Tag Archives: ennui

It is only a step from boredom to disillusionment.

My Warden reached the new level cap in Lord of the Rings Online a week or so ago, and I finished levelling the character’s crafting skills a few days back. Everything else to do with advancement now, even crafting high tier legendary items, is locked behind raid content. For someone who doesn’t enjoy raiding, this means it’s farewell to LotRO for the time being. Perhaps I’ll drop in for the occasional skirmish if I’m really bored, or pay the kinship house fee so it doesn’t go into escrow, but I’m starting to realise that LotRO is slowly developing into a game that’s ‘not for people like you’.

On the consideration of being really bored, I have Skyrim waiting for me, so I’m fairly sure my fantasy gaming needs will be fulfilled for some time to come.

Outside of fantasy MMOs, there are still a few considerations. City of Heroes continues to be an enjoyable once-per-week romp with friends, and the “freemium” model will allow that to continue indefinitely. I still find myself utterly uninterested in Star Wars: The Old Republic, however; I’ll happily jump in if the general consensus after launch is that the game is a wonder, but I still get the impression that it’s more ‘WoW with a bit of Bioware story’, and I don’t think that’s enough to satisfy my basic gaming needs any more, let alone fan the fires of my enthusiasm. The concept of The Secret World had initially tweaked my interests, but the way they are teasing information about the game, rather than delivering solid outlines of concepts and mechanics, has slowly ground into fine fragments any good will I had towards it. I also qualified for TSW beta access by subscribing to Age of Conan a year or so back, an incentive which has now transformed into ‘You’ll get into beta at some point, we didn’t promise early beta access’. Considering that open beta is rumoured to be just around the corner, when presumably anyone will be allowed in, their ‘offer’ from a year ago begins to look more disingenuous all the time. However, it’s the dismissive nature of it that grates with me, as though we’re out of line for daring to suggest that their offer was bunkum. Combined with my less than stellar experiences in Age of Conan, I find myself generally uncaring for any of Funcom’s future offerings, TSW included.

Thus I find myself waiting for Guild Wars 2, and hoping that ArenaNet can deliver on its hype, something which I am, perhaps unfairly, becoming less confident of on a daily basis. The rest of the industry continues to over-hype and underperform, so will ArenaNet not simply follow form? I hope they’ll be the exception, but only time will tell. And time is a tight-lipped obstructive git, as a general rule.

My one secret hope is that there is something flying below the radar, which will suddenly and unexpectedly arrive as a giant MMO-shaped blip directly overhead, and proceed to deliver an atomic payload of excitement and entertainment into our gaming dead zones.

For now, I’m going to have a look at Skyrim. But first I must defeat my great nemesis, that bane of my RPG playing life, the cause of great joy and sharp anguish; first… FIRST I must escape from the labyrinthine depths of character creation.

O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?

Like fresh snow falling on the frozen river, there are those of us in the MMO genre who settle but briefly, and are prone to drift when winter comes. Yet we mustn’t forget that this genre is built in layers, and beneath the drift are those whose attentions lay across a single game, their focus forming a frozen foundation, their passion packed solid around its structure; we can find within this silent stable scene reflections and echoes of that once tumultuous mighty river, which carried us along to unseen destinations in a frothing frenzy of chaos and excitement.

Still, the genre does indeed seem frozen to many of us who drift. With the onset of winter, the silence descends. The thunderous gods of the waters stand muted and still, an eerie quiet envelops the thickly blanketed wood through which the river runs: all the harsh blows of sound are deadened by that shield of snowy silence. Exuberance hibernates within her den, curled up in quiet content alongside Clamour and Activism. This winterish discontent causes a melancholy view, all is frozen and still, all is bland and featureless.

The blankness of this cold carpet canvas, which with numbing despotism across the genre lies, yet leaves us with a small fire of faith, carefully kindled, towards which we can hold out the hands of our hope and keep them warm: the great thaw will eventually come, and with it a new world appears, reinvigorated and renewed.

I certainly find it hard to weather these winters in the land of Blog. Inspiration most often comes from playing: interaction and frustration are the foodstuffs upon which my muse feasts, before dumping her digested diatribes upon the page for your consumption. Yes indeed, reading a post equates to eating muse manure. And it is not adversity which prevents me from playing, on the contrary, because adversity is the Beef Wellington of muse foodstuffs: a hearty fare which fills to bursting point the stomach of seething satire. No, it is the bland formulaic mediocrity which starves the muse, rice and curds which neither offend the palette nor delight, but provide the base, the nutrition of entertainment, and nothing more. It is docile entertainment. Without passion. Lobotomised. I found the same when playing through the two DLC modules for Dragon Age 2 recently; having finished them both I could not deny that I had been entertained –entertainment had occurred– but it was the sweaty discomfort of sitting in an entertainment sauna, as opposed to the fiery consuming passion of being burnt at the entertainment stake.

Winter is here, and there’s barely enough fuel to cook the muse a modest meal, let alone build a pyre to ignite the imagination. Here’s hoping that an infusion of vernal freshness into the genre is not far behind.