It's the holidays and so, of course, I've been playing more Kingdom of Loathing than is strictly good for me. It's a hoot, and well worth the $0 monthly fee, and a few things struck me:
First off, it's not really a MMOG/VW. It has pretty much all of the features that we expect in MMOGs these days--adventures, drops, PvP, marketplaces, meat-themed skill-trees, etc etc--but there's something missing. Maybe it's the absence of 3D or 2.5D graphics (or pretty much any graphics, come to think of it) or the fact that you can't adventure with anyone at all. Or maybe it's because you are explictly limited to 40 adventures a day. But whatever it is, it just isn't a VW, and I don't feel bad about not including it in the list of large VWs on the left of your screen, even though it has around 100K players. So I wonder what it takes for a game to be a MMOG/VW? What are the necessary & sufficient conditions?
Second, it seems to me that there are a helluva lot of MMORPGs that could use a sense of humor. It's odd how even boring grinds become tolerable when there is a warped sense of humor behind the design ("You are fighting a possesed can of asparagus--it tries to asparastab you in the leg", etc). I mean, I generally don't care when I see a new monster in a MMOG, because it's mostly more of the same. But with KoL I actually read the details of the combat, and find myself chuckling a lot.
Then there's the situation that I encountered today, which I still don't really understand. I've been playing along for about the last 3 weeks and have managed to grind my way up to level 4, and have about 1000 meat (which is the currency of the world). Yet when I check the stats of others at my level, they've been playing for about 3 days and have 500,000 meat. So either I'm really really bad at this game, or they've been getting some help. Since they're usually clanned-up (ie guildmembers) I'm assuming that they've been given most of their meat/stuff. At first I was really pissed off at this, which is my usual first response to eBayers and their eval ilk. And then I wondered why anyone would bother. I mean, what is there to gain in this? Which is my usual second response to eBayers and sad ilk. Of course there's no correct solution here. It doesn't really matter to my gameplay if someone else has a kentucky-fried sword, even if they don't somehow "deserve" it. But it's kinda interesting in a game as centred on the individual as KoL that (1) there is a lot of twinking going on, and (2) I should be even-a-little bit pissed off by it.
Anyway, that's enough for this posting. Gotta go smith some meat.