30 Days: The Awakening

1 07 2009

Clock Face

by xeroxeroxero

If ever there was a hulking beast in videogames, a genre of title that is, for all intents and purposes, impenetrable to the average person, surely it must be the MMO. Just for a second, take the time to say that abbreviation out loud and in it’s entirety. “Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game”. Its a phrase that, in itself, demands a knowledge of videogames beyond most of the casual audience’s grasp, after all, to Joe Public what is a role playing game? Why is something defined as “Massively” multiplayer, as opposed to just, “Multiplayer”? Being a console gamer all of my life and rarely having had a PC that can run the latest version of Microsoft Office let alone anything else, the chance to dip into an MMO has never been viable for me. Until now. It’s with great trepidation then that this month I’ll be playing one for the very first time, and seeing what all of the fuss is about…

But why play one at all? Well MMOs represent a huge chunk of the gaming populations activities, especially in the realms of online gaming and social networking. They also happen to be big business, with well over 11 million monthly subscribers to World Of Warcraft alone. When you factor in that subscriptions are roughly £8 a month, you can see why there are so many companies out there trying to get in on the action. Western design choice has traditionally been based on this kind of subscription service, players pay an up front fee for a certain amount of game time, as opposed to the East, especially Korea, which has embraced the free-to-play model, focusing instead on micro-transactions to fund the game’s persistent world.

Where there is money to be made, there is choice, and the range of titles out there is astronomical, each one with it’s own pay structure, target demographic, style of gameplay, and its own unique world with a community individually gathered around it. Its a daunting task in itself just deciding what to play! Fantasy or Sci-fi? PVP or NPC only combat? Do I play on a casual or role playing server? The method of the game’s delivery itself is entirely up for debate, shall I play a well established retail title, or a newer, more independent downloadable game?

Games like World of Warcraft have attempted to reach a more casual audience, but an abundance of statistics, menus and icons come seem daunting to newcomers

Games like World of Warcraft have attempted to reach a more casual audience, but an abundance of statistics, menus and icons come seem daunting to newcomers

But how much are these decisions really going to affect the type of game I actually get? To be perfectly honest I think I’m pretty jaded before going into any of these MMOs in the first place. What I want as I quest across whichever virtual world I choose is the kind of experience I would have if I was playing online with friends on a title other than an RPG, a not too serious, almost casual game, and not a life choice for those that can’t face RL…

So here is where the MLG community can help out. I want to overcome this stereotype and my pre-conceived notions of the genre, so over the coming 30 days I’m going to play my first MMO and report back each week the findings, experiences and stories of a true noob. Trouble is, I have no experience in this field whatsoever, so Midlife Gamers, how should I start, what do I need to keep in mind when playing, and whats the best way to approach these games? Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you all next week, in part 2.

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5 responses

1 07 2009
Balaenidae

I came late to the game in WOW and found myself alone amongst friends who already had their characters capped out, as such, it meant that I never truly embraced the idea of it being multiplayer. Very rarely would I get into a party, after all WOW is designed to be playable as a single player game. Occasionally a friend would come help me out and show me around. Mostly though I would just be in group chats with friends and just play the game.

Whilst playing like that is great to familiarise yourself with the game so that when you do play with people you aren’t a total noob, it can become too easy just to carry on like that and not to experience what the genre truly has to offer.

Oh and P.S. learn the acronyms e.g. LFG, AoE, Dot (Looking For Group, Area of Effect, Damge over Time)

1 07 2009
Matthew Moore

Hmmmm very interested in seeing how you get on with WOW.
Balaenidae is right about feeling a little lonely in such a world when you first start.
Chances are, most of the lower level people you come across are alternative characters of level 80’s, meaning they will be nailing through the game with the help of their fellow level 80’s.
Its a shame that you don’t have anyone else to play with who’s also never experienced it.

As for wanting to get the most out of it, I would suggest you keep the music nice and high, you will find yourself being pulled into the world at some places. Also try your best (cant be hard) to read everything you can which is given to you, maybe not all of the books you can find, but at least all of the quest text. I can easy get into the habit of just reading the sumary of what I need to do, then have no idea why I’m doing it… then it becomes a grind.

To get the most out of it, I would also suggest you go on the server “Runetotem” there you’ll find me and Miso who can level up some lower leveled toons with you, going slow and helping you enjoy it (not to mention answering all the questions you’ll have)

1 07 2009
xeroxeroxero

Thanks so far for your comments. Just to be clear, its not definitely going to be WOW, it might well be another title, but I’m assuming you would recommend Warcraft as my first MMO? Are there any others you guys would recommend?

1 07 2009
Matthew Moore

Hmmm well actually maybe not then.
I’d have suggested something which is newer, just to give more of a chance that you’d be with people in the same boat. Wow can be very overwelming and I’m not sure how much you’d get out of only 30 days.
So you could always try Lotro (I enjoyed it and great if you like Tokien), Warhammer Online maybe (or is that Warm Hammer)

1 07 2009
antman

An interesting social experiment. Kind of like “Super-size me”, lets call it Super-pwn me 🙂

I’ve been in several MMOs, first WOW, then LOTRO, a brief stint in Tabula Rasa, then Age of Conan and finally EVE online. Although, in the last 3 weeks, I have returned to WOW to fill a gaming rut I’m currently in.

Out of all of these, I would recommend WOW to be your starting point, it has the smoothest of learning curves. However, as Matt says above ^^, most people you will meet in the world are “alt” characters of a lv80, so a lot of the fun of discovery could be taken out.

On that topic, with gaming time being so precious in these troubled times, one is convinced that efficiency is king, getting the most out of your gaming sessions. So, you can install “add-ons” to WOW, small helpers made by people to make the game easier. The most popular add-on is Questhelper, its basically a sat-nav arrow on your HUD telling you what bearing and distance your quest objective is in.
If anything has taken the aspect of discovery out of WOW, its this little widget. Rarely do I take in the scenery, a direct route being taken to the objective. That coupled with a priority system that makes the most efficent route for all of your quests.

Sorry, I’m rambling like Grandpa Simpson.
An alternative might be Warhammer online. I heard lots of good things about it, the only bad point being a lack of players to fully implement the developers vision. A gritty player vs player (PVP) experience.

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