Keen’s Regrets of 2009 and Resolutions for Next Year

I have to be careful how I look at 2009.  This year has been one with many regrets and it would be easy to fall into a negative mindset.  I think it is far more productive to look at my regrets and try to learn from them, grow from them, and plan for next year to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Regret: I missed a great year of Console gaming.
I don’t consider myself a console gamer like Graev. He will play every major console release. That’s his preferred method of gaming. Mine has always been PC. Yet, this year I look back at all the titles released on the Xbox 360, PS3, and even some on the Wii and I can’t help but wonder why I haven’t made the transition to at least a partial console gamer. Demon’s Souls, Assassin’s Creed 2, Uncharted 2, Resistance 2, Killzone 2, Ghostbusters, Batman, Brutal Legend, DA:O etc., etc., the list goes on. We got all these games in 2009 for the consoles and I didn’t touch any of them. Many of them are exactly what I enjoy: RPG’s, Medieval, Adventure.

New Year’s Resolution: Become a Console Gamer even if it’s just a little bit.
There’s going to be a lot more console gaming for me in 2010. I plan to take the list of games from above and get through at least three of them. I’m also going to sit down and play the games that come out in 2010. It’s going to require a conscious effort. If it’s a matter of feeling disconnected from my community that I’m always on Ventrilo with when gaming then I’ll pull out my Netbook that I got for Christmas and set it on my lap to voice chat. I’m not going to miss out on another year of great gaming simply because I’m a PC gamer.

Regret: I got discouraged and a little more jaded because of the MMO scene.
As I pointed out yesterday, the year for MMO gaming has been dismal. I let this get me down. There was even a moment when I threw my hands up and said “I think I’m done with these games”. It was after Aion’s launch and I was in my 30’s when I started realizing that I wasn’t able to enjoy the game anymore. 2009’s MMO’s all started out as great prospects. They looked great on paper. The ideas developers were presenting seemed to coincide with exactly what I wanted. When reality set in that they once again exaggerated, lied, or presented their game to the players contrary to how they actually designed it (or planned to continue designing it) I started asking questions like: “This is it? This is the best these developers have to offer?”

It took a while for me to realize that I could look at these games and learn more about what I do not want, how to detect a lemon sooner, and how to avoid it in the future. When I looked up I realized that I hadn’t done a good job explaining these feelings on the blog. I explained them on the forums, talked about them with Graev, and even to friends on ventrilo but for some reason I wasn’t getting them to the blog. When I did get to the blog it seemed like I was bipolar. One day I liked a game and the next I didn’t. There was more to it but it was my fault for not portraying that.

New Year’s Resolution: I’m going to do a better job this next year writing about my experiences with the games.
I’m going to do a better job of stating it how it is to you guys. That’s always been my plan. It’s how we started the blog — as gamers telling the players everything, exactly how we see it — and I want to do a better job of living up to that. There are thousands of you that read what I write every day and I want to continue providing you with the type of content you’re looking for when you visit this blog. It’s always been about the truth, the raw emotion, and broad discussion of gaming. It’s going to be a lot better in 2010.

Regret: I’ve lost touch with what, exactly, I want in a MMORPG.
Do I want hardcore PvP or objective and goal oriented PvP? Do I want themepark or sandbox? Do I like games with the quest-to-level model more than grinding? In Darkfall I questioned whether or not hardcore was really for me. I thought I liked grinding and then I played Aion. I’ve lost a little bit of my identity to this swinging pendulum we call a MMO industry. Every way I turn I see extremes and a new way of doing this and that. What was once grinding, or what I thought was grinding, clearly isn’t the same thing today. Questing to level is actually fun in some games and not in others.   I didn’t analyze things well enough this year.

New Year’s Resolution: I’m going to find myself or do a better job at working towards understanding what I want.
This next year I’m going to do a better job of looking at how things are changing so that I can identify why I liked something five years ago but do not like today’s version. I think this will help me understand how to better critique the design of these games as well as avoiding the problems I mentioned in the previous regret. I hope that while I break down the various changes that we’re seeing we can get some great discussions going. As developers begin changing the way they design MMO’s, and we can’t deny they are, I want to stay on top of it better.

  • Good luck with all the resolutions! And I think you’re too hard on yourself, I know I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts about a lot of games.

    Also, play DAO on the PC, it does play better.

  • Keen,
    I noticed your “bipolar” game opinions and called you out on them awhile back. It’s refreshing to see a blogger take steps to openly admit they may have been lacking and atempt to improve on them. The last few weeks your blog has gotten much better.

  • I’ll still defend my and other’s right to switch opinions about a game at any time, but I need to do a better job explaining why. I think another resolution to add to the list is that I want to blog more. I’ve been busy with classes and other crap this year that didn’t let me blog as often as I would like. Less time to sit down and write didn’t help the perception that I was loving a game one day and hating it the next. There was definitely a progression.

  • No you do have a right to change your opinion. The problem was it changed so suddenly.

    My friends and I occasionly make a top 5 list of games we love. We have one rule, it has to be atleast 6 months old. The reason for this is the “honey moon” phase wears off and you can see the true quality of a game.

    Almost any game can be fun for a few days or weeks. The true test of a great game comes after a few months.

  • I too have become a bit jaded when it comes to MMORPGs lately.

    One thing I have learned is that I really don’t like the process of LEVELING a character.

    Maybe I’ve gotten more impatient as I’ve gotten older but if I am playing a “hero” character, why do I have to start out killing rats while wearing rags and using a rusty dagger?

  • Also jaded here… There have been several MMORPGs this year that had SO much potential and then squandered it away by some means or another. =(

    But I enjoy your blog — always interesting and informative to read, and serves as a great catalyst for discussion on MMO design. Looking forward to reading it in 2010! =)

  • You’re taking it all too seriously. Except the part about expressing yourself better, that part is worth taking seriously.

    I thought 2009 was another great MMO year. Of course, I didn’t build up any great expectations that were never going to be fulfilled and I didn’t even try Aion or Champions Online, because it was clear even from the screenshots I wouldn’t enjoy them.

    Keep your expectations low and you will often be pleasantly surprised.

    And you got me to play Allods Online even though I thought I couldn’t fit the beta in, for which both I and Mrs Bhagpuss thank you 🙂

  • thanks for a year of interesting reading. I like to come here because you seem to hold a lot of the same values as me in terms of mmorpgs and their potential, but you also possess a broader tolerance for actually trying new things. It makes your opinions quite useful. You’ve saved me quite a bit of time, given me some interesting things to think about (man I loved your description of the player-made inn in your ideal mmorpg entry) and given me a heads up about some worthwhile things like allods. It seems appropriate to express some genuine gratitude.

    I’m a patient person. I really do believe that eventually the mmo genre will remember its lost pioneers and throw us the bone we’ve been diligently digging for, for years. it will be a great day, and I look forward to reading about it here.

  • @Bhagpuss: 2009 was a great year of MMO’s for the MMO’s not released in 2009. 😉 I mentioned that in yesterday’s entry. The MMO’s of 2009 did not live up to expectations but the MMO’s of the past (and the future) surprised.

    Keeping my expectations low is hard. 😛 I expect the games of a new year to improve upon what the previous years failed to do. Whether or not it happens, I’m going to do a better join at expressing myself when I look into why or why not.

    If you are Mrs Bhagpuss need some people to play with look us up! 🙂

    @filch: Well said. I never thought about it that way. I guess I do have a decent tolerance for trying new things. I’m happy that this has come in handy. I don’t think I’ll ever lose that tolerance either. I love trying new stuff. I appreciate your comments.

  • It’s ok to call a spade a spade, Keen…you aren’t being overly cynical about 2009. This past year, by all accounts, was a dismal failure in the MMO genre. There were some “ok” games but by and large we haven’t seen anything with any staying power (e.g. and by staying power, I mean a game with the potential to keep and eclipse 250K+ subs). Most of the games someone could argue have potential, but let’s be honest, there aren’t any blockbusters here aside from a few heavily niche-oriented MMOs.

  • I don’t think moving towards more console gaming is really the best move. Personally, I’m going to the other way now! I had a terrible experience with Dragon Age: Origins on my PS3 and it’s really made me appreciate how much better it is on the PC. I used to pretty much only play MMORPGs on my PC and everything else on my PS3 but that’s going to change now.

    Saying that though, you really need to judge each game but it’s own merits – some are more suited to console than others.

  • I’ll never be a “console gamer”, but I want to broaden my horizons more than I did in 2009. I touched one console game the entire year.

  • I think Aion was a great example of how the old days of long grinds and weak content is GONE. You need to give players something in a zone. Just populating it with monsters isn’t enough anymore.

  • I agree with you that 2009 leaves a bad taste in my mouth with all the lackluster MMO’s that hit the market. At least 2010 seems a little more promising with GW2, SWTOR, and Cataclysm.

  • @Nollind: There are some appealing ideas in that article, but establishment of an addictive token economy is what level grinding and gearing up is all about. I for one like gear, I just wish all gear had a predictable shelf life; so let someone score the unique vorpal blade of destruction, but after 4 weeks poof, time to find something new. I also agree with the idea of completely random drops, so beasts aren’t “farmed”, I hate the idea of farming it somehow dispels the magical unpredictable nature of a fantasy realm. I would like to see devs address basic illogicalities in game design, like how is it I can see an entire field of ogres, cherry pick attack and kill the lower level ones, but all of the surrounding ones walk about as if nothing was amiss. I want tactical alertness. Of course having sensible gamers try to design hardcore skill based games doesn’t always work out so well; wasn’t that the big hyped up selling point for DF? Also here is another article address the latter issue:

  • Quite a number of those console games you mentioned are also out on PC. Stick in a gamepad, and voila. And you get the benefit of swapping to keyboard/mouse controls for games that work better with those. One of those three you’re intending to play has to be Batman. All the frickin’ awesome should stop the jadedness from fossilizing over.

    I’d love to hear you share and dissect your feelings and game experiences and analysis more when next year rolls around, those make up some of your best posts as long as they’re not colored a depressed jade green. 🙂

  • Keen, I hear you about the Console Gaming. I have and always will be a PC Gamer. But….. There are times, such as now, where I have found the PC Gaming stagnant and my console has come to the rescue. Borderlands is fun, DAO is awesome, Left 4 Dead 2 … well I suck with shooters anyway.

    Keep to your resolution and take that breather from the PC. I know it has kept me sane enough to continue with “That Blizzard Game”.

  • Very thoughtful post as always. I like your idea of doing more console gaming. I think they’ve gotten a bit deeper and richer gameplay wise that they were a few years ago so its worth a look.

    I think I’m temporarily jaded by mmos as well, but I’m going to continue to try new ones anyway. You never know what might turn out to be appealing and fun, at least for a bit. I’ve fallen back to my original mmo roots, and I now think that the only possibility for something similar or in depth world wise lies with Zenimax’s unnamed title which I partly hope is Elder Scrolls, and partly hope is *not*, just in case they would somehow mess it up. Me of little faith.

    Happy gaming in 2010, guys.

  • I too have neglected my console… I have 2 new games I have not even tried yet. In the old days, I would have been playing them as soon as I got home.

  • It seems like you answered my comment from last post. Best of luck in the New Year! 🙂