Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On Anarchy Online

Anarchy Online is a scifi game made by FunCom.

How long will it be before I find a scifi game that doesn't wind up just boring me to tears?

Anarchy has a long history, and it shows - the game looks like it was designed in the middle part of the 90s, and guess what! More Boring Humans! This time, they come in Bland, Nimble, Techie and Thump Grabhard flavors! It offers a wide variety of classes, which amount to very little, since you start the game on a horrendously-rendered beach, with directions that look like someone decided to resurrect the old Commodore system, and a skill tree that looks like it would need a four-part university course at MIT to properly navigate!

A game with spacey stuff, which means that you wander around this island, next to a nondescript metal building and are harassed by the wildlife, the local robots, or get frenched by the local facehugger population. And look, there's a refinery, which make no bloody difference at all, since you aren't likely to be refining anything.

An unrefined game with a refinery that doesn't actually do any refining?


Sunday, March 27, 2011

On Finding MMOs

It's starting to become pretty clear - there really does seem to be a limit on the variety of MMOs that one can play.

Not on the number of them, but on the genres themselves!

First, we have the anime MMOs - from the cartoony look of GhostX to the more "realistic" look of Megaten or Aika Online - it's the same group of apocalyptic threats future, past or present, being solved by Our Teenage Heropersons.

Second, we have the disturbingly large group of MMOs that are "I Can't Believe It's Not World of Warcraft!" Allods Online is one of this group, so are Gates of Andaron and Knight Online. These are generally medieval village-and-forest games, With Magic For Great Justice And More Boring Humans.

Third, we have Holy Crap, I'm In Ancient China archetype, Loong, Dynasty Warriors, World of Kung Fu, and a host of others, all set in an incredibly well-animated Holy Crap I'm In Ancient China With Magic For Great Justice world, frequently with amazing riding animals and flashy spells, martial arts, weapons and armor and so on.

Fourth, you have games that are dominantly user-created content, such as Face of Mankind or Second Life, two very different experiences indeed, but both are dominated by people building and selling and working the universe - EvE Online is this, writ large, AND you have to pay to get in on the action. That seems a pretty good idea on paper, but the reality is, on the Internet, especially in games, or even in social simulators like the aforementioned Second Life - Beware the Trolls.

Sometimes, you will see a company take a chance, and go somewhere new, the way City of Heroes and later Champions Online did: into the world of superheroes; or the way Sword 2 did, by making a fantasy MMO that was completely gender-positive and set in a world far ahead of steel armor and warhorses. A fantasy that has magic AND guns AND both genders being completely playable!