MMObility: The Chromebook 'All-In-One' project - The pros and cons wrap-up

All In One project screenshot
Well, it's been pretty much a month since I first got my hands on this Samsung Chromebook. In that time they have become a very successful product, and I've witnessed a lot of new 'Bookers falling in love with the device. I wanted to set out to see if I could use one device for pretty much every aspect of my digital life, from work to play. I've had help from my wife along the way, as she quickly got used to how easily the device worked. I've pushed it in every way that I could think of. I've watched videos on it, plugged things into it, written on it and used it to play games.

So, what do I think now? Does this little notebook fill every need? Well, yes and no. It's definitely able to do what I want it to do, but I want it to do some pretty specific things. I also wanted to show that gaming, especially massively multiplayer gaming, is accessible from the 'Book. Why? The truth is that I wanted to illustrate how MMO games not only come in all shapes and sizes, but that there are many different communities all over the world that enjoy very successful browser-based, "low-tech" MMOs. As far as Massively is concerned, this experiment was an attempt to sneak in some very cool MMOs under the guise of "cool new gadget."

The West screenshot
If you want to find all 30 titles that I mentioned in this series, just follow the All-In-One tag to check out my previous articles. Also, be sure to visit my personal blog because I keep track of the more techy side of things there. After all, writing about tech is not something I do on Massively... so go to beauhindman.com to read about apps or extensions, or to read an interview with Google. Be sure to watch the embedded video in this article, as well, because it will wrap up and explain the goal and outcome for the entire thing. Gaming will be talked about in the latter part of the video if you want to skip the techish parts.

So, how does the Samsung Chromebook perform when it comes to MMOs? First of all, it's important to mention that the device I am using is the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook. It's officially called the Samsung Chromebook, but the manufacturer makes other series as well. Some 'Bookers also refer to it as the ARM-based 'Book, referring to its ARM-based processor. Either way, just be aware that performance across different Chromebooks can vary. The Series 5 550 by Samsung, for example, offers more processing power and RAM and so gaming on it will be even easier. More companies are rumored to be getting into the Chromebook game, and there is even talk about a Chromebook tablet!


"This means that the games on the Chromebook will come from HTML5 or Flash developers, as well as others that do not rely heavily on realistic graphics or literal gameplay."

The big thing that makes gaming on the Chromebook different, regardless of its processor, is the fact that you cannot install certain plugins into the browser. No Java, no Unity... all of these are a no-no. Given the recent security concerns with Java, however, you probably won't miss it. Save your RuneScape sessions for your desktop or standard notebook. This means that the games on the Chromebook will come from HTML5 or Flash developers, as well as others that do not rely heavily on realistic graphics or literal gameplay.

You'll be playing a lot of MMORTS' or strategy games, or many games that come from the "set it and forget it" school of design. I have about a dozen or so favorites that I visit each morning on the Chromebook while I eat breakfast. I will set my armies into motion, research a skill or start a job and then I'll re-visit the games later in the day. Don't worry, the games I have written about in this series are still MMOs, even though they do not require a massive hard drive install and do not look as good as Guild Wars 2. That shouldn't matter, anyway, as one day this basic, more inexpensive computing will naturally become more and more robust when it comes to graphics.

For now, though, you will have to get used to the pace of gaming in the browser without avatar-based gameplay. You will find some games that feature an avatar that runs around the map, but typically the games you'll be enjoying on the Chromebook will be slower, more strategic and awesome for playing in shorter sessions. It just so happens that the style of gaming I am most fond of is the kind I do on my Chromebook. I have to play so many games (at least a few per week for the different articles that I write) that it's nice to be able to play in as little as 20 minutes a day and still feel as though I am getting somewhere. I am busily conquering cities in games like Dragons of Atlantis or leveling my dueling in worlds like The West. I want to stress that these games are MMOs in the strictest definitions of the word, so do not let the more primitive graphics fool you.

Once you get used to using a tablet, Chromebook, or smartphone for playing MMOs you might really start to prefer the pace. I like to take my time and make a move, similar to playing a massive thousand-player chess game. Many of the browser-based games I came to love during this month with the Chromebook feature several layers of persistence because my character or cities stay on the map, open to attack or influence, even when I was logged out. In many of the social MMOs I found my town or village could be visited and effected by other players 24 hours a day.

So, was the Samsung Chromebook able to do everything I needed it to do, all for only $249 US? I'd have to say yes, for sure, but there are some tasks that still need to be done on my gaming PC. I stream games from my desktop, for example, or use that heavier machine when I need to check out a game like DC Universe Online's new housing. So, if you prefer 3D, realistic graphics then the Chromebook is not for you. But, if you have some room in your life for a bit of browser-based strategy and open PvP worlds, I would pick up a Chromebook for those times when you're sitting on the couch and want to check in on a game.

Each week in MMObility, Beau Hindman dives into the murky waters of the most accessible and travel-friendly games around, including browser-based and smartphone MMOs. Join him as he investigates the best, worst, and most daring games to hit the smallest devices! Email him suggestions, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
This article was originally published on Massively.