Grinding: all massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) have it. Some more than others, but it is always there. Go forth and slay 50 rats. Collect 10 copper pieces, 32 rat pelts, 19 rat tails. Turn in same. Repeat 245 times. Graduate to killing skeletons. Repeat 895 times. Ding! You leveled! Now go forth and slay 2,655 ghouls…. It is like factory work, but without the pay cheque. In fact, we actually pay someone else for the privilege of doing this, and call it “entertainment”.
You’d think we’d hate it, that these types of games would never catch on, yet tens of millions of players log in every day, strap on their virtual swords, and head out to slay another few thousand denizens of the countryside in pursuit of the elusive level. Every new massively multiplayer online game that comes out perpetuates the grinding “feature”. It is weird, doubly so because I seem to be afflicted by the same behavioral quirk as all the millions of people playing MMOGs. There has to be some reason why…
I’ve been playing massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) more or less since the genre got its name: about 1996. In that time I’ve played at least ten different games of this type: I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the horrendous. And I’m aware that MMOGs face a tremendous challenge beyond just the initial appeal of the first few weeks of play: they have to somehow capture and hold the players attention for years. And when those years have passed, it is nearly invariable that even the best game will end up being remembered by its flaws and disappointments rather than its strengths.
Thus it is that any review of a MMOG is purely a “point in time” perspective. And at this point in time, after about two weeks of play, I can say that Age of Conan is a brilliant game. I can not remember a MMOG that, from day one of its launch, performed so well or impressed me so much.
I recently mentioned to my nephew, more or less in passing, that the Age of Conan massively multiplayer game was about to ship. I expected this to result in a “ho hum” sort of response: both he and I have become somewhat jaded over the years from consuming a half score or so different online roleplaying games in the last decade. We play EQ2, there are other decent games, but nothing worth getting excited about.
I’ve been playing computer games for…<shudder> decades. The first computer game I played was probably a text adventure game I hand-typed into my Apple II from a magazine. I saved it to cassette tape…I think the game had something to do with exploring an abandoned mine, but I’m not sure. That would have been about 1979/1980 or thereabouts: my memory is a bit hazy.
I’ve played D&D Online a grand total of maybe 15 hours. I was part of a stress test and now a preview of the game. Apparently the non disclosure agreement has been lifted, so I can make a few comments.
I’ve heard people say that they prefer the graphics in World of Warcraft over those in EverQuest 2. The discussions I’ve had with people about why they feel this way seem to boil down to a description of the characters in EQ looking “plastic”, “like corpses”, or “not cool”.
Back in the bad old days (circa 1999), massively multi-player online games allowed player to player interaction. I’m not talking about player killing: I’m referring to the ability of one player’s actions to impact another, for good or ill. Then things began to change…and I don’t personally believe the changes were all for the better. Continue reading EverQuest 2- the Rise of Isolation in MMOGs→
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