Saturday, September 17, 2011

MMO Adventures

So a buddy of mine asked me the pros and cons of EQ, EQ2 and WoW. I decided to blog 'bout it, and add a few more games. I'm also adding a "niche" for each MMO, which is universally neither pro nor con, but could be either for specific people based on their specific interests.

Pro: Tons and tons of content. Some of the most interesting and complex raid encounters in the MMO industry. A fairly mature community and extensive legacy.
Con: Old. Though it does have a huge amount of content added over the years, and the devs have done a good job of keeping it up to date, much of the content is still outdated, and a lot of the older content is desolate.
Niche: Hardcore pve.

EverQuest 2:
Pro: Beautiful graphics, an amazing soundtrack. The coolest crafting system I have ever seen in an MMO. Tons and tons of quests, and while it is guilty of having bland "kill 10 of these and collect 5 of those" quests at times, it also has plenty of really cool ones.
Con: I'm actually having trouble thinking of one. Honestly, the only reason I'm not playing EQ2 right now instead of *shame* WoW is that most of my friends play WoW while everyone I know who plays EQ2 quit. The raids are much smaller than in EQ1, which could be a con to some depending on preference, though I haven't actually done the raids myself so I can't comment on the quality.
Niche: Casual pve, crafting. It's one of the few games where crafting is more interesting than "have components, press button, receive item."

World of Warcraft:
Pro: Polished content, frequent content updates, phenomenal attention to detail for both gameplay and lore.
Con: A fairly immature community. Before I played WoW, I heard my friends complain about the community and thought "Oh they're just exaggerating, it can't be that bad." Then I played and realized it wasn't. It was worse. There isn't as much room for skill in playing classes as in other MMOs. Skill does make a difference, certainly, but not nearly as much relative to gear as in other MMOs. (For example, I can regularly outdps players in far better gear than me on my EQ1 Magician just by staying on top of things and using a better spell weave, but that doesn't really happen in WoW.)
Niche: Very casual pve with a bit of pvp thrown in. Despite the unique gimmicks that most fights have, there are very few encounters which will truly challenge skilled MMO players, so it is a nice game for casual players who just want to beat up a few zombies with friends but won't appeal to hardcore powergamers as much.

EVE Online:
Pro: The most amazing economy in any MMO in the history of ever. Dynamic and player controlled world. Shifting territory wars, huge battles, complex strategies and all sorts of shiny things. While classes in most MMOs boil down to "tank, healer, dps, crowd control" EVE boasts a far greater variety of possible roles to play in fleets.
Con: It's a pvp game, and pvp at attracts jerkfaces. While there are plenty of cool people in the world of New Eden, there are also plenty of griefers intent on ruining your day.
Niche: Hardcore pvp. Strategic combat. Trigonometry for fun. Spreadsheets in space. Or just playing the market. You can make a healthy amount of ISK (the game's currency) without even undocking if you know how to study and manipulate the market.

Pro: A very interesting class system. Neat public group and raid encounters (the Rifts for which the game is titled). (It automatically forms a public group with anyone near the rift, so you can just jump in and have fun without having to organize a huge raid.)
Con: Ultimately just a WoW/War hybrid. It has little original other than the class system. The rifts are cool, but not as dynamic as I was hoping.
Niche: People who sorta like WoW but got tired of it.

Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising
Pro: A really cool squad system that lets you command a customizable team of NPCs. Also an evolving player owned estate that changes as you complete quests to upgrade it.
Con: Not much else. Sadly the population is very low, and nothing about the game other than the squad system is very noteworthy. Yes it has a big world and lots of quests and customizable character talents, but that's kind of expected in MMOs nowadays. The squad system is the only thing that really hooked me.
Niche: People who like to have lots of characters on screen. The squads open up a lot of possibilities for people (like me) who like that sort of thing.

City of Heroes:
Pro: The coolest character creator ever.
Con: Little else of note.
Niche: People who like superheroes? Admittedly I haven't played this one for some time, and I hear they've added some fancy new stuff since then so my spartan review might be a little unfair.

Dungeons and Dragons Online
Pro: Tons and tons of dungeons. Also a cool system of dungeon bonuses. Each dungeon has mini achievements (smash X crates, kill Y monsters, don't die more than Z times) that boost the xp gain of the dungeon run.
Con: Not solo friendly at all.
Niche: People who enjoy dungeon grouping. Hopefully you have a group ready.

Forsaken World
Pro: Free to play. Beautiful graphics.
Con: Similar to Gods and Heroes. It's not that it's bad per se, just that it doesn't have a unique hook to it. It has quests, and talents, but again you find those just about everywhere nowadays.
Niche: Hard to say. People who like free games I suppose? =p I'd certainly suggest trying it at least once, especially since it's free and easily available on Steam.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Passage of Time

So I feel old. I was looking up something on imdb and realized Men in Black came out 14 years ago. Wthax. Also Men in Black II was 10. Also also they're making a Men in Black III which doesn't make me feel old but is pretty exciting.

Anyway, this reminded me of another little "wow time goes by" anecdote. I have learned that teaching makes me feel older than ever. Some of my students were making accounts for the software we were using, and I noticed one girl appended 98 to the end of her name. This led to the following conversation:

Me: Does that mean you were born in 1998?
Her: Yep.
What I said: Oh. Ok. Carry on.
What I thought: Holy shit, what? My *oldest* and most advanced student (Well, in that class. I had older kids in another one.) was born while I was in middle school, but is now old enough to sit in my class and make video games. I know that's not *that* extreme, but it was like a "woah, epiphany" moment as I realized how long ago my own childhood was and became more acutely aware of the passage of time.

On a mildly related note, earlier in the season I'd been discussing with some other instructors what kinds of tv shows and movies we could show the students. Someone suggested Ren and Stimpy and I mentioned "I'm not sure that'd be appropriate for some of the younger ones." That caused another internal "wthax" moment as I realized "I just said that. I am the person who says that now. What has time done to me!?"

Anyway. There wasn't much point to this post I guess, I just felt the need to record this little ramble somewhere. We'll be back to our (ir)regularly scheduled rants about social flaws and general dumbery when I make my next post in a month or two.