It's also somewhat related to this week's Ask Massively questions, seeing as how one of those questions is about the games that we hate. Yes, I know, I did a topical introduction; I'm very ashamed of myself. I also answer a question about fantasy worlds in the distant future. If you've got a question you'd like to see in a future installment of the column, send it along to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave it in the comments below. Questions may be edited slightly for clarity and/or brevity.
A lot of people periodically ask: Why do you guys hate [INSERT GAME NAME HERE]?
We don't.FlyinBuddha asked: What I was thinking about is that since most fantasy settings are pretty analogous to our Middle Ages, what would that society full of elves, dwarves and orcs look like 500 years later?
All right, that's debatable to a point, since there are definitely certain games that certain writers strongly dislike. But if we're not reporting on a given game, it's not the result of an insidious plot but a result of not having any worthwhile news to post. Either there's been news and we've just missed it or the updates have been something short of newsworthy.
What makes an update newsworthy is another question that could be asked, but suffice it to say that the answer to any game is that we really don't hate it. If you think we haven't noticed something worthwhile, the tip link is right here, but anything missed is accidental rather than malicious.
This is a loaded question because there are a lot of potential answers! It's also a fun question, and while people can (and have!) spent a lot of time figuring out what this sort of society would look like, there are three major categories that the answers fall into.Looking for some advice on which class is best for soloing in Aion? Not sure who this Raph Koster fellow is? Curious about the release date of NCsoft's newest MMO? You've come to the right place! No one knows MMOs like we do. If there's anything you'd like to know about the MMO genre or the site itself, Ask Massively is here to help every Thursday afternoon. Just ask!
1) The Eternal Sameness. Considering that in these settings, magic solves most of the major problems that technology does in the real world, I think there's not a whole lot of impetus for people to develop technological solutions. After all, penicillin is neat and all, but when the local cleric can just cast Cure Disease and send you home for supper, it kind of blows. So with no real need to evolve further, societies remain at the same level of sophistication for centuries on end. Of course, this usually coincides with the story starting right as someone develops gunpowder or the like.
2) Clarke's Law Inverted. Magic becomes more and more transparently part of everyday life until it's parceled up and dispensed more or less worldwide. You've still got iPods floating around, except now they're the result of a caged sonic demon with a memory charm or something similar. (The Iron Dragon's Daughter is a good look at this sort of society, at least in part.) The result is something that looks a lot like the modern world but with magic in the background. Many of the more recent Final Fantasy games go halfway to this, with technology that could be mundane or magical depending on interpretation.
3) Collective Mass Stupidity. There's always more detail than this, but the net result is the same: For some reason, everyone just forgets about elves and dwarves and magic and decides instead to develop technological devices. This is only remotely satisfying when all of that stuff comes roaring back right away, but it's kind of a lazy device to begin with.