Saturday, February 10, 2018

Where Do We Go From Here?

As I slog through the grim, last days of Winter, eyes fixed yearningly on the slender promise of Spring, it would be nice to sense some stirring of excitement for the future. After all, everyone else seems to be enjoying some kind of frisson.

My Feedly and blog roll are alive with the thrill of the new as people lay out their plans or share their adventures in fresh worlds, hunting monsters or saving the world. Me, I'm just not feeling it.

I had all week off work. I had a few gaming plans but none of them involved anything I hadn't done before. There wasn't a single new title I could think of that I wanted to try, although there are plenty of them out there, in Early Access, alpha or beta, unfinished but available.

Looking sideways, I was going to re-subscribe to WoW because apparently all it takes to get me back is a bit of extra free time and the hint of something just a little more solid and satisfying in the leveling game. Then there was Rift. I had some idea of poking around Telon so I could get my disappointment in early before the rush.

I considered a return to LotRO or FFXIV, since I have established characters in both that i can play for nothing and I like the early levels in each of them. There's Project: Gorgon, flirting with that Steam launch yet again. I believe still haven't sorted out my account to register my Kickstarter credentials. I thought I might do that but it seems like work and I'm not at all sure I'm interested enough in P:G any more to make the effort.

Every time anyone mentions Black Desert I remember how much I enjoyed my time there. I'd give it another go but it's somewhere on a hard drive I took out of my old PC and I'd have to find which one and put it in an enclosure. Same applies to Blade and Soul and Dragon's Nest and...oh I just can't be bothered.

And on it goes. I could list a dozen more MMORPGs that flit through my mind most days, a brief flurry of curiosity that fades to gray the moment I consider what I'd need to do just to log in. All those usernames and passwords to find, the updates to install, and for what?

Disorientation, confusion, a sense of rising panic. That's what. An apprehension that none of these "games" are pick up and play. A growing understanding that each and every one of them has a learning curve that's not dissimilar to learning a new language or starting a new job.

Is that fun? It used to be fun. It guess it still would be - if I thought I was going to commit. It's clear from all the neophyte Monster Hunters turning journeymen out there that once those claws catch they hook. I could be caught that way again, I'm sure, only by what?

Looking ahead I have a desultory interest in Crowfall. I'm guessing it will be a disaster but an interesting one. I'm very far from sure I want to pay $50 to be there when it happens but I don't rule it out. They hope to make Soft Launch "as early in 2018 as we can". I have another week off work in March...

Oh, who am I kidding? Crowfall isn't going to launch in March this year, "soft" or otherwise. Neither is anything else that interests me. I'll be here in a month doing just the same thing I'm doing now - shuttling between three or four MMOs I've played for five, ten, fifteen or twenty years already.

If I somehow find any extra energy and manage to make the effort I might throw in a few more of similar vintage. If I do, all it will be is a quick nostalgia trip followed by a swift retreat as the prospect of the sheer commitment required to make  meaningful progress sinks in.

All of which sounds like I'm in something of a gaming funk, that I'm suffering from the notorious MMO malaise, but really I'm not. I spent most of my week off playing MMOs, just as I planned and wanted - it's just that the only MMOs I played were the same MMOs I'd have played had I been working.

I'm writing this almost as an apology to myself, some kind of penance for sins of omission. I feel kinda sorta guilty that I didn't use the time "better", somehow. But what, really, would "better" look like? If I'd dabbled around in a dozen different games, would I have had anything much to show for it? Anything more than I have?

Well, I'd have a few more blog posts, for sure. Maybe less introspective and solipsistic ones, at that. A bunch of screenshots and some memories. But isn't that a tail wagging a dog? Best hope, I'd have some fresh ideas, a new gaming crush.

Didn't happen. Not going to happen.

Instead I played many, many hours of GW2. I added a whole bunch of ranks to my main account as I spent hours and hours in World vs World, pointlessly trying to defend or recapture doomed keeps against overwhelming opposition in an utterly meaningless match, which our team wanted to lose anyway.

I ran race after race around Divinity's Reach for no better reason than an NPC announced there were races to be run. I did The Maw and Claw of Jormag for the ten thousandth time for loot I don't need or want. I opened Lucky Envelopes and set off fireworks and generally hung out with the crowds, wherever the crowds were, doing whatever the crowds were doing.

And when I wasn't doing that I was in EQ2, adding more homes to my housing network and more materials to my storage depots. I spent most of a session ferrying in house pets and setting up a duck pond.

Then for a change of pace I put ten levels on my Bruiser in Sinking Sands, a zone where I have probably spent more time than all my holidays from the last five years added together and I enjoyed every minute of all of it. I still have three days left before I go back to work and I'm going to spend much of it doing more of what I already did. And then when I'm back at work I'm going to do it some more again.

Does the WHO maybe have a point, d'you think? Or maybe it's just that I'm very, very lazy and very easily amused?


  1. Sat around today and "dabbled". I had all day to do anything. Needed a relaxing day. Snow is piling up outside. No where to go and nothing to do until 7:30 tonight.

    Dabbled in Dauntless, the less polished, alpha-state PC available (free with a little effort) Monster Hunter Light. It's not doing it. EQ2, few levels here, few levels there. Slay the Spire is fun but limiting - because the best decks are the decks you hardly build at all (using as few cards as possible is the best strategy, which gets dry.) Idle heroes of Forgotten Realms I only need to check into once every couple of days to advance.. and I am on the 'C's of all the Monsters in the D&D Monster Manual 5e. But that is just reading.

    Thank god my kid is playing a 5 hour Fortnite session on the PS4 or I would be buying Monster Hunter just to try something new. But back to EQ2 I think now, my Warden needs to go to the zone after Maj'Dul, whatever or wherever that is!

    I have zero excitement for zero new games right now, and anything new I am trying is out of sheer boredom. Lack of interest over interest, if that makes sense.

    1. I think its actually harder to settle down and just play something when there's no sense of time pressure. I'm sure it's having a whole week with not much that I need to do and plenty of time to play games that's made it harder to feel entirely comfortable with my choices. If I come home at 7pm and have no more than a couple of free hours then doing some dailies and running in a zerg for an hour feels about right. If I have all day then I start to think I ought to be doing something a bit more ambitious...but by and large doing dailies and running around in a zerg is what I like doing...

      Still, I'd rather be at home fretting about it than at work... working!

  2. I think it's funny that most of the time when I see people complain about being in an MMO funk, it's because they can't settle down anymore. Everything is interesting when it's new and shiny, but nothing sticks! Yet for you it's the opposite, you feel guilty about just playing the same old things and not being sufficiently enthused about new releases. I think the only other person I've seen express a similar sentiment is Wilhelm. Can't we ever be happy? Heh.

    1. Live in the moment!

      Wilhelm is the blogger with whom I generally feel most in tune, although I have quite a lot in common with the playstyles and preferences of several I could (but won't, right now) name. I do sometimes think that if I didn't have a blog I'd just be playing one or two MMOs and enjoying them for what they are, rather than always having something at the back of my mind going "but what are you getting out of this that you can write about?".

      I can see why bloggers sometimes drop out although mostly they stop playing first then stop blogging. I'm not going to stop either - but I might go on complaining about it!

  3. Tale 8 of A Tale in the Desert begins March 2!

    I’m a bit in nowhere land myself. Not for lack of anything to do - I’ve got ambitions in Path of Exile and Warframe I haven’t the time for, I keep watching Youtubers play interesting Minecraft mods that look fun to try, but I’ve been buckling down under the equivalent of cleaning out a messy garage/storeroom before Lunar New Year and it’s left no time nor energy left for anything serious game-wise.

    1. I think I'd as soon offer my services for medical experiments as sign up for A Tale In The Desert - actually, I tend to think of it as much the same thing. Looking forward to reading you writing about it though!

      I should have spent this week doing some actual cleaning out of messy storerooms and cupboards rather than worrying about what games I should be playing but it's too darn cold! If it's warmer next month (not very likely) I'll start doing it then.

  4. So you feel guilty to play "just" two games - I am playing only one, which is (of course) Guildwars 2. It has so much to offer, more than I am able to digest. Especially with WvW being a constant attraction there is no time (and no need) to look for something else.
    With the relaunch of uthgard I created some characters there but i stopped playing before I got any of them to level 20. The memories of good old daoc are still there (at least from the time before TOA ruined the game for me) but after having played Guildwars 2 this game feels so uncomfortable and 1-dimensional, there will be probably no second game for me for the forseeable future.
    SO be proud of yourself to manage at least 2 games at a time!

    1. After five and a half years of GW2 the one thing I really struggle with when I go back to older (and sometimes not that much older) MMOs is the inability to dodge. Dodging out of danger is so deeply ingrained in my muscle memory now that I find myself just standing there in the fire in other MMOs wondering what I'm supposed to do to save myself. Other than that, though, I tend to re-adjust to older mechanics quite quickly.


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