By the time you read this the latest World of Warcraft expansion will be out to the enjoyment of millions of WoW players across the world. During the big Black Friday/ Cyber Monday week this past year WoW along with the first two expansions were on sale for a grand total of $20. $20 for a megaton of game and yet I resisted no matter how big that pull was.
I held out for two reasons, one if I did get into WoW I could kiss my backlog of at least 30 games good bye. Second was that a long time ago when I was playing WoW I made a solemn vow to myself to never play the game again. The problem with WoW is that it embodies the mechanics that keep me away from most MMOs.
Time progression: Awhile ago I wrote up an entry on the types of progression in games narrowing it down to time and skill. Time meaning leveling up, stats and loot, while skill being the player improving at the game. WoW like the majority of MMOs is time based for good reason, as that’s how you hook players. If you could do everything you want in a MMO in ten minutes of play then that MMO will not last long. It is far easier to generate content for time progression then it is for skill as the carrot of that new shiny piece of equipment is a great motivator.
The problem for me is that while I love action rpgs that have new gear as a reward I am predominately a skill based gamer. That is easily why my #2 game of 2009 was Demon’s Souls and if someone was to create a MMO in that style that could be it for my free time. Fortunately I don’t think I have to worry about that as Wow is currently the 500 pound gorilla which everyone is basing their MMOs on. Also while I would love a MMO like Demon’s Souls I doubt there would be a huge following for a game where you could die at any second.
Point and click: In hand with time progression is also the combat system. With WoW mainly times based, your ability to progress is tied to your stats above all else. Try to take on an enemy 10 levels above you and it doesn’t matter how good you are, most likely you will lose one on one. The second a spell is casted or a fire ball gets thrown, stats and equations become the factor of your success.
One element I enjoyed from Borderlands which billed itself as a “role playing shooter” was that the stats of your weapon determine your damage but accuracy was all based on the player. If your gun was pointed at the enemies head you did not have to worry about a dice roll affecting whether you would hit or not, that bullet was going to hit.
I like my combat systems with a little meat on the bones, not clicking a button and watching a little progress bar fill before my spell gets cast. Star Trek Online had a very interesting ship combat system that I talked about here, which I enjoyed greatly.
Socially anti: For those that missed my opinion on social games then you missed the news that I’m not a sociable person. If there is a genre that requires social interaction more than social games it would have to be most MMOs.
The term lone wolf has always applied to my play style, I always like to solo, pick the class least favored and generally do my best to avoid being part of the group. This is very ironic considering that I absolutely loved Left 4 Dead for its co-op game-play.
One event has stood with me as to why I don’t want to be around MMO gamers. This was during the time that I was playing WoW, we were playing one of the lower level instances when I don’t remember what happened, either someone looted a corpse or the quest event didn’t trigger for one player and she started freaking out. Just cursing in all caps for about two minutes and no one could stop her.
I thought to myself “is that what I have to look forward to with grouping?” Granted that outburst was not the norm but it was not good for someone who was already negative towards grouping to witness.
The idea of “raids” as end game content never sat right with me. The thought of going on these multi hour quests that people take the min-maxing concept to the highest level sounds boring for me. While playing WoW I did go on some of the lower level epic dungeons and thought they were ok.
Since my departure from WoW I have tried other MMOs: Eve Online, City of Heroes, Everquest 2, the first Final Fantasy MMO, Lord of the Rings Online, Guild Wars, Vindictus and of course Star Trek Online. Of the list I did enjoy both Guild Wars and Star Trek for being different than the usual fare. Final Fantasy I hated with a passion the second I had to use its awful control scheme with a keyboard and mouse.
Even though I haven’t played Star Trek Online since a two week trial, I did buy it on sale cheap and have been holding on to a key for a few months now. The reason has to do with the revisions that Cryptic has been making to the various systems; I’m waiting for them to improve the ground combat before I use my key and take another look at the game.
My friends have been reporting positive things about DC universe online and that it is more action oriented then most MMOs. Currently I’m begging for a ten day key and I’m really tempted to just buy it.
One final funny story that goes with WoW, I was at my day job which it seems everyone plays WoW, Madden or Call of Duty when I overheard two people talking about going on a raid. They were talking about what equipment to wear and what to spec as and other raid terms. While listening to them I thought “man these guys sound like weirdoes”. The second I thought that I had an epiphany that must be what I sound like to non gamers when I talk about all the weird games I played.
Suddenly it made sense to me why people give me weird looks when I try to explain to them what the Shin Megami Tensei franchise is or about Killer 7.