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Unjustified Rants (Pt 2)

Well, that last Blog entry got a little attention. Unfortunately, the one person on the planet who apparently read it was confused. So, out of obligation to this gigantic audience, I'm going to clarify what I was getting at in my last Blog entry.
  1. The "heavy gamer" on the "bleeding edge" of gaming.
  2. I'm not saying you're clueless when it comes to games if you have a life. I've covered this when I wrote, "I think that, in the long run, everybody who enjoys gaming is fated to eventually develop the same tastes as the Heavy Gamer even if they only play games for 16 hours a week or less." If anything, a "Heavy Gamer" will get bored faster because they play more. This is common sense. But why is this "bleeding edge?" First, I'm going to going to have to ask you what you think "bleeding edge" means. Frankly, it's a ballsy proclamation that anyone is truly on the "bleeding edge" of any technology industry, as such innovation-based fields have a way of generating surprises. Here's how I define it: If you are in this rut, the "no game seems to satisfy me anymore" rut, then you are indeed on the "bleeding edge" of the game industry. Why? Because developers have yet to develop anything that can entertain you. The "burnt out gamer" is analogous to an art appreciator so ahead of his or her time that the artistic community has yet to create art they can appreciate yet. This is a fair definition.
  3. Rants are unjustified because the ranters are in an extreme minority.
  4. Those NPD Group statistics are interesting because it indicates that someone who plays as often as I do sits a whopping 2% of gamers out there - tops. Do you think this might be why rants don't seem to generate much results? That should be a rhetorical question. Most marketing departments consider such a niche pathetic and would more likely advise development to generate another popular clone.
It's not an enviable position to be a "heavy gamer." If you only have time to game for 10 hours week, then rejoice, as you are the "avid gamer" that possesses an over 30% niche for the game industry to target. For the "heavy gamer", with their 2% industry niche, we have few choices.

We can start looking for diamonds in the rough. In other words, find games that you haven't played yet that still interest your finicky tastes. When you've played several thousand, this is not easy to do. What's more, one man's diamond is another man's crap. Recently: Odin Sphere was entertaining for awhile, but eventually the constant inventory juggling made me hesitant to even boot the muther up. UFO: Afterlight proved monotonous, it ate too much time. As for Vanguard, that bit of ancient history... well, to explain that little mystery, I've taken a post I wrote and stuck at the end of this Blog entry.

Another option for the burnt out gamer is to write your own damn game. Sometimes, after long enough time without anything remotely satisfying, this is tempting. However, apparently not tempting enough to generate the desire to do a ton of work. The clone-producing development community remains securely employed (or at least as securely as anyone in the game industry).

Finally, you can find ways to enjoy games you already have.

This is why I ended up playing a lot of City of Heroes and EverQuest 2. Contrary to the comment I received on the last Blog, this is the mark of the truly advanced game addict. An "avid gamer" might exhaust themselves finding the diamonds in the rough, but the "heavy gamer" has done that and come back to realize the best games they already have. At that point, the only thing left is to adjust yourself in such a way that you can enjoy the games that you've already played.

Is that really so hard to believe? After all, the only thing that's changed about a game since you were enjoying it versus when you were no longer enjoying it is yourself - the game didn't change. Yes, I'm talking mental discipline, the Zen approach to gaming. But enough of that for now. The length of this Blog entry is scaring away the birds.

Why I'm Not Playing Vanguard
I played it in beta, I bought it at release, and I liked it. I even hyped it. Here we have a pretty innovative game with a huge somewhat seamless world in a genre that's rapidly filling up with clones or instanced games.

However, Vanguard is a pretty buggy game. For many people, it's unacceptably buggy. It's about a 50/50 toss up, check out any player review compilation for Vanguard and you'll see it in their score - about 50% bad, 50% good. Unfortunately, 50% for a MMORPG is less than 10% retention rate, since these things are too heavily based on the bandwagon effect. In other words, if half your friends quit, you're not likely to stick around and it just snowballs from there.

I'm currently not subscribed to Vanguard, I'm subscribed to City of Heroes. City of Heroes rocks, especially with the addition of an economy in Issue 9, and Issue 10 is coming much faster than I expected it would. If you're looking for a MMORPG that accentuates the G, the game, City of Heroes is your best bet.

However, I'm kinda bored of City of Heroes. I might resubscribe to Vanguard. I've been considering it - it's a very innovative MMORPG, after all. However, for me to do this I think a few things would have to happen:

1) I want the game to be a smooth, polished experience. Crash to desktop bugs? Get rid of them. Performance? Smooth it out - I should be able to load a major city quickly and easily. Make it play more like a game and less like an experiment.

2) I'm waiting until after the server merge. The world of Vanguard is too huge to suffer a low population. Seriously, this game world is so huge it should be a uni-server game, perhaps with PvP restricted to zones.

3) I hear the upper level content is just cut and paste. Fix that. I wouldn't do it as an expansion - the world is huge enough already. Instead, take all that virtual real-estate and enhance it. Enhance it with dynamic, meaningful content, the kind MMORPG dreams are made of. I don't expect you to do this right away - just a sign that it's being worked on would suffice.

It's not too late. Anarchy Online bounced back, after all, and I know their launch was even worse than Vanguards by several magnitudes.
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