Archive for the ‘MMO’ Tag
Well, folks, in about 16 hours Neverwinter, the latest MMO from Cryptic and Perfect World will be entering it’s open beta phase of development. Past this point there will be no character wipes, though, so for all intents and purposes, consider Neverwinter launched. After all, the difference between a soft open-beta and a full-on launch is just bug fixes and patches, which happen all the time in MMO development anyway.
So once the floodgates open, we can fully start enjoying our time on the Tarnished Coast in all the glory the Dungeons and Dragons setting can muster (without really being very Dungeons and Dragons). But, to be honest, I’m a little apprehensive. I’ve spent a long time playing in Perfect World and Cryptic’s other games, namely Star Trek Online and Rusty Hearts, and the trend I’ve seen is a little scary. Namely, that the psychology behind relieving the player of their money is getting better and better.
Now, I’ve lived around gambling for quite some time. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia in the great state of New Jersey, so all my life I’ve been less than an hour drive to one of the USA’s great gambling meccas, Atlantic City. And now, Philadelphia itself has started to becoming a gambling destination of its own, sprouting up a few casinos in the past couple years. With my fascination of human behavior, this has led to a keen understanding of how the casinos are able to pull the money out of your pockets so easily.
And with the rise of Free-To-Play MMOs and casual mobile gaming, I’m starting to see the same signs invade our hobby…
Seeing Others Win
Have you ever put money into a slot machine, and even if you’ve won just a few coins the machine started whooping and hollering like a banshee? This is 100% on purpose. The noise and alarms that arise from slot machines is both for your benefit (You won! Woohoo!) but also for the benefit of others around you (Look! That guy won!). The draw of seeing others win with lights and sounds is a signal to others that they can win, too.
In games that use subscription models, this acts more like a Skinner Box, pushing you forward to your next dose of positive reinforcement. In Free-to-Play, though, seeing others win is an impetus to get where they are, and spending money is the easiest way to get there. In Star Trek Online, for example, whenever a lockbox is opened and the top prize is given out, a message goes out to the entire playerbase that you have won. Every… single… online… player. And there is NO OPTION to turn it off!
Giving you the option to do so would seriously hurt their income, too. Seeing others win is the biggest driver of sales of the lockbox keys, which puts money directly into their pockets. With the odds of winning being as low as they are, and the frequency at which people are spending money on keys to open the boxes… they aren’t going anywhere. Lockboxes make them money hand over fist, and despite the loud complaining about them, the players keep buying them, hoping for the big hit.
Playing With Points and Not Real Money
When you want to start gambling at table games, the first thing you do is head to a table and drop some money on the table. These are then replaced with clay chips that are used at the gambling tables. Universal, and nobody thinks twice about it. But really, they should! Why chips? Why have tokens that represent money? Well, for one, the casino finds it easier to transfer money en-mass and little chips are easier than stacks of paper. But the biggest reason is that, in the players mind, those chips stop representing real money. They become a plaything, a toy used in the transaction of gambling. The most I’ve ever dropped on a single hand of blackjack was $60. In chips, that’s two green $25 chips, and two red $5 chips. This was very easy to do at the time. If, in order to play, I had to pull three $20 bills out of my wallet and bet them on ONE HAND of blackjack… the better part of my mind would’ve stopped me. Those three $20s aren’t just bills… that’s food, gas, etc. However, in chip form, there’s a disconnect between the chips and real money.
In MMOs, the same goes with store points. Most games don’t do this, but Perfect World’s Zen has a direct 1:1 correlation with the American dollar. 1 Zen = $.01. So $20 = 2000 Zen and so forth. So that big Andorian Kumari Vessels 3-Pack that’s 5000 Zen literally translates to $50! However, once those bills are transferred into points, they don’t go into the same category as cash in your mind. And with Star Trek Online’s Dilithium or Neverwinter’s Astral Diamonds, even these have a direct correlation with Zen, which has a direct correlation with real cash. They become just another game currency, and as such, they’re easier to spend as your mind treats them differently.
Comfortability and Keeping You Active
In older casinos, finding clocks is relatively tricky. There is, however, a new thought of casino design that since people have easy access to a clock themselves, changing the environment to hide the outside world isn’t the primary thinking anymore. It’s more about being comfortable. If people are comfortable and they enjoy their environment, they will spend more. Roger Thomas, the head of design for Wynn’s Resorts has essentially reinvented the modern casino. Now, instead of a cave setting, Wynn’s casinos feature sunlight, opulence, and artwork. The key here is that a casino is now an adult playground, designed to be so comfortable that you’ll want to spend more time in them seeking whatever pleasures are offered. More time, afterall, equals more money in the casino’s pockets.
The same goes with MMOs. The more time you spend in them, the more money you will spend in a Free-To-Play game. And so, the key is to make the players as comfortable and as busy as possible, with reasons to keep coming back. Comfortability is easy. Players like the familiar, and are too thrown off by the different. If they see mechanics that they’ve seen in other games, they’ll find it all very comfortable. My recent review of the game posited that Neverwinter is really just a blend of other games, not doing everything the same, but not really adding to it, either.
And then keeping players active is Perfect World’s modus operandi, something they have perfected. How many times have I logged into Star Trek Online to stay for a few minutes, only to end up staying for an hour or more? From Forbe’s exultation of the game’s Landing Page and timed events to STO’s real-time Doff system or Neverwinter’s timed crafting system (like Zynga’s multi-billion dollar strategy), giving you stuff to do and giving you reasons to come back is paramount, and they do it well.
So What is The Future?
Really, it’s not going to stop. With Zynga opening up real online casinos, and Perfect World using casino strategies in their games, it will just lead to a bigger and bigger industry. Casino psychology has been around for ages and is only going to get stronger. Although Neverwinter is taking the chance by not offering a subscription at all, they know the psych game well and so it’s not really a huge risk for them.
You will find me periodically heading into Neverwinter, and I will most likely periodically be spending money there, too. If the game is fun, I don’t mind it at all… but always in the back of my mind is that itch. That little voice that says “The House Always Wins”. So, I don’t see myself spending tons of time in Neverwinter, maybe just a weekend trip here and there.
Just like a vacation to the casinos.
I know it wasn’t too long ago that I published a post all about how Diablo 3 was blurring the lines between a single player game and an MMO and I concluded it with this statement: “When all is said and done, the answer to whether Diablo 3 classifies as an MMO is really ‘No’.” I take it back. When I said that, I was under the assumption that the primary arguments were an auction house and “Always-On” play. Yes, an auction house needs a lot of other players to make it work, and Always-On play does make multi-player gaming a lot easier, but really, Diablo 3 has let loose the final trappings binding it to the single player genre.
I apologize for being mistaken before, but Diablo 3 IS an MMO.
Pfft… anyone can memorize that…
May I submit to the court a few pieces of evidence that clearly show that Blizzard has finally taken the final steps and have crossed the MMO boundary that they have been stumbling toward the entire time. First and foremost, a very strict No Cheating policy.
Now, in a game that not only has an auction house, but one where you can trade real money for in-game items, preventing players from cheating is a necessity. If one could create cash and items from thin air, then the concept of trading items in the form of an auction just makes the entire process futile. So, yes, I agree, cheating should not be allowed. This keeps everything fair between all of the players partaking in the auction house.
I want to go down on record as saying I’m not a fan of cheating in games, either. Game guides, boss videos, the whole nine yards, I consider it all cheating. But really, a game isn’t just about being fair to others. Since when do we all play a game for the same exact reasons? One time, while I was playing World of Warcraft, I wanted to pick up all the backstory from Warcraft 3, but I wanted to do so very quickly. So, every level I played, I cheated and gave myself full invulnerability. This wasn’t because I couldn’t get past the levels on my own, but I wanted to see the full story, and the sometimes hour+ levels were just getting in the way. So by cheating I was able to see every level beginning, every piece of dialogue in between, every level ending, and every cutscene. Having cheat codes allowed me to see the game’s full story in a quick, condensed manner. Did I get a huge sense of accomplishment? Of course not, but that wasn’t the purpose I was going for. Cheating in single player games allows players to explore the game on multiple levels and fairness never even comes up in the equation.
However, you cheat in Diablo 3, which does not claim to be an MMO and what happens? You get BANNED. Banned! Done! Thanks for the $60! Now maybe you will learn your lesson! Next time maybe you’ll think before your single-player game is taken away from you! This truly is the end of an era, isn’t it? Will we be sitting on our front porch years from now, playing our brain-embedded Google contact lens gaming system, telling our grandchildren about how we had “Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Select Start” practically programmed into our muscle memory? You know what those whipper-snappers will say, too, right? “Jeez, gramps, lame! I bet you couldn’t even feed your family and put down “World of Warcraft 5 Player” as your profession on your taxes!” (To which, you know you must reply “Get off my lawn!” to keep your retirement home street cred)
For all the ladies out there… who wouldn’t want the romantic heart of Griswold? Only $4.50!
My second piece of evidence is one that has been brought up before, but it needs a solid repeating: A Real Money Auction House! This… well, it honestly scares me a little about society. Not for the sellers, mind you, the sellers I can see this as almost being a genuine source of income (Taxes and all!), and so one could, if one knows the system first, end up making back the couple of Jackson’s needed to get the game in the first place, after taxes of course. (Why do I keep bringing up taxes? Well, as my good friend has so adroitly pointed out, not only are you held liable for reporting ALL income gained from using the auction house, but if you get any money back through PayPal, they are obligated to report that income to the IRS. If you don’t claim it, but Paypal says you do… well lets just say that you might want to get your paperwork in order for a forthcoming audit.)
Anyway, for players who ARE making some extra scratch from Diablo 3 I say “Awesome!” A good friend of mine even recently said that in a few weeks, he’s been able to net himself about $20 off of items sold in the auction house. You know, he was able to do what the alchemists of old tried to do and failed miserably… create gold from thin air. He was able to, using Diablo 3′s auction house as a medium, turn a digital axe he found by the pure luck from a random number generator, and was able to sell it to someone else for more money than you could sell an old lamp at a yard sale. Wow. If this doesn’t make your head spin and show you exactly how much Diablo 3 is changing the face of gaming, then you’re really not paying enough attention.
Now let me go ahead and fire up Final Fantasy X, get a nice drop from this giant bird-like creature and… wait… I can’t trade it for some Taco Bell? Oh that’s right! There are no other players to trade anything to! To have that kind of market, you would need a lot of players… a Massive amount of them, one would say, and the storefront better be an Online entity. A Real Money Auction House can really only exist in an MMO setting. Too few players or too little exposure to it, and the destruction of foreign policy and the world’s litigation won’t be worth the cost of having it in the first place.
Seriously, if you haven’t read this… you need to.
Finally, for my last piece of evidence, a quote from Blizzard’s own mouth, that Diablo 3 lacks a “long-term sustainable end-game”. Sustainable end-game? This right here, aside from the huge other two pieces of information, just seal the deal. Now, having a replayability factor is very good for a game. It allows you to play the game through a second or third time and play with a different ending, or a different playstyle. But to just come out and say you’ve attempted to make your game with a “sustainable end-game”? Sorry, guys, just come out now and admit that Diablo 3 is an MMO. Admit it! If what lay for me at the end of every game was a treadmill-style gear grind just to be able to play more and more dungeons, I think I’d give up gaming forever. If you watch a movie… it has an ending. If you read a book, it has a final page. If I play a board game, there is a winner and a loser. If I play a single-player game, I want to be rewarded with an epic ending cutscene! (I guess by not having a solid ending, they were hoping to avoid the Mass Effect 3 fiasco). But it comes down to this… no ending, no single-player.
In conclusion, in the case of the Players vs Diablo 3, I hope you find that with the evidence strongly presented here to you today to find Diablo 3, with it’s strict No Cheating policy, it’s Real Money Auction House, and an admittance of the attempt for a “sustainable end-game”, that Diablo 3 should stop trying to pull the wool over it’s clients eyes and just admit that alongside World of Warcraft, Diablo 3 is Blizzard’s second MMO.
I rest my case.
P.S. – It sounds like if Diablo 3 can’t find itself a very good sustainable endgame solution, that it might end up…… getting burned.
It wasn’t long ago that I wrote a post on how single player games are being treated more and more like MMO’s by the gaming community. Well, Blizzard has, with its latest offering, blurred the line between the single player game and MMO even further. Is Diablo 3 a single player game? Yes… and no. Is it an MMO? No… and yes. Here are some reasons showing the similarities of what can make Diablo 3 a new breed of MMO.
1) An auction house. First and foremost, Diablo 3 has an auction house. An auction house is a feature found in almost every MMO on the market. A place to barter, buy, and sell from other players, an auction house is essentially its own form of PvP. Buy low, sell high, corner the market on iron ore, etc. Diablo 3′s auction house takes a new twist by selling items with not just in-game funds, but also real money. Find an item you think would sell well for real money? Post it on the region’s auction house. If it sells, Blizzard takes a $1 off the top. If you then want to transfer the money to a PayPal account, Blizzard takes another 15% cut off of that. It’s a nice little racket Blizz has going there. Considering the drops in the game are randomized, if you play enough and find enough high quality items, you could potentially make Diablo 3 a side job! I wonder, though, how many people are going to claim any money made through the auction house on their taxes…
2) Public Play. When it comes to playing the game, you have a few options. You can play it solo, you can play it with friends, or you can set a “public” option and play with complete strangers. Playing with complete strangers is the cornerstone of the MMO. Sure, you eventually form guilds and then play with just your guild, but you usually find those guilds at first by playing with the random public, and Diablo 3 lets you do that.
3) Always On. You have to have an “Always On” internet connection attached to Blizzard’s servers to play Diablo 3. Blizzard recently just had the equivalent of “launch day blues” where on the day the game launched, it had multiple problems and the game’s server crashed. Usually, this wouldn’t be a huge deal for a single-player game, but for Diablo 3, it is. Certain features that Diablo uses, like the auction house or public areas lend credence to needing to always be connected to the internet and in this day and age, most of us ARE always connected to the internet. However, the internet isn’t always perfect. Comcast (or whoever your service provider is) could have some downtime, your router or modem could fail and you’d lose internet for hours or even days. Blizzard has essentially said “Too bad” to this, and demands all systems be connected at all times, just like an MMO. The difference is that an MMO’s primary content and focus is online play. A single-player game? Well… not so much. My good friend Tushar over at Technical Fowl has quite a bit to say on this matter, and you should check it out.
I’m 37, I’m not old!
4) Class Reveals. Diablo 3 has five distinct character classes: Barbarian, Demon Hunter, Monk, Witch Doctor, and Wizard. Nothing like choices to fit multiple styles of play. However, each individual class has had its own separate reveal. Now, this could be an indication of a new age of gaming, in which every little scrap of information about an upcoming game, MMO or not, is heavily consumed up to and well after a game’s release. However, this is a trait that has primarily settled in the MMO space. Guild Wars 2, for example, spent months dragging out their multiple character classes, with each reveal showing videos, ability breakdowns, and a ton of screenshots. I didn’t see Skyrim flaunting its Battlemage class or that the Rogue (my preferable Elder Scrolls class) was a class being brought back, but every class in Star Wars The Old Republic got its time in the spotlight, and this is something new for single-player games.
5) MMO News Sites Can’t Make Up Their Mind! Have you seen Massively, lately? They initially placed anything relating to Diablo 3 in a “Not So Massively” tag, relegating it just like any other games that are popular, have multiplayer components, but aren’t as massive as they could be. However, as it got closer and closer to launch, they almost dropped the tag entirely and started giving Diablo 3 just as much space as other MMOs, sometimes even giving it the “Free-To-Play” tag. Its absolutely true, Diablo 3 has no subscription whatsoever, but then again, neither does my copy of Ultima VII.
When all is said and done, the answer to whether Diablo 3 classifies as an MMO is really “No”. The ability to play completely solo with nobody else around, even if you still have to be connected to Blizzard’s servers, takes a big ‘M’ away. However, by adding features never really dreamed up in any other single-player game before, Blizzard is setting a new precedent, and like it or not, we may see new single player games released from here on out change as a result.
Lets just hope they keep the necessary online connection to a minimum.
This past weekend I was lucky enough (read: pre-purchased) to be a part of the Guild Wars 2 Beta. Guild Wars 2, if you do not know, is one of the most highly anticipated upcoming games in the MMO genre. So how is it? Not bad at all.
After a long and exhausting weekend (still have the sunburn to prove it), I was able to log in and play for a few hours this past Sunday. I started out by rolling something I probably would never really play just because I knew the characters are going to be wiped and I wouldn’t feel like I lost much progress. I created a Norn Mesmer, a master of psychic manipulation and mental dominance, and a REALLY big guy, too.
The first thing I did once I got in game? Crank the settings WAY down to their bare minimum. Now, I don’t have the biggest and best machine. In fact, it’s probably getting time to replace a part or two, especially the 8 year old processor, and this game is a big indicator of how soon I should do it. Most other MMOs I have no problems with… LotRO and STO, for example, I can play on almost full settings. This? Yeah, not so much. However, if this is what it looks like on the lowest end, I’m really impressed. On high end machines, this game is going to be gorgeous.
So how is the gameplay? I’m going to try to avoid things that normally happen during betas. For instance, they don’t normally turn all their servers on and run them at full speed. Afterall, this was not a stress test. However that simply can’t be done. The lag was the biggest issue, and whether the lag was server side or client side, I really couldn’t tell. Get in a group of more than five other players and the number of frames per second bottomed out. So how many big events have only 5 players? None. They all have around 50 players all at once. I ended up having to find a decent range weapon just to be able to participate in larger battles (which for a Mesmer ended up being a two handed sword. Interesting choice, but there ya’ go).
When I was able to solo a bit or land in small groups gameplay was terrific. The game flowed very smoothly, from one area to the next. I would approach a “heart” and start completing tasks nearby to fill it up, once full a reward of experience and favor is received, which can then be traded for upgrades and other items. Filling up these hearts, which are pretty much everywhere, is a fun endeavor but its roots are still firmly felt in the quest hubs of other MMOs. Instead of picking up a quest to collect 10 snozzberries, instead you just start collecting them and then dump them off at an NPC. Instead of getting a quest to kill 12 mushbuggers, you just start killing and the heart starts filling up automatically. So, I wouldn’t say the “quest” is dead in Guild Wars 2, but I would say its a new approach to it.
Periodically you’d also get a notice that a new event is happening nearby. Awesome! Now, I haven’t played Warhammer so I can’t tell you how it’s similar/different there, but I have played Rift and can give a decent comparison to it’s public rifts. In Rift, it always felt like the rifts were getting in the way. You’d head to a quest hub, pick up a few quests, complete them, start heading back, and a rift has taken up residence right on top of the quest hub. Rats. Ah well, you have to clear out the rift to turn the quests in. Or you’d be travelling down the road, and a group escaping from a rift crosses your path, stomps all over you, and keeps on running to whatever destination they’re heading for. In other words, in Rift the rifts just got in the way. I couldn’t keep playing as I found myself time and again becoming frustrated with the things that were the star-title of the MMO! In Guild Wars 2, however, there are no static quests per se. There is an overall storyline, but there is no quest to really get in the way of. So when a public event is going on, theres nothing against just dropping everything that you’re doing and heading on over. Those hearts can be filled later, and are purely optional to proceed in the first place.
However, heading over isn’t necessarily the best option. Some public events reach quickly a sort of ‘critical mass’. Any more than 5 or 10 players, and not only does lag then become and issue, but the amount of fighting you’re actually doing becomes chaotic and frenzied. One of the true highlights I encountered during my play session was in a small out of the way part of the Norn starting area. I came across a Norn bragging about how he could have the inhabitants of a cave worship him, then asked you to escort him as he went ahead and did it. First, you clear out the cave a bit, then once that part of the chain was done, you had to find enough ice for the Norn to use to carve a huge statue of himself, and finally once that part of the chain was complete you had to watch his back while he carved it. Once done, the statue did as he predicted and amazed the cave inhabitants, turning them all peaceful. I’m sure after a period of time, the statue of ice melts, the creatures become hostile once more, and the cycle starts over. THIS is the beauty of Guild Wars 2. If I hadn’t been in that place at the right time, I would never have seen the event. It was all done in passing, and since I had no pressing “quests”, felt no qualms about joining in.
Something I noticed that drew a lot of attention from players was the leveling down mechanic. If you leveled to say, level 8, which wasn’t a hard thing to do with enough events around and you stayed in the Norn starting area then the highest effective level you could be was level 4. You stayed level 8, but were effectively leveled down to the content. A lot of players complained about this as they were hoping to be stronger, come back, and face-roll the early content. I can see that… have it make the early stuff much easier to accomplish with a stronger character. These people must not have played Guild Wars before. Guild Wars is one of the most difficult MMOs I have ever played. Their Halloween event I found to be the most difficult and challenging set of quests I’ve ever experienced. So why should ArenaNet turn around and trivialize some of their content? Right from the beginning, all content becomes a challenge to be overcome. If you’re at max level and come back to the starting area, you might still find it a challenge. Personally, I LOVE this feature. It basically says ‘Hey, we’re not going to let some higher level just walk around and trivialize your battles and we’re not going to necessarily make it easy for you, too. If you want the reward, you have to earn it.’ Yes! Finally! A game that has the stones to Not reward childish behavior, that makes All content a challenge. If you want to be successful at Guild Wars 2, then you better learn how to play it and play it well.
Overall, I can’t wait for the next beta event. Though the game is not perfect, it IS still just in beta and a lot of tech problems most likely will be solved by the time the game releases. The gameplay fits right into my style… solo if you want, but grouping is easy as cake. No pressure to join up if you don’t want to. Just play. Will the game be a hit? Most definitely. Will it be able to topple the biggest MMOs out there? Thats still on the fence. It’ll take a chunk out of their playerbases, but people really enjoy paying a subscription. I think ArenaNet, though, doesn’t realize how big of a hit it has on its hands and better start priming the servers for more and more people.
This game is going to be huge.
This thought came to me the other day. Over the past couple of months we have seen a few big franchises release some pretty big things. Bethesda’s Skyrim and BioWare’s Mass Effect 3 spring to mind. It struck me that the gaming community isn’t treating these games as single player games anymore. They may be single player, and you may roll through the storyline by yourself, but the community refuses to play it alone.
“I used to be an adventurer like yourself, but then I took an arrow to the knee.” Where is this line from? Unless you aren’t a gamer or you are and have been living under a rock, the line comes from Skyrim. I love the Elder Scrolls series, but I haven’t purchased Skyrim, and yet knowing the origins of this line is common knowledge. We also know that “Fus Ro Dah” are words of power, that the companions are notoriously oblivious, and that you could even play a Tower Defense style mod inside of the game. Again, I have never played Skyrim. How do I know all this? The community.
Now, I have an active Twitter account and I frequently check my Google Reader’s RSS feeds, and soon after Skyrim released there was a giant influx of information. The line above was quickly turned into a meme and was soon found everywhere… Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, heck probably even Pinterest and other media outlets. Not just that, though, but all updates and articles seemed to all revolve around Skyrim. Everybody was playing it, and not only that, but everybody was playing it and comparing their progress. People were telling others about new areas or secrets, showing off video of impressive feats or tricky encounters, hundreds of status updates invaded social media. Everyone was playing the same game at the same times and letting everyone know what happened. Then, a week or two later, it died down… the articles on Skyrim stopped flowing and status updates started turning back to more mundane topics.
After the lull, another game reared its head… Mass Effect 3. Once more, social media and blogs exploded! Within days of the game’s release, power levelers had completed the game, just in the attempt to be the first to do so so they could help others/brag/etc. Once they did, they let the community know it. Then, complaints started rolling in on how terrible Mass Efect 3′s ending was, and then within a week it became a significant problem, such to the point that BioWare is altering the ending!
So… this looks familiar… where else have we seen memes come from games, powerleveling pros, and having the community come together to voice their displeasure? Not to mention having the producer turn around and alter their product? Oh yeah! MMOs! Pretty much every MMO that has ever come out, too.
In today’s world, whether we are playing a single player game or MMO’s, we’re reaching out more and more for community involvement. Lots of players I know prefer to solo in MMO’s, and thats cool. I’m one of them. They like the community to be there, but they prefer to go it alone. A friend summarized it best this way (and I paraphrase): “Sure, you could rent a movie and watch it by yourself, but I prefer to go to the movies and be around others, experiencing it with them at the same time, even if I’m not there with anyone I know. Its all about the social experience.”
P.S. – By the way, you can find me on Raptr, which is quickly becoming a favorite service of mine.
He often used to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep and every path was its tributary. “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.” – J.R.R Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
This passage is how I feel as I begin to write the first entry of this blog. Trepidation, fear, but also excitement. First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to stop by. Let me introduce myself. My name is Mike, and I live in a small suburb of Philadelphia where I live currently with my wife of almost two years and a quite plump cat. To be honest, its a good life we have.
In my spare time, I do a ton of activities, from following sports, to fixing computers, to playing Ultimate Frisbee, to my primary hobby: gaming. I play a variety of every style of game, but I especially like MMOs. For those who do not know what I’m talking about, an MMORPG, or MMO for short, is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. Essentially, its a game where you develop a character in a setting that is filled with hundreds or thousands of other players all doing the same thing. It adds a dynamic to your standard video game. Instead of going into the dungeon alone, you can grab friends or complete strangers and tackle the dungeon together. You can buy and trade items from other players in a shifting game economy. You can lose yourself in conversation and end up doing nothing more in a gaming session than just sitting in the game’s main city.
I first became interested in MMOs with the game that is currently sitting on the top of the MMO hill, World of Warcraft. I played it for about 5 years off and on. The world of Azeroth boasts huge numbers. The latest figures state a gaming population of about 10.2 million players. Relatively, thats comparative to the size of Haiti, or the 82nd largest country in the world. Huge. However, to me the game over time lost its lustre. I fell in love with the genre, but out of love with Warcraft. I started to read MMO blogs and news sites, taking in all that I can and then expanded my horizons with many more games… Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online, Star Trek Online, Fallen Earth, and Dungeons and Dragons Online just to name a few. Because I play so many games, I have taken on a very casual, exploratory style of play. I take my time, I like to see what’s in the corners of a zone, I like to climb that hill, I like to go into that forest or cave just to see what’s there. I like to jump from game to game, too. In a sense, I’m a MMO nomad, a wanderer. This blog will not mainly be about MMOs but will also focus on other games or just anything related to gaming in general.
Yet, I feel it’s time to take my relationship with MMOs to the proverbial next level. For years, I’ve been a consumer, reading articles and opinions, listening to MMO podcasts, and taking every quest and event the developers could come up with. It’s now time to take all of that MMO experience and give it back to the MMO community. I’m what is considered a “casual” player. I’m not into the big time consuming endgame raids, I will never give up my life to play, I just fit the MMOs in where I can. This is a universal style, though. To a degree, everyone is “casual” at some level and it is this perspective that I write from.
The last class in composition I took was way back in high school. I am not a writer by trade, as I’m sure you can tell, and do not expect to make a living from this. I write because I feel passionate about the genre and feel that I can make a difference. And if you have the ability to make a difference, then why not do so.
Most of my entries will not be as long as this one. They will mostly be thoughts or ideas or observations I come across in my gaming travels. I plan on periodically releasing a gaming journal, chronicling my explorations, including all the many screenshots I take along the way. Hopefully you’re as big a fan of screenshots as I am.
Again, thank you very much for coming to this site and for taking the time to read my scribbling. If you have any suggestions for entries or feel like getting in touch with me, please do so either through my Twitter account or email me, you’ll find my contact information below.