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A Personal Paradigm Shift

August 3, 2012

Dear Reader,

I’ve noticed it before.  Heck, I’ve even casually mentioned it here before, but last night slammed me with a full realization about something that’s changed in my life.

I used to play virtually every “really good” game out there.  That’s across most genres; I never really got into sports games (how shocking), but most any other game genre I enjoyed playing.  If you go to any reasonable list of the “best” games of whenever (1980s…90s…2000s…ever), I’ve probably played 90% or more of the top 10.

My point here isn’t bragging rights; it’s about my motivation.  I liked to play games – any game – every game.

Something’s changed, though.  I’ve said before I’m not really that interested in games any more that don’t offer some form of co-op.  During the Steam Sale, my buddy and I found that every game he’s willing to play (his tastes are much more narrow than mine) that had a co-op, we already owned.  I ended up buying 2 sale games: RAGE and Metro 2033.  Both have interesting settings that would normally intrigue me greatly, but as neither have a real co-op mode, I just can’t get into them.

Whether or not a game has co-op and how well designed it is often occupies my first interest when reading a review.  Before I even look at how fun a game is, I check its co-op.  This behavior is really quite telling.

Last night, though, I got the proverbial fish-slap to the face.  After “suffering” through the first part of the week, when people’s schedules were quite incompatible, everyone in my gaming group was available to play The Secret World at a reasonable hour.  We did a couple of missions, and then got the notice that the servers were going down for three hours.  We groaned and bitched and moaned, but it’s not like there was anything we could do.  Instead, we just hung out on vent and chatted about a variety of topics, searching the Internet for sites and looking up topics of discussion.

One of my buddies mentioned a card game “Cards against Humanity,” which is like a crude, offensive Apples to Apples.  Let me warn you it’s both probably not safe for work as well as potentially offensive if you have issues that you get offended about.  We spent about half an hour in the “card research lab” just reading combos over vent trying to make each other laugh.

Clearly, TSW was just a reason to get together and hang out.  That’s a big change from my WoW raiding days, a big change from my Star Wars “get to max level and finish it” days.  Even my buddy, I think, is beginning to slow down and not rush through the content.  I talked with my other friend about that, and our theory is that since the only real “finish” to the game is getting every single ability, which takes about 10,000 ability points, our buddy simply can’t process a number that far in the future and is stopping to smell the secret roses.

It’s a nice change, I guess, but I wonder what really precipitated it.  I wonder if it was just a loss of interest in end-game due to over-saturation in WoW.  Perhaps it’s just getting older, but there’s plenty of hard-core gamers at my age, so that doesn’t feel like it holds much water.  Perhaps it’s just my time in video games, which is easily 20,000 hours (I did the math in another post, but now I can’t find it).  Maybe it’s moving away from NYC and not getting to see my buddies in person very often any more.

Likely, it’s a combination of each, but whatever the case, single player’s just not holding my attention any more.  I’ve mentioned before that I’m excited to see what new genre pops up to replace MMOs (not that I’m rooting against them – I’m not, but the future is so exciting).  We’re past due, if you look at the development of new genres in video games (it’s a new genre sweeping the world about every 5 years*), but I bet it’s going to be a multiplayer-inclusive genre, as well.  That’s the thing about new genres, though; you can’t really predict what they’ll be like.

How about you, dear reader; have you found your gaming paradigms shifting?

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and sliding)

*This is a totally made up number based on my impressions of how often new types of games (arcade/text, platformers, Rpg/point-and-click adventure, FPS/4x, MMO…?) come along.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. Kishmet permalink
    August 3, 2012 12:17 pm

    Well the only shift I have noticed is going back to slower paced games (that according to myself are harder and older). Noteable games I have picked up in the last 3 months for instance are Civilization 4 (currently playing Civ5 Gods and Kings though), as well as Neverwinter Nights 2. I agree that ever since I got my eyes openend to the wonderful world of multiplayer I have a hard time playing single player games. Mind you I can do it but I need to have someone I can talk about the game with and compare choices, experience etc. with. IN short gaming is much more social to me now then it was in my very young days playing Age of Empires 2 or Civilization 1.
    When it comes to co-op though I am very sceptic about that (I for instnace hate the ME3 co-op) as I feel the way co-op now is implemented is just going after quick thrills and instant satisfaction. I much more prefer the old style in MMOs were you had something we like to call a community where the social interaction was more complex and “slower” if one can call it that. That said I still do play WoW just it’s nto WoW I’m playing it’s merely a plattform I use to hang around with friends (which is quite sad tbh).
    As far as paradigm shifting is concerned I have come to value the things I did not like about some of the older games (NWN2’s massively complex class creating system for instance). It might also be the fact that I dont see any longevity in my favourite past time of gaming and MMO’s in particular anymore, a train of thought that the F2P announcement for SWTOR recently sparked.

    • August 4, 2012 11:06 am

      No doubt NWN2 is one of the hardest of those types of games. Part of the challenge for me was babysitting the moronic AI, though. Still, I enjoyed it for precisely the reasons you describe: the complex system of character design that fundamentally alters the game you end up playing.

      I don’t think it’s sad to use WoW to hang out. My whole 10×85 scheme was just to put WoW on life support, giving me a reason to log in and keep up with my buddies. I’d be willing to bet it’s a lot more common than any of us know.

      I’m a little skeptical of some co-op. I’m confused and irritated by games that have full, lovely single player campaigns that then give you co-op that’s not the same things. Bulletstorm (lousy game anyway, but still…) did that, as did RAGE, which had a lot of good co-op potential. I think EYE: Divine Cybermancy would have been unplayable if not for the co-op, which was horrendously implemented, but still workable. D3, too, wouldn’t have kept me through a single normal playthrough if not for the fact I was playing with friends.

      I think devs really need to work to make co-op as solid an experience as single player and to make sure the joining up with friends is as smooth as it was in D3. That’s what I hope to see in the future.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. August 6, 2012 5:15 am

    I’ll still immerse myself quite happily in a single player game, like Skyrim at the moment, especially one that tells a story. Probably not terribly surprising considering I always come out as total introvert on personality tests.

    On the matter of a game being a place to hang out, though, something Kieron Gillen wrote a few years back on Rock, Paper, Shotgun still sticks out for me. From his “review” of Ludo:

    “At a core level, especially when played with friends, everything’s fun in multiplayer. Stating the obvious: the most important part of multiplayer is the multiple players. This is where a worrying amount of a multiplayer game’s merit comes from. Is this actually a good game, or are these just good players? By which I mean, not actually anything to do with the commonly accepted idea of whether someone is good at the game – but whether they’re actually good to play with. That’s the only sort of “good player” which ever really matters.”

    • August 6, 2012 3:27 pm

      Yeah, I know for sure I’ve made it through some mediocre games only because I was playing with someone. Dead Island sticks out as an example. It was okay, it was a fine game, but it wasn’t really anything special and the fact I was playing with a buddy made it worth my while.

      Still, I’d prefer Dead Island to finishing Skyrim. I can state this as an absolute fact since I did finish DI and not Skyrim before I just got bored, distracted by another game, and lost interest. I know for an absolute fact, too, that Skyrim was by miles and miles a better game. Still, there it stands, unfinished because I lost interest.

      The sad fact is, then, that I’m more interested in socializing than playing, which of course is what I wrote about in the post. That’s the fundamental shift for me, though I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else.

      Thanks for the comment, and it’s nice to see you here!

  3. August 6, 2012 9:57 am

    As you mention in your comment above Stubborn, for me the fundamental factor for any choice of games now is decent multiplayer. That is if I buy an RPG it has to have multiplayer and not just random arena fighting but actual storyline that you can play through together – which has meant actually for some years that MMORPGs were the only option since so many leading RPGs were stoicly single-player only (Elder Scrolls, Dragon Age etc).

    A development studio can over complicate the multiplayer though if they try and lay the story on too heavily – I think Bioware do this too often in there games and SWTOR is no exception. On paper it seemed like a dream game for small group play. But in the end with all the heavy instancing/ load screens AND the spoilers if you play with other classes during their class story missions it actually ends up being a negative aspect to the game in the longer run. I had a blast in duo or trio group with friends on the planet quests and heroic missions BUT the class stories actually got in the way of just ‘playing the game’.

    • August 6, 2012 3:30 pm

      Yeah, the ability to let people play together has to come at some cost, I think, and Bioware’s been a little too heavy on the cost side. I didn’t like how it dealt with choices in games, and felt it was a very heavy handed “DM.” Still, I couldn’t have got to max level in SW without playing with my wife and buddy, nor would have had any interest too even if I could.

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. Beshara permalink
    August 7, 2012 10:29 am

    I have definately noticed a shift in how I play. I used to be a consistent raider in WoW (no hard modes), playing every weekend and learning how to play my priest the best I could as a healer. I switched specs because it was more effective, even though the play style wasn’t as enjoyable. I was upset when Dragon Soul came out because it felt so easy compared to the previous raids. Mists looked like it would be aimed at a younger, more casual audience at that time.

    Then I gave birth to my first child.

    I didn’t game much during the first few months, but once my son got into a good sleep routine I was able to game some. I realized then that a more casual approach to gaming was exactly what I wanted. I still like the idea of 5 mans and raiding in Mists, but I can’t guarentee I will be as consistent as before. LFR and LFG may not be the ideal people to play with, but I can leave whenever I need to without feeling guilty. I don’t want a huge challenge in my gaming right now. I like the feeling of being overpowered in a game with so much challenge going on in my real life.

    I have a feeling my tastes will change again as he gets older.

    • August 7, 2012 11:08 am

      That makes perfect sense to me. I think that’s what the themepark model’s for, anyway. I’m certainly glad I’m able to keep playing some WoW while I branch out into more difficult games, because WoW’s become an “old stomping ground” for me that I like to return to with some frequency.

      If you don’t read him, you should check out Big Bear Butt Blogger’s posts about his and his son’s play habits. As his boy got older, he introduced him to WoW, and he often writes about his conversations and play sessions with his son. It’s quite fascinating and often endearing as well. He’s at http://thebigbearbutt.com/.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • Beshara permalink
      August 7, 2012 8:46 pm

      Oh yes, those are some of my favorite posts to read. I look forward to being able to spend time like that with my own son as he gets older.

  5. Merridew permalink
    August 18, 2012 8:41 pm

    Yes. I now look, not just for multiplayer, but specifically co-op. And none of that tacked on special mode crap, I mean co-op story mode. Though I will admit to falling in love with ME3’s MP, that has a progression all its own. I still enjoy a good single-player game, but I find myself more interested in playing with my husband and/or friends when they’re available.

    • August 21, 2012 9:32 am

      Yes the special mode co-ops make me upset, because it’s often not clear that that’s what you’re getting. I’ve taken to checking co-optimus, a site dedicated to reviewing specifically the co-op portions of games. Since I love Bethesda games, when I heard RAGE had a coop, I was pretty excited, then I checked co-optimus and found out it was “special mode.” How annoying.

      Thanks for the comment!

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