Last night I attended my high school reunion. I met up with my old friend Dean Musson beforehand and met his 3 month old daughter Mathilda, who is as cute as can be. All smile and naps. :) Hes a stay-at-home dad for a few months and he cant do too much…everything is in 2 hour feed-sleep cycles. He and Amy are big gamers and hes tried to fit in some Shadowbane, but its hard to do much but clean the house and watch Jerry Springer. Babys cries dont wait for you to finish your big online battle. And theres no pause button either. :p
Hearing how Dean and Amy game together got me thinking about the social aspects of games again. I remember times when my brothers and I would play games like Zelda and it was more fun to play together, taking turns steering the game, than to play alone. Even though one might expect that just watching would not be that fun, I’ve had a lot of single-player computer game experiences that were shared and that were a lot more fun for it! From Deans description MMPORPGs are especially well suited to playing with a significant other or roommate–it reduces the learning curve, increases the social fun factor, and gives you an ally to start the game with. It would be cool if this sort of gameplay was actually promoted, though I could see the need to balance it carefully, lest lone gunmen feel excluded or too big an advantage accrues to in-room gamers vs. non (like you might find with Counter-Strike).
The Lay Of the MMPORPG Land
I asked Dean to give me a tour of Shadowbane and then I asked about the other MMPORPG hes tried. He used to be a big Evercrack user, he stopped because it was taking too much time to keep up with the complicated ‘office politics’ that had emerged in the game. He was a leader of a guild and playing was basically a big chat dedicated to dealing with all the people he knew in the game. It was fun, but not really the sort of material anyone would turn into a novel. He and Amy had tried Ashernons Call before that and had played a month without interacting with anyone–they figured that wasnt what they were looking for so they moved on.
I told them about my short lived experience with Ultima Online–my low level fighter got his ass kicked by a rabbit (they probably thought that would be funny after one too many watchings of the Holy GrailId probably think it was funny too if my character wasnt ignominiously bleeding to death on the ground) and no one wanted to talk in town, so I figured Id find other ways to spend my money and time. Ashernons Call wasnt too much better, though I wasnt killed by rabbits. I played for a week but I never really got sucked into the game…just a bit too freeform for me. I have IM and I dont really care about chatting in-character for its own sake. I was hoping to enjoy an authentic roleplaying experience; alas, that isnt the strength of MMPORPGs today. I’ve also realized how frustrating it would be to play with people who much more discretionary time on their hands and whom therefore command much more powerful characters while I’m resigned to the role of an extra in an almost non-existent plot.
Dean tells me one of the things that got him into Shadowbane was how easily he leveled up and gained parity with much of the people in the game. He also filled me in on the interesting inter-state politics that have emerged in the game…it sounds like Shadowbane has got an edge with the creation a plotless environment that is nevertheless fun to play in, even if you arent online all the time. I might just give this one a shot. Oh, and Dean joined the chorus of people that tell me I really should give Warcraft III another try. I wasnt all that into the little bit I played–thought it looked like better graphics applied to a game that I had really liked, but that I had already played enough of to last me a little while. And I’m told to fear the coming of the World of Warcraft by both Dean and my bro John. It might be good. ;)
And About That Reunion
Go Nitros! Hmm. Or was it Dynamiters? Yah, so Dean, Amy, and I went to the reunion. Sat at a table, and realized that we had, in fact, been in a class of 650, there were about 90 people there, and out of our class of 650 we had only really spoken with 5-20 people on any sort of regular basis while we were in high school. The numbers werent going to go our way. Heh heh. Lots of barely familiar faces but I said hi to as many as I felt might remember me and it was sort cool. Basically everyone had gained 20 pounds and was doing something normal with their lives. :) We ate our “$75” dinner, said some hellos and goodbyes, then jetted to Bar Sinister for some drinks and a chill evening.
Updated on October 6th, 2013
Some of the links were broken. I replaced them with working links to pages with the same or similar content as before.