The other resolutions for 2016

Happy New Year everyone! It’s time to take a look at the rest of my gaming-related resolutions for 2016.

Keeping a budget

This sounds similar to what i posted last year- as will some other resolutions further down this post- and i failed to achieve most of them. But that’s all the more reason to try again. We all know this by now, but free-to-play and Early Access are actually quite expensive if you don’t keep your spending in order. If you simply spend money on everything that interests you, you’re going to spend a lot of money for games.

Since i didn’t keep a budget, i can only try to remember what i spent- and i think it amounts to about 1k€….and that’s really too much for someone who’s playing an hour a day on average. So this year, i’m going to cut it down and limit my spending to 300€/year, 25€ per month, give or take a few euros. This, of course, means one thing….again.

Prioritize my MMO gaming

This has been on my list since the beginning of this blog in 2013. I’m stretching myself way too thin in all those MMOs i play and i’m unable to achieve anything in any of them because you can’t play 9 MMOs with maybe 40 hours /played a month. I need to cut some of them loose. I don’t know which ones yet, but good candidates are The Secret World, SWTOR, Wildstar and i need to stop thinking about Rift, WoW and maybe even Lotro.

I’ve still got about three weeks of (wasted) subscription time on Final Fantasy 14, and i’m going to make use of them and see whether FF14 will be on my friends- or blacklist. Elder Scrolls Online is a strong candidate right now- it fits some of the criteria i’m setting for myself: it has a good business model and the subscription doesn’t even tempt me, my small guild maintains a levelling party, all active members in that community like the game and the PvP experience in Cyrodiil is actually quite good.

This selection process will be discussed in an extra post (again), but in 2016, two things are not going to happen: i will not subscribe to more than one game at a time and i will not sub for the longest possible period to “save” money. It never worked.

Spend more time in good games

This might be a seperate blog post, as well, but in general, MMOs are not “good games”. I think the big advantage of a “true MMO” is that it’s actually a genre mix- you have RPG in most of them, of course. Then, there’s the economy, the crafting, the housing/decoration/clothing minigame, small group PvE, solo PvE, instanced PvP, open PvP, the social part, the story, gameplay and more. All these small pieces in one game is what makes MMOs exciting- if you would take a look at an individual element- the RPG part, for instance, you’d find better examples in singleplayer land. The same goes for all the other parts. MMOs mix all these elements into one game and that’s what sets them apart.

Like many others’, my Steam backlog is huge. There are so many great games that i haven’t paid as much attention to as they deserve: Divinity, Cities: Skylines, Pillars of Eternity, Fallout 4, Fallout NV, Wasteland 2, Endless Legend, The Witcher 3 and many, many others. In fact, in 2016 i wouldn’t really need to buy new games or even play MMOs and i’d still be busy the whole year and possibly even well into 2017.

So this year, i’d like to play more non-MMOs instead of playing 7 MMOs in one month.

Spend more time with people / build and grow our guild

Our community is chugging along quite…ok…ish. We’re very, very small. Three active members at the moment. We don’t know how and when we’ll try to grow, but i want to foster that small community. I’d like it to have about 10 active members when 2016 will come to an end. That doesn’t sound like much and it probably isn’t, but i think a small tight-knit community that plays comes together to play once in a while instead of daily is a much better fit for me. As of right now, we have a recruitment form open and we will take applicants in if they seem to be a good fit, but sooner or later, we’ll probably close that form down and rely on direct invitations.

If we continue to be as happy in ESO as we are right now, there’s a good possibility that we’ll look into growing our guild there- at least up to ten members (to get the guild bank).

Another thing related to this- i wrote about that in another post, i want to reconnect to some people i started a community with in 2012. We had some kind of silly argument at that time and i had thought of reconnecting with them more than a few times. Now, i’ve played Rocket League with two of the three people i really liked at that time because thankfully, one person hasn’t been as much of a craven as i was. That leaves one person to go and it will be the toughest one.

Blog more often/regular than in 2015

Blogging in 2015 has been a mixed bag- i had quite active times and a long stretch of inactivity after the summer holidays. I still love the “Dual Wielding” column and would really like to give that another try this year, but it seems that Ironweakness suffered the same lull after the summer. In 2015, some times i tried to publish daily, but i’ll have to admit that i can’t keep that up for very long. My new goal would be to publish at least one post per week, but to keep this up consistently throughout this year.

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Resolutions for 2016: embrace PvP

It’s the end of the year and we’re about to switch (paper-)calendars, so it’s time to make some resolutions. Recent developments in my own gaming habits as well as those of others – i’ve read more than a few “MMORPGs aren’t fun” posts in the past few weeks- made me think about just how i approach gaming in the new year. There are a few things at play here.

Rocket League and Global Agenda

I bought Rocket League during the last Steam sale. And boy, did it grab me, in a totally different way i expected it to. Earlier, i hesitated to buy it, because it’s main focus is what we’d call PvP-centric in MMO-land. Sure, there is AI, but everybody seemed to be playing with or against other humans- and that’s something i usually avoid because i’m not really a very good player, and when it comes to twitchy mechanics, i suck. The only exception is when there’s an option/play-style that caters to a more strategic approach. That’s why i loved Global Agenda- it was a shooter, sure- but as an Engineer you had some very interesting tools that helped and weren’t twitch-based.

Yes, it's rocket car football and it sounds crazy. It's fun.
Yes, it’s rocket car football and it sounds crazy. It’s fun.

I bought Rocket League to play against the AI, but i stay with it because of the PvP. And here’s why: it’s very easy to simply log in and play a match for 5-10 minutes and then log out. It’s also one of these “easy to learn, hard to master” games where you’ll see your skills improving at a nice pace. As a newbie, i was very confused and playing in a very chaotic way. Soon, i started to learn how to push the ball in the general direction i wanted it to go (earlier, it was random). Then i learned that chasing the ball wasn’t the best thing to do. Stay back, watch and learn. Defend. Try and not bump into your teammates or stand in their way and so on. Rocket League is also a trap: “one more match” is a thought that kept me awake past midnight more than once in the last 3 weeks.

And behold: my /played count sits at 29 hours, 12 in the last two weeks. For me, that’s a lot. In a game i spent 13€ for (and 35 for a controller, but i can make use of that in other games, too). Now, if i compared that to my subscribing to, say, SWTOR, FFXIV or Wildstar….well, i’d blush. Usually, i’m ok if i spend about 1€ per hour /played. But Rocket League made me think.

Global Agenda - still one of my "most played" games.
Global Agenda – still one of my “most played” games.

And now, as i’m writing this, i remembered Global Agenda- i’ve clocked 350 hours on Global Agenda and i’m very sure that this is my most played MMORPG (with maybe Lotro coming close or even higher). Granted, those were different times with more time to play and less money to spend on games. But still, there’s a pattern here.

Embracing PvP

When i thought about why i liked Rocket League so much, and thinking the same about Global Agenda now, it’s because they’re not grindy. It doesn’t take much build-up time to get to play, and it is possible to play them in short sessions while still trying to achieve long-term goals. When you think about it, PvP/RvR/WvW is also the only truly dynamic content in an MMORPG. Sure, dynamic events are nice (but were, in my opinion, already done better in Tabula Rasa) and PvE is important, but in 2016, i want to look more into the PvP side of MMORPGs.

Luckily, there’s new stuff coming. I do like what i read about Camelot Unchained and Crowfall, but up until a few days ago, i filed them under “PvP-centric, not really for me”. But what is “for me”, nowadays, anyway? If there were a game coming up with all the features i wish for (deep crafting, nice exploration in a big, open world, interesting trade mechanics), would i even be able to play it on a level that made it interesting? I guess i’ll see when The Repopulation releases, because, on paper, it has everything i’d want from an MMORPG.

camelot_unchained_logo

Or maybe it’s time to try something new? Maybe these pvp-centric games will fit better to my actual lifestyle by not having long grinds, having no endgame and catering to both- shorter sessions and long-term goals. Maybe it’s not only the MMORPGs that are “stuck in the past”, but me as well. We often say/write things like “MMO players claim wanting something new, but when something fresh comes up, they complain” (see reception of TSW, nerfing of Rift’s zone invasion events, changes to Firefall and so on), so i guess it’s time to change things up a bit.

And think about this, as well: a pvp (read: player-) centric game doesn’t need to provide tons of NPCs, thousands of quests (linear content), dungeons (finely crafted experiences) and voice-overs; it can concentrate developement resources into that stuff that actually differentiates the MMO genre from simple Multiplayer games: interaction between players, a dynamic, persistent world, crafting, trading and systems in general. More focus on systems is a good thing, in my opinion.

I’m actually quite confident and decided to back/buy Camelot Unchained…and i’m really looking forward to playing it.

The present

Until that is playable, however, i’ll also look into this kind of stuff in other games. As far as i know, there are two MMORPGs with a good, more open-worldy PvP: Elder Scrolls Online and Guild Wars 2.

Daggerfall is one of my favourite MMO-cities.
Daggerfall is one of my favourite MMO-cities.

Seeing that The Elder Scrolls Online is my (and my guild’s) main MMO right now, Cyrodiil and Imperial City will be the places where i’ll look for PvP-fun in a short while. I really enjoy playing Elder Scrolls Online at the moment, and i might write about the reasons another day, but of course it suffers from my Rocket League addiction. So i still have to get one of my new characters to level 10 (very close) to get access to Cyrodiil/Imperial City. I’ve noticed their RvR campaigns have changed quite a bit since i last played- there’s a non-veteran campaign now that maybe allows players to enjoy the RvR before hitting VR16.