Ramblings of a Cynic

I don’t normally do personal commentary type posts, but as I’ve started to take this whole blogging thing a lot more seriously than before I figured what the hell.

Lately I’ve been expanding my blogging posts beyond my originally themed idea for this site. Instead of focusing entirely on MMO design and theorycrafting I’ve found myself drifting to other topics like single player games and even recently tabletop games. I suppose the only reason for this is the fact that I have yet to find a new MMO home.

Part of me wonders why this is the case and I’m hesitant to admit to it, but recent blog posts by the MMO-community have made me revisit certain topics. I began to wonder if my current status of not playing an MMO is due to how critical of late, I’ve become of the MMO genre as a whole. Perhaps my critical nature of finding flaws in every game has forced me out of a genre I once use to be borderline addicted to.

I have listed, on my about page, over two dozen MMO’s that I’ve played in any semblance. Its a long list, and one I use to wear as a badge of honor. Yet, in retrospect I would of preferred a list that contained only a handful of titles. Why? It means that my time within each of those worlds was lengthy, meaningful, and that I was content. Instead my list reads like an ADHD addled bunny, hopping from one title to the next. Never satisfied.

When I look back at my experiences in those titles there are absolutely memorable experiences I do not regret. Shadowbane, for all of its terribleness still holds a special place in my heart because the experiences it provided were truly memorable. World of Warcraft, despite the fact that Blizzard makes it and I’ve grown to hate what it now represents (homogenization/simplification of the genre), still was my home for 6 years. The experiences in every game that I’ve now grown apart from were memorable, even if the time spent in them was short.

So I guess this is the point where I admit that perhaps the MMO genre has grown so stale and uninventive that I’ve simply outgrown it.

Then I come to my senses and realize most of my criticism is dead on. That my moment of being MMO-less is actually a symptom of a greater problem with the genre. In every intellectual properties quest to secure the holy grail of subscription revenue (of which only Blizzard has truly been successful), we’ve lost more then we’ve gained.

Games like The Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar, while both being perfectly acceptable and honestly made games, haven’t really pushed the gamer into new challenges. What new innovations have these titles thrust into the MMOG genre? Telegraphs? Really? Yet realistically World of Warcraft didn’t really innovate when it launched.

Perhaps my growing distaste of TESO and Wildstar is merely me begrudgingly accepting the fact that Themeparks are seemingly here to stay.

Am I wrong in being disappointed?

#cynic #mmo #reflection

3 thoughts on “Ramblings of a Cynic

  1. Perhaps it’s both: you’ve outgrown the genre, AND the genre isn’t innovating quickly anymore.

    MMOs are one of the most complex genres out there. Compared to platformers, puzzle games, first-person shooters, and so on, how much evolution of those platforms has occurred in the past few years? Not a lot outside of borrowing from other genres.

    We’re privileged to have lived in the exciting time of rapid development in video games. The boom over the past 30 years has seen technology develop so quickly that developers just couldn’t keep up. New genres were created, with new game mechanics, new stories and new ways of expressing your vision. All of that “new” kept us happy and busy, but also perhaps set us up for false expectations for the development of video games for the far future. Things have slowed down in recent years.

    Is that to say there’s no innovation left to be had? Certainly not. There’s plenty more left to discover and play with. But I think the initial boom may be over, and compound that with the whole risk-vs-reward of AAA big-budget games, you’re not going to likely see too many new concepts out of large studios. Hell, even a lot of indie-games aren’t that edgy or experimental, just slight variations on previously explored themes and mechanics.

    But at the end of the day, if you’re not having fun, you’re not having fun. There’s no shame in that. I don’t play platformers anymore, despite loving them to death when I was younger. I just found the genre doesn’t hold a lot of appeal because it’s more of the same with each release. And that’s okay. Plenty of other people still enjoy them, and new people discover the genre everyday. So I move on to other games that I’d like to play instead.

  2. I think you are right on to be disappointed. I went through similar issues, thinking that maybe I had just become too unaccepting of certain things. While I recognize that may be a contributing factor, there really hasn’t been any game to capture my attention even beyond petty quibbles.

    For example, I put a full month into the Final Fantasy relaunch, hit max level on two classes, got pretty well into a class weapon, and realized: this is boring.

    It wasn’t a bad game. There were a lot of elements I did enjoy. Dungeons were pretty good, as were most of the Boss fights. Only, the classes were dull, far too simple, and the roles were even more scaled back. CC was of limited use, Support was largely non-existent, etc. It was the worst kind of trinitarian design where there are just those three roles and that’s it.

    It’s not like our wants are complicated. Decent, cooperative player with classes that are accessible enough that everyone can play them on a basic level but with enough added depth so individuals can excel at specific things. Don’t throw out systems like Threat, Support, and CC just to make things hyper-accessible: improve them.

    Every new MMO sacrifices depth for more distractions. The end result is a watered-down soup that’ll feed many but won’t leave anyone satisfied.

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