My MMORPG Attention Stages

I’m still on MMO break, playing a lot of Team Fortress 2 and other single-player games, but I almost got caught by LoTRO this week. In years past, I think I would have succumbed to the lure of Middle Earth and re-subscribed to scratch my MMO itch, but I moved through my usual MMO attention stages much more rapidly than I used to. In fact, it was only about two days from “Boy, I’d like to run around Middle Earth again, there are some things that look like fun”, to “God, I’m tired just thinking about grinding levels”.

The first thing that got me thinking about LoTRO was Ethic’s post about farming in the Shire. I really enjoyed the crafting in LoTRO, and since that was one of the areas where WAR disappointed me, I felt the urge to dust off my hobbit (that sounds dirty, doesn’t it?) and do some farming and cooking.

Then I stumbled across a Tom Chick post about buying a house in LoTRO, and it was the second step off the wagon. Housing was another thing I really missed in WAR. My favorite MMOs have had some combination of housing, good crafting, and meaningful player versus player combat. He said making money is easy, and I could afford a house, and I could craft…I was weakening…

The third thing that got me excited about LoTRO was the most recent Gamers With Jobs podcast, the January 28th episode. They were talking about Moria, and how much fun they were having, and how awesome the world looks, and I was pretty much ready to sign up right there. BUT…

Then the GWJ crew mentioned that they didn’t level up the characters they were playing. It seems Turbine gave them accounts with higher-level characters so they could check out the new content. Very smart of Turbine to do that, very cool that the GWJ guys get an opportunity to enjoy Moria. However, one of them mentioned that they wouldn’t want to have to level a character high enough to experience Moria. I don’t remember the exact quote, but it mentioned grinding and fetching sandwiches and killing things over and over…and I felt the wind go out of my sails. My MMO burnout returned in a rush.

I know that feeling, the “Oh my god, I’d rather do anything than level” feeling. I’ve felt it eventually in pretty much every MMO I’ve played, from EQ in ’99 through DAoC, SWG, WoW, LoTRO, and WAR. It used to take a long time for me to get to that point. There was enough that was new and exciting about the worlds I experienced to offset the level grinding. After grinding through so many games, though, I just can’t take the idea of doing more of it to get to 50 to check out Moria in LoTRO.

So, instead of months to burnout, I went from excitement about LoTRO to burnout in just a couple days. I think that’s a sign I’m not ready to return to MMOs yet. That feeling won’t last forever; I think a long break will serve me well, and I’ll be able to face MMOs without a feeling of fatigue. I was amused, though, to track my attention span, and see how quickly it went from focused to bored.

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8 Responses

  1. What level is your hobbit anyway? And why rush to 50 (actually 52-53 to actually survive on your own) to see Moria when apparently you haven’t even seen the rest of Eriador yet?

    LOTRO isn’t a rush to level cap game, so just play at your own pace.

    Even the Moria grinding isn’t horrible, provided you have people to do it with. (Well, that’s my opinion, I don’t enjoy soloing in Moria at all…) There are two factions currently, one to get a Goat mount (there are two, a slow one then at kindred level a faster one) to have your own mount in the mines. But there are stables everywhere so really the mount is optional. And potentially dangerous if you don’t know your way around — the extra speed of a mount could send you sailing off a cliff. The other faction unlocks the new legendary trait stuff, so that one could perhaps be seen as more “required” depending on your playstyle. But the quests (there are even daily reputation quests) give faction rep so it’s not a big a deal as literally having to go out and grind for it.

    I’m on break myself right now but that’s because I figure Moria is only 10 levels, and I burned through 6 levels in a couple weeks without even trying. Granted, there’s tons to do still once the leveling is over, but the expansion has to last a year so I’m on break til the next Book comes out (soon) then I’ll start poking around again and working on my character.

    But yeah, I feel your pain, and honestly I’m getting really tired of hopping from DikuMMO to DikuMMO. What do I expect to find in the new shiny one? Uh, let’s see… leveling, gear, grinding… so I may as well pick one I really like and stick with it until someone comes along who drop-kicks Diku out of the park.

    As for WAR crafting, I just have to ask: why feel it’s shallow (or whatever) when the game makes it known up-front it’s not about having a world to grow flowers and craft pink bathrobes? It was supposed to be about the war and you’re just a cog in the machine of war. Crafting was supposed to benefit the battles, the end.

    In LOTRO and a few other games, crafting is a little more all-encompassing, and that’s ok for those games. For WAR I may be a little iffy on whether crafting was even needed considering I’m supposed to be one of the rank and file soldiers for Destruction or Order so shouldn’t supplies be rationed somehow? But if they’ve gone on for all this time making no bones that The Point of War is the RvR then having crafting limited and only applicable to the RvR was the right move for my two cents.

    • @ Scott – My hobbit is only in his mid 20’s. I burned out on questing somewhere right after Weathertop. I agree with most of your statements, especially this one:

      “But yeah, I feel your pain, and honestly I’m getting really tired of hopping from DikuMMO to DikuMMO. What do I expect to find in the new shiny one?”

      That explains most of why I’m feeling too burned out to even just take it slow in LoTRO, or why I felt like WAR needed more to tie me in to the game world. I completely agree that Mythic was up front about crafting being of secondary importance, but I do miss it. It rounds out the world for me.

  2. Heheh – I listened to the same podcast and had the same ‘doh!’ feeling when they mentioned the quests in Moria are sos. What I get out of lotro is the amazing scenery and immersion in general. The crafting too adds to the great immersion. That’s all that matters to me right now (I live in Texas but raised in Cali which may have something to do with it).

    Now if it’s the pressure of a monthly bill, I suggest you jump into Atlantica Online. That game has some very sublime features that I’m really enjoying.

    • @ Coppertopper – Haha, damn you, that’s a good point. Part of my burnout has to do with being unwilling to part with $15/month when I’m bored with the genre. Offering me a free alternative…I don’t know, I think I’m still too burned out on level churn, but free is a little more tempting. Do you offer cigarettes to ex-smokers at bars too? :)

  3. Laced with crack yes! Heheh well as long as the dealer is in your house might as well sample the freebies : p I am kind of dreading the next big mmo-deine.

  4. Middle Earth is a beautiful place to hang out, but aside from the storyline quests (which are awesome), there is a lot of ‘run from one end of the zone to the other’ and ‘kill ten things’ quests.

    You really notice it when you start on your own, months after everyone else has levelled through the newbie zones.

    But it is very pretty, and relaxing to wander around if you take it a bit at a time. I don’t know if they’re having a welcome back week in the US? They are in Europe (this week, actually), which is a good time to at least scratch that itch a bit and remember why you either do want to resub or don’t.

    I was writing a bit about my thoughts on resubbing to it here http://spinksville.wordpress.com/2009/01/31/speak-friend-and-enter/

  5. nice post. waiting for the first real virtual world…

  6. [...] players have an attention span cycle, and it may just be imagination, but it seems to me that the genre as a whole is really suffering [...]

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