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Like oh-so-many of the gamers in this day and age, I decided to try World of Warcraft some time after the hype kicked in.  I was immediately captivated.  I still remember that first time, as a night elf rogue, listening to that speil about the “catastrophic invasion of the burning legion”, then venturing out into the lush forests of Teldrassil with absolutely no clue what I was doing.  I died several times in the first hour, usually from jumping off the giant seaborne tree.  It was magical.

I continued through the game, scrounging every penny I could just to pay for one more month of gameplay…Then, after quitting and rejoining, I got my first 70-A Resto druid named Alvanas.  And life was happy for a time.  Until circumstances forced me out of a job, and I had no choice but to quit.

While lack of money was the motivation for the dropping of this drug, I must admit that after a bit of time, I realized what I thought was unthinkable.  I was actually happier now that I had quit.  It sounds crazy, I know, but I have my reasons.  For instance…

7. Noobs

We all have had to deal with these creatures at some point I’m sure.  These aren’t just people who are new to the game, those are at least tolerable, since we’ve all been there at some point.  What I’m talking about are the moron priests who join a party to go into Deadmines, refuse to heal, die three times, ninja every item, then admit that their mom is calling them for dinner and that they have to go in a couple minutes (Rejoicing ensues amongst other party members.)  These players need to die.

Now, I’m willing to be sympathetic if you have a schedule, even if it i your (*snigger*) Mom who arranges it.  I was 12 once too.  But waiting until there’s three minutes left before you have to go is very uncool.  Also, if you rolled a priest, you better damn well expect to be a healer early on.  Did you honestly expect a class based off a religious figurehead title to be much of a fighting type?  As for ninjaing, you can only click “Need” accidentally so much before I lose it.  Go read the fucking manual before you play the damn game.  You only had days worth of download and install time to read it before you played.

6. Barrens/Trade Chat

Let me tell you about a little game that was played on my server.  We called it “Dragonheart Flameshield”.  The idea of the game is that players go into chat, and spout various memes, pop culture references, movie/music quotes, etc., but replace various key words with a link to an item called “Dragonheart Flameshield”.  A classic example would be “All Your Dragonheart Flameshield Are Belong To Us”.  Yeah, I don’t get it either, but to each his own.  The problem with the “game” was that it was played in trade chat, since item links didn’t work many other places.  And thus game became spam.

Trade chat (And formerly, Barrens chat) was notorious for being so spammy that it drove everyone else crazy.  And I’ll be the first to admit that I did contribute to that spam without thinking from time to time.  Conversations simply had a tendency to flock to trade chat, since it spanned over five cities on each side (Including the burning crusade, that is.)  Without anything more widely social, Trade chat lost its purpose in the name of chatter.  But I don’t really blame the players for this.  I blame the developers.  All they had to do was create a global social chat for each side, and everyone would have been happy.  And I have no clue why they didn’t want to do that, but it never did happen.

And for those of you who say “take it to private messages”, you know as well as I do how hard it is to hold down a multi-person conversation in replies.

5. Gnomes

If I heard that goddamned laugh one more fucking time, I swear to god I would have started slaying every midget I saw in real life.  And Gnomeregan did absolutely nothing to help matters.

4. Addiction

We’ve all heard the stories about the couple who played WoW so much that their child starved to death, or the silly jokes about WoW being a great birth control device.  And everyone who plays it insists that they can handle it.  And then, THEN, that’s when they play it and discover just how wrong they are.

I lost a girlfriend over WoW, and failed a class as well.  It’s such a huge time eater, that you’ll find yourself getting on in the morning to do a quick checkup on your auctions, only to spend the next ten hours trying to track down that one last Primal Might you need for that elusive armor which reportedly will make your character crap rainbows and burp flowers and bunnies.  There is no way to explain it.  It is literally so much fun that if somebody offered me a magical drug that gave me an orgasm every ten minutes for the rest of my life yet managed to keep the feeling from getting old, and all I would have to do is give up WoW, I’d have to turn him down because I just need a few more gold for my epic flying mount.

Do not underestimate its power.  I was lucky I ran out of money and was unableto play, or I would have lost a lot more than just a girlfriend and a grade.

3. Guilds

Now don’t get me wrong here.  People are great.  Friends especially.  And if I get on, I want to hang out and chat with friends.  But what I don’t like are the people who call themselves your ‘friends’ but really only want you to be their obedient little pet, and help them out with every little quest they have.  “Oh, but you’re such a high level, and I’m so low, can’t you give a newbie a little help?”  The problem is that if I help one of them, I have to help all of them when they ask for it.  And since each one of them takes about an hour to help with their little quest here, or instance there, it ends up taking my entire day just to help all these lovely ‘friends’ who never give you a goddamn thing in return.

And then there are the frat boy guilds.  I managed to end up in one of these, and it drove me crazy. They know how to play, and they do it well, but I really don’t find it that funny that you ‘teabag’ every boss you beat, then take a screenshot to post on the guild myspace page later amongst pictures of popped-collar loonies chugging with a beer bong.  You’re playing a role-playing game as a goddamn dwarf, and you honestly think you’re a badass?  I think you need to lay off the tequila.

2. The Power Gamers

I spent months getting my first toon to level 70.  I did the usual things, getting the quests, beating the instances, and if I came across something I couldn’t beat, I would go grind quests somewhere else until I leveled up a couple times, then went back and beat what was such a huge challenge a few days earlier.  I did all this expecting that when I hit 70, I’d be using the toon to PvP against other characters similar to my own in power and ability.

But apparently ‘playing’ isn’t in some players’ dictionaries.  Once I hit 70 and went into Karazhan with my first group, I found out that I was apparently some complete lunatic for not spending weeks of my life grinding honor in the battlegrounds just to get the best possible gear in the game.  I was kicked out of the group for being badly geared.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t WoW supposed to be a GAME?  And, this may sound crazy, but isn’t the object of a game to HAVE FUN?  If your definition of fun is trying to corral some 15 or so complete strangers in a match against a premade in Arathi Basin, you need to get your fucking head examined.  No matter how hard you try, everyone who gets in a non-premade AB will end up with a lot of low-levels, a lot of rogues who stealth the whole battle, a lot of healer-classes that don’t want to heal, and a lot of other people who will fight over battle strategy while the Horde takes the Stables AGAIN.

And since BGs are such a wonderfully annoying experience, I honestly don’t care that I’m giving up the best possible gear for my class at that level in exchange for my sanity.  You powerusers can all go rot in Alterac Valley for all I care.

1. Raid Dungeons

These were by far the most incredibly tedious, frustrating creations in the whole wide World of Warcraft.  Regular instanes were bad enough: Trying to find a healer or a tank would take hours, and the you’d always have the one person who leaves early (See: #7, Noobs), it was horrible, and if it weren’t for the gear, I never would have bothered.  Honestly, with all the waiting and stupidity, if all the enemies in Stratholm were jabbering at me in illegible accents, I might have confused it for the DMV.

And then, someone at Blizzard (Or Activision Blizzard, as they are now known) had the genius idea of taking these hellholes and supersizing them.  The group size was no longer something that you could arrange on the fly.  You were now required to SCHEDULE your excursions to WoW amongst other players, none of which would bother to show up at the scheduled time.  Then, the instances themselves were so insanely hard that you would have to plan every last movement of every last player.  So instead of being a fun cooperative strategic battle, it ended up with the party leader dictating everyone’s actions.  If anyone varied from these plans even in the slightest, it would probably do something stupid like pull the whole dungeon on you and your comrades, and then everyone dies and has a nice little walk in spirit form.

Once I actually got into Kara (I eventually buckled and got myself some gear by playing weeks on end in Alterac Valley, worst weeks of my life), My group constantly died, and usually not even because someone decided the plan wasn’t good for them.  It was usually because they would get disconnected, and the game has no mercy for less-than-perfect ISPs.  Eventually, I just said screw Kara altogether, and started a new toon to get back to the good old days, when WoW didn’t suck, and you could actually consider it a game instead of a second job.

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So I haven’t updated in a century.  Putting aside the fact that nobody cares, I do, in fact, have a good reason, and it comes in a neat little vector-flash package.  This reason is the Whirled Beta.

Several of you will remember a game from a couple years back called Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates! that combined the social aspects of an MMO with the swashbuckling fun of pirates, then screwed it up by making the pirates play puzzles instead of getting drunk and slicing up some Navy asshats.  Well, actually, it was a pretty good game, just a little too PG-13 for my tastes.

Anyways, the geniuses behind YPP, known collectively as Three Rings Entertainment, have decided to foray into the lazy world of user-created content.  The result is the game I linked above, Whirled.  It’s still in Beta, and I can already tell you it will rock.  It’s like if you took the game collection of Neopets, surgically removed the gay and commercialism, and mixed it with Second Life, sans furries and pervs.  The main game allows any player to create items in Flash (Or just PNGs if you’re a poor flashless bastard like myself.  :P), and upload said items, then sell them in the shop to other Whirledians.  And then, you can create backgrounds to put the items in, and link the rooms together with doors, and throw in some pets, and toys…And tons more.  Basically, you get to create your own little flash world for your little guy and your friends’ little guys to hang out in.  And chat.

The main stuff is actually really sparse.  There’s not much more to it than there is to Second Life…You’ve got user-created stuff, and a couple cool gadgets, and a chat.  So most of the social interaction there is limited to roleplaying, or small talk.  But but BUT, there is more.  The users can also make and upload their own games, programmed in Flash, for everyone to play.  These games can be one-player, or multi-player, and they can give you trophies (Their version of Acheivements), and coins, which can then be spent on crap in the store.  The games can even be attached to the main whirleds…It’s all really difficult to explain.

Listen, just play it.  The game is awesome.  And I’m in it.  If anyone gets in there, look me up.  I’m Amanwithnoname, just send me a message, and I’ll reply.  🙂  Then, we can put off updating our blogs.  Together.

P.S. For fans of Machall or 3 Panel Soul, you’ll find that Ian McConville, the artist behind both, is one of the guys at Three Rings.  His Whirled account is Cherub, if you feel like being a crazy stalker.

P.P.S. I’m heading out to Chicago to visit family for a couple weeks.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to, but I’ll try to keep updating.

Internet, I have a confession to make: I’m addicted to video games. They’re like crack for me, and they have been for ages. In fact, my earliest memories were of drooling on an NES controller, and watching Kirby glitch out on the screen. The flashing 16-bit colored dots enticed my brain, and have kept me captivated ever since. But my childhood wasn’t all Zeldas and Sonics. Many a Christmas was spent disappointed over the bizarre off-brand bargain games my family would buy me, thinking that anything bright and colorful would make me happy. And, sadly, they were right. Some of my favorite games to this very day are the ones which came from youthful discoveries brought on by cheapass parents. In fact, I just happen to have compiled a list of some of my favorite games that you probably never heard of, conveniently organized in a list which is most definitely NOT ripping off Cracked.com. I love you, Cracked, please don’t sue me!

Skunny

Skunny

First up, there’s Skunny. This was produced by Magic Touch for PC, and was actually the last in a series. The rest in the series were released as shareware, and they decided to make a commercial release to make some money off the incredible success the free games were having. Unfortunately, it flopped miserably, and now the company is basically caught in a crazy limbo, not quite gone, but not doing anything at all.

What’s it like?

It’s really a generic sidescroller, for the most part. It kinda plays like a mix between Donkey Kong Country and Sonic the Hedgehog, with several tweaks. But it actually came with over 100 levels, which take place in some bizarre parallel world where the Egyptians, Knights, Pirates, and Arabians all lived in the same era, and decided to fill their castles/pyramids/ships/palaces to the brim with ridiculous traps, priceless treasures, enormous pinball bouncers, and the obligatory “mine cart levels”.

What’s so great about it?

Well, the gameplay alone is pretty good. The controls are pretty tight, and the level design is complicated enough to be fun, but simple enough to be relatively self-explanatory. I’ve gotten lost more than once in the game, and had a good time getting out. Each level also has a good number of hidden areas and secret goodies for anyone with enough time to collect them all. But the real selling point is that the game actually comes with a built-in level editor! Every single item you saw in the actual levels can be found in the level editor, and it all works really well (Although it will take some figuring out with the portals and switches).

Cool, where can I get it?

I’m not sure if they still sell it anywhere, but if you can’t find it, you can download the game here.

Final Fantasy Legends (I-III)

I know what you’re thinking. Final Fantasy, unknown? How is it possible? Well it is, and it isn’t. These games are final fantasy only in name and genre. For the most part, they’re pretty much the same idea as in the early final fantasy games, but with an added theme: A multi-planed world. Each of the three games has you start on one ‘layer’ of the world, and move your way to the other ones, either through a tower, or by time travel, or just by swimming. They’re all three for the original Game Boy, and all came out before the Final Fantasy name meant anything in America.

What’re they like?

They’re like Final Fantasy, with worse graphics. (Game Boy will do that.) The classes are different (Instead of mages you have mutants, and you can even get robots in the second one), and they each have their own little quirks. But more or less, it’s just a basic RPG: Lots of storytelling, lots of clicking ‘attack’ and ‘run’, and lots and lots of grinding your characters.

What’s so great about them?

Well, if you’re an RPG fan, you’ll love these. If not, you’ll hate them. The gameplay is incredibly basic but the level design is tremendous. Most RPGs stick you to digging around in caves and castles over and over, but some of the levels in the games include:

A post-apocalyptic city destroyed by a phoenix, with an underground society in the subway.

A priestess’s innards, trying to save her from a crazy monster in her head.

An underwater volcanic cave with a creepy stalker chasing you.

It’s really great stuff, and I actually like them better than the main series. Just don’t expect exciting, fast-paced gameplay.

Cool, Where can I get them?

I can only find them in the used games section of Gamestop, and on ebay. You’re on your own, bub.

Serious Sam series

This is an underground favorite of FPS-heads everywhere. It was developed by Croteam, a Croatian developer, but don’t worry, everything’s in English. Well, sortof. At times it seems more like the insane ramblings of that burnt-out old hippie who wanders around downtown with a tin-foil hat than real English. For example, one of the more common enemies you’ll encounter is actually a screaming headless guy rigged with explosives. Why? Well, why not.

What’re they like?

They’re all First-Person Shooters, pretty self-explanatory. You wander around, you shoot things, other things explode, and everyone has a good time. But your weapons over the various games get a little crazier than most games allow. One of my presonal favorite weapons is a cannon. Yes, a fucking cannon, like in a pirate ship. Croatians are awesome. Also, every single enemy you encounter has its own name, bio, and specs that you can look up at any time in the game, in case you were curious about just what makes those Kleer Skeletons “Kleer”.

What’s so great about them?

Besides insane weapons which make little to no sense, the games all have a great sense of humor. They do not take themselves seriously at all (Despite the name), and in fact, make fun of themselves. But the best part is the awesome community. These guys make levels, make mods, and even go so far as to screw around with the engine and make new games altogether. It’s like Doom, if Doom was made by mental patients.

Cool, where can I get them?

You can get the games, mods, engines, and other fun stuff from this great fan site.

Kingdom Of Loathing

Kingdom of Loathing is a game which can only be described as a massively-multiplayer-online-text- based-role-playing-game-with-stick-figures. And not only does it have a wholly unique genre, but a great sense of humor, especially if you’re a 14-year-old. For example? See, at one point in the game, there’s this Chasm, and there’s Orcs in it, and they call it an Orc Chasm. If you don’t get it, try saying it out loud. Okay, so it gets a bit immature at points, but it’s all worth it. And besides, this is the internet, who cares about maturity here?

What’s it like?

Well, it’s like nerd heaven, really. The main draw of the game is that every little thing that can happen in the game is punctuated by brilliant puns and pop culture references. There’s references to everything you can think of-From Goonies to Mario, from The Talking Heads to Pulp Fiction, they cover everything that has happened over the last 30 years. The best part is that once you beat the final boss as one character, you get to restart the game with a new class and some added features, or in a harder mode. You can also “save” a skill from that last ascension, and over time, you can actually collect every skill that every class learns, permanently.

What’s so great about it?

Well, besides the long-term replayability and a good sense of humor, the game has about as powerful a community as a MMOTBRPGWSF can get. They even have their own online radio station. They mostly play obscure 90’s music and classic rock, and the game’s creator, Jick, gets on air to answer questions that the people have. Not only that, but since it’s all HTML and Javascript, the players make greasemonkey scripts to mod the game, or even to set up bots (They’re legal in this game). But the number one thing that makes the game worth playing is that it’s FREE. 100% no-cost. Just give them your email address, choose a class (Disco Bandits rule) and start playing. Just make sure to stay clear of newbie chat.

Cool, so where can I get one?

You can start playing here.

Tales of Phantasia

ToP

I didn’t really put them in any particular order, since they all rock, but this one deserves its spot as number one. Tales of Phantasia is actually part of a series, but interestingly enough, the later games in the series made it to America before ToP did. You know that game, Tales of Symphonia? That’s the sequel. It was made by Namco for the Super Famicom (That’s what the Japanese call the SNES) back in 1995, and was incredibly sucessful in Japan, spawning sequels and even its own anime series. But unfortunately, it didn’t make it to american shores at first. Some think it was because of this scene: (Click to enlarge)

Others think it was because they didn’t think it’d make money over here. But that’s far less interesting. Eventually, they remade it for GBA, and that made it to America, but not until 2006. Until then, gamers in America had to settle for the translated emulator version set up by the friendly folks at DeJap translations.

What’s it like?

It’s like if an RPG made sweet, sweet love to a side-scrolling brawler, and the bastard child had spiky anime hair. The basic moving-around-the-map areas are all strictly RPG style, buying items, going to towns, and generally just advancing the storyline. But instead of going into a point-and-click attack system like most RPGs when you run into an enemy, it sends you into a side-scroller setup, where you beat the enemy to a pulp using your team’s various skills. You control the main character directly, and the other members can be controlled by 4 kinds of AI setup, as well as by manually choosing skills and targets.

What’s so great about it?

The insanely fresh and unique gameplay offered is definitely the best part about this game. It’s a new experience, to be sure, and it offers countless hours of replay, since no two battles happen the same way. Then, to throw in even more variation, you can actually get an item that will let you use all your combo attacks with key combinations, like an arcade fighting game. Still not enough? There’s also a complicated item-transformation system, where you can use rune bottles to turn one item into something entirely different. Sometimes better, sometimes not so better. And on top of all that, it has great music and graphics, especially for its time. You are almost guaranteed not to get bored in this game.

Cool, so where can I get it?

Well, I’d link you the emulator, but since the game is now on GBA in America, there may be legal problems with that. So you can either buy the game itself from your local video game retailer, or google “Tales Of Phantasia Emulator” and hope that the FBI isn’t watching you.

If you have any comments, complaints, suggestions, or cease-and-desists to give to A Man With No Name in private, you can email him at ablogwithnoname@gmail.com. Pictures are all screen captures or photos (By me), except for the Serious Sam box cover which I got off Wikipedia, and the Final Fantasy Legend pictures which came from Gamefaqs.