Thursday, April 20, 2006

It's lonely being single... player

Was having a glass of my lactose-free, low saturated fat, hormone-free, free-range, no-msg milk this morning when I came across a game review in my copy of the NY Times. Well, actually, it's two game reviews, The Godfather and Oblivion. The review itself is pretty good, describing each game accurately by focusing on game play elements and how to spend your time in the massive worlds of each game.

While I was reading the review, I was struck with a sense of overwhelming loneliness (that happens to me a lot). I've played both games (not significantly but few hours of each) and I can tell you that they're fun. However, they are so vast and so complex, that I found myself wishing other people were around, real people. I've played so many MMORPGs now that single player games feel empty.

When I was playing Oblivion, for instance, I ran into a pretty difficult cave that was kicking my butt, over and over again. I realize that I could have just set the difficulty bar lower but what I really needed was a mage to help me out. Look, I wasn't looking for a Sam to my Frodo. Maybe one of those one-dungeon stands, no strings attached deals:

"Hey, want to do this?"
[examine player]
[hack slash loot]
"Wow, that was fun!"
"Want to be friends?"
"No thanks, I uhh, gotta go to town to unload"

I want a single-player experience, casual dungeon romps and sometimes deep meaningful bonding with other players. I want a game that gives me all of this and I'm hoping there's a middle ground somewhere. Has anyone done it well?

Will I stop buying either game types? Probably not, but I think now that MMOs are established, it's too hard not to think of them while single-playing something and vice versa. Choices are a bitch, once you know there's a possible alternative, your first option doesn't look so appealing anymore. (Recommended reading: Paradox of Choice)

BTW, Karl over at GamingVision had a post similar to this train of thought recently.

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