Inertia

January 14, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Posted in General | 1 Comment
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Wotcha everyone,

Rift has a lot to answer for.

Since it pinged on my gamedar, something has been percolating in the back of that strange thing I like to think of as my headbrain, and it’s only been poked and prodded by various blogs I’ve read and conversations that I’ve had regarding Rift.

Much of what I’ve read on blogs has boiled down to the author advising the reader to play Rift, or to avoid it like the plague.

Similarly, conversations I’ve had with people regarding Rift have been, at their most basic and pared down, statements of “Rift is made of Win and Kittens”, and “I think Rift smells of poo and wee”.

The same could be said of The Secret World, and Star Wars: The Old Republic.  When they get closer to release, I’m sure there will be similar posts, and similar conversations.

Now, it might have taken a good few weeks for the accidental collision of neurons to knock into each other enough for it to get to the cognital spark stage, and a good few more to even get close to that hallowed state of being known to most as *an idea*, but I think I am finally getting a clue.

Of course, what makes the slow, almost tectonic drift of consciousness all the more entertaining is the fact that part of my job deals with overcoming inertia.  No, I don’t mean overcoming inertia in a really cool Scientific Breakthroughs in Perpetual Motion sort of way, but in overcoming the sedentary nature of people, and training them in Something New.

Something New can quite often seem to be The Worst Thing In The World.  Part of that is drummed into us with the normally sensible statement; “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  Amongst sage pieces of advice, that is one of my favourites, and usually one I try to live by.  However, if someone hadn’t decided that the abacus could do with a bit of fixing, neither of us (that would mean me, the author, and you, dear reader, of this blog) would be here right now.  We’d probably be poring over the cool new abacus you’d have bought with teflon-coated rods and tungsten beads.

Or something.

So I suppose the statement would better be served by adding the phrase “if you happen to be congenitally stupid” to the end.  “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it if you happen to be congenitally stupid”.  See, that’s working for me right now.

After all, every three years or so, I decide to *fix* my perfectly working pc by upgrading it a lot.  And, being only *mostly* stupid, it generally goes fine.  Without me *fixing* it, I’d still be using my first pc, and wondering why everyone else gets to play the cool new games whilst I’m still playing Gunship and Commander Keen.

According to the hype, it’s wanting to fix the current crop of MMO games that has brought rise to Rift.  From the Rift FAQ:

“Who is Trion Worlds?

Trion Worlds is the publisher and developer of server-based dynamic online games and original entertainment for the connected world. With a mission to revolutionize interactive entertainment by combining the best elements of online, gaming, and traditional media, Trion has built a technology platform that provides groundbreaking new capabilities and is currently focused on developing and publishing compelling content.”

I’m not sure about you, but that sounds like “It’s broke; we’re fixing it” to me.  I don’t have a problem with that, but others might.

Because most MMO players are only going to have the time, the inclination, or the money to play just one MMO.

Add into the mix that *any* fantasy-based MMO with a graphical user interface (or GOOEY, as the cool techie kids call it) and the possibility to *chat* to other players through a text interface is going to be immediately declared/dismissed as a WoW-clone, there’s going to be a lot of inertia that Trion have to overcome.

I’m going to use World of Warcraft as my indicator here, but I’m pretty sure that you could use the name of any existing MMO in its place.

World of Warcraft (or game of choice) is easy.  It’s comfortable.  It’s where all our friends are.  It’s where all life is.

It’s easy because we know how the game thinks, because we know how the skills work, what the classes do, what the mobs are like, how the combat and crafting works, and on the off-chance that we need or want a bit of help there’s an Imperial Internet’s (it’s a way of measuring information, similar to an Imperial Mile, but with more URLs) worth of websites just waiting for us.

It’s comfortable because anywhere up to the last six years have been spent playing it.  We’re used to that GOOEY thing, and how it responds.  Of course it’s the most responsive, or the best engineered; it’s the one we’re most used to and therefore we can react to its little vagaries and pecadillos best.  But then again, it’s also had six years of work on it, so of course it’s going to be better than anything used by the new kid.

It’s social.  All our mates play, and they’re quite possibly friends we’ve only ever known through the game.  Leaving the game might well mean losing them as friends, and starting a new game means having to make new friends.  World of Warcraft players are all in a gang.  When two meet, there is instant conversation without having to resort to the weather.  Will that happen with any Johnny-Come-Lately MMO?

It’s where all life is.  For six years, off and on, World of Warcraft has welcomed us in.  That’s six years of nostalgia, war stories, boasting, and memories.  Leaving all of that behind is hard; so hard, that most of us will have bounced back in after a period away because we bumped into a mate who was still playing, and all that history just yoinked us back in.

That’s the Inertia, and it calls to us, soothes us, and keeps us all snuggly and warm in the embrace of our favourite games.  Trion worlds need to overcome that inertia, and I really wish them luck.

When I decided that I’d only get Rift if my mates did, I was letting that same inertia dictate my actions.  However, I’m ornery, so as soon as that accidental collision had fully achieved its potential by becoming *an idea*, I pre-ordered Rift.

It will cost me the price of admission to see if Trion really have created something better, but if they have then I’ve not lost much.

Those friendships, those memories; I won’t be throwing them away, they’ll always be there.  And if Rift is being developed by the congenitally stupid?  Well, I’ll be a little bit poorer, but also a little bit wiser.  And I’ll just appreciate my MMOs just that little bit more as a result.

Cheers,
Hawley.

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