Why don’t you want me to play?

Some time ago, I signed up to Runescape as I figured it would be worth trying out the largest free-to-play MMO in the world. It was definitely some time ago and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t this year and it may well have been 2008 or prior to that. I know I wrote about free-to-play games on this site 3 years ago so maybe it was after that. I should probably have an email about it somewhere but it’s also possible it’s on an old PC that is going to be difficult to resurrect.

This is relevant. I’ll come back to it.

This morning I thought I’d give Runescape another look – partly because it had come up in conversation in my guild chat last night and partly because of an article published over at Massively the other day. And hey, it’s slow at work at the moment and it might pass the time during my lunch break.

Before I could play, however, there was the little matter of logging in.
Continue reading Why don’t you want me to play?


Today is the sixth anniversary of that MMO. It’s also the day that the Shattering finally takes place and the game world of Azeroth changes.

A criticism levelled at a lot some new MMOs is that they are trying to be World of Warcraft (and I’m not referring solely to Alganon). SWG’s aforementioned NGE, for example, seemed to be inspired not in the least by WoW’s success. So it seems somewhat meta that Blizzard are reshaping their old world to be more like itself – only better. Taking lessons learned from two successful expansions, out go all those damned tedious quests which require you to traipse back and forth between continents and in come new storylines for zones that bring the questing experience more in line with Outland and Northrend zones.

Incidentally, The Green Hills of Stranglethorn quest that Jeff Kaplan admitted may have been a mistake in its original incarnation is still in the game. Now, however, you only have to collect one page instead of twelve.

A long time ago…

…in a galaxy far, far away, the NGE hit Star Wars: Galaxies. The date: November 15th 2005¹.

Five years later, despite server closures and merges and a minimal population, the game is still going and content has still been added to the game including, amongst other additions, the planet of Hoth which went live on November 20th 2008. The latest patch, Game Update 18, was released last month.
Continue reading A long time ago…

On the treadmill

or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the grind.

(Our sponsors would like to apologise in advance for the slightly more personal and self-indulgent nature of this post. Thank you for your custom.)

To achieve competence in sport necessitates training. Training involves doing the same thing over and over and over and over again: to build up strength, endurance and capability; to learn about your team-mates in co-operative games; to learn the rules; to perfect your technique.

If you want to run a marathon, you don’t just turn up on the day and do it. You train for it. You go out running. You start small; 5km, then 10, 15, up to half-marathon, work your way up to 20 miles and then you’re probably ready. You go out, 3 to 5 times a week, trudging around the same routes that were stunning and interesting at first but soon lost their charm after the 18th time, or, when the weathers bad and you’re a fair-weather runner, in the gym, pounding away mindlessly on the treadmill, getting the miles into your feet, conditioning your body and your mind ready for the challenge. There will be times when it will hurt, times when you don’t enjoy it and times when it goes badly and all these times will make you question why you’re doing it to yourself. And you won’t have a good answer.
Continue reading On the treadmill

Begun, the Clone Wars beta has

Been meaning to write something lengthier about this for a while, especially in relation to a lot of the recent news about Bioware’s The Old Republic. But I haven’t got around to it yet and now Sony’s Clone Wars Adventures Free2Play not-browser based “MMO” is in a free-to-all open beta, ahead of of it’s mid-September launch. You need a Station Pass Account to register and can download the plugin at http://www.clonewarsadventures.com

A Kestrel for a knave

The news that a pilot in EVE was attacked by other players who not only destroyed his ship, but also the PLEX (Pilots license extensions; in-game timecodes that can be traded between players) worth an estimated 22 billion ISK that he was carrying proves once again that, for me at any rate, it is far more fun and interesting to read about what goes on in EVE than it is to actually play the game.

L’enfer, c’est les autres

There has been some critical concerns about the anticipated gameplay of SWTOR – namely that it you, the gamer, will end up playing large parts of the game solo. This is a concern that echoes design decisions made in other products as far back as reducing the grouping size in SWG from 20 to 8 or Azerothian mobs being stripped of their elite status and becoming easily soloable. “The MM in MMORPG means ‘Massively Multiplayer’! Why play a ‘massively multiplayer’ game if you’re going to play it solo?” was the argument put up against these changes. Luckily for me and my absolute inability to post here more than a couple of times per year, Zubon has recently touched on this very subject in his post, Unforced Grouping. But I think there’s a more subconscious reasoning going on than the low investment requirements of soloing or the high potential for a bad grouped experience. I think we’re afraid.
Continue reading L’enfer, c’est les autres

This gaming life

I’m the gamer in my family. I’ve been playing video games for 25 years and it’s a habit which doesn’t show any signs of letting up. Apart from a few drunken, post-pub sessions on Dance Dance Revolution on the PS2, my wife is a total non-gamer. She is vaguely aware of World of Warcraft and knows that I will sometimes stay up late to play “those silly games” on my laptop.

A fair few years ago, shortly after I started playing SWG, I attempted to explain to her all about MMOs, that a lot of the other characters on the screen were other players and that I was able to interact with them, talk to them, play with them. She showed about as much interest in it as I tend to do whenever Strictly Celebrity X Wife Jungle Dance Factor is on.

So, guess which one of us introduced our four-year-old son to Club Penguin!