MMOs are boring. There, I said it. This isn’t something new and to be honest it is inherent to games in general. Here goes my rant.
A few years ago I would have begged to differ. I have been playing MMOs for ages. I think I started when Final Fantasy XI was released. Since then I’ve tried a lot of different titles. EQ2, Vanguard, WoW, AoC, CoH, PotBS, LofRO, Champions Online, Aion, Lineage 2, TR, GW, Rift (beta), EVE Online, Globa, Agenda, and probably ones I forgot to mention. My goodness does that add up in money and hours spent!
But as I said, I would have begged to differ. With FFXI it was beautiful. Before that we had EQ which looked horrible and FFXI seemed to have that sort of pick up and play capability (was I wrong after level 25). Each subsequent title I would play for a few months and then the boredom would set in. Some were interesting enough to keep me engaged like PotBS (which I stopped playing because there seemed little to do in the game) and EVE (other than being dubbed spread-sheet in space, it requires a lot of time). Perhaps this game would have some long terms staying power, story, and interestingness, I thought with each subsequent MMO. With WoW I managed to play past the original level cap but mostly because my co-workers at ArenaNet were all playing.
I was recently playing the Rift beta and for a brief moment I was enamored. It was like WoW but had a slightly more mature feeling to it. It seemed to draw all the interesting features of other recent MMOs and combine them with WoW to make a new experience. However, as I went to kill my 20th bad guy to turn in my quest I snapped out of it. No, the slightly nicer graphics did not make up for the fact that here I was again grinding my way to the next carrot. Although this does not eliminate Rift from potentially being added to my list of MMOs, I do sense that it will almost surely be discarded from boredom.
I love the idea of a persistent world online. Granted I no longer have time to waste in front of a computer gaming for what little time I have I would rather be spending with friends, family, or accomplishing things. (My priorities have changed. I now look back and wonder about all the things I could have accomplished had I not been zoned in front of a game!) But I love the idea that I can pick up where I left off, join others, and perhaps make friends in the mean time.
With non-MMO games, the gameplay is spaced so that we can expect to play anywhere from 20 to 60 or so hours. You can jump in and play and then quit when you run out of time. The story is excellent because each action is deliberate. In MMOs these sorts of rules are opposite. The player has countless hours to devote. The quests meaningless and redundant. Some games do this well, some do it poorly.
So far my favorite MMO has been Age of Conan in terms of game play and graphics. Crafting would probably go to EQ2. But I will admit that overall it is extremely difficult to beat the overall World of Warcraft polished, balanced, and well written and designed stories, maps, and experience. There were many memorable locations, quests, and characters. I am not sure why it is this way. I partially blame the intant gratification driven masses who don’t demand more for their $15 a month. The droves of quick profit driven companies releasing sub-par games are partial to blame. Perhaps the gaming medium itself has matured to a point where we now have different stratas of quality and audience.
But in the end it is all a carrot driven experience. Running the dunes of some imaginary dunes killing monstrous skopions to collect their venom sacs so the magi in the ruined tower can unlock their tome for which they will give you a few experience points so you can do it again a few minutes later is just boring. I don’t want it to be, but that’s just where it has gotten.
Now I don’t want to sound hypocritical. I will always have a MMO sized hole in my heart darting and and out of AoC, EQ2, Rift, or whatever because for a little while they are fun to play. Perhaps if they released a slick, futuristic MMO which was sci-fi driven, had a techno/industrial driven soundtrack, a well written story and character system surrounding genetics and cyborgs, and laden with woman clad in various BDSM themed latex and leather garb I would find myself fanboying to the end.