Thursday, December 28

Why I don't play MMORPGs

World of Warcraft (WoW) has been an enormous breakout success for Blizzard software as they are close, if not past, the 7 million users number. For a fantasy online game this is pretty crazy. That's close to 1 person for every 42 people in the USA playing the game. Odds are good you probably know someone (even if they don't admit it) that plays. It's one of those social things that keeps growing. You won't find me playing WoW, or any other game like it. Why is that? It's quite simple: nothing changes. In the real world I can have an effect on the world around me. In games such as WoW the user is essentially playing a single player, never ending, game. You might say, "But you can play with other people! It's not single player!" That's where you would be wrong. Is there anything another user can do to change your quests? Is there anything another user can do that will seriously change the world in such a way that you CANNOT do something? Most times in these games if someone is "camping" a spawn point you either wait until they leave, find another one, or go PvP on him.

As an example (and I'm not sure if I want to play a game like this exactly, but follow the idea) there are no end to the supply of boars and/or other such low level "monsters" in these games. In real life however if you were to go out and hunt down every boar, rabbit, or giant spider you could find, and your best friends were doing that as well, those creatures would be extint in no time. The point I am making is that there are enough things to kill to go around for everyone (in games). If you can't find anything wait a few minutes and more will spawn. Everything in these games is that way. If I go out and kill 40 boars will it have an effect on anything? Nothing but my experience points. Same with the towns, the woods, the mountains, the mines, and the dungeons.

Another thing that bothers me is that whole quest system, yes you can play with other people, but no one suffers if you don't fulfill a quest. You're just out the gold and/or experience points you would have gained from doing the quest. If you take a quest from someone who has had a loved one taken by bandits you can bet that that person doesn't have long to live, or at least living as a slave. And what about the family members, if you don't do your quest they just stand outside without any kind of repercussion to the world, the character, or you. I think quests should be dependant on other quests either not finished by other users or quests that haven't been completed properly. I don't pretend this would be easy to pull off for the developers of the game, but it would make quests much more world shaping. I think it could also define your character as well. If you take "help me!" type quests and don't fulfill them then possibly people won't trust you to help them anymore.
The reason I enjoy single player games is that my choices do effect the world I play in. I make a choice and then play with that choice and the world changes around me. This could be done in MMORPGs if you had the kind of staff to continually support new ideas and new stories. It seems to me that big "boss" battles should be a one-time thing as well. Case in point: Say there is an army heading towards the city, there are going to be different ranking guys, but only one person that is in charge of the whole operation. So make a set number of "peon" type enemies on the battlefield or set a definite number of re-spawns for them. It would look something like: one "King" character who once he is killed the scenario is over. But he's going to be REALLY tough and probably take a good number of people to take him down. But he'll have generals under him and they will have captains and lieutenants and finally lots and lots of low-level foot soldiers. If you've in the top level of the game (IE: lvl 60) and you wade into the battle you're probably going to be on par with one of the generals in the game and going head to head against one will give you something like a 50% survival rate. But when they are defeated no one else can come back and take a shot at them as well. I guess one could call such an idea "exclusive content" for the fact that it is shared content to the game world and by making it something that everyone has access to but once it's gone it's gone would make the experience and/or gameplay that much more interesting because not everyone is going to have the same experience. And back to what I was saying earlier about quests as well. If a group of high level characters rush in and defeat the "king" then the army will flee, but there are still the 10,000 foot soldiers running around that haven't been killed, they should show up later or cause problems down the road. Simple cause and effect.

It boils down to this: When I play a game I want a definite story line not some silly little "go out and kill 10 boars!" type thing, I want to have an effect on the world I am playing in. In today's MMORPGs no one would know if I was there or not. So I'll keep my money and time and stick with the "not".



  1. Stick it to the man!

  2. Anonymous10:37 AM

    I think what I am essentially asking for is a company that will play God, and mind what happens to their NPCs and not play "watchmaker" and wind it up and set it free, but to have an active role in watching what happens and responding to that. Especially if they aren't willing to program it to be like that.


  3. I have to ask, Ben. You rail against these MMORPGs (I think I got that acronym right) with such detail that you MUST have played one at some point...which one and how did you get sucked into it if you don't like it so much?


  4. Anonymous9:06 AM

    I've played:
    Eve Online
    World of Warcraft
    Lord of the Rings Online
    Ultima Online
    Rose Online
    Dark Ages of Camelot
    Star Wars Galaxies
    City of Heroes

    And a few others I can't remember. I rail because I feel like I've experienced a broad spectrum of them. And have a bit of experience in different styles of them. I rail because I care.


  5. Anonymous9:09 AM

    Oh, to address the second part of your question:
    I enjoyed playing most of them to a certain point, like almost any game it was interesting for a bit, but then the sameness hits and you realize that the "Cave Troll" you're attacking is pretty much the same as the "Wild Rabbit" you were attacking in level 1.


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