Musings

If all games ceased to exist but one…

Morrowind Title Screen

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.

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Animes I have been watching: The Games Edition

Keita Amano holding a controller

As much as I love Final Fantasy XIV just writing about it can be tiresome. So I thought I’d do something different this time and write about the animes I’ve been watching recently.

They all happen to have a theme of games too so this make it even more interesting to write about.

As of the time of this writing I am not sure if I want to make this a regular feature or just this one post. It is something I will need to think about.

Anyway, here are the series I’ve been watching:

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Going through the nostalgia lane

The narration of Icewind Dale chapter 1

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.

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My love-hate relationship with tanks

"British Mark IV Tadpole tank". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:British_Mark_IV_Tadpole_tank.jpg#/media/File:British_Mark_IV_Tadpole_tank.jpg

British Mark IV Tadpole tank – Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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.

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Collecting trophies in games

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.

Umbra, the orc in Morrowind

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Developer Appreciation Week (DAW) – 2015

Logo by Belghast

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.

For a much better explanation, check out Rowan’s post at I Have Touched the Sky.

Ok. With that out of the way, here are two of the countless games I am grateful for:

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My FrankenMMO

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

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Musings about storytelling in MMOs

A journal of someone who had to deal with Qho

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.

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