My first time was a blur. Memories of it are bittersweet because I know I can never quite recapture that magic; that spark. I was seduced by the newness of it all. It was a brand new world. Why didn’t anyone tell me it could feel like this? That it could feel this good? This right?
It was with a dwarf named Reaban.
My introduction into MMOs is a familiar tale; ask your guild-mates and they’ll likely share similar story. Each of us has a special place in our heart for that first game. Despite the fact that almost all of us abandoned our inductive MMO we think back only with the fondest of memories.
All you have to do is look in ‘general chat’ to see the honeymoon is over. Whatever game we are in now, whatever universe that we choose to digitally surround us, is not making us as happy as that first time. People complain of class and faction balance, of glitches and poor drop rates. No one seems to enjoy MMOs like they used to.
It’s not really the current game’s fault that we’ve become harder to please. It’s not as if they aren’t as good as the old games, in fact they’re better. That’s why we moved on to them. Yet, we still feel unsatisfied. Why? I’m afraid the fault lies with us.
What can we do? Where did it go wrong? How do we regain that loving feeling?
While we can never recreate our idealized past we can certainly have more fun with whatever we are playing now. Here are some tips on how to make the most out of your online gaming experience.
1. Avoid the naysayers
General chat is poison to a healthy MMO relationship. It is filled flamers and trolls fighting over nothing. People just piss each other off and everyone generally acts like a middle-school boy that just learned how to curse. If anyone is actually talking about the game they rarely have anything nice to say.
It’s funny how these people can affect us and how they can color our opinions. If you read negative comments about the game all day it’s only matter of time before you find something that you agree with. It could be a glitch that bothers you, a certain class that you hate or a long line into a PVP arena, but someone is bitching about something and you agree with them.
When this happens, try your best not comment on it in general. Don’t become one of them! Just ignore it and move on. It only takes one little complaint in general before you find yourself trolling the forums calling the game’s developers racist towards gnomes and telling everyone that you are unsubscribing. Nobody wants to be that guy.
I’m not saying ignore a game’s faults. That’s just silly. If the game has so many things wrong with it and it’s not fun, then don’t play it. However, if you are still having good time, the only person your constant whining hurts is you.
2. Enjoy the journey
If you have played an MMO for any extended period of time you’ve, at least once, found yourself rushing towards a goal. All you cared about was reaching end-game or getting that new mount or that new armor set. You may have a giant glowing sword or a flashy new space car but you ignored the ride.
Now, I know these games are about achievement, about getting to the next level, getting the best sword or gun or gun-sword or whatever. It’s easy to forget that the most important part about achieving a goal is how you do it. Getting to end game should be the fun part. Downing a boss should be more rewarding than what it drops.
We get shortsighted easily in MMOs but at the risk of sounding like a cheesy and geeky Hallmark card I’ll say; take break and smell the digital flowers. Or, if you’d prefer, a geeky Ferris Bueller; life in Azeroth moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop to look around every once in awhile, you’ll miss it.
3. Try to love the whole game
This just sounds stupid huh? It’s like cheesy marriage advice from one of those atrocious magazines at the supermarket. ‘Love the whole man, his jerk friends and all.’ But much like a divorcee, we find we long for the flaws of our old flames.
My first MMORPG was Everquest and I loved it. What I miss most about that game were some of its biggest faults. The mere thought of shouting ‘train to zone’ still brings a smile to my face. The idea of waiting forever to take a boat to another continent makes me seize up in nostalgic bliss. This sort of stuff would never work in the games of today. I’d hate to have to loot my corpse to get my items back, or waste my time crossing a giant digital ocean. I’ve got stuff to do, people to meet and enemies to slaughter. But that doesn’t make me miss these quirks any less.
What we often find what we miss the most about the games we abandoned were the parts that didn’t work. The broken bits were somehow endearing.
Again, don’t play it if it’s not fun, if the faults get in the way so much that you can’t enjoy the game. Don’t be a masochist. Just don’t let little issues tarnish the game.
In the end, MMO gamers are a jaded lot; we are notoriously hard to please. It’s difficult for us to remember that our surrogate universes were created for us, that they are constantly being tweaked and altered to make us as happy as possible and to keep us playing. When we login, the least we can do is let the little things go, take a step back and remember that we are there to have fun.