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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