Over a month ago, Bhagpuss of Inventory Full nominated me for a Liebster Award. I have to confess I am not a big fan of the Liebster, which as others have already pointed out is a cunningly disguised chain letter, but I don't want to be rude either, especially to Bhagpuss who I have always considered to be one of the more moderate, articulate and courteous bloggers in this particular corner of the Internet. I apologize for the excessive delay, and without further ado, here are my belated responses.
1. Are MMORPGs getting better all the time or going downhill fast?
MMORPGs are definitely getting better - we have more choices than ever before. I feel that there is an MMO for every demographic now - sandboxers have Eve, theme park lovers have WoW and FFXIV, and story-minded folk have SWTOR, TSW and TESO. The PvE and PvP demographic are all catered for, and there are a bunch of new MMOs on the horizon eschewing the WoW/FFXIV model and going down the fantasy sandbox EVE route. The idea of a persistent world is also expanding beyond the boundaries of what traditionally have been called MMOs - H1Z1 and Destiny are prime examples of titles which have incorporated MMO elements into different types of gameplay (survival and FPS respectively).
2. Which cancelled MMO do wish you'd tried when you still had the chance?
City of Heroes. I'm a comic book geek, and it would have been cool to be a superhero. Or even better, a super villain.
3. And which cancelled MMO (including ones that never made launch) do you wish was still up and running?
Same as 2).
4. Flying mounts or underwater zones?
I've always had a thing for underwater zones. I think that flying is cheap and makes terrain irrelevant. Underwater zones however, can be greatly evocative, especially Atlantis-like zones which showcase the ruins of fallen civilisations.
5. What I.P. from books, movies, comics or T.V. would you most like to see turned into an MMORPG?
I would love a GTA style MMO, with the ability to control city blocks, initiate turf wars, and join factions like the cops, city hall, gangs, rival corporations and so on. Ideally this game would be set in a dystopian, cyberpunk urban setting much like Blade Runner, Shadowrun or Deus Ex, filled with neon lights, acid rain, dark streets and teeming hordes of humanity with stories to tell.
6. MMO cash shops: a welcome opportunity to give yourself a treat or a pathetic attempt to wheedle money out of the weak-willed? Or does that depend entirely on whether they sell anything you actually want?
Nothing against cash shops, as long as they only peddle cosmetic gear. Cosmetic fluff is totally cool, but P4P items are a definite no-no. As far as I can see, there are three types of outside asymmetry which people can import into the virtual - skill, time, and money. The first one is an inevitable part of life, the second I think is quite acceptable, and the third I dislike. People being better than me I accept as the natural order of things. People who can get better rewards than me because they spend more time in-game seems fair - perhaps it appeals to my egalitarianism, and to the naïve concept of a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. People who can buy power via money touches a nerve. I can't articulate why it makes me disgruntled, but I suspect it might have something to do with the idea that money corrupts the purity of the game. If people can buy power then the game is tainted. Nonetheless, I can tolerate it up to a certain point if the gameplay is good - I did play Archeage for a little while - but I would much prefer cash shops to stick to hats, mounts, costumes and the like.
7. Geez! Haven't we seen enough dragons already?
Lies. Dragons rock.
8. Has playing MMOs had any noticeable effect on your physical or mental health, positive or negative?
Around 2007-2008 I played a little too much due to personal issues, and I started getting back and neck problems, all to do with sitting hunched over a monitor for ridiculously extended periods of time. Those symptoms disappeared once I started regulating my playtime and exercising regularly.
Mentally playing MMOs has been a mixed bag. MMOs can be a good diversion, but I have had obsessive compulsive episodes like those detailed by Mesmer and Jeromai which were definitely not good for my well-being when I was younger. Thankfully those days are over, and now I play games in short bursts rather than in marathon sessions which I was wont to do when I was an undergraduate.
9. Do you PvP? Did you always? Or ever? If you changed your mind, why?
Always been a PvPer - prior to MMOs I played Street Fighter, Tekken, Mortal Combat, Halo, Counterstrike, Battlefield, Warcraft 3 and StarCraft so playing against other players seemed quite natural to me and never a reason to turn me off any particular title. The first asymmetrical persistent world PvP game I played was a browser game called Evony, and I immediately fell in love with the lawless world in which the weak had to band together in order to survive in a world filled with bigger and sometimes hostile coalitions. This naturally led me to EVE Online, and I've been looking for a fantasy sandbox MMO to replicate that experience ever since. It's fair to say that I am big fan of both symmetrical, instanced and balanced PvP, as well as its far less popular asymmetrical persistent cousin.
10. Would you put "playing MMORPGs" on your resumé/C.V.?
I wouldn't, but not because I'm ashamed of my hobby. It just wouldn't be relevant.
11. Do you play "in character"? Sometimes? Always? Never?
When my sister is not around I am a completely rational player, but when she is we sometimes revert to the mindset we had when we were kids. It's an embarrassing fact that most of our avatars are based on the stuffed toys we had when we were children. I play more in character when my sister is around, because we bounced around from home to home as kids, and our stuffed toys were our constant companions growing up. Her main characters, Lelle the resto druid and Qualar the warrior, are based on teddy bears named Little and Koala. My old main in WoW, Theodorius, is based on a stuffed bear named Teddy. Even my current main, Tientzo the monk, is based on a bear named Biggy. Each of these toys had a distinct personality which we jointly developed when we played as little children, and they definitely come into play when we play together as adults in MMOs. Whenever my sister plays Qualar she is impetuous, impatient and eager to fight - whenever she is on Lelle she is patient, calm and non-confrontational. As for me, I would like to think that when I am ganking someone and then running off giggling I am just channelling my inner Teddy, who is mischievous, impudent and full of mischief.