Binding Rituals

The next big thing is Star Wars the Old Republic (SWTOR), of course. For those that have now just regained internet after some hurricane, tornado, or gopher-pocalypse, the release date is right before Christmas. Chris at LevelCapped pretty much sums up my general feelings on the game. I do hope that the half-million and rising mob of pre-orderers have fun. I look forward to the many MMO blogs on the ‘sphere thoughts from actual play sessions. Story time is the best, don’t you think?

Anyway, the LevelCapped post got me thinking about all those MMO things that we constantly post about when the urge arises. What is an MMO? What is persistence? Which is better F2P or subscription? Etc. et al. Veni, vidi, vici. More importantly (to me and you) I thought about my own game buying in the past few months. The recent ones off the top of my head were Trackmania² Canyon (“Canyon”), Magic the Gathering’s new Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 (“DotP2012”), and Bastion. I’ve also been going full Explorer mode in Minecraft. I’m sorry to say that as of late most MMOs just haven’t caught my interest. I’ve been spoiled silly with my little time playing Guild Wars 2, I guess.

Anyway (no really this time), there have been two important notes to the games I’ve bought. (1) They were far cheaper than the “AAA” price of $50-60 per game, and (2) I knew exactly what I was getting. Canyon and DotP2012 were sequels with great prices. Bastion I bought about 5 minutes after I booted up the demo. I was most impressed, and have made sure to throw more money at the devs by buying the soundtrack. Limbo is going to be bought as soon as I stop futzing around in Minecraft.

My current binding rituals with games are relatively quick and painless because of (1) and (2). I don’t have sore spots for any of those purchases like I still do for Warhammer Online and to some degree Rift. The latter is a great game, and I knew when buying it that I was fooling myself on (2). I bought it making myself believe I was getting something more like Guild Wars 2 than World of Warcraft. Once I hit the end game, that illusion shattered. We won’t even discuss the former here.

Then I look at the half-million Sith and Jedi dreamers waiting for SWTOR to drop. It is not a cheap pre-order, especially those that took a chance on the $150 collector’s edition, and no one really knows what they are getting. Sure beta leaks, WoW clone, and all that, but the aforesaid are dreamers for a reason. Their binding ritual right now is one of energy and imagination. It’s seeping in to their being. I envy them a little. Still I’d rather rip off a band-aid than barbed arrow head embedded in my skin.

In a perfect world, I would argue that these subscription games are things of depth. Depth in community. Depth in content. And, depth in gameplay. It is just and right that the binding ritual take a bit more time than the binding of Peggle. Yet, this isn’t a perfect world. Like Chris says above, there are so many options in F2P, demos, etc. that I know I can say that subscription games do not provide the amount of depth the perfect world argument implies they should.

Yet, my reasoning is so flawed. Most of those pre-orderers are not bound. They plunked down some change for a possibly cool game. The end. There is no community to the majority right now. There is no dreaming. It’s just a thing, man. There are other things to be had in the mean time. I wish I could view MMOs through this lens. I wish I cared about MMOs the way I care about the 20 single-player games, like Prince of Persia or Assassin’s Creed, that I bought on a Steam sale, and haven’t cared to touch.

I wish, sometimes, that I wasn’t bound by MMOs.

–Ravious

8 thoughts on “Binding Rituals”

  1. I wonder how many of us preorders are simply buying this because it’s likely to be the only KOTOR3 we will ever get.

  2. There’s so much ennui around the MMO blogosphere right now. Must be the season.

    Like you, I’m waiting for GW2 and I’ll be skipping SW:ToR, but unlike you I’m having an absolute whale of a time with the many MMOs in which I’m already invested.

    It’s always jam today in our house.

  3. Ennui has set in because MMOs are only just now starting to come out of the shadow of WoW. GW2 is the first MMO I’ve been excited about in years, but there are a ton on the horizon that look like they are categorically-not-World-of-Warcraft.

    Wildstar, Firefall, etc and the rest are finally saying ‘the hell with it’ and moving on. It took this long because there need to be that ‘me too, oh crap I’ve blown millions of dollars’ phase.

    The gutting of MMO creativity that resulted is now being rebelled against, violently. And with F2P now a true fact, the field is wide open for experimentation.

    ToR aside, the thing I find most amusing are folks who are still bothering with subs. In 2011. That ship has sailed, folks. You might want to look for another boat. But I digress …

    It can only get better from here.

  4. 1. gopher-pocalypse?

    2. But that is who we are man. We love MMOs. We hate MMOs. We think MMOs are the greatest invention of contemporary video gaming. We think MMOs suck. It’s a love/hate relationship, counterbalanced by really good and really shitty MMOs.

    You should touch Assassin’s Creed though. It’s awesome.

  5. I’ve added “But will it change to WoW in the first patch/beta” to the list of things that could go wrong with a new MMO (not that this really applies to SW).

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