I remember purchasing my first cell phone. I was so thrilled by the idea of being in connected from “land lines” that I would call people as a prank when they were with-in touching distance. I would call the “land line” or their cell phone only to laugh at them as they realized it was only me calling. The novelty took a while to wear off me, having something to do with the subsequent bill that I received, and i am sure all my friends wearied of it long before I did. I thought of this today in my musings of how complicated life can seem to get. By no means am I implying that technology has complicated my life or made it any less enjoyable. I am a self admitted “techy”, I love new shiny things that whir, beep and twerp. I simply wonder at the innocence of a simple prank facilitated by the unwired format of the cell phone. It served the same purpose, it even had the resemblance of the same form as a wired phone, but simply allowing the freedom to roam anywhere with the phone gave me a thrill beyond measure. Perhaps I will go stand next to my wife when I get home, call her as I carry on a conversation of how our day was, to simply play a prank on her.
So I have steadily been advancing my character in WoW. He is now lvl 77 and oh so close to being maxed lvl. I have made a goal for myself to be maxed level before I leave as I am unsure if I will be able to play once I am out of the States. I am really having a good time with it though. I have been trying to do at least a random a night in order to accrue emblems for my eventual ability to wear Tier Gear. Perhaps because I am of closer level to others I play the game with and they are not having to drop everything they were doing in order to help me in my endeavors or I am simply playing with a more relaxed attitude and even the PUGS I find, enjoy the time spent with them. I have heard from many countless people such as the podcast “The Instance” or back when I listened to the “Drone Bay” while playing Eve, that it is the people you play with and finding a good group of people to play with makes a game experience completely different. That is the reason most of us play MMOs in the first place vice playing stand alone roleplaying games. I just find that the community in general is great to play with in WoW, as opposed to the other games in the past. I have had the great experience of being in a guild, but do not have the time to devote to any game that I did in the past so making connections with others in a guild has been very difficult if not near impossible.
I write about this simply because many of my other writings have found me musing about the longing for complex and deep games, yet I put forth that you would not have the depth of community, or the ability to fall in with others who are willing to allow you to grow at your own pace if the game was as in depth as those games of old.
I have also picked up a game for my iPad which I had originally played on the computer via Steam, and had liked it there, but fell in love with it on the iPad. Osmos is what I downloaded, and it is available for the iPhone/iTouch as well. This is a very relaxing chill game with the, smooth calm soundtrack that accompanies gameplay. I sat this past Saturday awaiting an upcoming UFC fight playing the game while a friend looked over my shoulder watching as my little blue nuclei grew with every absorption of lesser nuclei, totally getting into the game with me. So much so he went and purchased it for his iTouch.
It’s this new mood of gaming I have transitioned into that I am absolutely astounded by. The ability to sit back and to relax with pout having to stress over what’s next or what I could be doing in said game, and really really enjoying my gaming experience.
I had used to think my self on the cutting edge of gaming. I would anticipate a games release, often times trolling through the local Gamestop, or Best Buy multiple times through a week awaiting the arrival of the fresh game. I have not set foot inside of a Best Buy or Gamestop in over 6 months. Most of this is due to my, again late, utilization of Steam. As of this writing I have not looked at Kotaku or any other gaming related news in over 2 weeks. I just don’t seem to have the time to stand right at the forefront of gaming newness. Perhaps it is simply maturity, but I am not finding it as much as a loss as I would have at one time.
I am currently experiencing Wrath of the Lich King content in WoW for the very first time. The beauty of the landscape and the soundtrack that accompanies it, have me constantly coming close to death due to stopping what I am supposed to be doing (protecting myself from that overly aggressive grizzly bear gnawing on my arm) and simply sight-seeing what the designers of the game have engineered for us.
This got me to thinking of the way in which we consume games now. I was brought up owning maybe one game a year to play on my Nintendo or Atari, even later on into life as I made my own money, owned my own gaming consoles, I partook of gaming in a moderate fashion, spending the time to finish a game or at least sink in numerous hours before moving onto another game. That is until I started playing MMO’s. I feel the nature and spirit of those games have leaked over into the gaming world in general. Constantly striving for the next conquest, next boss to down, anticipating the next expansion with all its content to explore and again conquer. Not to mention the “down” time in between expansions in which you looked to other games to occupy your time. I would start playing games for only a number of hours to move onto the next game as the game did not have the depth and richness that an MMO has to completely sate my appetite. So I would move onto another game in the hopes that I would find the fullness that I gain from MMOs. I went from having one game a year to 20+ games a year.
These days my priorities have shifted to my family and career, where I don’t always find the time even for my MMOs, but I am finding that my appreciation of my games has increased. I still buy and play a number of games a year, but I find myself spending more time in them playing them either through or just devoting more time to them to try to experience what the designers have given to us.
I sit here in an internet cafe, fighting to stay online long enough to finish a quest in WoW, constantly battling disconnection and death due to them. Growing ever more aggravated with the lack of WiFi stability, I finally log off for the night, and consider what I used to do in order to log onto a game. I can remember hearing the whirs, bleats, clicks and beeps of the modem as it fired up connecting to our ISP to play EQ. The times where I could just not log on due to lines being busy or when I was able to connect my computer online the data transfer was not large enough or stable enough to even launch the game. I used to scream at the “you have been disconnected” window, as it logged me out in the middle of an “Inny” fight.
Oh boy when I upgraded to DSL I was golden! I was still playing EQ at the time, and I can assure you that life was grand.
So now here I sit with a cable internet connection, granted not a dedicated connection for myself, or one that has particularly high bandwidth, or even a router that is configured correctly to allow Blizzard in all its might the thoroughfare required to enjoy WoW, and I reminisce of day gone by, when I longed for the oh-not-so distant future in which we would be connected at lightning fast speeds and completely stable connections.
Suddenly my connection issues this evening do not feel so big anymore.
Originally I was going to post about the episode of “Shut Up Were Talking” in which the crew discussed whether a fantasy MMO would ever be able to become mainstream or “triple A” again. I was going to discuss the relevance of how MMO’s are never like the very first we played. Then today as I was driving home I was listening to one of my other podcasts, “Gamers With Jobs“, where they were talking about a post on their website in which the writer had finished ME2 and become weary of the Grand/Epic story in which your character saves all of existence. I can understand a desire to have a more intellectual, cerebral experience in our games. One in which we come to have a connection with our characters, and the supporting characters in the game, not because of the time spent developing her gear or skills, but because we have on some emotional level made an investment with our character. In many ways that was the reason most of us fell in love with MMO’s, because we confused time spent leveling a character, grinding out to the next carrot held on a stick in the form of shiny purple armor, as an emotional investment. Could you imagine the MMO that actually had a story line/game play that allowed us to make actual morale decisions which affected our characters impact on the game world. Little cherub MMO cupid would come strike us all in the heart once more, and give us the “stickiness” that we all seemed to have with our favored MMO’s.
That being said, while we hold out hope that the game which will give us all a calm ooey gooey center again, happy with our digital wonderlands once again, instead of looking for the next big thing on the horizon, let us not forget why we game. We want to be that super hero who saves the whole of existance. Larger than we are in our everyday comings and goings. Much as movies who have large explosions, and a muscle-bound, witty, hand cannon carrying numb-skull, with a buxom blonde on his arm give us a sense of adventure, so do these games. Let us enjoy them for what they are, and perhaps not take them so seriously. I personally would not want to have a game that was too serious. Much as I do not enjoy watching the news, because it is too heavy to deal with, I would not want to spend my past-time in a similar world, even though it be make-believe.
I have recently found myself in awe of the writers, podcaster’s, and game aficionados (as I prefer to think of ourselves) that have so much time to devote to this wonderful hobby we share. Where do they find the time to not only play all the games that are coming out right now, because we seemed to be bombarded by so many great games right now, but also to podcast or write about it all. I recently suspended my WoW account simply because I wanted to enjoy other things that were out there. I still have the itch to play the game, I want to finally have a max level character in that game, but simply want to play other games right now. My consoles have been laying idle while I have been playing on the PC, only to be used by my daughter watching Elmo’s World. How do they do it?
My pile of shame is growing with alarming alacrity, and it has nothing to do with losing interest in the game of choice. It is simply time.
So I have been playing Mass Effect 2 recently, and enjoying it very much. They have trimmed a lot of the fat from this iteration of the game, leaving a little less of the RPG aspect to the game, but bringing in more of the shooter feel. While I do not have much love for shooters outside of Halo 3 or Unreal Tournament, it definitely has lent a new dynamic to the game, that I wasnt even aware that I was missing. I found myself in the original game blindly shooting, allowing my “stats” and abilities to supply the necessary accuracy needed to eliminate the enemies. It adds a welcome challenge to the game. At first I felt that the slimmed down ability trees would detract from my enjoyment of the game, because I love depth in my games. I have not found myself wishing there was more yet though. Often times in the original game, I found myself bogged down with too many choices and options. Here I feel very well balanced. The abilities I have, give my Shepherd a feeling of power, and a variety where they do not become too overused. It had been a while since I played the original game, and I find myself lost at times, trying to remember who characters that approach me in-game are, after almost 2 years since I had played ME1. That has really been my only drawback to the game. Hopefully this does not become another added to the pile of shame.
I have been listening to Shut Up We’re Talking, and it has become my favorite gaming podcast. I really enjoy how they are very knowledgable of gaming and speak from a “gamers” perspective. Yes the guys over at 1up are gamers, but have so much industry insight that I find myself zoning out at times, or not having as much knowledge as those who have spent countless more hours than myself. They incorporate interesting topics, and fun guests making it a joy to listen to all the way through. They brought up a topic on searching for games that have sticking power and how they don’t seem to hold us gamers like the used to that I want to try writing about next time.
In the mean time back to some ME2