Beware the MMO

Massively Multiplayer Online games. Primarily the MMORPG (Role-Playing Game).
Oh boy, this is going to be a long post.

For a long time, I looked down on the concept of a MMO game. For several reasons.
First, I simply preferred single-player games. I like to play at my own speed, and not have to worry about whether other players will help or hurt my progress.
Second, I had disdain for the concept of paying a monthly subscription for a game, and having to maintain that subscription, otherwise I would no longer have access to the game, and all of my progress.

Over time, my taste in games has grown and evolved, and I am far more open to different gaming genres than I ever was a few years ago, let alone a decade-plus ago.

Growing up, the only internet at home I had was dial-up. Where you had your computer connected to the phone line, and nobody could call you while you were connected. And everything loaded up SUPER SLOW.
Mind you, I was in middle school, soon to be high-school. So this is probably around 1999-2002.
I was only allowed to be online for about an hour a day (because it would take up the phone line, and my parents would of course want to be able to make/receive calls if needed). But I would routinely stay on for as long as possible, and only getting off when it was absolutely unavoidable. (I.E getting caught)

Much of my time online would be spent looking up game information on websites such as (which surprisingly still exists, unlike many other websites from that time).
I would download FAQs for many different games, so that I could refer to them whenever I wanted to, even when I wasn't online. Not to mention, everything loaded super-slow, so it was better to have them on my computer where it was easier to access.

So games were very much a solo experience for me at that time.

Even as technology improved, and we finally got high-speed internet (and then soon after, actual wifi), games would be a single player experience for me.

Even through high-school, my access to games was dependent on how much money I could save up from birthday/Christmas, and I had to choose which games I got carefully.
So the concept of a subscription-based game would never even cross my mind at that point.

Even years later when I had a job, I was making so little that I was more worried about paying for my phone and computer, rather than games.

I was a fan of Starcraft and the Brood War expansion, and played the heck out of them back in the super-late 90s and early 2000. So I already knew of Blizzard being a game company I liked. Even played a bit of Diablo 2.

World of Warcraft came out in 2004, so that would have been firmly in the middle of my high-school years. At that time, I was deep into Nintendo Gamecube games, and then obsessed with the Nintendo DS's release.

Throughout the following years, I would hear all the stories on the news and cartoons making fun of World of Warcraft, and how addicting it was and people being irresponsible, etc etc. Things like that would indirectly enter my consciousness and would cement my bias against MMO games.

Sometime in 2008, a friend I was regularly chatting with online was very big into WoW, and convinced me to give it a try. He even gave me access to his account so I could create my own character and play as much as I wanted when he was at school. So that was my first taste of WoW.

A couple years later, two of my friends started playing WoW, and so I joined in for a month or so so we could do some quests together. I never really got into it, so I stopped.

Most of my gaming during all this time was solidly Nintendo-based. GameCube, Wii, GBA, DS, 3DS, WiiU, and getting into the PS3/PS4 as well. (This was also in a time when I didn't do much PC gaming. PC games I played would tend to be the ones you'd find on the budget rack at a store. You know, the ones where it's just the jewel case. Otherwise, it was primarily consoles)
And the computers I had for most of my gaming experience were cheap pre-built computers, which as it turns out, are not really designed with gaming in mind. And the built-in Intel graphics chips were rather lacking. So again, pc gaming for me was a hit-and-miss experience.

Being primarily Nintendo-based, I didn't have much experience with Final Fantasy. I was aware of it, of course, FFVII was "the popular one", with the movie related to it too. But I hadn't really played any of them. My experience with Final Fantasy was Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles for the GameCube, and I loved it so much. Along with several other games in the Crystal Chronicles umbrella.

And over the years, liking games so much, I would pick up more information about Final Fantasy in general.

Because of all that, I was one of the first to get Theatrhythm Final Fantasy for the 3DS when it came out. And I LOVED it. Being able to enjoy all the history of Final Fantasy and the incredible music (especially the Crystal Chronicles music that I was so familiar with), it was great.

Meanwhile, I eventually got an iMac, which was the best computer I had ever had to this point. With Steam giving easier access to finding great games, for both Windows and Mac, and being able to use BootCamp to run Windows on the iMac, I started amassing a larger collection of games on the computer. And now that I had a reliable job, and a consistent income, I was able to afford more games, and was always on the lookout for sales on Steam.

Fast forward to February 2014. Final Fantasy XIV had just came out 6 months prior. Steam had one of their routine sales, and FFXIV was on sale for $15, which included a month of game time. So I figured, Yeah! Why not? I wanted to try out a new Final Fantasy game.

And boy, did I get hit by the bug hard.
For the next 6 months, I spent many hours every day playing that game. Maxed out my Disciple of the Hand/Land classes, and making my way through all the story quests.
I loved it.

Somewhere during this time, I got the PS4 version of the game, so that I no longer had to reboot my iMac into windows when I wanted to play. Which encouraged me to play even more.

The game is one of the best-looking games I've ever played, and the game gives you so much freedom to play however you want. You can play the vast majority of everything alone. And any time you need to go through a dungeon, the game will automatically pair you up with other players. So you can go through as a Healer, and the game will automatically pair you up with a "Tank" and "DPS" players to complement your run through the dungeon.

And I really appreciated that.

Playing as a DPS (damage-per-second) player, you will sometimes collect different items/materials from enemies.
As a Crafter, you can use these items to create new weapons and armor, which you can then use for your battle classes, or trade for "gil" (the in-game currency) with other players. I loved how all the elements worked together, and I could really just spend hours playing whichever class I wanted, and do whichever quests wanted to.

Eventually, I was spending so much time playing, that I found myself juggling running through a dungeon on the PS4, while trying to reply to a coworker on my computer. I quickly realized that I couldn't keep doing that or it could really hurt my job.

So, I stopped playing.

The expansion pack was released the next year, and I had considered getting it. I eventually decided not to, since I had many other games to play.

Over the last 6 years, Blizzard just kept doing its thing. Released Starcraft 2, and Diablo 3, and I enjoyed both, along with their expansions. Then last year, Blizzard revealed Overwatch. I tried out the beta, and didn't really care too much for it. But by the time it officially released, I was fully on-board. (and the rest was history. You can read my post about Overwatch I posted before.)

So, at this time, I was spending more and more time in Blizzard's application, for playing Overwatch and Starcraft. And of course, World of Warcraft is there in the application as well.

Another friend had recently gotten into WoW, so I decided I'd sign up for it again to try to play along with them. Around the same time, I decided to give FFXIV another try as well.

Well, it's been about 2 and a half months since then, and I'm again spending hours every day on FFXIV. With the expansion, there's new areas, and classes, and raised level cap, so I've been going through the story quests, and working on my crafting classes, and just enjoying everything.

Yup, it got me back. Hard.

I'm not complaining, and I'm not letting it affect my job either haha
And I am looking forward to the next expansion.

Once I get satisfied with my current progress through the main story quest, I'll probably then switch into playing WoW while waiting for the FFXIV expansion.

I'm not really sure what my point is with this post. I titled it "Beware the MMO", which is true, since it is easy to get lost in spending so much time playing these games.

But on the other hand, I think the point I'm actually making is don't be afraid of the MMO.

Hear me out.

Growing up, I had to be conscious of which games I got, since I couldn't afford much.
Then, based on my previous gaming experiences, I stuck with single-player games.
As I could afford more games, and had more time to play games, my taste in games grew/expanded and I was more willing to try out new things.
However, I think along with that, I started to get a bit burned out on being frustrated at spending upwards of $60 on a new game, only to find that I only played an hour of it and never touch it again. That money adds up, and it's a lot of money wasted on games I don't actually play.
It boils down to quite a lot each month.

But here's a game where you can play as much as you want, and gives you a lot of freedom to play however you want, and it's only $13-15 a month, for however much you want to play. And considering the hundred and hundreds of hours I've spent playing, that is a HUGE value compared to all the wasted money spent on games that I don't play.

And there are MMO games where you don't have to pay every month. Elder Scrolls Online and Guild Wars 2 are both fantastic MMO games which are free to play after buying the main game.

So, it's worth taking a chance on these games, to see if you like it. And if you don't, then you cancel and move on to something else.

So over time, all the multiplayer games I've been playing, along with FFXIV, I've grown a new appreciation for these games, and I'm much more comfortable with the online nature of the game, and value certain aspects of it.

So as long as you are able to manage your time and not let it affect important things, then there are games available that can give you a lot of bang for your buck.

Pokemon Sun/Moon and Final Fantasy XV are coming out later this month. I am definitely excited for both of them. So I'm going to need to find time away from FFXIV to play those. haha

Yeah, I really don't know what my point was in this post.
Maybe my point is that you shouldn't let old biases get in the way of trying new things, as you may be pleasantly surprised.

Inside - Game View

This is another game I played several months ago, and forgot to write about!

INSIDE is the follow-up game from the studio behind LIMBO. If you never played LIMBO, that's ok. This game doesn't have anything to do with that game, other than similar character design, and horizontal nature of the game.

A lot of playing INSIDE is about experiencing the game. It is hard to explain.
It is a puzzle game, but the puzzles are not necessarily difficult. (although I was pretty stuck at one specific part near the end, but after setting the game down for a while and coming back, I was able to then continue)

And then the ending was shocking. And probably left me more confused than anything.

So while I wasn't personally satisfied with the ending, I did appreciate the game as a whole.
And I strongly recommend checking it out!

Doom (2016) - Game View

I really intended to write this like two month ago.

Oh well, here I am now.

I never played any of the previous DOOM games. I didn't really see them as being something I'd like. So when DOOM 2016 was first announced, I thought nothing of it. The previews didn't do anything to interest me.

However, somewhere along the way, I figured, you know what? I really like Bethesda games, so I might as well give it a try.

I'm glad I did.

While on the surface it's just a generic soldier-type guy on a foreign planet, making his way through level after level, killing anything and everything that moves,
Deep down.. That's all it really is. But the thing is, it works.

DOOM doesn't take itself seriously. It is over the top. It is gruesome. There is a lot of blood and gore and the animations of bashing in an alien's face can be disturbing.
But at the same time, it can also be quite satisfying.

Sometimes it's nice to just let go and embrace the bizarre and dumb. And DOOM gives you all the tools for that and more.

One thing I also appreciated about DOOM is that the map for each level is quite large. Yet not too large to where it becomes intimidating.
There's a lot of verticality as well, so each map can have upper sections, and lower sections, and makes it fun to explore while hunting down the aliens.

There are also MANY secrets to discover on each map. Hidden areas, and bonus powerups, all waiting to be found. You can re-play any level you've already completed, to go through and try to find the remaining secrets as well. The pause screen's map display is extremely helpful in guiding you as to where secrets may be, or places you might not have discovered yet on the map. But the maps are still designed in a clever way, to where you will still have a challenge (but not necessarily an unfair challenge) to find it. And it is satisfying when you do find it.

I must admit I've only played about 5 hours of the game as of this writing, but I did enjoy it. The graphics are also really quite stunning. Even though it's an alien planet (with research bunkers) and a lot of red landscape, it still looks really good.

Overwatch - Game View

Oh hey there! Been awhile, I know.
I have a lot of posts that I've been meaning to write, but been too distracted by other things, such as work and games.

Especially [Overwatch](

Seriously, Overwatch is pretty spectacular.

Blizzard games always tend to have that added special touch that really makes them stand out, and Overwatch continues that trend.

With some team-based multiplayer games, they tend to get a bit boring, once you've become so familiar with the maps, and it all starts to just feel like the same thing again and again.
Somehow, Overwatch manages to overcome that. It keeps feeling fresh, never stale.

To start, you have instant access to all 22 "Heroes" in the game, and can choose whichever one to play as. You can switch between them freely while playing as well (as long as you're in a spawn room). If (when) you die during a game, you'll just re-spawn at the current spawn room after a time delay, so you can get back into the action.

Each hero feels distinct, with their own colorful personality, and background. The game launched with 21 heroes, and the 22nd one was recently added, and there'll likely be more to come later as well.

As of writing this, there are 12 different maps, which are chosen randomly (seems random, at least). Each map is vibrant, with different objectives, and requires different strategies in order to make your way to victory. The 13th map will be released fairly soon, with more to come as well.

Each "match", there are two teams, each with 6 people. So with 22 heroes that people can choose from, that gives nearly 400 million different combinations (if I did my math correct) of heroes that you can play with/against on a given match. That probably helps why things always feels fresh and exciting/interesting.

The heroes are divided into different roles/types.
Offensive heroes are typically the fastest, and are able to get in, and cause as much damage as possible. However, the tend to be easiest to kill.
Defensive heroes are great at barricading an area. They can cause massive amounts of damage, and basically stop/slow the other team from reaching a destination.
Tank heroes are basically just to absorb as much damage as possible, so that other teammates can get in there a bit easier.
And then Support heroes, they mostly are there to heal up the team, to keep them from dying.
Since everyone tends to have different play styles, and each hero has their own unique set of abilities, it really opens things up to allow anyone to be able to find the way to play that is the most fun for that person.

I tend to play as either a Defensive hero, or Support hero, so I'm either causing a ton of damage, or healing everyone.
Since each hero has their own unique abilities, some are better at countering specific other heroes. That helps keep things balanced, so it doesn't feel very one-sided. In the heat of a match, if you feel you're being beaten too easily, you can quickly switch to another hero that has specific abilities that can help that situation.

The game also has a pretty smart match-making system, so that you'll be paired up with a group of other people who are similar in skill level as you. So even if you feel like you're having a rough match, the rest of your team may be able to help save the round.
Overall, you should find that you win and lose about the same amount of times.
Nobody likes to lose, but the majority of the time, the match is so much fun that you still feel satisfied.

Another neat thing is that each hero has a bunch of customization options. As you play, you'll earn experience points, and can level up. The only purpose that leveling has is that it grants you a "loot box", which has random customization unlocks for different heroes. These can change how the heroes look, their special voice lines, and other neat enhancements. It adds another fun layer to everything.

Everything just comes together to make the game a ton of fun. I've spent over 100 hours playing, and I know I'll be playing much more.
It probably also helps that a number of co-workers are also playing the game, so it's pretty cool to be able to team up with them.

If I had to come up with a negative about the game, it would be that the loot box system can be a bit frustrating. Since it's random, you don't get to choose what comes out of the box. (You can unlock most things separately, but even that can feel a bit frustrating at times. And I really don't care about unlocking all the "sprays")

Anyway, I've really been enjoying the game, and I love how Blizzard has been constantly updating the game with balances, fixes, and new content. I look forward to playing more.

May 2016

"Hey Stephen, what have you been doing? Played any good games lately?"

Hi there! Thanks for asking!
Lately, I've been mostly busy with regular-work, and watching YouTube videos.

Some YouTube channels I've enjoyed watching lately include: RhettAndLink, TheFineBros, CinemaSins, OfficialNerdCubed, Markiplier, JacksFilms, JimSterling, PaleoSteno, TheMysteriousMrEnter, ChannelFrederator, and WheezyWaiter. And I'm sure I'm still missing stuff!
Needless to say, it's a LOT of stuff to watch!

As for games, most of my game-time has been split between smaller games. Most of which not worth mentioning. Which is kind of a bummer.

However, I have a LOT of good things to say about Crashlands and Stephen's Sausage Roll (not me, a different Stephen). I'd probably write an impression piece here for them eventually, if I remember.

I tried playing Everquest 2 online, and Lord of the Rings Online, but kinda got bored of them after awhile, and when quests tend to just pile up without much meaning to them. I probably should instead try revisiting Elder Scrolls Online, or Guild Wars 2. As if I have time to play MMO games, when I have so many other games to play too.

I also recently got an HTC Vive, so I've been exploring the virtual reality games.
Expect an impressions post on that sometime. Spoiler: Virtual reality is pretty cool.
You may remember [my post last year]( about Virtual Reality. (If not, click that link to read it).
My experience so far has been pretty cool, and my enthusiasm remains for what's still yet to come.

I've also started playing ChromaGun and Glitchspace. Too early to say what I think about them so far, but I am looking forward to playing more.
And there are a number of other games that came out over the last few months that I tried for a bit and then they got pushed to the side. I really should get back and try them again. And that's not even counting the WiiU and 3DS games on my list.
Seriously. Too many games.

Anyway, it's almost 2am, and I should get to sleep for work tomorrow.

Tom Clancy's The Division - Game View

I first saw this game during E3 a few years back, and it didn't really interest me.
(If you read my review on Factorio, you probably already can tell where this is going).

Last week, I was given a copy of the game by a friend, so I felt it fair to give the game a fair try, to see how it was.
I had seen some fairly average reviews for the game, so I did not have high expectations for it.

Well, long story short (too late!), I ended up really enjoying this!

So, I have about 12 hours invested in the game so far, and I'm really digging it.
The game feels kinda like Borderlands, in a way. Except without the over-the-top cartoony aspects.

You are a Division agent, and your goal is to help rebuild the city, after it was basically destroyed after a virus outbreak. To make matters worse, there's a lot of looters and other hostile enemies around, causing trouble.
So it's up to you to help find missing people, retrieve lost supplies, restore power, and just help-out in general wherever help is needed.

It doesn't really sound all too exciting, but the realistic graphics, fully voiced characters, and interesting story elements, and other side-story elements to collect, it really keeps you engaged.

It's another Ubisoft game, which by now pretty much gives anyone an idea of what that means. You have a map, and a large open world, where you can pick which missions you want to do, and you have safe areas that will unlock more details on your map with more missions. Assassin's Creed has that, Watch Dogs has that, Far Cry has that. (Speaking of Far Cry, I've been playing Far Cry Primal, and been enjoying that as well).

So, if you've played any of those games franchises, you kinda know what to expect in that regards.

There's a lot of detail in the game, and it's really quite beautiful, even if the setting is basically a run-down and desolate city. It's still really quite amazing to look at.

Long story short (again, too late!), there's a lot to do in the game, so if you enjoy it, it'll keep you entertained for dozens of hours. You can also play with friends, with missions scaling up in difficulty if you play with other people. And there's a whole "dark zone" which pits everyone against everyone else. I spent a few minutes in there, and kept dying. So I left. Maybe I'll go back once I've leveled up and earned better gear.

Factorio - Game View

When I first saw heard of Factorio, and looking into it a bit, I was not interested. Building a factory? Why? What's the point?
Well, after hearing more people talking about it, and seeing more game videos on it, I finally decided to give it a try for myself.
I am SO glad that I did.
I feel bad that my initial thought of the game without trying it was so negative, because after playing it, it has become one of my favorite games.
It is so intricate, with many layers.
You start out with basically nothing but a pick and a furnace. You find some mineral areas, and start collecting Iron Ore, Copper Ore, Stone, and Coal. Then you use the furnace to forge the ore into plates, and further on into bigger, more complex objects.
You start crafting items on your own. But this is very time consuming. More complex objects will have dependancies, which require you to first craft some other item first. So you eventually start building fabrication machines, and auto-loaders, and conveyor belts, to transport items from point-to-point, to automatically build smaller objects, to take them to the machines that would build the more complex objects. And before you know it, you have a complete train complex that is bringing in raw material from remote locations.
To complicate matters, you have to research the more advanced processes, which takes time, and crafting "science packs".
All this factory building, generates pollution. The native creatures on the planet will seek out the pollution generators and destroy them. So you also need to worry about defense.
And of course, you need to generate electricity to power everything. Starting out with burning coal, and then building up to solar energy
It's absolutely crazy. And I love it.
So many different layers to the game. And there's a huge mod community, with users creating their own changes/additions/expansions to parts of the game. Much opportunity for sinking a LOT of time into this game, and with the mods it can let you tweak the game to your liking, and keeping everything fresh and new.
The game is currently in Early Access on Steam, so the developer is still adding and changing and updating and improving things. But even as it is right now, it is a super-high-quality game, and I strongly recommend checking it out! Factorio on Steam

The Witness - Game View

I've been looking forward to The Witness for years.
I can't remember how long it's been. But I remember that the excitement reached it's peak around the time it was showcased for the PS4 launch announcements.
Since then, I've eagerly awaited.
As is the case with games that I've been eagerly waiting for, and the hype that builds leading up to release, I had a pang of fear, in case that I'd be disappointed in the end, after so much waiting and excitement.
Luckily, that did not happen.
The Witness is a good game.
Very good.
Even just exploring the island, there's a sense of wonder. Something special about how everything has a visual weight to it. It's so pretty, and draws you in.
The game doesn't verbally explain anything to you. However, it would be up to you to solve the 600+ puzzles that exist on the island.
Basically, they're line puzzles, go from point A to B.
However, along the way, you'll start to learn differences to the puzzles, how a dot here, or a color there can require you to go a different way.
And then there's puzzles that require you to pay attention to the environment as well.
It all adds up, to a very engaging experience.
It's a journey. And it's wonderful.
The puzzles get difficult. I've wanted to slam my head against my desk several times due to a frustrating puzzle.
Most of the time, it was either because I was forgetting something important about the puzzle, overlooking something, or because I just haven't learned the important "trick" to solving the puzzle yet. Leave to a different part of the island to solve other puzzles, and there I may learn that missing idea that I needed to go back to the other puzzle.
I've also used some image editors to help track my ideas/plans. A notepad would also help.
I kind of feel like this game was made just for me.
I'm enjoying so much just walking around the island. (Although some times it can feel a bit overwhelming, since it's so big, and I've gotten a bit lost).
I feel like anyone else playing would likely get too frustrated at some of the puzzles, and then quit playing.
I'd love for as many people to play this game as possible. And I want everyone to enjoy it as much as me.
I can't help but imagine some angry internet trolls getting frustrated at one of the early puzzles and then complaining because it was too hard or they think it's broken.
If you don't like puzzles, then maybe don't play a puzzle game.
But if you're wiling to lose yourself in a literal world of puzzles, The Witness will be a nice excursion keeping you busy for days.