Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Massively Single Player games

There seems to be a new sub genre of games that has appeared over the last couple of years.
That being single player games that have elements of, or play like MMO's.

And this can be good or bad, depending on what they take away from them.

If it's the social mechanics, such as you are playing by yourself, but can compare your progress vs other players, then this can be quite good, as it builds community.
Always a good thing for a game.

However, sometimes I see games taking exactly the wrong message away from MMO's.
Namely, the tedious, grindy gameplay elements, often in lue of storyline, in order to artificially lengthen the game.

With an MMO, I can put up with it at times, as the social interactions are usually worth it.
But in a single player game, I'm not going to give it another thought, I'm probably going to drop it in a short order.

For example, I recently had a go of Phantasy Star: Zero.
What a boring freaken game.
Within minutes it's got me running thru randomly generated dungeons, killing ten rats.

There probably is a story under all that pointless BS, but I'm not going to spend money on something that feels like a second job 5mins in.
It does however have an online component, but from what I can tell it's rather shallow.

Earlier in the year I finally got around to playing Final Fantasy 12....... oh god it was painful to play. Not as much as Zero, but pretty damn close.
The story was cliche, the main character was a total douche, yet completely irrelevant to the story anyhow.
The only relief was that you could early on use any three or less characters you wanted to..... out of the staggering selecting of six..... wow.

But the girls were sexy.... so it's not all bad.
But any RPG that has me spending more time trying to look up the female casts skirts, rather then reading storyline dialog, doesn't have a whole lot going for it.

It seemed to be trying to hard. Spending more time on graphics, and finding new and imaginative ways for you to kill ten rats, rather then character and story development...... which is of coarse, only the entire point of an RPG.

To contrast this, a game I played even earlier in the year, Devil Survivor was a smash hit with me as an RPG.
Solid, engaging storyline. Great characters. And while not innovative, enjoyable and purely addictive gameplay.
This game ticks all of my boxes.

While not a long game, it's last just long enough to scratch that itch, while not hanging around like a bad smell like the previous two I mentioned.
It's just classic RPG, in all it's beauty. Something that we shouldn't forsake just to appease the MMO junkies. (yes I'm one too, calm down)

While there are some good lessons to be learned from MMO's, and there are some generally good mechanics that would work wonders in single player RPG's, we should not forget our RPG roots.
Sometimes good story telling is all it takes.


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