Yesterday I broke my self appointed rules and made two posts because I felt the news warranted it. I said my peace but the problem is… I am still frustrated this morning. At the time of posting yesterdays blog piece I really only knew about a few of the people who were let go. As last night wound its way onwards, more names trickled out and at this point I am absolutely shocked by the scope. While I am not sure about the numbers, it feels like roughly half of the folks I was aware of over there were let go. Granted the actual numbers could be anywhere, but I am basing it simply on the faces that have shown up on twitter saying they were no longer Daybreak employees, versus the ones that have said they still are. In any case this will be a massive blow to Everquest, Everquest II, Everquest Landmark and whether or not we will ever actually get Everquest Next. For awhile on Aggrochat we have joked about Next being vaporware, and that we would only ever get Landmark… but now I am starting to really wonder if that is closer to the truth.
Everquest will always hold a special place in my heart because it was my first footsteps into the MMO world. Similarly I am drawn to Everquest II in ways that I cannot quite understand, and while I go for large swaths of time without playing, I often return to it was the gaming equivalent of “comfort food”. It is this strange mix of a world that I am absolutely in love with, and a combat system that I hate beyond words. If I had to create a list of “favorite games that I am not playing” I would put Everquest II at the top of that list… so I guess I ultimately am part of the problem. I love this world but I am not inhabiting it on a nightly basis, and as such not giving it money to grow. I’ve bought into Landmark and H1Z1 but I am not really playing those either. I remember feeling the same way when City of Heroes closed its doors, that I had so many fond memories… but that I had also ultimately moved past that game as well. I guess we want the things we once loved and enjoyed to stay protected in a bubble forever, never to change… but when we move on are we not also ultimately to blame?
Before the events of yesterday I had a topic kicking around in my head about the worlds that we play. I am not sure how the events of yesterday feed into the narrative, but I am going with it in any case. I feel as though the era of the “new mmorpg” is all but over. There will of course be new games that identify with the “mmo” ideals, but they won’t be quite the same as the worlds we have had had in the past. I feel like we are going to see a lot more games like Destiny, that is “mmo-lite” or another genre with mmo features. I feel like the worlds that were crafted during the golden age of massively multiplayer online role-playing game launches, are the worlds we will have to live with for better or worse. When Blizzard cancelled Project Titan, we can look at that in so many different ways. We could say that it was a sign that MMOs were dying, and that they no longer believed in the genre. We could however take that as a sign that they believed that the worlds we had already were worth saving.
So many of the games that we love are not broken toys, at least not yet. Each of them if given the devotion and the development resources could be transformed into a truly magical place. I am looking at the transformation of Final Fantasy XIV from 1.0 awkwardness to 2.0 and beyond splendor as proof that a game can change for the better. I’ve played each of the major MMOs for some length of time, and have experienced that each have exactly the same problem. How do they keep the player engaged on a daily basis, rather than in bursts of activity each time new content is released? I feel the problem is that games right now are mired in the construct of expansion releases, pooling up major features until they can sell another box of the game. This means the best features tend to either get bottled up for years time, or never actually make it into the game at all.
The episodic construct is a bit better, but you have to be careful that you are not adding “expiring” content into your game, making players feel rushed to somehow grind through it all before the next patch hits. The problem I had with the Living Story in Guild Wars 2 was that when I fell behind, I didn’t feel like there was a point to actually try and catch up… since I had missed so much already. The fact that the content was expiring made it feel less “real” to me… that they weren’t permanently improving the game, but instead running a series of limited time events. I feel like the shift needs to be moved away from both of these constructs and instead the focus placed on fleshing out the world. Do you know how frustrating it is to me in World of Warcraft that there are five portals below Wyrmrest Temple but only two of them go anywhere? Each world we play is littered with these forgotten expansion ideas, and all I really want is for a game world to quit teasing us and start living up to its full potential. Now is the time for these companies to double down on the content they have, fix the issues with their game systems… and try and make their games worth our copious time and devotion.
A Simple Night
Because of the news yesterday, and because of other events leading me to question myself and my connection to other people… I was not in the best of places emotionally last night when I got home. I have to say my mood was improved by hanging out with my extremely awesome free company in Final Fantasy XIV. For a few nights I had promised to help my friend Solaria work on knocking out some stuff, since she was fairly new to 50 and in doing so also spent a good deal of time running dungeons with Thalen and Asha. I have not had a night where we tore through multiple dungeons in a night, and I have to say it was good for the soul. Granted I felt a bit wobbly, since I have not really tanked much of anything other than our raids, and dungeon tanking ends up so drastically different. That said we managed to unlock a few dungeons for both Thalen and Solaria, and in the process get some Tomestones of Soldiery and Poetics.
I’ve missed logging in, getting pulled into a group and then spending the rest of the night tromping through dungeons. It is like connecting with my most basic instincts of trying to make sure everything in the dungeon hates me equally. I really enjoy the pace of Final Fantasy XIV, and its particular brand of tanking. The Warrior just “feels” right, and I am hoping I will be equally at home with the Dark Knight. If nothing else I will always have the Warrior to fall back on if the Dark Knight ends up not being the class I have wanted all along. I know Thalen has several more dungeons yet to unlock to qualify for high level roulette, so I am going to try and force myself to build groups more often. I get stuck in my own little world, and spend most of my time soloing… but I know when I do group content I feel so much better at the end of the night. While last night did not cure me completely… it did make me feel significantly better.