I said in prior posts that 2011 would be the year of the RPG, and it absolutely has been... just not in the way I originally thought it would be. The RPG playing has been of the Massively Multiplayer variety, as I crossed 100 hours total playtime in World of Warcraft, and have now added Everquest 2 to the mix as well. I don't know why I do this to myself, when the Old Republic is coming down the line. How can I say no to a Bioware Starwars MMO? But I can't afford 3 MMOs (cost plus time committment) so we'll see how that ends up.
After an overdose of MMO play, I might be inching back towards what will become an balance point between that and console play. I love the variety of things that can be done in an MMO, and the sense of having a vast world to explore. It's possible to solo if you just want to play alone, but there are always people to ask questions or group with on a whim. The random shenanigans and unscripted adventures MMOs can provide are fantastic. However, after all that play, something has dawned on me:
MMOs are NOISY.
I'm not talking about audio volume here, but rather the feeling of being bombarded by information. In terms of gameplay, there's a quest log full of things to do, abilities to learn, enemy info to assess, and much more. Look at screenshots from WoW and you can see how much information people try to pack onto their screens. Then there's other players flying around, combat text, guild message scrolling across the screen, General channels... WoW is actually QUIET compared to EQ2, as WoW gives each zone its own channel. EQ2 has channels for level ranges, which the community has used to turn the level 1-9 channel into the de-facto server-wide chat channel. And it's one damn noise channel if you don't opt out of it. Guarantee less than 1% of it has anything to do with the level 1-9 game.
The realization of how noisy MMOs are didn't come to me while I was playing them, but rather, once I had my hands on an Xbox controller again. It was refreshing while playing some Operation Flashpoint with my brother (that game may be the first to push us on our coop skills) or enjoying Venetica on my own, it felt nice to play a game and not get bombarded with a constant stream of information. When not playing MMOs, I do intend to keep chipping away at my console RPG goals, and Venetica is a start to that. I was in the mood for an RPG that I could pick up and start fresh, not delving back into a game I'd already logged more than 50 hours into (which will be the case when I return to New Vegas, Lost Odyssey, Eternal Sonata, and Dragon Age), or restarting a game from scratch (Divinity II, possibly FFXIII).
Will share more thoughts on Venetica, possibly in the form of a review, as I get farther into it. For now, let me just say I'm enjoying some gaming in a "quieter" atmosphere.