MMORPGs ... what am I not getting?

First time post. Hello all.

I’ve seen legions of posts about CoH now. More pages written about WoW than the Library of Congress could file. EQ creating widows. Accounts selling for hundreds of dollars on EBay.

Am I the only one who doesn’t get the fun and value involved?

I’ve tried two MMORPGs. The first was well, pretty much the first… UO. The most recent is a brand new CoH account. Both of them I found to be graphical chatrooms with a lot of monster bashing involved. Neither of them I found particularly “game like”, and the most fun aspects of the game is simply to walk around the game world and see the sights. To me, that’s not really a game.

Maybe my ego is too big, but in a game, I want to feel like the main player, or at least that I can have some effect on the world. To me, that’s what makes it a game. I can conquer Europe, I can kill the Main Bad Guy, I can avenge my father’s death. Whatever the motivation, I can be led by that string and become sucked into the game. This can be something with a start and finish, like X-COM and Metal Gear: Snake Eater, or something that is free roaming, like Morrowind or Spider Man 2. But in the end, I am the hero, not one of a thousand nameless heroes who have no effect whatsoever. I have trouble getting motivated to play a game when I see the high level characters running around on their various quests but they are really no different than me. Even in BF1942 one side “won”. To me it feels like the only motivation in these games is to level up and have neat looking costumes and nice stats. Where is the motivation? Where is the “game”? I know some games are not about “winning” but even in SimCity and X2: The Threat you have an effect on the game.

As an aside, it’s a bit strange to me that CoH will cost $220 a year ($40 retail plus $15 a month) to play, and something like BF2 can be bought and played FOREVER for $40. I just don’t understand why people pay it.

Maybe I’m not getting it, and need a for unified theory. Right now, I’m hoping development energy will NOT go in the MMORPG direction. I love multiplayer, but I dont’ get this model. Anyone else feel this way?

(P.S. I promise all my posts won’t be negative ones… this one is simply a “I don’t get it” question) … :)

That seems to be a pretty common reaction. Doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with MMORPGs just that the ones out there (and given the nature of MMOs just about every configuration I can think of) don’t suit your tastes.

One of the things I keep looking for (and get unwarrentedly excited about when they’re mentioned as design goals - hence my stalwart support of SWG until it was clear there wasn’t going to be much effective follow through) are games that are largely driven by player communities interacting rather than static installations tacked onto an unchanging landscape. Ideally, if players are driving the action the world should be changing in response to them and providing a meaningful sense of accomplishment. Of course the MMO needs to provide interesting carrots and/or set itself up to attract the kinds of players who like making things happen rather than just passively consuming.

Seems to me that the best way to do that is through a franchised product for a setting that has a vast number of loyal fans who’ll happily explore and reinforce the setting (like Star Wars) given a game that is willing to work as hard as they do to create an illusion that can sustain disbelief (unlike SWG). Another way to go, but less likely to be hugely financially successful would be historical roleplaying using what Koster calls “impositional design” where the game itself would channel and reward behavior and inclination into gameplay that reflects the setting. Such a game would be less anarchic and grind-based than current MMOs, if it’s going to be a decent simulation, but it could attract some very serious players who’d also be good content producers. This is something similiar to what we’ll hopefully be seeing in Frontier 1859 (if we ever see it).

In games like these where the world is believable and responsive, you’ll more likely have players who are attracted to those qualities and probably share them. In a world like that you might not get a “hero” badge to wear around your neck from the get-go as in a singleplayer game but you might well be able to earn it from your actions and the reactions of your player peers. To me that’d be a lot more meaningful than simply reading a text-block some dev wrote telling me how wonderful I am.

Let me ask you this, Do you like Diablo?

Yes, I fact I loved Diablo, and Diablo 2 even more so.

This is interesting, because the two models are similar, I agree. Maybe it was because the single player and multi-player aspects were nearly identical, and you could play “offline” as well. It also had an ultimate end goal (remember the “game ending in 10 seconds” countdown?). It’s hard to qualify exactly.

In thinking about it, I have read about these “events” that happen in CoH, but I just don’t see them. An invasion of the city, for instance, where a bunch of players have to gang up on a big monster that is attacking. That clearly adds a lot of the “world affecting” aspect to the game.

In A Tale in the Desert players can affect the world, sort of. But this game is a niche even within the niche marte that is MMOGs.

MMORPGs are all about finding guildmates you find entertaining and exploiting them for entertainment value.

Otherwise they are nothing more than boring, pointless, tedious timesinks.

For me, this is very true. I need a good bunch of people to play with. A regular group can make a big difference in having fun or being bored to tears…

For me, this is very true. I need a good bunch of people to play with. A regular group can make a big difference in having fun or being bored to tears…

Yeah same here.

I originally started on WoW, and hated it, because someone had drawn a parallel to Diablo I/II. It doesn’t have nearly the pacing or action of the Diablo games. I became hooked when I started to appreciate it for its slower pace, and I often call it World of Animal Crossing because it has more in common with that kind of game. If you like Sims or Animal Crossing, you’ll probably like WoW. Explore the (huge) world, earn money so you can go shopping for your character, help your friends. Oh, and there is monster fighting too, but this still is a game I play to relax.

I tried CoH and didn’t care for it. The world was too square after seeing WoW, and character progress was much slower. Also, not enough shopping.

Guildmates you get along with are important. Don’t be afraid to change guilds, and I recommend finding a guild of older people. You will avoid the high school control dramas, and people will understand when you turn down a group invitation because you have work in the morning. I think the average age of the guild I’m in is over 30.

Quoted for truth. This is the core of every MMORPG’s appeal. Combine that with the standard RPG model of incremental character improvement and voila, you’ve got millions of customers happy to pay the monthly fee.

I tend to disagree. Soloing in WoW was great. No one to bug me, no one to drag me down, no waiting for groups, and I could move at a very rapid pace.

– Xaroc

My opinion was more or less the same as ElGuapo’s around this time last year. My RPG experience didn’t go much further than Diablo 2, and MMOs seemed like way too much of a timesink without enough of a payoff.

World of Warcraft seemed to understand this problem. The game is still a huge timesink, but the rewards come fast enough that there are only a few boring stretches between level 1 and level 60. Most of the way, it’s a blast. In a lot of ways, it’s not unlike Diablo 2, except it’s a more open-ended world, and you have all these other people playing alongside you, contributing to a global economy and trade system that you can benefit from.

Like Xaroc, I soloed and duoed a lot of my way to level 60 as well. One of the more remarkable things about my trip to level 60 was, anytime I hit a quest that just couldn’t be soloed, someone else looking to do the same quest would usually show up within 5-10 minutes. Doing instances with 5-man groups will help when you hit the 50s, but otherwise, it’s a pretty solo-friendly game.

Once you hit level 60, tho, it’s all about being in a guild. Either you group up with people and go after phat lewts and boss hunts, or you start a new character and go from level 1-60 again.

I tend to disagree. Soloing in WoW was great. No one to bug me, no one to drag me down, no waiting for groups, and I could move at a very rapid pace.

– Xaroc[/quote]

For how long, though? I’ve tried the solo thing too but I rarely lasted more than a couple months.

I tend to disagree. Soloing in WoW was great. No one to bug me, no one to drag me down, no waiting for groups, and I could move at a very rapid pace.

– Xaroc[/quote]

For how long, though? I’ve tried the solo thing too but I rarely lasted more than a couple months.[/quote]

Actually I do both. My main and one of alts are in a guild on one server and I have alts on other servera that mainly solo and don’t join guilds. That means if I feel the need to just kill stuff in peace and advance rapidly I just switch servers.

Quoted for truth. This is the core of every MMORPG’s appeal. Combine that with the standard RPG model of incremental character improvement and voila, you’ve got millions of customers happy to pay the monthly fee.[/quote]

I still fall for the the loot/level/exploration/stat hooks in single player RPGs, so I don’t consider them “tedious timesinks” in multiplayer RPGs. RPGs give you lots of goals to prioritize, things to look forward to, choices to make, and places to check out. MMO’s do that on top of coop and competitive elements with other players. Worked in WoW, anyway; haven’t played other MMOs so can’t judge them.

The crunchy core is still the combat and here the genre may have issues. WoW combat can be exciting in group situations or in pvp, but often when soloing it’s pretty repetitive and boring. Single player RPGs have a bit of an edge here simply because you probably won’t have to fight 400 trillion battles in any given single player RPG; also many are party-based giving you a more interesting tactical-combat minigame to work with; and more of the battles (especially in modern single player CRPGS) tend to be “setpiece battles” with more story context, rather than endless random encounters.

RPG gameplay, as it has evolved in the mainstream, is a weird alchemy of a combat core (either twitchy or tactical, or a mixture of the two) encrusted with numerous other things that give it context – economy, character advancement, items, Barbie accessorization, exploration, story, etc. Good RPG design IMO is generally about getting this mixture of elements right and putting the player into a sort of crazy cascade of choices to make and things to look forward to. When it’s done right, I can think of no more addicting genre, with the possible exception of turn based strategy.

Personally, I like being in a world, especially one that gets updated. Changes happen in these games (part of what your fees are paying for). And you meet knew people who act like people (if you are lucky…but moreso than NPCs in single-player games). You can make friends, be sociable, etc. You can practice trades, or kill monsters. I admit the rewards come slower than in single-player games…and I favor single-player games overall. But I still enjoy these games for what they are, a giant chat-room with a graphical interface that gives me a whole world to explore, one that is almost always FAR larger than those found in single-player games.

Many people are claiming that the primary draw of an MMO is the group/guild. Certainly the people with which you spend the majority of time interacting is an important factor. But for me personally, what I found most interesting was simply exploring the vast world experiencing all it has to offer and never knowing quite what to expect.

I’ve played WoW more than I care to admit, and I’ve done my share of grinding, instances, solo pvp, group pvp, crafting, trading and so on. But it seems that whenever I got bored of that stuff, I’d just get on my horse, choose a random direction and went riding to see what I could find. Of course, I didn’t stay on the horse, and I usually ended up in some sort of pvp situation. But it was simply not knowing what to expect that made things fun. Sometimes I’d just find some people doing a quest and help them. Sometimes I’d find some lower level horde people and just wave at them and play around with them. Sometimes that would happen to me. Other times I’d get ganked. Other times I’d find a new area that I’ve never seen. That’s the type of stuff I really liked the most.

I’m also a pretty big fan of pvp, but the cost of entry is getting really high what with the obscene item requirements. It wasn’t so bad at first, but it keeps getting worse and I don’t really like being forced to do instances over and over to get the good items. But I digress…

No digression there, Shadari, you basically just pointed out why WoW sucks at level 60.

I log in once every two weeks, and I see the same group of people online, doing the exact same shit (farming EP or Molten Core) just to get +2 stamina on their chest piece. There isn’t really anything left for them to do in the game at that point, and they are too addicted to quit.

Brian, you might really dig Second Life. The entire experience is driven by an active player community, and real time physics simulation in a massively multiplayer environment is just the cat’s pajamas. Have you tried it?

I tend to disagree. Soloing in WoW was great. No one to bug me, no one to drag me down, no waiting for groups, and I could move at a very rapid pace.

– Xaroc[/quote]

For how long, though? I’ve tried the solo thing too but I rarely lasted more than a couple months.[/quote]

Level 60 in about 3 months. I did group some in there but mostly just pickup runs of ZF to finish the quests.

– Xaroc