Perfect Ten: Strategies for juggling multiple MMOs

    
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Among my friends, I have a reputation for being “that guy who plays all the games.” People are constantly asking me how I manage to handle so many MMOs simultaneously on top of work and family, as if I’ve managed to clone myself or I never sleep. The truth is far more mundane: Work and family get top priority with my time, and what I have left for gaming is simply spent wisely.

The thing is that I’m just always enamoured with so many MMOs that I can’t just play one and nothing else. I have to be a “juggler:” a player who balances online worlds. With limited time at my disposal and a desire to be in three or four MMOs at any given time, I’ve done a lot of experimenting with different ways to juggle titles.

There is no one best way, I’ve found. It depends on how “fair” you want to be to your MMOs and whether it’s a priority to you to give each of them more or less the same attention and time. Each of the following strategies has pros and cons, and if you’re trying to handle two or more titles, you’re simply going to need to figure out what works best for you and your allotment of time.

Strategy #1: Rotate by night

Multiple games, limited time. Probably one of the simplest and cleanest methods is to line your games up and rotate through them, one night each. It’s extremely flexible, since it allows any number of games to be in your rotation, whether it be two or 10. You can add in games, take some out, and keep on trucking as long as you stick to the rotation.

For example, I’m playing Hogwash Online, World of Manatees, and Massively Massive. On Sunday I log into Hogwash, Monday I go to Manatees, Tuesday I check out MM, and then on Wednesday I’m back to Hogwash. But maybe I want to add in game Age of Waffles, then I’ll do that on Wednesday instead and go back to Hogwash on Thursday.

Fun fact: The preceding paragraph had the most mentions of “hogwash” on MOP in its entire history.

Strategy #2: Rotate by time increments

Set a timer for an hour, 45 minutes, or 30 minutes and play. When the timer dings, move on to the next game in your rotation. It’s basically the above method at an accelerated pace. Some people have remarked that 30 minutes may be too short a session, although I think that depends on the game and what your goals are.

The idea here is that each game gets its fair share of time, allowing for a flexible system that adapts well if your free time varies. Maybe you get one hour to game on Monday but have three on Tuesday; this system ensures that you’re progressing through your stable of titles at an equal pace without any pressure to play all of them in one sitting.

Strategy #3: Dedicated game nights

If you’re OK with stepping away from a game for extended periods of time (such as two to three days), then you might want to consider a fixed nightly schedule. I tried this for a while with three MMOs, giving each two dedicated nights during the week (Game A being Sunday/Wednesday, Game B being Monday/Thursday, and Game C being Tuesday/Friday), with Saturday being an “anything goes” day.

I feel this is a good method if you don’t like game hopping several times during an evening, but you do have to contend with a gap of a couple of days between returning. I actually started up a game journal to keep track of what I was doing in each game so that I wouldn’t spend my first 15 minutes trying to remember what I did earlier that week.

Strategy #4: Times of the day

Say that you don’t have just one regular window to game but instead have several opportunities during the day or week that vary depending on your schedule and circumstances. An idea to take advantage of your strange life is to assign an MMO to a time of the day, if you can get it. For example, if you regularly have a half-hour free before work or school, you can dedicate that time and that time only to an MMO that will make the best use of those 30 minutes. A more time-intensive game might get your evening hours, on the other hand.

Again, this strategy depends on your schedule, but I’ve poked at it from time to time and found it quite useful. Sometimes there are fun guildies who show up only in the morning or during lunch, and by fixing your play schedule to that time window, you can actually build relationships while maintaining multiple MMOs.

Strategy #5: Three quests and you’re out

So if the idea of dedicated anything annoys you, then throw time out of the window and fixate on personal achievements instead. For a long time I was doing what I called the “three quests and you’re out” rotation, and at least for me it has worked really well.

How it works is that you play an MMO until you accomplish three good-sized tasks (usually quests, but you could substitute PvP scenarios, crafting sessions, or whatever feels like a good equivalent), then you log out and go on to the next game on the rotation. This method focuses more on keeping your progression in each title more or less equal without being concerned how long it took to do your desired tasks.

Strategy #6: Different game each month or week

I’ve known a few gamers who take the time rotation concept and go much bigger by playing games on a weekly or even monthly basis. Age of Waffles gets January, Fall of the Risen gets February, and then we’re back to AoW in March. I have a hard time seeing this as true “juggling,” but if you want to avoid burnout and are fine with departing your community for a chunk of the year, then it could have a benefit, especially if you plan it out. I guess it could also help you stave off temptations of adding in more games, but honestly, is that fun?

Strategy #7: Hang with a gaming group

If playing with friends is more important to you than what you’re playing, then another option is to hitch your wagon to a group that likes to float between games and simply do whatever the group is doing that night. The power of social connections would need to be a driving force for the player because we’re talking about a huge surrender of personal drive and desire, but I’ve seen it done, and the players who do so appear content with it.

Strategy #8: Random draw

If you want to ensure fairness yet don’t like sticking to a routine, then get a hat, write down your desired MMOs on slips of paper, toss them in, and draw out one each night to play. Once you empty the hat, refill and repeat.

I’ve never done this but it’s an interesting notion, as long as you’re OK with an element of randomness in your schedule. That should come pretty naturally to MMO players, yes?

Strategy #9: Play two MMOs simultaneously

When I’ve gotten into conversations with friends about juggling MMOs, a couple of them have mentioned that they actually play two MMOs at the same time on dual monitors. Usually one is a much slower game that requires the occasional command between long periods of time (such as, say, a space-based ADAM Online) and the other is a more traditional MMO. This is really not my scene at all, but it’s a possibility that depends on your ability to divide attention and perhaps the types of games involved.

Strategy #10: Play whatever the heck you feel like playing at the time

“Well, DUH!” you exclaim. “I’ve been saying that since your introductory paragraph!”

Yes, you can simply throw any plan out and just do whatever you feel like at the time. But when it comes to MMO juggling, it’s not always the best idea, especially if you want to be fair to your current crop of games. I’ve found that if I don’t have a plan, I’ll play in illogical spurts (four days with one game, two with another) and then realize that a game that I genuinely do like has received only a single play session from me this month. It’s up to you and how personally disciplined you are, really.

So for those of you that handle two or more MMOs at a time, which strategy do you employ?

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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r00ch

Enjoyable read and a fun little grab bag of ideas.

Ultimately it’s #10 for me, all the way!

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Fomdoo

Strategy #11: Don’t. Just don’t.

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Harbinger_Kyleran

Strategy #12 – play one game at a time, and only one game until you are “finished” with it completely.
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Hikari Kenzaki

So, I tend to do dailies/events in the mornings after I wake up.
I have a handful of games I play alone or do maintenance on while working and watching streamers (which is technically also working)
During the evenings, we typically get busy doing life things, watching movies, or we jump into one of the 2-4 games we’re currently playing.
The games we’re playing in the evenings tends to change based on what there is to DO in them. New patch in GW2, new class in BDO, new StarCitizen stuff to test, new single-player game we decided to play through, and so on.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

I do #10, the “play whatever.” Sometimes I want to play Ark and tame stuff, or just try to build stables and a workshop and pretend house for all my dinosaur monster pets and pretend it doesn’t look like a Borg Cube made out of rocks. Sometimes I feel like playing Space Engineers. Maybe I want to play Warframe and just annoy the Grineer for a bit. And oh, right, I need to log into Star Trek Online for at least a bit every day because they’ve ALWAYS got some kind of event running to earn a “free” unlock and then a huge pile of their “grindium” currency. ( OnO )

That said, it’s sometimes the case that a single game will dominate the majority of my time for a while. If I’m playing Ark or Space Engineers, I tend to come up with some major project (build a barn for my mammoths, or finish converting the Space Pirate outpost I captured into a mobile refining station and then make a couple of automatic mining ships to feed it, or whatever.) Then I’ll stick to that project until I finish it. Or get bored. Or realize that it’s way beyond my actual skill level and give up. Whichever happens first. Then I’ll go play something else for a few days.

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Schmidt.Capela

And oh, right, I need to log into Star Trek Online for at least a bit every day because they’ve ALWAYS got some kind of event running to earn a “free” unlock and then a huge pile of their “grindium” currency.

This is a big part of why I left STO a few years back in the first place. Feeling like I’m missing out by not playing when I’m not in the mood to play really pushes me away. I mean, if we could trigger past events (and get their rewards), without time limits, even if only solo, I would be far more to give it a try.

And then, of course, the game had to completely revamp the skills system while i was away, wiping all the effort I had put into researching the “perfect” build that I would never be tempted to respec away from.

Fisty
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Fisty

I am a #6, 7, 9, 10 type of guy. It is usually one a month, with an extra every other month. Having a couple groups also helps me decide which to pick up for the month.

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Hurbster

I’m OK until we get more details on the League of Legends one. FF14 wasn’t for me, never going back to WoW (as much as I want to play classic Lich King again) and nothing else interests me.

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treehuggerhannah

I play whatever I’m in the mood for. I don’t really worry about being “fair” – it’s not like a game has feelings I can hurt. Sometimes it can be hard to decide what will be most fun, but what will be the most fun at the given time is the only factor for me.

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r00ch

I agree with you and Schmidt sooo much. I love it when my biggest dilemma is deciding what game is the absolute most fun I can think to play.

Sometimes while gaming I get into what I like to call “game state”, an incredibly fun flow where I’m just in the zone and feeling incredibly inspired by the game. Sometimes I have to stop and take notes about what I love so much.

Getting into some form of “game state” is what I live for while gaming, and I try to base all my gaming decisions around what will put me in that incredibly fun headspace.

I like to ask myself, “What’s the most intrinsically fun thing I can think to do right now”, and the better I get at going with my gut and chasing that fun feeling the better I feel and the more fun I have while gaming.

I like it when I can let go of how much I paid for a game, whether I “owe” it time, whether I’m playing one game too much or another too little, and just vibe what sounds the most fun. And in that process I release so much overthinking, and I stop trying to sort out what I should be playing.

For so many, it’s so obvious – you just play what’s fun. But I never get tired of hearing it.

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Schmidt.Capela

I’m with #10 all the way.

Also, I don’t want to have to even think about discipline (or commitment) when it comes to games. I’m playing to have fun, and if the game asks me to play when I’m not in the mood for it, it’s being the exact opposite of fun.

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Bryan Correll

Fun fact: The preceding paragraph had the most mentions of “hogwash” on MOP in its entire history.

I find that hard to believe. Bree or Eliot must have used it more often at some point.

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Ardra Diva

The top picture in the article had me utterly fascinated until I found it wasn’t an MMO, but a card game. :-(

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Hurbster

They are developing an MMO based on it.