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My history with MMOs
To set up, I'm going to talk about my experience with MMOs, and my history with them. I wanted to give you a background into the way that games have changed and developed into the massive multiplayer online games that I have come to know and love today. While I haven't played all of the MMO's in the world, but I've played my fair share... I've capped characters in multiple games, and of course been sure to experiment all the classes to see what the game experience as a whole can be.
The first one I remember playing was 2d. Top-down style, and I think people still play it! Hellbreath on the PC was my next and if you google it, you can find it, (it used to be totally free, but now I think theres month to month payment to play it). I was quite young at the time, and didn't have the intellectual prowess to analyze it's content in the way I play games now... but I do remember being addicted to having an hero/avatar that was always mine, and that I put time in to improve, and I could reap the benefits of said time, and it of course had all the beautiful addictions of normal video games. Well... for a 2d game anyways. But, no matter how you look at it, Hellbreath pulled me in and kept me there.
After that my next experience with MMOs was Anarchy Online... I joined up when the Shadowlands expansion was already out, and Notum Wars had been out for a little while. I was hooked on that for a while, my main was a healer. I chose a doctor, as this was the first time I tried the infamous healing class, which is now and probably will always be my favorite. I reached 200 with my char, but quit before the next expansion came out. After 200, thats just too high of a level cap for me. But over all AO was an engaging experience and one that I'd easily recommend to anyone who is looking for a great free MMO to play
Around the same time I started Star Wars Galaxies. If you played SWG before the big change, then you know what I'm talking about... It was by far the best MMO experience, in my humble opinion. It was the class system, and the lack of levels! A real mysticism that was added was the rarity of jedis at first. It was the ability to customize and create a unique class of your own using the skill set laid out for you. It was the fact that there were politicians, and they were actually necessary, made another interesting addition to the game. They were integrating story, and actual RPG value into the MMORPG, and in a universe everyone knew, and quite a few people already loved. I was many, many things in SWG. I was a doctor, a Tera-kasi master, (essentially a martial artist), and, eventually, I got a jedi. During the same time as I was playing SWG, I started playing the infamous.... World of Warcraft. I had very high expectations for this game.
The first video game I played online was Warcraft II, on my old Macintosh, with a client called Kali (This is before something called battlenet). I learned to type on Wc2, and I learned to get owned in a video game. I played wc3, another rts I loved. Warcraft (before so many random changes with the MMO) was a universe I loved. As a child it enthralled me; the orcs, the mages, the knights, the orges, everything seemed to suck me into their fantasy world.
So you can imagine, how excited I was upon learning that there would be a different kind of experience in the World of Warcraft. Well, I only got to 35 the first time I picked up wow. Then I quit for awhile. Then time freed up in my life, and I tried it again. This time making my way to 60 with a shadow priest. After the first expansion came out, I continued playing, and made it to 70. Then, after a few raids, I started to wonder... was WoW really what an MMORPG was suppose to be? Disappointed and lost as an MMO gamer, I quit and cut off all payments the companies constantly writing new code for their projects.
I tried Guild Wars, and it was very fun for a little while, but you couldn't jump. That killed it for me. Adventure = Jumping to me. So I moved on.
My last attempt was Age of Conan. This was a refreshing breathe of innovation, until ultimately it's flaws. I had an Asus PC at this time, running that awful thing some people call Vista, and others call Mojave. I got a blue screen of death probably 5 times a day while trying to play age of conan. I was of course the Priest of Mitra! Much like the shadow priest in WoW, just did too much damage. Ultimately I quit rather quickly ( I got to level 45 or something) because of the awful crashes, the fact that the hardware I bought which was made to run Dx10, wasn't even supported, and there seemed no hopes of improving the crashes for my hardware(I had reformatted at least 4 times and tried multiple things) I quit.
And that brings us to today, and why I am writing this article: I want the MMO that will break the cycle of disappointments that we all have endured. In the next part of this article, I'll go through some of the main reasons that players get hooked in MMORPG and MMO games and simply cannot stop playing them.
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Hype, it makes and breaks video games. It is a necessary evil though. Without it, who would know about the opportunities out there! With it, we feel like we are ultimately being lied to, and often teased. But, like I said before, MMOs are the biggest gamble in the industry. So, it goes without saying that the publisher is going to spend tons of money to make sure you not only know about their game, but are excited to dive into their universe the day it is unlocked. That is the hook: CG trailers, press releases of the game mechanics, screen shots after screen shots of the graphics, video after video of game play, developer blog after developer blog of what the studio is doing and what direction they are going in.
CG trailers - oh the fantasy of animation. No matter the game play of the actual game, CG trailers make them look fun. The action is pre-determined so it looks very pretty, and it gives a feel of epic quality in this new game. The problem with this is obvious, it sets standards for graphics, and it evokes an emotion in gamers, no matter how wise to the matter they may be. This emotion doesn't really have a name, but the closest word I have to the emotion I feel is hope. But its more than that. It is the hope that when I start playing, I will be overwhelmed with the same emotions as I felt when I watched the trailer. Unfortunately, this has never been the case.
But, like the the fish who takes a chance, you bite.
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So, they've got you on their hook. You pre-ordered/bought/signed-up/started your monthly payments for said video game. You put in dvd after dvd. Serial. updates. install more. one more update.
And, if you are lucky enough to pick a game where there aren't awful servers.... you start playing. After that.... what do most video games great you with? A beautiful CG intro, more teasing. Where does this leave you emotionally? (Right before creating your first character and after watching the intro video) Besides being at the height of your anticipation... you are also at the height of your expectations!
You jump in, probably after a nice load time, after all your computer is drawing a whole universe on your computer. Then, you are usually confronted with level 1 baddies. This gives you time to get used to all the new mechanics (unless of course it another one of those wow clones....). But after learning the ropes, you are ready to leave the training area. You are pumped! You just killed like 150 slimes! But now you are ready for something epic! If the game is designed well, then you are slowly introduced to new things every now and then - not just new spells/abilities. And you gain level after level as you go along. You move from area to area. Dominating most of the things in your way. With the occasional wipe. But besides the point...
By this time, you are almost to the level cap on your main toon. You have paid for more than 1 month, (if its one of those games) and now, you know... pretty much what the game is all about. Even the end game doesn't really have magic to you because other users have told you about it, and you've seen screenshots of it... and you know you will be using the same skills you've been using for many levels now.
The most frustrating part of an MMO in my honest opinion is being 2 levels before the cap. Because that journey is the longest! You want to be in the end game, but everything you are doing seems.... not as cool, even though the end game is so close within reach! But alas, no matter how much you toil over it, you will eventually get there.
Level cap. End game and many, many gratz... if you are in a guild.
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So maybe many of you haven't gotten this far in a MMO yet, but I imagine most of you have. Why else would you be on bright hub reading MMO articles...
Anyways, you've just capped your first character! Good job! End game time.
This usually means, you have to join a guild - usually being the keyword. So, if you were the type of MMO-er who enjoyed being a lone wolf and only grouped when necessary, but enjoyed the fact that the game gave you the choice to be an army of one - you will be very unhappy. But if you don't mind, which most of you don't, here is where the true epic-ness of battle is! You've been playing all game, for the end game, to be one of the top dogs.
For every game this is a little different, but usually it means lots of players attacking things together. It might be pvp, or pve, but either way it'll be of epic scale if your internet connection can handle it. So, in the end, why do we stop playing? Cause I know there are many others out there, like me, waiting for an amazing MMO.
My least favorite part of MMOs is something I like to call "death to NPC via end of scripting". We have all been there... after joining a faction or doing a few quests for an NPC we find funny, or helpful, or entertaining in someway, we grow attached. But then, after that final mission, all scripting for you ends! All that remains are the dead, dry, 'informative', converstaion options that lead us back in circles. It is offensive in my opinion to do all these quests for a certain tribe/town/whatever and then be treated as a random traveler after it all. This has happened to me in every MMO I can think of. I understand that having scripting continuously for NPCs is impossible, but I want a boolean shift in the code! I want the NPC to know when he is talking to me, he is talking to the great hero of your town!
I also dislike the "You are the chosen one!" feeling in some MMO's. That works in single player campaigns because you truly are saving the day, and the only one capable. In MMOs, if you don't step up to the plate, someone else with a will. So c'mon, treat me like what I am! I am a healer/tank/dps character just trying to survive in this crazy world!
But the true saddness I feel that makes me quit playing, is when I play I am no longer playing to have fun, but to gain something for my main that I 'need'. That feeling soon switches to, I no longer play and have fun.
Ultimately it is because I feel I have exhausted the replayability to unique experience ratio. Creating new characters is no longer fun, as a result of different characters not creating a unique experience to the class you play, or the side you are on, or where you start, etc. I'm not saying there isn't enough content in todays MMOs, I am merely saying there is not enough room to shine in a manner I wish you could shine.
I believe some of the newer games on the horizon will be in a step in the right direction, but one day I hope to see a video game that simply gives the mechanics, and allows the users to build civilizations from the mechanics step down from the developers.
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Until the day where humans hopes and expectations are finally surpassed by our own abilities, I will just have to deal with the MMOs out today. Or go help create one.
But honestly, to wrap up, I just want to say it is not my intention to bash on MMOs, I love MMOs and look forward to playing many more in my day. Its just my honest opinion that we are being let down as gamers.