Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Despite What You May Think, MMO’s Suck

After listening to a couple of my favorite gaming podcasts this week I have to wonder, if what these people are saying is true, why in the world should anyone be playing Massively Multiplayer Online Games?
The first podcast, Shut Up We’re Talking, covered the topic “Why It’s Great to be an MMO Gamer.” The catalyst for this discussion was a Massively article written by Justin Olivetti in which he listed 10 reasons it’s great to be an MMO gamer today. Some of his points were giant game selection, a variety of pay options, developers are trying new things, it’s becoming cool to be a gamer, larger player base, and there’s so much to talk about. Darren, one of the hosts on Shut Up, then proceeded to shoot down each of these arguments. More games dilutes the population. More pay options gives the game companies more of an opportunity to gouge the player. Where are the new things these developers are supposed to be trying? Gaming is still considered uncool in many circles. The “larger player base” may just be the same core group of players leaving and coming back. Finally, Darren is finding less new things to talk about concerning games.
So, I finish that uplifting conversation and turn on the next podcast, the Van Hemlock Podcast. In this particular episode, Tim and Jon work their way through a list they compiled of 20 things that could be improved in MMO’s. Among the complaints were traveling quests that run you back and forth between two or three locations, leveling, multiple currencies, and not all content is available to solo players. The duo had more than one issue with certain aspects of game play, such as crafting. Why do you have to manufacture the same item over and over again to gain the skill level needed to manufacture the item you really want? And shouldn’t all crafting materials be found throughout the world, not just in one or two specific areas? Groups had their own problems. The first was size limits. The other was the “Holy Trinity”, or the need to have a specific group composition (healer, tank, damage-per-second) in order be efficient. And then there was the sense that nothing you did really mattered in the world. Whatever you accomplish resets or, if you choose not to do something, there are no consequences.
To be fair, Darren explained in the show’s comments that, when an article is over-positive, he likes to take a step back and look at the other side of the argument. Also, Jon and Tim were making constructive criticisms in the hopes that developers might make improvement to these various mechanics in future games. Still, after listening, it sounds like there is so much wrong with these games that anyone would be foolish to waste their time with them. However, somehow, despite all these issues, I am still having fun when I play my favorite game. Does that mean my game of choice is devoid of problems? Of course not. And that’s the point. From a Gamer’s viewpoint, if he or she is having fun, all these other issues simply don’t matter. The fun is more powerful than the flaws.

So, is it a great time to be an MMO gamer? Well? Are you having fun? If so, then yes, it’s a great time to be an MMO gamer!

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