Thursday, March 8, 2012

Toasters

I received a comment on the blog that, as insulting as the poster meant to be, contains a bit of truth.
"People with crappy computers that can play wow on low settings think they can play star wars and when they cant they complain about it. Go buy a new pc and if you cant afford one maybe its because you been playing wow so damn much you forgot that you need a job to be able to afford such things."
Since the commenter left this on a post where I discussed how I thought combat wasn't very smooth in SWTOR amongst a bunch of positive aspects of the game, I will say now I do not subscribe to the second sentence.  But I can relate to the first because that was my experience when I moved from World of Warcraft to EverQuest 2.

I think everyone expects other games to be like the first game they play, and my first MMO was WoW.  Quite frankly, WoW could run on a toaster, which in business terms meant the game had a wider potential audience than its competitors.  When I quit playing WoW and moved on to EQ2 the same laptop that ran the Blizzard game fine was unplayable when I hit the teens in the SOE offering.  The game was so bad that I was going to quit and started looking for another game.  I saw this new game coming out, Vanguard, that looked really good but had high system requirements.  So I did the research and bought a computer that met Vanguard's published recommended requirements.  I then installed EQ2 on the machine and it was like playing a different game.  The graphics were beautiful and the combat was smooth.  I forgot about playing Vanguard and played EQ2 for another 3 years.

Eventually if an MMO runs long enough and successfully enough a graphics upgrade will occur.  Graphics upgrades mean players upgrading their computers in order to keep playing.  Eve Online experienced this last year with the release of the Incarna expansion.  Players were very surprised when they could no longer run multiple clients because their computers were no longer good enough to do so.  These complaints led to CCP finally giving in and allowing players to opt-out of loading Captain's Quarters.  Even the traditionally toaster-friendly WoW upgraded its graphics engine with the release of Cataclysm in December 2010.  Did anyone do a study to find out how many players quit WoW because of that?



A worse problem than upgrading a game's graphics engine (required to compete with newer games) is when the recommended system requirements prove inadequate to run a game smoothly.  That was the complaint I read when surfing the official SWTOR forums during the few weeks I played.  Players, especially ones who purchased new computers to run a game because of the hype, get really irritated if they spend a lot of money only to find out they did not spend enough.  Fortunately for me, my computer met the recommended specs and reading the forums I found out the funny behavior was underoptimized code and not my computer.  I really hope Bioware gets that fixed because I really would like to see a game set in the Star Wars universe.

So what is left for people who love their toasters or just can't afford to upgrade?  Browser based games seem to be the choice, although as long as CCP doesn't up the requirements again I should be okay.

No comments:

Post a Comment