A toxic environment.

15 03 2012

I gotta million of em.

Alright. I’m going to try this. It’s my first time, so bear with me.

Stop me if you’re heard this one.

EVE added a game launcher. Hey, EVE. 2004 called. Actually, I’m pretty sure Star Wars Galaxies Economies had a launcher, but I’m not 100% there. Not like they had phones back then anyhow, so no worries about an awkward phone call.

Bioware’s about to give us color customization in 1.2; and it shipped with fully modifiable gear you can keep around if you like the look of it. Rift had a vanity tab early. LOTRO too. Customizing what you look like is fundamental in Champions and City of Heroes. Hell, the only real reason to spend any cash-monies in League of Legends is to dress up your favorite champions.

EVE still doesn’t allow you to paint your ships. 2004, ring a ding ding. Actually, 2004 can’t make the call here, since WoW only jumped on the “make your avatar pretty” bandwagon when they began to admit they were collapsing like a flan in a cupboard. So I guess it’s new technology, right? (Zing! Can I use ‘zing’ here? Zing.)

Stop me if you heard this one.

EVE’s about to release all these re-designs for the intro-level ships; new skins for the same things. This is a big deal. You can’t paint your ship, but they were more than willing to commit resources to repainting them for you. This is a huge contribution to the sandbox genre. These possibly prettier noob ships will shake the very foundations of that design schema. Rest assured, Notch will drop “errythin” (I do mean “errythin”) to redesign the look of wooden tools and leather armor. Because that will make them so obtusely appealing that…well actually, I’m not really clear on the desired effect here. I leapfrog leather armor for iron and use a wooden pick only to get my first few chunks of stone for a real pick axe. In EVE I think I had my rookie ship for, maybe, an hour?

Wait, wait. I’ve got another one.

Call of Duty X. Modern Warfare. Why play these when the FPS genre has been done to death? Maybe you all aren’t old enough to remember id software and Hovertank, Catacomb 3D, Wolf 3D, Doom, ROTT, the real Duke, Quake, Unreal…. Wait, I forgot Mechwarrior (my personal favorite linked for posterity). That counts; that’s like Doom with what I would call “sufficient complexity.” Customizing a mech was silly amounts of fun. (It’s something that EVE actually facilitates very well.) It also had a story with voice overs! (EVE eschews these things in favor of more complexity.) All these games, but the genre’s DONE, am I right? We’ve seen the game. You log in, with friends, run around, and shoot people. I was doing this over a null modem cable in the mid-90s, so your X Box Live does not impress me. What’s the value? Other than prettier graphics, better music, and general variety on a theme you’ve developed a penchant for? You’ve got your lowest common denominator FPSs (Halo), your niche FPSs (Space Marine), and your middle-of-the-road FPSs (Call of Warfare…Modern Duty…I like both of those names) and all of them are fundamentally the same. You can has guns; you can shoot each other; you will get yelled at by people you don’t know (and sometimes by people you do know). Your friends all play it, but it’s been done. Why play it?

Maybe because you like it. Maybe all the erudite, elitist trite-tripe that pops out denouncing the thing you like has zero impact on you. Possibly because when Toxic The Columnist visits an unsolicited judgement on a game, Toxic the Columnist is telling us absolutely nothing about the game, the genre, or the players. When Toxic the Columnist visits his or her judgement, she or he is revealing to us only details about him or herself. Possibly.

You might start to wonder if Toxic the Columnist likes video games.


What did I do here?

  • I threw out some superficial baseless slander, which I attempted to pass off as legitimate criticism.
  • I issued an ad hominem attack against a style of columnist that I have criticized in the past, which I also attempted to pass off as legitimate criticism.
  • In the middle of this convoluted and none-too-creative metaphor, I attempted to demonstrate the slippery slope that this very writing style continues to fall down.

Pretty transparent, no?

This kind of crap is precisely the bologna I talked about before; I even got a mention (read as: a dismissive, “I didn’t actually read your article” review) on Massively’s Soapbox, which I often feel serves as the Avatar of the Toxic MMO Blog-o-sphere…the Soapbox, that is. I really do enjoy Massively. Read it every day. The first half of my post and articles like it feel to me much like an awkward match of LoL. You know the kind; where the other team is throwing around profanities because they think it’s funny, cool, or (the dreaded downfall of western society) they feel that it’s ironic. It’s different in blog-o-land, though, as it’s really just a manner of garnering readers, much like the real news.

Violent crimes in the US decrease in number by a massive percentage, but coverage in the news on violent crimes increases by triple that percentage.

Games are still games. Turn it on, move around, collect things, kill things, read some stuff, repeat. No matter how pretty the skin, that’s the game we’re all playing. But, man, is the hate mongering high. I really don’t get it.

Or maybe…I do.




7 responses

21 03 2012
Adventurer Historian

I’m in the process of proctoring an undergraduate examination, so I’ve had plenty of time to read this post, and your initial post back in January, and Massively’s Soapbox response, and your response to that.


I have to say, I’m completely, 100% in your camp.

I started reading this post of yours, and it wasn’t until the “analysis” section that I realized it was satire. That 1) probably says something about how I’ve been avoided training Reading Comprehension V (because, holy crap, that skill is going to take years to finish), but more importantly 2) it says something about the level of critique and analysis I’m used to reading. (Because — and I’m ashamed to admit this — I’m so accustomed to reading the type of critique that I found myself nodding my head, thinking to myself “ship color customization would be nice, and anyways, starter ships are quickly ditched.”)

Ad hominem attacks, misleading equivalences, false dichotomies — they are part-and-parcel of the “genre” of MMO blogging, of which I think you rightly point out that the Soapbox is the example par excellence.

One of the greatest motivations for my decision to start a TOR-centric Dreamwidth account, was the feeling that the MMO-blogosphere is (in my opinion) oriented toward very angry criticisms of games’ mechanics, while what I wanted out of blogging was a more fannish relationship with the game’s story.

21 03 2012

You know, I really like TOR’s story. I was just musing last night: I think the Origin of the Sand People is my favorite addition of Bioware’s to the Star Wars IP. (I won’t spoil it for you. It’s a big deal in KOTOR and gets a lot of mention if you do all of the side quests on Tatooine.)

And, as I’ve said, I have trouble reading a lot of blogs; I feel compelled to read them to keep up on the field and connected with the bloggers. It was a much more positive experience my first time, though, with the pre-release Warhammer Online crowd. There, optimism was wholesale; nowadays it seems a bit hard to come by.

21 03 2012
Adventurer Historian

Thanks for not ruining the Sand People — I’ve picked up hints here and there (specifically, the Tatooine codex entry, which mentions that some scientists think that the planet was bombarded from orbit, but “who would want to bombard such a desolate wasteland?”), but I’m looking forward to putting all of the pieces together.

21 03 2012


I just saw that very piece (again) last evening as I was wrapping up Tatooine on my sentinel. It’s one of a few, but if you want the real deep immersion story, pick up KOTOR for $10 on Steam and push through on Easy as a Light-side character. When you encounter the Sane People, do all you can to ingratiate yourself with them.

My mind was blown.

21 03 2012
Adventurer Historian

GOSH, I’m totally forgetting this. I remember getting HK for a “sadly peaceful” negotiation with the Sand People, but I’ve forgotten the specifics.

I’ve been intending to go back and play the “restored” version of KOTOR2 for a while now; maybe I’ll start here. Or better yet, convince a friend to play it, and watch over her shoulder…

21 03 2012

Now that I’m thinking on it, I honestly forget how Revan (ZOMGSPOILR) learned of their true history; I forget who told him. I definitely remember it getting dropped in TOR too, probably via a codex entry, but it may have been quest dialog.

21 03 2012
Adventurer Historian

“You mean, they still haven’t told you?”

The Ebon Hawk gets caught in one of Leviathan‘s tractor beams; you lead Carth and Bastila aboard to shut it off and flee (much like “A New Hope”.) While escaping, Malik freezes Carth and Bastila, and then lays down a Heroic BSOD moment. I probably remember it so well because it was a perfectly executed twist that caught me completely by surprise.

Funny, the things we remember and the things we forget.

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