My 3 year old son is in his “why?” phase. I knew this day would come, and have spent the past three years preparing for it. I refuse to give in and tell him “because I said so”, or “stop saying that”, and have mentally prepared myself for when he goes off on the “why?” chain. I break down each question to a more micro level until it borders rediculous. A typical exchange between the two of us goes something like this:
- HIM: Dad, why are those two people kissing?
- ME: Because they love each other.
- HIM: Why?
- ME: Because they met, either at a bar or a wedding or something along those lines, were both completely bored out of their minds, maybe had a bit too much to drink, and became interested in one another enough to get to know each other better
- HIM: Why?
- ME: Probably because most people in society define themselves by the partner they choose
- HIM: Why?
- ME: Humans have a natural instinct to preserve the species through reproduction, regardless of how overpopulated we have made the world
- HIM: Why?
- ME: At our core, we are just made up billions of cells that each perform a specific function, who a long, long time ago decided to hook up with billions of other little cells that performed a different function. Forming these little cell communities it was learned that more could be accomplished including the most important thing of all: survival. Now, when one set of billions of little cells happens upon another set of billions of little cells who has traits that seems to increase that chance of survivability even further there is a mutual attraction to ensure survival of the fittest. Strength in numbers, afterall, sonny-boy.
- HIM: Oh. I see. Do you love Mommy?
- ME: Why, yes I do
- HIM: Why?
- ME: …
[note: I really should insert something very clever here, such as she is my sould mate, or at bare minimum how she puts up with my often questionable hygiene practices – however the exchange was shared for a specific purpose, not to gain brownie points with my wife. Besides, the brownie point market is cornered by Prada, and I do not want to hedge in on their specialty.]
I know where he gets it, because I am always as interested in the “why?” as I am the fact. When Zubon made the comment that MMO’s compete for his dollars (and as such he has less leniency for post-beta product expectations) I wanted to understand better why I have much more leniency. To do that, I went back and revisited my MMO history and when, and why, I moved from MMO to MMO. Doing this will hopefully shed some light why there always seems to be two camps when it comes to MMO “issues”, so perhaps we can better define these camps – but more importantly, answer “why?”
Why does a new and shiny MMO corrode into old and dull? My first traditional MMO was Everquest – a game that I beta tested. I played EQ from release through the Shadows of Luclin expansion. My experience in EQ was a bit different than most, as I solely played on the testserver (through the item wipe – yay!). Back in the day EQ was magical, and the community I became a part of there was rediculously strong – part because it was the first 3D mmo for a lot of people but also because of the nature of the testserver. While I still make the odd post on my old guild’s website, the posts are typically months in between (but still fun to see people connecting). I still really enjoyed EQ when I left, but time limitations and always falling behind my in game friends was frustrating. Add to that, many people moving on to DAOC, the population dwindled as my time became more valuable, and it was time for me to visit new shores.
I joined DAOC about a year after release, and because of my past positive experience on the EQ testserver rolled up on Pendragon (which was also where some of my guildmates in EQ had gone for the same reason). Shiny and new still wasn’t quite as exciting as when EQ first launched (you never forget your first, right? What was her name again?) and toiled in guild leadership for the first time, in the Pendragon guild ‘Legends’, which was the leader of the Midgard alliance. Many years and RvR battles later and stomaching through the Trials of Atlantis expansion (after the developer inspired destruction of the Pendragon population), the game wasn’t fun for me anymore. My lone Shadowblade without the benefit of his Left Axe anymore, standing at the Emain Macha milegate waiting for something – anything – to kill or die to began talking to himself which surely wasn’t healthy. My co-gm and steadfast friend, Loremon, had left long ago to a new World (of Warcraft). Bile, my shadowblade parter extraordinaire no longer stood with me at the milegate as he was off getting some sort of real job, and Mehlan and his puppy were off driving a motorbike somewhere. Torrential was still around, but he was already planning for his funeral, and the blue color of alliance chat became less about defeating our enemies and more about how much ToA ruined DAOC, or even worse, how possible it was to solo or two man a keep – since that was all that was on the server at the time. While Loremon was resolute on having me join him in WoW, I was never quite ready when he asked. I finally was.
World of Warcraft, again, about a year after launch, was okay. The world didn’t WOW me like the previous two (pardon the pun?) and it was so simple comparatively to my previous two major MMO’s I almost felt my intelligence was insulted at first. It took me a while to shine up to WoW and the busier I became in my professional life, the more I appreciated it as it really worked for my schedule. I rolled a hunter a first (before I knew that everyone was already a hunter, and that no one needed – or wanted one – tagging around for anything back in those days) got to max level in a guild that Loremon was in – and then realized there was nothing for me to do. About that time, Loremon left (damn you!) and while I was with a good group of people, because of the solo nature of WoW I didn’t really know any of them. Everyone solo’d up to max level than began to figure out what to do in a group. There were no true bonds made, and I was ready to hang it up. I started reading boards, and learned how important (and rare) Druids were at the time – Innervate was one of the most important skills in the game back then and I decided to roll a druid, get to max level, and see the other part of what made WoW supposedly special – the end game raiding. The casual and bond-less guild I was a part of fell apart, and I made my trek solo again (not surprisingly), got to where I wanted to be, and began searching for a guild. My needs in a guild were a bit different now, being, uh, old – and I was very specific on what I wanted. The first time I posted on the WoW server boards “Level 60 druid, looking for guild” I received 20 replies the first day. Druids were indeed in demand, and for the first time in my WoW experience, I felt semi important. I joined the Grey Rangers, and it was a perfect fit. Not a bleeding end game content guild but a “hey, there are actually people like me playing in this game” guild. People mattered, families mattered, and the game and progress mattered – but the latter was third on the list. The leadership of that guild had it figured out real nice, and pretty much instantly after I joined that guild WoW turned out to be a good game. Funny how that happens. BC expansion was on the horizon, and the guild changed – we had recruited so many people and different camps had formed on in game expectations (to fill out a 40 man raiding roster) and at that time a small group of people decided they wanted something different when the expansion came with the new reduced raid size. Ascension was born, I somehow greased enough palms to be voted in as it’s Guild Master, and after a rough start and a lot of organizing and hard work with a ton of help from a lot of amazing people, we hit a great raiding stride – suddenly WoW was an AWESOME game. After being a GM for what seemed like a very long time (although much shorter in reality) 18 months into the expansion my professional life became rediculously busy, and while I didn’t have the time to do my GM job properly I somehow made it work – but inside I knew my time was coming. I had no excitement for the WOTLK announced expansion, the idea of levelling again the same old way, to get the same old loot rewards to face the same old raid bosses with maybe a twist or two to mechanics had zero interest for me. The people still did (do) but I couldn’t justify playing a scheduled 15 hours a week anymore with a young family, work overwhelming me, and additional responsibilities in game, so I stepped down, and let my subscription run out.
I did toy with a few other MMO’s during the WoW phase, notably DDO and LOTR but neither did it for me. I beta tested over 15 titles from 1998 to current, but the aforementioned titles are the only games I truely played.
My little personal history lesson has showed me one thing – I leave games when I am ready to, regardless of what is out there on the market. Perhaps that is why I have a lot of leniency for new games coming out of beta and going live, because I am not looking for the new game to “beat” my current experience, rather, I am looking for a new experience – one that fits my current personal, professional, and entertainment needs. My question to you, my esteemed readership (of 5?), is what makes you leave your current titles for new ones?