Massively Overthinking: What one piece of knowledge would you like to impart to new MMO gamers?


A while back, I was reading on a non-MMO subreddit some comments from some younger people that made my head spin: They were informing everyone, with absolutely certainty, that nobody really remembers popular art techniques from the ’90s. Now, I’m not even that old and I remember, and I’m pretty sure actual professionals in the field remember too! Just because you weren’t born yet and don’t remember doesn’t mean everyone else is similarly ignorant. It seemed exceptionally strange to make those declarations in a world where Wikipedia exists, as do archives of books and periodicals filled with the techniques of the day – but you do have to go and look.

Of course, we see this in MMORPGs all the time too, don’t we? I mean, “WoW was the first MMO” became a meme because so many people honestly believed it and never questioned it. It constantly startles me, even though it shouldn’t, that newcomers to MMOs, be they devs or players, are prepared to reinvent the wheel or declare that something has never been done or insist that something will work, never mind years of evidence to the contrary.

Part of this is on us, to pass down our collective knowledge. So that’s what we’re doing in today’s Massively Overthinking. If you could impart one piece of important MMO lore or knowledge or advice to brand-new players or younger folks just picking up their first MMO, what would it be?

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Monthly updates that aren’t cash shop items or bug fixes used to be more common. I remember at one point, Asheron’s Call 1 and 2 plus Horizons (Istaria) all did consistent monthly content updates. New dungeons, creatures, races, functions, skills… our monthly payments really went to something you could consistently feel, without having to pay twice for.

Ben Griggs (@braxwolf): Don’t be afraid to drink your potions. Hoarding them does you no good.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): If I could have only one, it would be to read Raph Koster’s books and blog and just drink it all in. But I also made a list that’s more practical for people who aren’t really going to research their gaming. Can’t stop me.

  • Everything has been done before, even if you don’t know about it. The absolute first thing we should do when coming up with a new MMO idea is research to find out who did it before, whether it worked, and why.
  • Play multiple games, even if only for a little while. The first one you pick probably won’t be perfect, but you won’t know either way without trying more.
  • It’s OK to have a comfort MMO and to play MMOs to bake bread rather than crush (or vice versa).
  • It’s OK to leave when you’re done. It’s OK to go back when you’re ready again. Take breaks. It’s entertainment, not a job. When it feels like a job, it’s probably time to move on.
  • Not all living games are good, and not all dead games were bad. There are a lot of old, smart virtual world ideas that were waylaid by publisher desire for faster, easier cash. Supporting indie MMOs keeps those ideas alive.
  • Individual devs are often lovely, but Studios With A Capital S are not your friend; they are here to get your money. Value your time; don’t fall for cheap psych tricks be they new or old. Value your money; don’t buy games that aren’t done and ready.
  • Yes, MMOs always had toxic people, but you don’t have to be one of them. Find a guild, but skip the forums and Reddit and so forth. Be a fan, not a fanatic. Join a community, not a cult.
  • The only thing you’ll really take with you is stories and memories. Don’t hoard digital stuff. Pay it forward to future newbies. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX): I’ve been watching this anime called “Bofuri: I don’t want to get hurt so I’ll max out my defense.” It’s about a girl named Maple’s first adventure in an MMO. I’ve been trying to get the staff to at least watch the first episode because it’s so relevant to this discussion: As the title implies, she built her character to have max defense, and all her gear focused on counters and damage reduction. The friend that got her into this game, who is a seasoned gamer, actually built her character to support Maple to help her succeed in the game.

The best way we can help newbies is just to be nice, direct them to some good guides to use, and get your friends to play with them. It’s that simple!

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): WASD to move.

But seriously, I think the first piece of knowledge I would impart to a new MMO player is to focus on and find what’s fun, the join up with like-minded folks. The beautiful part of MMOs is that there are a lot of people playing at the same time, and chances are generally good that you’ll find groups of people who share your interests and can enrich the things you want to do. These things are best played together, after all.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Obviously, I would say that the only thing they need to know about the past is every single one of my Game Archaeologist columns. Read them all, kids! Study them! Memorize their luscious prose! There will be a test on them and if you fail? You will never loot again.

Mia DeSanzo (@neschria): Dear newbie,

Find yourself a guild that matches your playstyle and availability. Trust me, it makes it a completely different experience. Make yourself some friends.

Your MMO granny,

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): I think my advice mirrors what I’d give for life: First, immediately turn off general chat! If you don’t want to bombarded by idiocy, negativity, and vitriol, shut down that tab! It will suck the fun right out.

Next, don’t feel pressured into accepting other people’s advice on how to play. Go ahead and play how you want. If that includes asking for builds and tips and gear recommendations, then great! If it involves randomly running amok and learning as you go on your own, great!

Finally, be kind. You don’t need to be social, but do be kind. You reap what you sow/karma/you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and all that — but mostly because it is the right thing to do.

Samon Kashani (@thesamkash): I’d suggest that newbies simply play the game however they feel like playing. Don’t worry about which class is strongest and if you need certain skills, just play. And play a lot of games! So many MMOs are free to play now that there’s no reason to feel locked into any one game. Just try a bunch out and see which is the most fun.

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!
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