Yesterday I wrote about the lack of immersion I feel from contemporary MMORPG’s. I’m trying to work out whether I’m unable to be immersed because of the games, or incapable because of something that has changed in me over the years. Before I even published yesterday’s entry, I comprised a rather long list of causes, reasons why, or components of this problem I’m facing. I’ll share a couple general ideas that I’ve lumped much of my list into.
I know what the game wants me to do.
The very first time I logged in to Guild Wars 2 (I’ll use GW2 as an example since it is topical today) I knew immediately what the game wanted me to do. I played ten more minutes, five more hours, and I knew the game wanted me to go and complete quests or events and progress my way through each zone until I was able to move on to the next. These games want me to level, get better gear, complete quests, and run dungeons. I know I’m generalizing a ton, but we all know HOW the games want us to play these days. Why can’t I just go out and do it my own way?
Sandbox elements of some kind are likely a necessity. Even EQ had its sandbox moments. Give me a world, tools to use, and let me make my own way; Don’t prescribe me some rigid formula that I’ve gone through a dozen times already. Pure themeparks are ruining immersion.
Ignorance is bliss, yours and mine.
Not only was it easier to be immersed in a game when I felt completely lost and overwhelmed, and turning to anyone with knowledge for help, but when everyone else around me was just as lost and clueless it created a special atmosphere of players all striving to come together. No one knew what to expect. Now you log in and someone has beta tested the first 50 levels already or done the content, and 9/10 people know how the game wants them to play (see above) and suddenly we’re all veterans just going through the motions. Lump beta tests becoming marketing ploys, hardcore guilds pushing hard to know and do everything from the start, and all these games being the same into this category.
I logged in to Dark Age of Camelot for the first time after making an impulse buy based on Graev’s insistence. He said to me, “This game launched today, let’s go buy it. It has castles and knights’n stuff.” I knew absolutely nothing about DAOC, and I was rewarded for my ignorance.
I analyze way too much.
My own curiosity and obsession with knowing how each and every MMORPG ticks often leads to my own demise. I break a game down into its base elements so quickly that I’ve already found the pattern before I’m even to it. I see problems days, weeks, months down the road and I know they will eventually hinder my ability to enjoy the game — this happened in WAR, Rift, SWTOR, etc. My ability to be absorbed into the game is gone, even if what I’m doing is part of the game that was made well.
This is often why I’ll post my thoughts on a game so early and be ridiculed by people, only to have them come back a month or two later saying I called it. I think if I backed off and just enjoyed the moment, I might be able to find more depth. But then again, when a game’s design is so horribly sterile and generic I can’t blame myself.
I’ll stop there for now. Would it be accurate to summarize all of the above as the result of games failing to provide something new, or is that over-simplifying ? My ability to analyze the current trends is only so ‘keen’ because the trends are obvious. We’re all veterans in a game from day one because, technically, we’ve played it before, and games follow a pattern too clearly defined. We may no longer be ignorant, but if something new would just come along we could all be noobs again — or does it need to be new? I have something to say on that tomorrow.
Feel free to chime in with your thoughts.