This is a thought exercise I saw in Rock, Paper, Shotgun a while ago. It is one of those posts I've been meaning to write for a long time but... uh...I kept getting distracted and didn't do it.
Anyway! Here is the hypothetical situation: Imagine that one day there is some weird cosmic event that wipes all games from existence. Not only that, anything related to those games is also wiped: game boxes, manuals, magazine articles, sites, etc. Even people's memories of those games existance are gone. Except you are given the choice of saving one game from this gamepocalypse.
Now think carefully about which game you want to choose. First because it will probably be the only game we'll have to play for a while. Secondly since it will be the "first video-game in the history of humans" it will influence a lot of developers in the short term as they try to figure out this new medium and on the players as they come to expect games to have features like that one.
I gave a lot of thought about which game I would choose but right now the only one I can think of is Morrowind.
Yes, I know there are lot of other games who do story or gameplay better. But I have quite a few reasons why I'd choose to save it from annihilation.
Recently, Syl linked this music video from Chrono Trigger. Besides this giving me some warm, fuzzy feelings it also made me want to replay Chrono Trigger. The last time I played it must have been about 20 years ago, when I was still a teenager. Back then I didn't appreciate it as much as I should, just like many games of the time. I mean, I knew it was a good game back then but due to a combination of factors I just treated it as just another game to be played. There are a few reasons for that I think, the first is that like all things at a certain point in time we never consider that it may change. In this case, I never ever stopped to think there might never be other games like Chrono Trigger. I thought games like that would end up being made until the end of time. Or at least they would only get better and better. That the games that would be developed from that point, that even my tastes and gaming systems would change so much over the years were not something I ever considered.
Then there were the fact that I don't think my english (which is my second language) was still very well developed back then. Mix that with it being a rental that I would only keep for a day, maybe two, didn't give me much of a chance to appreciate the story or the characters.
All that makes me think of how much I missed, not only of the games I did play and forgot so much about, as well as a lot of other games that for a reason or another I missed.
Seems like the fashionable thing to do in the blogosphere right now is to make a list of planned games to play in 2016. Although I am not fashionable by any meaning of the word I still thought it might be fun to do. :p
Anyhoo, like any kind of list like this there is no absolute guarantee I will follow it. But these are definitely the games that have been in my mind lately therefore making them the most likely for me to play next year, even if it is just in the first few months of the year.
I haven't played any MMO for months. I just haven't been in the right mood for them. This is also unlikely to change in the following months. Still there has been a few that have been swimming in my head in case my mood changes.
Final Fantasy XIV - At the time of Final Fantasy XIV relaunch I found it just wasn't for me. To be fair, it isn't like they lied or anything. A Realm Reborn was exactly what they were promising for months when the whole thing was announced. It just wasn't the kind of game I wanted to play back then. Still I have a lot of respect for them for being honest and communicative about what they were playing. Plus it was exactly what the game needed, not to mention much better than it was before. Again, it was just a case of not being my type of cup of tea back then.
And despite all that I still miss the game world. There was a certain beauty and artistry to it that few other MMOs have managed to rival. So it makes me wonder if it isn't worth just dealing with the parts that I don't like much to partake in the parts that I do like.
Guild Wars 2 - My relationship with Guild Wars 2 has been complicated. I never really disliked it but I stopped playing for various reasons, part of them being a depression I was going through and my friends disliking the game and leaving it. So much time passed, so many changes went by that I just found hard to come back. But recently I have been reading "Sea of Sorrows" a novel based on the game that tells the period when Orr rose from the bottom of the ocean and Lion's Arch turned into the place that it is today. This novel has been making me really miss my charr, my asura and other characters. So I think it is about time to leave behind all the complicated emotions I got associated with the game and move on with it.
The Repopulation - This is a game that I got more because my friends are interested into it. But there are some interesting features about it plus it is a Sci-Fi game. I am all for playing games just to check what kind of interesting, unique features they have. The fact it is also a Sci-Fi game might be a good change of pace from all the fantasy games I have been consuming the last years too.
Single Player Games
There aren't that many games I am looking forward in the 2016 but these are all games I am drool just thinking about them.
XCom 2 - When the first XCom was announced I was apprehensive. There had been so many shallow and soulless remakes of classic games. I was afraid XCom would just be another one of those. Nothing could be further from that. XCom turned out to be able to keep the spirit of the original game as well as being its own thing. And with XCom 2 it seems they are taking all the good parts of the first one, adding a bunch of new cool stuff and making it much bigger and better. I also like that the sequel goes from the premise that we lost in the first game, the aliens conquered Earth and now we are rebels that have to take it back. The only thing I find funny is that for some reason the XCom organization wants the same leader who lost everything to begin with to come back to lead them. I mean, doing such a terrible job does not lead much faith that this time things will be different. :p
In any case, this is the game I am most looking forward to in 2016. 🙂
Deus Ex: Manking Divided - I loved Deux Ex: Human Revolution. It was a pretty fun shooter/stealthy game with a decent story and good characters. There were some parts the story just didn't work out so well for me and the required boss fights were silly. But at least in the latter they seem to have learned their lesson and there will have a lot more freedom on how to deal with bosses in the second game. As for story... I am not sure I buy the premise of it but at I am willing to see where it goes before judging it.
Dinivity: Original Sin 2 - I kickstarted the first Divinity: Original Sin by a recommendation of a friend and because I liked what the developers said in their campaign and in interviews. Turns out this was a pretty good investment since the game was one of the best RPGs I played in quite a while. So when they launched a Kickstarter campaign for the sequel I backed it up without a second thought. The day this game will be released can't come fast enough! In the mean time I will just have to content myself with playing the Enhanced Edition of the first one and following every update of the development of the second one!
My crusade against my backlog of games may never end but there are a few I really want to get out of the way as soon as possible.
Dragon Age: Inquisition - When this one was released I was feeling a big fatigue of Bioware games, to the point I wasn't even sure if their games were the kind I enjoyed anymore. So I decided to sit this one out, see what other people thought about it and if it turned out I liked what I heard then I would buy it whenever it had an Ultimate/Game of the Year/Super-Uber-Duper-Really-Complete Edition of the game AND it had a nice enough discount. Well, that happened and I Intent to play it... as soon as I recreate my first (and cannonical in my head) character for Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2 since I lost those saves and I want to see what kind of impact their actions had for the third game. Yes, I know I could just use the Tapestry to set the major decisions but it is not the same thing. :p
Fallout 4 - Kind of in the same boat as Dragon Age: Inquisition. The difference being that I hated Oblivion and Fallout 3 to the point that Bethesda dropped of my list of "Developers That Makes Games I Enjoy". Skyrim helped to regain my trust in them somewhat but I was still skeptical about Fallout 4. Even more so when they announced that the player character would be voice acted. Considering how Bethesda's dialogue goes it just didn't inspire me with much confidence. Still, from what I hear they did quite a few things right with Fallout 4 so I am going to do the same thing I did with Dragon Age: Inquisition: wait for a definitive edition, that contains the base game and all DLCs, to be released, wait for that to go on sale and just then buy it. The only annoying thing is to avoid all interesting discussions about the game until then. :p
Pillars of Eternity - I tried to begin playing this game a couple of times. Although I loved what little I saw of the story and characters I just had trouble with the "Real Time With Pause" combat. You see, I hate "Real Time With Pause" combat. It isn't as good as actual real time combat, much less Turn Based combat. It is the main reason I was never able to get into the Baldur's Gate games (don't ask me how I got into Icewind Dale back in the days. I have no idea). Still, I think this is one of the cases where it is worth just sucking up the bad parts because the good parts are so good that you will be remembering them for years.
The Witcher - No, I am not forgetting a number in there. It is the actual first Witcher game. You see, I really want to play the Witcher 3. But before that I want to play the first and second Witcher games. And my problem with the first Witcher game is that the combat mechanics are just clunky. I can see what they were trying and there were some good ideas in there. It is just the implementation is just not that good in my opinion. Still the story seems good, some of the characters are interesting and if Witcher 3 turns out to be just as 10% good of everything I hear then it will be more than worth to deal with any terrible mechanics its predecessors may have.
I think those are the major games that I want to play next year. There are a few others of course, but I don't have as much strong feelings about those games as these ones. And to end this off, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a happy New Year and all the best in these holidays! 🙂
Until recently my usual tendency with games was to binge on them. That meant playing a single game to the exclusion of any other games. This had the advantage of having a higher chance of me finishing said game, which considering my ADD and history of unfinished games is a big deal. The downside is that there is a high chance I will instead burn out of the game and only coming back to it months later when I don't remember anymore the controls or what I was going to do next. Not the best of positions to be in.
I decided then to try something different. Instead of just playing one game to the exclusion of all others I'd instead try to mix things a bit, playing a bit of one game then playing a bit of another the other night, just mixing things up to see how it goes. Initially I did it with Batman: Arkham Asylum and Tomb Raider. Then decided to add The Sims 3 to the mix. So far it has been working well. I found that Batman and Tomb Raider are excellent games for this style of playing games as I can just finish a zone or getting to a certain story point and stop for the night, feeling fullfilled. I also keep getting a nice progression through both games. The Sims 3 is a lot more tricky. Since there is always something I am planning to do, to build or to see how the game reacts to it I just find it harder to find a good point to stop. I have to actually make take a look at the clock and decide to stop rigth there otherwise I will keep playing without noticing how much time has passed. :p
Now I am thinking about adding Everquest 2 to the mix just to see how a MMO would work with it. I am also wondering if having a rotation of more than 3 games would work out well for me. My concern is that I might ran into the same issues with The Sims 3, of always having something to keep me busy on it, that I will return to my bingeing tendencies. If it does I will have to come up with a better way to do this. We'll see how it goes!
Recently I read a couple articles about Gaming and Self-esteem (part 1, part 2) at Gamers Decrypted (go read it! It is a pretty good blog!). It made me think about my weird relationship with tank classes in MMOs. It is so weird that it really makes me think if I have some kind of masochist tendency.
But to explain it perhaps I should break into what I love about tanking and the things I hate about it. It might still not make any sense but it will probably be less rambly than if I just try to write into one big piece. Also, keep in mind this all related to group content. Solo and raid content is a completely different matter. In fact I don't even like raiding so I couldn't even make any commentary about that.
Last week Ravanel made a post about the trophy she got from beating a raid boss and some of the loot she got out of it. (Or at least that is the impression I got. Sorry, I don't play SWTOR so I might have completely misread it!) At tthe end she asked readers if they showed off their trophies too or special mounts they earned. So I thought about making a post about my trophies collecting habits in different games. I think this can be an interesting topic as different people have a tendency to collect different things in-games where that makes sense. Perhaps it will be more clear what I mean during the post.
It all started with a sword...
Back in Morrowind there was a sword called Umbra that had a pretty infamous story about being made to trap souls and her creator being executed for creating such an evil item. The sword was also known to be very picky about its owners. So far, not anything all that original. What I think stuck in my mind is that in Morrowind it was held by an orc wearing a very neat set of armor and who called himself Umbra too.
If you talk to him he tells that he basically lived a very intense life of combat but at that point he was just tired of it all and wanted to die. Since this is an orc we are talking about he obviously wanted to die in combat, which the player can accept or not (You can read the whole dialog here). It was a very tough fight but very worth it for getting Umbra. Since then I sort of started getting in the habit of trying to get Umbra with every one of my characters, regardless if they would use it or not. It would just be a memento of an NPC I was fascinated with.
This week is Developer Appreciation Week! For those who don't know what it is, here is a summary: It is a way to remember that, yes, the developers are also humans and they also share the same passion as we do for gaming. After all, why anyone would work in an industry as volatile, to put it mildly, as the gaming industry when they could work be working on a much more stable and better paying industries? Because they think they can bring something awesome and entertaining to other people's lives, even if it is just for a few hours. That is why they put the kind of crazy work that is required to bring a game to market.
And as players we also love to discuss games, their mechanics, changes made to them and even complain. Unfortunately we also forget too easily to show appreciation to these people who bring us so much entertainment. That is the purpose of this week, where individual bloggers make a post to show some love for the developers of their favorite games.
Everybody who played games at some point spent some time thinking "If only this game had feature X from game A and feature Y from game B it would be the perfect game!". Obviously MMOs are not immune to that kind of thinking, in fact, Massively had a column called MMO Blender where the writers would describe their perfect MMOs if they could mix and match features from different existing games. This seemed like an interesting exercise in thought so I decided to create my own FrankenMMO too. I will be just sticking to the mechanical parts though because genre and setting are like ice cream, they are all good in their own ways. While mechanics it is much easier to discuss in an objective way and debate the merits and flaws of each one.
I will try to give examples of games that has the features I am talking about but I am pretty sure I am missing tons of examples. So keep that in mind, please.
Oh, and if anyone needed proof that I should not ever be put in charge of designing an MMO (or any game, actually) then this will be it. Unless someone wants to make the Titanic of MMOs, in that case I am your man! :p
Recently Joseph Skyrim of JVT Workshop made an interesting post about the Halloween event in Age of Conan and the way they presented its story. Basically, he says that since the story is told mostly in instances and the events are a lot smaller in scale it feels like his actions mattered more than in the traditional tropes of MMO where you only feel as much of a hero as the next Joe who slayed the big villain of the week.
That made me think about my recent experiences in Everquest 2 and how what may be a shift for their way of storytelling made it feel like my actions mattered more in that game. So this post will be about that and my thoughts about the other ways that I've seem stories told in MMOs through my years playing them. Keep in mind I am not claiming any of these are factually superior or inferior to each other. It is more some thinking aloud and sharing my feelings on these methods. If anything it might be a starter for a good discussion.
Another thing to note is that usually MMOs nowadays employ a mix of all these methods with varying results. So there isn't any reason any of them should be mutually exclusive nor would I want that. To me they are all different tools with their effectiveness depending a lot more on how the developers uses it than their particular nature.