MMOs are dead and I don’t feel so good myself

Every so often I get an angry message from a reader that can be boiled down to “well, like, that’s just your opinion man”. And it’s true! All posts here are totally my own opinion, including this one.

A couple of weeks ago Ellyndrial wrote a post about how he’s been having a hard time getting into MMOs lately, WildStar in particular. He got a number of comments from folks who feel the same way, and I’ve seen a lot of people all over the internet saying the same thing: WildStar (as the latest game) is really well made and a great MMO, and they just can’t get interested in playing it.

I have always resisted hopping on the “MMOs are dead” bandwagon, but lately I’ve been changing my mind. When we have a game that is widely declared to be fun and yet an ever-dwindling number of people who agree with that can be bothered to play it.. well, that’s a pretty damning indictment.

And on a personal front, I find myself being slowly left alone in yet another game. As a serial monogamist with MMOs — I may change games, but I like to have one at a time that I’m quite dedicated to — I have been through this before. People trickled out of WoW, then out of SWTOR, then RIFT, then WoW again, and now WildStar. I guess I’m finally accepting that this is just the way things are now.

And so once I’m done with WildStar (whenever that may be, I haven’t even hit 50 yet) I’ve decided that I’m done with MMOs.

(“But ArcheAge!” friends have said, but while ArcheAge is a great game it requires social support more than most MMOs, and I scoff at the idea that players are actually willing to involve themselves to that level.)

I don’t want to go through it again. The hype before a new game, or as somehow a game starts to get a critical mass of players. The feeling that this may be it, maybe this is the time that people stick with it and we can put down roots like we did before. Maybe this time we can play together. It’s happening! It’s happening! It’s… shit.

And good on you folks who like playing solo in MMOs. Power to those of you who are happy running LFR and never wish you could be doing the content with friends. I may not understand those of you who hop to a new MMO every six weeks — don’t you ever get tired of restarting? — but you seem to be having a good time and that is what it is all about.

But let’s face facts, MMOs are a dying breed. Maybe the target audience is just too old and has too many responsibilities to feel any obligation, however so minor, to a game. Maybe people get their social interaction from Twitter and whatever instead. Maybe people never really liked MMOs, they just liked WoW. Someone said to me recently (and if it was you, thanks!) that “WoW created WoW players, not MMO players” and I think that is absolutely the truth. Some of the folks who just stopped logging in to WildStar one day are already back in WoW, in fact.

I played MMOs to be social, to achieve things with friends, to be part of a community, but I’ve realized that these things don’t exist any more, or not for many of us. Whole essays have been written in the last few years on how people don’t want to be social in their games.

If a game can be well-made and fun and interesting and yet people who acknowledge that still aren’t interested in logging on, then what hope does the genre have? After much consideration, I don’t think I want to stick around to find out the answer.

This Week in Liore
Jul27

This Week in Liore

I borrowed the idea for this post from Mr. Murf Versus. He said I could!

gamesyouguys This Week in Liore

 

In Hearthstone I seem to have found my equilibrium at level 18 in ranked. Last night I played for three hours and after a few runs up and a few back down I ended up exactly where I started, two stars into 18. All of my ranked games are with an aggro pally deck that’s heavy on 1-drops, but I feel like I’m missing some firepower if the match gets to mid-game so I might need to revise.

In WildStar I’ve been plugging away to level cap, hitting 47 last night. That opened up the Malgrave Trail adventure, which is apparently patterned after Oregon Trail. Even more importantly, though, I got to level 26 in Scientist levels which means my first piece of mount flair! My hoverbike now has a turnip in a specimen jar on the back. I wish WildStar had non-combat pets, but being able to decorate your mount is pretty satisfying on the cosmetic front.

ireadthis1 This Week in Liore

 

Herding the Masses on ArcheAge and the Path of Predictability. Also Geek Sprinkles on Why This Carebear Thinks ArcheAge Shouldn’t Have a PvE Server.

Jenny Reads 50 Shades of Grey.

The Bloggess on Women Who Are Ambivalent About Women Against Feminism.

inthekitchen This Week in Liore

 

Going to a Farmer’s Market is dangerous for my time and my wallet, particularly at this time of year. So much amazing produce, and I want to cook it all! I have three recipes to share this week, although unfortunately thanks to the necessities of curing and pickling I can’t confirm how good any of them are for another couple of weeks yet.

Peach and Lemon Thyme Freezer Jam
Pickled Beets from Epicurious
Gravlax with Mustard Sauce by Ina Garten

watchthis This Week in Liore

 

I’ve been watching Slowbeef play Dark Souls on YouTube. This is definitely a “second monitor” LP — it’s not that gripping on its own, but Dark Souls was such a phenomenon and has been so lauded for its storytelling devices that I wanted to see what the deal was.

On the other hand, the Slowbeef and Lowtax playthrough of ancient Sierra game Phantasmagoria (referenced frequently by Arolaide on the podcast!) is totally worth the primary monitor.

In non-game news this week I started Fringe, which is available on Netflix. It’s a lot like Supernatural in format, if a little more dark and serious. I’ve just about finished season one and I’ve been quite enjoying it, if nothing else for John Noble’s delightful wacky scientist routine. I’ll be interested to see how the show does in their second season once the characters have gelled a little more.

blogstuff This Week in Liore

 

This week on Herding Cats I talked about my favorite Hearthstone cards and how Draenor’s Garrisons are not housing.

The comment highlight goes to Tesh from the latter topic, who said:

“It does take a special kind of courage to effectively say “screw you, player base and industry at large, we’re doing what we want to”. The interesting thing is, players buy it anyway and subscribe anyway.”

I dislike how downright mocking Blizzard has been over the years towards “fluff” systems like costumes and housing. It’s okay to not think a system is right for your game, but they’ve frequently given off the vibe that anything that isn’t serious war orc business is for babies and I find it irritating.

socialnetworks This Week in Liore

 

I don’t post on Google+ very often, but it “Auto Awesomed” some of my photos from last night’s Celebration of Light fireworks here in Vancouver and I really like the effect:

20140726 222342 MOTION This Week in Liore

Meanwhile on Tumblr I posted this amazing Sailor Moon fan art.

sailormoon 500x301 This Week in Liore

And finally, real talk on Twitter about Pacific Rim:

Hearthstone: Naxx arrives and my favorite cards
Jul25

Hearthstone: Naxx arrives and my favorite cards

I’ve started getting back into Hearthstone this week with the arrival of the new Naxxramus PvE experience. Blizzard started out with the Spider Wing this week, and it was available free to everyone. So far I’ve knocked off the three normal mode bosses without too much trouble and the two class challenges. The latter in particular are really fun and are more of a Hearthstone-themed puzzle than anything, which I enjoy.

I’ve also poked the heroic mode bosses with my existing constructed decks, probing for weaknesses. And while my actual moment-to-moment play is getting better I think (rank 18 so far, wooo) (that’s good for me okay) the heroic bosses just remind me that I’m so far behind the curve when it comes to actually creating decks. I think most nerds have played at least a year or two of magic in their misspent youths, but somehow it passed me by.

Like, I can figure out that because Maexxna is a big cheater who spams an ability that returns your cards to your hand, I’m going to want a deck heavy in spells, charges, and offensive battlecries. But what mana curve is best? What should I mulligan for? (I just recently learned that this is a thing good players think about, and even have different mulligan “goals” depending on the class of the opponent.) Do I need much churn? There’s a lot of trial and error — play a game, replace two cards in my deck, try again.

I’ll get it eventually. In the meantime, below is a list of five of my favorite Hearthstone cards. Note that they’re not all great cards to play — I’m not knowledgeable enough about the game to put together that list — but whether it’s their art or audio cue or ability, these are the ones I enjoy playing the most.

Keeper of the Grove – I just crafted this feller a couple of days ago and the flavor text cracked me up: “These guys just show up and start Keeping your Groves without even asking.” Damn Keepers, get out of my Grove!
TwistingNether Hearthstone: Naxx arrives and my favorite cards

Twisting Nether – I do not have this card myself, but I have had the gold version played against me. It’s so pretty I almost didn’t get mad when all my minions died. Almost.

Defender of Argus – I think this card is pretty hot right now in most decks, and with good reason. Aside from the usefulness, it’s extremely satisfying to play: one 4-drop gives 1/1 and taunt to two different cards. Feels good, man.

Defias Ringleader – By far the best audio cue. Beat it!

Knife Juggler – Assuming you can keep it alive for a turn or two, this is by far my favorite card to play. It is just so much damn fun to throw it down and then back it up with a bunch of 1-drops to wreak havok on your opponent’s best laid plans. A good session with a Knife Juggler makes me cackle with glee, and I can’t ask for much more than that from a game.

Garrisons Are Not Housing, Even If We Wish They Were

Massively has a pretty fierce takedown today of Garrisons in Warlords of Draenor, the next WoW expansion. Author Eliot Lefebvre seems disappointed in almost every aspect of the feature, saying, “[Garrisons are] a half-baked Facebook game integrated into the leveling experience. Except those usually give more housing options.”

Dang, dude. That’s cold.

I’ve played with Garrisons a bit in the WoD beta, and to be honest I don’t find them very interesting. They’re essentially the farm from Pandaria combined with SWTOR’s companion crafting quest system, integrated in a way that makes them mandatory while levelling. I don’t feel any particular attachment to my Garrison, and the focus is more on function over form.

That all being said, I think more than anything Blizzard is dealing with a pretty serious perception issue here: Garrisons are not and have never been housing, and people who are expecting housing features are going to be very disappointed.

If you look back at the original feature announcement at Blizzcon 2013, to their credit Blizzard shied away from using the h-word. Garrisons are a “personal fortress” that provide “a piece of land to call your own”. They allow for customization of “layout, appearance, and gameplay effects” with “a number of configurations”.

The only documented time I can see “housing” come up is in a comment by Tom Chilton during a panel on the first day of Blizzcon where he said, “Garrisons are the World of Warcraft version of housing…integrated directly into the world.” In retrospect he probably shouldn’t have used that word, but the phrasing is enough to provide a little wiggle room in interpretation.

(Side note, but this is the Tom Chilton who said in an interview in 2010 that “housing will be introduced to World of Warcraft some time right after “never”.” That’s the same attitude the company had for years about a costume system and oh gee, transmog turned out to be one of their most popular new systems ever. Dorks.)

The media and player interpretation of the Garrisons announcement sort of skipped over the details and went straight to housing. GameSkinny, for example, lead with the headline, “BlizzCon Announces Player Housing“. Even WoW Insider, arguably the most Blizzard-friendly news site, reported the news as “Player housing in Warlords of Draenor“, although the article itself correctly states that the feature is more like a Real Time Strategy minigame than anything.

Garrisons are not player housing, even if we wish they were. They are a personal quest hub, the farm writ large. Anyone who approaches the feature expecting player housing is going to be very disappointed. And I understand that disappointment! I would have loved housing back in my WoW days.

But as much as many players might want housing in WoW, this is not it, and as Blizzard has repeatedly shown disdain at the idea of implementing anything approaching the housing in RIFT or WildStar or Everquest II or even Ultima Online I think for the foreseeable future this RTS clicky thing is sadly as close as we’re gonna get.

Friday Five: five guilty pleasure movies

Often I take issue with the label “guilty pleasure” because entertainment media is created for you to enjoy, so you shouldn’t feel bad about enjoying it. Not every movie has to be a highbrow experience, nor every book an ancient classic.

While I love cult horror and sci-fi movies in particular, I am not ashamed and I will recommend these movies to anyone I think will enjoy them. There are some movies though… I’ve seen them many times, and I will watch them on a rainy day when I need a pick me up, but I know in my heart that they are objectively terrible. Usually I will deny ever enjoying them.

But being circumspect about my bad habits is no way to run a blog, so here are my deep dark guilty pleasure secrets. Have a great weekend!

1. Charlies Angels (2000)

You could subtitle this film “the 90s movie” because it is so much a product of its time it almost hurts to watch now. Crispin Glover! Music-video-style editing! Electronica on the soundtrack! Weird winky fourth wall breaking! Sexy girl power! I love this movie to bits and will fight anyone who says otherwise in a kung fu battle set to Firestarter.

2. Accepted (2006)

Justin Long and Jonah Hill in — wait for it — a wacky immature comedy! There is just something about this movie that makes me happy. Maybe it’s the underlying hippy message that everyone has something they’re good at, and there’s a place for people who don’t fit in to the system…. maaaaaan. Plus Lewis Black! I’m not made of stone.

3. House on Haunted Hill (1999)

Hollywood puts out a ton of crappy PG-13 “horror” movies, most of which are not worth watching. This one though… okay, it’s still terrible! Don’t watch it! But I really enjoy it. There is just enough weird scary stuff to be interesting, and meanwhile Geoffrey Rush has clearly given up and is ACTING, DEAR BOY to keep himself entertained. And in the end ghost Chris Kattan shows up and then pow it’s too late you just watched the movie.

4. The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)

I just realized that 40% of this list is Vin Diesel movies but I’m not sure if that says more about his career choices or my taste in films. Anyway look, this is a terrible movie, particularly because it’s the sequel to a pretty great movie (Pitch Black). But then Vin fights Karl Urban in a ludicrous cosume while ghost Judi Dench watches and I am like, “Oh right, this movie is amazing and please don’t tell anyone I said that.”

5. The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Much like main bad boy Dominic, I too live my life a quarter mile at a time. Totes.

Bonus TV Show: Gossip Girl!

Amnesia and identical twins and secret identies and emergency trips to Paris and sudden drug addictions and tiny sassy hats! I love me some Gossip Girl. PS: Chuck + Blair 4 lyfe.

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