Questing Difficulty, Diversity and the Need for Achievement

I was trading off playing between Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) this week with a bit of The Secret World (TSW) and recalling many of the frequent comments from players lamenting that MMORPGs had become “too easy” and “too casual.”  It’s an interesting assertion since these two games in particular have a very different feel as far as difficulty is concerned.  LOTRO questing is in many ways similar to the World of Warcraft in that expeditions are on the “easy” side – it’s pretty straightforward taking down the bad guys or collecting relics on the beach or whatever the game asks of you; but the feel of the game is more calm and relaxing.  There’s certainly a nice aspect that; causally exploring the countryside, taking in the view of distant ruins or mountains while hunting boar hides is a mode of questing that can be a nice reprieve, especially after a stressful day, or as a nice way to get rolling in the morning with a cup of java.

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Richard Garriott and Story in Computer Games

With Richard Garriott and Portalarium announcing yesterday The Shroud of the Avatar Kickstarter, we have the man who many credit with the invention of the MMORPG (Ultima Online) returning to the scene.  While this in and of itself brings quite a bit of skepticism as well as excitement, there’s reason to believe that Garriott can bring back to the industry a much-needed shot in the arm.    Leave aside the whole Tabula Rasa vs. Garriott’s trip to space vs. NCSoft controversy for a moment.  This is the guy who literally brought MMO genre to the masses.  Yeah, he’s been quiet for a while, and yeah, that last project didn’t work out (under a company who since has become known for torpedoing game projects – Tabula Rasa, City of Heroes,  Auto Assault, NetDevil, Dungeon Runners, Dragonica), but Richard Garriott “gets it” when it comes to storytelling in computer games.  Here’s why:

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J.J. Abrams and the Future of Star Wars

Thought I’d take a break from the MMO world this week and talk a little bit about the whirlwind of changes with the Star Wars franchise. For those who haven’t been watching all things Star Wars, the big news is that George Lucas has sold all the rights for Star Wars to Disney Studios, and has bowed out of making any future movies, serving only as a consultant. Add to that news that Disney will produce a new Star Wars movie (set after the original series) which will appear sometime in 2015, and that J.J. Abrams will be directing. For those who don’t know J.J. Abrams, he produced the Lost television series, the Goonies throwback Super 8, and the 2009 Star Trek reboot. He’s produced a ton of SF television, including Felicity, Fringe, and recently, Revolution (the one about the power going out).

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