19 February 2012

This Just In: Weekly News Roundup

Well after a highly abnormal week, I am hoping to settle back in to the regular routine this week.  To get things moving in that direction, here is my weekly look back at the MMO stories that mattered to me last week.

Guild Wars 2 Coming... to a Console Near You 

So there was exciting news recently for Guild Wars 2 fans as ArenaNet finally "confirmed" that GW2 would actually be released this year.  Then they tossed a little "cold water" on that news with this follow up that GW2 would be coming to consoles.  I say cold water because I cannot see anything good coming of this.  As an avid PC gamer who prefers that platform, but who also owns consoles, every time I see a PC game ported to consoles or vice versa, it never turns out for the better for the PC version.  Accommodations always have to be made for the different capabilities of the console and the PC version inevitably suffers for it.  In the MMO market, DC Universe Online is a good example of this.  Even the PC version plays like it was designed for a console controller. 

This is particularly troubling for a title like GW2 which MMO enthusiasts are already expecting to either save or revolutionize the genre.  If it is being built with consoles in mind, you can forget about that.  And this really makes me sad on a personal level because the PC remains my preferred platform for gaming and I am more and more troubled that developers and publishers only seem to care about placating the console crowd.  I get that consoles are easier to program for.  There is only a single architecture rather than the nearly infinite hardware/software combinations of the PC.  But I am so tired of "lowest common denominator" gaming.  That's what I feel we are getting these days with nothing but mindless sequels and console ports dumped on the PC market.  I'm probably overreacting, but this news really diminished my interest in GW2.

Gaming... Still a Popular Scapegoat

In a past news post, I linked a recent study on the issue of gaming addiction and I commented that gaming makes a convenient scapegoat mostly because the current generation of politicians and academics do not participate in it.  It is outside their common experience and so it makes a good target when they need something to blame for whatever it is that is happening.  Well, this week we have yet another study blaming gaming for something, this time it's killing marriages.  And again I have to ask why gaming is being singled out here.  Spending too much time doing anything is going to adversely affect your marriage.  I don't care what it is.  It could even sound "productive" compared to gaming.  You spend all day in your basement sculpting, or painting, or cooking, or anything else... I guarantee you that your spouse will be just as grumpy as if you had spent the whole day killing trolls in World of Warcraft or whacking terrorists in Call of Duty.

But again, gaming is convenient to blame.  Despite the vast expansion of gaming due to things like the Wii and the explosion of social gaming, many of the power brokers, decision makers, and thinkers of our time are still from a generation that did not experience this the way we do.  It is easy to blame things you do not understand.  It is even easier to blame things that you are not invested or interested in.  So for these people, pointing the finger at us and our "strange" hobbies is a simple and easy solution.  The problem is, as more and more people become involved in gaming, even peripherally through things like Facebook games, it is going to be a tougher "sell" to convince people that it is as evil as these power brokers want us to believe it is.

Diamond in the Rough... or TERAble? 

This last bit isn't a "news story" in and of itself I suppose, but it is something that has grabbed my attention over the past few weeks and I find myself paying more attention to it.  Massively recently posted a summary of the events leading to the release of TERA in the U.S. and Europe.  I admit this game had not been on my personal radar at all until recently.  I had heard of it of course, but as a game coming from a primarily Asian studio, I was skeptical that it would be the kind of game that would interest me.  The Asian MMO's that I have sampled were nothing but boring grindfests with "pay to win" cash shops.  So I pretty much blew TERA off as something that wouldn't be my cup of tea.  And while I am far from convinced it would be a good long-term game for me, I have to say that as I have read some of these articles and stories, I have become intrigued.

There are a few aspects of the game that have me thinking it might be something to try.  The combat system is unlike anything I have seen in an MMO before, with the possible exception of DCUO.  While I would not want a "twitch" heavy system like what most shooters come down to, the concept of more "active" combat is interesting as opposed to the "global cooldown/hot button" system that dominates most of the MMO's I have played up until now.  The other thing I found intriguing was the political system.  I know all about grinding faction and pleasing this group or that in an MMO, but this more participatory system could be more fun..... or it could be a complete flop.  I have no idea.  But at this point I am tempted to give it a go and find out.  Much of that has to do with my growing antipathy towards Star Wars: The Old Republic but I will elaborate more on that later this week.

Regular posts upcoming this week!  Pending major catastrophes.........

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