Monday, May 16, 2011

Rift - Crash, don't read

So my brother has been going on about how much he is enjoying Rift, he even got Druss to jump on and give it a go (damn them, play MC with me!). So after hearing him go on about how the game is basically an improved WoW, I was like, "Ok I'll give it a shot."

I downloaded the trial last Wednesday and have given it a go for a couple days, I got out of the starter zone and started doing my quests. Now I'm not going to go into a review for the game in my blog, because honestly I think the game is a pretty good representation of what it is, an MMO. The problem? I apparently don't like MMO's anymore.

I'm going to blame a couple sources for my new found feelings:

First up WOW. Setting the time machine back to 1998 I remember when Ultima Online came out and I thought that it was the coolest thing ever. A game where you can play with a thousand people at the same time! Sign me up! Well pvp was just starting up and I really wasn't a fan of that so my love affair with UO didn't last too long, but then came Asheron's Call in 99. With AC I met friends online and had a guild of 500 people in it at one time. Eventually after 2 1/2 years the game finally shook me loose and I moved on. During my AC days though I learned a difficult lesson, online friends can be short lived.

Jump forward a couple years and after a other few failed attempts at getting into an MMO, I had sworn off the whole genre, until WoW hit. As my brother told me at the time, "This is the greatest game ever!" And you know what, he was right, WoW was fucking awesome! I don't care how it's seen today, when it came out, it was amazing, it was the most fully realized online world that I had ever seen and in some ways still is.

But WoW ended in a bad way. After 5+ years in the end the thing I loved the most about it, playing with other people, is the very thing that broke me from it. When Lich King came out I found myself tanking instances, it wasn't a planned thing, just one day a grouped wanted me to do it as a DK, I wasn't speced for it, but they wanted me to give it a go anyway. We were able to run the instance (nexus) and afterwards I was hooked. For the next several months I tanked tons of instances and worked really hard at improving my gear to be better at it. Life was good!

Then life got in the way of online life, due to real life I wasn't able to play for the same durations as others which meant that I had to sit out on a lot of raids. Quickly my tanking slot was given to others and I got demoted behind other people that in some cases quite honestly sucked by comparison (thinking mostly of the off tanks). My importance to the guild was trivialized and I just felt like another cog in the machine with people that were my friends. Not to mention that I made it a point to be where I needed to be on time and several guild members took their sweet time, wasting evenings of my playtime.

Eventually that was it, I logged off WoW for good and really have no regrets about it. My real issue with the game was that I didn't mind the grind if there was a reason to do it in the end, that reason playing with friends and feeling like part of a team. But when my role on the team was removed, my passion for playing the game died and I was left grinding for no reason.

Which brings me to point #2 on why Rift isn't for me. The grind and what the final result of that grinding is? If I want to play Rift, that means I'm signing up to pay $15 a month to grind out levels and equipment so that I can go get bigger numbers and eventually take up a role in an instance or battle. Maybe I'd be a tank, or maybe I'd be a DPS, who knows, but it doesn't really matter. In the end I'm going to want to feel important, like a member of a team but ultimately someone is going to fill that role better which is going to leave me out in the cold. I describe myself as a hardcore casual, I want to play like a hardcore player, but I have a life so that means it's not possible to devote all the time that someone else would. And honestly, I don't want to anyway. But this leaves me in an interesting position, I want to feel like the best but I know I can never achieve that, so I'm basically playing a grinding game with no end goal.

That brings me to #3, the gameplay of an MMO itself. An MMO by nature is to grind. Back in my AC days I didn't even realize that I was on a treadmill. In the early WoW days, it was so that all of us friends could play together. With Rift it's a treadmill and I'm never going to be playing with established friends so unless I want to make new friends, where is the benefit?

Don't get me wrong Rift seems like a very nice MMO, but it's the nature of the MMO game itself that I just can't do anymore, and I think that goes for Star Wars as well, but I haven't decided 100% yet. But why would I want to devote all of my free time into something when I'm not going to get anything out of it? That is the very nature of addiction. I realize that I have a gaming addiciton, but there is a big difference between an MMO style addiction and just a game addiction. If I play an MMO the only reason I am doing it is to fill myself with something to do, not something I want to do.

And now my final point, I need INNOVATION! Essentially I have been playing the same MMO for the last 14 years. Oh sure there have been improvements, but the core game itself hasn't changed. It's kill this monster to get this item rinse and repeat, just the reasons for doing so have become more defined. And this is also where I damn you Minecraft, you have shown me something else that doesn't even exist yet. An MMO style game where the players really have an effect on the world in unscripted ways. Yes I think that we're at the threshold of a revolution in the MMO genre and someone within the next couple years is going to redefine the very nature of the MMO game. The success of MC has to have caught the attention of the AAA developers and that usually means that they are going to be looking to capitalize on that potential money. I want a world where the towns are player made, where the quests are player made, where the stories are player made, not a bunch of fed ex quests with grinds. But until that day comes, I can't see myself playing another grindfest MMO. It's not that they are bad games, it's just that I've seen something amazing in my mind and until I see that on my screen I just won't be able to invest into another gameworld.

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