18 March 2009

Why is there always the need to blame something?

First read this blog about another homicidal student. And here is the article on the shooting.

Now when I was growing up Rock and Roll (specifically Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles) were blamed for Son of Sam's and Charles Manson's killing sprees. By the tome I was in college violent television and movies were the cause. Now it is video games. The fact is there is something WRONG with the people that do this. Outlawing violent TV or video games is NOT going to change it. Outlawing comic books or graphic novels or even fictional accounts are not going to change it. People like this find something to obcess about and as a result to justify their violence. YES, they need help, yes they need monitoring by their parents, keepers whoever. BUT stop blaming an outside source. Rant over

14 March 2009

Games used to be fun

First read this MMOs vs the World Part II and if you did not follow the link to the Bartle interview there read that as well.

I know I have pulled back on my gaming so that I basically play one in each genre type. Why? because like Bartle I have seen most of them before. Unlike Dr. Bartle, I still enjoy playing games, but then I do not design them for a living. That is basically where I am right now in gaming, I want something to grab my attention and suck me in, but nothing does really. Well nothing that hasn't already that is. So, yes the design DOES matter as does the game itself. But one thing that I think Dr. Bartle is missing because of his proximity to the Industry is also a coherent story. Why am I going in here and blowing away these monster? Where did they come from? Why me?

Games that have stuck with me do so because of the story as well as the mechanics and the blood fountaining in slow motion. The characters matter. I have to want to save the world. Add to that what I call the creator's fun factor. Did they have fun making this game. Are there things in there just because? What about easter eggs? Does anyone remember what Zork replied when you typed in Fuck you! out of frustration? Those things stick in my mind to this day. Maybe when gaming companies start having fun creating games again I will find one that sucks me in again. Until then I will continue to play the others that never let go of me in the first place- that is good game design!

08 March 2009

Old skool vs New Skool

So this evening I am on the MUD doing the usual stuff when one of the older players (in time on the game not in age) logs in. He has been playing pretty regularly for about a year now after a hiatus for a couple of years. He was in a less than happy mood. Perhaps the weather, perhaps he was feeling his age, but he began to echo some of what I have been going off here for a while.

The conversation started off with a discussion of players he suspected were botting. For the few of you who may not know the term, that consists of logging into a game and farming or leveling by using a script to perform repetitive actions. Most online games from WoW to MUDs deem this as illegal and will delete or ban any player they catch doin this. The problem is it is sometimes difficult to catch someone. In a mud environment heavy xp means heavy spam. This means lots and lots of text scrolling so a player may miss a tell from an admin checking on scripters. Add to this a myriad of scripts out there that you can set to respond to a tell and you have a difficult time discerning a scripter from a slow responder.

Now, the question arises why would anyone bother to do this? Well back in the day of door games it made some sense usually you got only so many moves or so much time per player. Many helpers or scripts existed. When MUDS began to spring up and allow unlimited play time, it was logical that some things were moved over. Except, now there were other people around with whom a player could interact. So the game had another dimension of enjoyment added like meeting and talking to people, roleplaying live in an environment and ganging up against a big boss. Now you could work with other people to solve quests or explore the world and you had plenty of time to do this! But there were always the few who felt that they had to be the biggest, best or get to the top fastest. They scripted and when caught they paid for it.

MMOs. Now there is WoW and there are thousands of people online at the same time. People do not know you unless you stand out in someway. So.. again for those who feel the need to impress or think people will be impressed by such things, there are those that spend lots of time online to get to the top. Fine, except, most people have real lives, real things to do and cannot spend a lot of time online. So what is the easiest thing to do? Find one of those big boys make 'friends' with them and get them to lead you to the top. Except where is the fun in that?

This is the point of the conversation WHY play a game if you are not going to play it? Once you are the top dog, why ridicule others that are not anywhere near your level of play for not being higher than you? Most of all why let them use you to get there? You learned to play the game and enjoyed it enough that you wanted to be seen as the best. Help others - yes, add to their enjoyment by challenging them to something they CAN do. But that does not see to be the present mode of thinking. So can anyone tell me why?

06 March 2009

Titan Quest

Last night my ISP decided I needed a break from online gaming. So I fired up Titan Quest to wait for the connection to return. It had been a while since I had played so, there were some things I had forgotten. Like you cannot pan back. I have gotten spoiled in games being able to scan into the next area or pan back and look ahead. Again a game allows it's npcs to attack you from offscreen, but you cannot see them to do the same. This is just plain bad design.

But that was not the thing that annoyed me and that made me put the game aside for now. It is set up like a lot of RPGs. You got through an area, defeat a boss, etc. If you fail you are rebirthed at a local shrine with a minus. That is fine. Except, if you do not have time to complete, you are sent back to the start of the chapter. So the 2 hours you just spent playing to fight through the area and get to the boss's lair has to be done all over again. WHAT is wrong with SAVE points?

This is what keeps casual gamers from becoming hardcore. many people just do NOT have 4 - 6 hour blocks of time to put into a game. They become discouraged and stop playing. So add more save points guys. If I have the time I can ignore them. If I do not then at least I have the option of getting back to where I was without having to redo some pain in the ass level that does nothing to advance the story and is there just to level up the character through the grind.