Monday, 21 October 2013

In search of the true MMO gamer

I read an excellent post by Lonegun about the free level cap character viral that roams some MMOs. It was a little rant about how they dislike this feature and it was so excellent because it started me thinking about what this thing is that we call "MMO".

Lonegun in The Rant: Leveling is a Grind over at Away From Game:
"In my opinion people who are, “bored with the slog of leveling” are not true MMO gamers." 
Ouch, well, that hurt. (Okay, maybe not all that much.)

In an MMO, I usually enjoy the 'leveling' part on my first character. But to be honest, I'm not actually enjoying the leveling itself (I care very little for that aspect and an inaudible groan escapes me each time a guildie/kinnie exclaims "DING!" in chat), I enjoy the exploration, learning how to play my character and the lore (if it interests me). If a game is designed well, I incidentally reach level cap when I've seen everything (or a bit before, so there's a bit left to explore for other characters). After I've seen what the world has to offer, then it loses its appeal when I level more alts.

What I truly love about MMOs is endgame. The challenge of getting a group together and get the best out of yourself, combined with the comradeship that emerges in a group when doing things together. This is what makes me log in with enthusiasm and keeps me interested in an MMO. I know this is not for everyone, in fact, this sort of gameplay is found in the more traditional MMOs (WoW, LotrO, SWTOR) and most new MMOs try to step away from it. However, this is what I like in MMOs, and if that makes a non-true MMO gamer (whatever that means), then so be it.

I would never buy a level capped character, though, that obliterates the whole idea of a 'game' for me. Playing my character makes me feel connected to it. It may sound strange, but my character gains worth to me with the time invested. If it is a terribly boring grind to level a character, I will just not play the game at all. Maybe this is the light in which we should see the recent get-a-level-capped-character offers: a desperate attempt to keep players interested.

I do not believe we have found the 'true MMO gamer' in Lonegun's leveler, though. In fact, I do not believe either the leveler or the hardcore end gamer necessarily represents the 'true MMO gamer'. The search continues this week in part two.


  1. To talk about true (mmo) gamers suggests that there are untrue ones; it also suggests than one of us has an authorative definition of these terms. which we don't.

    All gamers are true gamers. everything else is elitism. it doesn't bring people together as one community, it creates rifts and pecking orders according to somebody's biased view of 'how to play'. so, while I do empathize with certain player frustrations where MMO design is concerned, I am personally very very careful in these types of discussions. already arguments about casuals vs. hardcores aren't usually very fruitful.

    1. I may be naive (in fact, I probably am), but it baffles me how people (even in the blogosphere) can have such strong sentiments about what's right and what is not. Lonegun believes people who don't care about the leveling part are doing it wrong, and while I may not necessarily agree, I do partly understand where the sentiment comes from. This fascinates me.

      Maybe I'm making a big mistake by opening a discussion here that I shouldn't have and we're going to be overrun by trolls. DOOOOOOM and stuff, hehe. We'll see.

    2. I've no problem with strong opinions. I'm also okay with people opening any kind of debate - we can't reach conclusions or grow as people if we're not allowed to do that.

      But yeah, when it comes to claiming authority on something like 'who gets to call himself a real gamer' or similar and dismissing other people's gaming experiences as valid, that's a big /eyebrow for me.
      the older I get, the more I empathize with all kinds of playstyles and they're all equally valid - even if I don't like them all equally (or wish the devs listened to me more than them). we all want the same: games that cater to us. no argument saves anyone from that truth. ;)

    3. Well-said. See, you are so much more of a pro-blogger! I take three blog posts to get something together and you can just do it in one comment. :D

      I'm with you in this one, in the end we are all looking for the same. Apart from the getting old part, I'm still young. Yes, really, I'm young!

      *awkward silence, followed by the terrible moment of realization*

      Geesh, I'm 26, for all those I'm-16-and-I-spend-my-whole-life-behind-the-computer peeps I must be such a dinosaur!

    4. OH Syl, I must partially disagree.

      There *is* such a thing as a "true MMO gamer" and while I can't personally define it, I know what it must at least indicate at base: the core gamer for MMOs. As far as developers are concerned, these are players who login several times a week for a few hours each time. They are the core because MMOs are worlds designed to be constantly populated with a critical mass of players. They rely on *not* being empty.

      What "true MMO gamer" isn't, I think, is a playstyle. Lonegun is arguing that it's a playstyle (people who think leveling is what its all about, for example), but as Rav just described it's not a playstyle at all.

    5. I'd even disagree with that. How many hours does it take to be "true MMO gamer"?

      This is something that's simply impossible to define I think. :P

    6. @Doone
      Sadly, while this MAY have been true once, all next gen MMOs focus on the solo and PuG experience and do therefore not require cooperative effort anymore in the same way. games like EQNext that focus on emergent AI are also going to change this further.

      As for the devs well, if you really want to go there, they probably consider you a true MMO gamer when you become a paying customer - that's it. ;) in a non-sub game all that really means is buying the box or maybe a store item but it has little to do with how much you effectively are online. and I'm pretty sure devs are the last who want to alienate potential customers by telling them who is true and who isn't - only gamers create this type of pecking orders.

    7. MMORPGs tend to be multifacted--and the players even more so. It's folly to cherrypick a particular game element as if it's some kind of litmus for "true" MMO fans.

    8. MMOs of all things are *designed* to be enjoyed in lots of different ways.

      It's in the very title - there's "Game" and "Role-play" in there for a start. Saying you're not a true MMO gamer if you dislike leveling is about as reasonable as saying you're not a true player if you don't like RP.

      And the "Massively" part.... the only way that the economics of such complex beasts works is if they have a *lot* of players. And if there are a lot, they'll of course be a diverse bunch, and they will have different ideas of what's fun.

  2. I'm not a big fan of binary views on social issues. As a gamer and a paying customer you are free to do things whatever way makes you happy (within the rules).

    If someone wants to debate that, then they're on a hiding to nothing :)

  3. Meh, I never like it when people say there's only one true way to do things or play.. basically their way is right and that's it. There's no such thing as a true MMO player as MMOs themselves are incredibly diverse and offer loads of different play option: leveling, crafting, roleplaying, endgame grouping, pvping, etc. None of those are the "true" way to play a MMO.

    People can do what they like, skip what they like, play with others or play alone. Quite simple as that!

  4. I was going to go into a much more passionate (and rant-ish) comment but people beat me to it with more grounded, rational and well thought comments. Soo... I will just say I agree with what everyone said and leave at that. :)

    ~ Rakuno

  5. '...we all want the same: games that cater to us....'

    And when we get together to party with a game that caters to ALL of US....

    The party will eventually get wild enough and someone is bound to have a problem with the music the DJ is playing!

    A good MMO should be able to cater to a diverse group of players so:

    'Ask not what makes a good MMO player but what makes a good MMO?'

  6. I am reading a lot great opinions and comments about the true MMO gamer.

    The ultimate goal of my article is to get gamers to contemplate the reasons why they play the MMOs they play. Out of that contemplation gamers should think seriously about issues such as how to interact in the community, providing constructive feedback to developers and even buying high level characters.

    I do not think I have read anything so far where anyone is defining what make a true MMO gamer. The reality is each gamer decides whether or not they are a true gamer no matter what genre.

  7. What I enjoy in games is almost exactly the same as you do.

    The main difference - and I suspect it's more a difference in wording than anything - is that what I like most of all is "challenging group content", rather than "endgame" as such. I would happily run level 50 instances in LOTRO if I could just get on-level groups to do it with. The trouble is, it's hard to find on-level groups at any levels other than the cap. (Over-level groups are a bit easier to find, but they make the content a bit too easy for max satisfaction.)

    Which is where I would actually be interested in a way to get my alts up to cap easily, so I can use them in groups. It would be a lot of fun for me to play different classes in the instances, but for me it's not a lot of fun getting them all up through 85 levels first.

    I don't have to go instantly from 1 to 85, but I ideally I don't want to spend more time leveling than it takes me to properly learn the ins and outs of the class.

    Alternately. I'd be happy if our chars were all scaled in some way so any group of chars could do any instance together, and do it without being way overpowered for it. I'm hoping Big Battles might do the trick for that!

    I've been quite eagerly sprucing up my lowbies in the hope they'll be able to do some fun things in Big Battles.

    1. That's more a difference in wording indeed, I really like challenging group content as well. The most fun challenges I've done were actually things that you were not intended to do that way (for instance the Poison wing in Ost Dunhoth 6-man Challenge mode - on level).

      I feel the leveling in LotRO is way too slow and tedious for my liking, especially in the later levels. The fact that questing is the only way to progress (or skirmishes, but they're not that exciting after a while) holds me back as well. But maybe I'm just a grumpy old player. ^^

      However, I've also been trying to get some characters up to level cap lately before Helm's Deep hits.


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