Sunday, March 31, 2013

It's Good To Have A Project On The Go...

There are two projects running at the moment among some of the MMO blogs I read. I don't usually follow Scarybooster but his annual "Developer Appreciation Week" has been picked up by, among others, Rowan, J3w3l and Stargrace who I do.

As an only partially-reformed old punk I have problems with the underlying concept of DAW. I reached adolescence at the height of the Prog Rock boom, when being in a band was seen as an almost unimaginable fantasy and rock musicians and lyricists were taken quite seriously as members of some quasi-mystical High Priesthood.  When punk arrived with its radical ethos of "anyone can do it" most of that meretricious nonsense was briefly swept aside and it was wonderful.

A place for everyone and everyone in his place
By and large I still believe in the punk credo "It was easy, it was cheap, go and do it".
Creativity isn't the exclusive province of the magically gifted and creators aren't a class apart. We may choose to adopt roles - customer/supplier, audience/performer, player/developer - but roles are all they are and we can switch those roles at any time. I believe that when it comes to the Arts, the fundamental difference between any category of "Us" and "Them" lies in some combination of opportunity and ambition, not in some mysterious destiny.

Nevertheless, I also place a very high value on politeness and good manners and when someone does something nice for you I believe it's only right to express appropriate appreciation, so to all the many developers who've worked long and hard to bring the many worlds we visit to life..  

Thank You. 

Now get back to work!

The other theme, started by Syp and picked up by Jeromai revolves around playing ten unfamiliar MMOs over ten (non-consecutive) days. Leaving aside the rather obvious problem that playing an MMO for a single session is probably the best way to misunderstand it entirely, this does sound like fun. I'd very much like to join in but it would be ridiculously self-indulgent - I can't do justice to more than a tiny fraction of the MMOs I'm nominally playing already.

If I did, though I'd struggle to come up with ten new MMOs I haven't already tried. The obvious ones would be

Age of Conan
Wizardry Online

(And I would have added Aion but Syp successfully put me off!)

Rusty Hearts is one of the few I've thought about and not tried, so that's a possibility. Beyond that most of what's left are MMOs I've considered and rejected in the past and I don't see revisiting those decisions as a likely path to a good evening's entertainment.

Maybe I'll do it and just call it The 5/5 Project...

I do have a couple of projects of my own in mind, both relating to GW2. The first, which I've already begun, is to level a character to 80 by completing each Map in consecutive order by level range and geographical propinquity. It's going both well and not so well.

My Asuran Ranger is level 18 and he's completed Metrica Province and Rata Sum. With only a few dailies and enough crafting to make his own leathers and bows thrown in, he finished  the supposedly 1-15 map Metrica around level 12. He spent almost the entire time fighting things three or more levels above him, which was almost exactly right in terms of challenge solo. The fact that almost all the Heart vendors he opened this way sold stuff too high for him to use, however, suggested that this isn't how it meant to be done.

Do you have puppies too?
Currently he's done about 20% of Brisban Wildlands and he's already well above the level of the content he's doing there, too. The game downlevels him, of course, but keeping at-level even through a single set of level-appropriate maps looks to be impossible. He'd have to forego any dailies, not gather or craft anything, never go to WvW, skip the whole of the Living Story...even jumping onto random events would be too much. it seems as clear as day to me that linear progression was never intended, indeed is actively engineered out of this game. No wonder some players who insisted on playing it that way from launch burned out so fast.

The gigantic upside to doing it this way is getting to see the incredible detail of this amazing world. There's more going on in just one GW2 Map than in some entire MMOs. I've been taking the time to speak to every NPC and to wait and watch while they speak to each other and it's a mesmerizing experience.

So many delicate, whimsical, subtle interactions, most of which don't appear to go anywhere at all. So many beautifully designed structures and buildings to explore, so many caves and lairs to find. It's a world of vignettes and wonders and only a few are marked on that Achiever-focused map.

Go everywhere. See everything. It's worth all the time you can give it. Whether I can ever give it enough time to see it all in this detail I don't know, but I plan to give it my best shot. Even if it takes a few years.

Subtlety's beyond some people
My other project hasn't even begun and yet I've already kind of painted myself into a corner with it by rolling that ranger for the Map Completion project. I only have one more character slot available and it's reserved for a Charr Engineer. Unfortunately, Engineer would be about the worst possible class for what I have in mind, which is to level up a character with the UI switched off.

Well, switched off while exploring and fighting. Going to need it on
Of course I'd miss all the jokes...
to buy and sell, allocate traits and skills, bank and all that good stuff. But out there in the big world I think it should be possible to survive and thrive without it. A ranger, with some very simple bow skills and a pet would have been ideal. I didn't think it through...

That project is on the back burner for now. I may need to buy another character slot. And think of another class that would be fun to play blind. I really don't need three rangers. Then again...


  1. Have you considered trying out some Asian MMOs?

    I'm sure you've heard of Nexon. They have a bunch of F2P "MMOs" which are all pretty unique.

    Maple Story
    Dungeon Fighter Online

    Are the ones I've played. Each interesting in their own ways.

    Maple Story would be the only "True" MMO in which they have an open world. Both Vindictus and DFO have open cities but instanced combat areas. But their combat is wonderfully done.

    And since they're all F2P, you can play them with minimal financial investment.


    1. I very nearly put Maple Story on the list. It's a hugely successful MMO and I've often felt I ought to at least look at it but for some reason I never have. Yep, that's one worth considering.

      I was in the beta for Vindictus, downloaded it, went to install it and had weird things happen to my PC. Tried a couple of times, same again. I uninstalled it and I'm not keen on having another go. Also although I am just about capable of playing games with "action" combat I generally don't enjoy it somost of what I've heard about Vindictus is offputting.

      Dungeon Fighter Online I have heard of but remember only very vaguely...hang on, let me have a google...hmm no, don't think that's my kind of thing...

      I've played a lot of Asian MMOs though, beginning with Silk Road Online I think and including a couple I really like(d) - NeoSteam and Argo. Mostly they are fun for a while but with those two exceptions none have really stuck.

  2. This is exactly how I played GW2 when I first started. I played an asuran linearly through and transitioned to the human lands when I ran out of jungle and around the south to Orr. I enjoyed it but you're right about the level being off the whole time. I was mostly crafting gear at the time so I don't remember noticing the difference in the karma vendors at the time.

    Now, my second character I chose was asuran as well (because I'm rubbish at the jumping puzzles as the larger races and I have to explore all the nooks and crannies) but this time I'm playing all the zones I never went to at levels roughly appropriate with crafting and participating in WvW at my leisure. It definitely feels more fun and sporadic this way than my first play through.


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