Feeling guilty

I haven’t blogged in a couple weeks, and it’s because I’m avoiding something…avoiding doing something, and avoiding saying something.

I think I’m done playing Warhammer Online.

My place of employment closes up between Christmas and New Year’s, so I’ve had almost two weeks off. I was planning to use that time to level my archmage from 33 to 40, and to enjoy some of the WAR endgame content. But each night, when it was time to sit down and play some games, I’d choose something other than WAR. I played a lot of Team Fortress 2, I played some games through Gametap (Stalker, Sid Meier’s Pirates, some indie old-style RPG’s), but I wasn’t choosing WAR.

It took a couple days for me to realize I was avoiding WAR, and a couple more days to admit it to myself. It’s not an easy realization for me, partially because I really enjoy some parts of WAR. The open RvR is the most fun I’ve had in an MMO since Dark Age of Camelot, and I really think Mythic has made a good game.

Why, you might ask, am I not playing it, if I feel like it’s a good MMO?

After thinking it over for the past week, I think I’ve hit another MMO burnout threshold. I’ve maintained at least one, and usually two, MMO subscriptions since Everquest released in 1999. That’s almost 10 years now, and I think I’m just burned out on leveling. It’s happened before, and it may be temporary, but I suspect this goes a little deeper. If I’m going to spend my time leveling, I want something in return for my time. I do want the RvR that WAR and DAoC provide, but I’m finding that there are other things that are almost as important, or more important. I want a house, a place to call home. I want crafting that’s a little more in-depth than what WAR offers. I want a world to explore, rather than a world to quest through (which is why I can’t return to WoW either). And I want fewer instances. I miss the DAoC frontiers, with mobs you could level on, with the risk of RvR always present. Oh, and I don’t think I enjoy the WAR zone-locking formula; I got turned off by people in warband or Region chat who had addons that tracked zone points, counting down until a zone was locked and we could move on to the next zone, or the right scenario, or whatever. I miss the organic feeling of DAoC frontier RvR, where you just needed to have the most keeps.

And I think I really miss the three realms of DAoC. Two realms in WAR is too static, and contributes to that sense of being funneled into the next RvR zone progression. I miss the unpredictability of a third realm.

I worried about some of these things in beta…no housing, light on the crafting, only two realms…and I think it’s affecting my immersion in the game. I don’t think it’s coincidental that I’m playing a lot of Team Fortress 2 after enjoying WAR RvR. It’s very much a team-based FPS feel…which is great when I’m playing a team-based FPS. I’m not enjoying it so much in my MMO.

I feel guilty, though, because despite all of the things I’m not enjoying, I think Mythic has made a pretty damn good MMO. I think a lot of my dissatisfaction is at least as attributable to my MMO burnout as it is the design choices. In the past, when I’ve tired of an MMO, I’ve been excited about trying something else. I don’t have a burning desire to play any MMO right now. I have the Lich King expansion, and I haven’t even thought about logging in; it’s there because my eight year-old daughter enjoys it. I don’t feel like re-subbing to Eve, or trying EQ2. The only game that might get some attention is LoTRO, but I think I need a break before I can try it again.

So, there you have it. It’s like dating a pretty girl, but breaking up because of some vague unease, even though on the surface everything seems great. I’ve tried to put my finger on what it is that makes me feel like I don’t want to log back in, but even though I can point to some game design decisions, I don’t really feel like that’s it. I think it’s me, and I think I’m really burned out on leveling. Would housing, and crafting, and a chance to be a merchant, and a great big world to explore for resources prevent me from being burned out? I’m not sure, and anyway, that game doesn’t exist in this generation of MMO’s. Maybe by the time I’m done being burned out, there will be something like that on the horizon. I’m not holding my breath, though; it’s quite possible the industry is moving in another direction, in that WoW theme-parky direction that I’ve grown dissatisfied with. Time will tell!

Until then, I’ll be playing TF2 (I try to jump on the Gamers With Jobs TF2 server when it’s up, but they play earlier than I’m usually available most nights), and I’ll be working through a backlog of titles on Gametap that I’ve downloaded but haven’t played, mostly because I was neck-deep in MMO’s. There’s a long list of single player games that I missed while I was in MMO’s, and Gametap’s going to help me catch up, but that’s another post…

I hope everyone had a happy holiday! Hopefully, I’ll be back to blogging semi-regularly, now that I’ve stated what I’ve been avoiding.

CoWs, I’m really going to miss listening in to the Vent conversations, but I’m not sad, because I know I’ll be seeing you again in other games, in other worlds. It was a privilege hanging out with the Order folks, those who play regularly, and those who played briefly. I met a ton of wonderful people, and I’m looking forward to gaming with y’all in the future!

12 Responses

  1. /comfort

    There there — and join the club. I feel awful about not being motivated to play WAR because it *is* a good game, and has many things I like.

    But I too am getting fonder and fonder of all the stuff WAR decided *not* to have to preserve that gritty, “at war” atmosphere. Maybe we’re getting old and soft and want an armchair by a fireplace to rest our level-weary bones. ;)

  2. Can’t say I blame you man. I’m up and down on this game more than a stripper on a pole! It either lacks that certain something that grabs a hold of you and doesn’t let go or maybe we’re just too old and weathered to feel that sensation in an MMO anymore.

    I’m definitely not interested in starting up in any other MMO if WAR doesn’t keep my subscription. I just can’t fathom wanting to do the same stuff all over again because I’ve been doing it since 1996 in MUDS and 1999 in EQ.

    Curiously, how many CoW folks are still playing WAR? It seems like I’ve been reading similar posts on all your blogs lately. :S

  3. I have to say I agree completely that the lack of housing, the lack of a third realm, and the overall RvR zone design (you don’t have a frontier, so it is never YOUR homeland being attacked) really lessens that urge to login.

    I still enjoy the game, but I hardly notice when I go 3-5+ days without logging in

    -Michael
    Muckbeast – Game Design and Virtual Worlds
    http://www.muckbeast.com

  4. Haha Ysh, there are definitely days where I feel old and grizzled when it comes to MMO’s. That’s why I don’t want to slam WAR in any way…I know a lot of it is just me needing a change of pace.

    Snafzg, I’m guessing the Order side of CoW has 12-15 people playing each evening? That’s approximately what it was a couple of weeks ago when I was logging in regularly.

    Muckbeast, it was your comment on another post here that made me face up to my waning MMO interest. Thanks for checking in :)

  5. You know, not being in WAR doesn’t mean you can’t hang out in Vent…

  6. heh. Glad I could contribute in some small way, Rick. :)

    I see a few people here raising concerns about staying in touch. This is why I am such a huge detractor of subscription based systems. Once someone decides they aren’t getting their money’s worth, they unsub, and everyone loses contact.

    I wrote a blog post about this a few months ago, titled: PLAYERS ARE CONTENT. You might want to check it out:

    http://muckbeast.today.com/2008/08/13/players-are-content/

    Anyway, if you keep blogging on WAR, I’d enjoy reading more about why you think you feel disillusioned. I also think it is a good game, it just needs to do something significant to create that DAoC-ish RvR feel.

  7. Something you all might find interesting. A post from Dr. Richard Bartle, the creator of the first MUD/online RPG, about a problem older games have maintaining their entries on Wikipedia:

    http://www.youhaventlived.com/qblog/2009/QBlog050109A.html

  8. [...] the “Players ARE content” article over on Muckbeast (discovered through Rick’s /random) says a lot of things many of us seem to agree with. I’m mentioning this mostly as a topic to [...]

  9. Whenever another voice dims in the Warhammer Universe it saddens me, but I hope you don’t give up blogging on other stuff. Your a good writer, and enjoyed your blog alot

  10. You pretty much nailed it as for the reasons I didn’t resubscribe. Someone else on another thread put it perfectly – Mythic left all the stuff out of WAR that made DAoC so good – housing, better crafting, an RvR area that you really felt compelled to defend, breath taking keep siege (castle walls that you could knock down with siege/mobile siege equipment/climbable walls), fun PvE, an RvR dungeon. The list is long and embarrassing IMO.

    But I’m starting to think Mythic wasn’t trying to get back to it’s roots – but more create a PvP experience that newbs to the concept would have a “this is so much better than wow pvp” reaction. And when I hear Darren (common sense gamer) get excited over what he is experiencing in scenarios, I would have to say they succeeded and that’s good for everyone.

    So a year from now, I imagine WAR will be a whole lot more like the DAoC2 many of us were hoping for.

  11. I don’t see why so many bloggers feel guilty when they quit WAR. If you’re not enjoying the game, you shouldn’t keep throwing money at it for the sake of your blog commenters…

    • Well, it’s because I enjoyed the game, but I’m burned out on leveling. I don’t feel guilty for the sake of my commenters as much as it’s sad to leave a good guild…a lot of whom happen to be commenters here.

      Really, though, I think Mythic deserves success with the game they made, and I think that’s where I feel guilty. As much as I want them to succeed, I’m not participating in their success. It’s not that they made a bad game, it’s just a game that I don’t feel like playing, or a genre I don’t feel like playing.

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