The Grinds Just Keep Coming

Though the weekend passed quickly between two games, PlanetBase and WildStar, I cannot say that my jaded gamer's cognitive dissonance has been utterly resolved in either case.

Typical Planetbase scene.
It seems that games in the vein of Dungeon Keeper and Dwarf Fortress have all been lumped under the genre title "Base Builder," and Planetbase is one such game.  Basically, you order things to be done on a map, and you have a number of little workers on the map who eventually get around to it, and the challenge is to run the base well.  Planetbase takes place in space, on any of three planets, all pretty much the same considering they are hostile environments so everybody lives in a dome.

One thing Planetbase does very well is cut a very tight balancing act between the three resources:
  1. Power. The means of generation is unreliable, so you strike a balance between solar and wind and hope for the best. When this fails, you'll desperately build more power generators and/or batteries. 
  2. Life Support. When you allow too many colonists to come before you have food supply to catch up, people will start starving, so you'll desperately need to build more means of producing and serving food. Oxygen and water are also a concern, but easier to resolve due to reliable means of production. 
  3. Expansion. There's only two things to expand with, metal and plastic, but the tricky bit here is that a lot of it will be spent on maintenance (such as "spares" to keep your power generators running).  Consequently, you'll find yourself desperate to expand sometimes, but unable to do so because all your resources are being eaten by maintenance.
You'll seesaw back and forth for hours and hours just trying to get the balancing act between the three resources running right. The whole game is just that and resolving good placement as your base expands.

For $20, Planetbase is a reasonable buy, but once I figured out it's just a constant balancing act, I found myself losing interest.  I really have better things to do with my time than get jerked around by arbitrary limits... I spent the rest of the weekend getting jerked around by quest hubs in WildStar.
Dealing with the Osun of the Auroria province was really cool, especially the gigantic forge powered by enslaved fire elementals.
I seem to have come up with a decent enough system for overcoming my altoholicism:
  1. Don't delete characters.  There's only so many character slots, so this eventually hems you into a few choices.
  2. Once I've decided on the class I'm in the mood to play, play an existing character that already has that class.  I might pledge to play that character for the rest of the day, just to stop myself from quitting too early.
  3. Grin and bear it if the class does not have a path assignment I like, as the paths are just side activities anyway. 
    • Actually, having a different path on each class helps to diminish the damage from content retread, as some content is only accessible to each path, so it's good to have a unique path assigned to each class I'm playing.
  4. Grin and bear it if the class does not have a tradeskill assignment I like, as the tradeskills have largely been nerfed to the point where they're only useful to twink lower level alts. 
    • This plays right into the hands of having alts, as I can twink myself with the higher level ones.
The system works because, regardless of my mood, I am at least making progress.  I am up to level 25 for the first time since launch, whereas I would normally lose enthusiasm for my current character and reroll around the level 16-20 point.
Taking on Stormtalon was a bit easier than I thought.

I generally like the new content I am seeing, but I will say that it falls into a rather boring pattern.
  1. Arrive at a new quest hub.  Pick up the quests offered there.
  2. Complete a few quest lines.  Maybe this will uncover more quests to be done.  Maybe not.
  3. Complete a few challenges while I'm out and about, cashing in the points for tradeskill components, runes, or gear.
  4. There's usually some path-related stuff to do here.  For example, as a Settler, I glue together some cool new facilities for everybody to use.  Yay, dynamic content!  My facilities are hard-coded to fall apart in less than an hour.  Boo, fake dynamic content!
  5. You're done.  Get out and go to the next quest hub.
Adding insult to injury, most of my quest rewards are usually boring things I can slot in my weapon attachment or support system slot.   Recently, the developers implemented a new rune system that meant the players get to customize the stats on their armor and weapons freely, but it more or less gutted the enthusiasm I had for the common drop because it's 95% "salvage for rune fodder" now.

At least I have a choice of not doing quest hubs.  I could run off and do instanced expeditions, adventures, dungeons, or even PvP all the way to maximum level if I wanted.  But I honestly think I prefer quest hubs just because there's the least content retread involved. 
Sorry, South Park, I don't think there's much danger of many of us becoming this guy.  You need to have been this guy before you start playing MMORPGs in order to be this guy.
WildStar is fun in its basics, but monotonous and pointless in its greater scope.  All I'm doing is driving up numbers.  I know, it's what MMORPGs do, but it doesn't have to be this way.  I really want to like this game, it has a lovely bit of energy throughout, and great content.

I think the content is what makes it worth playing.  I participated in some new content, it has the value of a good TV show in this regard.  But is that enough?  Did it teach me any useful skills or accomplish anything else of note?  Naw, I just consumed content.

Alas, the days of my feckless youth are behind me.  I think I'm going to have to better budget my time better, or I just can't play games like this anymore.


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