Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Back from Detox!

Glory days are here! I am back from detox. Let me explain lest ye think ill of me. No, I am not a recovering alcoholic or drug user. My addiction could be considered even more insidious. You see, I am an ex MMO player. It feels good to finally be able to say that. The "ex" part, I mean. It has now been 55 days since I played my last MMO.

Surprisingly, my MMO addiction ended while playing one of the most beloved IPs and one of my life's major influences. That being, The Lord of the Rings Online. One would have thought that the marriage of these two entities (the MMO and LOTR) would have snared me for good and I would be hopelessly lost. I have Turbine themselves to thank for my salvation. The fact that they applied the tried and true MMO stamp to the world of Middle Earth was a major factor in allowing me to see just how futile the whole MMO genre is and gave me the impetus to be able to quit.

Let me explain. I started playing MMOs back in the heady days when everyone was still naive enough to think that these types of games would allow people to create characters and in effect live in an alternate world which was shaped and influenced by the players. Back in the days of UO just before Lord British's murder, which I witnessed (if you are an MMO junkie you know what I am talking about). I had grand ideas for this new type of game. I mean who wouldn't like the idea of becoming a character in a fantasy world and living an alternate life in a way that was fun and satisfying? Well, UO lead to EQ which lead to DAOC which lead to WOW with stops between in all the other exotic and lesser known MMOs. Never once in any of these games did the gameplay live up to the expectations and promises made by publishers when hyping their games. I started to blame my growing dissatisfaction on the setting. I kept telling myself that I was becoming frustrated because I didn't really care for the world the game was set in. I should have known better when I quit DAOC because I can't think of a setting I like more than medieval England. I went to WOW mostly because everyone else was and it was sort of the thing to do. Leaving WOW was pretty easy, since once I reached 60 with my Rogue, I couldn't buy my way into a group. Even still, I had brief flirtations with other classes in WOW, but it was just too damn hard to redo all the same content.

Along comes Turbine and LORTO. At this point in my MMO career, I had become extremely tired of what now had become standard MMO gameplay. Boring quests centered around collecting obscure parts of wandering animals or monsters and reporting back to claim a small prize. But, this was LOTR though and I was now going to have a chance to play a character in my most favorite of all fantasy worlds. Turbine managed to capture almost none of the flavor and excitement that drew me to Middle Earth in my many years of reading the novels. Not only that, they followed Blizzard's example and used the most tried and true MMO mechanics to build the game around. I slogged away through the first few levels settling on a Guardian for a character and set about doing what one does in MMOs. One pays dues by mindlessly killing the same creatures over and over again so they can be rewarded by seeing a new area with the same tasks to accomplish again. After reaching level 24 with 3 characters and hitting a wall each time, I realized that it didn't matter what world a game was set in. The MMO had evolved into a style of play that I had no interest in anymore. I slogged through eight or nine years of these games hoping to find one that came close to satisfying my initial expectations for the genre. It all ended in the world that started my interest in fantasy and role playing in the first place. Thanks to unimaginative developers and perhaps expectations that were too high. During my long addiction, I missed a slew of games for consoles and the PC that I am now happily enjoying, so don't feel bad for me. Rejoice that I have escaped the mindless brain numbing grind that is the MMO.


Sarah said...

Ah what an Ironic twist between your last two entries. I still play CoH but I think I can safely leave the addiction part off since I play a few hours a day when it strikes me and mostly for the company of the great group of people I play with, and not for any deep seeded need to grind my way through levels just to get another 50th level character. Good luck on your continued recovery :)

Flying Norseman said...

LOL I knew someone was going to point that out... Fitting it is you. I guess it might be my personality, but when I play these games it's all or nothing. I don't think I could play for only a couple hours a week. DAOC is the only game where I met people who I cared to keep in touch with at all.