Archive for the ‘Other MMOs’ Category

Thoughts on the Occasion of TESO Beta

January 26, 2013 Comments off

My time in SW:TOR has been serene and pleasant, if a little uneventful lately. The Guardian main’s health pool was not quite where I’d like it to be by current standards, and so I’ve spent some time grinding out the last War Hero’s Elusive mods to swap in. As an alternative to warzones, I am slowly plinking at the storylines of two alts – the Marauder and a Sorcerer. I enjoy the subversive nature of doing good on the former, and the comedy of unadulterated evil on the latter… evil backed up by an excellent damage dealer’s toolbox, even at the underdeveloped stage. I’ve always known in theory why the sorcies were so good at tearing me apart, but it is quite another thing to place one’s own hands on the controls.

Earlier in the week, however, a stone broke the surface of the pond: ZeniMax opened up the TESO beta.

I tossed my name into the hat, and it got me thinking about this next big themepark with a solid IP, and the first which had the benefit of drawing lessons from the roller-coaster ridden by the MMO industry in 2012.

For one thing, it is worth underscoring yet again that The Elder Scrolls Online is a themepark. I can think of no other modern brand that would lend itself better to a sandbox treatment, but here we are nonetheless. The themepark customer is the one being sought and, I suspect, will continue to be sought by the industry this year and beyond.

The predecessor from which TESO borrows most heavily is undoubtedly Guild Wars 2. Three factions. GW2-heart-like questing paradigm. Public quests with instanced loot. Weapon-based skill system. Reduced number of active abilities, radically-increased emphasis on their correct situational use. ‘Vignettes’ rewarding thorough exploration of the world.

Fully voiced quests, though. You’re welcome.

TESO-specific innovations include a single world (as opposed to realms/shards) with players assigned intelligently to phases based on a preferred-activity questionnaire they filled out (“eHarmony”, quipped a friend), guild allegiance and others they find themselves grouping with generally. To be honest, I am not happy with this, and not just because they’re injecting a Facebook/Twitter angle into it. I know that some people consider their existing friends’ list the only relevant social filter, but I like servers. I like the idea of meeting strangers in the wild in a persistent world and emergent server communities with distinct flavours. At least with a game like EVE, players, corps and alliances do end up sorting themselves geographically (astrographically?) anyway, achieving the effect of local colour. This, though? 15%RP/20%PvE/35%PvP/30%Exploration Phase represent!

Having staked out their single-shard position, ZeniMax immediately backtracks, sorting players who wish to participate in TESO’s Cyrodiil open-PvP area into separate campaigns which will be named after Tamriel’s cities, and sound awfully like realms. Each campaign will last for months and culminate in the capture of the Ruby Throne.

Cyrodiil sounds interesting, as such things always do when described by developers. Of course, one could describe the original Alterac Valley in WoW in similar language – paths for individuals, small groups and large groups to contribute to victory, some involving PvE rather than direct PvP activities, opportunities for asymmetrical warfare. What ends up happening in practice involves large zergs circling the area, desultorily gobbling up objectives and smaller groups of stragglers, and the most direct, uninventive route to victory (dare one say: path of least resistance?) being pursued with remarkable tunnel vision.

That said, it is going to be a huge Oblivion-sized map, and the campaign will be long term, so perhaps it will pan out differently this time. Some of the top men on the developer team come from Mythic, with DAoC experience, which may have a bearing on Cyrodiil’s design, but that lineage has been, perhaps unsurprisingly, downplayed by the team itself.

Another potentially refreshing feature of TESO is the emphasis on mob AI, which is supposed to be very aware of its surroundings and think synergistically. So, mobs attacking a fighter might try to kite him, whereas the same mobs might rush a caster; or they might assume tank and dps roles. Players are, it is said, going to get greater opportunities than in previous games for combining their class abilities intelligently, too. On top of all this, if I understand correctly, one gets directly rewarded for how skillfully one fought any mob, so even if you are alone, staying out of the fire gets you better loot or xp. Rewarding merit is always welcome, and it might break up the monotony of mob-grinding that sometimes afflicts WoW-likes, including my MMO of choice.

Incidentally, the Tamriel Foundry has done excellent work in compiling and maintaining early information on the game, so I take the liberty of outsourcing my sourcing to that splendid collection of fanatics.

While I have not yet played this game, and a lot of my notions of how it will play may be wildly off the mark, I do think it is fair to lump it together with Guild Wars 2 as part of a push-back against the WoW model. It reminds me of the recent fleeting fashion in American political commentary, which is to talk about how Bill Clinton’s acceptance of the Reagan rightward paradigm shift validated it as a true inflection point, whereas President Obama’s reversal has yet to be similarly entrenched. If there is something to the notion that a rival’s appropriation of one’s ideas is their best affirmation, then Guild Wars 2 may gain a little more credibility as genre-changer with TESO’s release.

Categories: Other MMOs, PvP

Floating With The Rest Of The Garbage

January 6, 2013 Comments off

I have not really been moved to write much lately, partly because I have not been playing TOR very much. I had gone back on my strict disavowals and clocked ten weeks of Mists of Pandaria before quitting permanently again. And for the past month or so, I have not been finding myself in a particularly MMO-friendly frame of mind.

The WoW thing was a spur of the moment decision when I learned that a friend was starting a new guild, and I do not regret it. I was in good company and had fun despite the game’s systems and flavour. I could write a long screed about everything that I found wanting, but instead, I’ll recommend this report by the venerable Big Bear Butt, whose blog I remember enjoying back when I was a young, hopeful beartank myself, obscene AR was king, and Swipe was a 3-target cone AoE.

That daily/weekly routine BBB describes did get old, quickly. I was probably not doing myself any favours trying to keep three characters in shape, either. Suffice it to say I am glad it is over, and I salute anyone able to maintain a positive adapt-and-overcome attitude toward the experience.

Since leaving the damned pandas behind, I have been playing a fair bit of Borderlands 2 co-op, checked out Torchlight 2, dug out Deus Ex: HR from the bought-ages-ago-on-Steam collection. I am told that F2P has revitalised the remaining collection of SW:TOR’s servers, and some time in the coming days I will probably hop back on. As a matter of principle, even though I am subbed, I am far from happy with the aggressive monetisation strategy leveraged against the preferred and free-playing customers – like drastic character limits and the infamous UI restrictions. I want to look forward to new, good things in the game, what with the expansion coming up, and all, but the tawdriness is getting to me a little.

Categories: Other MMOs, Uncategorized

From a Distant Perch, or Guild Wars 2

September 2, 2012 Comments off

It is tempting to do one of those cheeky ‘so, I hear there some new game out, or something’ lines, but I think it would come across as somewhat in the way of sour grapes, given how recently my MMO of choice was forced to confront its inadequate commercial success. So, best simply to acknowledge that Guild Wars 2 is out, and everyone’s playing it.

Most of the people who play GW2 seem to enjoy it, so far. The gameplay videos and screenshots confirm that it is quite lovely. It does a good job of disguising its questing to come across more like an interactive world, and its events, when they work right, offer a good illusion of a dynamic world, as well. I don’t think a good themepark MMO needs to be self-effacing about its nature, but offering quests in some kind of ‘realistic’ way is always good for immersion. SW:TOR took the step of full voice, animation and interactivity, TSW came close with great voice acting and decent animations (if no character participation) in its cutscenes. If the next big thing is dispensing with the quest acceptance ritual entirely, that can only be for the best.

GW2 seems to have cleared the ‘massive post-hype disappointment’ hurdle gracefully, which is no mean feat. Although I have no intention of playing it in the near future, I have no particular desire to see it stumble. However, there are a couple of reasons why I am taking its blissful honeymoon period with a grain of salt.

First, the no-subscription model is a thumb on the scale when putting it up against any comparable title. In the subtle competition between GW2 and TSW that seems to flare up on occasion, I am a mild TSW partisan because of the latter’s ambitious stab at storytelling and overall respect for the player’s intelligence. However, it is impossible to argue against GW2 on purely economic grounds. It is part of human nature to react more enthusiastically to comparable quality content for a lower price.

Second, I think it is generally a bad idea to make PvP the endgame of a game with a lot of PvE appeal during levelling. I expect many of the explorers, crafters, vanity-item-chasers and Asura-lovers will slowly fall away as the game’s atmosphere shifts to emphasise interserver competition and community sours, eventually becoming toxic. While the game’s event system, from the reports I read, is doing quite well while saturated with players, a drop in the PvE population, even buffered by the level scaling system, may lead to a vicious downward spiral with regard to the accessibility of the events, which may chase off even more PvEers.

Unfashionably, I’m going to keep my pontificating about a game I do not actually play to a minimum. I am pretty confident, though, that the chimera of GW2, while undeniably innovative, is not the next best way to capture the heart of the themepark customer. At its worst, a beautifully-crafted game with genuine PvE potential may well end up a glorified League of Legends. Which would be a rotten shame.

Categories: Other MMOs

Self-Expression, or The Illusion Of Freedom

August 14, 2012 Comments off

As I half-ponder, half-plan my return to SW:TOR, the usual fundamental gaming questions arise. What shall I do on my next logon? What goals remain, are they reachable by multiple alternative paths, and in what order should they be pursued?

Were I currently part of an active guild, strong suggestions would present themselves immediately, based on the needs of others. During the server transition phase, however, my gameplay will be self-directed and socially mercenary in nature. Not strictly congruous with the nature of my Jedi Guardian character, but quite acceptable to the man at the keyboard.

Things To Do, or immediately accessible content, are at the heart of an MMO’s quality. The lack of endgame content (not something I’ve observed to be the case) is frequently cited as one of the major causes of SW:TOR’s popularity falling short of expectations. Perhaps the greatest change to WoW in Mists of Pandaria is diversification of things to do at level cap. And, of course, the distinctive and rejuvenating feature of sandboxes and PvP-centric MMOs is the treatment of players and player activity as content.

I always feel a twinge of disgust whenever I see this question approached from a purely consumptive perspective, as in: the player needs to chomp through a certain quantity of content that triggers adequate dopamine release at every stage, lest he feel that his oh-so-precious money has been ill-spent. For some reason unknown to me, this attitude afflicts MMOs more than most other affiliations. Few people would consider rescinding their loyalties to the Washington Nationals, Burnley or Auxerre just because of losing streaks, relegations and small hopes of league trophies.

It is a pity, because I do think that many people experiencing the MMO malaise we see everywhere would get more out of their games if they treated them less like bowls of content and more like toolkits for self-expression. It is perfectly legitimate to reject a particular set of tools as unsuitable, but once adopted, it is foolish to blame the tools for one’s failure to do anything rewarding with them.

One might object to this and ask: what self-expression? In most themeparks, there is a fairly short list of available activities: questing to level, questing at level cap for pertinent benefits, small group instancing, raiding, gathering-crafting and exploration. Also instanced group PvP and world PvP, the latter usually unrewarded unless happening in special cordoned-off areas. That’s about it. More or less end of story. Honourable mention goes to the economic metagame, which can be too complex in some games to pigeonhole in this way, but it does not threaten the point I am making.

From the standpoint of self-expression, it would be easy to proclaim sandboxes superior. Indeed, the absolute limits are gone and the freedom is incomparable. However, the relative limits are about the same. The vast majority of players are still steered by the game systems into a very finite set of particular activities. In UO, for every Rainz, there were thousands of people going through the same motions of skilling up, crafting, house-decorating and optimising for ganking or for survival. And so it went all the way down to EVE, whose primary activities are describable roughly in themepark terms, even by writers passionately insistent on the difference. One’s hi-sec economic activities, incursion fleet, wormhole, PvP roam, batphone rush and so forth are not particularly different from those of another player and his corporation. One fits one’s Drake or Tengu in the same long-established optimal way as everyone else. The rest is an aspirational mirage on the horizon which only a tiny percentage of players ever make their reality.

Gevlon’s recent experience, incidentally, is quite illustrative of the mirage: the green misanthrope heard of the freedom and imagined that, with his detachment and skill at social engineering, he could rock New Eden to the core. He invented creative, half-informed schemes which were repeatedly cut down to size by his commenters and field reality, until he distilled his choices to a themepark-like array of well-worn, standard EVE activities. In the end, it turns out he had been able to do a greater number of unique and interesting things in WoW, the on-rails themepark than in EVE, the sky’s-the-limit sandbox.

No, self-expression as I use it here does not mean doing something no one else has ever done. It means doing something many other people have also done, in your own way, with your friends, coloured by your own personality and principles, making your own memories. Even if it is just a Deadmines run, there are many like it, but this one’s mine. Content is a means to that end, not the end in itself. Instead of whining that the MMO offers only adventures in portraiture, paint the Mona Lisa.

The Secret World or The Bee’s Knees

August 9, 2012 Comments off

You get your powers and your special snowflake status by swallowing a bee in your sleep. More or less sets the tone for the rest of the game.

No, I have not cravenly jumped ship. SW:TOR is still my MMO of choice, but after the heartbreak of F2P, The Secret World’s free weekend provided a little welcome distraction… and occasionally, a reminder of why I still like TOR.

Faction selection in TSW offers uptight eurotrash, the inscrutable Asian stereotype (based in Korea; Funcom knows how to butter the toast) and the American party animal. The more reputable dictionaries include a portrait of the present writer to augment their definitions of uptight eurotrash, so Templars it is.

Character customisation is limited to the character’s head and complexion and involves the standard MMO potato head. The complete lack of body customisation is made up for by an emphasis on clothing choices. Not my thing, really. I’ve never been a Sims man, and I’ve always been more interested in the physical features of RPG characters than what they’re wearing, but the chargen is serviceable overall.

My first thought as I entered the mock-up of London, with my hearing assaulted by the so-very-cockney flavour of cockney: this is an upmarket version of those Flash “MMOs,” like Rusty Hearts or something, with an emphasis on fluff and fashion on a lightweight frame of gameplay. This initial impression was catalysed partly by TSW’s slightly odd visual style wherein very good textures and models are combined with uninspiring, perfunctory animations. It was also quite wrong, because TSW’s combat system is pretty fun and well thought-out, as discussed below.

Anyway, the premise is that one is a member of one of the three secret societies, investigating, containing or exploiting paranormal, occult and otherwise extraordinary phenomena, in competition among themselves. After swallowing the bee (sorry, will never get tired of that), the player character somehow manages to attract the attention of a recruiter who presents the usual offer-you-can’t-refuse, and away we go. I suppose it would be unkind to wonder how the Templars, Dragons or Illuminati manage to get wind of the bee-gulper. The latter doesn’t really leave the flat, trashing it instead with bee-induced powers like they’re Leahblo on Day Two.

After an orientation in London, New York or Seoul and a brief introduction to combat via induced borrowed flashback (induced by street theatre, an injection from an old, wacky Jewish scientist or sexual encounter respectively and depending on faction) one selects one’s primary weapon and with it, one’s fighting style. Your trainers lie about the exclusivity of this choice, by the way – go back into the training hall immediately and pick up your second weapon. Actually, pick them all up.

The weapons – assault rifle, shotgun, pistols, blade, fist weapons, hammer, and three “focuses,” one type for each of three schools of magic – are the organising units of the game’s skill system. Each weapon is associated with two ability categories in the first tier. When all skills in both categories are mastered, one can access a second tier of six categories containing more specialist skills for that weapon. There are also three tiny non-weapon categories comprising generic utilities for tanks and healers and so on.

Skills are divided into active skills and passive skills. Seven of each are allowed to be equipped at a time, which forces interesting, difficult choices and encourages designing and saving different gear+loadout combinations (“decks”) for different situations. Passive skills sit there and enhance things, obviously. Either global things or by modifying how active skills work. Active skills, generally speaking, are divided into resource builders and resource consumers. Resources work like familiar combo points from other games. You hit something five times with a builder, get five resources, spend them with a consumer. It is desireable to work on mastering two weapons simultaneously, as you can hold two at once and attacks with one weapon’s builder skills build resources for both equipped weapons. So even if you’re using, say, pistols exclusively and dualling hammer school just for the crit passives, it is wise to have one hammer resource spender on your active bar because your pistol shots build hammer resources, too.

The skills are purchased with Action Points, which are what one gets for questing and killing. There is a secondary kind of point that is awarded at a similar rate and governs the quality of gear that one is allowed to put on.

And… that’s it for character advancement. The player is permitted to combine weapons as he pleases, and generally do stupid or oddball-but-working things with the category choices. The freedom to make stupid choices is the best kind of freedom and one of my most cherished rights as a gamer. Props go to any developer who is not afraid to grant me that freedom even at the risk that I will merrily bollix up my “gameplay experience” and blame them for it. Did I mention that there are no respecs in the game? There are no respecs in the game.

There are right choices to make, too, and for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time reading through all the skills and figuring out synergies Funcom offers suggestions of prearranged decks that are supposed to work well together. It is usually clever to combine abilities that are empowered by each other’s effects. For a simple example, one can equip a passive that adds a bleed effect (Afflicted is the TSW parlance for any DoT) to a blade AoE move, and combine it with an AoE move from another school that self-heals a little for every Afflicted target struck. Having a couple of skills that set a Weakened state and a couple that exploit Hindered, on the other hand, might be an objectively poor choice, unless they’re tied together by converting passives somehow.

Through this levelless free-wheeling system and the possibility of situational adjustment of skill decks, the game originally attempted to dilute the trinity. It failed. Tank, dps and healer builds are as alive as ever, though it is easier to fashion oneself into any role on the fly if one has the appropriate set of gear stashed away.

Returning to theme and questing, the mission classification system is needlessly restrictive and complicated. There are seven types of the things: main story quests, investigation, item-related, action, sabotage, PvP, group/dungeon. Only item quests can be taken in batches of three at a time. This is meant, presumably, to force the player to delectate the content slowly and attentively instead of running around optimising questing routes, and I suppose it works, but the annoyance factor is not worth it, imho. Yokai begs to differ and explains the system well here.

The missions themselves tend to be a bit over the top and wringing a little too much mileage out of whatever it is they concern. If you are anything like me then ‘yes, I get the point already’ will be a frequent visitor on your mental stage as the NPC gets on with another iteration of the haunted stare and the harrowing tale. It does not help that your character is mute throughout the interaction (trying to retain the bee in his mouth, no doubt) and no response options are given. I know I have been spoiled by SW:TOR’s excellence in this area, but there is something akin to Uncanny Valley at play here: the NPCs are close to acting realistically but they’re trying just a little too hard. The Templar agent handler avers that “this is not a Dan Brown paperback”; unfortunately, pre-empting an accusation in a hip, pop-referential way is not the same as putting oneself in the clear. A Dan Brown paperback is more or less exactly what it is.

On the bright side, there is an amusing novelty to many of the mission givers: they describe a questable paranormal situation and leave it there. “There is this haunted house/amusement park/sewer. Just saying.” Given what you are, it is obvious what you are going to do. Also, honourable mention must be given to the crown jewel of TSW questing: the puzzles. The best of these do actually give one the sense of being an occult investigator. A few actually require googling, which feels weird and like cheating until you come across things like a burst Morse code audio transmission that would be impossible to decipher by ear for a non-professional. However, it does feel very good when one’s general learning or out-of-the-box thinking actually cracks a tough one without aid.

I have not had enough experience with the game’s dungeons to say much of worth, though I did tank the first dungeon without much of a hitch. Quick, very little trash, mostly bosses presenting variants on the dance – move out of this, drag boss into that, pick up adds. Not particularly innovative, but decent enough. Hostile area effects are marked very accurately by white lines on the ground, so the only explanation for staying in the bad is personal derp, of which I fortunately possess a generous supply.

Similarly, I have stayed away from PvP. Everything I read about it suggested a gib-fest, and I think I might be getting too old and comfortable to relive the WoW Season 8 Wizardcleave Experience.

The game is still subcription-based, and the box is a little expensive for what it offers, but it has a functional points-based cash shop, mostly with pets and clothes. The infrastructure is in place for a seamless transition to an F2P model, which is probably what will happen, not least because Funcom has acquired plenty of experience with it through their stewardship of Age of Conan. I’m slowly letting go of subscription elitism and coming around to the view that this model can work all right.

Categories: Other MMOs

Perfect Dead Calm or How SW:TOR Lost Its Locusts

May 11, 2012 3 comments

As most observers know, SW:TOR received a few body blows last week in the arena of public perception. Chief among them, the reported loss of nearly a quarter of its subscriptions over approximately three months – or two weeks, if one is playful enough to fit a line to the XFire graph, according to which the game will be in the negative (subscribing to players, presumably) by August. However, even dispensing with such statistical silliness, it is clear that the best case scenario is beyond our grasp.

What could such a scenario have looked like? A perfect storm of WoW fatigue, an alluring mainstream-culture IP, the use of immersive storylines (Bioware is still best in business at this, after all) to charm people into staying for a compelling endgame, siphoning off a chunk of devotees from the industry leader and bringing in significant numbers of MMO first-timers.

Common wisdom holds that SW:TOR capitalised on WoW fatigue insufficiently, simply because its core gameplay is insufficiently distinct from WoW. I am not so sure. While even I would not argue that it is anything but similar, the differences – higher skillcap, greater challenge in questing and in flashpoints, a purer, less gimmicky approach reminiscent of TBC, which many people missed fondly – were not brought adequately to the attention of the average WoW migrant. Meanwhile, TOR’s small but grating technical missteps – dodgy ability feedback and keystroke queueing, early UI inflexibility and annoying bugs, a byzantine Galactic Market interface, Ilum and PvP entry thresholds, guild bank support, difficulty of forming flashpoint groups outside of fleet stations – wore away at the migrant’s game sessions. It pains me to concede this next point, but perhaps a few of the small quality of life conveniences, which I scoff at as coddling, may have been a good idea from the get-go: things like earlier sprint and permission to drive through orbital stations. Perhaps some form of automatic public groups for heroic areas. Tempora mutantur; the theme-park player is spoiled.

Star Wars was an important element, obviously. I do not think that anything here was done poorly, but it might have helped if the game were released at some point when enthusiasm for that universe were at a more fevered pitch. Nor can one fairly impugn Bioware’s excellent writing and handling of the IP. Which leaves the alleged weakness of the endgame.

Here, again, I am not so sure. I have to disagree fundamentally with the idea, advanced by a luminary of no lesser stature than Dr Richard Bartle, that the game is crippled by the disconnect between story-driven questing and same old boring raids at level cap. First off, PvP notwithstanding, killing bosses is what one inevitably ends up doing in a theme-park MMO. That is not a bad thing or something to be reimagined to succeed. While window dressing can vary and interesting boss mechanics are interesting, the primary source of satisfaction is found in Ernest Renan’s lovely line about what binds a nation together: avoir fait de grandes choses ensemble, vouloir en faire encore. The opportunity to overcome a setpiece, authoritatively-imposed challenge alongside one’s friends, without the burden of inventing one for oneself, is the theme-park’s great strength, not a weakness. The good doctor’s prescription of ‘more story extension, less endgame’ is a symptomatic treatment at best. Instead, I would suggest more variety, branching and story in raids: leveraging TOR’s unique pleasure of making ethical choices alongside and in view of others as part of endgame content.

How many millions of subscribers – keeping in mind that in MMOs a critical mass builds upon itself – would a perfect storm have been good for? I do not know. SW:TOR recently expanded to new areas of Europe and the Middle East, which is not the sort of thing done by a game in its death throes, wherein the studio frantically tries to wrap up expenses. However, it is worth considering that the game has not yet been released (and in some cases is explicitly blocked) in large portions of East Asia, which may constitute roughly half of WoW’s 10 million subscriber base. Oscillating somewhere between a million and two does not seem fatal in this context.

Moreover, the 400k or so lost souls were mostly transients. To an extent, TOR’s public relations strategy is reaping what it had sown by overcounting trials and freebies as active subscriptions. My anecdotal experience corroborates this (and does not match Dr Bartle’s, whose guild apparently crumbled) – some people have unquestionably left, but those who were always seen on the server, getting into groups, talking in public channels, flitting about at new world events have remained, and the perception of community remains nearly unaltered.

I remain highly sympathetic to TOR and cautiously optimistic. Once the team finishes its doling out of pre-designed content while adding quality-of-life improvements, it will have the space to move to innovation again, and it will remain a strong choice for the theme-park MMO seeker for quite a while. In turn, as the makers of Elder Scrolls Online (as good a brand for a new sandbox as one could ask for) have come to realise, the theme-park MMO seeker will probably remain the consumer to get for a long time. As much as I love EVE and the idea of EVE, its solutions are no more applicable to the AAA game than the socioeconomic model of Singapore would be to anything but a city-state, even if its economy is growing fastest in the world.

Categories: Endgame, Other MMOs

RL > MMO or Another Spot of Mittens Rubbish

April 5, 2012 Comments off

The Mittens firestorm is slowly dying down, giving way to speculation on the impact of his Jita gankfest, which is presumably a relief and a goal achieved for Mittens and his beleaguered wife. As so often in these cases, what lingers most vividly in memory is not the antagonist’s sordid little transgression but all the equivocating, lawyering, shifting of goalposts, philosophical handwaving, axe-grinding, hole-digging and posturing it engendered.

No amount of casuistry can efface the basic fact of Suicidegate: encouraging attempts to effect a man’s suicide was morally wrong. The medium does not matter. The context does not matter. The likelihood of success does not matter. No, it is not in the same league as merely refusing to yield to emotional blackmail via suicide threat. The intent was to generate enough harrassment for the poor bastard to kill himself irl. Which is wrong. End of story.

As to the burning of Jita, its irreversible link with the Reykjavik Douchebaggery annoys me. I do not believe CCP should lift a finger to stop it and I’m sure it will be tremendous fun. Precisely the sort of ‘griefing’ that EVE players should get up to. I understand The Mittani wishes to market the event as a bit of a fightback after the well-earned consequences of his idiocy, to drive home the point that he is not castrated by the whole thing. Fair enough, of course. The man is gifted at the perceptions game, after all. The annoying part is the creeping insinuation that the mentality that would relish driving a man to irl suicide for entertainment is the essential mentality of EVE, required for the sort of dastardly corporate warfare for which the game is rightly cherished. That unless one is willing to leave one’s sense of proportion, boundaries and human decency at the door, one has no business playing EVE. That without the attempt to destroy the player behind The Wis there could be no burning of Jita. It is, fortunately, a giant non-sequitur, but it tarnishes the game needlessly.

Categories: Mentality, Other MMOs