Daily Elysium: The Hopeless Optimist

MicrosoftÂ's recent announcement of their upcoming MMORPG Mythica sent me very publicly into a slathering, drooling, and disturbingly incontinent frenzy of unbridled enthusiasm. Looking over the carefully cynical views of many gaming sites and forums I discovered quickly that there are two things the modern gamer just wonÂ't stand for: one is bitmaps and the other is unbridled enthusiasm. And, really, who can blame this distrust? Can't we each rattle off a personal machine-gun laundry list of games that we made the horrible error of being excited about only to find ourselves, following buggy releases and cliched gameplay, thrust casually aside into a spiked pit of oozing ennui? Anarchy Online release, anyone?

And yet, I refuse to be that guy. No, not that guy ordering a cheeseburger, the one standing next to him with his hands stuffed furiously into his pockets and a creased expression of supreme disdain who's already convinced that this cheeseburger is nothing to look forward to, that the fries will be tepid and unsalted, that the drink will have too much syrup, and that before the day is out he will step in something unsavory like the festering remains of his dead ebullience. Read on, and IÂ'll tell you about the guy I want to be.

I donÂ't think you have any business running a gaming website if the one thing you hate more than a really nasty planterÂ's wart is developers and the games they make. If you feel like youÂ've, at some point, been personally wronged by folks who make video games, and refuse to open yourself up to that kind of hurt again, then maybe itÂ's time to take a step back and breathe deeply. The worst game IÂ've ever played is only an affront to the sensibilities of my pocket book, and really isnÂ't something I can take as a personal insult. It sounds obvious to say it, but listen to people talk about Daikatana some time. I mean, these folks are actually mad.

It seems that there is an ebb and flow to the digital fist-shaking that gamers participate in. There is always at least one genre which has become so popular that to support any forthcoming addition is to creep cat-like up on your unsuspecting credibility, and garotte it but good. Wander in to most any internet gaming forum and express an irrepressible, candid enthusiasm for, say, Star Wars Galaxies, and watch as a mob of angry gamers assail you with adjective laden, randomly misspelled castigation. There is just no room now for that kind of wanton excitement in a realm of practiced contempt. Worse still, say something positive about Horizons. ThereÂ's a good chance people will throw heavy nouns with sharp corners at you like bricks or bridges.

WhatÂ's wrong with enthusiasm? WhyÂ's it such a four-letter word? CanÂ't you people count? Ten letters! It has ten letters, not four!

So IÂ'm excited, enthusiastic, and senselessly hopeful about Mythica. They said all the right things to get me excited, to make me think thereÂ's hope for the genre from a development house thatÂ's produced quality work in the past. I mean you play a Norse freakinÂ' God, dig right into to doing Norse God things like smiting, drinking, or maybe smiting and drinking at the same time. No piddling around with small divine vermin for you, youÂ've got worshipers to impress by hitting very large often fiery creatures with dense wooden weapons. You have the opportunity to play in individually instantiated play-spaces, not just featureless rooms Anarchy-Online fashion. The game is based on the idea of putting you straight into the epic, the megalithic, the grand, and doing it in such a way that you can craft your own playstyle, group with your own set of friends, and maybe experience the genre in an entirely new way. Will all of this be in the final version? Who knows, but itÂ's worth getting excited over.

The truth is that my cynicism, when I haul out as my own personal hardcore gamer badge - who keeps giving this thing back?  I'll just have to turn it in again - is a completely practiced face. Certis has said of me before that I have all the self-control of a crack monkey sitting on a big pile of crack, and the truth is heÂ's right. I love games. I love playing them, and tasting them, and exploring them, and abandoning myself to their full development cycle. For me, the best part of a game is sometimes that building excitement that leads to release. Sometimes itÂ's the validation of playing a terrific game that youÂ've ached to play for months. And sometimes, itÂ's just about being excited for the future of gaming.

So, yeah IÂ've got my laundry list of games IÂ'm disappointed with. IÂ've got an equally long list of games that I loved in a variety of non-sexual ways. Add to that the list of games I canÂ't wait to play and you can color me a hopeless optimist.