Thursday, February 23, 2012

An MMO Far, Far Away, The Final Chapter (Maybe)

I'm not playing Star Wars: The Old Republic anymore.

This statement isn't met with nearly the same poignancy as my similar one about World of Warcraft. I don't really harbor any deep-seated nostalgia for a month and a half ago. I already pointed out some issues I had with the game, but at the time it was good-spirited ribbing toward something I otherwise enjoyed. I was having fun.

Just not $15 a month worth of fun.

It's not like I can't afford it. On the contrary, I recently got a promotion at work that has left me, for once in my life, able to cultivate a savings account. I just don't feel it's worth it. I even had one last critical post half-drafted, about how BioWare-style storytelling doesn't really have a place in an MMO, and maybe I'll get to it, but I might just as well not. My apathy has the final say.

And apathy, ultimately, is the problem. In trying to meld World of Warcraft with their story-heavy Old Republic games, BioWare has ended up with the best and worst of both. It has the social charms of an MMO without any of the actual charm that inspires me to wax nostalgic for WoW. It has the compelling story of a BioWare game, but with the annoyances and frustrations of dealing with other people. Those two statements may seem contrary, but fellow introverts will understand that a social component can be both good and bad. Still, if we declare that they cancel each other out, we still have mildly interesting characters in a lifeless setting. I mean, really, who's all excited to get their character to a high enough level to go to Tatooine?

That's not to say I'm in the market for a new MMO. I'm pretty happy poking my head into Glitch once or twice a day. The Long-Suffering Roommate is pretty worked up about Guild Wars 2, and it does look pretty promising, so I'm sure I'll give that a try when it comes out. As a free-to-play MMO, I won't feel as pinned to an all-or-nothing situation where I either have to pay $15 a month for something I only play a couple hours a week or not play it at all. I'm not sure $15 subscription fees are still a viable model, but perhaps that's a meaty enough statement for another post. For now, I'll just have to see if SWTOR eventually goes free-to-play.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

You Can Never Go Home Again

Sometimes I find myself waxing nostalgic for World of Warcraft.

It tends to start like flashbacks:
A mental image of a night elf, probably the last alt I played for a night, in an appropriately elf-colored forest;
That Forsaken in Felwood who ended up corrupting everyone at the Horde outpost that back in my day didn't HAVE a nice convenient trail;
The cove on the southern coast of Dragonblight that's filled with the ghosts of a doomed expedition;
The perfect Naxxramas playlist;
The view from Scryer's Tier looking out over Shattrath, tinged with the creative rush of massive RP drama;
Listening to the second-hand accounts of higher-levels friends telling me about Un'goro;
Fragments of years of my life spent Somewhere Else.

The saddest thing is that it's really no one's fault but my own. Yes, Blizzard has made a lot of controversial changes with Cataclysm, and I've posted before about how much I dislike them. But if I was still as desperate for what World of Warcraft was selling me, I could cope with it. I could find people to RP with - possibly on a new server, but I could find them nonetheless. I could find a new class or hit a new groove with one of my old classes. I could form new memories.

I just don't really want to. After 6 years, I'm Forsakened out. I'm maged out, I'm warriored out, I'm even Death Knighted out. I'm huntered out, after rolling a dozen and only getting two past level 20. I may be Big Open Community RPed out.

I've toyed now and then with the idea of resubscribing, but I'm not sure what I'd do if I did. I barely play SWTOR at this point. The idea of doing much of anything in Azeroth now leaves me with an odd sense of nostalgia tinged with a certain dread that I will not find whatever it is I'm looking for there. That day is over. I can never go home again.