Bio Break and the Year That Was

This is as good a picture as any to encapsulate this year

2009 was a big year for MMORPGs, even if you can’t pinpoint a single game that defined the entire year.  There was certainly more than enough going on to fill up a solid year of discussion, and if you want a brief recap of the year’s hottest MMO stories, I suggest you read this two-part article.

I began this year primarily playing WAR and writing for WAAAGH!, but neither would last for long.  Bio Break quickly became my blog o’ choice, as I wanted to branch out into discussing the MMORPG world at large, and I’m certainly glad I did so.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a year where I’ve played so many MMOs, met so many terrific people online or had so much fun as this one, and for me personally, 2009 was the year that gave me permission to stop being a monogamous gamer and go where the gaming was good.

So I wanted to end 2009 by going through my year in gaming and blogging.

iPhone Games

In June, my brother-in-law gave me his old iPhone 3G (he’d upgraded to the new model) and I discovered the sheer joy of this techno-Swiss army knife.

Although the app store is simply loaded with games, I’ve found myself to be a bit picky in what I want from the platform — it has to be quick to pick up and put down, work well with the interface (I really wish the device had a physical D-pad), and be worth my time.  This boils my game list down to the following:

  • Dungeon Hunter – A generic but wonderfully-done Diablo clone
  • Desert Chronicles – A tower defense/RPG hybrid that I still play months after downloading
  • Peggle – Because… it’s Peggle
  • Bloons TD – I love Bloons, but its reliance on cannons over all else has dampened my enthusiasm of this title
  • Civilization Revolutions – Civ in a pocket format
  • Skee-Ball – Dude, it’s SKEE-BALL
  • Star Hogs – I loved me some Scorched Earth back in the day

Single-Player PC Games

As I’ve long since moved away from console gaming, so am I starting to drift far away from single-player computer titles.  Even though many of them are fun, there’s something about the persistence and connectivity of MMOs that makes me miss them when they’re not there.

I spent a chunk of the year deep in BioWare’s domain — KOTOR, Mass Effect and Dragon Age all commanded weeks of my time, and were well worth it.  Dragon Age wasn’t quite the be-all, end-all gritty fantasy experience I’d hoped for, but it was excellent, and I hope to go back and finish it some day.

Torchlight… I’m still divided on this.  It’s a decent diversion, but it never really hooked me, and I was a bit turned off by its FATE 2.0-ness.  I do need to go back and give it more of a fair shake, tho.

Games I have on deck that I’ve yet to try — Majesty 2, Borderlands, Tropico 3.

MMORPGs

I’ve probably annoyed a few of my readers by MMO hopping, particularly when I’ve left a game that they care about for one they did not.  In my defense, I’m not suffering from gamer ADD or WoW tourism syndrome or whatnot — I just had the urge this year to explore, to play new and old titles that seemed fun and appealing, and I wanted to get as broad of a base of experience for writing about MMOs in general.  I don’t see 2010 as being any different, to be honest.

So what are the titles I’ve dipped my toes in — or dove deep into — this year?

  • Warhammer Online – I began the year in WAR, but even back in January I knew that my time in the game was coming to an end.  It simply did not have what I was looking for in a MMO, and it never felt quite right.  I think that WAR is one of the biggest disappointments in my gaming career, because I had such high hopes for it, and because it really had so much promise and potential.
  • City of Heroes – Yes, I actually played CoH a bit earlier this year, partially because I was looking forward to Champions, and partially because I just missed the simplicity of the combat/missions grind.  Fun and amusing, it wasn’t to be for very long.
  • World of Warcraft – I played a month of Wrath then canceled my account, to what I publically declared to be the last time.  Which it wasn’t, so egg on my face.  Due to a great guild, the dungeon finder tool and a more laid-back approach to the game, I’ve found myself in Azeroth once more.
  • Lord of the Rings Online – 2009 was the year that I gave LOTRO its second big chance, and ironically, it ended up just like the first.  I had a great time, enjoyed the Captain class, found a terrific guild, and simply burned out somewhere in the middle of North Downs.  I like the game, but the setting and feel of it just isn’t *me*, which is one of those personal things that can never be resolved on Turbine’s end.  Speaking of Turbine…
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online – I hadn’t planned to play this, period, except for the announcement of the free to play version that got me thinking about DDO again.  And once back in the game, I found that there’s a lot to love and admire about this quirky, unique MMO.  While I’m not in it at the moment, I won’t hesitate to recommend it, especially since it costs you nothing for a good chunk of the content.
  • Free Realms and Wizard101 – Both of these I played and tried to get my wife into; both of these were too “kiddy” in tone for a long-term stay.
  • Champions Online – Had high expectations for this following City of Heroes, which were not met.  CO is an odd bird to me — I will stand by my statement that it’s a fun game with great combat, but it’s also shallow as all get out, far too linear and suffered a plague of embarrassing snafu’s in the first month.
  • Fallen Earth – Need I go into much detail here?  Hooked me after a great deal of positive word-of-mouth testimonies, and I agree with them all — this is a rough-and-tumble MMO that earns its stripes with a fantastic setting, deep gameplay and rewarding crafting.
  • Guild Wars – I had a copy of this sitting around, and I was determined to really get back into this game.  Unfortunately, my time restrictions forced my attention elsewhere, and my general feeling was that I’d rather start fresh with GW2 than plow through the first.

En Kankluzion

With no huge WoW-like breakout hit in 2009 (or 2008 for that matter), it’s easy to casually dismiss this year as so-so for MMO gaming.  Except that that does disservice to huge breakout hits like Free Realms, the growing success of EVE Online and Wizard 101, the more-than-adaquate subscriber base of Aion and Champions, and the thriving indie titles such as Darkfall and Fallen Earth.  It was a year that many spent eagerly anticipating titles that are still yet to come (TOR, Cataclysm, GW2, Star Trek), a year in which we saw many projects canceled and MMOs close, a year plagued with layoffs and debate and controversy, but it never was one thing.

2009 was never boring.

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10 thoughts on “Bio Break and the Year That Was

  1. Pitrelli December 31, 2009 / 9:27 am

    Got to agree I really have enjoyed 2009 and have myself been guilty of game jumping alot. Is it wrong? or am I a tourist? I dont care to be honest, I’ve had fun in a alot of different MMOs and I like the fact I’ve had alot of choice this year.

    Sure the ‘big hitters’ are all due 2010 but 2009 should be remembered as the year two indie devs showed the big boys how to do it.

    Anyway good luck and happy gaming in the new year 🙂

  2. Vesta December 31, 2009 / 10:24 am

    It was a great year, and having started following you from the WAR blog, I`m glad you shifted into all things MMO. Its been fun reading of your adventures and reactions to various games.

    Good summary of 2009, but I can only hope that it means you`ll stop railing on the games you left. As you wrote, you realise that there are still many of us playing the games you left – which might mean we`re deluded or something, but it also might mean that we`re finding them fun, challenging and fulfilling. I`m sure you recognise the reaction you get then when you do your lists and continue to bring up the same old arguments and reasons why you left. Honestly, if you haven`t played the title in a few months, just walk away and forget about it.

    Looking forward to your analysis on new MMOs for 2010. I might even venture into a new one based on your thoughts and review. Thanks for all the effort you put into the blog- I for one have enjoyed following you, and will contunue to do so!

    Take care,

    -Vesta
    (Enjoying WAR! as my only MMO )

  3. OrderedChaos December 31, 2009 / 12:17 pm

    Your experience with LOTRO was the same as mine. I had fun, joined a nice guild and then burned out in the North Downs also. I think I just got tired of killing wolves (worgs), spiders, bears and boars.

  4. Hravn December 31, 2009 / 1:41 pm

    I still play WAR as my primary MMO because it’s the only casual, massive PVP game out there. I haven’t found another game with a similar feature.

    Jumpgate Evolution sounds similar. But I’m convinced it’s vaporware. Maybe if we’re lucky we’ll see it released this coming year.

    I’m glad you expanded your blogging beyond WAR. Your work is informative and good to read when scouting out games.

  5. theerivs December 31, 2009 / 5:02 pm

    Yeap it was never boring, HAPPY NEW YEAR SYP TO YOU AND YOURS!

  6. Adam Connor December 31, 2009 / 6:03 pm

    After several years away from MMOGs, my daughter and I spent a good deal of time playing Wizard 101 and now are playing LOTRO… so it certainly wasn’t a bad year for me.

    I find myself wondering: If the first wave (Meridian, UO, Everquest, etc.) of MMOGs mostly proved that such games could be successful, and the second wave (DAOC, WoW, EQ 2, LOTRO…) has been about fine-tuning the mechanics… what’s next? I don’t think many games will be as successful as WoW, so what direction will the genre move into? Diversification? Bigger budgets? Something else?

    Happy new year to everyone.

  7. Adam December 31, 2009 / 6:46 pm

    Great post Thank you.

  8. We Fly Spitfires January 1, 2010 / 11:19 am

    Dragon Age has sucked the life out of me these past 2 weeks but I’m really starting to tire of it now. I want to complete it but I just can’t face another 10 hours of grueling hack’n’slash.

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