Monday, September 28, 2015

Mine ... All Mine ...

Gaming can be fairly odd.

I touched on this in the last post where I talked about Warcraft and Needing to get my character up to maximum level, level 100. Staying in the game past the point where it got unhealthy (my neck hates me today).

It's weird when a game hits "need". I went back into Warcraft because I got interested in the storyline again. Ok, it was actually another, similar, game called Wildstar that got my interest up in WoW again and then the storyline got my attention. It's strange ... the last few expansions to Warcraft have had mixed opinions :

Pandaland - people loved this ! But I found it to be very grindy. The charm of the Chinese themed Panda-people didn't overcome the tedium of going through the zones. The story didn't grab me.
Draenor - this one starts with a well crafted ride through a story that puts you centre stage. That strong story does seem to be fizzling out a little too though.

They've been bringing in Farmville type aspects as well. Pandaland had a farm which steadily expanded, Draenor has the garrison. This just increases the addiction nature of the game.

But wait ? Isn't a game supposed to be about the fun ?
Some games have an odd conception of the word fun. Warcraft has improved, although at a cost of a lot of its soul. It's far easier to make money and be prepared for raids than it used to be. Previously, if you did quests at maximum level, you'd get very little credit. Now, the experience you got turns into gold. Makes it easier to make money. However, at the same time, the game has been massively dumbed down from what it used to be.

But that's one game that's been getting it right with the mix between gameplay, story and keeping the player interested. I mentioned grindiness earlier ... I made the grievous error over the weekend of checking out mining in Elite ... I'd done mining before in Eve. The two games are similar ... and different with the job of mining.

Elite and Eve - you bash away at rocks with mining lasers and get minerals from the rocks. In Eve, the rocks go into your cargo hold. In Elite, you use collector limpet drones to pull in the mineral fragments.

Getting them home - When I mined in Eve, I would be running two accounts. One was a miner ... but the mining barge cargo capacity was tiny and you lost way too much time going to the station and back to drop off the goodies. So the second account ran an industrial barge (space truck) and did all the running around. It worked well. In Elite, you don't need the second account plus they haven't implemented any commander to commander trading mechanisms.

(Elite is far from complete for a multiplayer online game).

Safety - With Elite, you can play in solo mode, which stops you getting molested by player pirates. This is the reason I actually bought the game. It is locked to online servers but I don't play games any more to be at the mercy of those who put an unhealthy amount of time in, getting them better Stuff than people with less time. The unhealthy ones then bully the slower players. I think that suggests an unhealthy mindset. As unhealthy as the people who I know will play these games for days, continuously. Get outside ! See the Yellow Face !

Oh - in Eve, you're completely at the mercy of online griefers. In civilised space, there is a police force called CONCORD who blow away griefers. Trouble is, a good griefer will be able to blow up a very expensive mining ship before they got shot by CONCORD and they'll do this in a very cheap ship. The alternative is to be in alliance so you can mine in lawless space, keeping an eye on the intelligence channels warning of pirates entering your territory. If you see the enemy appear in the local system, that's usually too late and they may get you on the way to safety. It's a dangerous universe.

Mining in these games is oddly cathartic though. It's like you're getting cash without much effort, it's just a bit slower. But ...

Where do the proceeds go ?

Elite - you just sell the bits to the stations for a bit of profit and it makes the owners of the station like you a little more. After you sell stuff, it essentially disappears into nothing. Compare that to :
Eve - the players drive the economy. Out in lawless space, no ships get built unless miners get the metals. No ammo gets made without miners. So it's in the best interest of the shooty players to protect the industrial players.

Oh and there's also the difference in how much control you get :
Elite ships are more fun to fly :-).

It does get to feel a lot like a job though. That's a big reason why I left Eve. There were always those players who could put in massive amounts of time. There's an immense learning curve. And then there's its hold on your time while you're doing the Player V Player group stuff. Basically, you go away from keyboard for too long and you'll be left behind, which is when you die horribly. I hear my alliance, Volition Cult, is actually doing pretty well at the moment - good on 'em :-).

It kinda comes back to story.

Warcraft - your character is running through the lore of the land via a series of quests where you are righting wrongs, clearing out the bad guys or in some of the highlights of the Cataclysm expansion, going on Indiana Jones (or Harrison Jones) inspired adventures.
Elite - there's no story in the game, outside of what you imagine for your commander. Ok, there are the stories in the Galnet news but these are somewhat pithy and you don't influence them as a player.
Eve - the players drive 80% of the galaxy. Massive alliances shape the structure. Little players get caught up in that. The political structure is ever changing and the balance is managed by the people who run the game.

I'm actually going back to a wholly single player game for a while. It's called Deus Ex Human Revolution and tells the tale of a near future dystopia where cybernetic implants are making their mark on our society. They help amputees, assist others with enhancements but at a cost, the body rejects the implants. The story opens as one group finds an answer to that problem. It's a pretty decent story too, I've played it through a few times now and still find it interesting.

Not tonight though - I'm on the road tomorrow which means an easy night tonight and I'm already yawning. Will those yawns now translate into quick to sleep later ? I doubt it. That's not how my life is going at the moment. Still not getting as much sleep as I need.

Ok, maybe a little garrisonville ... Cya !

PS A little extra - I'm not trying to advocate either Warcraft, Eve or Elite as games I think you should play. All I will say there is - play what you find fun. Different people get fun from different things. I actually get more smiles from people distracting me from the game, than from the game itself. And if the game becomes more like work than fun ? Find another game, there's tonnes of them out there.

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