MMORPG’s – An online computer game played by 1000s of people at the same time, you play a character who has to gain experience, items and credits (gold) in a huge virtual world, full of adventure, quests, places to see and secrets.
My Experience with Anarchy Online – one of the most successful science fiction RPG’s is as follows:
The game started off really exciting, I remember landing on Newbie Island trying to figure out how to target and shoot mobs (enemies/monsters), even on Newbie Island you are able to gain credits, kill mobs, get experience and start some basic quest lines, to some degree you can even upgrade your weapons and Armour.
Once off Newbie Island you enter into the “real” gaming world, a huge planet that might take you over a year to fully explore, however don’t let the size of the planet fool you, about 90% of the planet is boring wilderness with nothing of interest in it what so ever. There is very little motivation to actually go off exploring most of it. Take for example, Fallout 3, which has unique locations in every direction, Anarchy Online or WoW do not really come close in this regard. I would say exploring constitutes 5% of the gaming experience, with sites like www.ao-universe.com – that tells you the locations of everything of interest, there is no reason to go and figure any of this out for yourself. There are vast chunks of the game content you can completely miss out on simply because nothing good can be found there, or better items are found elsewhere.
So how about activities? – the actual activities you can perform in this game falls into a pretty narrow stream all considering, In this write up I am talking about the full blown gaming experience with all expansions, not simply a froob (free player) or sloob (player with only the Shadow lands expansion). I am also talking from the perspective of the future potential I would like to see in games, mind blowing experiences, way more realistic and way less grindy, so bear this in mind when you read this.
I would say your activities are limited to:
(a) Hours/Days/Months/Years of grinding – Killing the same mob type over and over again for experience (e.g: RK Missions, Pen Inf Missions, Hecklers, LE Missions, Pocket Boss Farming, Hunting for pearls or items, Dyna Farming) Any of you reading this with AO experience will realize this high level overview is pretty accurate.
(b) Raiding / City Raids – this is very similar to grinding – except you grind away for exp/axp and also raid points – your final objective is getting items from the grinding, axp/exp is a secondary bonus. In the case of City Raids you’ll mainly do this to get some rare item, and because the item is so rare, you’ll need to do the same raid… same mobs on a different day, over and over again. Bottom line – you’re grinding.
(c) Twinking – Equipping your character with better armour, better weapons, better implants/symbiants, better rings, better social attire etc. Twinking is in the top 3 rewarding aspects of the game. You might grind for months to be able to fit an item, usually the higher your character the more rare items become, and the more rewarding it is finally to equip. But never forget the bottom line – you’re better twinked to be better prepared to grind.
(d) Selling items – in a sense this could also be classified as a type of grind… since you are spending time repeating an activity for a common goal, in this case raise credits, but the activity does not change, you post items for sale, and players buy your items, mostly just a quick “ty” and they’re off.
(e) Helping lower players with quests – To me this is the most rewarding part of the game, you actually get to be of some use to others… but there are a few things worth mentioning on this point for starters… Don’t expect any real appreciation from anyone, leave the game and you’re soon forgotten, likewise help someone to the best of your abilities and it could that in a few weeks that player leaves AO without even saying goodbye. In a way this is also a grind, except you yourself get only the satisfaction of actually helping someone else out.
(f) Getting from A to B. This is worth mentioning, due to the size of the planet a lot of the time even at level 220 you’re in transit.
(g) Building Organizational structure – In this game you get what they call Orgs, problem is about 99.9% of high level players all belong to an org and are loyal down to their last breath, so you’ll end up recruiting low level players, who might mature into good high level players and most don’t, most leave the game due to account issues or boredom. Your high level org community will eventually shrink. I’ve been in guilds in 3 other games, and never seen such low populations in guilds like in AO. I guess when the population was higher this wasn’t the case, but things have changed since then. So I would rank organization as perhaps the least engaging aspect of the game, which shouldn’t be the case at all.
(h) Questing for items / credits / exp – this usually involves a lot of walking/running around and killing or tagging bosses. Most quests cannot be soloed so you have the added stress of coordinating the quest. Point H and Point E go hand in hand.
My main grievances have been listed but I have a few more.
You might start at level 1, work day and night to get to level 220, and what reward do you get, any special benefits? Well close to nothing, this I think is where players get addicted to the game, trying to get those last super buffing items that once they get will have no real effect on their lives.
Another thing – during your gaming experience you will encounter rude players, this might seem like a laugh, but trust me it can get to you when players are rude and try ruin your day. In AO there is no way to get even, you can block the player from talking to you – that’s about it. Idiots can rule the day in this world. I think WoW has a way of letting players blow off steam, the wilderness truly is PVP and anything goes.
Sometimes I can’t help wonder if Zero Punctuation was right, and MMO’s just blow your time.