29 December 2009

Questing for MMOs

Wow (no pun intended), time really does fly. A whole month since my last post? What have I been up to? Oh yeah, a whole lotta nothing...

I've never had any interest in online gaming. Playing games to me has been something akin to watching movies or reading books: it's about stories, and larger than life characters, the kind you tend to find in (more or less) linear games. There's no place for other people in games like that. And, frankly, I'm not that interested in the company of total strangers anyway.

But I keep running into the MMORPG world wherever I turn: I started watching The Guild, and it was fun. Friends talk about them. And of course it's hard to surf the geeky websites I surf without constantly hearing about them. So I start thinking: am I missing out on something? And suddenly I find myself yearning to explore a new world, with a character I've created myself, instead of following a character in someone else's story.

Probably I'll just get bored in no time at all and return to my usual console adventures. But might as well give it a shot, I thought. Which is when I ran into a wall. Namely, was there any MMORPG I could play even if I wanted to? First, there's no way I'm going to pay a huge monthly subscription fee. Ok, there's a fair amount of games out there that are free to play. But getting one to work on my machine is a whole other matter, seeing as I run GNU/Linux, on a 2007 model MacBook, which doesn't exactly boast huge amounts of memory or graphics capabilities.

Now, there's a fair amount of Windows games that should run with Wine. I tried several, with no luck. Native GNU/Linux games aren't exactly bountiful. There's PlaneShift, an open source project (with proprietary content) that looks interesting, but the listed system requirements looked too daunting to even try it... (Namely, they explicitly listed a newer model graphics card than the one in my MacBook.)

Then there's The Mana World, which I should make particular mention of as I recently posted about games that are entirely Free Software. This project aims to create a totally free 2D MMORPG, with an appearance similar to mid-90's console RPG's. It's very much a work in progress, however, and doesn't yet offer much in the way of races, classes or other character customisation, or story... In short, nothing really to hook me. Still, it does run on my machine, and I respect it for the Free Software approach, even though I doubt I'll spend much time playing it as it is now.

I'd pretty much given up hope of finding anything else, when I ran into Regnum Online, which, surprisingly enough, has a GNU/Linux client available. Even more surprisingly, it actually seems to run, more or less (at least with all graphics options set to minimum). It's much too early to say if the game is any good, or even if it's stable enough to actually play. As I said, most likely I'll get bored in no time and move on to something different. But at least I'd have tried.