No one expects the Spanish Inquisition

Well those reports of Google purchasing the Streaming giant Twitch fall to ash as Amazon appear to have jumped in with a 970 million dollar deal.

It was clear that a purchase was on the horizon as the changes to the retention and the removal of copyright infringing audio, was a silver bullet in removing some of the headaches that a potential buyer could face.

Reasons to be cheerful

Many games claim to be the best of it’s genre, you will certainly find their descriptions littered with buzzwords like ‘unique’,’sandbox’,’cutting edge’. Of course many of a games features don’t appeal to all players and one persons holy grail is anothers poisoned chalice, Pinning down the qualities that make a game good isn’t a simple task.

64px-gnome-x-office-spreadsheetsvgI, like many, have sat and played a countless number of games over my gaming history, with a varied mixture of on/off line, single/multi player games. I like to feel my hype-amour is well worn & rusty at the edges, taking a game on it’s own merits not those pumped out by the PR machine.

I’m interested in what elements people find makes a game good, what makes it stand out from the crowd. I plan to list the elements of those games that have given me something different and the items that make you coming back for more.

I’ve highlighted games that I believe fit the bill for the game qualities I like. To make life easier I had to split out MMOs from other games due to their unique natures.

Non-MMO

  • Pretty graphics is a poor substitute for good gameplay
    • Too much dependence on the hottest new engine or graphical twist, games should be just as fun running on the lowest settings as well as the top settings (Assassins Creed)
  • Re-playability
    • Whether you dive back into a new game straight away or in 6 months time, it’s the interesting and exciting elements that draw you back in, these tend to be RTS games that I have long term addictions with. (Roller Coaster Tycoon, Dawn of War II )
  • Make it tough not impossible
    • Nothing is more annoying than getting deep into a game only to get stuck on a seemingly impossible area, Left4Dead is  good example of this in action, the Director controller manages overall gameplay making adjustments on the fly to enhance the overall player experience.

MMO

  • Not level dependant
    • Games that don’t care about max level in a traditionl sense, where there is still plenty of content once you get to the maximum level. (Guild Wars)
    • I also found the idea of a game were levels don’t equal more power, just increases the diversity of the avatar and game-play (Guild Wars, Planetside)
  • Enjoyable without Goals
    • I enjoy a game were I can play for 6 hours straight and not really achieve anything, but I can still walk away with a smile. Entertaining games that make the time fly.
  • Grouping with friends of any level/skill
    • As gamers become more social it’s only natural for them to want to play alongside friends both online and real-life, systems and methods that all (Planetside, City of Heroes)

Both

  • Realistic achievements
    • Increasing more game ship with a slew of merits that drive players to go out of their way to obtain a predetermined goals.

So what game elements appeal the most to you?
What drives you to fireup a game time and time again?

I am weak

cj_logoI read an “interestingarticle about MMO addiction, I shall call it an article as I believe that is what it originally aimed to be, before being filled with what at times feels like general malice towards MMO games and their players.

You play a MMO, You are weak!

Smashing the first misplaced statement, I play MMOs, I also play RTS games an FPS games, and I quite enjoy adventure games too. Me and my friends play simulated musical instruments for enjoyment, it doesn’t achieve anything, there are no goals or final bosses to defeat, yet we still play. Many of my gaming friends play MMOs and many other non-MMO PC games and generally they own a console too.

Speaking of consoles, when GTA4 was released, it sold a massive 3.8 million copies on the first day, I dread to think how many people sat down a played that game until they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And I can guess that they did the same for a few days following too. I think I wouldn’t be too wrong in say that the above example is a good demonstration of  peoples generally addictive nature

And I’ll not deny there are those that have tendencies to become addicted to games, and yes it can lead to self-destructive behaviour in the real world. I have see first hand how a gamers innocent habit can spiral out of control but these case are quite rare. Are these the social rejects mentioned in the article or aren’t they just the gaming equivalent of fanatical sports fans?

Milking the life from our bones

Around the world there are people that sit down every weekday to enjoy their favourite sport, TV show or  Soap-opera, the 9.7 million viewers that sat down on January 26th to watch EastEnders on BBC1, are these people “useless, socially inept sacks of shit“? No they are doing something they enjoy.

rankings1

Even talking into consideration the fact they sit down multiple times a week to watch the same program or few programs, labelling people solely based on their past-time isn’t going to win you any friends and certainly avoids having to dig deeper into the reasons and facts behind these habits. Why bother to examine the social elements or enjoyment of these hobbies when you can just label the patrons addicts.

I would rather spend my hard earned money on one months MMO subscription for £8.99 than pay out £8 on Lottery tickets for a months worth of draws. I know which one feels like throwing my money away and which I find fun and enjoyable.

Underhanded tricks and other things

I’d like to focus on one item of the “List” of underhanded tricks:

“Constantly update and patch the game with arbitrary bug fixes and class changes that will throw gameplay completely off balance.  Just for the hell of it.  Players will complain on the forums but for whatever reason, they still refuse to quit.”

Now I took alot of the other comments with a pinch of salt, someone else’s opinion on various topics, but really the above statement just doesn’t make any fucking sense. During my entire gaming history I can’t say I recall a time when a patch was released “just for the hell of it” and class changes will generally be to balance overall game play not because the developers wanted to play a joke. Do you get the feel someone is bitter about a class nerf from along time ago?

terrible1951_000030I know we think the MMO gaming scene is still relatively small compared to other gaming types, but with completely trashy journalism likes this is it any wonder? It all reminds me of the scare tactics employed by the informational films of the 50’s, They might as well have gone with the title “Playing MMOs will turn you into an addict, just say no!”.

It’s truly sad that the misconceptions regarding MMOs are so rife, hopefully as more MMOs make the jump onto console platforms and into mainstream console gaming, the mists shrouding MMO games will lift and open peoples eyes to the true facts about the games that we enjoy and play.

A pint of milk and a new costumes please

cashThere is much chatter at the moment regarding Real Money Transactions (RMT) AKA microtransactions, this is largely due to hints that Bioware could made SWTOR will be driven solely by RMTs and with no subscriptions. Additionally in the last week other have announced RMTs for other games, SOE has released the Station cash that can used with EQ1 and EQ2, and Blizzard have introduced character remodelling service.

Recently the Shut up we’re talking, Spouse Aggro and Van Hemlock podcasts (via Virginworlds) have all taken time out this week to discuss the topic of RMTs. This lead me into think about the current climate of RMTs and the future potential for the MMO game-space.

I’m told that Eastern MMO games are more frequently Micro-transaction based than Subscription being a complete opposite to the current Western gamer model. Of course it’s not completely new method to generate extra incoming from a game, many have allowed users to buy items like server transfers for many years.

A non-subscription game that has excelled in this area is Guild Wars, allowing for various purchasing options from extra character slots to PvP Skills packs. This appears to be a rather proviductive method to generate income, outside of the Game sales.

Closer to my gaming heart is the recent NCSoft released add-on packs for City of Heroes/Villains, delivering new costume parts and emotes, In addition to allowing the in-game purchase of extra slot options, rename tokens and server transfers.

So how good is the new black?

I’m a fan of RMTs, providing they are balanced, they can generate increased/renewed interest in a game title, plus the other benefit is they give extra revenue to the games owners. Now whether that cash is then injected back into the games development, is down to the company, but either way it’s good tidings for that game in general.

I think that in the current climate of financial uncertainty, any game that is advertised as non-subscription with micro-transactions is certain to gain favour of the masses.

As the changing face of the Western MMO market morphs into a thick-skinned old man, we’ll see that main established games will ramp up their focus on RMTs content to ensure that players gaming experiences are kept fresh.

So i think that providing that it isn’t at the expense of main content development I’m very happy to pay a little extra, to see a game I like, succeed.

Oh dear, not Winehouse

I was reading that Amy Winehouse is to be immortalised in wax (shudder) at Madame Tussauds this year as according to the manager she is requested by guests. No I haven't visited Tussauds for many years but I seem to remember it being about getting to see life-like figures of famous people some of which you'd not see outside of the television screen. Sadly I already see enough of this celebrity without even trying so to actively request more indicates there are some people that lack a TV and don't read newspapers.

It's a farce when you see these trashy life-style celebrities being thrown back into rehab over and over again. Surely there needs to be a way to extract such people out of the lime-light and the public eye. Perhaps judges can start to dish out sentences like, 5 months media blackout, where no stories of that artist should appear in written or televised media within the UK.

I wonder if that kind of action would have any impact on their lifes-styles? if not then at least I don't have to hear/read or see about it every few weeks.

So I shall be avoiding Madame Tussauds just incase my eyes happen to galance over the life-like medusa-haired features of The Winehouse, frozen for all into see in wax.