A Tour of Non-WoW Games
Although I took last week off of blogging, I certainly didn’t take that time off WoW. There was a little guild drama, a new boss down (remember the mountains NOW, Thorim?), and one of my officers got hacked and wiped out the guild vault. The worst part of the hack incident is just how little I could do about it. I booted the offender out of the guild (well after they cleared out the vault, alas), put in a ticket, and followed them around Sholazar making rude faces as they mined on my officer’s alt. We should have everything restored by the end of the week, but it’s no coincidence that every single other active officer, myself included, currently has an authenticator in the mail.
Change your password regularly, keep your computer protected, and consider buying an authenticator, because having someone use and abuse your character like that is pretty disheartening.
Anyway, blessed with a three day weekend and a fair bit of spare time, I also managed to play a lot of OTHER games this weekend. Some were MMOS or RPGs, some just puzzle games, but I figured I could write a bit about Things You Can Play When You’re Not Playing WoW:
Plants vs. Zombies
Popcap Games is the fiendish company behind such brainsucking timewasters as Bejeweled and Peggle, and I say that with much love. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, the little “you lose” noise from Zuma echoing in my brain. Plants vs. Zombies combines three of my great loves — Popcap, zombies, and tower defense — so it’s no surprise that I liked this a lot. The gameplay is relatively simple in concept, but detailed in execution: pick your plant weapons (“wallnuts”, peashooters, smashing gourds) and hold off the invasion! By the time I went to bed on Friday, every time I closed my eyes I could see rows of happy sunflowers and lillypads.
Kingdom of Loathing
A friend got me into this game over a year ago, and occasionally I still curse him for it. Kingdom of Loathing is a very text-y browser-based RPG with heavy doses of puns, stick figures, and almost completely inscrutable quests. It’s free to play, although if you enjoy it I highly recommend dropping the $10 on a donation and making your character un-deletable. It’s turn-based, which means it’s good for a time-limited schedule. Once you’ve used your ~40 daily turns you’re done adventuring for the day. On the downside, once you use your ~40 daily turns you’re done adventuring for the day.
Classes include Accordion Thief and Turtle Tamer, and you regularly engage in fights with things like Ninja Snowmen at the Orcish Frat House for a pair of Filthy Corduroys. The gameplay can be infinitely deep or infinitely shallow, but as a warning the quests (particularly the level 11 quest chain) are insanely complicated. Keep the KoL Wiki handy, and take the time to look stuff up. You never know what you’ll stumble across.
I used to always say I’d never play Eve Online because I just couldn’t get into having a spaceship as my character: “Can my spaceship wear a cute hat? Because otherwise I’m not interested.” So I was surprised at myself when I decided to download the free trial. And then kind of exhilarated once I logged in — everything was so confusing! I am quite often very driven by curiosity and wanting to understand how things work, so Eve’s totally different gameplay style caught my interest. What are those symbols? What does that guy do? How do I go there? Oh crap, why is that thing shooting at me?! (One thing that stood out is Eve’s default UI, which lets you ‘minimize’ windows.)
Keep in mind I’ve only played about six hours of this game, barely enough to figure out how to stop ramming random space debris, but I can definitely see the appeal. One of my guildies joked that Eve Online is more like a “MMOSpreadsheet” rather than a “MMORPG”, and I have to admit a little spark appeared in my eyes when I pondered becoming some fancy Corporation head, with an army of miners or pirates or politicians at my disposal. However, there is no WAY I have time to properly dedicate to Eve right now, so I’ll likely just let my free trial lapse in peace. It would definitely be my runner-up choice to WoW at this time, though.
The exact opposite of Eve Online: cartoony, easy, not time-intensive, simple interface, and every character has a variety of adorable hats. Free Realms was created to be kid-friendly, and everything you need to know about the cute factor can be summed up by the character creation screen, where your choice is limited to human or pixie. The point to the game, as far as I can tell, is to run around and do a variety of mini-games (very similar in theory to the stuff you’d find on Popcap) to level up jobs and obtain even more adorable hats.
Free Realms is very simple, but fun, and I like puzzles a lot. However, it’s really missing the “MMO” aspect of an MMORPG. While we’re all together in this virtual world, there’s no chatter between players, no quests that require grouping, and I haven’t even figured out how to tell who is a player and who is just a drifting NPC. One thing I did find amusing was all the similarities to WoW, right down to obtaining “greens” for better gear.
This game is, as the name implies, free, and I’ll probably keep playing it on occasion as a good source of casual puzzle games, but it’s certainly no WoW-contender.
So there are more games out there than just World of Warcraft! At the end of the weekend, though, I found myself back on WoW, doing my dailies, running a raid, chatting with guildies… I guess there’s no place like home.