Diving under the wave of hype


If you read this blog with any regularity, it may have seemed as though I hadn’t the faintest clue that any new games are coming out soon, or that I don’t care about them. That’s not true.

I just don’t care to surf the hype-wave anymore, at least not this year.

Don’t get me wrong: that hype-wave is a lot of fun. Riding that wave last year, for Warhammer Online, was what led directly to this blog and to the dozens of new friends and acquaintances I’ve made in the last 12 months. Some of whom I even like. (Boom-tish!)

Seriously though — the MMO game hype-wave is fun. It’s also frustrating as hell, and it tends to lead to unreasonably high expectations that can only be dashed by reality when the game actually comes out. No game is as perfect as they ever are in our anticipation- and excitement-fuelled imaginations. If I were into torturing metaphors, I’d say hype is the rocket fuel of the imagination but re-entry to reality can really burn. But I’m not, so I won’t.

So, although I’m well aware Champions Online is winding up for its Big First Day in School Launch and offering interesting EatMe/DrinkMe deals like lifetime memberships and guaranteed access to the Star Trek Online Beta, that’s one reason why I’m not winding myself up into a frenzy over it. Same goes for the various other games due out Real Soon Now (TM) like Fallen Earth, which I beta tested for a while earlier this year.

Which leads me to the other reason: I’m tired of game-hopping. I’ve been game-hopping for the last 3 years, never spending much more than 3 post-launch months in a game, with a “long” stint being the 8 months I devoted to my return to SWG back in 2007-2008. Part of the reason for that is that I’ve been beta-testing games like a beta-testing byatch. Starting with Vanguard in 2006 I think I’ve tested just not quite all the major MMOs released in the last few years — major to me, anyway — like DDO, Vanguard, LOTRO, Pirates of the Burning Sea, WAR, and so on. And that’s not counting the beta tests I’d been in before we moved in 2005, like EQ2, DAoC, ATITD I (not major but honourable mention), Horizons, WoW, CoH, etc etc. (Whoa — maybe I’m the kiss of death!) The only ones I’ve not been in and have actively avoided, once I realised I was burning out, are Champions and Aion. (So by the Kiss of Death theory, they should do really well.)

That’s not so much because I’m a bandwagon ho but because I actively enjoy testing games — breaking stuff and reporting on it and giving feedback on mechanics and systems in order to make a game better or more flexible or more robust, that’s just plain fun for me, and pre-open beta testing communities are usually a lot of fun and very creative, which I also like. Since I’m not a content locust to begin with, I don’t really care that I’ll have “seen the content” before launch, and besides I have a really high tolerance for repeating content (as my ridiculous numbers of alts in every game that allows them proves). And I’m a 30 to 40-something female and that, let me tell you, has been a write-your-own-beta-invite ticket in the last decade. You 20 to 50-something males are a dime a dozen, but we real girls-with-boobage players are as rare as the mythical unicorn. Maybe it was just blind luck, but I still think my demographic theory has merit. Hell, I’m in a beta test now I can’t mention yet, though that was a last gasp application before I realised I’ve burned out a bit on testing.

After the last few years it’ll be a change for me to stick with a game for more than a few months, and right now EQ2 is that game; yes, I’m aware of the irony of saying “right now”, but if one thing holds true among MMO gamers it’s never say never. EQ2’s special merit with respect to my own playstyle is, of course, that it has a lot of stuff for crafter-type playstyles and that it’s huge. And, while it’s not really a sandbox game, it’s big enough and the rails aren’t as ubiquitous as they are in other games — and I’ve discovered I enjoy being off the rails most of the time. EVE would be a very strong contender in terms of suiting my playstyle if I weren’t so damned nauseous every time I’m in space, which is kind of a problem in a game where your ship is your avatar.

All of which leads me to wish the early-adopters and the open-beta players and everyone else a very hearty “have fun” in whatever game you’re playing that’s launching soon — but I won’t be joining you just yet. I’m pretty sure I’ll try Champions Online at some point, and I may even give Fallen Earth a spin (the FPS interface really galls me, but it had some very nice touches elsewhere, and it certainly has a unique atmosphere). I’m keeping tabs on various things in various stages of development (ah, Stargate Worlds…) but for the rest of the year I’m going to sit on my hands whenever I see a beta application come across my screen and I’m going to avoid game launches because they tend to have many of the same issues that burned me out on betas — unstable clients, endless patching, reams and reams of bugs. There’s only so many bugs one can eat before one needs a break, and I’ve reached that stage.

I am firmly hoping ALL these good, decent, and halfway-decent MMOs do well, whether I care to play them or not, because it’s my totally subjective belief that the more games manage to turn a profit and survive (or god forbid, thrive), the more we can show that the WoW billiontymillion income stream model doesn’t have to be the only viable one, and the more we can start to see MMOs come out that cater to niche audiences and that experiment with different game models, payment models, whatever. Then maybe we’ll see smaller, indy, innovative studios come out of the woodwork. More options = more good for the industry at large. Whether this is objectively true or not, I just can’t convince myself that 20 WoW-clones constitutes a healthy MMO industry. (Nor do 20 remakes constitute a healthy film industry — link courtesy of @dlangar of Of Course I’ll Play It.)

So go forth and try out new stuff! Have fun! Blog about it! I’ll be reading and watching from the sidelines and waiting until at least 3 months have passed post-launch before I try any new MMO at all. Unless, of course, someone makes me an offer I can’t refuse. (EDIT — which, irony of ironies, they just did. DAMN YOU BETA GODS!! I’m not sure I can gather up my courage andย refuse this one…)


24 responses to “Diving under the wave of hype

  1. I’ve actually become more and more of a game-hopper this year. My experience has been that it’s better to leave with a few items lest on my “to do” list than to totally run out and spend my last weeks in the game bored. In some ways, it’s refreshing to have a list of things I’d like to do in various games when I get the chance.


  2. I’ve pretty much always been a ‘game hopper’ though in truth I kind of disagree with the idea of such a thing. That we consider ‘only’ playing the same game for 3 straight months game hopping is kinda bizarre to me.

    3 months seems to me to be a LONG time to do any one thing. I wouldn’t want to watch the same tv show every night for 3 months, or read the same book series for 3 straight months.

    But maybe that’s where I diverge from most MMO players (and maybe why I end up ranting so much!).

    What I love is knowing I can come back in 6 months and pick up were I left off. I’m so thankful that the pioneers of the genre decided that deleting inactive accounts was a Bad Idea.

    As to betas, I’ll openly admit, I join them to see if a game is worth my spending $50 to play. Sure, I’ll report bugs that I encounter, but I almost never play with the intent of breaking the game — to me, that should be a paid position, not one I’m paying for (which is so often the case with betas now…I have to be a paid Fileplanet member, or purchase a pre-order, to get in).


    • Eh, I never ever pay for a beta… and usually get in a damn sight earlier than that (also, the paying thing is relatively recent – last 3-4 years?).

      I just enjoy it, or did. I’ve overdone it though and the whole crashy/unstable/frustrating side of it overshadows the fun part of it, at least right now.

      As for games — I’m a serial monogamer and because of all those betas I feel like I’ve been hopping around WAY too much. I don’t object to hopping at all, it’s just not what I want to do right now, if that makes sense?


      • Sure, it makes perfect sense. I wasn’t so much disagreeing with you as offering a different point of view.

        And I’m kind of it the same place, but I haven’t stopped *applying* for betas yet… I just stopped playing many of them. Quitting the application process is the next step in my 12-step program. ๐Ÿ™‚

        But now I only jump in to see if a game is worth buying. Basically I use ‘beta’ as a demo. But it really seems like that’s how companies are using them as well, so I don’t feel *too* bad about it.


  3. I know what ou mean about not riding the hype wave. I try to keep up with what’s coming out, but EQ2’s been pretty solid for me since the day it launched, so it will take a lot to get me to take the time to try something else.

    I play EVE also, since the real-time training means I play when I want to and don’t feel like I’m “neglecting” the game and leaving my characters “undergeared and underpowered” or whatever becuz I don’t play it every day.

    I have tried a few other games here and there, but my playtime’s a bit limited and, as I mentioned, EQ2’s got a good lock on me, so I don’t plan to cancel from that in order to devote my time elsewhere, so anything else I’ve played or beta’d has only really kept my interest for about 2-6 weeks. Yeah, I tried Guild Wars, LotRO, WoW, Vanguard, etc. Tried them, but….. EQ2’s my game. I didn’t bother trying AoC or WAR or any of the other recent releases — they looked too similar to other games I’ve already played, so I figured “why bother?”

    I’ll admit to a strong interest in SWTOR, but that’s so far off that it’s not *that* big a deal. Jumpgate Evolution looks okay, but I’m happy enough with EVE that I’m not sure I’ll even try it, much less make a switch. I will admit also to a slightly more than passing interest in Alganon, but it’s still *very* iffy that I’ll even try it. Aion looks pretty, but other than that I’ve not seen anything that really catches my interest about it.

    Maybe it’s “boring” but I feel like the world’s plenty overloaded with MMO’s and since I’m happy with EQ2, I don’t see or feel the need to chase after the “next big thing.”


  4. Amen. I’m doing the same sort of thing and feeling the same sort of way (I just want to stick to one game) – only I’m sticking it out with WoW. I’ve got a good group of people to game with so it’s good fun even if it is easy and somewhat repetitive.

    What game isn’t repetitive though? It’s the interactions with others that makes the experience different though (interaction includes socializing, not just grouping and pounding mobs).

    Take any sport – same goal every game and it often much simplier than most MMOs (note, I didn’t say easier). Yet we can play (or watch it being played) as much as possible. Why? The experience is never the same.

    Where was I going with this?

    No really… where was I going with this? I’ve forgotten.



    • Ah right. I was going to mention I’ve done next to no digging for Aion (I’ll pass on it entirely) and next to no digging for Champions Online (which I can’t help but read about as the bloggers are unimpressed with it).

      Other games? Nope, not looking into them.

      Dragon Age is the exception, but then it’s not a MMO.


  5. Its all Castillion’s fault, he drags me from game to game kicking and screaming ๐Ÿ˜ฆ First it was EQ1 which oddly enough is where we spent a few years since beta even :p… then it was off to WoW for a few months, then EQ2! Now granted we’ve been in EQ2 for a few years now but recently we’ve been getting the itch to try somethin new.

    Then came along this foreign beauty, Aion! Think they have a cream for this? And if they did would I really apply it and stick to my Evercrack? Time will tell! We enjoyed beta thoroughly and will likely juggle both EQ2 and Aion.


  6. Yeah, I hear you. Until very recently I beta tested on the order of half a dozen games per year. I too really enjoy finding bugs and helping the designers create a more polished game. I found though that it was rare for me to want to play the games I beta tested, because on some deep level I became accustomed to the expectation that the games would be buggy and incomplete. I’ve thus decided to take a break for a bit from both betas and fresh launches.

    I am quite interested in Champions Online but think I’ll give it a couple of months post-launch to stabilize before I dive in. For now, I’m quite happy in Middle-earth and have a lot I want to experience still there.


  7. I really try to have the mentality of not getting into a game before it’s launched, but the explorer / achiever in me wants to do things first, before anyone else does. I want to be the first to stand on a particular spot and look out across the beautiful landscape (did that many times in Vanguard) with no one else around.

    3 months into the game, people have done a lot, a lot has been discovered and try as I might to stay away from spoiler sites, I still find things out. Hell people in the games spoil stuff more than anything else.

    I like being a part of something new and undiscovered and I think that’s where my heart lies with new launches. I’ll definitely play established games if there’s enough there (LOVE EQ2 and EVE), but for launches, it’s just the feeling of doing something new. One reason I’ve stopped betaing games. I still apply and I’ll play for like … a week maybe to see if I really want to play the game or if it has hopes, but then I stop.


  8. I completely understand where you’re coming from. I was devoted to GW and then WoW for years. I might play other games to try them out, but never for more than a month or two. I always go back. Since I’m in a WoW slump, this is a good time for me to try other games. The worst that will happen is that they will make me appreciate WoW more and I’ll go back.


  9. Ysh, I wasn’t sure if it was you who professed an interest in Gatheryn (that mini-game Victorian steampunk multiplayer title), but they’ve opened their doors for people to come in and have a look-see. Go to http://www.mindfusegames.com/ and click on the “Download” link to the right — it’ll let you make an account and download the 171mb game file.

    I haven’t gotten into the game yet, but I will probably do so soon. I’m in the mood for casual mini-gaming right now, for some reason. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Heh aye was me, and they mailed me an invite yesterday — with so many warnings about the NDA that the only thing I can figure is that they sent one of their old form emails. It’s a little thing, but it’s still silly.

      Anyway, I didn’t get around to downloading it yet, and from Tipa’s initial review at West Karana (see —> blogroll), it’s *just* minigames. So I dunno…

      I’ll download it and have a look. Then we’ll see. At least it made me laugh to get a beta invite mail on the day I publically swore off them. ๐Ÿ˜›


      • They didn’t bother with me after I gave them an earful about the closed beta they invited me to months ago…

        and from the look of things over at Tipa’s place, I’d have given them another few earfuls over the art direction.


  10. I think the fact that you are a serial monogamer may be why you get so many invites…if some game can sway you away, they get your undevoted attention for awhile.

    Of course, this assumes that the beta invites are being intelligently directed. (-:


    • Which mostly I think they’re not. I would assume it initially goes mostly by a) having applied and b) having the machine profile they’re after. Demographic info *may* make a difference, but not nearly as much as I facetiously suggested. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  11. My god it really is amazing what or rather who you can stumble across on the internet these days.

    replying to an old post but I hope you see this.

    I can really relate to your experiences, Ive been a bit of a gmaing nomad myself since Vanguard, spent a bit of time in WAR, some in FreeRealms, sone back in EQ2, revisited Vanguard ๐Ÿ˜€

    Am now awaiting the launch of Aion, have dome some testing on it and have friends who are looking to play. If you do decide to dip your toe in and want to hook up in game (assuming you remeber me 0_0) drop me line.



    • Holy crap, Cap!! Long time no see!

      I’m trying to resist the irresistible pull of new games right now, though right after my “hype, begone!” post (this one) I got all frothy and slobbery over The Secret World. Fortunately that one doesn’t even have a launch date released yet, so I’m relatively safe. ๐Ÿ˜€

      Hubby and I are both playing EQ2 right now and pretty happy with it — it satisfies our sad crafter cravings…


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