Square Enix's FINAL FANTASY XI (FFXI) is the first massively multiplayer online role playing game I actually sat down to "play" as opposed to merely "dabble in". After spending 120+ hours of playing since the release of the PS2 version, I'm seriously weighing whether to cancel my account, for a number of factors described herein. The biggest issue seems to be the "massively multiplayer role playing" part.

What is the last great CRPG? Three names come to mind for this gamer: Fallout 1&2, Planescape Torment, and Baldur's Gate 2; the latest of these three being BG2. After thinking long and hard, I cannot think of a single CRPG to top those 3 (Or 4, if you're counting.) Why is that?


Ahhh yes, another rant about Blizzard. Don't you love it? I start this off with one statement; Money Maps bite the big'un. How can you in all honesty say you're a melee-player, but have NEVER played something as simple as Lost Temple? This map is fairly much the Ladder world as it stands. . .and I've known people with 1000-25-0 records, all Easy Money. Of course, I challenge them to any map that doesn't have four hundred THOUSAND minerals per patch, and wipe the floor with them. Now I've played with great players, Random being one of them, if you know what I'm talking about, and I still don't understand how this works.

So there you are, battle hardened LAN warrior, armed with master-forged mouse and stout keyboard, your ATI Raedeon 9700 Pro strapped across your back as you cross the Rubicon of your friend's threshold and into the Local Access Network Arena. You've got your gear. . . but are you really ready? It's not enough to only whet the edge of your own processor, a LAN party is a team game, and everyone needs to pull together to make it run smoothly.

Lately, I've gotten back into gaming. After my drought of playing video games, I decided why not give it another try? So of course I throw myself in headfirst, without thinking of the consequences. My first game was Starcraft, which is an extremely enjoyable battle-sim. . . when played properly. I began to go to a few games, and things work out fine. About my fifth game, I got a short, albeit quick, reminder of why I quit in the first place. Just as I'm wiping out a colony of the enemy, they (for reasons still unknown to me) reveal they were hacking. Enraged, I decided to just give up that day.

While gamers have been rolling dice in basements and bedrooms for well over twenty years now, on a relative scale, online role-playing is still many years behind. MUDs and other text based role-playing options began the internet phenomena which has branched out into full fledged 3D games that have years of planning and thousands (sometimes millions) of dollars invested.

From memory, it all started with Quakeworld. Online gamers, previously at best able to pick a colour and nick name to signify their character, suddenly became able to download or create their own skins. Online gaming was revolutionised, you could proudly display your personality clearly for all to see.

I decided to devote this column to showing you all what I do in a typical night of EverQuest. When I sit at the computer to play some EQ, I have 3 roommates periodically peering over my shoulder saying, "What the hell do you do in this game!? You just run around and kill things?!" Well boys and girls, read this column and I'll tell you what I do. Pay attention, take notes.

New computer game companies are appearing and disappearing faster than ever before. I personally have to clean out my browser "favourites" at least once a month, to eliminate useless links. Even well respected sites are often riddled with lost URLs. I have heard many complicated theories to explain the chaos of the business. Marketers speculate a move into the maturity phase of the product life cycle, and Economists figure substitutions have made the demand curve too elastic. Experts can blame oligopolies or equilibrium till the cows come home, there is always an exception to the rule.

In the fall of 2000, I was hip-deep in an addiction to Diablo II. It was the sequel to a multi-million dollar seller a few years previous. At the same time, I was working for a web development firm in Denver, Colorado, called Breckenridge Communicatioins. At this company, my role was that of Senior Programmer, and my responsibilities were to fill the role of the ColdFusion & JavaScript developer. Through a series of mishaps, I blew a CPU and Motherboard, and lacked the necessary funds to replace them in a timely fashion. Since I had to resort to using a lowly Pentium II 300 in the meantime, I had to satisfy my Diablo II hunger in some other fashion.

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