The Daily Grind: Which MMO took the most effort to click with you?

Oh, please be all right.

I think that many of us MMO veterans have a story or two in our past that involves not getting a game the first time we tried it… or even the second, or the third. Sometimes it takes patches, encouragement from other players, and simply time to click with an MMO.

For me, that game was Fallen Earth. When I first tried it, I found it clunky and obtuse with many systems that seemed foreign to the other MMOs I knew. I was about ready to write it off when a friend challenged me to really give it a fair try by playing it for a few days. By the end of the week, I was hooked on this post-apocalyptic title and started a great run of playing it.

Which MMO took the most effort to click with you? What happened in the end to turn your opinion around?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Ben Stone

Surprisingly World of Warcraft. Coming from Everquest and Everquest 2, it just felt like a diet MMO. Took 3 tries to really get into it.

Combination of WoW constantly improving and EQ constantly declining probably played into that too.


I have attempted many times in the past, but never found the light on the other side.
You know how it is, you think ok this is just the newbie experience/tutorial area and the game will open up later on, but the things that annoy you in the beginning just sit there nagging at you and gets you more irritated and whatever good stuff happens later can’t make up for it.
Starting over at a later date doesn’t really change anything even if the game improved and bugs were fixed, because you can’t unlearn or forget the first experience and it will sit with you.
Or is that just me ?

That is why I try to stay away from early access, I am critical enough as it is and I know that if I get a bad first experience I will not return.

Lucky Jinx

Ultima Online. Back in the beginning of 2000’s when I was trying out my first mmo, it was a headache to learn. Not much hand holding back then, and it wasn’t necessarily such a good thing. After UO, WoW was a delightful breeze. I remember wondering, “Damn, who would’ve known things can be made this easy.”


I haven’t had this happen in an MMO before, I do my research properly and often try out the game during beta. So, if it doesn’t click to start with, it never clicks because I don’t spend my time forcing it.

In the single player world, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is that game for me. I got it free with a CPU but it took me 3 attempts to get into it. I was attracted by the world and the tech, but the gameplay was too boring and I don’t give a shit about story. This kept on putting me off as the first 5-10 hours sucked (for my playstyle), but when I finally pushed through that stage, the gameplay started improving and it became enjoyable. By the end of the game, I even mildly cared about the story!


EVE, for sure.

Fenrir Wolf

In case my larger post doesn’t make the cut, I suppose a TL;DR would be that I don’t get why we’re trying to make sociopathy and parasitism fashionable and cool, why we’re encouraging this, and depicting the tragedies of nightmarishly awful things happening to good people as a positive narrative trait.

It just seems like that would encourage yet more toxic behaviour, really. That’s something that quickly turns me off of a game, and if it wasn’t for liking GW2’s jumping puzzles so much? I’d never have persisted with it.

Fenrir Wolf

Guild Wars 2.

I’m not a fan of conflict. Honestly, I’d prefer it if the Pact were more like the races of Phantasy Star Universe. And if the asura were more akin to the polite, pleasant, and intellectual CAST instead of the race of five year old narcissistic sociopaths they are. That’d be nice, wouldn’t it?

Not only that, but… I dislike tragedy in stories. I’ve seen enough death and known such excesses of suffering over the course of my life that I’d never wish it on anyone, so I’m tired of shallow neurotypical writers, woefully lacking in Theory of Mind and empathy, who put characters (and those who play them) through hell.

Hurting others to get your kicks, or to profit from it, is something I just can’t relate to.

I feel neurotypicals wouldn’t be able to relate to this, either, as by and large they live blessed lives. An example they might be able to relate to is when rich people say that “money can’t buy happiness,” to which the logical and entirely correct answer is “you haven’t ever had to deal with bills, eh?”

This is like this, but from a position of the physical and emotional pain one might have endured. I think that neurotypicals find tragedy, death, suffering, torture, and pain refreshingly novel, exotic, and enthralling. Like it’s the best way to entertain them.

I cannot relate to that. I just can’t.

I can tolerate it but only if the story starts off that way but builds in this unending crescendo of hope, to an apogee where the characters burst free of all of those burdens, obstacles, and hardships knowing that a better life awaits them.

I really do love tales that revel in a more caring reality, or end up that way. Saiki-K is a good example of the former.

Basically, I’m a big baby.

And, it has to be said, that’s an incredibly positive trait. Feeling, being comfortable with doing so, and caring about the hardships of others is healthy.

There’s too much narcissism, sociopathy, toxic masculinity, selfish insecurity, and far worse in the world today. People are just too obsessed with themselves and their own affiliated herds that they don’t care about whta the cost of that is to others.

What I want is escapism to a world where people.. aren’t terrible? Sometimes I feel like such a misanthrope, but I don’t hate people. I just don’t appreciate that they hate, and usually anything a certain per centage unlike them, with the variable factor being whatever their usually weak tolerances are.

I imagine that for neurotypicals this is unrealistic, and everything unrealistic is bad. Which is why we have amputated, lobotomised scaly chickens as dragons now, because they move like a bat and they can believably fly. So they’re more realistic.

Except they don’t move like a bat.

And they couldn’t fly.

And they wouldn’t even be bloody agile in the first place.

(The relevance here is that a T-Rex is a similar sort of creature to these kinds of beasts and it couldn’t move fast, either.)

I’m not even convinced, given the biology, that they would be ambulatory!

We can’t just say it’s a fantasy world that operates under different physical laws than our own world, and that perhaps a naturally occurring mutagenic field chimerised a bunch of animals, in some cases resulting in oddities like polymelia. Nooo…

The truth is? The reason dragons have become what they are was really never at all about realism in the first place. It was about toxic masculinity and male insecurity.

What is said: These dragons are more realistic.

What is meant: These dragons I could more realistically hunt.

The latter having the muttered addendum about how they wouldn’t steal the guy’s GF, either. Seriously, the contention with incels and their ilk regarding fictional creatures is… remarkable. People can tell fiction from reality? Not always.

Seriously, the four-limbed dragon should be the official symbol of incels.

The long and short of it is that I don’t like toxicity. Just as I can’t enjoy a story that focuses around tragedy, I can’t enjoy fantasies that target insecure males and toxic masculinity, either. It’s just not my scene, it makes me feel… I don’t know?

I think ill-fitting is the best descriptor, as though I’m definitely an alien presence and I really don’t understand what’s going on or why people enjoy this. They obviously do, so there’s something there… but it isn’t for me, and its toxicity is harmful to me.

This is why I would want to see more of those beloved cheesy JRPG narratives in our Western offerings. I want to escape to a world where people can be excellent to one another. I don’t want it to just be exactly what I know of our world, with a fantasy skin.

The fantasy I want is enjoying the company of characters who clearly aren’t human, who aren’t targeted at a neurotypical audience. There’s just so much toxicity in Guild Wars 2 that it nauseates me, it makes me feel a bit ill. I try not to judge, but when I see human players unironically attacking charr players for their race choice, I just… don’t feel good about that.

For most people, it’s fine.

One last example I want to offer is of Dreamfall Chapters. I recall in that game how one character called another an ableist slur, a really hurtful one, for being autistic. The reaction was mostly “it’s okay, she knows him so she can say that to him. He doesn’t feel hurt by it.”

How the bloody hell would one know this? I’m autistic and I’d feel hurt by that! I was hurt by that.

The lead egotist behind the Dreamfall series, Ragnar Tørnquist, leapt into the fray and spoke with news sites. He claimed that “people can be terrible in real life, so it’s okay for people to be terrible in a video game, too.”

The problem, which Ragnar Tørnquist didn’t recognise (because, again, neurotypicals aren’t the most empathetic people) isn’t so much that the slur was said, but that no one reacted to it.

No one.

If I heard someone use a genuinely hurtful ableist slur, I’d speak up about it! Yes, I know, most people are cowards, but not all people. Some recognise that doing something meaningful to help a vulnerable person is more worthwhile than protecting their beautiful face.

Yeah, I’ve been hit a few times for speaking up for another. Don’t regret it. Would do it again. And again. And again. Some are vulnerable, they can’t always speak for themselves. Do you know what that can lead to? Suicide. I don’t know if realising that would weigh on you, but it’d weigh on me. I’d feel responsible.

The point is? The real world is a terrible, awful place filled with narcissists, sociopaths, and people who hurt others without even thinking about it. Just like Ragnar Tørnquist said.

Isn’t it fair to expect, then, that creators of entertainment ought to take responsibility with their fictive realities and tell stories of better places? We want to make bigots feel less and less comfortable with behaving in aggressive, toxic, harmful ways. We should be doing that, but all too often we’re excusing it and showing examples of bad behaviour that’s quickly excused.

So far, far too many stories are about bad behaviour that no one really feels much in the way of repercussions for, and lots of pain, suffering, and death layered atop like some sort of morbid garnish.

The mere thought of such a thing makes me retch. It’s going to make people angry, too. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m not like you. I’m sorry that I’ve seen so much pain that I’m wholeheartedly fed up with depictions of it in fictive settings. I’m sorry that I want escapism free of that.

And most of all? I’m sorry that I feel I have to apologise for any of this.

So… yeah. Tragedy really gets to me. I hate it. I hate that people believe it somehow, in some magical way, makes them more clever for appreciating it. I don’t see that. It just seems sociopathic to me.

So Guild Wars 2 took me a really long time to get into. Not only because of all of the in-fighting, tragedy, and people being terrible, but also because the story compelled actual players to be terrible, too. I was a charr player, you see?

I like the charr simply because I want to explore options that aren’t human, since those can be anything I’d want them to be. I can be any kind of charr I’d care to be. Yet my narrative isn’t permitted, there were many players who felt I had to be some villainous presence.

That got really tiring, really fast.

And I don’t even like the language it uses because it’s too close to real world bigotry. It may be a “joke,” sure — much in the same way that any homophobic slur was a “joke” in the sixties — but it just reminds me of the language used by human rubbish who’ve made my life miserable.

Why is it so “cool” in the West that all characters be at one another’s throats? Why is it fashionable to parasitic, sociopathic, and an arsehole? I mean, compare the translations of My Fantasy Life in the UK and the USA to see what I mean by this. The UK was fortunate enough to get something closer to the Japanese text. Whereas in the American version of the game? Every character is a sociopath.

Not even joking.

And it reminded me of Guild Wars 2.

What’s the appeal?

So, I like the jumping puzzles and the open-ended exploration of Guild Wars 2, but I have to do everything I can to avoid and forget about the ongoing narrative. I write my own story as I go, I play in my own version of that world.

It took me a great deal of effort to bring myself to do that, which is what provided the biggest barrier to entry an MMO ever has. I just want to do the jumping puzzles, I don’t want to listen to bantam sociopaths making “yo mama” jokes. Thanks.

Can you see my trauma?

Fenrir Wolf

It’s funny because I actually do have PTSD, too, which is why this matters. I was going to add that in at the bottom, but I ran out of space. Suffice it to say, though, I’ve been through a lot so I don’t appreciate fictive worlds reminding me of that kind of pain.


Hmm. It doesn’t work that way with me. I mean I don’t put in effort, IMO. Either it clicks or it doesn’t.

But I do give games a fair shake because I understand that the first few minutes of a game are not a fair representation.

So, my standard modus operandi is to do my research first. Know a bit about the game going in and what to expect. Next, I work all the way through the starter area (this includes a few levels beyond to get a look at what comes after).

And then it’s a go-no go, call. Heh.

I don’t have a problem coming back to a game if it doesn’t click, but there has to be a good reason such as major changes in design or modules. OR on occasion friends bring me back for group play. But generally once I’ve decided that the game isn’t for me, I don’t come back. I don’t try to convince myself to like it for whatever reason.



Transitioning from MU*s to EQ was easy. Things still ran from the text scroll.

My first time in WoW was jarring, particularly as a healer. It was non-stop action and movement and pausing to type just held everyone back.

That first year between EQ and WoW I didn’t play much at all. Later some friends dragged me back in to raid with them, and eventually I got the groove of things, but I still dislike the pace of more modern MMOs.

Bruno Brito

SWG-Legends. The NGE is a bit too forward for me, but the game itself is so damn open and it lacks severe info on how to proceed anywhere.