Sunday, December 26, 2004
No, no, not level 40 in EQ2 or WoW. I "dinged" 40 years in real life today. Man, I feel old, and a bit depressed. Of course I'm only one day older than yesterday, but somehow these round numbered birthdays feel as if you aged 10 years at once. As a gamer, age makes me afraid of two things:
First is games getting twitchier. My reflexes are getting slower. A game that challenges the reflexes of a teenager is impossibly hard to me. I had to play all the difficult parts of GTA:Vice City with the slow motion cheat on, and not many games even offer that as an option. I used to like strategy games, but that was when they were still turn-based. The modern real-time strategy games are often simply too fast for me. MMORPG are still relatively slow games, but as CoH showed that is just a matter of technology advancing before they too become twitchier.
Second problem of age is the "been there, done that" feeling. A major part of the fun of new games is discovering new things. But the more games you already played, the less new things you discover in a new game. Most MMORPGs of the last years have been described as improved Everquest clones, and there is some truth in that. Developers "borrow" ideas from previous successful games. And some concepts, like MMORPG combat, have evolved very little in the last 5 years.
Where am I now with my games? In Everquest 2 I used the xp bonus times, one offered as compensation for the server outage, the other as christmas bonus, to level my carpenter up to 25. That is the level where he can make bank boxes with 16 slots, one of the hot-selling items in the EQ2 economy. Unfortunately getting to level 25 was incredibly boring. It turns out that carpenters only get two new recipes for every level beyond 20. So leveling up becomes slower and slower, for a rather meagre reward. The next thing to look forward to would be 20-slot boxes at level 35, and I simply refuse to grind 10 hard levels for that.
That is a typical thing to happen in these grind-based games: At some level progress slows down to a point where the reward doesn't seem to be worth the effort any more. Of course I could now start leveling my adventure level in EQ2. But as I'm now subscribed to WoW as well, there isn't much point in adventuring in EQ2. In direct comparison WoW adventuring is far superior. EQ2 monster-bashing is less fun because of the stupid encounter system which marks half of the monsters as being "group only". Quests beyond level 10 more and more often send you against these "group only" monsters. At that point you either turn back and go for the next quest, or you try to find a group. Finding groups for a quest is annoying, because often the group splits up after having done the quest. The quest-driven gameplay doesn't mix very well with enforced grouping.
World of Warcraft manages that a lot better by specifically marking those quests in your quest journal already as being "elite", that is group only. And there are a lot less group only encounters in WoW. Plus they are then concentrated in one group-only instanced dungeon. So when you gather a group for these, you do the complete dungeon together, which is a lot of fun. So I guess I will be playing more and more WoW, and less and less EQ2, until I cancel the latter eventually.