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Telling Stories: Stopping points

Yes, I know, it's a horrible logo. I'm not always good at those.If there has been only one theme to the many things that I have written about roleplaying over the years – and there have, in fact, been many themes – I would hope that one of the ones that gets hit on the regular is the idea that no one should make you feel pressured to continue a scene when you aren’t having fun.  You should always have the freedom to say that you need to stop and take a break, or that a scene is making you uncomfortable, or the like.

You should also have the freedom to say that you need to take a nap or go have dinner with your family or just that if you stay at the computer any longer you’re going to develop some kind of infection.

Roleplaying is like any other activity insofar as it’s not fun when it becomes a slog.  A lot of people prefer to have roleplaying as an open-ended thing, an act I wholeheartedly endorse and agree with.  But it’s important despite that to have stopping points and give players the freedom to step away, and knowing that there are hard stopping points can ultimately make for better roleplaying.

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Demo Driver 8: Dollar Dash

Or result in jail time, whatever.

If anyone ever asks me to explain EVE Online again, I’m just going to lock them in a room where they have nothing to play other than this game. That should serve as an object lesson.

The problem with any sort of endless game is that you have to provide a reason why people are going to keep playing.  You need to offer something, well, unique.

It’d be unfair to say that Dollar Dash is a bad game.  As games go, it’s pretty well functional.  I might argue that it’s on the lower side of functional, but that’s not the point and it doesn’t really help or hurt the game on the balance.  The problem it has isn’t about whether or not it works.

No, the problem is that it’s a game with the barest form of a game beyond the expectation of having multiple players beating the snot out of one another on a regular basis.  Its single-player offering is perfunctory, there to train you and help you unlock things for the online experience, and that online experience is reliant on people deciding that they’d rather play this game as opposed to the countless entries doing the same thing, only better.  It’s surplus to requirements, and it offers little to compel the player to care.

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Telling Stories: The metaplot

Yes, I know, it's a horrible logo. I'm not always good at those.If you’re playing Final Fantasy XIV, your world got rocked pretty thoroughly a couple weeks back.  The conclusion to the game’s big storyline hit, and it has pretty staggering implications for the game as a whole and the setting that you’re roleplaying in.  It is, in short, a big deal.

But even though you have to go through all of the quests leading through these events with your character, it by all rights should not be a story that happens to your character.

I don’t mean that in the sense that the events don’t make sense for your character; it’s quite possible that they do.  But you cannot reasonably claim to be the most super-important person in all of Eorzea, and even if you do there’s the realize that what happened would make you persona non grata across much of the world.  So it’s undeniable that these big events happened, and you need to react to them, but you cannot have been at the heart of them.  So how do you react?

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Compression play

I'd love to see someone try, regardless.

It’s hard to stress how wonderful flying feels in the game, and it’s very hard to say whether having a longer game with more opportunities for flight would make it feel better or just tedious.

I’m almost finished with Saints Row: Gat out of Hell.  I bought it right away, of course, because it will be an odd day indeed when something is released within that franchise that I don’t want, but I saved it for a while with full knowledge that I would be able to blow through it in a very short amount of actual play.  True to form, here I am, with the game almost completely finished, even down to picking up the wobbly collectibles scattered throughout the game, a technique I generally eschew because it’s massively time-consuming in a larger city.

At the same time, I can appreciate the height of the end all the more because of where I started.

The start of the game, you see, drops you right back at the beginning of the usual Saints Row power curve, and leaves you at the end in roughly the same place as you were at the end of Saints Row 4 with an arsenal of slightly different superhuman powers and a flight system that’s both brilliant and fun.  The difference is that instead of sinking 40 hours into the game to be most of the way to completion, I’m almost there in five.  As there’s an extra layer of appreciation there.

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Hard Project: MOBAs

Great idea, but I can't stand the game it's attached to, in short.

Believe you me, I find it absolutely baffling that I live in a world where this can exist but it doesn’t make me fall to my knees in fascination.

I am not a fan of MOBAs.  There are a variety of reasons – the toxic and vile player communities they tend to attract, the symptom of meatheaded posturing previously associated with physical sports steadily seeping into gaming, the usual control schemes that they support.  But boy, if there was ever a genre that didn’t exist a decade ago that’s managed to explode in popularity since then, this would be the one, and I can certainly understand the heck out of people who do enjoy the games.

Of course, the downside to success is and always has been imitation.  MOBAs have been hit by this pretty hard, to the point where it seems that almost every game company in existence has brought out a new MOBA, like the online equivalent of Japanese game companies making pachinko machines.  Frankly, these games are a hard project even without all of the copycats, but the addition of those copies has only made the dynamic more difficult.

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