Mad Mack: It’s Time To Embrace The MSORPG
(NB. FMV does not necessarily share Dave’s views, and accepts absolutely no responsibility for any offence his diatribes may cause.)
It’s time for the third Mad Mack article, and I’ve got to be honest, if this was even a half-arsed effort you would be lucky. I was close to just copy-pasting the Wikipedia article on felching, and phoning the editor to call him an asshole and tell him to stick his website up his arse. However, in the end my journalistic integrity got the better of me, so I sat down in my pants and threw this steaming shit-pile together.
I am on holiday you see, visiting the motherland (Ireland, in case you were interested), and apart from eating my bodyweight in deep fried Irish cuisine, I have been reminding myself what it is like to be hungover every morning (progressively more unpleasant).
However, inbetween drinks, a friend of mine pointed out a rather curious article. Apparently, in 2010 Nintendo patented the idea of a ‘Massive Single Player Online Roleplaying Game’ (MSORPG), and made a statement to the effect that this was to give players the experience of a MMORPG without having to interact with other players.
Now, I can appreciate the joy of not having to put up with the cum-stained, racist preteens that dominate much of the online world in all types of games. I have a pathological hatred of children and believe firmly that unless you can register your own postcode, you should not have the same rights as the rest of us (seriously, kids annoy me – and scare me a little bit with their rap music and their hooded jumpers and their violent riot and looting).
However, through the gentle warmth of my alcohol buzz, even my fairly-addled brain was able to point out that you get the MMORPG experience without getting called a ‘n00b fagz’ by other players – it’s called a Single Player Sandbox RPG. This is your Morrowind, Fallout 3, Oblivion and Fallout New Vegas sort of games. These games are fooooking massive and give the player the freedom to go around doing whatever the hell they like. Want to farm for fish while dressed as a badger? Fill your boots. Want to run around in a pair of boxers wielding a sword called the ‘Cockcutter of Magalthwup’ and do pelvic thrusts into the face of shopkeepers and little children? Crack on big lad. And you get to do it all safe from the judging eyes of the disgusted internet public.
I remember when I was first introduced to Everquest and Morrowind (in that order). It occurred to me that Morrowind was basically Everquest but for shut-ins and those who lacked social skills (i.e. those who sat somewhere between child molesters and Africanised honey bees on the social acceptance scale), but as I got to playing the game, I realised that in reality I preferred walking around the towns, probing the uncanny valley and stealing anything that was not nailed down without having to put up with every bell end in the region telling me they just discovered how to touch themselves in a way that made their belly feel like fireworks.
So what is the fundamental difference between a MMORPG and a Massive Single Player RPG? Is it the presence of other people? Is it the freedom that comes from being able to do all the quests whenever you want without having to wait for it to respawn or whatever it is WOW does every time the gameworld is depopulated (the amount of shit that gets killed in WOW should warrant a PETA campaign all of its own*)?
I am not really sure to be honest. The gameplay is fundamentally very similar. Even the argument that people like to have an end objective to the game does not really hold up when you consider that fucking around is what gamers do best. If you see some of the shit that people were doing with the Warthogs in Halo:CE, or even just look at the effort that has been put into some of the Minecraft megastructures that have been made by normal people in their bedroom (well, ‘normal’, except with a body shape that could be described as ‘amorphous’, a working knowledge of spoken Klingon and unlikely to have a sexual encounter before the delivery of their second hand fleshlight). Fucking about is more popular than ever. So the gameplay is the same – you kill things to level up so you can kill bigger things to level up and so on.
What about the presence of other players? Is that what makes the difference? Well possibly. Most games do not allow players to knock the fuck out of other players unless they agree, and a well balanced game will have a sufficient number of events and castles and shit that regenerate/reset often enough, so other players in the game world should not have a significant impact on any that want to cut around doing their own thing like elaborately dressed emo kids.
I suspect that the difference has a bit to do with ego. Most games place the player in the shoes of this adventures’ Saviour Du Jour and as a result put them at the centre of the world. Think about the last game you played where your performance at an individual level didn’t have far reaching strategic regional/global/solar/galactic implications. Struggling? OK so maybe there are one or two (Braid maybe? Though it had something to do with the nuclear bomb or some shit, which is pretty fucking strategic), but for every game you could name, there would be several thousand in which the actions of the player-controlled character save the day. Now, put this in a MMORPG setting, in which the player is just one of several thousands or millions playing in the same world, by its very nature it cannot be possible for every player to be King McMassiveballs. So players who have grown used to being the only person who can save that silly bitch from that fucking castle (again and again and again – Jesus Christ bitch LOCK THE FUCKING DOOR and ban turtles of any kind) all of a sudden find themselves no longer really mattering in the grand scheme of things. And I think it is this that puts players off MMORPGs and creates a market for MSORPGs.
So that about wraps this article up.
Shit, I just realised that the editor wanted me to talk about Skyrim – and he’s even stuck a picture from the goddamn thing at the top of the article.
Ok then: Skyrim is out soon. Looks alright. Will probably give it a play. Maybe even a review.
Next week is a retrospective on Deus Ex, in anticipation of Deus Ex: Human Revolution which I will be reviewing the following week (spoiler alert – nothing can live up to the first Deus Ex, so I am going to guess that DE:HR will be a steaming pile of shit)
Dave McConkey has been appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN.
Mad Mack continues next week…
*I am sure more than one WOW fan has thought about a ‘I would rather go naked than wear fur’ campaign starring elves and shit like that