As the gamer generation gets older (not that I would admit I’m old) we are scouring the internet for quality games that we can enjoy with our kids. To my joviality there are catalogs of games that include the exact factors I have learned to value in gaming: Character development and customization, stories that go deep, and some even take place in universes WE have loved from a young age (Star Wars, Marvel, etc…).
With browser-based engines, and mobile gaming where it is we should have seen the “World of Warcraft” for kindergarteners by now. The problem is that the companies that are creating these fantastic games are doing TWO things wrong that leave me not trusting nor willing to pay a dime to play them.
1. Cookie-Cutter Content
I understand that games for young kids will need to have more repetition than those made for adults. But that doesn’t give a developer an excuse for one-dimensional gameplay. There must be, at least, an opportunity for more difficult and skilled situations to push the player into growing beyond button mashing, and a purely offensive mindsets. As a grown man with a bit of experience and cognitive thinking I BETTER be superior than most others I’d play against in a game made for elementary students.
2. Charging for Everything
In an attempt to reach a larger clientele and giving people a trial run before they pay anything, developers have created a double tax. You can play most of these games for free, to an extent. If you want to progress above a beginner however, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee. This unlocks more areas of the game, and the ability to level higher. I’m OK with monthly fees. BUT, they have another fee! The “Item Mall” is a place you can buy items to customize or make your character more powerful, for a small fee of REAL WORLD money. You don’t have to buy these items to play the game, but they make certain things only available in the Item Mall. Like transportation. You can only buy the convenience of faster transport in the Item Mall. Oh! And the best items in the game are only available in the Item Mall. Pretty soon you find yourself unable to beat things you are equally leveled with. Pushing you to make an exception to your “NEVER buy from the Item Mall” promise! But then at the next level you must make the same exception, and so on…and so on…
I say pick one, and stick with it. If I’m paying a monthly fee, DO NOT charge me for content beyond my membership. I’m not going to let my kid play a game where the richest (or most frivolous) players are more powerful than the most skilled and dedicated.
Of course there are exceptions to these issues. But what I’ve found is that games that lack these issues are poorly made, and not of a good enough quality to play.
The wait is over (at least for those of us that preordered like normal human beings). But already I’m noticing the same old barrage of comments about how World of Warcraft (WoW) did “this” better, or “that” better. I agree. There are things that WoW has done really well. Many things. That’s why it changed how people view MMO’s. The people who I interact with in The Old Republic (TOR), have stopped playing WoW years ago however. So why did you stop if it was so amazing?
Here’s the reality: it got old. But they don’t like that they can’t have it both ways. They don’t want a World of Warcraft cookie-cutter game with a Star Wars story line. But they also want all the good stuff from WoW. So this is what I hear from almost every person that feels the desire to bring it up (I don’t just hear one of these, I hear them both, FROM THE SAME PERSON always):
- Yeah, that’s cool I guess. But they stole that from WoW and just tweaked it a bit.
AND THEN LATER…
2. Why don’t they have __________ like WoW?! FAIL! Do your research!
Is it a perfect game? No. Is it fun, and new, and exciting? Yes. Will it be as good as WoW? In some ways it can’t be. WoW was the beginning of the change. It’s like saying that U2 is the best band ever (this is an example not a statement of belief). Well OK, but what about the Beatles? They started this whole revolution in the first place, and they did it really well!
I’ve decided that I will play TOR. Because a large part of my WoW friends are all playing it too, and I get to relive a bit of that life, while still moving on. I just can’t stand the negative attitudes simply because “its been done before”. It’s all been done before, that’s why I feel so at home.
I woke up today, Dec 14th at 6:45am. I worked late last night, so I slept hard. I had three choices:
- Call in sick to work and play SWTOR since I’d been given access to early release (since the 13th at 6am) but haven’t even had time to login yet.
- Login and make a character, at least to claim some names I want for my characters. (I hope Han Solo is still available o_O)
- Write a blog post to keep up with my goal of at least one post a day, since today could be as busy as yesterday.
I hope this shows my maturity and my ability to have control, while hating my life until I get to play the freaking game I’ve been waiting for, since before my kindergartener was born. All of you that have had time to play or took vacation to coincide with the early access, I hate you until I catch up. That is all.
You know what’s funny? People actually have been dumped over this game.
In the new World of Warcraft commercial, Aubrey Plaza (Parks & Rec, Scott Pilgrim vs the World) tells a little story about why she dumped her boyfriend for WoW. This 30 second spot is a great addition to the previous commercials featuring Verne Troyer, Mr. T, Chuck Norris, Ozzy, and William Shatner, all with the intent of getting us normal folk to buy into the WoW culture.
I say us ‘normal folk’ because I have never played the game, even though I have many friends who are absolutely crazy about it. I do believe that featuring these pop-culture stars in commercials and in-game helps to grab the attention of those who would normally brush it off. I haven’t jumped in yet, but Blizzard & co. definitely have my attention. Who wouldn’t want to be a Night Elf Mohawk or give a deadly Roundhouse kick (see what I did there?) to the face of an orc Chuck Norris style? Having Aubrey Plaza in the new commercial helps to break the stigma that only dudes are out there doing raids.
The reason why I havent bought in, is that MMOs generally take a certain level of committment that I’m not willing to make yet. I’m not willing to commit that much of my time, whether that’s the time it takes to level up or arranging my schedule to raid with my guild. I’m also not exactly into the fantasy side of WoW with orcs, elves and so forth. With that said, DC Universe Online or SWtOR is what I would pick for an MMO because I love those cultures. Subscription packs are a whole different story with some games being free-to-play.
In the end, these ads are great for bringing attention to WoW and MMOs in general, but knowing what it takes to be successful at theses games is a barrier that might be too great for me to overcome.
With the pending release of Star Wars the Old Republic I am scared. Not terrified, just… worried. Two possibilities are the cause of this worry. They have been brought on by the recent beta testing weekend I was a part of, along with a large amount of my friends. The two possibilities are as follows:
1. What if I get overly addicted and start to slack in other areas of my life?
I say “overly” because, I want to be a little addicted. If I’m not, I won’t ever play it. Then it would be a waste of money, and a missed opportunity to talk and play alongside my friends (who don’t live anywhere near me). However, I’ve also been known to get SERIOUSLY addicted to games. I’m sure I’m not the only one that struggled and let World of Warcraft get, a little too demanding, on life. My wife and I now joke about how she was going to break up with me when I wouldn’t leave my basement to go out with her for days at-a-time because of “Dub-C” runs (I was pretty hardcore). I like to think I have matured beyond that as a father and loving husband, but there is always a chance that I’ll revert back to my sad self that chooses the virtual world over the real one. That’s why I’ve set up these guidelines to keep me accountable to the things that matter most.
- My wife gets to kick me off. As long as she is not unreasonable and gives me a 10-20 minute heads up (give
or take an hour), I will listen to her requests to rest my mouse muscles and have family time.
- I will mostly play after everyone else is in bed. That way I’m not sacrificing anything but my health and coworkers sanity by being an angry zombie the next day.
I can’t play when I have unfinished work. That means if I’ve put off something I need to get done, like changing a light bulb or something simple enough like that, I must do it first before I fly to Coruscant.
Mostly I’m giving myself the same limitations I’d give a 12 year-old-kid. Pretty straight forward I’d say.
My second fear is this:
2. What if I get left behind and never have anyone to play with?
My friends can be hardcore. And even though they are my friends, I want to dominate them in every aspect of the game. So if they are more powerful, or know more than me…I can’ live in that world any longer.