Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Numbers Online

I remember 2006 as the year I first had semi frequent access to non dial up internet, and with this a whole new slew of gaming options. The first MMO-ish game I played was a little 3D Shooter by the name of Gunz The Duel . Even with what was a "fast" connection at that time the download still took forever, but that night it finally finished and I found myself connected to thousands of other online users in a duel to the death.  Running and gunning each other down, gathering experience points, ever looking for new gear, and levels. Interacting with other plays like this was a new type of gaming for me. Here was constant multiplayer , with an untold myriad of adventures to be had. The feeling was awesome, and I'll never forget those first nights playing Gunz The Duel until early in the morning.  Pretty soon though, it was back to dial-up, and it was another few years before I finally had internet worth playing an MMO on again.  Not being one to pay for PC games most of my early MMO excursions were F2P(that's free to play) MMOS, and most of them were of the notoriously grindy Korean bunch. The first one I remember spending tons of time in was Acclaim's 9 Dragons.  I reached level 40 in this game before pretty much dropping it completely. The first few months were again, amazing. The experience of an online game, competing against other players to be the best, and a big open world was fascinating to me. Unfortunately, the more I played the more a sort of gnawing feeling grew at the back of my head- The feeling that I was simply doing the same thing over and over again.  Sure I was gaining a new level here and there, but the quests were all "fetch me x amount of this" or "Go kill X Amount of these." Sure I joined a clan, but what was that besides a few skills identical to all the other clans's skills, and a title by my username?  After dropping 9 Dragons I played several other MMOs such as Silkroad, Knight Online, and even some other MMO that was so similar that I can't remember the name. I even remember hearing about Requiem: Bloodymare which was supposed to be the new dark MMO to set the standard.....NOT. It was just a grind fest. It was a bloody grindfest, but a grindfest all the same. Its like every F2P MMO came from a same mold and just added in some sort of new "twist" that was supposed to revolutionize the market. Whether it be a night and days system, martial arts, violence, or a new type of economy system, they are all rather cookie cutter and the same. They all brag about a massive open world, but there's really nothing in it. Sure you can go explore the rolling fields and mountains of 9 Dragons, but there's really nothing there (except maybe some really nasty mobs that will destroy you). I mean I get it you can't place a rare treasure in a cave somewhere because then everyone will just camp it right? MMO mechanics have hurt MMOs I think. I pretty much quit them all together.
Then came college, some people down the hall had some WoW installation disk and asked me to try playing it for a bit. Ok I said. WoW is a P2P MMO. Surely the extra cost will be befitting of some new features that will save my dying idea of an MMO! Nah, it was the same thing. Fetch me this, kill this. Oh but there are two sides you can play on! So what they are both doing the same types of quest, and the end games with its glorious “intense raids” are really just all about numbers. Get our stats to this so we can beat this to get gear that makes our numbers go up enough to do this and repeat.

Now I'm not bashing the MMO market. Its a great market for the gaming economy and MMOs can provide several hours of enjoyment, my problem is just isn't there SOME way to do online besides this cookie cutter niche the market has fallen into.  There's just go to be some kind of way to make a game fair without having everyone just click n' kill.  Amidst the sea of MMOs there are some that I have found to actually do things in a way that makes them different, and a lot of fun. 

Guild Wars - Probably the most traditional of the MMOs I'll talk about but its just fun to play. GW boasts an epic (and long) story spread out across instance based missions, as well as mini quest you can undertake along the way.  With the level cap at 20 players spend time playing the game having fun with missions and better characters, not because they have to grind just to get to the next part of the game.

Dungeon Fighter Online - This one is of Korean creation, but it is significantly less grindy than its counterparts.  DFO harkens back to the arcade beatem up action of yesteryear's arcades.  Players choose from a set of characters with abilities that actually have quite significant differences, and set off as "Dungeon Fighters" to battle their way through several different levels.  It’s an elegant blend of MMO style leveling and statistics, with a real time movement scheme that will give skillful players an advantage, because of their ability and not just because of  the numbers they have put up on the My Stats menu.

Phantasy Star Online - If you can find a way to play this one (especially on an online server) do it because it’s a blast.  There are 2 types of characters (human or android) and they divide up into other sets of classes that divide up into more types of classes.  There are story missions, but the real fun is hacking your way through dungeons with a party of your friends. 

- Torentsu

Those darn goblins have attacked the village again! What will we do! You have to help us stop them! Defeat 15 of them that should be enough!

Defeat 15 Goblin(s)
Accept  Decline

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