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Massively Multisucky

School's out: it's time for vacation for me. I've just completed my Associates Degree, and thus freed of a full time college student's mental occupations for the time being. Next stop: University life. In the meanwhile, I'm free to focus my attention on all these games on my desktop and to see them for what they are at last:

I've determined with some level of certainty that they all suck.

I'm going to qualify that by saying that "suck" is subjective - one man's trash is another's treasure. Also, my observed levels of "suck" should not be as an absolute, but rather a measure somewhere between "not sucking" and "completely sucking". I can say with relative certainty that the games on my desktop feel considerably suck heavy today.

First up, City of Heroes:

I mulled around a bit with my 16th level Blaster, taking down an orange elite boss at the end of Faultline with surprisingly little difficulty. I thus discovered that inspirations make a big difference to a glass cannon, but despite this I still mucked around with my claws/regen Scrapper a bit. Massive death dealing potential or adequate death dealing potential with security - a tough choice.

What is the level of suck I observe most in City of Heroes? The grind, of course. For the newbs among us, I'll mention that the "grind" describes what you experience with a game that expects you to do repetition of an activity long after one is bored of it in order to unlock the next level of play.

The main overall activity in City of Heroes is the combat, which is excellent, but even it grows stale in time. My alt-a-holicism was an attempt to escape this boredom by trying a different approach to combat. Unfortunately, whether I'm playing a tenacious Tanker, bombastic Blaster, or crafty Controller, I cannot escape the fundamental problem that this game demands more time than it has fun to compensate for. City of Villains, which I own, doesn't help: different archetypes, same problem.

City of Heroes remains a good game in small quantities. There's nothing quite like an eight-player team blasting their way through scores of enemies, bodies flying, powers crackling and detonating everywhere. In the long haul, however, it fails to keep me unless I had a hero/villain/storyline I care about enough to distract me from the grind. Right now, I'm afraid not.

Next, EverQuest 2.

It was Bruxx, my little Ratonga Swashbuckler, who I played the most of today. It started in Crypt of Betrayal deep beneath the streets of Qeynos, taking down Bloodsaber Sentinels (mostly waiting for them to spawn) while both avoiding and getting killed by a couple of obnoxious, wandering, group-potency mobs. Once my Bloodsaber quota was achieved, I traveled to the Thundering Steppes to complete the half of my armor quest I could do alone. I was working on the Griffins when I had to punch my Escape ability - this made me teleport to the docks, and so I decided to go Faydwer. The Butcherblock mountains are pretty neat, much more vertically oriented than any EQ2 area I'd been in before, but they wind around a bit overmuch. I again ran into mobs that I had to Escape from and, facing a 10 minute walk to get back to where I was, I was tempted to go Monk again. Meh, forget it, logged out for the day.

Travel issues aside, what makes EverQuest 2 suck the most to me is that (outside of trade skills or raids) it's just a solo exploring game. EQ2 has a huge world (so do many MMORPGs) but EQ2's world embodies hand-crafted detail that even World of Warcraft doesn't hold a candle to... maybe Final Fantasy XI does. Going hand in hand with proper world appreciation is the mechanics that reward exploring it: Collectibles, harvest nodes, and achievement experience. So far as being an explorer's game is concerned, EQ2 rocks, so what's my complaint?

With all this exploring going on, your average EQ2 player will solo 95% of the time. In weeks of playing, I didn't group once. From a personal perspective it's not hard to see why: because being tied down to a group just gets in the way of all the exploring rewards to be earned. Having group members around are just people I have to compete with to get those sparkly collection items, and rarely are they patient enough to wait for me to harvest nodes. Even the very quest mechanic, EQ2's greatest strength, is flawed in that there's so many quests to do. With that many quests it's rare that players will ever encounter another player with the same goal. Thus, quests become yet another thing to explore... solo. There are group-balanced quests, of course, but given so few players with a common goal they usually go ignored.

So, while EverQuest 2 succeeds in providing a hugely explorable world, it's something I have to do alone. Why pay $15/mo for something I could do that for free in Oblivion or Gothic without all the technical limitations to gameplay that come with a MMORPG? Guild Wars has no monthly fee and I find groups more often than I do in EQ2.


All I see is suckage on my desktop, but maybe I'm just burnt? Yes, but that's sorta the point. All games, whether they be MMORPG or not, have a certain amount of enjoyment they can offer. To an extent, one can take a break and appreciate the game with new eyes afterwards, but no impression is quite as powerful as the first one. If these games were new to me, I'd not be in danger of burnout.

Burnout is a problem unique to MMORPGs. In most games, when you're bored of a game you can just move on. MMORPGs, however, want to be an everlasting gobstopper with a monthly fee. So what they do is dangle incentives and make little changes as time goes on to keep players playing and paying. In a MMORPG, you play it long after you're bored of it until you're absolutely sick of it. This is burnout.

Yeah, I'm burnt from MMORPGs. Yet, there is a certain aspect of MMORPGs that keep me coming back. It's the massively multiplayer aspect. There's a certain potential on this platform, I'm sure of it, it's just that few games seem to be able to properly make use of it.

My new 500 Watt power supply arrives in a week. Hopefully it'll take care of the issues I'm having with complete system lockups in many games, or I'm going to be taking this ATI x1600xt back and trying out an NVIDIA AGP card instead. Of course, if the problem turns out to be in the motherboard, I'm hosed.
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