If on a winter’s night a links page …

1. Zynga and the End of the Beginning. This is a long but brilliant essay on Gamasutra about the state of social games and where we go from here. There’s a lot of hard and sound thinking here about how these games work and why they are so popular. I thought it was fascinating.

The premise is that people will get bored quickly of social facebook games. Then they’ll look for games with more depth.

Here’s a few choice quotes:

Viral game developers, such as Zynga, have little or no commitment to developing deep or rich game experiences because the market has not really rewarded that kind of activity.

Veterans share as a means of expression and identity. What you share says something about who you are, and so the risk of bad sharing is that of damaged reputation. Few veterans want a reputation as a spammer. So they no longer pass on every Youtube clip that comes their way to all of their friends.

Entertainment is like dating. You should always strive to be sexy.  Sexiness is all about creativity, credibility, charisma and character. <…> Zynga has no sex appeal.

2. Should monsters surrender? Andrew Doull develops roguelikes, and he’s wondering whether to put in an option for monsters to surrender to players if they are losing. I remember playing D&D games where we refused to kill the orc town and demanded that the GM allow us to get them to surrender instead (you can do that in pen and paper games) but in MMOs the monster is typically either alive and fighting  you, or dead at your feet.

3. Girly Pally wonders if WoW can bring world peace. On an EU server we are almost always playing with people from different countries. Does this broaden our horizons?

4. Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening. IGN interviews Fernando Melo of Bioware about the forthcoming DAO expansion. If you didn’t know about this expansion then go read the interview, there’s lots of information there.

5. Chastity at Righteous Orbs looks at the ups and downs of using the dungeon finder for levelling characters. Bonus points for screenie of cool undead warrior chick. Is it sad that I knew that was a warrior instantly because I recognised the low level chest and legs? I had those once! (Does anyone else ever get nostalgic like this with other people’s alts?)

6. petter at Don’t fear the mutant is a great writer and he’s knocked out a couple of  articles that caught my eye recently. What’s wrong with this looking for dungeon picture? is his response to Elnia’s provocative column comparing LFG to cheap porn.

When I’m playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, I am thrown into a group of strangers. We have one common goal – to win over the other team. If we win over the other team, we get bonus XP. Bonus XP leads to more unlocked weapons. I don’t talk to them, they hardly talk to me, most of us know more or less where to go and what to do. If someone is under-performing, they run the risk of getting downrated. Does this mean CoD:MW2 is like porn?

In Hello Levelling, My Old Friend he talks about why he’s tired of levelling in game after game. I sympathise with this one, my LOTRO experience is mostly a solo one of following in everyone else’s footsteps about six months after they did everything. Sometimes you just want to go play with other people and not be forced through several months of solo levelling first.

7. The SWTOR team unveil Dromund Kaas (and all the germans are now wondering what cheese has to do with it), the seat of the empire in the old republic. Maybe I am just a sucker for dark gothic settings but this one strikes me as way more interesting than just about all the other planets they have highlighted so far. Maybe I won’t end up playing a smuggler after all. Or maybe republic  will be able to take package tours there?

8. Arbitrary is having fun persuading people that if they run instances backwards without their pants on, there’s a better chance of getting a rare drop. Gamers are superstitious folk. And Onyxia deep breaths more this patch.

9. A High Latency Life presents their 10 rules for running PUGS:

  • If thou is unhappy with something, do not complain, take charge and create/ lead your own PUG to the promise lands.

10. Looking for some more fantasy reading matter? Several MMO bloggers share their favourites (What no vampire romances? I’m disappointed, guys):

Syp also posts a thoughtful look at how we feel about games that we’ve tried and then left.

I can’t promise to never talk about a past MMO, or if I do so, to always couch my words in a positive light.  That’s just not honest to my writing.  But I do promise to consider how people feel who play these games, and to let a grudge or gripe go when I’ve said my piece, instead of chewing it up over and over again.