Daily Archives: June 27, 2008

All seven and we’ll watch them fall.

Having just read Zoso’s post today on cancelling his Age of Conan subscription, I had a quick chat with him about it and found out that although he’d unsubscribed, he’d left it just a fraction too late and the first set of subscription fees had already been processed. It was only shortly after this that I read Stropp’s post stating exactly the same.

And you begin to realise that the reason the MMO blogosphere seems to be endlessly recycling the same topics is that, in general, we’re all following exactly the same path; we’re all on an MMO-like treadmill in real life, grinding out the same old topics as everyone else just as we grind out the same quests in our MMOs, not because we’re unoriginal or lacking in ability, but because we’re all destined to experience the same real life content, there’s no other path to follow.

And then one wonders that if that’s the case, who is the master developer of this sub-game of real life that is named MMO Enthusiast, who is the generic overlord presenting us with this real life grind, and why?

My theory: it’s just like The Matrix. We’re all in a non-consensual hallucination generated by a dominant race of artificial intelligences, except in this version they have a separate section – away from the main power generation – which is reserved for MMO bloggers, where we are harvested not for our energy but for our contrasting and extreme experiences of joy and of lethargy, purely for our blog posts, for the raw unadulterated word count on topics revisited on an almost hourly basis for time immemorial.

Why? My guess is that sometime in the early days of the conflict between humanity and the AIs we forced a buffer overflow in the masochism section of their neural networks, and now they read and read, transfixed with a perverse need to repeatedly endure, through the medium of blogs, the seven successive sensations of an MMO enthusiast: Scepticism, Confusion, Wonder, Addiction, Frustration, Ennui and Withdrawal.


I think the time’s come to move on from Age of Conan, at least for a while. I hit level 50 and just can’t get terribly enthused about carrying on. It’s not a bad game by any means, but it seems like there’s a wave of MMOG-ennui sweeping over the world and I’m as caught up in it as everyone else. I posted about Age of Conan being exasperatingly MMORPG-y; the latest Van Hemlock podcast has contemplations on the Meaning of MMOG Life; the first part of an interview with Paul Barnett on Rock, Paper, Shotgun covers some of the same ground, for games a whole, and then of course there’s the kerfuffle over a Richard Bartle interview, in which it was revealed that Bartle was the instigator of the brutal crackdown on the Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe, leading to Morgan Tsvangirai withdrawing from the presidential run-off. Least, that’s the only explanation I can come up with for the outpouring of Fearsome Internet Rage that followed, the only other possibility is everyone’s getting terribly cross that he doesn’t realise that WAR is going to be the most amazingly revolutionary thing in the history of time ever, knocking trivial stuff like fire, the wheel or sliced bread (even a piece of sliced bread attached to a wheel and being toasted over a fire) into a cocked hat (the cocked hat itself ranking a distant third as far as amazingly revolutionary things go). Still, once you get past the unhelpful hyperbole and weird metaphors involving bicornes, there’s the ennui again. As Alec Meer puts it in the RPS piece “Much as I can enjoy a few days/weeks/months in a Conan or a Tabula Rasa, I’ve pretty much come to terms with any MMO for the next few years being disappointing on a fundamental level of exploration, purpose and self-expression.”

I might well head back to Age of Conan at some point, Funcom seem to have plenty of plans for extra content to add, and if I upgrade my PC in the meantime I might get more than a couple of frames per second with high detail graphics. For now, though, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith beckons. Let there be rock!

PS: apropos of nothing else in this post, I just love the quote so much, from Neil Gaiman’s blog, Terry Pratchett in a spectacularly mis-headlined Daily Mail article:

“There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.”