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Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Idiocy of: Always Online Games

I'd just like to say this is a long time coming. No this will not focus mainly on the blunder of SimCity but I will speak about it.

A little history about me. I was a little kid who had developed a lung condition and could not do physical labor or sports for extended periods of time. Needless to say I was an outcast at school. I found myself contemplating things more often than I should, preferring not to make friends because they would always do things I could not or be gone within a matter of months. There wasn't much to do as a kid other than play with toys and eventually that got boring as well. When I was about 2, my grandmother bought my brother a GameBoy Pocket, not knowing how old it actually was considering this was the early 90's. Nevertheless, when I grew up this thing was a treasure to me. Whether on the go or at home, the very first game I played was Mario World (which I have never beaten to this day yet I still have the system and the game in my room). I got a SNES later on in life and had it taken away by my mom later because of Super Metroid. Why tell you this? Because video games have been an integral part of my life since I was a child, even before I knew of my lung condition. Afterwards, they became an even greater part of my life because I had nothing else to do so my friends would have to play video games with me instead of physical play outside. I never really got into online gaming because it's only been apart of my life for at least a few years. Now I don't mind it though. I have a great time playing online with Crysis 3 because it's a fairly balanced game. Games like Call of Duty and Battlefield don't interest me because they are filled with people who get extremely good at the game to mess around with people like me.
I don't remember the first online experience that I had but it probably wasn't a pleasant one. I've never cared much for online gaming and choose to forego most experiences when playing a game. Here's how online gaming is done right. Ever played Dark Souls? The game is brutally difficult (which is not my thing) and has vast amounts of content ready to explore. When the online is on, you'll see little things on the ground of player's messages that they've left. Usually you'll come across that annoying "Praise the Sun" b.s., but sometimes the messages do help you. Apart from that, you can summon more powerful players into your world to help you out, though I never found out how that works. Every so often, a player may invade your world to kill you and steal your souls, which are everything in this game. Playing on the original Xbox I laugh quickly then unplug my internet connection, cutting them from my game and playing by myself once again. This is a good way to have multiplayer without multiplayer. It's always a challenge to wonder if it's best to keep yourself online to get messages that may or may not be helpful while risking the attack of a much stronger player. Note you can't pause the game at any time so everything's quick and brutal. One time I was in the depths of a cave. A note said "Phantoms cannot be killed by normal weapons". Not understanding that, I went forwards and was boned shortly after. Only one have I killed an invading player but that was by a stroke of luck and I had two other losses after that. That is online done right.
I've always said the worst part about an MMO is the other players. As you may or may not know I have been playing The Old Republic quite often. It's a fun game and after my free to play session, I decided it was worth the 15 bucks a month to subscribe. Going back to my first comment, I don't like MMO players. If you go just about anywhere on the internet, trolls abound. Whether giving you false information or just being plain disgusting and rude, I don't need to or like to play with other characters. Just today I was playing in one of the starting worlds with a completely new character. A couple of guys were trolling on the chat and I decided to play along. Their antics quickly shifted to darker, more perverse things and I did my best to ignore them. They constantly cursed and said vile things and never felt apologetic about it, even going so far as to accost other players till everyone stopped talking all together. I have the fundamental belief that all people hold both dark and light sides to them (part of the reason I like Star Wars so much). I feel the internet brings out the worst in people, finding that I rarely helping each other out, only seeking to make people feel awkward about themselves. For instance, one of my players is a second command in a newly formed guild. That is a big responsibility for me considering I have a part time job and school to deal with. I don't like commitments in games, I find them to be taxing. I get why an MMO is going to be always online. The biggest world my computer can currently play is Skyrim, which is huge. The Old Republic has about twenty different worlds, some the size of or even greater than Skyrim with the same graphical quality. Servers are needed to keep the game flowing naturally and smoothly with these massive worlds. The problem I have with that is that servers are constantly kicking me out, regardless that it says for me being a subscriber, I basically have priority over others when being in a server. This is a regular occurrence by the way which people have told me to tell the support team about. But that's bull. I pay for this game, why am I being kicked out of it constantly? The main problem I have with this game is that it is a sort of prequel to the Knights of the Old Republic games. I think I said, "This is the game I wish Knights of the Old Republic was" and I heartily mean it. It's better in just about every way and would be perfect if the servers weren't there and it was a single player. Hell, one of the servers is completely offline now and some people where even joking how the only reason they were on another server is because their server is just... gone.
Now to the nitty gritty of SimCity. I've never played it. Not a previous one or this one. The game does look nice but appearances can be deceiving. When I heard about it I thought I would buy it. Once I heard it was always online, I immediately changed my mind. Even if the servers ran perfectly day one... why always online? Even in single player? That makes no sense. I have no idea why they chose to go with this choice but hopefully they've learned their mistakes. It may not be an MMO, but it certainly does face the problems of one. In fact... a SimCity MMO sounds kind of cool. But, I would like a single player SimCity if you don't mind. It's always fun to wreck up your city and start anew or simply reload like my Skryim massacres.

Simply put, always online games will never work. Have a faux online like Dark Souls if you must but for me I'll stick with single player experiences.

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