Tuesday 27 September 2011

Before machines the only form of entertainment people really had was relationships

MMOG bloggers have a relationship with the games they play. Some are happily settled in a committed long-term marriage with a single game, others promiscuously flit from game to game, sometimes keeping several on the go at once. When a relationship ends it can be in a blazing row with suitcases of cosmetic items tearfully flung from upstairs windows and a lengthy series of mascara-smeared posts that reveal rather more about the psychological state of the player than the game; I like to think I’m a bit more considered. Hey, look, things aren’t really working out are they? It’s not you, though, it’s me. Well, maybe it’s you a bit. We had some good times, though, didn’t we? Let’s keep in touch, especially now you’re not demanding money off me regularly, maybe I’ll come back if it turns out that good looking new game doesn’t have much going on behind that attractive facade. Maybe if you added a few new tricks to your repetoire, that wouldn’t hurt. You know, like that thing that other game does that I really like? Or if you had a bit of work done, you’re looking a little tired around the edges…

OK, that’s getting slightly creepy, probably best back away slowly from that analogy now before otters get involved. Me and Lord of the Rings Online, though, we’ve been drifting apart for a little while. Nothing wrong on the part of LotRO, it’s still a top-notch MMOG with a lovely world, excellent variety of things to do and a good “freemium” price model, I was just hitting that point, as I’ve done a few times previously, where I couldn’t muster any enthusiasm for killing ten things, or collecting five other things, or tromping through a dungeon to kill a boss who might drop a thing that two or three of the party need that if you win the roll for you can take back to an NPC to get a thing that was made obsolete by the legendary thing you got two levels ago… It’s perhaps slightly unfortunate timing, what with the Isengard expansion going live even as I type, but I get the impression that it’s mostly aimed at characters at the end-game, and I hadn’t even quite made it into Moria, the first of the three expansions.

Fortuitously City of Heroes is putting the FREEM! into “freemium” as it ditches mandatory subscriptions, and with a general sense of ennui in the Fellowship(s) it seems like a fine time to take some very sage advice and play Game Y instead of Game X for a bit. As City of Heroes was my first MMOG I always have something of a soft spot for it, and it was fantastic fun to get back into the mayhem of a team of eight flinging themselves into massive crowds of villainy, fireballs, radiation blasts and photocopiers being hurled with reckless abandon (and snooker tables) (and table lamps) (gravity control is a brilliant power). There’s a possibility that nostalgia is playing a big part and it won’t be a long term thing, like bumping into someone at a school reunion, having a fantastic time and arranging to meet up again, then slowly realising that you have nothing in common any more and there’s only so long you can reminisce about that time Cliffy Prodger drank seventeen cans of non-alcoholic shandy at the school disco, proclaimed himself “trollied” and ran around the hall wearing his trousers as a headband; why fret about the future, though, when there are photocopiers to fling?

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