Massively Overthinking: No-thank-you bites in MMO gaming

    
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Massively Overthinking: No-thank-you bites in MMO gaming

One of the things I always try to have my kids do is take a no-thank-you bite of new foods. They have to at least try it to be able to politely turn it down. This doesn’t work, mind you; my kid who likes everything still eats everything and my kid who likes nothing will fuss with the bite and still refuse. But at least I get to feel like I’m parenting, right?

MMORPGs should probably be the same way. We should at least try them – in some way – before rejecting them as something that is just not for us. I thought it would be fun for this week’s Massively Overthinking to talk about no-thank-you bites and the games we said “no thank you” to. Let’s be all Marie Kondo about it: Which MMOs are you grateful you tried but still chose to let go?

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): How far back do we wanna do with this? Ryzom was certainly a game I could appreciate but it personally didn’t hook me except in art style and concepts. Same with Darkfall 2, Mortal Online, ArcheAge at release, and Final Fantasy XIV, as they just felt too familiar. I think Elite Dangerous really would make that list, especially with the way they’ve handled GM events. Niantic’s Wizard’s Unite and Next Game’s Walking Dead: Our World both had some neat twists (especially the latter), but finding a community was super rough for those games, despite being popular IPs.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Many years ago, when my guild had decided to leave one game but our next “home” MMO was still a few months from launching, we decided to conduct a group experiment: We picked a new MMO every single week for several months and played it together. This was ages ago, so the games we were trying out were things like Lineage, Anarchy Online, Shadowbane, and A Tale in the Desert. Horizons, too, back when it was still called Horizons. I forget the rest. It was mostly stuff that we’d never played or never played seriously to that point (and we’d played a lot already!).

What we found was… a lot of junk, if I’m honest. We hadn’t been wrong to skip most of those games before the experiment. It was a fun bonding event, though, and it spawned several memes and in-jokes that have stuck with us for more than a decade. I think I actually gave most of those games more of a chance than if I’d just wandered in alone because each game was a question mark we were trying to answer as a group, and yet there was also no pressure to stay if it was terrible. And I’m grateful for giving that idea a try because I really got to sample a ton of games I’d never have bothered with otherwise.

Carlo Lacsina (@UltraMudkipEX, YouTube): I’ve got a bunch of “no thank you” games, as you put it. Here’s a short list: EverQuest, EverQuest II, Ragnarok Online, Lord of the Rings Online, A3: Still Alive, Kritika Online, Ragnarok M: Eternal Love, Vindictus, and TERA to just name a few. It’s not because I hate those games, but these games require so much attention to get the most out of the game, and I can’t provide that. If I could, I’d clone myself multiple times, assign a game for each “me,” and make the clones’ entire existence focused on getting good at just that game. Any tech that allows me/them to skip sleep would be fine too.

The fact that none of those games aren’t Guild Wars also makes it hard for me. Guild Wars 1 is my perfect game and MMO.

I’m pretty picky, but that’s only because I know exactly what I want in my game. For classics like EverQuest and Lord of the Rings Online, the graphics held me back from playing. I’m a guy who enjoys well-animated games, and sometimes the player animations just seemed a little bland or generic. For the mobile games, I just didn’t enjoy them or may have come too late. Games like Vindictus and Kritika just seemed hyper focused on dungeon running and combat wasn’t challenging enough. I’m all about aesthetics first and foremost, I don’t like it too realistic, but I do appreciate vibrant colors and a well optimized engine. I actually like the gritty mid-aughts graphics too. I’m actually giving Requiem: Rise of the Reaver, but I’ll need to give it a chance before I can say anything about it.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): One of the biggest benefits of running the Choose My Adventure column is getting the opportunity as well as the impetus to take those no-thank-you bites. And I absolutely felt that way with more than a couple of games, but for my response, I’ll go ahead and single out EVE Online as an example.

I had a pretty good feeling that I wasn’t going to like this one going into the column, but I also was doing my level best to keep an open mind. And while my dislike of the game was pretty much affirmed, it was also a great way to at least draw something of a connection to what makes people like EVE and find some of the good things about it — the game’s control style is nowhere near to my taste, but the amount of things one is capable of doing is absolutely impressive and I get why people want to dig in and find more out, and I have to commend the game’s onboarding experience for being pretty solid and offering some reasonably sized tastes of what’s possible. And you know what? EVE Online still stands tall as a sandbox MMO that does a lot right in spite of both itself and it not being a game that I like.

Colin Henry (@ChaosConstant): The game that immediately springs to my mind is Final Fantasy XIV. I’ve played the free trial on several occasions, and it just doesn’t interest me, and I have a hard time explaining why. It’s not the slower pace of combat; I’m perfectly happy with that in games like The Lord of the Rings Online. It’s not the graphical stylings; I enjoy other anime-styled JRPGs, and the landscapes of Hydaelyn are beautiful. It’s not that I don’t like the world or the story; I’m not sure I’ve played enough of the game to even make that determination, and besides, I’ve managed to have fun in several other MMOs where the story doesn’t excite me, as long as the gameplay is fun and engaging.

I genuinely want to like FFXIV because it seems to have a good community that truly loves the game, the classes and systems look interesting, and the dungeons seem fun and well built. I bear the game no ill will, but, for whatever reason, it just doesn’t work for me. Maybe one day I will try again and everything will click, but for now, I have to say, “No thank you.”

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Most all of them, really. I’ve touched down on several MMOs only briefly, but even then, it was good to get the feel for that game and to come to an early (and perhaps wrong!) conclusion whether or not I would like it. With rogue servers, I’m even able to go back to MMOs that I missed the first time around and regretted not trying back in the day. Having that experience (and usually a blog post or two) means that it wasn’t a wasted exercise. My motto with entertainment these days is to try as much as I can, but only stick with what’s actually worthwhile and well done.

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): I’ve definitely opened up my mind about trying more games since joining MOP. Before I was basically a Guild Wars 2 player, but I’d try a couple others like Crowfall. Now I’ve tried so many MMOs that I wouldn’t have given a chance.

I think Adventure Quest 3D is one that I enjoyed testing out. I can certainly appreciate the humor and some of the other things but it doesn’t have the right PvP yet.

I recently played Vendetta Online, which was way outside my zone. Mostly because it’s just so old. I basically never go backwards to play old games, but I’m glad I did here. It has lots of cool things. Yet I’m just not a huge sci-fi guy. Alas, I let it go.

I could go on and on, but those are two recent ones that I’m glad I played even if they aren’t for me.

Tyler Edwards (blog): Pretty much all of them, really. I always find trying new MMOs an enlightening experience as a student of the genre, and even the ones I don’t like usually have at least one thing they do well.

If I had to pick one, though, I’d say City of Heroes. While it isn’t exactly what I’m looking for in an MMO, I’m glad the resurrection gave me a chance to try it and at least get an inkling of why it was/is so beloved.

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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Rodrigo Dias Costa

I’m on Collin’s boat. I’ve tried FFXIV a couple times, but it never sticks with me. And I can’t point anything wrong with it. I admit it’s a well polished MMO that deserves its success, but I just can’t enjoy it.

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Schmidt.Capela

I spent years, starting with late 2008 (AKA WoW’s ill-planned Zombie Invasion), experimenting nearly every MMO I could either get for cheap or play a trial of, plus a few B2P ones. Some, like DCUO and Planetside 2, I’ve kept playing; most I quickly left.

It’s why I don’t do that anymore, mind, instead going for more in-depth pre-purchase research about the game (which is nevertheless faster — and cheaper — than actually trying it out); with the length and breadth of my experiences playing MMOs I can tell with near certainty, from reading enough about it, whether or not I will be able to enjoy the MMO.

(The extent of my experiences with MMOs pale in comparison with how many games I tried back in the Atari to N64 days; video-game rental stores were quite common here, so I would play a few different games per week, and thus ended playing a huge number of games of every conceivable genre.)

One caveat about actual no-thank-you bite rules, at least for me: if I feel forced into experiencing something then I will almost certainly hate it, even if I would have liked it had I experienced it of my own free will. So, pushing me to experience something, be it by actually forcing me or by using game mechanics to not-so-subtly push me towards it, is very counterproductive, and that has been the case since as far back as I can remember. If you want to get me to enjoy something then giving me the option to refuse to try it even once, without any negative consequences, is essential.

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Anstalt

I do take “no-thank-you bites” for a reasonable amount of games. I have a deep love of gaming and still dream of working in the industry (used to work in it in QA, and currently learning unity), so I feel it is important to try to expand my experience when confronted with something new (mechanics/gameplay).

That said, I do have a fairly wide experience already, so coming across something new is pretty rare. When it comes to trying to find a game to play for fun, rather than for learning purposes, I have a really good self-awareness about what i enjoy and what i don’t, so it can be pretty obvious that I will or wont enjoy a particular game. Additionally, especially in the online space, I try to make ethical decisions too, so I tend not to support unethical business practices.

On the food front, im 35 and still a fussy eater! I spent years trying to force myself to eat from a wider palette, “just eat it every day for 2 weeks and it’ll start tasting good”, yeh, all bollocks, it still tasted awful!

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EmberStar

I don’t do “no thank you” bites. For food, I don’t know that I have an above average sense of smell (in fact I’m pretty sure I don’t.) But I’m much more aware of it than many people, and I trust what I smell. If something smells inedible, I won’t eat it.

As far as games go, I know my preferences. I will *never* make a “no thank you” attempt for PVP based games, as an example. I do not enjoy PVP, at any level. It’s never a question of how a game specifically handles it – I hate experiencing combat PVP in any form, for any reason.

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treehuggerhannah

I’ve been doing this a lot lately, because I’m trying to find an MMO to add to my lineup but I’m being (probably way too) picky and I have some specific things I’m looking for.

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Malcolm Swoboda

Destiny 2. On paper, it has a lot I’m looking for. MMO-ish, slick, FPS with some action-combat elements? Generic sci-fi with sleek aesthetic and taking place on ruined Earth/solar system? Simple but compounding lore that potentially sucks you into speculation while not needing a degree to comprehend?

Cool, cool!

I try it and it mostly doesn’t work out. A big part is how utterly disjointed its narrative is, particularly since I never tried D1 and can’t, and probably especially so since this Beyond Light trimmings. Just no. Goodbye.

For MMOs, big ones were Wildstar, EVE Online, and TERA. Wildstar had potential but its whole appearance on screen (so the mix of visuals, animations, interface) turned me off fast even if there were elements that were perfectly fine. EVE Online, well you know, its EVE, its insane and I don’t have the bandwidth. TERA is too loliriffic – the most I can tolerate towards that has been FFXIV and Genshin, but definitely not the TERA-tier of little girl creepiness.

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Andrew Goenner

For me it’s Wow. I’ve tried to like it, a LOT. And I’ve come back over the years to try expansions and whatnot. But nowadays especially, with other MMOs outshining it in graphics, controls, and especially those with stories that are actually coherent, I just can’t make myself get into it. I have no clue how it manages to garner new players when there are so many other games out there that do everything it does better.

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Zero_1_Zerum

My first experience with pvp was in Halo: Combat Evolved (PC). I logged into a map on the server that wasn’t packed, thinking I’ll just dip my toes into multiplayer Halo, see what it’s like. Guy was flying around in a fighter, and blasted me as soon as I appeared on the map, and did it again as soon as I respawned, before I had a chance to do anything. I noped out, logged off, and have been saying “no thanks” to pvp ever since.

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Robert Mann

‘Twas not the instant death, nor the cheater in competition that did me in, but rather the inescapable foulness that the PvP community has embraced. Trash talk is cheap, and it does not really bug me, I merely do not wish to be around it. Insults, outright discrimination, and other foul actions and choices of language are the same.

Either way, PvP with some rules can be fun (for example, having good matches with friends in Halo can be a blast), but without them negative experiences abound. Sorry to hear you had the insta-doomed experience! Not very fun!

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Turing fail

Ironically, despite EVE Online’s reputation as sociopath central, I’ve yet to experience insults or hate speech from anyone who’s blown me up or that I’ve destroyed (I’m not a ganker, so that reduces hard feelings).

The negative language I have seen was in open/public chat channels- usually from a gank victim directed toward their killer- or in the form of character and/or ship names.

The most unpleasant text and voice chat I’ve experienced was in Overwatch.

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Robert Mann

It’s not just a PvP problem, of course, either. It’s abundant in anything competitive -or- where they can easily offend somebody (like names and world chat).

It’s a sad part of reality, it’s just also a really common thing that isn’t so easily avoided or mitigated with PvP (because there’s a lot of the population that engages that way).

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EmberStar

I will absolutely judge someone by their choice of player name. In a setting where someone is free to choose any name they want and they still choose something childish and offensive… yeah, that says a lot to me about them. Mostly that it’s better for both of us if I throw them on ignore immediately and save us both a lot of frustration and annoyance.

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Robert Mann

Agreed, as I noted the ‘edgelord factor’ isn’t restricted to PvP, it’s just more… excused there. Which is why people dig into that so readily. I don’t just ignore many of those names, they ALWAYS go on report if they are truly foul. If they have a name that is foul and subhuman, then their choice will not maintain the normal respect that is given to other’s choices in turn.

jimthomasUS
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jimthomasUS

Wildstar. The art design was fantastic but the nuts and bolts behind the mechanics literally made the game physically unplayable for me. It was sad because my LotRO guild left for Wildstar and it meant saying goodbye to people I enjoyed gaming with for years.

F2P makes any game a no thank you. SWtoR, Rift, LotRO, ESO, AoC, and TSW are all games that that I spent time with until the business model change.

GW was first and fun but GW2’s store was a brussel sprout sundae.

The Skaven gameplay change in Warhammer also was a thing that was like adding ketchup to pancakes.

FFXIV’s lingerie fetish is a bite I won’t take.

-shrug- I play WoW now waiting for acti-blizz to do the thing that makes me leave the genre forever and get back to writing poetry about the end of the world.

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Andrew Goenner

Just out of curiosity. What about F2P makes it a no thank you? Star Wars hasn’t changed in quality at all, minus the ability to play for free (and even then if you pay for one month you keep story content unlocked after you go F2P). And Star Trek Online is completely payable all the way through without dropping a dime. Not saying your opinion is wrong, just curious about the reasoning behind it.

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EmberStar

At a guess, some people just dislike certain kinds of monetization and don’t want to support companies that engage in it.

SWTOR’s version of holding parts of the UI hostage and severely clamping the ability to earn currency isn’t the best version of F2P I’ve seen. Star Trek Online is mostly okay, especially when you discover that there’s a semi-hidden setting in the options that will turn off the constant lockbox spam. (The lockboxes themselves are annoying and a complete rip-off with “less than 1%” chances to win anything worthwhile. But they stack to 100 now instead of 20 so they no longer devour inventory space the way they used to.)

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Turing fail

Your food analogies are wonderful- they convey your distaste with visceral eloquence.

BTW, I find that pan roasting brussel sprouts takes from from loathsome to delicious.

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Utakata

Spin the bottle confession time: I’ve tried EVE Online.

…and thanks in part to the wonderful weekly writes-ups about it-that-was,by a one Mr. Brendan Drain, I decided to give it the 2 week Free Trail spin before it switched business models.

I can say from an arithmetic perspective, I felt like I was playing Adobe Illustrator in Space. Which was refreshing change from the regular UI I’ve come used too in most MMO’s. As well some fine person from the EVE community gave me a jump gate tour of that world. Which I’ll always remember fondly and appreciated…

…but in the end, it was a no thank you bite. Not because it became a *gankathon experience right off the bat. But primarily, it wasn’t very alt supportive at all. And from a player who can never have enough alts, that killed the game for me. But I am glad I was able to give it a try.

#PigtailsInSpace

*Note: For good or bad, EVE is quite a bit more sophisticated than that. It also helps they left in the safe spaces so players can get away from that if they chose. Our very own Mr. BalsBigBrother was going on a bit about that when he was giving it a try, I thinks. :)

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Turing fail

If the dearth of alts was the deal-breaker, EVE now has F2P “Alpha” accounts of which I have several in addition to my “Omega” subscribed account. Multiboxing requires multiple subs and cannot be done with alpha/F2P at all.

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Utakata

Well, you lost me at “accounts” I’m afraid. As I prefer one account to have all my alts on without the need of multi-boxing headaches.

…but thanks for informing on that, otherwise! /bows