Getting to the pc to write my morning blog post a little late this morning. I have a fairly significant meeting at lunch, and as such had to do a bit more pruning of my beard this morning to make myself presentable. I normally wouldn’t care much, but all the big wigs will be in this one.. and quite honestly I am more than a little nervous. While I am not the focus of the meeting… the focus is something that I feel is overly misguided. Only time will tell how successful the meeting will go, but when you get a technical person talking to a bunch of non-technical people… cognitive dissonance arises.
I have been desperately trying to get new folks to try Rift… namely some of my staunch WoW friends that have tunnel vision surrounding that game. As a result I started kicking around the idea of a series of posts taking things from a very basic level. Last night I began work on a Character Creation and Default Interface post, but did not get nearly as far as I had hoped before cutting into a scheduled event. My hope is that I can finish it up this evening and post it tomorrow. Essentially my idea is to go through some of the most basic concepts and thoroughly explain them. I am not 100% sure how success the series will be, but I seemed to get a lot of interest from twitter.
When Rift first launched, I did the “Why You Should Be Playing Rift” series, and likely this one will be similar in focus. I want to highlight all the cool things about the game, because as friends have started playing there have been a lot of these items that are not adequately messaged in the game but provide amazing functionality. I am sure there are many players that do not realize they can auto sort their bags, or search them.. because it is never really explained. Additionally one of my friends had no clue there was a “sell all greys” button, because again it is there… but not really singled out to the player.
My work on the How To post was cut short when I noticed the time. I posted a few weeks back about trying to get some of my longtime Guildies into Rift and having Mon/Weds event nights. Since I announced the concept Monday… it was too soon to really do much of anything at all. However last night we had a handful of people online and in the Stalwart@Deepwood channel. We had a player that was afk and another that was PVPing so it took awhile to finally organize. Ultimately we decided we really did not have the makeup for a dungeon group, but luckily there are several options to do in those situations.
We ended up with a 22 bard, 51 necrolock, and me a 60 psuedo tanky warrior. The absolute best fit for a mixed group like that was Instant Adventures, so we end up random queuing for one. We all got mentored down to level 14 and got assigned to Freemarch, and we basically ran around there all evening. I had forgotten just how active Freemarch is, because during the time we played there were three zone wide invasions that we also participated in. It was essentially two hours of roaming around following whatever objective we were given.
I can’t speak for the others but I definitely enjoyed myself until it just got too late for me to be conscious. Honestly the concept was that it didn’t really matter what we did, so long as we did something as a group. The instant adventure thing seemed to work for that, and all of us were rewarded large amounts of whatever the currency is for our individual level ranges. I managed to get 2 planar advancement levels while we were out there, so the xp is definitely still valid for a capped player. Hopefully in coming weeks we can get a better mix of classes and actually delve into a few dungeons. I know Atonal had a quest in Iron Tombs that I would not mind running the place for.
One of the things I have been thinking about over the last few months since we got the game loft set up, is what exactly made me fall out of love with console gaming. I think ultimately it is that console games at some point stopped providing me sufficient improvement over my PC to make playing the games worthwhile. Prepare for a nostalgic trip down memory lane. If you look at the above shots… this essentially represents the state of gaming in 1992.
I have a good friend that is completely fanatical about Commander Keen so I will try and do this without any disrespect to the game. However the image on the far left represents the closest we had to “console action” in the PC Gaming world with “Commander Keen in Goodbye, Galaxy!”. The color palette was extremely limited, the sprites were very flat feeling. The controls were a bit wonky, because the only thing we really had to play on was the Gravis Gamepad… which was not even close to the quality and responsiveness of the Super Nintendo game pad.
If you look at the middle picture, Super Mario World… it just looks and feels better. The game was extremely responsive filled with large colorful sprites and tons of them on screen at a time. At this time PC Gaming was really enjoyable, especially for the deep simulation and roleplaying games available for it… but it was not at all a direct replacement for the console experience. If you jump over to the far right image… you see the infamous Mortal Kombat. The game looked amazing for the time, and hopefully stacked up against all these images you can see that as well. Mortal Kombat had higher resolution than the console games, and featured really cool photorealistic digitized graphics. Essentially all I am trying to show is that while there was a huge gulf between PC and Console gaming… there was an equally huge gulf between console and the arcade.
Catacombs and Wolfenstein were early games in the 3d Shooter genre, but it really was not until the release of Doom in 1993 that the world stood up and took notice of PC Gaming as being a serious force. What happened was really curious. Instead of trying to out do the console action experience, developers started building new kinds of action games that played to the strengths of the PC. Processing large volumes of information and building 3D maps was something that was really beyond the Super Nintendo or any of the 16 bit genre… their systems were simply not designed for something like that.
I continued to play console games, but I shifted more heavily into playing the new crop of “post doom” shooters, like the amazing Lucasarts Dark Forces. Once again the arcade was still offering a much better experience than the console gaming. It was around this time that I was regularly visiting my arcade to throw coins into Killer Instinct, Samurai Showdown, and Dungeons and Dragons Tower of Doom. The paradigm shifted yet again in college, when I played my very first OpenGL games… and bought a Voodoo 2 3D Graphics card to attach to my diamond stealth 2D graphics card.
While the gaming experience started to pull ahead on the PC, it still lacked the titles I wanted to be playing. So when the Nintendo 64 came out, I was completely amped to be playing Mario 64. It was still an experience that I could not get anywhere else. But within a year of this being released… the PC genre leapt forward again and by the time Quake 2 came out it completely demolished the graphical quality of the 64. The same thing happened when the PlayStation was released. Ultimately the graphical fidelity of consoles will always be trumped by PC gaming, as it is a fixed target set at the release of the console… whereas PC gaming is a moving target always evolving each time a new manufacturer releases a new graphics card chipset.
However still during the PlayStation era… they were providing a unique experience I could not have on my PC. In the last decade this concept is all but gone. The games coming out for the PC are the same games coming out for the console systems. They have essentially destroyed console gaming as this unique expeirence that you could not replicate elsewhere. When I look at the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Xbox One, and Playstation 4…. I simply see PC gaming with a controller. The experience overall is not really different than what I have had on my PC for awhile, and sadly in almost every case the PC game will look better.
I don’t mean this to be some love song for PC gaming, but it took me awhile to realize why I have been so lackluster towards the console gaming market for so long. They have stopped giving me something unique that I can’t get anywhere else. Sure each console still has a handful of exclusive franchises that you can only play on their hardware… but those seem to be fewer and further between. As I have tried to get back into the console gaming world, I have noticed that most of the “blockbusters” were games I long considered “PC Games”. I cannot fathom people playing Fallout, Dragon Age, Skyrim, and Mass Effect series on consoles. Yet each of those is considered a major blockbuster for the console genre.
That if nothing else was my biggest take away from the E3 show… just how few games there were that I was interested in playing… that were not also coming out on the PC. I guess the tables have turned to some extent… in the beginning I played console games because they provided an experience that I just could not get anywhere else. Today it feels like PC gaming does a really good job of providing the exact same experience that is available through the consoles… all you really have to do is hook up a USB Xbox 360 controller. In addition to that however it also provides an experience that I cannot really get in the same way on consoles… those games that really are not joystick friendly. So today it feels like PC gaming provides me that unique experience.
I need to wrap things up, because I am running out of time. Essentially I now realize why the console genre no longer excites me the way it used to. It stopped providing something I could not get elsewhere. For most players it will be a choice of buy a gaming machine or buy a console… but for me it never has been. I will always have a gaming PC, because it supports the MMO gaming that I don’t want to give up. The question will always be, weather or not consoles provide me enough of something that I cannot also get on the PC.
The Playstation 4 looks like it might, it has a few games that are exclusive and something I also care about. However in the case of the PS4 and Xbone… both machine are already out of date before they have even released. I give it less than a year before the PC is regularly producing a far better looking experience than either of those consoles. Anyways… like I said I need to head on in to work. I feel like todays post is extremely rambly and contorted. Hopefully it makes a bit of sense. I hope you all have a great day.