It’s not like I’m some sort of newb: my first gaming console was an Atari 2600. I’ve played most of the consoles since then, and I’ve owned every iteration of Playstation and Xbox that has ever existed, as well as most of the Nintendo consoles. I’ve had a computer since x86 was even a designation, and “baud” was a word. I get gaming. Believe me. I’ve loved it, hated it, and been thrilled and frustrated by it. I just don’t think gaming gets me anymore.

For those of you who only started playing video games in the mid to late nineties (or heaven forbid, since Facebook and cell phones made video games acceptable), let me describe to you what gaming used to be like. You would sit in a room, usually by yourself, and you would put the game in. It would start up, you would play for anywhere from a few minutes to a few days (depending on your endurance and the size of your bladder), and then you would pass out. If you were really lucky and you were playing the right kind of game, you might have a friend to play with. If you were unlucky, you had a sibling you had to share with (hi, Jen). That was about it.

Somewhere along the line somebody got the idea of creating multiplayer games in a very real way. I’m not clear on exactly when this happened (I blame Doom), because they didn’t dominate the world of gaming for a long time. They coexisted, out there but not overshadowing traditional gaming. At least to the best of my knowledge not before Everquest came along (colloquially known as Evercrack). I lost a lot of good friends to Evercrack, mostly because I just never saw the appeal. It seemed more like a job than a game, spending all of your time “grinding” (that would be doing senseless and boring tasks for in-game currency to buy in-game items or achieve other in-game objectives) so you could get to a point where you could, I dunno, play the game. And it was always a matter of keeping up with the Joneses.

Then I discovered City of Heroes. This is a massively mutiplayer online game in which you get to play a super hero, and it was tailor made for me. My wife became a gaming widow for about a year. She finally got me back when she lured me into World of Warcraft, which had taken over from Everquest as the fantasy MMO equivalent of crack. She got tired of it; I didn’t. At least, not for a long time. It took a lot of grinding, foul language, and downright immaturity that I would be shocked to hear from an 11-year old boy to finally get me to quit. Two years of that later I finally went cold turkey. I’ve been clean for about six months now, and I’ve discovered something: there’s no games left for me.

See, here’s the problem. I never liked first person shooters (Doom, I’m looking at you again). I just never got the whole “twitch-twitch-flinch-twitch-this is fun!” thing. And I’m done with MMOs. It’s not the games; it’s the players. I just can’t tolerate their bullshit. For the right game I’ll pay every month (although that did grate on me, I won’t lie), but as City of Heroes found out, the free to play model isn’t enough to keep you going when the content isn’t there and the jerk-to-fun ratio is jacked up to 11.

But when I go to look for a nice, simple game, something like the games of my youth, they all seem to be gone. Note I didn’t say “easy”. Anyone who wants to claim that Metroid or even Super Mario World was easy has either a short memory or way too much time or their hands. But I don’t want to have to invest three days learning the control scheme. I don’t want to have to do mental and physical gymnastics to control my character (Wii, Kinnect, I’m looking at you this time). Even the franchises I used to love have confused added complexity for improvement. I loved Civilization. Civilization II may well have been the pinnacle of game making. Civ III was so convoluted and confusing I couldn’t even finish a game on the easiest setting. I hear they’re up to 5 now. Good for them. I wouldn’t even give them 5 bucks for it.

How about a basic platformer with some deep story? I’d love to see a great RPG that I can sit down and play for hours, not sit down and watch for hours a la Final Fantasy 13, which was so painful I couldn’t get through the first two hours, which translated to roughly fifteen minutes of actual gameplay. How about instead of adding bad multiplayer, you take the time to program the game such that I can choose between playing it FPS or strategic (Fallout 3, I’m talking to you).  How about just once, you deliver a game experience that maybe isn’t all about the hottest graphics and coolest sound, and instead rewards me with gameplay so compelling, so rich, so intuitive and fun that I want to come back again and again, and I’m actually willing to pay twenty dollars more for extra content, because the original game was JUST THAT GOOD?

Oh, and how about not forcing me to be online just to play a single player game, Blizzard? ‘Cause, yeah, that’s bullshit.


8 Comments on “WTFMMOFPS?”

  1. Praveen says:

    I recalled how my brother & me would fight over the video games. And now we two are also hooked to MMORPGs fantasy world of league of legends.Now we fight together.LOLs
    Nice to know, i read a gamer with a thoughtful grey-matter

  2. juneeb says:

    Don’t you remember playing Frogger?

  3. Michael Reinemann says:

    I don’t know about you, but when I grew up playing games was a community experience. You would borrow games, talk about what was hidden where in some games, and on truly hard games (I’m looking at you battletoads) you would need the whole neighborhood in order to beat the game, so I don’t think multiplayer is thrust upon us, I think it was just the natural progression.

    As far as the games you want: Basic platformer with a decent story- Braid It is platformer with a story about love and/or nuclear war.

    Honorable mention – Bastion, not really a platformer, but a story that gets you involved with the character, a soundtrack that is worth listening to outside of the game, and clear focus on atmosphere and gameplay over graphics.

    RPG that isn’t terrible and first person – My first thought is dragon age: Origins. A fun RPG in the vein of Baldur’s Gate, the story is okay, but you don’t have to suffer through cutscene hell.

    Honorable mention – The Witcher. Really nifty and fresh story, crippled by a so-so combat system.

    Swap from FPS to strategic – Nuclear dawn. It’s a RTS (a la Warcraft/command and conquer) where you can go FPS as a troop. Not quite Fallout 3 with two different control methods, but hey, how do you like them apples?

    Compelling without graphics – EVERYTHING BY PARADOX. I understand that this is due to my autism, but Europa Universalis III is the best game I have ever played. The graphics are equivalent to looking at a map, but nuance and in depth gameplay allowing you to forge alternate histories.

    Honorable Mention –

    • Bob Bonsall says:

      For me, growing up with games was mostly a solo affair (unless I was arguing with my sister about who’s turn it was to play, but that’s not what you meant). I did have a few friends when i got older that I would beat games with, but it was a few and far between thing. The only time I really remember having that “social gaming” experience was the one summer I spent with my buddy Jim playing Super Nintendo and eating pizza every night after he got off work. But that was about it.

      • Jim Riegel says:

        Yeah, I have fond memories of you getting excited by the Tanuki suit. Looking back, that should have been a huge red flag.

  4. Shirly Royse says:

    Wow, superb blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is wonderful, let alone the content!

    • Bob Bonsall says:

      Thank you very much. I’ve only been blogging for a few months, but I have been writing for several years. I just finally decided to take it to the web. As for the layout, I always felt something simply and clean would suit me best.

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