Souvenirs

When you play an MMO, you’ll likely do lots of different things. Lots of quests, lots of instances, lots of … whatever else people do. But how many of them offer souvenirs that  you can look back on later?

I have been dipping into City of Heroes a bit lately (not on my account, true, but since my beloved insists on paying for his even when he is totally not playing it, I feel morally justified in treating it like a ‘household’ account). And two things come to mind.

1/ I still think they do titles and achievements very very well. Like the WoW achievements, you get some titles for exploring, some for grinding, and some for finishing particular story arcs or completing other activities (like creating your own mission via the mission generator).

2/ I like the mission creator. The genius of it is that it’s very very simple to create a playable mission. Even if you just pick a standard map, standard enemies, and write some garbage quest (find the thief who stole the sweets from the shop), you will end up with a playable instance. It will be no worse than a majority of the instances you hit while you are levelling, playability-wise.

I also really like that you can add a souvenir to your mission, so that when a player has completed it, they will have something in their souvenir list to look back on later, and it will remind them of the mission. For example, in my attempts to write a sad, spooky, ghost story, the souvenir is a photograph of the ghost on his wedding day – a picture of the memory that kept him from moving on.

(If you want to try the mission and are on a CoH US server, the arc id is 52484. It’s very short and intended to be very easy/ good for lowbies, I just wanted to experiment with storytelling.)

Souvenirs in Games

I always kind of liked that aspect of WoW also. I have bits and pieces in my bank that I have not used for years. The sceptre that was the key to Marauden (actually, did I ever use it at all? I don’t even remember), my old mechanical yeti (quest reward from level 55+), a christmas hat I picked up one year, 250 apexis shards (why on earth are they still in my bank???) from blade’s edge.

Now achievements can be a kind of souvenir also. First kills, completing long quest chains, collecting pets, and so on. I don’t find the WoW achievements to be as powerful souvenirs as the CoH titles, maybe because the titles are more imaginative in scope. But the thought is there. And you can look back through your list of achievements, and remember.

And then there are screenshots. It would have seemed crazy to me a couple of years back to compare a folder of screenshots with a family album because  one is about real people and places and the other has pictures of my sisters (I jest, I jest!). But looking back at them now, the memories are real enough. I wish I’d taken more.

There’s the blog also. I can look back through the Book of Grudges and revisit lots of happy memories of playing Warhammer.

The only actual solid souvenir type object in our house to do with MMOs is a model of an undead warlock that I bought my husband for Xmas last year (he loves it, his warlock had the same shoulders as the model at one point).

10 cool things to check out

Today is a Bank Holiday over here, so I’m taking a day off. Here’s some other fun things to read or play in the meantime.

  1. Try the Braid Demo on PC. It’s an award winning time shifting storytelling platform game. I can’t really explain, other than to say try it and see what you think.
  2. Nerf the Cat briefly reviews some of her favourite gaming and geek-friendly podcasts.
  3. Zork, blogging at Elitist Jerks, is starting a tutorial for people who want to know how to create their own WoW mods.
  4. Blame the Healer has some suggestions for Spring Cleaning your bags in MMOs.
  5. RPS are playing through Knights of the Old Republic (a game that lets you choose whether you want to be good or evil) on total bastard mode and telling us their story.
  6. Sign up for the Dungeon Party open beta. Seems to be some kind of team based comedy dungeon delving. You can read about it here.
  7. If you have a CoH account, go play with the mission creator. I’ll be writing about my experiences with it later (short form: love it!!). A Ding World reviews the types of missions that players have been creating.
  8. I often write about tanking in WoW, but have you tried tanking in other games? Omelettz@Breakfast at War talks about some of the issues she’s had tanking with her Blackguard in Warhammer. Her problems include line of sight, parity with other tanks,  how to tank in PvP …
  9. OK, this is an indulgent one. For me, the best game ever made was Elite which I played to death and loved to death as a teenager. And now  Gamasutra have an article all about the game and what made it so great.
  10. Try Grow Tower. It’s a cute flash puzzle game that kept me amused for awhile.

Feeling bored? Cool stuff to check out

  1. Sita Sings the Blues. This is a brilliant animated telling of the Ramayana, interwoven with the narrator’s own story. It’s funny, clever, heartbreaking, and utterly utterly charming.
  2. Bored and want something to play? Rock Paper Shotgun points you to some Dwarf Fortress ultra tutorials. (If you have never played it, Dwarf Fortress is a scary game that takes the Angband style to whole new fortress-building levels. Kiss goodbye to your weekend.).
  3. Nerf the Cat has found a really cool web comic, based on the goings on in her own server and using screenshots to tell the tale. I think this is great and wish people would do it on my server.
  4. On the WoW tanking front, Allison Robert wrote a very good article on WoW Insider which sums up the current state of play and how we got here in the first place.
  5. Tipa@WestKarana lists the things she loves from what she has heard so far about Star Trek Online. You get to recruit, train, and level your own bridge crew? I’m intrigued.
  6. I’m fascinated by the history of fandom. And Larisa@The Pink Pigtail Inn reminisces here about her experiences as a fanzine editor in the ’80s.
  7. The Escapist goes Hands-On with the new CoH mission architect. This is the functionality that will let people design their own missions and instances for other players.
  8. Gamepolitics.com reports on a clever feline way to avoid those annoying EULAs.
  9. via MTV MultiplayerA Rabbi (Micah Kelber)who is also a gamer reviews Call of Duty: World at War – it’s an interesting, thoughtful read. But mostly I’m wishing that I’d ever had a gaming Rabbi.
  10. Muckbeast writes an insightful post about where he thinks questing has both succeeded and failed in MMOs.

Also, if you like puzzle games, World of Goo is available on Steam for $5 at the moment. It has the Spinks seal of approval, I love it. Highly recommended.