Sunday, November 26, 2017

They Got The Drugs I Could Use...

We're coming towards the end of this year's IntPiPoMo which gives me an excuse to bring out a few choice screenshots I've taken over the past few days. Otherwise they'd most likely molder in their folders since I didn't take them with any particular post in mind.

Not that I need a reason to take a shot. I can't pass a view without snapping at it. Never could. I don't recall exactly when I discovered the screenshot key in EverQuest and sadly my very earliest attempts at fantasy photo-journalism are lost to posterity but I do still have a few that pre-date the launch of EQ2 in 2004.

Taking screenshots costs nothing and with the seemingly endless, self-destructive nihilism of the lootbox war showing no signs of slowing down, far less fading away, this seems like as good time as any to remind ourselves of all the fun there is to have in an MMO without ever spending a single cent.

Oh, lootboxes...they really are the gift that never stops giving, aren't they? At least, when it comes to filling the internet with fury. If anything, further escalation of hostilities seems unavoidable. With that gloomy prospect in the background, how about we all just look at some pretty pictures and see if we can't remember why we came here in the first place...

I don't know about the rest of you but I came here for the virtual worlds and as far as I can see they're still here, in abundance. What's more, in these modern times I find myself free to visit more worlds than ever before and in every one I find yet more wonders and marvels.

But then, I'm just a virtual tourist. I point my imaginary camera and go click. And I'm an adventurer, too, let's not forget. Here to discover new lands, teeming with amazing creatures - then kill them, skin them and turn them into hats. But not before I've taken a few snaps for my album.

I never needed a lootbox for that and I don't now. No-one does. The only box that matters is wide open already: this richly furnished Skinner Box we like to call our hobby.

One thing's for certain, though: if games developers had to feed their children on the coins players like myself feed into the slot there'd be a lot of hungry children. And pretty soon no games.

It may be fatuous to suggest that the best things in life are free but it's equally simplistic to suggest there's no such thing as a free lunch. There's plenty of lunch to be had that you, yourself are never going to be asked to pay for, either in cash or favors. Whales pay for me, I let them, it ends there.

Except it doesn't because the flavor whales like best is crunchy lootbox and you can't catch a whale without throwing out the chum. If you don't like the taste you don't have to eat it but you're still swimming in the same ocean and it gets messy. There's blood and lootboxes in the water and I can't even hear the soundtrack for the wailing. Whaling. Whatever.

Where will it all end? SynCaine's still talking down the F2P revolution while Gevlon imagines a brave new world of equality and fairness but I prefer to go with Wilhelm's view that it's all a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing very much.

 At least I hope it is. If we ever really do reach a situation where national legislatures are seriously concerning themselves with creating the necessary legal framework that will allow you to bequeath your GW2 mount skin collection to your grandchildren, then I strongly suspect developers will call "Game Over" on MMOs.

Screenshots of your mount skins, who owns those?


  1. On the screenshot question, I'm scared to think that if you read the TOSS in its entirety that the company probably does. I wouldn't even be surprised if that were the case, anyway, which is sad. Of course, it really doesn't mean anything unless you are trying to profit from it in some way and the company decides to pursue you over it.

    Still - companies need to self regulate before it's too late (I'd it isn't already). Destiny 2 just got caught throttling XP rates to encourage buying boxes. Players caught it because doing the same activities wasn't yielding an equal amount of xp for Bright Engrams (the cool boxes you can earn for free or buy). Turns out they make it harder and longer to earn them free but didn't tell the community that. Caught red handed. Proving we can't trust the companies we believe in (as gamers tend to do) to be honest with us. Not sure why we ever did.

    1. I mentioned in a comment on Shintar's blog yesterday that you should always read the EULA before making an account for a new MMO. I have only once refused point blank to register an account and that was because the EULA stated unequivocally that anything the user created that related in any way to the game in question, be that fan fiction, blog posts, streaming video, whatever, belonged in perpetuity to the company, along with full copyright, which you agreed to assign to them. I won't name it because they'll probably consider even mentioning the name would give them ownership of this blog!

      Other MMOs do specifically say in the EULA/ToS that they own screenshots but I don't really have an issue with that. I have a vague memory of reading some EULAs that did say that images created of your characters belong to you, but I have no idea which game or games that might have been. I do read EULAs but only once!


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