here there be fun!

I don’t like any of the MMORPG’s that I’ve seen. Some of them look like they’d be fun games, but most of them are full of idiots who seem to want to “win.” Given that an MMORPG is usually designed to be unwinnable, this leads to idiocy. On MU*’s, we’d call these people twinks. Their goal wasn’t to play the game as it was designed (as a place to play for fun) but to play to “win,” which generally meant “to get more powers and stuff than anyone else.”

I’d come to think of twinks as a fact of life, which is one of the reasons I’ve never connected any of my gaming consoles to the net. A few games, like A Tale in the Desert, seemed to do well at creating an environment in which twinks would be confused and leave. Unfortunately, they also never looked super fun.

Yohoho Puzzle Pirates has, so far, been fun. I also think that it will not be a favorite for twinks. I could be dead wrong, but I just don’t think the gameplay is what they want. It’s all puzzles.

I’ll back up a second for a plot summary. I’ll keep it brief, since I assume mdxi gave one, too. You’re a pirate in a very Lego-looking world. You aren’t a raping, pillaging pirate. There’s some pillaging, but it’s all in good fun. Mostly, being a pirate means that you sail around, say “ARRR,” wear a bandana, and sail around on big ships.

All piratical activities are performed through puzzles, most of which you will have seen before. Bilging your ship is Diamond Mine. Swordfighting is Puzzle Fighter. Ship repairs are perforemd with a Tetris-like game. Drinking is like Connect Four on crack. The puzzles are pretty good, but I view them as something that’s in place strictly to provide a game element to the game’s social elements.

Players organize in several kinds and levels of groups. Pirates form crews, which own a ship that they sail and battle. Crews pledge loyalty to a flag. Flags also hold sway over islands, which house cities with their own economies. The social system, especially as it relates to the government and economy, is still very young, but it’s pretty clear that it’s going to get very interesting. I expect to enjoy owning a shop and playing the market even more than I enjoy sailing and fighting.

This may be because I haven’t yet joined a crew. So far, I’ve been concerned with learning the ropes and getting my hands on some clothes. Because the market is still under development (the whole game is in beta, after all), it’s been really hard to get my pirate dressed. I finally got him some new pants and boots, but finding a shirt has been tough. This is primarily because I want to get the colors I want. Once the market is really going, I think this will get really interesting.

The other bit that’s impressed me, so far, is the pirate-to-pirate social aspect. There are some players who are just there to play games and acquire riches, but I don’t think this will be very rewarding; more importantly, they aren’t very capable of ruining my day. I can ignore their challenges, refuse to wager money on my duels with them, or just play to win and then move on. Other players are there to play, but they’re also there to be social. There’s some amount of role-playing, but it doesn’t amount to much more than talking about real life but throwing in some “arrs” and replacing “is” with “be.” I think that’s Just Fine. The whole atmosphere is one of casual enjoyment. We all seem to feel like we’ve found a good thing and just want to chill out and enjoy it.

So far, YPP has given me a good lesson in what an MMORPG /can/ be, and it’s Good.

Written on August 17, 2003
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