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tr1age

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So I decided to go pretty geeky this weekend and broke out the Lord of the Rings Trilogy extended cut. I needed something to pass the time before New World came out. Needless to say it has refueled the fire behind my love for fantasy stories and the immersion they create.

It all started with Ultima Online…


There was a unity in Ultima Online that I couldn’t quite place my finger on for many years as I tried to rekindle the feeling it gave me through the more modern games. I couldn’t find ONE. WoW was the first game that was “new” to me, but it still had a feeling of emptiness in the long run, the constant need to get that one piece of gear to be better than your fellow players, or being looked over in a group because they already had too many of that type of character. This was not like Ultima Online to me, in Ultima Online everyone fought, everyone invaded new territories… So why was I being punished for my choices in these new and "improved" games?

To find the replacement for Ultima Online I was wrongfully looking for FFA PVP where I could loot everything off a corpse. A game with an open world to explore and housing. A game where I could claim my territory such as a graveyard outside of town in Ultima Online. Basically, a game that only worked because it was 1997 and people were more open minded to the idea that this was OK.

It's funny because I still run a UO private server to this day, but it is PvE with opt in PvP only, because I truly believe community built together on mutual cooperation and teamwork creates lasting bonds more than communities built on aggression and insults. PvP can often create a toxic environment for new players and the community as a whole. So you need to have that common betterment goal before PvP, but I still enjoy the PvP, so striking the balance was similar to New Worlds "opt in".

What I didn’t think about until New World was the first moment in Ultima Online that made it truly memorable. It happened the MINUTE I logged into this new idea of an MMO. Thinking of all the ways I wanted to run my own tavern or build my own life in this world, it all came down to the simplest moment; I logged into the game saw the first humanoid character I could find and I typed,

“Hi! Are you real?”

and I will never forget the smile on my face as it replied back,

“YES!!! HI!!”

..turning to my Dad who was just as interested in this new fangled “online world”, I said,

“holy crap look, this guy is actually playing too!”

I felt like he was my friend already and all we had exchanged was a friendly hello. Even the simplistic approach Ultima Online took with its chat system. The words appeared over the heads of the character talking. This worked really well at forcing you to associate the person talking and the character on screen, instead of having one eye glued to the bottom left corner of your screen.

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I thought this kind of a moment would be unachievable since half the reason it was so memorable was because of the fact that it had never been done before. In today’s day and age with 5 MMOs being released every minute, the surprise, the anticipation, the magic was gone… or so I thought. And here comes New World.

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For reasons I cannot yet place my finger on, it has given me that excitement, that anticipation, that “I want to get lost in this world” feeling again. And I think because it isn’t me chasing nostalgia this time, but letting New World define a new world that will create new nostalgia with the proper “bones” to get it done. The game is def raw, but like my Grandma used to say, “it has good bones”. So no it won't replace your first MMO experience, but I do believe it will lay the stones for a path into your next great MMO journey!

“It is like a virgin who loses their virginity to someone they did not love, and regrets it, thinking they have ruined sex forever. Upset and feeling lost that they have had something so special taken from them. What no one ever tells them is that if you love someone, you will re-experience that ‘First time” (albeit without the awkwardness and the moment will probably “last” longer) again, and it will make your first time seem irrelevant because this small bit of flavor, called love, added the magic back.”

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New World has the ability to be that love for some of us, it has found the fundamental piece of the puzzle that Ultima Online had: The greater purpose. Making those around you special and exciting to see. (It may not be the spectacle of your first MMO, but like your virginity, new things can always spice it up.) When you run into another player, through their flag pvp system your heart races on whether or not they will be red to you or if you will work together. You get excited by the things you will not know. And with level scaling, even if it is a battle you know it will be a fair(ish) fight! Being skill based feels a lot like Ultima Online. It took me 2 years to GM a skill in UO and I was still very competitive. I know I keep referring to this as UO, but it isn’t UO and I want to make that clear. It is a game going in a new direction, one that emphasizes group play, individual skills, and reward for it. It is a modernization of an old “ideal” rather than a rehash of an old “idea”. The graphics, the sound effects, the world, the pvp, the exploration, the crafting, the housing, and to an extent… the grind. They all feel like a beautiful watercolor. Mixing that fantasy world with real hardcore graphics. To me that is what makes it as exciting as UO was to me so many years ago, 1997 to be exact YIKES.

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I went into New World with very low expectations. Amazon making a video game? HA this will be a joke. But it was a pleasantly “new” feeling. It is NOT WoW and it is NOT Guild Wars. Those who expect that, may be disappointed if they don’t like change, but even those who hate change I think will be pleasantly surprised by the way the game helps you to reprogram your brain to enjoy the playstyle in front of you. For instance, I was very intent on joining a PvP server as I do with every game. There is something about those small battles that occur whilst leveling between those in the area who also want that Quest item drop or whatever it may be. The wasted hours of leveling, fighting one another for territory control until one concedes. Problem here is like I just said I was looking at it as WoW terms. There are NO PvP servers. WHAT? HOW CAN THIS BE? CAREBEARS!!!

TRAMMEL NOOBS!(UO reference) I agree, that is what I thought, until I learned more about the game and the way you flag for pvp and how territories worked. The game actually convinced me through the way it plays out to feel that same feeling of accomplishment through participating and completing goals with those around me, and making the decision to take the risk by flagging up for pvp or enjoying a more relaxed quest experience when I needed a break.

Through this choice of how to play and when to play it I mentioned above you feel much more immersed in the world versus your own ego. And you didn’t halt your game progression by duking it out over that ego. Want to duke it out? Toggle PvP! Want to help your faction? You can! Any game that can make me want to run across a map to resurrect my faction members (all classes can res downed players) rather than rip his heart out, steal his house key from his loot, spit on his body, cut it up, lock it down in my new dinky house, only to give it to the player who does the same to me to marvel upon, has really accomplished something spectacular.

Video games offer an alternate reality, and New World allows this to be even more so with its unique time period, beautiful graphics, fantastic sound effects and design, plus a feeling of unity with those players around you(FOR THE SPARK), and very intense pvp interactions. But at the same time you are not devastated by a full loot pvp system and other mechanics that are just one sided as you fight.

I get addicted to these games easily because they are an escape from real life, the hardships of finding the perfect job, paying bills, being rich… who is to say these “social” norms are what we should be doing… To me life consists of interactions, everything in-between that, defined by society, is filler for a gap created by that society itself. Shouldn’t we be trying to better ourselves, not monopolizing things to get ahead, creating startups that garner millions of dollars in an instant, patenting medications making them inaccessible to the millions they could help. Sure competition helps to push innovation, but are we beginning to push the line of innovation to a pipe dream and no longer wanting to innovate, but win the lottery via mediocrity, dumb luck, and “I got here first” syndrome?

Our minds are programmed to buck at the idea of thinking against being that guy who buys coke.com first, deep down we all want the money, some of the fame, or recognition in one way or another. We want to feel accomplished and that our existence has meaning. That is where these games excel. They push us to feel like we will become a stone monument of a fallen hero when we die, such as would be seen in a Lord of the Rings movie. People years and years later bow at it’s marble foundation.

Video game worlds make you feel as though your actions are no longer trivial in the scheme of the world around you. Without having to actually die and go through the shitty times war brings. To me the Fantasy genre always hit home to me.

While I wait for New World to be released my mind races with how the world will expand and tell me a story I didn’t know through pure exploration and interactions with those around me set in what can only be described as a true marvel of beauty in terms of world and sound design.


What monsters will I defeat, or players will I best, in order to achieve “hero” status, and most importantly what weapons and fight styles to master! But even that is a nice open ended slice of fresh air, allowing us to max everything as we see fit, being a “master of none” if we want.

It is the equalizer of steel and metal, mixed with the different unexplainable magic that make it so fun to choose. Shooting fire from a staff or mastering the fencing style with a rapier. The norms of these worlds are broken, and the suspension of disbelief is accepted. Through this we get different playstyles for a lot of people. And what is ultimately immersion.

As humans we suffer from very stubborn ways of thinking. A world constantly killing one another over resources, religion, or race. In these games it is refreshing to play a faction that looks at the world in a way that may be similar but also far away, and we can play any of them without worrying about the social impacts, picking the evil side and “burn the heretics!”

Humans are usually portrayed as arrogant bastards in videos games, fighting one another and having quarrels that are not that of a greater purpose but of their own agendas. And this can be quite a draining idea, since it mirrors our life so much.

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But there is always that idea of the “hero” or character you play if you choose a human being redeemable. As humans ourselves we need to have the feeling and the hope that things will get better. That we will get our heads out of our own asses and will take on the Star Trek like approach to life of “bettering ourselves” in the hopes of finding out more about the world around us instead of fighting. (you know, no currency or payments for jobs, just our will to be better and explore the world and that which is greater than us) The idea that your character can be that ONE human who is Aragon from Lord of the Rings, and no matter what the odds are against him, he will overcome them and prove to the other races that Humans can be about more than just themselves.

New World seems like it will allow you to roleplay your character, not the tavern walls in the cities. To me role-play is about adapting to the gameplay mechanics and world around you in a way that fits the character you pick, not typing walls of text about who you are, where you come from, and why you are not actually a “Warrior” as the game would label you as. Instead make it a reality. If you want to make your Warrior different than DPS or TANK, then do it! Pick up a rifle, put points into supportive skills, hide in the bushes and snipe for all to fear! If you pick the weapons because you think it is cool and you want to play it, learn your skills, watch your own health, and know your sh*t, you will be rewarded greatly. And if you hate your choices, you just swap weapons and respec! The problem here is all the weapon choices are very cool, you may go into thinking you want to play one weapon and end up wanting to play a completely different one after playing it, or stuck between 3 of them! But I guess that is a good problem to have.

In Ultima Online I was in a guild called the Brotherhood of Steel, we were a group of players who were armor smiths and crafters. Our colors were green and dark grey and we looked awesome. We were very non confrontational. But my gameplay style was very in your face, so I took my character and skilled him in a way that fit my playstyle. Through that style we made an offshoot of the guild that was the protectors for the brotherhood. So through the game mechanics and flexibility of each characters skills and professions, we could really get immersed in the gameplay. New World has the ability to do this as well; through a dye system, you can have matching armor colors whenever you want without needing to wait for a specific drop, you can craft in any profession, and the list goes on… Essentially they have improved upon my old love, UO, and made it similar but easier to fill the role you wish, using the game in front of you, and not a backstory that would fit better in a romance novel than a video game.

All in all, I am very excited for New World and what it brings to a very one dimensional MMO market. When forums are all ablaze about every class feeling overpowered, you know the balance is pretty damn good, because you are the hero, you SHOULD feel overpowered! (I mean yes the great axe is a little insane at the moment lol)

I am also excited to see what they do with the potential housing development. Nothing EVER beat making a fire outside of my house in Ultima Online with buddies after hunting and just shooting the breeze. Hey, anything that can give me the “withdrawal” effects that Ultima Online did, is a good game in my eyes. (Social Studies Teacher: “Who here knows what a scimitar is? Me when I was 14 half asleep in the back day dreaming of Ultima, “Oo OO oo me me me!” See video games teach you things!)

New World is a new game, in a very modernized MMO world, but with some key similarities to older games(which may seem counter to “innovative”) but it gives us the tools to truly sit back and enjoy the world and the people around us in that world. So just remember, when someone walks by you, take the time to say “Hi”, it could literally change their lives, as it did mine.

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Just to be completely fair, this game is FAR from perfect or even "done". But Ultima Online wasn't done either, nor was it perfect, shit Lord British was murdered and so was EVERY creature in the game on before the end of day 1.

But like I said before, it has the "bones" to be something truly great. Let's hope Amazon Games (which it already seems they are doing) will continue to grow on such a solid foundation of a game to give us months if not years of gameplay to look forward to! I am hopeful and that is more than I can say for most MMO's I have played in the last years.
 
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tr1age

Admin
Thread Starter
Has to post a great response from reddit. Seems a lot of people are getting the feeling I am getting. And the people who aren't trolling are actually reading the article and realizing it is not about "gameplay mechanics" but about a community, a feeling, an environment, a world. Gives me hope for the player base for sure.

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It also shows exactly why New World made the right choice with OPT in PvP. Because this kind of person is so lost in "what was" they don't see how this ruined the game they loved so much in the first place.

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