I know what you're thinking but the game is nowhere as fun as this screenshot makes it look
I believe in an effect called critical mass, particularly in social dynamics, especially when applied online. The more momentum something gains, the more likely is it to succeed and the more likely it is to generate it’s own self-momentum and perpetual growth. There comes a special point though, a moment in time when a certain number or percentage or stage is reached when this snow ball effect actually kicks in and the appropriate critical mass required has been achieved.
Usually the expression critical mass is expressed in a positive way (except of course when you’re talking about meteors plummeting towards the Earth and what not) and it can applied to a whole variety of situations. Web sites, for instance, have a critical mass and when a certain number of visitors have taken notice of a particular site, it becomes somewhat easier for that site to get noticed. It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, one that makes perfect logical sense – the more people tweeting, liking, +1′ing, commenting and generally discussing something, the more people will sit up and take a peak. It’s exponential growth.
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Lo and behold the most advanced interface known to man!
I must be getting old. As much as I love contemporary MMOs and could probably never go back to the original days of Everquest, there’s a trend emerging that I’m struggling to cope with: spell and combat ability overload. RIFT is the worst. WoW is pretty bad, as are other games like Everquest 2. You know what I’m talking about – the floods of endless abilities that end up filling your hotbars to the brim and cause your fingers to cramp trying to hit all of the keys. It’s button mashing digit dexterity gone mad.
Don’t get me wrong, I love choice. I want my wizards to have dozens of spells to pick from and I want my warriors to be able to choose between being a wrecking ball of destruction or an armoured tin can of impenetrable goodness. Choice is good, selection is good, variety is good. Having a UI clogged up with seven hotbars and 40 abilities, each of which require constant and consistent mashing is not. I don’t want a ’standard rotation’, especially not one consisting of a dozen attacks and I don’t want to have actions taking up space in my UI that I only fire once in a blue moon. What I want is to make intelligent, informed decisions when I play, with each action generating a clear and conceivable benefit. And I want to do it all with ease and simplicity.
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Tier 13 armour. Suddenly my level 85 Warrior is completely obsolete.
Maybe hate is a bit too strong a word but ironically enough, for someone who’s been an avid (very avid) MMOer since 1999, I’ve come to realise lately just how much I dislike the end game of the traditional MMORPG. So much so in fact that in my recent return to WoW in the past month I’ve taken to deleting my high level characters and making new alts instead.
It’s not just that I find the low level game in WoW more fun than the high level, I think I actually feel that way about pretty much every MMO. If I look back at my history of playing, ever since the original Everquest, I’ve always preferred the journey of leveling up, or even low level PvP, to that of the end game. In EQ2, for example, all I pretty much did was re-roll alts with my guild so we could have fun with the low level world PvP. Unfortunately though it seems also like a lot of games are becoming more top heavy now by making the leveling process faster than ever before and creating more and more grind locks at max level to keep folk from leaving when they hit the cap. I’m not trying to pick on it but obviously WoW is the main offender in this area.
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Diablo 3. The MMORPG of tomorrow.
For a long time people have pondered the idea of MMOs that didn’t utilise the traditional Holy Trinity model of playing (i.e. groups requiring a tank, healer and DPS classes… although interesting enough the original Holy Trinity included crowd control instead of DPS but I digress) and wondered if games could ever exist without it. While some MMORPGs skirted around this idea of trying something new, to my knowledge none of ever fully succeeded in breaking away from it. Yet. Indeed, I believe that Blizzard are going to be the first to do so and, just like the huge number of industry trends they set with WoW (love ‘em or hate ‘em), I have little doubt that they are ultimately going to be the ones responsible for killing the Holy Trinity off for good.
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Blogging. The perfect way to have your opinion heard by a small minority of other bloggers.
So I started another blog. A work one, this time, related to the web industry and the Internet, written by myself and my two colleagues, in a – hopefully – appealing and enjoyable fashion, not dissimilar to my style and take on things here. In fact, this blog was a huge motivator for me wanting to start a work related one because I knew, right from day one, that I wanted our company to have a voice in the industry, to comment on activities and trends and to be able to express our own opinion on the matters that affect our livelihood. We always wanted to stray away from the rather dull corporate blogs that every business now seems to feel obliged to launch these days so we branded and styled ours with personality, humour and a little bit of sass calling it (my esoteric choice of blog names continues) the 8 Gram Gorilla. Yeah, we really do like our monkeys.
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The droids you are looking for have been found and slaughtered
By now you’ve probably all read about the real reason for Star Wars Galaxies’ closure. Turns out it had nothing to do with profitability (well, OK, not strictly true but, even if SWG wasn’t making huge profits, we can assume that it wasn’t making a loss), developer motivation or lack of fan devotion but rather because SOE’s license ran out on the Star Wars IP. Yep, it was only a five year deal. Gee, kinda short sighted don’tcha think?
OK, OK, I’m sure SOE had the option to renew the license should they have wanted to and, in reality, the decision was theirs to shut down SWG rather than George Lucas’ due to a combination of lack of high profitability and the impending sense of doom that Star Wars: The Old Republic filled their increasingly stained pants with. Bottom line, if SOE had wanted to save SWG and renew the license, they could have regardless of how economically insane the decision might have been (I’m guessing a five year Star Wars license costs somewhere in the realm of five to ten gazillion dollars – I know, I missed a career in finance, right?).
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Generic stock image of work colleagues that aptly represents the lack of true friendship
As much as we try to deny it there are striking similarities between MMOs and the work place, especially when it comes to the relationships we have with the people we encounter within the virtual walls. Guild leaders are like your bosses, guildies and friends are like your work colleagues and PUG members are like people you meet at random, nightmarish networking events. Although money never (or very rarely) changes hands, whittling away a few hours running dungeons or raids with your online companions is really no different from spending some time working on a company project or participating on a team building exercise (although, I suppose, participation is more likely to be voluntary and eager).
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