Xfire is a gamer centric program (I refuse to use the word app) used primarily for instant messaging. It has a variety of other uses my favorite being its ability to track which games you are playing and how many hours you have spent playing said game. I have a strange fascination with the amount of hours I have actually spent on each game. It feels very much like a metagame to me where I see which game manages to grab my attention for longest any given week. It has also opened my eyes to the fact that my perceived game time and my actual game time are usually at odds with each other.
I have been using Xfire for a few years now and here is what my gaming history looks like:
Little disclaimer here: There were long stretches where I was not using Xfire and therefore this list is not entirely accurate. If it were World of Warcraft would surely surpass the 3000 hour mark. Other games (especially those which use a launcher to start) are not always recognised by Xfire (I am sure I played League of Legends for quite a bit longer than the amount shown) while other games are not featured at all.
What I can say for sure though is that the hours displayed for LotRO, Rift and GW2 are relatively up to date, and it is those games which I refer to here. I have been playing quite a bit of LotRO lately since Riders of Rohan came out and I am scrambling through the levels as fast as I can so I can get to experience mounted combat. Alas, I am still at level 74. The general consensus up till now is that Turbine has released an excellent expansion which introduced enough new elements to make the game feel fresh again. The quality of this expansion and the fact that Ken Rolston has been hired by Turbine got me quite excited about LotRO’s future.
Having paid for a full year’s worth of Rift I frequently find myself visiting the beautiful Telara. I am slowly but steadily leveling my mage and trying out different soul configurations. I feel the soul mechanic is one of the strong aspect of Rift. This ‘talent’ based system evokes the tried and tested (and now also defunct) ‘vanilla WoW’ feel. At the same time it is flexible enough to allow players to experiment at their own leisure. In this regard it is closer to Blizzard’s Diablo III which allowed players to switch abilities on the fly. There is definitely room for improvement. For one the obligation of having to train new abilities proves to be an annoyance when it comes to trying out new builds. Although the impact of this requirement has been somewhat lessened with a handy ‘train all’ button but you still have to travel to a trainer to upgrade any new skill/ability you acquire. Also, the ability to make changes to a build without having to re-start from scratch would definitely be a welcome addition.
In any MMO you get what you put in and with that in mind I decided to join a Rift guild. It worked wonders in LotRO so I am guessing it will help me stick around longer in Rift as well. Using the handy Guild Finder tool I decided to apply for a spot in The Elders guild who were looking for mature members who are able to strike a balance between enjoying life outside of the game while at the same time being able to contribute to the guild by participating in groups and events whenever possible. The Elders duly accepted my application on the basis that I play a dwarf in-game. Sounds like an extremely valid reason to me. Judging from the time spent within the guild so far I can say that its a good fit. These people are friendly, funny and very helpful. Really, what more could anyone ask for? Hopefully by the end of the trial month they will think the same of me and allow me to stay on board. I fear might have shared one too many fart jokes on the guild channel.
And finally I get to discuss Guild Wars 2. I was extremely surprised that, in total, I have spent 136 hours playing this game. It is quite a big number especially considering that I have practically stopped playing the game shortly after I hit level 80. That means I accumulated all those hours in a measly three weeks. Maths fans will tell me that it roughly amounts to an average or seven hours playtime per day which is quite impressive by my standards. Even more impressive if you consider I was abroad for five days during those three weeks. However GW2 turned out to be a fast explosion rather than slow burning ember in my case. The minute I hit level cap I lost all interest in the game. There are a variety of reasons for this which I may or may not explore in some detail in another post. Arenanet took some bold design decisions which solved some common MMO problems but created new ones. And while I appreciate most of the changes made to core aspects of MMOs I think I prefer the more traditional games in the genre. Hopefully some of the positive features which appeared in GW2 (such as persistent NPCs and the dynamic storytelling) will find their way into future and current MMOs. To my delight this is already happening to a degree. The change of heart with regards to open tapping by Turbine and Blizzard is one notable example.