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Voice of the Last Fenix

MMO Immunity

Rating: 2 votes, 4.00 average.
I explore Why MMOs just don't Draw Me in:

I missed the MMO revelation, when World of Warcraft launched I didn’t have a stable enough internet connection to allow me to play WOW or any MMO for that matter. Since then I have tried several MMOs. EVE, which had always stuck me my kind of MMO, was the first MMO I played with its Sci-fi theme with no warlocks and night-elves in sight and its one giant universe and player driven economy. Second I also tried Dungeons & Dragons Online after it went Free2Play to rekindle my adolescent love of the DnD universe and my last expedition into the MMO realm was with Aion… to this day I still don’t know why I bough Aion. Now for one reason or another I lost interest in each of these with EVE being the only one to hold my attention for longer than a month.

In an atempt to understand why MMO seem to fail to pull me in with the same time sapping tenacity as the 11, or is it up to 12, million people who actively play WOW or the millions who play a MMO of any kind I’ve decide to list the thing about each of the 3 MMOs I have played that I feel where the main reason for not sticking with it. Now many would say the reason no MMO has stuck with me is very simple… It is because I have not played the game of the Decade, I have yet to play World Of Warcraft.

EVE Online: Eve is by far the MMO I enjoyed the most. Being able to download the client, play 14 days free before committing and being sucked in just deep enough in those 14 days that I did commit and subscribed. The idea of piloting your own shit, no matter the size, and going out to explore a unknown universe is what got me hooked at first. Training, Doing Mission, Upgrading my ship only after meticulous research into that specific configuration and going mission running with a friend was what held me firmly,
It was not till I was about 3 or so month in, Flying a shiny battleship, going to do my first Level 4 Mission with the Corp I had recently joined, that EVE very suddenly lost its appeal. No it wasn’t the guys in the Corp or the ship or even the mission that caused it, it was the fact that no matter what you did there would always be a bigger fish. I could play it for years and years and still be just another fish in a very big pond. This to me was the deal breaker, I spend enough time in reality being just another fish in the pond, when I play a game I want to feel like I rule the pond. The repetitive nature of the mission, the omnipresent grind, was something else that broke the immersion for me. I finally suspended my account after decided I already had a job, coming home and playing another one wasn’t for me.

Dungeons & Dragons Online: DDO was a pleasant distraction for the Dog Eat Dog world of EVE. Every body ran around in the hub and enjoyed their own instances of the mission so there was non of the having to worry that some European douche was going to steal your loot. Unfortunately DDO is one big Grind Sandwich. Every mission can be played as many times as the player wants getting more XP and loot the higher the difficulty. Watching 20 people speak to the same quest giver before running to the specific dungeon and then being along, except for your party, in the dungeon did not gel. Sure it gave me the chance to feel like a big hero when a plot line was completed but knowing the thousands upon thousands of other people hand done exactly the same stripped away some of the glory. In the end I stopped playing because the never ending circle of “go there…” and “kill that” before “bringing back this” quests bored me.

Aion: As I understand it of all 3 the MMOs I’ve played Aion is the most like World of Warcraft. Now how true that is, is beyond me due to my lack of not actually having played WOW [yet]. Aion started very much the same as DDO with the grinding… I mean question. Watching hundred of other players running around doing the same thing, knowing they all where doing exactly what I was doing. I grouped up once or twice to take down bigger baddies and after ascending 2 characters, 1 of each of the factions, my 15 day free trail included with my retail copy ran out and I just didn’t bother re-subbing.

If I look over the three pieces above it would look as if my biggest problem with any MMO is the inherent repetitive nature of such games. It is hard if not impossible to have an infinite number of unique quests so that each player who plays the title and expect it to form some any sort of coherent over arching story. The second thing that puts me off is the lack of any real feeling of accomplishment. Now that could be specific to me as a person wanting something more that “here is 20 000Xp for saving the princess on Insane difficulty by yourself.”

Now this wanting a more unique experience and sense of accomplishment could have been bred in my playing shooters like Call of Duty, Halo & Battlefield online. In a normal COD match there is a clear sense of “look what I did” at the end. Even if you didn’t score the most kills it there is still the “last time I only got 5 kills, this time I got 10.” Most matches are also a unique experience. Sure there is some repetition, certain players always hide in the same spot, in a Halo map the weapons are always in the same place but these pale in comparison to the sheer repetitiveness of MMOs.

The Playstation 3 title MAG tried to join the social togetherness of MMO with the pace and structure of Online Shooters with its main feature being that up to 256 players can play together in any once instance. This sounds like promising however the title has been criticized for the lack of communication between squads. Again having not played MAG, since I don’t think our South African Internet is suited to such a title, I can’t say if it falls into the nook of an MMO that would hold my interest. If the levels are designed like regular FPS levels the term cluster [email protected]#k comes to mind.

Improving on what Came Before:
If a single player game is littered with repetitive gameplay players and critics alike quickly criticize it, similarly if a new title brings over too much from an older title players and critics again complain that is coping what came before. Yet a MMO, a title the players purchases many times over, are repetitive by nature. If an MMO dares move away from being “like WOW” it struggles to carve out a piece of the market. As a result for the last 10 years the MMO genre has remained largely unchanged and unchallenged.

Having not played all the MMOs available today I wont be so arrogant as to damn the entire genre for being one giant grind orgy. But I will say is that if a MMO was to surface which could give players a more unique experience with less grind then I would gladly play and pay for it.

Keep an Eye out for the follow up to this piece where I detail the concepts I would like to see worked into MMOs.

- Fenix Out -