Friday 17 December 2010

Never laugh at those who suffer; suffer sometimes those who laugh.

I’m in a bit of a funk with regards to gaming at the moment, nothing terribly disastrous but I’ve just had some bad luck with recent purchases.

I made the mistake of buying World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm expansion from Amazon, which still hasn’t turned up as of today. Of course I’m not alone, but as is usual in this modern world of ours, a large corporation can break its promises and obligations and happily just ignore the issue, sweep it under the carpet, and carry on paying out nice fat bonuses to its executives. Of course I’d gotten into that vicious cycle of giving them the benefit of the doubt and thus waited too long for the thing to arrive, rather than just going out and buying it elsewhere a day or so after it was delayed, and then returning the copy from Amazon should it ever turn up. Still, I’ve resolved today to go and buy a copy from a retail outlet, at which point, of course, my copy from Amazon will arrive. Along with seven other copies I didn’t order.

And then Lord of the Rings Online managed to frustrate me yesterday. Having needed some points and deciding to splash out and buy the maximum amount the day before, it was yesterday that they then decided to offer their points at a massive discount, so I lost out on 1900 points for the want of waiting one more random day before spending money with them. It’s not the end of the world, but it seems backward that people who have purchased points are ‘punished’ for investing in the game as and when they needed the points, whereas people who hung around not paying anything get a potential bonus for not investing earlier. Of course it’s all just business, Turbine/Codemasters are just trying to give another incentive for people to spend money in the store, and they certainly don’t care about people who have already spent money with them, but the timing of it – one day meaning the difference of some £15 or so – was a bit galling for me. For my part it has probably lost them money in the long run, as had the offer been advertised I would have waited and bought two lots of points; now, as it stands, I’ll probably not buy any more points again. Why do so? Why risk giving them money only for them to put the points on offer the very next day.

My actual gaming is progressing rather splendidly, however. I have lots of games on the go, and although my writing here has slowed down this month, that’s mainly due to being excessively busy at work; not having much to say about these games that hasn’t already been said before; snow; and having a two-year-old who is just starting to understand and enjoy the wonders and delights of Christmas – it’s pretty much impossible not to want to be a part of that.

I’ve headed back into Warhammer Online and I think the recent changes Mythic have implemented to open RvR are much for the better, although it’s interesting to see how sections of the existing player-base are having trouble adapting away from the ‘Zerg Only Keep Doors For Great Victory’ mentality that was prevalent, nay, necessary, in the old system. Lord of the Rings Online is still very enjoyable despite my basement-nerd-fist-shaking outrage at having narrowly lost out on a great deal, and with a static group character to play, as well as my Warden working her way through the Volume 1 epic storyline, there’s plenty to keep me occupied. Other games on my play-list are Pirates of the Burning Sea, which recently went free-to-play, and looks to be a cracking little diversion if I can ever get my mind ‘holding the weather gage’ to the game’s many and various mechanics; and World of Warcraft, which I’ve been holding off on until my expansion box arrives (ha!) because I intend to play a new character and don’t want to burn out playing through the high level content before I’ve had a chance to roll my Worgen warrior.

So, plenty of games to keep me ticking over until the next Great Hyped Hope arrives; Rift is sounding more interesting by the day, and I can’t listen on Spotify to the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra’s rendition of the Guild Wars theme without experiencing a rather emotional desire to be wandering the lands and experiencing the world that Guild Wars 2 professes to offer. I’m increasingly unsure about Star Wars: The Old Republic however; I have a deep seated desire to play it, make no mistake, but it’s how I will play it that leaves me uncertain. At the moment, from the limited information available, it seems as though the game will be a solo affair – Mass Effect: Star Wars Edition, say – with the vague potential for online cooperative play should you so desire.

Each of these three games tries to make their world, and the stories within that world, dynamic in a way that engages the player far more than we have experienced in MMOs up until now. It seems that this concept will serve as the foundation for the next generation of MMOs, but whether it will succeed is still anyone’s guess. My prediction is that there will be a tangible ‘something’ that attracts new players to these next generation MMOs, but that it will be Blizzard who – as World of Warcraft did with EverQuest – take the essence of that concept, fold it into Titan and make it accessible and mainstream, thus creating the next MMO behemoth.

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