I took some time tonight to pack up my housing items in LOTRO. It’s silly for me to log in every 5 or so weeks to pay 55 silver/week rent to keep the house. I just don’t have time to play MMOs anymore, and don’t see that changing while I’m working two jobs. I have a Lifetime sub to LOTRO so I can still pop in and dabble when I do find a few spare minutes, but for now it’s a game, not a world. I don’t need a house in a game. I need houses in worlds.
I have to confess, it all felt really melancholy. I miss the days of escaping to another world, a virtual world. But those days have passed me by in a number of ways. There’s my personal situation: no time and all that. But today’s MMOs just seem to be games and not worlds. EVE is the only exception that I really know about, and damn would I love to have the free time needed to play EVE seriously.
Packing up my LOTRO house had me thinking back to our guild halls and my houses in Ultima Online. That was a real world, at least to me and my guildies. There was a society in that game. There were good people and bad people. There was a dynamic economy. Towns sprang up and faded away over time. Inns would appear and be the ‘in’ (ha! See what I did there?) place to hang out for a while, until they went out of fashion and some new place sprang up.
We’d hang out, throw parties, do battle, make alliances, corner markets, have weddings… we did all kinds of things back then. It was more than a game, it was a place.
Back then, cyberspace was coming, and my then-girlfriend and I would kid about being an elderly couple sitting on the front porch in rocking chairs, jacked in via implants. But cyberspace fizzled, the same way virtual reality and the space program did. Cyberspace seemed like it’d become a place. But that never happened and now the very term seems silly.
I also saw that the beta for WOW Cataclysm is coming soon, or maybe has even started. That has me wanting to reinstall WOW to take one last look at those places where I used to hang out so much, before Blizzard plows them under to build anew.
But then I realized, you can’t go home again. Sitting out in Westfall in the wee hours, chatting with friends, having a beer or three in real life while I did so, watching the lighthouse’s beam sweep across the sea… if I went back now, it wouldn’t be the same as what it was; it’d just be depressing. Like when I go to visit my mom in my home town and pop into my old haunts and realize I’m just another tourist weekending in The Hamptons. I’m not the only one who moved on, and there’s no longer a “there” there.
Anyway, enough of being maudlin.
So LOTRO is packed away. Life is crazy hectic and unpleasant. And I keep buying (mostly single player) games. I mentioned this on Twitter today and got a few people who said they do the same thing. The busier I get, the more games I buy. Not the more games I play, mind you. I get them home, find 20 minutes to tear off the shrinkwrap and fire them up, then never get back to them.
So why do I keep buying them? I guess it’s the only way I have to feel connected to this hobby that used to be such a huge part of my life. I want to play, but can’t. Somehow the retail therapy of buying a new game scratches that itch for a few moments. I bought Monster Hunter Tri the week it came out. Played it once. 3D Dot Heroes this week. Booted it up, looked at it, haven’t had time to go back. Red Dead Redemption is coming next week. Bought the Humble Bundle of Indie games and never even got around to downloading it. Bought the Civ IV collection from Steam last night…those I did install but never booted up. And so on and on… so much wasted money!
The one bright spot right now is the iPad. I’m still playing that silly Godfinger game; it’s something I can spend 5 minutes on 3 times a day and feel like I’m making some progress, though towards what, I don’t know. When I hit level 50 I’ll just stop playing probably. Ditto We Rule. Log in a few times a day for 2-3 minutes…it’s a nice break. And a bunch of other simple fun games that I can play for a couple minutes in bed before lights out.
This patch will ease up eventually. I took the whole week of E3 off, to follow all the news and to recharge my batteries. So that, at least, I have to look forward to. And come hell or high water I’m going to find some time for Red Dead Redemption next week! I’m about at the limit of what I’m willing to do for my day job. We’ve all been doing ~12 hour days for a couple weeks (and then I have my blogging job once that’s done) and at this point it’s just starting to feel like management is taking advantage of us. Getting through an unexpected crunch is one thing, but those can’t be permanent hours (at least not without a juicy raise or some fat bonuses!)
Anyway, that’s what’s going on at Dragonchasers HQ. If you’re someone I used to chat with on Twitter or in blog comments, please forgive my disappearance. It just can’t be helped. I do miss my social networking chums, though. Hope everyone is doing well out there!