This is the common theme to the games I've been playing over the past week.
I mentioned a $5 deal on EVE Online last post, and I bit on that one, which includes 30 days of play time. EVE is a giant galactic MMO all on one server, and where players start out as a random spacer and must choose a career path of either industry, business, military, politics, or some melange of all. It's ridiculously deep and amazingly hardcore, but remains fairly accessible and user-friendly through great design and thorough tutorials. It's also a gorgeous game, running at some obscene resolution on my PC, and has a great soundtrack of atmospheric orchestral music.
I began as a Caldari, a member of a super capitalist society controlled by huge mega-corporations that lend it a strong economy and much military might. My character is an Achur, described as "intensely spiritual, the material world holds little interest to the average Achur." Regardless, I've gone through a few tutorial missions, and started down the path to making money through mining and doing missions for agents at various space stations around the galaxy. One of the coolest things about EVE is the skill training queue. Your skills are trained in real time, even when you are offline, so it's possible to queue up skills (as long as they're start time is within the next 24 hours) to begin training even when you are offline. As long as you check in before your queue runs out and can update it, you're constantly making progress.
At some point last week a thought came to me: I should play a Paladin in Diablo II. I went home and started one up, playing on b.net for a couple of nights, and progressing to level 10, but I was haphazard with my stat and skill points, and ended up dissatisfied with my character development. Rather than start over, I've just left him in limbo for now and started a Sorceress, this time doing some research for a nice skill build to adapt and pursue as I level up. She's level 8 or 9 now. I'm going a Frost/Fire route, aiming for Frozen Orb, Fire Ball, and Meteor to be my main spells. I've been dipping my toes into D2 periodically for a while now, but this is the first time in a while I've really wanted to delve deep. This is probably due to WoW scratching that particular itch most of the time. I'll never finish off my Pile of Shame if I keep this up...
On the progress front, I spent almost all day yesterday playing Mass Effect, so that I finished off all of Noveria and Virmire, did the Luna mission, and visited another uncharted world or two. I'm at the point now where Saren's goals have come to light, and the Council is refusing to listen to Shepard about striking him preemptively on the planet Ilos. On Luna, I unlocked a class specialization, so I'm apparently now an Operative, a sub-class of Infiltrator. I've also been a relentless renegade, meting out justice in the most cold and pragmatic way I can manage, wanting to see how hardline cynical and unforgiving Shepard can be. Mass Effect is the first game I've been able to be "evil" in, and it feels good at times. I really enjoyed being able to browbeat Wrex down from the proverbial ledge he was about to jump. A commander has to keep their subordinates in line.