TCR Update, et al

Hello, reader(s)!

Lately, I’ve been working on “The Chimaera Regiment” again. I’m most of the way through the second chapter (out of fifteen) in my editing. Unfortunately, several later chapters will take much longer to edit than these early ones (which are mostly copy- and flow-editing). This will take time, especially since I have a day job and other things to attend to, but it will get done… eventually. I usually knock out a few pages every time I sit down to it. I don’t have a timeline for you, especially not for the finished product (i.e., audio recordings, cover images, finalized book), but I can tell you that it’s progressing.

In other news, I’ve taken Star Trek Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic about as far as I can take them without paying for them. I have a level 50 and a level 32 on STO, and I have two level 15’s (with six other characters ranging from level 6 to level 14) on TOR. Briefly: both games are reflective of the multiplayer mentality of modern gaming. Which means that they’re not perfect. But they’re not bad.

STO really caught my attention because of how much I could do alone, mostly because I often had an away team on ground missions and space missions were never overwhelmingly difficult. I also enjoyed the “crew missions” aspect of the game (so much so that I gained my last six levels by logging in once a day just to do that). But the overarching story isn’t quite enough to keep me reeled in at level 50 (“Oh, no, the Undine/Species 8472 have infiltrated every government! Quick, let’s save the galaxy!”), especially since getting a level-50 ship requires either real money or way, way, way, way more time than I have.

TOR, similarly. I enjoyed working on the main quest by myself. It has a larger number of in-your-face group quests than STO (which has plenty if you’re looking for them, but they’re easy to avoid), but the main quest is easily possible on your own. Gameplay cinematics in an MMO are innovative, but not revolutionary. They also take up huge chunks of HDD space that I could better use for other things. I would probably go back to TOR if they made it free-to-play, but I’m in no rush for them to do that (and they’re not either, judging by their server populations)… even if the gameplay does reek of World-of-Warcraft-in-space. STO, at least, took a hint from Tera (which, I gather, is wildly popular, although I didn’t see the appeal) and made combat more FPS-like. And I have to admit, after shooting things with my mouse, watching an avatar shoot them with my “1” key is pretty lame.

Besides editing and gaming, I’m still planning a science fiction novel (with some sparse ideas for sequels and prequels) which I have affectionately dubbed the “DCTSF Project.” “SF” stands for “science fiction,” in case you missed it, and DCT are the initials of D.C., whose inspiration and creativity helped create the universe in which this novel will be written. (How it happened: about six and a half years ago, just after Christmas 2005, D.C. and I were on a ferry from Indonesia back to Singapore, whereupon we devised the majority of the setting for this novel. I know it sounds like there’s a story there, but that’s pretty much it.) In this novel, we’re going to have humans, who have reached a few stars (so they’re beyond the limits of the solar system at this point), but they’re not traversing the galaxy with ease; they’ve met a few other species, but so far, humans are the only ones who developed on a planet (instead of a moon). But in this story of pirates, linguistics, lawmen, and intrigue, they’re going to encounter something they’ve never encountered before…

… And that’s enough to tease you for now. That book will be quite some time in coming. I probably won’t start putting pen to paper until TCR is completely finished. But I wanted folks to know a bit about it before it gets here. And I know I’ve mentioned it before. But it always bears mentioning again.

The End of an Era

[pb_vidembed title=”The Elder Scrolls Online – Announcement Trailer” caption=”” url=”” type=”yt” w=”480″ h=”385″] And so passes the last refuge of quality single-player RPG series. First KotOR, and now Elder Scrolls.

I guess I just don’t get the point of MMORPG’s. I’ve played quite a few – Star Wars Galaxies, World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, City of Heroes, Champions Online, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Star Trek Online, Star Wars The Old Republic, and others, if you count open betas and the like. But every time, I acquire only an overwhelming sense of pointlessness.

I mean, in relation to my impact on the persistent world, I’m identical to everyone else in real life; why would I want the same experience among video games? Not everyone can be a hero, and if you’re not a hero, then there’s no great story. If there’s no great story, then what’s the point in escapist, interactive fantasies?

Is it talking with your friends? Possibly. But let me ask: have you ever heard of the telephone? Or a hang-out? And I don’t mean that thing on Google Plus where you all use your webcams at the same time.

Perhaps it’s spending time with friends doing fun stuff. I don’t imagine that’s possible in any other form, such as, you know, in person.

It’s like people have decided that real life isn’t good enough, so they made escapist video games – many of which are quite awesome in single-player forms. Then, when they realized that their lives were lacking in certain necessary components (because they did nothing but play video games), they converted their escapist video games into escapist multiplayer video games, which gradually – and sometimes, not so gradually – morph into “real life in X universe.”

I wish you luck, Bethesda Softworks. I really do. It’d be neat to see an MMORPG that’s not just Second Life in Space, or Second Life in Middle Earth, or Second Life in Tamriel. At least Second Life is honest. But if BioWare couldn’t do it – and trust me, they couldn’t – then I’m not sure you’ll be able to do it, either. Especially since Skyrim turned about half the quests in the game into “real life”-esque quests, which are more like a job than a story.

But good luck, all the same.