Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Playing Casually

MMO gaming just doesn't have the attraction that it used to for me. There just isn't that much diversity, which everyone has pretty much known for a couple years. However I don't think that is the main reason for my loss of interest. I'm honestly not exactly sure what the main reason is. So I'm going to attempt to figure out why they don't hold my attention.

In my MMO prime I played for a few reasons:
1) I wanted to be a recognized name in the games I played. The first to do certain things such as hit max level first, be the best PvPer on the server, the best anything. I just wanted to be recognized on my server as a top dog. When I think about it, not many people get that kind of recognition anymore with server transfers, dying servers, even the existence of classes limits your ability to "shine". I still remember names from DAoC/UO of the top dogs. To name a few: Swiftdeathz, Yohanicus, Bullvine, Eran Darkenstorm, Garret Jax, even in FPSes: Kyle Miller (KSharp), Johnathon Wendell (Fatality). I know more first and last names but I think I look nerdy enough!

2) I wanted competition, which most games provide to some extent, however, it usually takes some time before you can even compete. I didn't need to be the best to compete, but I knew that through competition I could become the best, and I have the drive and motivation to do that. The problem is that I usually am unable to zombie out enough to reach the point where I can compete. I pretty much never have. I've reached max level, but then you get another grind to get gear/more skills/more levels/etc which is fucking disheartening. Especially when you feel so accomplished when you finally reach max level, you feel like you've finally done something, and they smack you in the face with yet another grind. To make it even worse, the new grinds aren't always easy to figure out, the game doesn't tell you, there aren't guides on it, you can ask someone who could give you an answer but odds are later down the road someone will say "You're doing it wrong".

You know, I could sit here and act out the victim, trying to make you as upset as I am about not being able to have fun in MMOs, but what the fuck is that going to accomplish? Diddly friggin shit.

I have to play casually, I have to try to not care about it, I have to keep it simple, and I have to be consistent. That is it, if I can keep doing that then I am going to feel like I have accomplished something, that something being having fun.

I have had fun on 3 occasions recently. Once during some Quake 3 with my brother and his roommates, Scoutzknivez in CS 1.6, and running a business in SWG.

Quake 3 (or more importantly the mod Rocket Arena 3) is one of my favorite past times, way back from when myself and the people I know still lanned. We could play this game for hours with a couple of good friends and it would not get boring. I think the reasons I enjoyed this was because: 1) I was playing with my friends. and 2) Because it takes 2 rails to kill your opponent, so after being hit once and hitting the other guy once you're both on the edge of your seat trying your damndest to fucking kill each other. Not to mention Rocket Jumping.

Scoutzknivez provides me with the same feeling as Quake 3 multiplied by about 10. It is faster paced, you have more maneuverability that requires practice/skill, you only have 2 weapons and both generally require 2 hits to kill someone but also have the ability to kill people in 1 hit. It is fucking intense and gives me such a rush sometimes that I'm truly fearing for my in game life at times, that is immersion most MMOs can never provide. In fact I notice that I only feel similar in MMOs when I have extremely low HP and my opponent does as well.

With SWG I have always wanted to be known as a merchant with quality goods and the lowest prices. Now we all know that you can't have 3/3 when it comes to Quality/Time/Price. However, in SWG power is a resource that pretty much every trader needs. Now there is power that provides 2 units of energy per 1 unit of power, but the majority is just 1:1. So what I have done, since quality doesn't really matter here, is focused on being the Cheapest and the Timeliest. I am basically having my cake and eating it too. I sell the cheapest power on my server and I'm only a 3rd of the max level. Quantity may be limited due to my level, however, I'm profiting hand over fist so I will be able to rectify my quantity (Timeliness) problem by buying bigger harvesters. Now I had been working on this for around a week and no one was buying anything. I even had small stacks selling for 1k, 2k, 5k, etc for the newbies that are starting up and find themselves lacking power. I also sell larger stacks at 10k, 20k, 30k, etc for the lazy people. My price? 2 credits per unit. I honestly do not know the average price for power, but I am almost positive that it is at least 3 cpu. I reach this conclusion because the cheapest junk/grind Ore is 3 cpu, one unit of power equates to anywhere between 10-20 units of ore. After a week, I got my first sales from 2 customers and they bought up all of my big stacks. I made 100k and spent maybe 30k. My costs will go down severely after my next batch because I don't have to buy a couple of harvesters, I've just got to pay maintenance.

The fun was thinking, shit, this business idea is going to flop, people don't want to buy power. Logging in and hearing that little email notification got me so excited, I was hoping I wouldn't see any STRUCTURE DAMAGED! emails, and was extremely happy to see Vendor Item Sold emails as far as the eye could see. Now that I've got it set up I don't need to monitor it every day, so I don't pressure myself into feeling like I have to play more because I'm being a slack ass in advancement. I figure if I just make a bunch of money, build my business up, and establish a customer base that I will ease myself into the community (which I never do because I just don't know how). This will open a lot of doors for me if I ever want to play the combat game of SWG, which I would love to do someday.

I just took a small 30 minute break to check my business and what do ya know? I made another 100k. Now one thing that I noticed this time is that only Solar Power was purchased, leaving me with a ton of Wind Power just sitting in there collecting dust. So what do I do? Keep making bigger stacks. The small stacks aren't selling, as long as I have 5 stacks selling at 5k, I can focus on getting 5 stacks at 10k, and so on and so forth. I used the Wind Power to build the steps on the ladder and the Solar Power to build the highest stacks, because those are almost guaranteed to sell. My thoughts now are definitely on the future, I may be done with Wind Power as soon as I can afford to either grind to the appropriate level needed to make different power harvesters or just buy harvesters from someone else. You have to spend some money to make money, but you don't want to go spending it all before you make any, so I will definitely need to be careful. If the Wind Power sits there after I upgrade my harvesters then I will probably sell it for 1cpu just to get it out of the door. I will still be profiting selling at 1cpu, but there is no need to sell that cheap yet. If I start to get some competition, I will most definitely lower my prices to less than 2 cpu. If I am persistent my competition will give up due to such small profits.

Looking further into the future of my business, after my power business is established, I could see myself expanding into Minerals. Just the basics at first, but I would most definitely sell it extremely cheap. I will probably only sell specific types of Ore, say high conductivity ore and advertise it as great for making Crafting Stations/Crafting Tools. I would also sell ore with high Shock/Heat Resistance along with high Unit Toughness and advertise it as great ore for making the best harvesters.

I can't focus on the future too much though, if I get ahead of myself I will start getting my hands caught in the cookie jars and quit due to bruised fingers. I must take it one step at a time, slowly establishing myself in each market, until I eventually take over as the number one Structures Trader/Resource Harvester. But I must focus on taking it one step at a time, establishing myself as a Power farmer, then as a specialized Ore farmer, then as a Harvester salesman, and eventually covering all things Structures. But for now, I am a simple Power farmer, which has been taunting me to roleplay and is quite appealing.

I watch more movies and television these days than I have played games, and I've had more fun in the games when I play them than I have in a while. Playing casually has really made me a happier gamer and a happier person in general.

So get out of the rat race that is your standard MMO community and take your time to have some fun (if you haven't been due to trying to fit in and go with the grain of your average MMO community).

Happy Holidays to everyone and I wish you all the best.

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