Bah Humbug to us, one and all!December 23, 2009 at 6:06 pm | Posted in General | 1 Comment
Tags: fallen earth, first night event, game design, hawley is grumpy, not a rant - honest
When it comes to seasonal events in MMOs, I’m a fully paid-up member of the Bah Humbug society.
I just don’t like them. I like my gaming to take place in its own world, divorced from the reality that surrounds me. It’s escapism, a chance to step away from my real life and be someone different.
It’s also tied to my rather grumpy stance on creativity and imagination. When I pay for a creative endeavour (whether that be a film, music or game) I like to think that I’m paying for (amongst other things) the creativity of the designer.
So something that takes what’s happening in the real world, and just changes names, really disappoints me. Deciding that because it’s Halloween there *must* be spooky goings on in game just seems really cheep to me. Create spooky things for the joy of adding content that’s spooky; don’t shoe-horn them in because you want some easily-created content with a timer.
There is a similarity to Syp’s post here about humour in MMOs.
I’ve been more than open in the past about how I hate the humour in World of Warcraft. In fact, I do believe the phrase I’ve used was along the lines of; “playing despite the sense of humour”.
When I said I was grumpy I wasn’t lying. I do have a sense of humour, and there have been moments where I have been rendered completely incapable due to laughter. Tears of laughter have even come from my eyes at such times, and I’ve had to remember to breathe or die.
I love sharp wit, I love slapstick, and I love everything in between. However, I despise cheap laughs and easy references.
Just taking the name of a real world personage and swapping their initials isn’t comedy. Haris Pilton just doesn’t make me laugh. It never will. It makes a little part of my soul weep, in exactly the same way that watching Spaceballs made a little part of my soul weep.
Galaxy Quest, on the other hand, makes me all happy inside. And comparing Spaceballs and Galaxy Quest will do quite nicely for this ramble.
Spaceballs was written by someone who didn’t understand the subject of science fiction, who went for the obvious gags of name-changing and piss-taking. Galaxy Quest was written by someone who not only understood the genre, but loved it. The gags are all based on tropes and clichés, and the comedy is drawn from these moments and scenes that we recognise so well.
In other words, one was written with an internal consistency born of understanding the nature of the subject, and the other was a turd that couldn’t even float.
I like my games to have that same understanding. Just as the world is supposed to be a persistant world (in that it doesn’t disappear when you log off) an MMO world is supposed to be more than just a place to stand whilst waiting for instance runs.
They have Lore (cue angelic fanfare), which I suppose means having a history, a background. So why can’t they have festivals, feast days, and holidays that reflect their own cultures, rather than crude cut’n’paste versions of the real world?
Maybe I’m alone in this. Maybe I expect too much. Maybe I should just relax, and realise that Haris Pilton and Hemet Nesingwary are actually fantastically hilarious.
Sometimes I feel like Sam the Eagle made rather portly flesh. I really do. In far too many ways, unfortunately, as you’ll see shortly.
I suppose this long and rather rambly rant (it’s not actually a rant, as nowadays I prefer to rant in person. It’s far more cathartic for me, and usually provides a good show for everyone around me. But I do appreciate the fact that text is a harsh mistress, and often makes things look angrier than they are) is a bad introduction for what I’m about to write next, because it really does seem like a renunciation of everything written so far.
I’ve been enjoying Fallen Earth’s First Night event.
There, I’ve said it. The admission makes me feel dirty, but it’s true. I suppose it was the Dirt Man that first attracted me. Seeing them made me think that someone at Icarus was being more than a little fast and loose with the Christmas concept, and I wanted to know more.
Fallen Earth, being set in a post-apocalyptic Earth, escapes the referential trap for me. Azeroth and Middle Earth are fantasy worlds, but the Fallen Earth *is* Earth. Just a bit messed up. A bit really messed up.
So references to customs, festivals, and holiday periods don’t jar in the same way that they do in worlds completely divorced from our own.
And there is a part of me that is really impressed with the way that First Night has been set up. A coalition of in-game factions deciding to restore a little law and order through working out when the year begins and ends, as well as bringing back the customs of the season *is* clever. Christmas as a military operation is a new one on me, and made me giggle.
As is the way in which so many of their attempts to recreate the past go ever so slightly wrong. The comedy of errors is well done, and with a deft enough touch to actually engage me.
If you can, try it out. It’s a lovely ray of sunshine in an otherwise brutal and nasty world.
The only thing that grates is the names of some of the NPCs, but even then, it’s hard to be curmudgeonly when Corporal Claus is sending you out to mercilessly slaughter a bunch of rogue E.L.F.S. who want to ruin the fun for everyone else.
Well, that was all a bit more rambly/ranty-looking than I really wanted it to be, so I do apologise. But you’ll be spared my rambling for the next few days, as I’ll be off being busily social for the next few days, away from the relative safety of the intarnets.
I believe it’s some badly implemented real world holiday, and my lovely lady is making me take part. There’s a couple of delivery quests and a repeatable quest involving a turkey, I think.
Happy Bah Humbug, everyone. Have a great time.