goal-oriented person, ie. I enjoy being provided with a sense of direction so I know just exactly what I’m working for every step of the way. Yet, the beauty of the sandbox MMO is that you’re allowed so much freedom, and that feeling easily becomes addictive. For me, this addiction manifested itself in the form of my in-game to-do list, to which I kept adding items faster than I could check them off. Before I know it, it’s way past my bedtime and the game has sucked me in once again.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure if this justifies subscription. While I realize STO and EVE are completely different beasts, apples and oranges, they just happen to be the two games I am trying out concurrently. Personal opinion alert! I won’t lie; if I had to choose my sci-fi fix based solely on my own level of enjoyment–that is, the pure and unadulterated no-strings-attached fun experienced–I think I would have to go with STO at this time.

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Music in MMOs

January 13, 2010

I had this thought while playing EVE Online last night, as I was fiddling with the jukebox that kept stopping up on me: I love in-game music. Even though there’s technically no sound in space (at least, not any that we can physically hear with our ears) I couldn’t bear playing the game in silence. I just had to have that ambient music in the background to fully enjoy myself, not to mention that EVE also happens to feature a top-notch soundtrack.

I know there are players out there who completely mute the music in the games they are playing. To each their own, I guess, but I personally can’t understand that at all. Some of the most epic scores I have ever heard are from games. When done well, a soundtrack adds to the immersion experience, far from taking from it. I notice that a lot of times while browsing reviews and opinions about my favorite games, very few of them ever mention the music. While I care about things like graphics, game content and combat mechanics as much as the next gamer, music matters to me too. From the jolly old tavern jig to the ominous war drums, the music that fits a particular mood in an MMO (or any type of game, really) can make a huge difference. Take Dragon Age: Origins, for example. The music from this game sent pleasant tingles down my spine from beginning to literally the very end as the credits rolled to the DJ Killa remix of “I Am The One”.

Holy crap, are the humans elitist!

When it comes to MMOs, I can still remember the feeling I got the first time I ran through the gates of Stormwind in World of Warcraft and this started playing in the background. This was the capital of the humans; you were supposed to feel overwhelmed by its size and majesty, and the music reflected that perfectly. My human warrior never felt more puny as I took my first steps ever past the statues of great Alliance heroes that lined both sides of the path into the city.

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Count Me In

January 11, 2010

Late last year, there was this. Then over the weekend, there was this. And finally, as I was sitting down to lunch today while browsing through the net, I saw this. I’m hardly surprised, considering all the great stuff I’ve heard about EVE Online recently. First published in 2003, the game is a player-driven sandbox MMO set against a futuristic sci-fi background, and boasts more than 300,000 subscribers all playing on one server. And that number is growing every day.

Jumping onto the band-spaceship and giving it a shot.

Enough is enough. As a game, EVE Online had been on my radar screen for a while now, but now I think I finally have to give it a try. So, I started my free 14-day trial account and in under an hour I was in New Eden going through the game tutorial. Already, I can tell that all the things I’ve heard about this game are true: it is unlike any MMO I have played before, and there’s going to be a steep learning curve. Clearly, there will be lots to do and I figure I’d better put those multitasking skills to good use, stat!

I’ll be posting more of my thoughts on this game in the next two weeks, but here’s what I noticed right off the bat–the community is amazing. For example, the rookie channel is constantly alive, full of experienced players providing answers to newcomers asking questions, so quickly that it made my eyes hurt to follow the conversations. Usually, as with any forum with a large number of participants and the inevitable troll or two, channels like these often quickly devolve into virtual feces-hurling flamefests, but it didn’t happen here. Helpers remained ever patient, obvious trolls were generally ignored, and even the most noobish but sincere questions were answered. I look forward to seeing more of this game in the days to come.

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