Inspired by this post at Dub's Diatribe, this post at A Ding World, and this post at Blue Kae I decided to come up with my own end of the year summary.
LoTRO: as a life time subscriber, this has been the home I always come back to for the last few years. Moria was a stunning virtual space, but a lot of the mechanics that Turbine chose to add fell short in my mind. Radiance gating of end game content I particularly loath. Lothlorian was also a bit of a let down to me. Struggling through Moria to a final zone where the quests have you you meditate, gather berries, and scold drunken elves was more than a little anti-climatic.
The Shadows of Mirkwood expansion was a pleasant surprise. It fixed the arc of the final few levels; the leveling game ends on a bang rather than a whimper now. There are also a lot of little changes I enjoy, such as the shared bank slot and the fact that horses no longer take up bag space. Mirkwood itself is a fun questing zone, my favorite since Foreschel. Finally, I really like skirmishes, Turbine added an engaging side game. All in all I'm having more fun in LoTRO than I have since the SoA era game.
Wizard 101: another game I keep coming back to. I have now bought permanent access to the first two worlds and about half of the third. I mainly play a string of alts. I enjoy the content in the first two worlds more than the third, and there are several combinations of magic schools I am interested in and have yet to try out. I never seem to play for more than a month at a stretch, but I keep going back.
City of Heroes: the Mission Architect really revived my interest in this game. One of the things that always bugged me about it was that the game was too repetitive, and the missions weren't well written. The Mission Architect fixed that problem. Most of the missions players came up with bit, to be sure. However, the best player generated missions are some of the most engaging stories you can experience in an MMO. I got a solid couple of months out of it, which is the longest I've played COH since the few months after launch.
Champions Online: fantastic game that I never was able to get very far in. I love the pacing and flow of the combat, I love the graphical style, I love messing around with all the different travel powers, and I love how flexible the character generation system is. I didn't think anyone would top CoH on the latter score, yet Cryptic did manage to do just that. Unfortunately, both times I played CO, my computer committed suicide in the middle of a session. I am now on my third power supply, and too superstitious to fire CO up again for the time being.
Runes of Magic: plays similarly to WoW, and it's free. Not quite enough to hold my attention, but I did play it for a week or two and I still have it installed.
World of Warcraft: I did the WotLK trial in the spring, and I was fairly impressed. I went ahead and bought the expansion. As if by magic, the game started to bore me to tears again within a few days of buying WotLK. It's as if Blizzard knew exactly how long the new content would hold my interest, and timed the trial to be a bit shorter than that.
In addition to my brief time in the spring, the first time my main gaming rig died I ended up firing WoW up again to have something decent to play on my backup PC. Say what you will of the game, but the graphics engine powering WoW is amazing. Toasters can run it at good frame rates, and due to the art direction the game still looks pretty good by even modern standards (at least if you don't mind cartooney graphics).
Dungeons and Dragons Online: great game that really came out of the blue for me. When Turbine announced that the game was going FtP, I figured that meant the game was in it's death throes. Nothing could be further from the truth, the game seems to be thriving based on the activity I've seen. And the game itself is one heck of a lot of fun. It has the most fluid and fast paced combat of any MMO I've tried. Can't recommend it enough if you are looking for something different from typical turn based fare.
Age of Conan: the unlimited lifetime free trial was enough to get me to try this. I've had enough fun in Tortage that I decided to buy the game and see what the rest of the world offers. Finding a copy that was only six bucks (including shipping) on Amazon didn't hurt. I'll be paying less than the $15 sub fee for my first month whenever it arrives. Fast paced combat (though not as fast as DDO), stunning graphics (environments almost as good as LoTRO, and character models better than anything else I've played), and engaging story lines await...at least in the free trial area. Word on the street is that that game falls flat on it's face once you leave Tortage, but to me it's worth six dollars to check out the rest of the game.
The Blog: I've had a great time getting this blog off of the ground. It's been really gratifying to see my readership go from zero to "more than that." Special thanks to those of you that regularly comment here. Anjin, Jaydub, Sente, Aspen, Blue Kae....thanks so much! I feel like we are all engaged in a grand conversation among our blogs, and I enjoy it quite a bit.
That's all that comes to mind at the moment. May the MMO gods favor your endeavors. Happy hunting in 2010!