We were very pleased to hear last week that Myst Online aka Uru has been returned Cyan, who are planning to relaunch it as MO:RE, Myst Online: Restoration Experiment, which is slated to include user-created content.
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Second Life is possibly the most diverse petri dish that the ludisphere has seen. It can become a fulcrum for the best, the worst and the oddest forms of human play and expression. Part of what I find intriguing about it is the convergence of play and art that takes place here, and the following is one of the most compelling examples I've seen of this of late.
(editor note: This piece is a solid exploration of the issue of immersion, and specifically some of the really impressive things going on in Lord of the Rings Online. Thanks to Kelly, our first guest author.)
In most MMORPGs you don't need a map to find the center of the world. Like the protagonist in the Truman Show, you have the awkward feeling that everything exists only as a prop for players. Every NPC in every town is just a bit part actor waiting patiently to deliver a line or item on cue. Impersonal and uncomfortably contrived exchanges can be used to great narrative and cinematic effect in a single player game, but they're more than a little unsettling in anything pretending to be a virtual world. Nothing breaks the illusion of a living, breathing world like the nagging feeling that everyone and everything in the joint are not much more salient (or important) than your backpack and armor. Who are these people that you're risking your virtual neck for in World of Warcraft?
Just a quick head's up that the incomparable Jane McGonigal (who's done just a slew of great stuff, from "I Love Bees" to some great exploratory work on interactions in games online and in the default world) has now launched ... well, to quote Jane (always a great idea if you have the opportunity):
"WWO is a game for good -- the first alternate reality game to tackle a real-world problem. Gamers to save the world? Hell, yes!"
Check it out and sign up! It'll be worth it, no question...
It's a little dark, but our banner is from an event I was a part of about a year ago, in WoW. A dear friend of mine, one of the officers of a Horde guild called the Twilight Guards, conceived the notion of a special raid. There's a tailor pattern to make blue overalls, and the idea would be to get the tailors in the guild to make overalls for everyone, don the overalls, grab fishing poles, and head for Alliance territory.
I was playing World of Warcraft tonight with my Alliance Guild. We had a good night of questing, and even picked up a few novel and interesting quests, like the one where you have to tame the big dinosaurs and bring them back to the wacky gnome at his hut. We had one left to do in the series, and it was one of those infernal “get x larynxes from y type of scorpion (NOT z type of scorpion), and the drops were like one in 10. So I started on this somewhat cynical lament, sort of like Eyore tagging along on some adventure or another with Winnie the Pooh and complaining all the while. At one point I said, “They are just trying to keep us busy so we keep paying the subscription fee.” At another point I posited, “If Blizzard told us to jump in a lake, would we do it?” And my friend said, “If the rewards were enough.” And as I was getting progressively more de-motivated, I finally said: “Sometimes I feel like I’m playing this game, but sometimes I feel like the game is playing me.”