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Online gaming: Bark but no Bite


foogledricks
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I love the idea of online gaming. Every new promising Xblive game that comes out gets me excited. Unreal Championship, Midtown Madness, Crimson Skies, RTCW, Top Spin, Splinter Cell:PD, etc. There is so much potential, and I want to love it, then there is a fizzle, and I'm back to watching TV, playing single player games, or ironically READING about games rather than playing them.

 

Anyone else not getting their monies worth out of XBlive? I know some people here can't get enough. You might all think I am strange, but here are the reasons I think I have trouble getting the most out of online gaming:

 

- [social Anxiety] Like mingling at a keg party with people I don't know, making small talk, and being "on" socially is not my way of relaxing. I play games to relax and have fun, and sometimes I'm not up to the experience that quickmatch/optimatch provides.

-[inferiority Complex] I'm finding more and more that I belong on the short bus, because I don't have the time to master a game as quickly as the competition. It is worse if I am a late-comer to a game that was released a whopping three weeks earlier.

-[Collaboration Difficulty] My Top Spin tournament was a disaster. Everyone couldn't hook up for scheduled games. Including me, I eventually lost faith and it wasn't fun.

-[Lack of Continuity] All single player games have a concept of progression, that entices me to continue playing the game. Multiplayer games have a more one-off feel to them. It's the difference between playing match of Soul Caliber and picking up your 23rd hour of KOTOR.

 

Those are the main reasons why I'm not playing Crimson Skies or MM3 tonight. I might follow-up this post with reasons why Xblive's upcoming features will address my issues above. I'm sure you'll all point that out if I don't though.

 

All that being said, I am super excited for Halo 2 and NFL2K5. They are my most anticipated games of 2004. I always get excited for the latest and greatest Xblive games. Then one month later, they end up on my shelf. I hope this changes.

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Great topic Keith. I completely agree with points one and two that you made.

 

1) Social anxiety- It can be quite uncomfortable. I played ALOT of ESPN football last year and never plugged in my headset unless it was someone I knew. Nothing was worse than making small talk with a 14 year old kid.

 

2) Inferiority Complex- This is what killed me in Splinter Cell. I absolutely loved the online experience but got sick of being the teams handicap.

 

 

Don't worry Keith, you can play me in ESPN 2k5 and we don't have to talk or if you want to we can talk for an hour about the weather or we can also talk behind the back of Jtello.

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you can play me in ESPN 2k5 and we don't have to talk

Actually, I love the headset for NFL2K* ... if for no other reason to cry like a baby when things don't go my way, and to have the person on the other side laugh at me. Trash talk'n is very fun when it is good natured.

...or we can also talk behind the back of Jtello

It would be great to have a circle of friends for NFL2K5. e.g. "I just creamed JTello...scored 3 kick off return TDs..." :D

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The inferiority complex I agree with. I work full-time, go to school full-time, have a wife and a nearly 3 year old son. Gaming time is at a minimum, so games with a high learning curve that I would LOVE to play all day long (such as SC:PT) I can't commit to.

 

I find games like RS3 and Crimson skies much more forgiving to the fact that I only get 1-5 hours of gaming time in a week...if I am lucky. Games like these lend themselves to quick 10-30 minute interludes. I got tired of getting my ass stomped in SC:PT, so I just stopped playing.

 

That's why I dipped out of MMORPGs, also. I'd love to play CoH, but there is no way I could. :(

 

Good topic, BTW :)

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I can relate to almost all the points you bring up. I have a love/hate relationship with most online games. I'll use SC:PT for example. Its just too hard to find 4 people of similar skill level. If one or two people are not good (wether it be from not having time to devote to the game or just flat out sucking at games in general) then the game experience is horrible. I dont care how good one person is unless his partner is compitent then he/she has no chance against 2 fairly skilled players. However when you finally do get a good game going with guys who communicate and play the game well then it is without a doubt one of the best online gaming experiences I've ever had. Like I said...love/hate. :) Another example is MMORPG's. I love the concept of running around a huge persistant game world full of things to do and populated with tons of people. However to have any fun in those games you have to dump tons of hours into them and that is just not cool with me. I know people who live in those games...literally. Not only is this unhealthy IMO (on so many levels) but its just impractical/impossible for most people.

 

All things considered though I would say that Xbox live is the main reason I have that lil black box. I have had many a great time on live. Wether it be racing (PGR2, MotoGP 2, TOCA 2, etc), shooting (RS3 and umm....RS3), sports (ESPN basketball, Links 2004, etc), etc (SC:PT). I can deifinately say I have gotten my 50 bucks a year out of xbox live. :) Online gaming will continue to evolve and I can't wait to see whatthe next gen holds in store.

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So I said I'd retort my own post, and here it is. I think that all the things that keep Xblive from being as fun as it can be have solutions:

 

[social Anxiety]

Playing with friends, helped by LCVG, can make this better. Clans functionality will further facilitate friendships I hope.

 

[inferiority Complex]

I believe that upcoming games are supposed to be better at joining players of the same ability level. This would help out a lot.

 

[Collaboration Difficulty]

I suspect that NFL2K5, Halo 2, and MechAssault 2 are trying to improve online collaboration, an advancement of XSN. This is fixable, and I can't wait for these developers to really wrap their heads around this problem.

 

[Lack of Continuity]

I mentioned before clans and collaboration. I think that tournaments, seasons, and clans will help online game playing feel more continuous than the one-off episodes we experience now. An online season is probably the most simple example of this.

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I played ALOT of ESPN football last year and never plugged in my headset unless it was someone I knew. Nothing was worse than making small talk with a 14 year old kid.

 

Bruce, When ever I play ESPN online I almost always make sure the other person uses thier headset before beginning a game. I found that if I only played with people would talked in the lobby area I was able to insure my opponents had a respectable level of maturity before brgining a game. There were also instances where my opponent and I chose to disable our headsets after beginning our game for various reasons. Basically, if you don't use your headset and then start a game with someone it is basically a crap shoot whether you got a complete a-hole as an opponent. Of course a person who uses thier headset could also turn out to be an idiot, but at least you have one more piece of information to use in picking good people to play against and to weed out the turds. And if you do end up in a lobby with a 14yr old, you can always just opt out and go back to the generlly lobby. I'm just discouraged to hear that a good person who plays ESPN would choose to not use thier headset, ...it just seems like the it's the opposite thing you'd like to do if your trying to avoid moronic players.

 

Also, on the topic of this thread,... I can see how gamers would have many of the same reactions and feelings about the online playing experience. I have had many of them too. And I hope this doesn't come off sounding rude, as that's not my intention, .. I would like to say that I have found that online gaming can require effort at times. I have found that I have had to put in an effort to locate good opponents and and gaming experiences. And sometimes that "effort" can really just mean relaxing a bit. Like Keith mentioned the anxiety thing, and being socially uncomfortable. I too experienced this, and still do on occasion, but overall I was able to get over that view of the experience by relaxing and not 'trying' to talk. Talking for the sake of talking during online gaming can kill the experience. I've had games where my opponent and I speak only once or twice in an hours worth of play, and those games have been equally as fun as the silent games and the games that were full of gabbing.

 

Ok, I'm tired, maybe I'll visit the other points of this thread tomorrow, when my brain is recharged. ;)

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I've said it before, I'm sure I'll say it again: the biggest problem with online gaming is other people. By & large, other people are jerks.

 

Amen to that. Tonight I fired up ESPN Football for the first time in like 6 months, I try playing 3 different games and all three times I ended up with those idiots that go for it on 4th and long on every single play, and as soon as I put some points on the board, they quit.

 

I hate the headset, and gave mine away a while ago, I'm more of the strong silent gamer 8)

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Good topic, Keith.

 

For the record, I do have an Xbox Live account which I use sporadically at most. One look at the list of games I've beaten in 2004 reveals a strong emphasis on my part on single player titles. The reasons for this are not very different from those given in Keith's initial post. Most of the time, when I want to play a game, I won't want it to be a social event. I enjoy the solitary nature of single-player games and the sense of accomplishment that derives from finishing one that's challenging and fun. Also, the notion of being schooled by someone who plays a game 8 hours a day doesn't exactly overfill me with joy. In the same vein, when I do play multiplayer titles, I much prefer the party game variety in which the participants all join me in the same room. This, to me, is much more fun and personal than gaming with someone over the Internet with a headset. It's the difference between hanging out with a friend in person and talking to them on the phone.

 

However, I don't believe I've wasted my money on the service. When I do get the itch to play something online, it's there for me, and all I have to do is turn on my Xbox and log on. I see online gaming as just one part of a full gaming diet. While I do appreciate how it can satisfy the occasional need for a quick fix, it does not provide me with all the things I love about games. For instance, I won't exactly get to do a lot of puzzle solving during a session of Crimson Skies, nor will I find myself engrossed in a good story playing Mechassault. In a way, I sort of view online gaming as its own genre like RPGs or sports games. In other words, it may not be for everyone, but it does have its avid fans.

 

It's funny, because the way you hear some developers talk, you would think that online is the future and that eventually everything will move over to that. I don't see it that way. I think it will be what it is now - another option for those who want to play games. If that's the case, I'm perfectly fine with that.

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Im the total opposite of everyone here. I play all online games , and only play a handfull of single player stuff. Over time ive built of a good list of people to play against, not just from lcvg but people i just met in random games. Sure there are a lot of jerks out there but there are also a lot of other good , regular people. Id rather play against a human opponent , as to me its a bigger challenge then going against compter opponents. Expecially with sports games.

 

capt

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I'm somewhere in between all of you.

 

Regarding single-player games, I will never, ever tire of the engrossing adventure, story, and character development of a great RPG, action, or platformer. My favorite games of all time are definitely the games that created a deep experience and were works of art.

 

That said, I adore online gaming when it works. Because of its social nature, you will eventually run into asshats. There's nothing you can do about that. In reality, you can choose where to live and who to hang out with. With online gaming, you're thrown to the masses.

 

Of course, there are friends lists and all that. The problems with that, at least for me, are multifold.

 

First, none of my Xbox Live friends (yes, including all of you) are ever online when I am. Never. That is, unless I happen to not have plans on a Friday or Saturday night or I know you're planning some sort of event and I happen to have the games in question.

 

Second, 99% of my Xbox Live friends who can be counted to be online are also those who are either way more skilled than me due to free time or are playing some new game that came out on Tuesday that I haven't picked up yet or haven't even heard of.

 

As already mentioned, the reality is that Live takes some personal effort, just like a real-life social life. I find keeping up with friends in real life pretty difficult, and I fall behind sometimes, and have to catch-up over a beer. Live is kind of similar, except the idiots have anonymity to their advantage.

 

There's no answer except for patience and perseverence. Continue to develop your friend's list, play with cool, forgiving people, and chill out. Don't give up - don't dump your headset just because xHaXoR23x said that you like dick.

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Guest Bryan

This conversation has me thinking about the Live Arcade that is on the way. It is framed as a way to meet others in a relaxed enviroment and play games that require a little less determination, skill and time investment. I think the card games will be a great ice-breaker and get-together vehicle.

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I?ve had a blast with Live so far, although I still think the original post is dead on in many respects. The social issues are a big problem for me, but my game selection pretty much mitigates them. I stay away from direct one-on-one games because being forced to make small talk with someone I don?t know sucks, to be honest. I like team games that require a moderate amount of interaction which generates easy conversation. In this regard, my favorites are Wolfenstein, Ghost Recon IT, and Steel Battalion: LOC. I find that social issues are still a problem even when I somewhat know the people in games. In the few LCVG games I?ve been in, I haven?t said much.

 

The inferiority complex is a definite problem that has generally kept me from playing RS3 and PGR2 online. I just don?t have the time or motivation to master any one game. I?d rather play a variety of one-player and online games. However, Crimson Skies, Wolfenstein, and GRIT are easy to play competently with a minimal investment of time, so I tend to stick with those.

 

Lack of continuity is something I?ve been hugely bothered by. I value a quick frag-fest as a way to sit back and relax, but sometimes I?m looking for a deeper experience that hasn?t really been offered on Xbox Live yet. I think Steel Battalion made the best inroads in this regard with its progressive campaign and the fact that you had your own hanger of VTs that could be upgraded with parts you won in battle. Bigger and badder robots and new levels with territory shifting between factions was a great recipe for success. Unfortunately, the game is broken with bugs and connectivity problems that Capcom refuses to take responsibility for. Capcom blames the US internet structure that every other company has managed to get games playable on, rather than its own crappy netcode. Phantasy Star Online also had a lot of potential but it was ruined by poor support from Sega and the fact that there is nothing about the game that justifies a monthly fee, yet Sega opted to charge one. However, I did have a blast with it during my free trial. The cancellation of True Fantasy Live is a really huge blow, hopefully that other MMORPG will still come out.

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I believe that upcoming games are supposed to be better at joining players of the same ability level. This would help out a lot.

I really hope that's true. My main problem with Live is that when I join a quick match I always have the feeling everyone else is 15 years old and has the time to play/practice all day long.

Unfortunately there's pretty much no way I could play with you guys since I live in Germany and I'd have to stay up till 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning :(

None of my real life friends have Live. So when I play multiplayer games it's almost exclusively coop etc. on the same box. Which is awesome but I don't need Live for that.

My Live account is up for renewal next month and I really really had to think about it. I decided to renew for another year just for Halo 2. But I'm really afraid that I'll get my ass handed by everyone again since I just won't have the time to practice enough.

Here's hoping that Microsoft has some great idea to solve this problem.

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I abosutely love LIVE and really don't have the problems listed. For starters, a number of my good freinds all play. Second, LCVG has helped me make a number of new friends to play online. I basically avoid the dip shits out there. Voice makes a nice difference.

 

I've have been into online gaming for a long, long time. It goes as far back as to playing checkers on my C64 through an online service called Quantum Link (I think that's what it was called). Fast forward to today, and I do play online PC games with the masses, but since there's no voice it's no problem. Regarding people better than me... I just keep trying until I get good.

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I agree with the original post, but would temper it by saying that is what I expected XBL to be from the start. It's a $300 investment (with XBL and game), so the @sshat and lowest common demoninator factor is going to be pretty high.

 

That being said, I am disapppointed in the online offerings so far. Unless you want to shoot someone (as a plane/mech/person), race cars, or blow something up, seems like you are out of luck on live. Don't get me wrong, I love to shoot peeps, race cars, and blow stuff up online, but I also like to play in massive MMORPG worlds and the like. Thet experience (or level of experience I should say) just isn't there yet.

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