Articles are the standard fare of the day. Typically long winded and roundabout in content, they tie together many thoughts, observances, criticisms, and reactions into one post.

I was thinking today about something that I have written in the About section of this blog. In there, you’ll find I’ve classified myself as a solo elitist, and briefly explained what that means. There’s more to how I play than just a brief description of two words.  I don’t think I really did it fair justice, and seeing as how it’s a fairly relevant aspect of who I am, it wouldn’t hurt to delve a bit further.

"How to do it right"

Wots a sword?

Solo Elitist I believe are the words I chose to represent my play style, and for the most part they apply. There’s more than just this however, like how I have a tendency to play counter to the flavor of the month classes. Or how I’ll use the least popular spec to play a class just to try to figure out how to make it work. The melee Shadow Warrior is probably the best example of this . I literally used my bow only for the snare and heal debuff from about 15′ away from my target, and the rest of the time I would be stabbing away with my toothpick like a madman. It’s not very effective compared to any other MDPS but it’s fun forcing people to respect you.

Being a solo player isn’t entirely by desire, but more as a result of how I don’t like people in general. I have this not-so-irrational distaste for publicized vent channels and running into the proverbial child who cannot figure out how to shut his damn yap. I’m also no fan of braggarts who have trouble shutting up about beating the tar out of someone half their level, or the incessant whiners that can’t figure out how they were beaten by a class that is designed to beat them. Oh, and the people who scream expletives in fits of rage into their mic, and mouth-breathers. I cannot STAND someone breathing into an open mic. The general asshattery of a public Vent server, or any VOIP, is not tasteful in the slightest.

With community like this...

Unfortunately, these caveats happen when you play with a group/guild/clan or whatever. In my mind, I simply don’t have to talk to these people, but it means excluding them from whatever group you want to run, and while their social awkwardness is enough for me to exclude them, their gaming proficiency will have them voted in by value of merit. Consequentially, this will have me drop the group in search of greener pastures. Can you believe that I of all people managed to lead a guild for a few months? The solo life calls to me, it says that I can determine my own level of involvement. It also traps me as well, since I simply do not play well with people in general.

Building upon all of this is yet another aspect that, while it makes me a better player overall, will tend to reflect as a flaw. Elitism is a funny thing like that. All you’re doing is increasing your awareness of a game to the point that it stands out when compared to the common player. While one player might do a search for a good spec on his favorite class, an Elitist will be looking for the mechanics behind what makes the spec good so they can disseminate the information and create their own spec.

A sub-category of this is the Elitist Snob/Jerk who would then come back and troll the players using the spec they looked up, flaunting that they have a better spec. I’m not like that, and a lot of Elitists aren’t. However, like any group of people who can be categorized, it’s typically not the brightest and best that will stand out, but the ones that cause the most grief. Elitist jerks are more likely to get on the forums and troll/flame people they’ve stomped into the ground than they are to share information. It’s just another set of people who I will typically avoid in my day-to-day interactions which unfortunately deepens my solo play.

So why the hell would someone like me want to play an MMO or any online multiplayer game? Well, that comes back to the state of affairs in the gaming industry these days. One will be hard pressed to find an offline game that generates the staggering amount of content that Final Fantasy 7 did back in the day. Games that averaged 60 hours for a play through  started to disappear around the same time MMO’s became prevalent. This is partially to blame on shiny graphics that take longer to develop and leave the story content lacking I suppose. Regardless, MMO’s and online games give you the option of making your own fun, and extending your own story to its limits.

I miss epic games...

Any game with a reasonable amount of sandbox, and toys to play with inside that sandbox, are going to be good by me. Themepark MMO games that have many attractions, I.E. classic PvE games (WoW), are only interesting to me the first time through. PvP and RvR games expand on the sandbox a little more as they require human interaction to generate unique (to a degree) content every time you log in. EVE/Fallen Earth are ultra-sandbox games that give you a ton of space to roam, loads upon loads of crafting to do, quests/missions everywhere, and the danger of PvP in designated areas. Lastly is (what I think will be a new breakthrough) the APB-style non-persistant world sandbox MMO.

My gripes are games that get too much into the psychological manipulation and less about good raw fun. Lots of free games do this, and some of the end-game epic content systems are being replaced by it as well. No one wants to do the same thing over and over a hundred times to get to that ultimate stat granting piece of loot that’s only marginally better than your last piece. It’s not exciting, just time-consuming. So when it comes to me that I’m playing a game exhibiting this kind of behavior, it makes me do a left turn and start playing the game how I want instead of how it wants me to.

This all brings me to the sad realization that gaming in general is becoming more of a grind, with less tools to play with in these sandboxes. Single player games have lost their lengthy and drawn out story lines that made them worth 50$ a pop (or more!). Anything that begins to call itself epic in any form is quickly crushed underfoot Instead, I’m more than content enough with getting into these games and testing boundaries and making my own fun. At least sandbox-ish persistent world MMO’s allow me to flex my gaming muscles and have a little bit of fun from time to time with a relatively small handful of people who I can actually stand to be around.