What I Did on My Summer Vacation
So. I was sitting around talking to some friends the other day. Or rather, they were talking and I was working, because I'm a good girl and don't talk shop while I am supposed to be doing my day job! * adjusts her halo * Discussion turned towards games, as it inevitably does when you get a bunch of us geeks together (although, I use the term loosely with regards to myself, because let's face it, I'm an inferior geek... But I'm cute so it's okay!).
Various upcoming games were being discussed as well as some that were already out. You see, this good friend of ours (ours meaning mine and the pink pantseded one) was bored with the games he was currently playing and was looking for a game to kill some time with, while he waited for a game he wanted to play to go live.
What is the point of this mindless blather? I have one. Really I do.
The talk, of course, ended up on exactly WHY this friend was bored. He's been playing World of Warcraft. Now, before you start thinking that this is gonna be a bashing sort of thing, just wait a second. There will be no bashing, it's purely opinion.
WoW is a good game. For what it is. It's very simple. Easy to learn and understand and not a whole lot involved to tax the brain. You can accomplish a lot in a short period of time. It's pretty too. I played it for a while, and it was horrible. I didn't hate it or anything like that. But, it failed to hold my interest.
The reason it failed for me, was simply that there isn't a lot of depth to it. I play to immerse myself in a little fantasy and have some fun. For this, I require a rich story, lore and whatnot. I put myself into the game and for a while I actually AM my character.
I wasn't able to do that with WoW. I'm sure there are a lot of folks out there who feel the same. For me, there has to be life in the game. Soul, if you will. EverQuest and EverQuest2 both have this in abundance. There's a huge backstory to all of it, and the developers work hard to keep that going, with detailed lore and quests that further the story. It is, by no means, rigid or unyeilding, and lends itself well to escape.
It's like a good book. A truly GOOD book, will draw you in and hold you. It will keep you turning the pages until the end and make you sad that it's over. You relate to and sympathize with the characters. They have a life of their own and you like or dislike with equal passion. There's development.
A poorly written story will jolt you out of the fantasy and remind you all too harshly that you're reading a book. And the magic is lost. So it is with video games, MMOs in particular. A truly great game draws you in and makes you a PART of the story. You live it and breathe it, become it. When you're jolted out of the fantasy for whatever reason, you're left feeling cheated.
This is why I can't play WoW. It's diverting, yes. But, never at any point did I forget that I was playing a game.
That's why my friend game hops as much as he does. He's searching for that elusive something to draw him in and give the game life.
It puts a lot of pressure on game developers, this need of ours to live the story they are writing. It's a difficult proposition to balance the needs and wants of the gaming populace with mechanics that make gameplay viable. They have to balance classes and provide diversity without making anyone too overpowered or too underpowered. At the same time, they have to keep the story alive. It gets even more difficult when you take into consideration all the types of gameplay.
WoW was described to me as a gateway MMO. I think this may be a very accurate observation. It is, for the up and coming gaming population, what MUDs were for the old timers. Many of us MUD'ed or MUSH'ed and moved on to other games like Ultima. EverQuest was a breakthrough in the genre and paved the way for what we have today.
Likewise, WoW is introducing massive amounts of new gamers into the world of MMOs. As these new gamers mature and get the bug, so to speak, they will eventually move on to more involved and complex games. It's their niche, as EQ and EQ2 have theirs.
With Vanguard and other games looming on the horizon a lot of people fear for the future of the games they love. They worry about subscriptions and a mass exodus. I don't think this will ever be a real problem. At least, not for EQ2. There's too much to the world of EQ2 for it to ever die. People come, and people go. But in the end, for those looking for soul, there will always be a return.
Because, with whatever it lacks or whatever it has that other games don't, the one thing EQ2 will always have... Life. Heart. Soul. The people who make this game what it is, the developers and the players, give everything they have to it. They work together to make it bigger and better with every Live (sorry... GAME) Update. Even as MMOs make the world smaller... Our little world, the one we escape into to live out the fantasy, grows with every breath. And that, my friends, is what makes a great game.
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