I didn’t really plan it this way, but I spent the summer dabbling in a number of games. This left me without much coherent or valuable to say about them — but when did that ever stop me, anyway?
I began the summer as a fairly dedicated SWTOR player. Sure, it was WoW-with-buzzie-lightswords, but I have this thing for Star Wars. Give me any pretext in which to play some Star Wars and I’m probably in. My guild began raid progression; we played weekly and all was fun. Then server consolidations hit. My guild fractured during its move to a new, high-population server. We got absorbed by a big and friendly guild, but missing the core, I’ve slowly fallen off. I don’t think I’m done with this game — if nothing else, I want to see how it handles the conversion to F2P — but it’s been on hiatus for several months at this point. And I’ve still only beaten Eternity Vault, and have only one character at max level.
EVE Online has been cancelled outright. While I dearly enjoy theorycrafting, min-maxing, and reading about all the exciting shenanigans in null-sec, the fact remained that “playing” EVE consisted of logging in whenever I had to requeue skills. I could see going back some day, but for now, I simply have nothing to do in that game, and not enough time to carve out a niche somewhere.
Diablo 3 was a highlight of the summer. It’s a well-assembled bashfest; my friends and I have always maintained that the core mechanic of Diablo 2 was clicking on things, and that’s been maintained, only with better graphics and more blood. I did not participate in the real money auction house; not from any principled opposition or anything, but simply because I do enjoy the game enough to grind. I got one character to level cap and Inferno difficulty, where I’ve gotten murdered repeatedly on my slowly-less-frequent attempts to play. After one paragon level, I have to admit that the auction house changed everything about Diablo, including (sadly) that I get less joy from grinding for items. After all, the optimum path is to grind for gold and just go buy things. I do still want to at least take Diablo down with each class.
I’d been following The Secret World very lightly since its announcement. Conspiracy theory + Lovecraft mythos sounded like a great game idea. When TSW went on sale early in its lifecycle (20% off at Amazon), I snagged it and promptly had a very fun weekend with my Claws / Chaos noob. The still screenshots looked OK, but the game in motion is absolutely gorgeous. Gameplay feels like a spiritual successor to City of Heroes, with fast pacing and heavy emphasis on positioning. Open-ended skill-based advancement also appeals to my inner min-max nerd. In the end, though, it was another MMORPG to get into, and I faded out within a couple of weeks. I wish the game well — if I were less busy, it’d have made the cut.
Toward the end of summer, I picked up Guild Wars 2, after unanimously glowing reviews from my friends and coworkers. This game also has gorgeous presentation. Gameplay is open-ended enough that I feel like I should be absolutely enthralled with it. Somehow, I’m just not. Again, I suspect this is just some kind of malaise as I’ve more or less outgrown “theme-park” style MMORPG gameplay. The biggest ties for me are social, and I haven’t yet played GW2 enough to even connect with the large percentage of my SWTOR guild who has ended up there. Fortunately, with no monthly fee, I’m likely to pick this one up again when time permits.
Interleaved with GW2, and in complete stark contrast to my malaise conclusion of GW2, I have slowly dabbled in World of Warcraft again. When I played seriously many years ago (in the Burning Crusade days), I had a Night Elf healer priest for a main and made it about halfway into Karazhan before losing interest. When I got reactivated with some local friends for Cataclysm, I decided to play a Worgen warrior tank. It never sat well with me that I hadn’t gotten my priest past level 70, though. With the upcoming Mists of Pandaria (which will re-engage some of my local friends, and therefore me — at least for a while), I got the bug to bring my priest along for the ride. At this point, I’ve gotten the priest to level 80, and have re-spec’d in the new Panda-style simplistic system. Part of me misses the “depth” of the old talent tree system; however, my inner game designer can admit that the talent trees were only deep on the surface. In practice, the number of numerically superior choices was relatively small, and overtly reducing the choice space isn’t the worst idea I’ve ever heard. Besides, every warrior should be able to have Bladestorm if desired.
I’m sure I played a few League of Legends matches in the mix, but I’m such a novice that I have no right to discuss that game here, other than to say I’m glad I bought Lulu and some skins.
A heavy workload and some minor surgery have kept my gaming time to a minimum in the last couple of months, and it’s always interesting to see what floats to the surface. Interestingly, I still have some hefty gaming in queue and no idea when I’ll start; the Mass Effect 3 extended endings come to mind immediately, as does a pretty ridiculous Steam queue that is primarily the result of one Humble Indie Bundle or another. iPad gaming has been a go-to for me (especially during times where my mobility was limited), but even in that space, I’ve been a dabbler, bouncing between Starbase Orion (a credible Master of Orion 2 clone), Organ Trail (a pleasingly zombie-themed riff on the classic Oregon Trail), and Bastion (best. narration. ever).
And Bejeweled. But that’s not dabbling — that’s an addiction, pure and simple.