Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Two-Month Itch

I find myself up against a rather unexpected rough patch in my WoW-detox. It’s been two months now and I haven’t looked back. My life is richer, fuller and for the most part happier, but just recently I’ve been experiencing waves of Warcraft nostalgia, wondering to myself “what if, just what if I made a brand new character from scratch on a realm where nobody knows me?” Even typing those words just got me worryingly excited.

It’s funny the small things that keep cropping up to remind me of WoW. I’m reading Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island at the moment, having become an avid bookworm since The Big Quit. You would think all the pirate talk would have me absorbed in Jim Hawkins’ world, but all I can think about are The Bloodsail Buccaneers, Booty Bay and Scalawag Island (remember that fantastic chain of pirate quests just off the coast of Howling Fjord? That was always one of my favourite parts of the game).

The trouble is, I’m still in that gaming mentality. I’m still gaming a lot, adventure games, point and clicks, text-based stuff mostly. I thought other games would help me wean myself away from WoW, but it’s like sitting myself in the same comfy chair, same laptop on my knee, making those same mouse clicks. My brain is saying “Hey, I was expecting some WoW-related release of serotonin from this situation, where is it? Why aren’t I getting it?” At least I can justify the other games a little bit though; I’ve been in touch with a game review website and I’m currently working on writing a couple of reviews for them. That will make a nice addition to my writing portfolio.

The annoying thing is there are so many other activities I could be doing. I have a beautiful half-finished Georgian dolls house to decorate, before I abandoned it to WoW. I had all these plans to read more, to learn Japanese, to get back into writing my novel. I’m actually starting an Open University course in Psychology next month so I will really need to knuckle down and stop gaming so much then. So, although I am teetering on the edge of the Game Addiction pit, I am still a long way from falling to the bottom where the WoW-monster lurks.

When I quit WoW some guys from my guild said “We’ll give you three months”. I am so determined to prove them wrong and you know what? I had a scary moment or two there, but I really think I will.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Epic Fail

I've been falling into a worrying frame of mind recently. You may remember I decided to make it physically impossible to give into playing WoW again - destroying the disks, destroying the authenticator etc. Well, I thought I had found a game to occupy my restless gaming fingers, until I noticed similar behavioural patterns cropping up again. I thought I should warn former addicts about this game, and when I explain, you'll see why it could become dangerous.

The game in question is The Sims Medieval. For those who don't know, it introduces the RPG element into The Sims, so you have quests, professions and fantastical storylines. Sound familiar? In short, The Sims Medieval is what WoW would be if you took out the button-mashing element, the obnoxious other players and the monthly subscription fee. You can even do things like herbalism, and mining - it's a very strange feeling rushing for a node and then realising that no one else is going to steal it.

So you can see why any ex-Wow player would love this. Unfortunately I found myself rushing to play as soon as I finished work and finding the whole evening would fly by in a blur. At 11pm I'd go to bed with dishes still stacked high in the kitchen, my mind still buzzing with the pixels that had electronically stimulated my pleasure centres.

I had to nip it in the bud fast. I'm not criticising EA Games in the slightest - The Sims is a great franchise still going strong after eleven years, and The Sims Medieval was a much needed development in its evolution. But be warned former WoW players, it might leave you hankering after a little more than you bargained for.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Point and Click

Before I got into WoW I was a point and click junkie. My nerves can't really handle games that move in "real-time", where you daren't take a breather for fear of some bloodthirsty zombie leaping around the corner at you. I like puzzle solving, exploring and getting really immersed in another world.

I've started playing a game that's a couple of years old now, called "Dark Fall: Lost Souls". It's the third in a series, but you don't need to have played the first two as the story stands up perfectly well on its own. You play a police inspector investigating the disappearance of a little girl called Amy, who vanished five years ago, and the inspector's never been able to forgive himself for failing to solve the case the first time around. The story is set in the ficticious town of Dowerton, a decrepit, deserted ghost town filled with eerie symbollism; rusty scissors, satanic markings on the walls and mannequins taking the place of the town's former citizens.

I've loved the game so far. It's played on my mind a lot even away from the screen, which is how you identify a really good point and click mystery in my opinion. There are some disturbingly scary moments, notably one scene where you have a timed puzzle to solve, and a creature called a "Forgotten One" lurches towards you in a frightening stop-frame animation type sequence brought about by a malfunctioning light bulb.

My only criticism of Dark Fall (and it is a biggie, if I'm honest) is an awful bug where if you move your cursor too close to the edge of the screen the cursor disappears, meaning the game is unplayable and the only option is to Ctrl+Alt+Delete. My advice is SAVE OFTEN, although I really should practice what I preach as I lost a whole evening of game play last night thanks to this bug. You'd think they'd have released a patch since it's been out since 2009.

Overall I'd thoroughly recommend Dark Fall if you're looking for an immersive, atmospheric game you can dip in and out of without developing a WoW-style addiction.

Oh, and I've started another blog based around my rediscovered love of reading. There's not much there yet but if you'd like to follow my book reviews and literary meanderings then check out:

Until next time strong, stay logged off ;-)