Losing Patience

A lot of little, and not so little, things going on this past week or so that have really tested my patience, and shown me how little I possess. At least, when it comes to certain subjects.

Pain is the biggest (at the moment). I won’t claim to have a particularly high threshold for pain, though I have experienced enough to say I’m no lightweight (and have enough ink in particularly sensitive places to prove it). However, I’m not particularly good at constant, lasting pain. Minor surgery earlier this week has driven this fact home.

The positive side of having had this particular procedure is that I was told, by men in white coats who have authority to do so, that I would need to be off my feet for at least two days. And I could not lift anything heavy or do any strenuous work for at least a week. Talk about a free pass to game for a few days solid! Even the Missus couldn’t argue. The prospect of unrestricted gaming for a day or two definitely took the sting out of needing surgery (pun intended…sorry).

I had thought a day or two with LotRO would be great for catching up on some deeds and finally working my way into Enedwaith. Sadly, this was just not meant to be. A pattern seems to be arising in my time with LotRO; I have the motivation and the desire, but too often “other things” get in the way.

The easiest to address is a recent rash of computer issues I’ve been having. I’ve built my own machines for many, many years. No longer. I’m at an age and an income (and have a family with young kids) where the fun has gone out of tinkering. I have neither the time, nor the patience for this kind of nonsense. A warranty sounds mighty fine about now. Plus, a company such as CyberPowerPC will sell me a box with all the hardware I could need, including liquid cooling and overclocking if I want it, already assembled and with a warranty. No operating system, no monitor or peripherals (I already have those!). Sounds perfect.

However, as I don’t have the funds to purchase an entirely new machine, I’m stuck fixing what I do have. The technology gods must have been too kind to me in the past, because I’ve had several issues arise all at once, including bad RAM leading to frequent but random crashes (RMA for that one), my secondary hard drive completely died (and with it every install of every game I play), and last but certainly not least – I killed my motherboard yesterday trying to upgrade the BIOS. Another RMA for my stupidity. The good times keep on rolling.

All I can say is I’m thankful for Roku and Netflix, or I would be back at work despite the doctor’s orders.

But more than the hardware problems, I’ve found myself playing a lot of FPSs (First Person Shooters) more over the past few weeks. There’s something about the immediacy of the gameplay that has been very appealing recently. It’s active, energetic, often frantic, and constantly engages me in a way that MMOs haven’t. It’s immediate gratification; a lot of the reason Vindictus was so appealing at first (until it started giving me migraines, that is). I love the strategy and skill necessary for LotRO, but I find I’m losing patience with the pace, and an FPS is the perfect remedy.

I revisited Half Life and Half Life 2 for repeat playthroughs, and finally sat down and played some Borderlands (which I’ve owned for a long time but never bothered to install). I never gave Borderlands a fair shake when it was released, and I can say now that I regret it.

The issue was that my first experience of the game was on my sister’s Playstation, which is not my native platform and on which, I am still convinced, shooters are horrible. Give me a mouse and keyboard or give me death (which happens to me a lot in console shooters). It’s just not the natural way to play these games. Additionally, I think the game has a somewhat punishing starter area, the Arid Badlands. If you can’t play through that area in a sitting or two, the respawns make it incredibly annoying. And until you get a good class mod (preferably with ammo regeneration) and a good shield, the game is actually quite challenging to the point of slightly frustrating. The challenge doesn’t drop off after this, it just changes in how the player is challenged. It shifts from a resource management/scrounging challenge to a strategic attacks/überlewts challenge. I prefer the latter.

Borderlands is a franchise just begging for the MMO treatment (by which I mean an open world more than the current multiplayer). Considering that Gearbox appears to have borrowed from some standard MMORPG mechanics – quests and quest hubs, crazy variations of loot drops, and a basic RPG skill system – it would only take a few tweaks to make this a serious contender as an MMO. Things like open world multiplayer, full gear customization (beyond just a player’s weapons), and a bit more depth on the character building would be a great start. Also, a ton of work to fully flesh out the world – it’s big, but it would need to be much bigger. They even have vehicles and fast travel already built. They’ve shown they can deliver story. And I seem to remember something about procedural generation of monsters, or something like that. Give us an in-game mail system and an auction house and they’d be launching with more than some “AAA” MMOs that have launched recently (I’m looking at you, Square Enix…).

If Gearbox were to launch a Borderlands MMO, I’d put down some serious money to play it. The action is non-stop and the gameplay is top tier. I love the visuals. And the game is hilarious! It’s been too long since I’ve truly laughed while playing a game; we take ourselves too seriously sometimes. Tolkien is great for epic drama, and Turbine has even worked in a good amount of humor (considering the source material), but they get a chuckle at most. Gearbox had me nearly in tears at a few points, though that could be the painkillers as much as the game itself.

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