The cheap games experiment

I’m pretty big on trying new things. It helps keep things exciting, especially in such an insulated world like MMOs. I am now obsessed (obviously, as much as I talk about it) with minimizing the equipment (and stuff in general) I use around the house and in my life to write, play games, and make a living. It has become the type of obsession that has changed the way I do things. I started by wanting to find one, or a few, games that would run on a very basic netbook. I dreamed of owning one that I could carry anywhere and maintain a constant internet connection using my household WiFi but also with a wireless card. They’re easy enough to find now, thanks to ATT&T and other services. If not, a simple hotspot can be obtained for free with a contract.

I now have 20 or so really good MMO titles that I actually enjoy. I’m finding myself putting more time into these “basic” games, and finding more depth and character customization, than I would in a normal client based game. Well, let me clarify: there is nothing wrong with the client-based world. It shines much of the time. I just want to tell the story of the other side: browser-based, tiny client and easy-to-run MMOs (and a few single player games as well) that are cheap or free. Like I said, I fantasize about minimizing my life. I want to have as little physical stuff as I can, which includes working from a digital office that I can carry with me.

So, I have collected these games and will be testing them on my netbook, an Inspiron Duo. If you haven’t seen me talk about it on Massively yet, good. I won’t feel like I’m repeating myself. The Duo is essentially a touchscreen netbook that can flip around and become a tab-like device. I used to hate it, but after Windows 8 turned it into an actual, working tab, I love it.

The stats are pretty basic:

Operating system: Genuine Windows® 7 Professional

All the power you need: Enjoy impressive performance with the powerful, dual-core Intel® Atom™ processor N550.

Be productive: Speed through tasks quickly with 2GB of RAM3.

Stay in touch: Connect with friends and family using the 1.3MP webcam and microphone.”

–from the official site. They don’t sell them anymore, but I am almost tempted to buy another since this one has proven to be so fun. It’s a bit weighty, though, so I will steer clear of it for now.

As you can see, it’s really a basic netbook. For 300 dollars at Wal Mart right now you can get a decent netbook that, if you threw in a 80 dollar SSD, you would have a pretty nice little device. Notice the Win 8 upgrade offer, meaning that it will be cheaper on PCs that are bought soon. Of course, notice the weight. The weight is the issue. As someone who has walked around many conventions lugging only a 5 pound laptop, I can tell you that it will hurt after a while. Getting one that is closer to 3 pounds is ideal. If you have a hotspot with you, you could even use it to make all of your calls through Skype.

There are also Chromebooks, but I love the smaller netbooks because you can still download full programs and run them.

Of course, in a few years the cheapest, lightest laptops (and smallest) will be much more powerful, but the idea here is to drive attention to games that sometimes only give the player text to work with. But, I want to point out only good games…so that means reviewing them on this site.

I don’t do reviews on Massively, I do first impressions. There is a massive (no pun intended) difference. Also I will be working with stand-alone games. All to show that gaming can be fun and worthwhile on a tiny, cheap device.

Cheese warning: my eventual goal is to work with a charity to get cheap devices in the hands of the poor. I am thinking of running a charity event to raise enough money to buya dozen or so cheap netbooks or notebooks to give to a local school who might need them, or to donate to a family who has a child who needs one. We’ll see. I need to do something charitable, I simply feel worthless unless I do. (That might explain my love for pointing attention on indie games! hehehe…OK, I’m only half-kidding.)

Anyway, look forward to possibly (schedule permitting) seeing reviews coming up on this blog. I might just do video, since it would work to literally show the game in action on the netbook.

 

Beau