Justin Achilli

Tag: vaguely historical

Katabasis

You know what MMO I want? I want a very specific MMO with three things.

I'm all up in ur phalanx, killing ur hoplites.

I want a game that takes place in Late Antiquity, after the death of Alexander the Great, when his generals were stealing his corpse and propping it up at their camps to show that they were the favored military/ political leader in the absence of a legitimate heir and that everyone else could go chase themselves — until someone else stole the corpse and became the hotshot general. But I don’t want to have to know piles upon piles of historical minutiae. I just want the period in broad strokes, and to be able to play it from there. I want to hurl an Iron Age javelin at a dude and wear a clunky breastplate and maybe stab a guy with a spathe, but I don’t want it to be in a generic Middle Ages environment.

My game also needs freeform unit composition, but with awesome matchmaking. That is, I want to make whatever kind of soldier I feel like at character creation, and then I want to be able to join any “guild” I feel like, and I want the game’s socialization tools to help me find the sort of army for my specific playstyle. That way, the individual player groupings can decide if they want to be focused groups specialized toward one specific tactic, or if they want to be generalists, who take all of the playable character types and adapt their own unique approaches.

Finally, I want persistence. I want character advancement, sure, but I also want to be able to acquire territory and win battles that affect the world and that actually mean something after I log out and log back on. We seized Bactria, you sons of bitches! Now, in gameplay, you have to take it away from us, and we have to defend it. But while we own it, we gain a benefit from it, or we have access to an asset otherwise not available, or we even get a special item available in shops. Whatever. But the point is that we took it, we own it, and it means something.

There. There’s my completely rational, totally doable, niche-market list of terms. Please create a game for me, or please point me toward a game like this that already exists.

Uncomplicated

I’ve been watching the old British Robin of Sherwood series on DVD and it’s got me sort of nostalgic. I remember watching these back in the late 1980s on PBS and fell in love with them. Sure, the production values are a pretty dated, but the patina is part of why I think it’s so endearing. I even enjoy the dated soundtrack, which must have been performed on the cheapest synthesizers the band could find. My wife mocks me ruthlessly when I watch them, and she can’t make it through a single episode. Watching them brings me back to a time when I had far fewer responsibilities — not that I’m complaining, but there’s a certain sense of bittersweet innocence lost when I watch them.

Some amount of that has carried over into my gaming habits of late, too. I certainly wouldn’t say that I’m one of the new old-schoolers, but getting my hands dirty with the same reckless abandon I had in middle school really scratches an itch for me. No epic storylines, no massive characterization, no commitments is how I’ve been playing recently, and it’s pretty refreshing. There are times when gaming can be a chore, and that’s the last thing I want after a long day at the office building immersive and characterized. Don’t get me wrong, because that scratches another itch that’s maybe less frivolous. Then again, maybe the problem is that I’m too itchy.

So maybe the show didn’t age well, but being able to just enjoy it is a real pleasure, just like being able to put aside the velvet and absinthe of Vampire for a while is a refreshing change of pace. There are other Robin Hoods out there — the new BBC version seemed a bit glossy for my tastes and I’m tentatively looking forward to the new Russell Crowe production — but I have a soft spot for this one and the maybe “unsophisticated” but undeniably fun game philosophy of my early years.

(If you ant to get really nerdy with me about it, I much prefer the Michael Praed episodes to the Jason Connery ones, but I think the opposite might have been true when I was younger.)

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