Latest in Gaming

Image credit:

MMObility: Utilizing Windows 8 to help with MMO chores


Not so long ago, I told you about my acquisition of an Inspiron Duo netbook, a 10-inch device that was not only a small laptop but also a touchscreen tablet device. It is a very sturdy device, and the flip-around screen works well. The main problem with the device was that it came with Windows 7 while only sporting a dual core processor and two gigs of RAM. The other main issue was that the 10-inch screen has a 1366x768-pixel resolution, meaning that it was often uncomfortable to read on it or play games unless I zoomed in.

Recently Microsoft released the Windows 8 public preview, so I downloaded it after reading that it was really geared for tablet or touchcreen devices. Sure enough, the same 10-inch netbook that was not getting a lot of use around here suddenly became faster and much more friendly to the eyes.

It's perfect timing, as well, especially since I will be starting my "chores" experiment in which I see whether scheduling my gameplay each day will help me with an issue I have been having.

Chores list banner
See, the problem with playing as many games as I do is not that I never get ahead or feel dedicated to one game. It's true that I don't care if I'm dedicated to one game. Technically gaming is a hobby, and I have to continue to treat it as such or the joy of it might disappear. I want to schedule my gaming because I love a good schedule. I get up around the same time every day no matter where I am at or what I was doing the night before, I walk my dogs generally around the same, and I rely on a calendar more and more as time goes by. If I were to schedule certain gaming activities and hold on to the heavier gaming for the weekends, I could not only explore more games but also stay more in touch with the games that I want to play more often.

The Duo comes in handy now because I can see the screen much better. The device just feels as though it's running more smoothly. It might sound silly, but I often fantasize about carrying my entire life and job around with me on one device, preferably a small notebook. Most of my gaming is now done through a browser or phone, and if my predictions prove correct, more and more gaming will be done through the browser.

So, I made a list of games in which I would be happy performing daily "chores." Now, now, I know what most readers will probably think at this point: "If you are just doing chores, that's not playing a game." I would like to answer this in a few different ways.

Chores list banner
First, most MMO players I know don't play the way I do. They commit to one or two games, and essentially their gameplay consists of performing the same tasks over and over. In fact, I would say that gear or skill grind, worrying about factions, or attempting to keep a high kill count is more common than not. In other words, most MMO players in my opinion already practice a cold, boring routine of "fun" gameplay. Asking some of my gamer friends to step outside of their favorite MMO "job," even just for an evening, is like pulling teeth.

Second, many of my favorite games allow or encourage chores. I love a good MMORTS, and one of the keys to success in an MMORTS is persistence and the ability to check in on your city or villagers as much or as little as possible. I also enjoy games that feature a very "blocky" quest or leveling structure, one that features chapters or stopping points that can help players put a pause on their game if they need to. MilMo, for example, seems like just another kid's game, but the fact is that it features a great mission and story system but divides its areas into islands of adventures. Each island can be taken on its own, and then players can move on to the next one. These natural pauses are perfect for a chores list.

One of the best things I noticed about this new Windows 8 preview is the new and improved Internet Explorer. Well, at least I think it is improved being that I have avoided IE like a wet dog, but when I compare it to all the other browsers on my system, it simply flies. This means that I can do a lot of these chores away from the same, boring office I normally work in and can zoom in to those smaller-than-small areas of text in certain titles. I can also read much more easily through the browser, or I can use Safari's brilliant reader feature to catch up on articles or blog posts.

So what's on the chore list, and how long does it take to run through it?
Some of these are not quite MMOs, but I am very interested in their mechanics and so want to continue exploring them. How did I fare? Well, overall the list took about an hour on my netbook. Some games were not able to run very well on the little machine, so I will move those to the weekend gaming sessions. Understand that I also stream games live every day at 5:00 p.m. EST every weekday and play nearly two hours of my Rise and Shiny game as well. The idea here is to fuel my absolute obsession with simplifying and organizing. One day soon I will live in a house with only one of my art pieces on each wall, all black and white, while I live my entire virtual live through a single device. This is part of that process.

Windows 8 has made quite the difference in how my little Duo responds and plays games. There are still many issues, but overall my search for an all-in-one mobile lifestyle is going well.

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.

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr