Some thoughts on online gaming...

Okay, let me say first of all that I'm not one of those people in the world that have 80 hours a week to spend sitting in front of a computer, existing on a diet of Red Bull and Pizza Hut, with the occasional McDonald's chaser.

But I'd like to play online...

Therein lies the rub. The kinds of games I prefer are generally adventure or role-playing games. Not the shoot-em-ups where there's little-to-no story. Unfortunately, there's nothing out right now that lends itself to my type of gamer - the 10-hour/week adventure/RPG'er.

There was some possible promise in The Sims Online, but I beta tested it and quickly determined that it was crap, at least as far as I was concerned. What they were thinking when they required interaction and such to drive your money (and thus development) is beyond me. Similarly, the relationship process was seriously lacking.

That's why I was excited to read a review on MSN of a new game that's currently in open beta testing - Second Life. I've played it a little bit, and aside from some lag issues (which I've come to expect in practically any online beta), it definitely fills in many of the gaps left by TSO. You can build practically anything your mind can come up with, there is a very detailed scripting engine that allows you to do practically anything you want within the game world. Hell, you can even change the world itself - morphing and sculpting the land. Bottom line - it's awesome, and they were pretty smart in offering (to beta testers, at least) a lifetime subscription option that's actually reasonable.

The only problem with Second Life, though, is that there's no script, no adventure. As fun as it is to meet people and talk, laugh, and generally have fun, I do occasionally like a little action in my games. I must admit that I like fighting with virtual if that makes me a violent sicko, so be it.

Which is why I'm looking forward to Star Wars Galaxies from Sony. Although I haven't had any opportunity to beta test this one, from all the features and feedback information that I've read, it looks to have a really great balance of socialization, design/building mechanics, and fighting. Oh, and it's in the Star Wars universe, which means I'll probably buy it even if it sucks. However, I'm still betting that within 6 months, the whole game world will be dominated by those with lesser lives than I, who spend 10 hours a day online fighting with Tusken Raiders and such.

So...what's a wanna-be online gamer to do? There's a hopeful answer coming in World of Warcraft, which is being designed by Blizzard especially for my kind of player (with benefits to those with no lives, I'm sure).

And there's always Neverwinter Nights - which I'm looking forward to maybe playing online when the new expansion pack comes out. The original campaign was fun and all, but I'm really hoping that there's enough new stuff in the expansion pack that it might be worth making my own campaign. I did start one with the original, but got bogged down by a lack of variety in the creatures and items.

That's it for kind to your enemies, as you never know when you'll wind up working for them.