Monday, August 10, 2009

MMORPGs.. Are They For Me?

Can I survive in an MMORPG? Is there room in the world of MMORPGs for someone who is bored of grinding and stale quest?

I have been thinking about this subject more and more these days. With my recent stints in Warhammer and Age of Conan I can accurately pinpoint the reason that makes me turn the game off and it's the same reason that made me stop playing WOW. It's because these types of games make me feel like a hamster in a wheel, or a rat in a maze.

Here is a world carefully constructed to entertain you. Now follow steps one through ten to achieve the goal we set for you. There shall be rewards along the way to provide you with a sense of accomplishment. A nice new spell, maybe a sword, or fireworks when you level up... I feel like a dog who is given a treat for fetching the ball.

The virtual reward system is allowing producers to get away with game designs that don't have to be fun. The human need for accomplishment is extremely powerful and if a game can create a sense of accomplishment that everyone can experience again and again, then they have a very successful product.

We will never get rid of the reward system in games. Even if its simply the mental reward for completing the game it's still there. But do we have to sacrifice fun, or challenge in favor of accomplishment?


  1. Which is why I believe the "sand box" approach to MMORPG game design (a la EVE Online) is superior to the "theme park" approach (a la WoW). The former doesn't require grind in order to get you to enjoy the game. Then again, they each fill in a need for gamers.

    My 2 ISKs.


  2. They did actually try an mmo that didn't have said reward thingies with The Sims Online. It was just a virtual chat program where you could build houses and such. It didn't do well.

    I think they should make an mmo like sims online but design the world nice and special and throw sex in the mix. You would buy the mmo in an adult store and dear god would that thing probably sell well.

  3. CrazyKinux - I agree Eve's sandbox approach is a better design, even if it doesn't trap as many gamers.

    Exoticat - I don't even want to know what the achievements would be...

  4. I think I've come to a personal realisation over the years as to what MMOs are for, and thats as venues rather than theme parks, the sort of place you'd hire for a get together with friends and/or family. Bit like bowling, which I'd imagine isn't a great day out alone or against random strangers either, but fun with a gang of mates. The activity isn't greatly taxing or demanding, which leaves time for chatter, larking about, entertaining overpulls and team wipes, etc.

    I have three different static group nights on the go at the moment and spend most of each giggling like a madman, and hardly any of that is down to the intrinsic design of each MMO in question. I have trouble remembering what level I am in each, simply because it isn't a relevant or important stat for me anymore, playing as we do, which is mostly for the hell of it.

    I do still like to solo now and then, mostly to explore scenery, but the majority of my online gaming can most be likened to hanging out in a bar with friends, with excellent pool and billiard facilities thrown in!

    I'm not sure the sandbox is my own cup of tea, not being the driven sort when it comes to self-defined goals, but is certainly another way to address that treadmill feeling, yes.