Now, it is a rare occasion indeed where I feel so compelled as to let people know what I’m doing in terms of gaming. Because to be quite honest, I doubt any of you care. More often than not, I don’t think about what everyone else is playing. Tobold might be finding the time of his life playing Hello Kitty Online, but it doesn’t mean a lot to me. Syncaine is playing Darkfall? Whatever. Unless you are doing something so amazingly out of this world that you’re actually not even playing an MMO, but are instead locked into the Cyberspace of the internet because you tried to shove a fork into a USB port, I’m probably not interested. Rather, I am reading to hear your theories and thoughts, hopefully something profound. Perhaps it is a bit hypocritical of me to say, since very rarely do I say anything concrete, but I do like to believe that there is something we are trying to convey to people. Using your blog as just a form of twitter without a word count isn’t really all that great. Drop it.
Unless you actually have something you want to say about the game’s mechanics or style, let’s try to keep it real. “I’m having fun” doesn’t help me at all. My sister is still probably having fun playing Web Kinz but I’ll be damned if I think that her having fun on it will equate to me enjoying myself on it. Some men may enjoy wearing high heels or other women’s clothing, but again, that doesn’t mean I want to go and do it. Why are you having fun?
Surprise surprise, this does relate to what I was previously saying. As I recall, I do believe Ethec over at Ten Ton Hammer did a post about feeling cool in an MMO (Though, from the sheer length of the newsletter he may very well have a post about existing in the universe). In particular, he said he felt cool grinding in Aion. Now, this had very little relevance to me at the time, because even as an Aion player I never felt particularly special during the grind. In the end its still a grind to me. That said though, I must speak of something far different, for recently I began to look at Champions Online. From the things I heard, I went into the game with a very heavy heart. However, I was amazingly surprised to find that all the words of mediocrity washed away to become instant moments of glee as I finished using Cryptic‘s famous character creator, and popped into the game. Never mind the impressive graphics, but I was amazed at how I just felt a degree of joy that seemed to stomp all over my experience in Aion. And when I became aware of this, I became horribly frustrated.
Was this just the new rush that I felt from playing a new game, why did I enjoy this compared to another game? The cutscenes perhaps? No, they were few and far between. The cheesy voice-acting? Certainly not. And I pounded away as I looked at the game. Perhaps I really enjoyed making a superhero. I did enjoy City of Heroes a fair bit after all, and that did seem to be a logical similarity, and became my conclusion, though I felt sorely unsatisfied with my answer. Only when I looked at the tag of a simple gray enemy as I passed through the tutorial area that suddenly Ethec’s article came to mind that I was able to piece two and two together. And what was the tag of the simple gray enemy you might ask? It only said, “Henchman”. But the concept worked all too perfectly as I pondered on it further. One thing that Cryptic had mastered so perfectly was capturing the feeling of being a hero. The costumes and graphics helped a lot, and the combat was good enough, but I had for ages failed to consider the importance of the categories of enemies. So many games have us fight creatures one at a time, sometimes two, maybe three, unless you are an AOE fighter.
In both the “City Of” Games, as well as Champions, we would fight countless henchmen before meeting the boss. But we would fight these creatures in packs. The base concept of many an Online Role Playing Game of Massively Multiplayer origins involved you fighting one enemy at a time. When has it ever been okay to pull in a Raid? Never, to my knowledge. There is a very precise limit to how many enemies you could fight on par at your level. In both the hero games though, you can take down countless weak henchman on your own, and only does it become a one on one fight as you take on the apparently equal supervillain (Or hero) that stood in your way. By the end of that, I truly felt like a hero, a step above the rest. It may be mostly psychological, but Cryptic struck a gold concept that needn’t remain just in the Super Hero genre. This was briefly touched upon by the early Tabula Rasa until the developers felt that players were burning through enemies too quickly, which would ultimately make content too easy to progress through.
Conclusion: More fodder, more special feelings!