Massively Overthinking: Meaningful MMORPG mentors

    
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We grouse endlessly when MMORPGs omit mentoring or sidekicking systems — but what about real mentors?

Have you ever had a mentor in an MMO, someone who guided you through a game or helped you navigate a guild or learn your class? If you no longer keep in touch, what would you say to your mentor if you could? I polled our writers about their experiences with having — and being — real gaming mentors in this week’s Massively Overthinking.

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): I’ve introduced dozens of friends to EVE Online over the years, and about half didn’t stick with it for any length of time, but the ones who did were always those I mentored directly. I invited them into my corporation, brought them along on missions or wormhole operations, and in some cases even bought them a PLEX or two to get their accounts on their feet. I also tried my hand at running a training corp for Massively readers, but we focused on PvE, and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves in the middle of a war we weren’t prepared for. When my corp opened as a public faction warfare militia corp back in 2008, we started out as a bunch of complete newbies and some real-life friends who had never engaged in PvP before. It wasn’t long before we were flying suicide gangs of cheap-as-chips tech 1 cruisers and bagging battleship kills and tech 2 cruisers. Some of those newbies went on to join other corps, a few followed us into wormhole expeditions in 2009 and became our most trusted friends, and some ended up quitting the game later anyway. Running a corp full of PvP newbies and smashing veterans over the head with disposable ships was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in an MMO and a great way to bring new people into EVE and show them what it’s really all about.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I had a mentor a long time ago, though he might not have thought of himself as one. He was a loyal and dear friend I made very early on in Ultima Online, and he taught me all the tricks of how to survive and thrive in what was an incredibly brutal world for anyone, let alone a newbie to online games. For a long time, we shared what we earned together in our little UO business, including our grand keep and some of our characters! People just don’t do those things nowadays. Trust is different. We lost touch after EverQuest when he moved back home to the other side of the world and we could no longer play together, but I still miss him dearly, and I wouldn’t be here playing MMOs or writing this without him.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): Well, I did mentor someone. She was a good friend, but she’d never played an MMO beforehand, and I was eager for her to play World of Warcraft with me at the time. I even went ahead and bought her a copy of the game, set her up on the same server I was on, introduced her to roleplaying, explained what I knew and then started exploring the game with her. It was a great way for us to keep in contact and grow closer. Our second anniversary is in October.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I’ve had experienced guildies definitely help me through tougher spots, such as level 60s doing speed runs with me through Deadmines back in vanilla World of Warcraft. My Guild Wars guild was also instrumental in helping me get through all of the missions to earn those coveted Guild Wars 2 Hall of Monument points. I’ve probably had more assistance in the help of online guides, and I’ve always known that I should be more vocally appreciative of the guys and gals who take a lot of time putting builds and walkthroughs together. I probably owe a lot of understanding in MMOs thanks to those.

Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog): I didn’t really have a mentor because my first guilds in MMOs were led by some terrible people. However, there were some great people in a guild I found in Star Wars Galaxies that encouraged roleplay. Not only did I start to have real fun in the game again, but that guild allowed me to stretch my wings. So that’s probably the closest I’ve had to an MMO mentor.

Mike Foster (@MikedotFoster, blog): I didn’t have a specific mentor, but I did join a noob-friendly guild when I first started World of Warcraft. Thanks to helpful guildies, I learned what instances were, how to run them, and which items I should be looking for as a little baby Priest. The guild was dedicated to being helpful and welcoming, and it made a huge difference in how much I enjoyed the game. Although I later left to go into hardcore raiding and eventually became a guild leader myself, those first six or seven months with the guild were the only reason I knew enough to consider either. Everything I learned about WoW from 1-60 was learned though that guild. I’d mostly just say thanks. Huge, huge thanks. After all, my guildies helped me build an expertise that landed me a job at Blizzard, which in turn led me to where I am today. That’s pretty dang rad. Hugs and kisses, CTS Dojo.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): When I started in Star Wars Galaxies, I knew little about the game other than a fact my friend (whom I’d just moved across the country from) was playing it. He helped me develop my backstory, told me a good place to start, and off I went. The funny thing is with our time and work schedule differences, we hardly played together! From that point on, it was a series of just good players and friends throughout games who would share with me the expertise they had in whatever area I was lacking. So I never had a specific mentor per se, but I did have many smaller experiences of folks sharing knowledge and being helpful. Maybe it was taking me through my first set of max-level dungeons, or maybe it was giving me tips on Theorycrafting, or maybe even just helping warn me away from trouble spots (or people!). It often turns out that I can share what I am strong in with the same folks who share their skills with me, so it is a mutually beneficial exchange. I really like helping others; it’s often the best part of the game for me. I wouldn’t necessarily say I am a mentor, but I really enjoy showing people the ropes, giving them the goodies they need to get started, and sharing enjoyment of the game. At times I grew very close to these in-game friends who became out-of-game friends, and I keep in contact with many still. Some I lost touch with, though I’d love to see how they are, wish them well in life, see what they are playing now, and maybe share a funny story or two from our gaming times.

Your turn!

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Ormorof
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Ormorof

In our Dark Age of Camelot we had a specific “rank” in our guild for mentors who were willing to take time to help out new players to the game & guild
Had so much fun doing it :)

Neo_Wolf
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Neo_Wolf

I’ve been a Mentor many time, being an Alt-o-holic helps you become pretty well versed in a game and its content for the purposes of helping guide and advise people.

I have only personally had a Mentor twice though, the first in SWG (post NGE) and the second in EVE whereby a kindly Pirate from BoB took the time to educate me in the finer aspects of the games tactics in 0.0 space  his advise helped me to avoid PvP’ers for almost two years :)

Flimflamberge
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Flimflamberge

I’ve always had to learn by myself. : I do try to be helpful to anyone anytime I can, but I don’t know that I’ve really been a true mentor to anyone.

mysecretid
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mysecretid

I joined a Fleet in Star Trek Online only because I wanted to take part in the Starbase-building system. I had never been a “joiner” player before.

The Fleet I ended up with in STO ended up being (and continues to be) wonderful. Casual; low-key; friendly; often funny; international; accepting of diversity and very, very anti-arsehole.

As a former solo player, I was terrified of trying out the Special Task Force group content (the stuff with the big rewards) because I didn’t want to be “the goat” — the guy who f*cks up the mission by accident and gets screamed at …

But my Fleet doesn’t run that way, the Fleet’s old-guard mentors, Latinimbar, Sargon, BAMFacus and the rest, they kept telling me to try, and guided me through the learning curve.

Did I screw up? Yes. More than I’d care to admit at first. But no one carped at me. They could see that I was genuinely trying to get it right, and that was good enough. 
They would offer, “Don’t worry, we’ll get it next time”, and the next time, they would watch me for the places I was failing, and offer tips and backup. Great mentors. My ability to do the group content in STO at all is a testament to my Fleet.

Even today, the Fleet has a “help, don’t blame” policy, and members who lose their shite whenever an STF gets blown by honest error don’t last long with us.

Zennie
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Zennie

I don’t have to say anything, @nyphur said it all.

BenesHacha
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BenesHacha

One of my best friends in WoW was a frost mage who PvE’d all the time and hadn’t really set foot in a battleground. I was looking for a 2s partner at the time (as a resto druid) and didn’t really click with anyone. So I said, hey, wanna try this with me? It took a LOT of effort, and getting our faces smashed in, but she’s talked a lot since about that being one of her favorite WoW memories. I converted her to PvP, essentially, and taught her how to kite, timed CC, focus targets…it was tons of fun and I think we’ll both treasure those teamed experiences for a long time to come.

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

i continue to assert “endgame content” should include volunteering to join published missions/bounties and helping lower level character complete their goals, using some kind of craigslist-like system for putting out offers and such – and yes people could offer to reward their mentor or set a ‘hire price’.
The other thing that should be an essential part of endgame is maxed-level characters should be able to choose an NPC monster bosses to inhabit and play from a directory or list of ‘availables’.   You’d make the combats more interesting, and perhaps you could move outside of the A.I.s pathing normally, making it even more interesting if a boss suddenly comes wandering into an area it’s not normally seen.  or perhaps 2 max level players can team up as 2 monster bosses, forming something previously unseen, that could perhaps take a raid to conquer.  Like LOTRO’s monster play but on steroids.   Obviously this would need some simple sensible limitations.

orionite
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orionite

My first MMO experience was Anarchy Online during college. My roommate brothers were playing and were part of a pretty hardcore guild. When I started and they were bored with raiding, they joined me in the early game and taught me everything I needed to know. I am pretty sure I would not still have AO installed (even though I don’t play it anymore), if they hadn’t show the patience to explain the finer points of triple-imping or the gratuitous use of clicksaver to roll missions. 

We ended up starting over several times, because I love the early game, and they already had end-game chars they could always go back to when they wanted to raid. In one instance we made three Traders and roamed the land, PvPing, running missions for tokens, helping out other lone adventurers. When they said: But we don’t have a doc! Our response was: We may blind you, boy, but you will live! (Trader heal nanos had outrageously bright visual effects, and three of them going off in succession could make the screen light up your room )

I guess I was just looking for an excuse to say thanks and high [sic] to those long-lost friends and reminisce about AO. Good times!

Radfist
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Radfist

blast tyrant Radfist  My EQ2 ones, which are probably the most on-going friendships (ie: people I visit when I go to that city, and people I actually see in my own city) was from about 2007-2010 when I actually had time to raid.  Although the people that I keep in contact with don’t raid, they were just guildies who I enjoyed chatting with and moved onto Facebook then RL friends.  I know its directly proportionate to how much you invest in those relationships, but in current games there doesn’t seem to be any players who actually care about each other beyond basic civility.  In EQ / EQ2 I actually knew what my guildies did for a living, what their family was like and other personal details.  I don’t know why that franchise had that effect, but most other MMOs I have played I agree, they might as well be automated bots.

blast tyrant
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blast tyrant

Radfist blast tyrant Yeah, I hear lots of stories about friendships and relationships forged in game but I’ve noticed it either starts with an out of game connection first, or takes place pre-2005.  I’m not sure what happened around 2006 or so but I haven’t heard of much in-game bonding occurring after that.