Massively Overthinking: Lies about MMOs we thought were true

spooky, kinda

A totally not-gaming video inspired this week’s Massively Overthinking: Hank Green’s video called I Believed These Four Lies. Green elaborates on a quad of things he thought were true but turned out to be, well, lies – or at least based on untruths. I want to riff on that idea but drag it back to the MMORPG genre since… that’s what we do here. Tell me about something MMO-related that you used to sincerely believe was true and that turned out to be false. What was it, how were you led astray, and what changed your mind?

Andy McAdams: Mine is kinda basic? I bought into the lie that I was only a real player if I was constantly trying more and more difficult content. I don’t mean like “mattered to the developers” because we know that Ion doesn’t care about you unless “do you even theorycraft, bro?” But I didn’t think I mattered to the rest of the community or the game world at all. It led to me doing a lot of pushing difficult content all the time and ignoring gameplay loops I enjoyed more because “real” players didn’t care about those gameplay loops.

It was an unspoken lie of the community. So it was a bit internalized and a bit externally reinforced by the actions of the community around me. It didn’t seem to matter what game I played or what the community was like; I always felt like I had to be pushing difficult content to be able to call myself a player.

I’m glad I’ve moved beyond that, and I just play the game games I want to. Sometimes it’s doing difficult content, other times its just staring at the AH or playing stupidly difficult classes because I like the class-lore, and don’t care about the meta (looking at you, troller).

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I used to earnestly, sincerely believe that the toxicity in the MMORPG industry had stayed constant from the dawn of the genre. I’d remember some of the truly disgusting things I saw and experienced in MMOs in the late ’90s and roll my eyes at people who in the early aughts were adamant that it was getting worse. As time’s gone on, I’ve changed my mind. Some of types of toxicity in games are more extreme. The overall levels of toxicity in individuals in MMORPGs hasn’t changed, but the tools for expressing and amplifying toxicity have dramatically expanded, and to a certain extent society now compels and even rewards the most deranged behavior, which means we see more of what was already bubbling beneath the surface now, and some of that spills out into MMOs.

But I also think we also see expanded reserves for fighting said toxicity and much less casual awfulness from otherwise normal people than we did 25 years ago; most MMORPG studios, for example, crack down on the worst toxicity in a hurry, even with ensmallened teams. The studios that don’t, stand out.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): Crafting is fun.

OK, I’m being facetious, but one of the major lies I’ve told myself is that people are always watching what you do in group content, which turns out to not really be the case for the most part. What really happens the vast majority of the time is people don’t really care about me so long as I’m performing the bare minimum of my role’s requirements. I still do have to remind myself about that, though. Often.

Another lie that’s tangential to that yet more focused is related to Final Fantasy XIV: I was really certain that I would not be a good enough player to do any of the normal raid content. Finally, I just tossed myself into the fire and ended up surviving and thriving. Ideally I’ll get to that same confidence point with EX and Savage content, but discovering that I was good enough for Normals was one of the best feelings yet in MMORPG gaming.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Instead of one specific example, I’ll share how I buy into the lies (or at least half-truths) of developers when they promote upcoming games. I’ll hear a dev expound enthusiastically on a feature and then give an example of how this feature manifests in the game itself. They do that so that the press will report on that very specific example but then imply that there’s a lot more unsaid examples that will be in the final version. Did the dev say that? Did the dev give any number or other definitive examples? No, but we assumed them, and they knew we would do that. They won’t correct the press’ or fans’ assumptions because it plays into the marketing hype.

And then the game comes out and you realize that this one example is pretty much the only one that was developed. I’ve bit into that sour lemon too many times. I remember when Mythic was talking up WAR’s “growth” system and kept mentioning how Orcs would get bigger or Dwarves’ beards would get longer, but that’s all the examples they ever gave. And then the game came out and didn’t even have that, which leads me to believe this was just an idea masquerading as a feature in development.

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): So mine is going to be pretty closed-minded and small, but I was a kid from a small town and I met and learned about all kinds of people when I got to college. So, don’t kill me please. But I thought truly only the nerdiest of nerds played MMOs. Like, I’m a nerd myself, no doubt, but I just didn’t realize how popular they were and how anyone could really enjoy them the same.

I believed that until I was hanging out with a group of friends one Saturday and we needed to wait up a few before heading out because one of the girls in the group was wrapping something up on her computer. So we went over there and waited and, lo and behold, she was playing WoW. I was a bit mindblown. She wasn’t a stereotypical “nerd,” so I was surprised.

So maybe this isn’t a story of being lied to about MMOs and more one of my being an idiot. But it was something I thought was true and was way off about.

Tyler Edwards (blog): That any form of paying real money for an in-game advantage will ruin a game. I used to believe that because it’s what the community always said, but the more I encountered it in practice, the more I realized that other people paying for advantages had no impact on my play. MMOs were never a fair and level playing field, and it doesn’t matter if that guy over there has better gear than me because he paid for it, or because he grinded harder.

It can be a problem if it’s impossible for anyone to make progress in a game without constantly paying, but that’s not something you really see in any mainstream MMOs… except the ones that still charge a subscription fee for access, of course.

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!
Previous articleParagon-spinoff Predecessor has soft launched into F2P open beta early access on Steam (and everywhere else)
Next articleThe Stream Team: All done with Neverwinter’s The Dwarven King

No posts to display

Subscribe to:
oldest most liked
Inline Feedback
View all comments