Is this thing on?
Well, talking to oneself is a sign of madness. Casting one’s thoughts into an uncaring internet is situation normal for bloggers. So, an update.
It’s been 3 1/2 months since my last optimism filled post. Things didn’t work out quite as planned. Real life yet again intervened, and crippled my play time. Since then, the real-life concerns have slackened somewhat – but the desire to play Eve has not returned. I had three fun filled weeks settling in with Agony Unleashed before the break. I enjoyed them a lot. As ever with MMOs, it’s the people that make the game, and AU (like Eve-Uni) has some of the best. But, since my enforced break, I’ve not had the desire to log in, and I figure that when that’s the case, it’s probably time to move on, for now at least.
Luckily, for the undecided online gamer, this is a boom time. More and more games are offering free trials, and free-to-play. I’ve since tried Global Agenda, APB, LOTRO and DDO. None of them particularly grabbed me. They were all fun in their own way for a little, but there wasn’t that instant hook that kept me engaged and online for more time than I had, and made me want to keep coming back for more.
Then I read this article over at Massively. Like the author, Anarchy Online was my first MMO. And I loved it. Really, only the gated content and the lack of easy assistance to progress in the Shadowlands caused me to quit in the first place. That was 6 years ago. So, why not, I thought. Why not give it another go?
You can now create a “froob” account. Free-to-play the basic game and its first booster pack, Notum Wars, but with still a massive amount of content to experience. So, I joined the ranks of the froobs.
The game was immediately familiar, and yet simultaneously confusing. It felt like returning to a city in which you used to live. The streets are in the same places, the buildings look the same – but the shops, bars, people and fashions are all entirely different. I remembered much of what I was seeing. But I had definitely forgotten quite how confusing the game can be. The help screens are minimal but annoyingly persistent (you seem able to turn them all off, but not tell one of them to never re-appear). The interface is cluttered and complicated. The game certainly isn’t inclined to hold your hand. It’s massively complicated, and makes no apology for this. Oh, and it’s looking pretty ugly. The graphics are those of a 2001 game, and boy does it show. Especially the character models.
But… it’s still as compelling as it once was. The community, though it must be smaller, is still vibrant and friendly. After you get the hang of it, the complexity is a boon not a badness. There’s always something to do, somewhere to see. And the world is gloriously well realised. Everyone always mentions the music, and with good reason. AO’s soundtrack is not just a superb piece of game music, it’s a superb piece of cinematic composition. I’d rate the soundtrack alongside anything that Williams, Elfman or Zimmer have produced. After a little while playing the game, you cease to notice the dated visuals, and become immersed in all that Rubi-ka has to offer.
One thing, though. The camera. Dear God, I hate that camera. It’s rubbish.
A few days into my return, and I was hankering to see some of the stuff that I couldn’t access. Not that I’d run out of things to do, far from it, but I hate missing out. So, an upgrade to the expansions that I was missing. And, well, if I was going to do that, well why not reactivate my old account. Once that was done, I couldn’t really go without re-joining the clan that I created – a clan that has prospered over the last 6 years.
So, I’m back in AO. The adventures of “Ailish”, “Psia” and “Chart” (amongst others) will continue. First Light is a truly wonderful home to have returned to, with a leadership team who have retained (and developed) the family feel that the clan was originally designed to engender. It feels good to be back.
And you never know… I might even get back to regular blogging!