Current gaming choices

8th April 2008 – 7.29 am

Wondering what to do next with my Draenei warrior last night I ended up logging out without really accomplishing anything, feeling a little WoW-malaise again. This malaise is affecting me more these days, although I can shake it off and spend another evening gaining easy XP soon enough. I get bored these days partly because I've done all the content before, several times, but mostly because there's no one around to play with. With my friends going to different games, changing servers, or levelling solo, and my old raid group not needing me any more and a new group not appealing to me I was left with little to do on my old server with my two level 70s, and patch 2.4's new content was too far off to just hang around for a while.

At the end of last year I joined a US server, where a couple of internet friends play. I had to start anew, levelling up characters from the beginning, and we can only really play when the timezones allow, but at least I am grouping occasionally and it was people that I missed most about the game. I'm a-feared of strangers in general such that I tend not to hit the looking-for-group interface much and so I am still soloing most of the time, and that is why I get bored. Maybe I'll try to get in to more instances when I'm ready for the Outlands, but I don't want my character to get ahead of my friends and running an alt at the same time just means going through the same content yet again.

What this all means is that there are times when I'm looking for something else to do, scratching an itch that World of Warcraft can't always reach these days. I've been thinking about trying a new MMORPG for a while, toying mostly with EVE Online for its space setting. I also bought the Orange Box and got it running on my Mac, which gave me Portal to play and another on-line game to be alone in in the form of Team Fortress 2, as well as Half-life 2 and its episodes. But a discussion I was reading the other day brought up Underdogs and, with my having Crossover Games installed on my machine, I realised that I may be able to get Frontier: Elite 2 running for a bit of nostalgia. I could never find a copy for the Mac, and it's probably too old to run outside of emulation anyway, which is also probably true for the PC but it was a thought to try to find it. I really quite enjoyed Frontier when it first came out and I played it on my Amiga. Space combat certainly wasn't the same as in Elite, mostly because it was difficult and the learning curve was back-to-front. The game got much easier the further you got in to it, and not just because you got better. Starting out with a puny pulse laser meant timing your shots to hit an enemy craft seemed insanely hard, and once you got some trading done and bought a bigger ship a beam weapon meant you no longer had to time your shots.

Even so, I have fond memories of playing. Docking in Elite was fairly straightforward, in Frontier it was considered almost impossible without a docking computer because of the travelling involved from the outskirts of the system. One day I got jumped after exiting hyperspace and my docking computer was destroyed in the fight. I hadn't save the game for a few hours and didn't much fancy replaying all the missions, so I decided that I would try to make it to the station manually, something I had never even considered before. It wasn't easy, but using the time-dilating functions and being careful I managed to get in to orbit and dock. I was quite chuffed with myself! My chuffed self quickly bought a new docking computer and saved my game.

My main problem with Frontier was that despite supposedly having a whole galaxy to explore only a small subset of stars had any habitations on or around them. My game-explorer personality kicked in one day and I went off to see how far I could go out of the known systems and see what else I could find. With a fuel scoop to refill my tanks I headed off, out of known space. I kept on jumping in the same direction but with engines needing to be serviced roughly once a game-year I ended up floating adrift in space with a broken engine and no way to recover, and still there was no sign of further civilisations. I felt a bit maligned that we were given all these stars but were forced in to travelling between a small percentage of them all, but it wasn't that big a deal overall.

So, anyway, yes, I was thinking that I could try to find a copy of Frontier and see if I could get that working under Crossover Games, to give myself another option for entertainment. And that brought me back to wondering why I don't just try EVE Online. It's set in space, it is more modern, and it is supported on the Mac. Apart from having to pay for it, which is fairly common these days I hear, there didn't seem to be a good reason not to try that instead. But if I'm going to pay for a game maybe I should get something that won't demand a lot of my time, or at least be a niggling thought that I should be spending more time playing it, what with the monthly fee. I found that there is a House of the Dead game available for the Wii, and Mario Kart Wii is out this week too. Those are both possibilities, if it weren't for the fact that I still have Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles still to finish, and Mario Galaxy. And Star Wars Lego. They are all good games and I don't know why I haven't played them more.

Perhaps I am just after The New right now, something unfamiliar to catch my attention, at least for a while. I have a feeling that if I fire up Half-life 2 or Mario Galaxy I'll be able to have fun for as long as I want, I just need to get over that initial feeling that stops me from doing so. I think that feeling is that I don't want the fun to end. When I was playing Portal I was trying not to rush through the game, to pace myself, as I had heard it was short. I still got through it quite quickly, though. I know that I'll get to the end of Half-life 2 and Mario Galaxy at some point too, and probably more quickly if I actually play them from time to time, and maybe that's the real problem I need to overcome. I have been playing WoW for three years, and it was a game that never ended. I think I needed that a little bit, as games were not forthcoming for the Mac and the Gamecube wasn't delivering too much at the end. I think my WoW-malaise was brought on from playing two characters to level 70, getting netherdrake mounts, and, with no other paths available, realising that I had, for me, finished the game. But now I have more options, because of Crossover Games and because the Wii is still new enough that big games are being released with a frequency that will keep me entertained. I just need to get over the fact that I'll finish the games at some point.

With any luck I'll be posting about Mario Galaxy soon, and maybe, just maybe, about how cool it was to finish it.

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