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Evolution of the MMO in society? What's your story?


Started by Leighton Karidian
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I found myself ruminating over ESO during lunch today. I spent the better part of an hour going over one question in particular: Why haven't I been able to reproduce the experience I had when I first starting playing online role-playing games?

I realized the answer was not as easy as it seemed. Initial thoughts led me to the obvious; the evolution of video game technology, the evolution of the social media and the internet in general, and of course, my own evolution as a person.

To fully flesh out the answer to my question, however, I began mapping my personal gaming history. How have I gotten to this place where I am so excited about an MMORPG that I'm reading information and listening to podcasts about it more than a year from being able to actually play it?

I was born in 1979 so I lived through the Nintendo and Sega wars of the 80s. We weren't rich but "Middle Class" meant something a little different in those days so we had pretty much every new gizmo from a VCR to the Atari Master System. I grew up watching He-Man and Transformers and Thundercats and Star Trek: The Next Generation. I played Zelda and Phantasy Star. In those games, I had my first glimpse into a world (a role-playing one) that has gripped me ever since. I played the Heroquest board game which served as a gateway into other harder core paper and pencil games.

The PC became a game changer, though, literally. Betrayal at Krondor, King's Quest, and Myst-Oh my! Games like Doom and TES:Arena led into the Warcraft series and then Daggerfall. But it was with Baldur's Gate that I had finally found my calling. A computer game set in my favorite D&D world that focused on actual rules and story? What's more I could play with my friends! It was one game to rule them all... so I had thought.

I was taking time from college to help my father move on after the sudden death of my mother from cancer(I know it's a sad story that's not important to the overall arc of this article, but important when seeking my own answers to my initial question) when I found myself stricken with insomnia. My dear friend, who had helped me personally deal with the loss, and consequently joined me on a number of those adventures in Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale etc, bought a game called Everquest for me.

"It'll be something for you to do when you can't sleep," he told me.

I resisted it at first. The pictures on the back of the box did very little to invite me to play. The graphics looked blocky and what's this about paying a monthly fee? That didn't sound right.

So a few weeks or a month after receiving his gift, my friend called me.

"Have you installed EQ, yet?" he asked me.

"EQ?"

"Everquest,"' he said. "The game I got you."

"Uh, yeah," I lied.

"Cool! Do me a favor..."

He went on to explain why I needed to log into the game and move his character to a safer spot than where he had logged out. He couldn't do it himself for some reason. He was working late or going out of town. The details of this are hazy as I have honestly not thought about this for 14 years, but the point is It forced me to install the game and follow his strange advice on moving his Dwarven Paladin from some place called Toxx forest to the Butcherblock Mountains. I can't imagine what was so important about moving his character, so I suppose that had been his plan all along to get me to play.

By this stage in my gaming history I had played a number of first person games already; my favorites being Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64 and Quake for PC. So when I logged into EQ I wasn't too lost on how to move around, but that was pretty much where my familiarity ended. I don't recall my friend's exact instructions, but I have a feeling he was purposely vague, because what I assumed was going to be a five minute endeavor, turned into five hours of frustration, exploration, discovery, and adventure.

Without detailing how different MMOs were in those days, I will just say that the single biggest reason my foray into the MMORPG world was a successful one, was the fact that almost all of my help on how to complete my goal(in this case moving from one continent in the game to another) came in the form of real life people. These weren't kids at the computer lab or my friends at a LAN party(remember those?), but strangers from around the world on similar adventures with similar goals. What a treat!

Needless to say I started my account the next day and I've had an active MMO account in one game or another ever since-even during my eight years in the military. I'm sure I played too much then(Evercrack indeed), but I was young and it did help me to escape. I've found the biggest reason I play an RPG of any kind is the escapism factor, but that is probably another topic or perhaps a supplementary one better left for another day.

My love affair with MMORPGs did not stop at EQ, of course. EQ led into DAoC, which led into Star Wars Galaxies which led into EQ2(people forget how different and awesome that game was at launch) and then finally World of Warcraft. I think each of those games had a magic that kept me glued to my computer screen at all hours despite my better judgement. Not to mention I was more or less playing with people that shared at least vaguely similar paths in finding online games. I split my play time between my MMOs and Morrowind, but the height of MMORPGs for me was the Kara era in World of Warcraft. I loved sharing that feeling of slaying the dragon with my friends. I still do.

I think it was around the time that games like DDO and LoTRO and Vanguard were released that I began to feel that magic dissipate - at least a little. The world had already looked so different than when I first picked up EQ. I had probably only had my own email account a year back then. Yes, I was a senior in high school before I had my first e-mail account! By 2006 or 2007, everyone had a cell phone and their own My Space page. Xbox Live was really picking up steam and online gaming was not exclusive to geeks swinging swords or shooting lightning bolts at each other. Games like Call of Duty would serve as the backdrop for the next generation of MMORPGers for better or worse.

By the time I completed my degree and finished my time in the Army, I realized that I had played over fifteen MMORPGs. I was spending significant time in LoTRO and Eve, and of course WoW, but I wouldn't get truly excited again about an MMO until Star Wars: The Old Republic. TES:Oblivion and Dragon Age was keeping my attention in between WoW Cata raids, but could SW:TOR recapture that MMO magic for me? At first, I suppose it did, but why was that feeling so fleeting? There have been countless posts and articles tackling this question, but the purpose of this one is figuring out that personal answer for myself.

So I'm caught up to my life today where I love my work and my family even more. I don't smoke and rarely drink, but I'm as addicted to role-playing games today as I've ever been. Whether it has become a way for me to feel important in an increasingly shrinking world or just a way to escape to a place that isn't my own, I still find it incredibly gratifying to slay that dragon time after time.

I play Skyrim a lot, probably because I read so much about ESO that it feels like the closest thing to playing, but I haven't really played much of GW2 or WoW or EQ2 or SW:ToR lately. My choices for escapism come in different packages these days as well. Television has come a long way since those days of watching He-Man and TNG. There are quality products being produced everwhere I look. My DVR is full of little worlds that one can easily get lost in. I personally love all the cliche geek shows like Walking Dead and Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad etc, but my point is that TV alone is a much better option than it was even a decade ago.

I certainly don't spend much time on Twitter or Facebook or Youtube, but my time there seems to increase daily. It's simply the way of things. No one can fight it. Why should they?

When you include my work(which I'm passionate about), and my family time(we're one of those active families who like to hike and play tennis and kick each other's asses in one way or another) I have to ask myself what I'm looking for when I play an MMORPG. I said in a different post that I'm looking to be challenged and get lost in a world with friends, or something like that, but I realized over lunch today that the bigger question is why can't it be like it was for me when I first played Everquest?

I'm sure companies like ZOS ponder this question as well. How do they get people to subscribe to a game for months on end? Can they even expect to as Blizzard and Verant/Sony did for all those years? Was it so new and different that it's a time in gaming history that we simply cannot get back?

Guilds large and small are forming all over the internet in preparation for ESO, just as they did for SW:TOR and GW2 and others. Are we all hopelessly looking for that magic or are my hopes so different than the rest of you?

I sadly find myself with fewer answers and more questions as I end this post, but that does not mean I am any less hopeful. Sometimes I think I could choose randomly any 5 people from this site alone and toss them into Skyrim with me and I could play that game forever. Is that really true, though?
This post was last modified: March 24th 2014, 04:18 PM by Leighton Karidian


“Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real.” - Jules Verne
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at the end of the day you answered your own question.
To make this short and simple, because i dont feel like wall of text right now, no you cannot recapture that feeling.
it is not possible.

But you can create it for a new generation of players.
This might sound like an unsatisfying answer but think about it. TESO will be the first MMORPG for some people.
And those will have the same moments. Realizing a world full of different people from all over the place for the first time.
Having no idea about the structure of an MMO stumbling through the world expecting wonder behind every corner.

This is not what well be getting. People that have already played MMOs. But we realy should stop thinking about that.
You cannot replicate a feeling that is based on doing something for the first time.
And while i realize many of the things youve mentioned are tied to how MMORPGs were "back then" if you are honest to yourself you will realize that most of the sense of wonder you get for playing an MMORPG stems from the fact that you have no idea of what youve gotten yourself into.
Expecting incredible things behind every corner (and perhaps even finding them)

You were by no means efficient, but thats what beeing truly immersed in a game is all about.

Think of it as maturing.
When you were a kid. everything (as you remember it) was probably pretty awsome. Beeing outside playing with friends and expiriencing video games for the first time perhaps.
Youre grown up now. and you think the magic is gone.

But its been replaced. Its been replaced with the freedom to spend your time as you want to (dispite your job and stuff like that) and (hopefully) some expendable income to finance hobbies like Sports, Video games or whatever floats your boat.
Its just one benefit replaced with another.

The catch is figuring out that benefit.
And for MMORPGs thats simple: you can now play the real thing.
Yes you might have lost your sense of wonder for the world. But youve gained understanding.

you can do competetive raids, competetive PvP, hardcore guilds or RP if thats more your thing.
You have more possibilities.
But you have to realize that this sense of wonder is never coming back.
And that you have to move on.

Realy if that was all that kept you to MMORPGs (wich i doubt considering you played what 13 of them now?) it might have been just that what sparked your interrest.
But evidently its not.

On "Skyrim with friends": thats what we all realy wanted isnt it?
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Yeah, Sordak, the more I thought on it, the more I realized the truth of your response staring at me in the face. I guess I'm asking the wrong question after all. It's like reading your favorite book or movie for the first time. You can never take that journey again. I can't help but envy those who will be taking their first MMO steps with TESO. I believe it's going to be a good one in which to do so.

There should be more than enough reasons to keep me excited about playing the game beyond the first few months. Not the least of which is this community that grows every day.

You know I'm still friends with one of those strangers I met that very first night in Everquest. Even though we live on opposite coasts of the country, we have met several times in real life and we continue to play different games together. Such is the power of the MMORPG.


“Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real.” - Jules Verne
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(March 13th 2013, 02:33 PM)Sordak Wrote: Snip .....

But you can create it for a new generation of players.
This might sound like an unsatisfying answer but think about it. TESO will be the first MMORPG for some people.
And those will have the same moments. Realizing a world full of different people from all over the place for the first time.
Having no idea about the structure of an MMO stumbling through the world expecting wonder behind every corner.


On "Skyrim with friends": thats what we all realy wanted isnt i?

Well, friend - I'd give you 'bout 25 Likes if they'd let me for this wise answer! For myself, perhaps I am childlike but I still feel the magic of mmorpg's and TES games, it even increases as I get better at playing them & most probably as the games get better and better.

As far as gaming history, I strongly resisted until I realized that it was join in or become a gaming widow. My hubby was and is an ardent gamer. So, I donned the proferred ghillie suit he offered me in Delta Force I and stood lone upon the hill, pecking off baddies through my scope as he stormed the bastilles below. I got to really love it. I did get ruffled when somebody strange snuck up behind me and whispered 'Hello, Eve' (we were Cain & Eve) - so upset he'd discovered me that I logged out! Not used to talking to anyone but my hubby in an mmo. Since then I've played more online games than I can stack in my closet - I lean towards fantasy (DDO, LOTR, WoW, DAOC, GW, EQ2, etc.) and racing (Porche Unleashed the all time favorite.) My hubby continues in all genres, with and without me - EVE Onling being a fave.

Our next joint foray after DF1 was into TES: Arena and from there I have never turned back. Loving every TES game and learning more about Tamriel along the way. Gathering so many online TES forum friends from around the world that I am quivering in the stirrups waiting to play TESO with them all. This will be the ultimate magicka for me - to raid in a huge Cyrodill party with Picses & Maja & Miaawouww & Quallidex & Sordak & Lobsel_vith & Tecca & all of you.

Yehhayy!!! I may have to quit work, turn my file cabinet into a mini-fridge & install a toilet into my computer chair = once TESO is in session, I just may NEVER leave this computer screen again!!!


TESO - - Multiplayer: "M'aiq does not know this word. You wish others to help you in your quest? Coward! If you must, search for the Argonian Im-Leet, or perhaps the big Nord, Rolf the Uber. They will certainly wish to join you." M'aiq the Liar.

"Va Khaj Dar - Khajiity's united? M'aiq will join!" M'aiq the Liar
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Ah, the good ol' days. Thanks for sharing your story, spoke right to my soul. Mine is very similar.

I got to thinking about it and all the things I'm the most nostalgic about EQ were the very things that annoyed me the most at the time. Paying for, or selling, buffs at the Nexus. A notebook full of hand-written notes for quests. Dragging corpses. Waiting 2 weeks for a quest mob spawn. Running and swimming marathons. The lag at the Bazaar!

But then again, some of those things made for a greater sense of community, as well as the fact that MMOs weren't as "mainstream" as they are now. I guess I'd compare it to small-town living versus big-city life. The little neighborhood you grew up in seemed so magical at the time, but everyone you knew there has moved on so it wouldn't be the same to go back, especially after living in the flashy city with all it's conveniences and stuff to do.
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Leighton Karidian
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Ah I miss all my EQ notes. My desk was a crazy scatter of maps, spells, and tons and tons of quest notes. Can you imagine any MMO today NOT having a built in map system? EQAtlas was a game changer, huh? But seriously, it was all part of the charm and I wouldn't have had it any other way.


“Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real.” - Jules Verne
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ESO is going to be my first MMORPG, I hope it`ll be good.



Rangers of the Dominion
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