Monday, May 6, 2013

Content Overload

In all the MMOs I've played over the years, this is one of those things that usually determines for me how long I'm going to be spending with a given game.

Eve-Online was a special case as the "content" I was playing, especially after about two years in, was almost entirely created and driven by the players. That's really more about the nature of Eve itself than the quality of any overarching storyline.

Other games have to do more to earn my continued attention. Few can keep it up for more than a few months, and so that's a big reason why I find myself moving on to other games as often as I do. When you're an ADD gamer, the moment you become bored is the moment you start thinking about moving on.

SWTOR is, for me at least, the answer to those kinds of games. I'm now up to level 27 with my Jedi Sentinel and there's still plenty to do before I worry about getting near the end of her story, especially once I pick up the "Rise of the Hutt Cartel" expansion. Once I run the full storyline with her, though, there's still plenty more to enjoy. Next time out, I think I'm going to create a Smuggler, then maybe a Sith something or other.

The thing is, at the rate I'm going through SWTOR, I can see myself taking at minimum several months to get through the storylines that are already out there, and who knows how much more might be available by the time I'm done there.

In short, I don't see myself getting bored with this game anytime soon. That gives me confidence, that is to say that I'm not worried about investing money in this game that eventually proves to be wasted when I run out of interesting content and stop playing, essentially throwing away weeks or even months of paid playing time in favor or something newer and more interesting.

For me, SWTOR makes sense. If I'm going to spend on a game I want to get the maximum value for my gaming dollar. Right now, I'm getting that from SWTOR, even more than I have with TSW. Sure I love TSW and I still play but over the last few weeks I've logged in maybe two or three times, even though I've just barely started on the Issue 6 missions.

The truth is that I've just been busy with SWTOR, and what's more because I've already bought and paid for the content in Issue 6, I can play it whenever I want without having to be a subscriber, unlike TSW's sister Funcom game, Age of Conan. The bloom came off the rose for me with AOC when I realized that the only way I could play the "Rise of the Godslayer" expansion is if I also subscribed. While at this point I plan to keep up my SWTOR sub as consistently as I can, it's also comforting to know that when I invest the ten bucks on a SWTOR expansion it'll be mine to play regardless.

That's just another reason for someone with an inconsistent and unreliable income like me to want to keep playing SWTOR, just as AOC's model is a reason for me to avoid getting that fully involved with that game. The idea that in order to play content I've already bought and paid for requires that I also pay for an ongoing subscription just doesn't sit well with me. To be blunt, it feels like a ripoff, and I don't like feeling ripped off.

With SWTOR (at least so far in my experience), I get what I pay for. I buy it, it's mine, at least within the confines of whatever kind of account I happen to have at the moment. I like the benefits of being a SWTOR subscriber, and so I'll do my best to keep it up, but knowing that my ability to play that content won't go away if I lapse for a while is important to me.

Like a lot of sci-fi/fantasy fans, I'm a bit neurotic when it comes to having everything there is to have. I don't want just the first few chapters, I want the whole series and the spinoffs. Maybe it's a holdover from my comic book collecting days, but I like knowing that I have access to the entire story with nothing missing. SWTOR gives me that, as long as I keep buying new chapters as they come out. AOC, on the other hand, forces me to keep up that subscription or they take away my ability to access and enjoy the complete story I've already paid for.

Maybe I'm just old school, but I can't help thinking that's just fundamentally wrong and unfair. It feels like it would if DC or Marvel Comics told me that unless I subscribe to a certain comic in perpetuity, they'll come to my home and take away portions of my comic collection or lock it away where I can't get to it until I start subscribing again. It just feels wrong, and it's not a sales tactic I'm comfortable validating and supporting with my limited gaming dollars.

In the end, like movies, like television, like single-player games, MMO's are (usually) story-driven entertainment. I want my MMO to tell me a story, preferably a good one. Action and adventure are important, but I want to know why I'm doing what I'm doing, and I want it to make a difference, even if it's a relatively small one.

For me, that's what having fun with an MMO is really all about.