The Daily Grind: Is it possible for an MMO to make you feel like a kid again?

    
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It was cute.

Last month on /r/mmorpg, there was a thread about finding MMOs that will make you feel like a kid again. You can probably guess the kind of discussion that followed: There was a lot of the usual chatter about how you can never really go back again, that what you’re looking for is a time not a place, that the magic is gone and can’t ever be recaptured, and so on.

I used to buy a lot of those ideas; I was a kid when I started playing MMOs, and recapturing those exact first months in Ultima Online so long ago is pretty damn impossible. On the other hand, I’m constantly surprised at just how close I can get to replicating the feelings. I definitely did for Super Hero Squad Online; even at the time, I thought it resembled a toy more than the loot grinders MMOs were fast becoming. And every time I hang out with my kids inside Trove or Guild Wars 2 and watch them muck around, unconcerned with chat trolling and stats and guild drama? Yeah, it’s seeing the game with fresh eyes.

Do you think it’s possible for an MMO to make you feel like a kid again, to get back the feeling of when you first started playing MMOs? Have you ever done it, and if so, how?

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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Anton Mochalin

Guild Wars 2 does it for me. It’s just that sort of delight I had when playing my first games on ZX Spectrum. Not sure GW2 is the only component – my own inner journey and a very good gaming rig seem to also contribute to that.

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Melissa McDonald

from some of the comments below it seems to be a shared belief that you can’t really re-create the feeling of your first MMO, and it would take something entirely new to recapture that feeling of wonder – and not just a new MMO.

Well, that perfectly describes the quasi-religious feeling of wonder I had (not so long ago) when I put on my first VR visor. I felt that I had just crossed the threshold into “What’s Next”… and I still believe that. Finally plunked down the $349 for the Oculus Rift bundle (visor, 2 controllers, 2 room sensors) and it’s pretty darn amazing. As Linden Labs (makers of Second Life) are now providing a publishing hub for VR, Project Sansar, and all the hardware manufacturers are coming out with new and better visors, things are just going to get better.

xpsync
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xpsync

I hope sooner than later. Seemed last round it was really going to happen. It really needs to be a stand alone purchase. Like a console for example.

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Melissa McDonald

The re-release of Diablo by GOG certainly did that for me.

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xpsync

Hmm, interesting, i never played D1 or 2, but have always heard D1 is it.

I played 3; meh. I remember the email from GOG mentioning it, and at that time i found it wouldn’t run on new systems right? but gog made it happen. I might have to check this out, old school seems to be the in thing lately :)

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Sally Bowls

“You are only young once, but you can stay immature indefinitely.”

― Ogden Nash

/endorse

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Sally Bowls

I guess I am on the “you can’t recreate the experience” side of the fence. OTOH, that is regrettable and does not mean we should not [occasionally] try to recapture the wonder. If you should “dance like no one’s watching” then you certainly should “game like no ones watching you, especially yourself.”

Coincidentally, at the ongoing Apple Event, Spielberg announces Amazing Stories for Apple TV+. AS was a pulp SF anthology from ’26 and he talked about his wonder when his father read him the stories when he was 5. He described that sense of wonder as a human birthright. (Naturally, he described it better than my typing from memory. q.v.)

P.S.: Although reading social media, I would point out that thinking and acting (with concomitant spelling & grammar) immaturely is not a long journey for many.

Ririrawr
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Ririrawr

a few years back i terribad-jokingly called my husband a pedo, the reason: CAUSE I AM THE GIRL THAT NEVER GREW UP!

his deadpan response: “that implies i have an interest”

anyway, moving on to stuff that didn’t involve me kicking my grumpo’s bum and to answer the question: yes! but i feel it is more from me than the game setting it up

by that i mean: if i have zero expectations (NOT low), i am always pleasantly amused by various things in a game, even if i am terrible at the game itself… and then i spend hours messing with similar things that made me squee

for example my love-hate with Neverwinter: way too actiony for me but i love the jump/hop animation so instead of walking, i am constantly jumping. everywhere. all. the. time.

another example from Neverwinter: i love to mess with the AI-pathing of my companions… so i can do that for HOURS just driving the poor thing berserk as it tries to stay close to me….

so yeah… i think the feeling is more from the player than the game, but if the game has silly things to do in it… not even you know “features” but just an option… am sure we can entertain ourselves if we are childish enough to indulge

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rafael12104

Oh, yes. It is possible for a game to take you back and make you feel like a kid again. In fact, if you were to ask my friends and loved ones, they would tell you I’m just a big kid anyway. Heh.

No, it’ won’t be the same sustained feeling of wonder, but those infrequent intrinsic moments are enough to make me come back and keep coming back. And it can happen during huge events or simple tasks.

So, yes. It happens for me all the time.

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thirtymil

My youngest wanted to play Warcraft again on the free weekend, so we loaded up our lowbies and in we went. I thought we were going to do questing… yes, I’m an idiot.

We visited every dress shop in Stormwind (there’s one in the shop that sells mail armour in Cathedral square, I now know), then went to the barbers, then caught the boat (‘It’s a portal now, Daddy’) to Darnassus to do some swimming before a picnic on the edge of the Gilnean enclave.

Recaptured that being-a-kid feeling? Not quite. Reminded me I’ve turned into an old achievement-and-progression-minded jobaholic who totally ought to stop ticking boxes off and start just having fun again? Absolutely.

Andy McAdams
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Andy McAdams

I don’t think I have. When I think back to the sense of wonder I felt in Anarchy Online and the pure breadth of possibility, that was what hooked me and gave me the wide-eyed “First time in DisneyWorld” look. Honestly, I haven’t really felt it since then because Anarchy was the closest (for me) on capitalizing on the possibility. Games since then have skewed the other direction from the possibility of a virtual world to increasingly pared down experiences.

TESO has been the closest to that in recent years, and GW2 gave me a bit of that, but for all the “you have an impact on the world!” promise of GW2, I end up invariably feeling like that my impact was a farce. TESO is good, but never really gave me that kid in a brand new world feeling.

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xpsync

OK makes sense “First time in DisneyWorld”, it’s how i described my first mmo (AC2) experience to a friend at work, not the AO guy another guy who was interested in mmo’s, AO was really my first but it was so f’d at launch, was’nt really any experience to speak of.

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PanagiotisLial1

I actually play the new AO server now(2001 game), and its more fun than newer games – its obvious the direction gaming has gone has hurt longterm gameplay in a game. It can be maybe cause the lifetime expectation of a mmo game nowadays is only 1-3 years or so

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xpsync

SWG:L here i know, i know man. Friend of mine is loving the new AO server and tbh, i’d probably (more like “highly likely”), would have joined him if i didn’t get into SWG:L first.

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Castagere Shaikura

Nothing will ever recapture the wonder of your first MMO. Anarchy Online was that for me back in 2000. Once MMO’s went mainstream it was all over for that wonder.

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Hikari Kenzaki

I can get that a bit with classic games or reboots, but not MMOs. I didn’t start playing City of Heroes until I was well into adulthood.

It’s usually a passing thing when I play or see a game. I saw a trailer for Blaster Master Zero on Switch the other day and I really had the urge to play that for nostalgia reasons.