It’s that time again. Another year ending, a new one beginning. Time to reflect, or at least catalog, the past 12 months.
Before I wrote this post, I had to go back and skim what I’d written in the past year. I really couldn’t remember what I’d played, at least in the MMO space, and that gives me pause. Are MMOs just “empty calories” for me these days? And if so, aren’t there more productive ways to spend my time?
Before I get too maudlin, let’s recap the year.
In January my time with Warhammer was winding down. I was coasting on a free (I think) EQ2 renewal, dabbling in LOTRO, Vanguard and Fusion Fall (I’d totally forgotten that one!). Oh and I tried Runes of Magic for the first (but not last) time. But the game I was most excited by was Mount & Blade, a single player game.
In February I quit Warhammer (a 60 day time card ran out; I’m not sure I’d played for a while) and was playing Too Human on the 360. I started my for-pay blog at IT World, which has really colored my life since then. I spend a LOT of time following tech news now and rarely have much time for gaming during the week.
March was about Chronicles of Spellborn. Another I’d forgotten! I’m actually looking forward to checking it out again once it gets sufficiently relaunched as a free to play title.
April saw the launch of Free Realms, which I played quite enthusiastically for a while, despite being well out of the intended age bracket. I also got engrossed in Rune Factory Frontier on the Wii and wrote a series of semi-in character posts about it. Silly fun but a very time consuming game.
May was more Free Realms, plus I started working out via EA Active. Doing that made me feel so much better but it cut my days even shorter. I need more hours in the day! I also started and quickly abandoned Sacred 2 on the XBox 360, declaring my intent to get back to it soon (I’ve yet to do so).
In June I foolishly bought a Wii Motion Plus bundle with Tiger Woods Golf for the Wii, plus Grand Slam Tennis. Those were fun for about two weeks.
In July I started my like/hate relationship with Aion via their sketchy beta system. Happily for me, the hate grew and the like faded and I never bought the game. I still have a 60 day NCSoft timecard gathering dust (got it on sale for $20 in anticipation of Aion). Aion may have been the first major MMO release that I totally skipped and it really broke a money wasting, frustration inducing cycle, I think.
August was Champions Online, first beta and then release towards the end of the month (I think?). I made some lifelong enemies fighting about Cryptic’s weird lifetime/6 month membership policies. That’s OK, I can always use a few more enemies! Unlike many, I really enjoyed Champions, but Fallen Earth was calling to me too. A tiny dev trying to make it among giants. Who doesn’t love an underdog?
So September was about Fallen Earth, until injury struck. I did something to my arm (exactly what was never determined) and using a computer was very painful for the next few months, severely curtailing PC gaming of any kind. In some ways that too broke a cycle. I turned to Need For Speed:Shift on the PS3 and Halo: ODST on the 360 for solace. And my interest in Dragon Age: Origin ramped up. As a result I was added to the ‘press’ list for DA:O which led to many preview-ish posts over the next months.
October saw almost no PC gaming, although towards the end of the month I started playing Torchlight since it was so mouse-oriented (my injury was to my non-mousing arm). I finished ODST & played through Brutal Legend on the 360, and moved on to Demon’s Souls on the PS3.
November was all about Dragon Age: Origins, until the end of the month when I started to get excited for Siege of Mirkwood. That, and my arm finally getting “better” (though it still isn’t completely healed) led me back to LOTRO.
And finally December. What PC gaming I’ve done has been LOTRO and a bit of the Star Trek:Online beta.
So that’s my year. Nothing really stands out all that much in the MMO space. Gaming in general hasn’t felt all that captivating for the past month or so; I’ve been more inclined to watch movies or read books than game. I think to some extent MMOs have ruined me for single player games, but now MMOs don’t feel very compelling either.
A few big changes in my attitude: I’m not signing up for every beta that comes along any more (I got into Star Trek Online via Champions, not because I actively applied). I think in some part heavy beta testing is what started my burnout. Nothing highlights the overall meaninglessness of pumping hundreds of hours into an MMO than having all that progress wiped out when a game comes out of beta.
My EQ2 account was reactivated over the holidays (thanks Sony) and I got as far as updating the client but never actually logged in. I’ve got my Champions Lifetime account, and I’ve reinstalled Guild Wars, but haven’t played either of those either. LOTRO seems to be enough for me right now, and I’m playing that more like an economic strategy game, growing alts to support each other’s crafting rather than chasing levels.
My greatest joy these days seems to come from casually chatting with folks on Twitter. I’m happy reading about what other people are doing, and don’t feel all that motivated to do it myself. I of course live with a huge MMO nerd and take a lot of joy from watching her delight in the games she plays (EQ2 & Free Realms).
2010 is starting with me hungering for a new challenge and itching to build something, or create something. I’m trying to be patient, waiting for these urges to jell to a point where I have a clear direction. In the meanwhile I’ll be wasting time on stupid Facebook games, chattering on Twitter, and messing about in LOTRO.
Here’s wishing you and yours a healthy, prosperous new year. I’m hoping for no more layoffs, the abolishment of living paycheck to paycheck and the economy starting to grow again. And thanks for keeping Dragonchasers in your RSS feed; I know it isn’t much of a blog these days.