16 September 2010

"We're in a fix and no mistake."

There's comes a point in all MMO experiences where you just feel plain lost. You've completed a large percentage of the game's content, your regular groups aren't doing much, you're not terribly thrilled at the prospect of trying new classes; in short, the hobby isn't quite what it was.

Generally when this happens I step back. Other things in life have taken my attention or other games have sprung up, new and old, to tap into my beloved gaming time. Thereafter the interest in the MMO (LotRO, in my case) comes out of rigor mortis and is fresh again in some regard. A month ago, however, I was trying to siphon some enjoyment out of LotRO and it was like trying to find a way into a brick wall.


I don't mean to go into great details on the experience but any gamer can tell you the story; there is some part of you that just has to go back. Like Jack and the Island, or Harry Potter and unnecessary trouble, you are simply drawn to the thing in the hopes of returning to that initial state of enjoyment where everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.

The trouble is that you can't go back.

Anyone whose reread their favorite book, watched their favorite movies over and over again, ate platefuls of their favorite dish, or moved back in with their parents knows that almost always that innocent beginning is lost forever. This is why we're always looking for the next big thing that give us a little satisfaction.

They key to sustained enjoyment, I've found, is not beating your head against that wall until you die or a brick comes loose, but to wait. After a while you'll notice something new about the wall; new curvatures, colors, or even ways around it. So it is with LotRO (and many other games I play or books I read): after a week, a month, or more I find new life in my addiction. It isn't some senseless drive that pushes me to continue adventuring and exploring my digital Middle-earth, it's the fun of it. For me, at present, is is the LotRO store, Enedwaith, and the continued leveling of my Guardian.

It is a point of irritation for me, this vacuous MMOG crowd, so prone to bitching and devouring. They descend upon the latest game, ingest a surface level of content, complain about how short, boring, and terrible the game is, and move on to the next clone. The best is when they stick with a game but continue to defame it at every opportunity. I realize that this annoyance is to do with my personality; I am slow to commit but once I do I am as loyal as an orphan dog newly taken in. There is also something to be said for sticking with a game and wringing out every once of content and enjoyment, forming bonds with other players and growing the community.  That's the real pleasure of online gaming.

1 comment:

Andrew Isley said...

I get what you are saying, but it's tough taking a medium which always focuses on the new and ask people to be devoted followers. What you call devotion, I call timesink.

My game habits have changed over the years. I once was a "play-the-game-until-it-is-mastered" type of gamer. Wring every hour possible out the experience, right? But now, I just want a fun escape in what's new.

It's like reading. There is so much out there to experience, it's hard to read the same book over and over. I would love to revisit The Dark Tower Series, but I just don't have the time to get lost again.

I also don't play MMOs because of the nature of the game play. So I'm speaking as a game that love the single player experience, which misses much of your point.