Archive for January 11th, 2010

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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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Hardcore vs. Casual

January 11, 2010

I was perusing one of the many MMO forums I frequent today, and came across a discussion on what it means to be a casual player vs. a hardcore player. It was interesting, to say the least, to see what others had to say about the subject.

The most common definitions I saw revolved around the issue of total time spent playing. Some considered the amount of actual effort invested, or tried to measure casual-ness/hardcore-ness in terms of “devotion” or how much you “care” (if such an endeavor is even possible). Others defined it in terms of one’s willingness to achieve. In other words, do you play solely for the loot and other in-game rewards, or do you do so for other reasons, such as socializing? Still others believed that the difference lies in skill.

The fact that there are so many opinions out there tells me that it’s totally subjective. No matter what you do, someone somewhere will always think you are either more hardcore and more casual than they are. However, I do know a couple things. Firstly, hardcore/casual cannot simply be based on the amount of time you log into a game. You can spend hours and hours playing, but if one believes that progression is the ultimate goal in a game, then someone who spends all that time just chatting or bouncing around different alts can hardly be considered hardcore. I also happen to think skill has very little to do with the matter. It’s true that the more “hardcore” players tend to be more knowledgeable and skilled, but it’s also unfair when “casual” players are immediately labeled as noobs who know nothing.

Here’s what I ultimately concluded: casual and hardcore are opposite extremes and in reality, very few people actually weigh in far on either side. Most people fall in the category of the “average player” and trying to classify them as hardcore or casual is futile. I don’t understand why that as time goes by, one feels forced to identify with one camp or the other, yet is it one of the most common questions I see asked in surveys and even on guild applications.

That said, I’ve always referred to myself as a casual gamer, but I think I’ll stop doing so. After thinking about it, I’ve realized that the terms “hardcore” are “casual” are useless descriptions as everyone has their own ideas on what they mean, and labeling yourself one or the other will only invite judgment, and often unfair ones. Tell me if these sound familiar. If you’re hardcore, then you are a sad, pathetic antisocial virgin who has no life outside of your parents’ basement. If you’re casual, you’re a lazy, clueless whiner who wipes groups and wants the best things in the game spoon-fed to you without having to lift a finger. Damn, you have to wonder why we bother with these terms at all.

In the end, if you feel you have to, then perhaps it’s more relevant to think of hardcore and casual as states of mind, or approaches to how you play a game. In a way, this makes it more of a description of your personality rather than your gaming style.

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