June 20th, 2003


Grab bag. (Long.)

Mark your calendars: Cradle Of Filth is coming to Denver July 14th. Tickets are a pittance at $21! Come see them now and when they get big you can say you used to like them - before they sold out. You know, when they still played The Ogden. ;]

In other trivialities, flemco's latest LJ entry is fucking hilarious.

I will also bore you now with a long rant about Star Wars: Galaxies that I wrote in a thread over at The Straight Dope message boards:

Having been to E3 last year, and talking with my friend who went this year, I've been thinking a lot about the MMO phenomenon.

I doubt anyone reading this doesn't know what "MMO" stands for, but just in case: "Massively Multiplayer, Online." I.e., lots and lots of people playing characters, inhabiting a virtual world, interacting with each other and the world in real-time via computer network(s).

My first observation was that I don't tend to like MMORPGs.

My second observation was that it was not so much the MMO aspect that I didn't like - it was the RPG aspect. I'm just not the kind of gamer who enjoys RPG type games, no matter how they're dressed up. If it involves building stats, gaining experience, or doing quests, I'll probably yawn at it. I prefer semi-twitchy games with large amounts of freedom and an exploration element. I love Grand Theft Auto 3 and can play it for hours and hours without doing a mission, for example.

My third observation, based on the first two, and after some length of thought, was to steal a riff from jwz and say that "MMO is not magic pixy dust." If you have a crappy game, sprinkling MMO on it will not make it magically delicious.

Almost all those people making MMORPGs are going to fail, because they're assuming that it doesn't matter if their game is a really good RPG. As long as it's MMO, it'll be successful. It's a sad example of herd-mentality that is entirely too prevelant in every industry, but particularly in gaming. Everybody jump on the bandwagon...

On the other hand, MMO can be a nice element as part of an otherwise good game. For instance, there's a project team trying to activate the hidden multi-player code in GTA3 - http://www.multitheftauto.com . This I am really looking forward to.

This is a rather long digression, and I apologize, but I'm trying to lead up to my point, which is this:

Galaxies is, I feel, a typical example of herd-think, of "MMO is magic pixie dust." Hey, everyone's doing MMORPGs - let's do one based on Star Wars and rake the money in! This kind of motivation and the resulting development philosophy rarely turns out great games. Add in the early reports of a buggy product and I'm not filled with hope. Does anyone remember the Star Wars themed Street Fighter II clone "Masters of Teras Kasi"? Didn't think so...

So, in sum, I will stick with Jedi Outcast, thank you very much. It's the best Star Wars themed game I've ever played, and while the multi-player is far from perfect, I expect I will find it far more enduring than "let's guild up, er, I mean, get a scout party together and then go hunt the black dragon, er, I mean go look for some banthas so we can level-up our characters and get gold for new armor, er, I mean, gain technology skill points and buy a new wookie bowcaster!"

Some other people followed up with these (amusing) comments:

It's like Penny Arcade said:

"After an hour or so of hitting spiders with a bat I was ready to write off the entire MMORPG genre. He said "What about Star Wars Galaxies?" At the time I told him that Galaxies would be different because it was Star Wars. "It’s not like they’re gonna make you spend hours hitting Wamprats with a stick." Oh irony, thou art a harsh mistress."

Last one, referring to the raft of bugs that are being seen in the betas:

Oh, I'm afraid the server will be quite unoperational when your friends arrive...