There’s a hole (MMO shaped) in my mind

I didn’t really make a Decision to stop playing MMOs. It just kind of happened, mostly due to an economic crunch that has since eased. I keep thinking “Now I can afford a sub again!” and Angela would love me to rejoin her and our friends in EQ2, and I keep saying I will… but I don’t.

I missed MMOs for a few weeks, but then I started feeling a kind of lightness of being. Like some weight had been lifted from my shoulders. It has taken me a while to figure out what’s going on, and I think it has a lot to do with the out-of-game cost of playing an MMO, namely keeping up to date on changes and feeling a vague pressure to ‘keep up’ (or ahead) of the curve, or even just feeling like “I’m paying for it, I should play it.” At least I think that’s what’s going on. I’m still not 100% sure.

Maybe I was burnt out without realizing it, and this feeling is just the burnout lifting? Whatever it is, it feels good, like a long-standing care has been lifted.

But what’s even stranger is the social impact this has had on my life. Now keep in mind I’m a die-hard solo player in MMOs; one of those people that is often told he should be playing a single player game since they’re much better than playing an MMO solo.

First of all, they aren’t better. Not for me. I keep starting single player RPGs and finding them unfulfilling. Even critically acclaimed games like Fallout 3 just feel empty and dead. I haven’t gotten very far in Fallout 3, just in Megaton, but when I hit that town and all I see are NPCs following their pre-programmed wander routes, it just feels lonely and pointless in a way that MMOs never do, even when I’m not talking to or interacting with other players. Other players add life to the experience, even without direct interaction. Single player RPGS just aren’t as compelling. (Though I loved Fable 2, but I think the difference was that I was also playing an MMO at the time, so I had that ‘living world’ itch being scratched elsewhere.)

Anyway, back to the social impact. My RSS feed is filled with MMO bloggers. Lots of them have been writing long, well-considered posts about MMO design, how to move the state of the games forward, what’s broken and how to fix it. Really thought-provoking stuff.

And I just don’t care.

And that makes me really sad, because a mere few weeks ago I was enjoying the hell out of debating these points with these smart people. And now, I just find I have nothing to add to the conversation, and even find myself sometimes thinking these people are wasting their energy in debating this stuff. Huh? Where are THOSE thoughts coming from? I *love* being an armchair game designer! Anyway, this all leads to my standing on the sidelines watching, and I no longer feel like part of the community of MMO bloggers. That carries a great sense of loss.

And, as an add-on to that, I’m not posting a lot here, either. Now a big part of that is the blogging gig at ITWorld. My ‘word bag’ has only so many words in it every day, and I’m finding it’s pretty low on words by the time I get done a day at work, a day of twittering, and written a blog post or two (9 posts in the past week over there). My ‘hour bag’ runs low, too. I’ve been meaning to write this post for several days but just don’t find both available time and available energy intersecting conveniently.

On the bright side of all this, I’m re-discovering the joys of (non-rpg) single player games. I’ve been playing the hell out of this little “Aquia” game on the new DSiWare platform, and am finding Rune Factory Frontier (the latest “Harvest Moon” game for the Wii) to be incredibly compelling.

I think I need to just follow my muse and morph Dragonchasers into a single player gaming blog for a while. I’m not sure what that will do to the audience…will having ‘off-topic’ posts drive away people who would stay subscribed to a quiet RSS feed? I guess I’ll find out. I mean I’ve always been a little bit ‘all over the place’ with my book reviews and the odd “check out these neat thing” posts, but Dragonchasers never really took off until I really started focusing on MMOs.

Every day brings new adventure, though. Doing the ITWorld Blog has felt incredibly rewarding and is, I think, helping me to slowly get my writing chops back. And the money from it is what ended the financial crunch I referenced above, so both artistically and fiscally, I’m very, very grateful that gig fell in my lap. Maybe some day I can transition to writing full time. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

PS Props to anyone who got the B5 reference in the title of this post. Vorlons FTW!

9 thoughts on “There’s a hole (MMO shaped) in my mind

  1. If you’re not doing Dragonchasers for the money (or the audience), especially since you have other outlets for that now — then do it for yourself! That’s what it should be for, or what I thought it *was* for. You’ll still be on my RSS feed regardless!

    As for the rest — yes. I post stuff on mine because, these days, I feel like I should, and because I feel as though I’d be letting down the people who actually come to visit. But I should take my own advice (and yours, now). 😛

    I have far bigger fish to fry in real life right now. That said, the blogging does sort of provide a little lightness to all the other crap and doom and gloom, so it’s one reason I still do it. All the same… blogging isn’t life-ing, and the people whose opinions I care about do understand that.

  2. Hit up the Dragon Age Origins beta test of the their developments tools.

    http://dragonage.bioware.com/builderbeta/

    Cancel all monthly MMO’s and go play for free for now (all the fantasy MMO’s that glut the market are the same garbage anyway).

    Live free and happy

    “BioWare, makers of the highly anticipated video game Dragon Age: Origins, has created a powerful toolset that will allow gamers to easily create their own Dragon Age: Origins levels and adventure modules to share online with the world. Applications are now being accepted for this rare opportunity to test the Dragon Age toolset and help BioWare fine tune it before its release later this year.”

  3. Doesn’t matter what you write about, you’ll be staying in my RSS feed. 🙂 I’ve enjoyed reading the journey and I’ll continue to do so, even if it’s not MMO related. 🙂 It’s the person and the writing style I enjoy (and always have) no matter the topic.

  4. As others have said, you have to blog what you like to write about if you want your blog to be any good. I’m running a poll which suggests that 85% of my readers follow WoW and only 12% follow EQ2 (readers could click as many boxes as they wanted). EQ2 is getting substantially more than 12% of my posting attention, since it’s getting the majority of my gaming time at the moment. The only thing that I really change about my writing as a result is that I will use WoW analogies for game mechanics, and generally use extra caution to explain how things work before launching into commentary on non-WoW games.

    Overall, the point at which you feel like you’re doing something gaming-related out of a sense of obligation is exactly the point at which it makes sense to take a step back. Even if the G33ky one does keep a very pretty guild hall. 😉

  5. @ Green Armadillo: Thanks! 😀 You should say hi in-game sometime!

    @ Peter: You’re not obligated to anyone but yourself when it comes to this blog. Write whatever you want, and there will always be folks around to read it. Some come for specific content, but most just like the stuff that comes out of that wacky brain of yours. 😉

  6. Personally I never thought of this blog as being MMO only, and more like it was a talk about what is going on and what I am playing kind of blog. Of course I could have totally missed the boat, and in that case this message will self desctruct in 15 seconds!!

    I know exactly what you mean with regards to MMO gaming, or the letting go of anyways. I have been playing MMO’s on a fairly consistant basis since I started with DAoC. I have even been known to play two sometimes three MMO’s at a time as well. But there was a period of time last year when I just didn’t want to play MMO’s anymore, and so I cancelled all of them. It was an amazing feeling once I was used to not logging in to something everyday. But it didn’t last very long.

  7. A lot of people feel that Bethesda’s creation of a post-apocalyptic world was a little *too* convincing. Megaton is somewhat “training wheels”, but the sense of isolation is pretty pervasive throughout the world. Have you played Mass Effect? You might enjoy the team-based mechanics more, and, aside from some repetitive planet-side missions, the game is excellent.

    Otherwise, I think most long-term gamers tend to go through the occasional “identity crisis”, as both ourselves and the industry changes — which is completely normal and entirely OK. To reaffirm other comments, I visit because you’re an interesting person and good, engaging Twitter friend, so chase whichever metaphorical dragons you wish.

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