I started to feel the hints of burnout today when playing Warhammer Online. It’s a dreaded feeling. It usually signals the end of my stay in a MMORPG when I start to feel the dread of having to log in. It usually starts with feelings of “oh, I’ll just play this instead” and then eventually leads to ache in the upper part of my stomache that rests with me all day while I stare at the icon of the game I’m burning out on. I know that I’ve reached full burnout when I log into a MMO and walk around and try to do something but actually want to just log off. I haven’t reached full burnout in Warhammer yet and I don’t want to! However, I know what’s causing it.
Every time I log into the game I end up doing the exact same thing. That’s a HUGE problem. I want to refer you to a few past blog entries that I’ve made and show you the cycle.
This decision to stop playing LOTRO was not necessarily difficult or easy. It was more of a circumstance of boredom and a lack of direction or things to do. For the third time since I began playing most all my friends have quit the game. I’m certain that if I kept playing I would make more friends and they would eventually quit but to be honest I’m tired of the repetition.
And one of the best explanations that I have ever made about repetition in MMORPGs comes from my blog entry when I stopped playing PotBS:
The simple and unavoidable fact of the matter is that I am left without choices. Choices are important in a mmorpg because without them repetition sinks in. Repetition is the cancer equivalent in mmorpgs. It will break down and destroy the very basic enjoyable things in a game when it sets in.
The lack of real decisions in-game and the reptition of acts, however fun now, always leads me to burnout. I believe that this is true for everyone out there (whether they admit it or not), with the only difference being the amount of time it takes to realize or have these feelings set in.
This feeling has begun in Warhammer Online. Every time that I log in I do the exact same things. I log in and run the same old redundant quests or I grind mobs for the kill collector just to be able to participate and contribute to RvR (as that is my goal in the game). I queue for the same scenarios that always pop and they always go the same way: we either totally dominate the enemy PUG or the enemy totally dominates ours. Playing in T3 or T4 is all the same. Keep swapping is so rampant these days that it feels like we avoid the enemy more than we fight them. Everything is moving 100x faster than it should be too. We rush to a flight master and race on our mounts to a keep to take it then we rush to a battle objective to take it and wait 3 minutes or race to a second to double cap then race back to get the points for the first. Every single time I log in this is the only form of gameplay that I find.
There’s no sense of immersion in the world. There’s no sense of growth and development. Everything that I do in-game feels superficial and unimportant. There is no depth to the game right now and it’s killing my enjoyment. Warhammer feels less like a Role Playing Game and more like an arcade game. That’s not necessarily a BAD thing. World of Warcraft felt the same way. Most MMORPGs developed post-WoW in this new era of MMORPGs feel this way. Each game has their own clever way of disguising this feeling. For WoW it was the treadmill grinds and for LOTRO it was the story mixed with the treadmills. For WAR it’s the constant realm WAR. The problem that I’m having right now is that WAR’s realmwar is starting to feel like a treadmill.
This can be fixed! I have an immense reserve of optimism stored up. A huge part of that comes from actually KNOWING that a realm war can be more than a superficial treadmill. Dark Age of Camelot – a game made by Mythic Entertainment – succeeded in this many years ago. Surely Mythic knows what made that game special and successful at what it did… surely they didn’t just fall upon it by accident. My greatest fear right now is that Mythic is scrambling to figure out what exactly it was that made DAOC tick and they’re drawing a blank.
The announcement coming 1-29-09 will hopefully address my concerns. I hope that it adds depth to the realm war and character development by giving the player more choices and content. I’m enjoying the little things in WAR, but repetition and the lack of real choices are beginning to “break down and destroy the very basic enjoyable things” of the game for me. I truly believe that it’s going to take more than adding a couple systems here and there. I think it’s going to require very large parts of the game to change and major overhauls to be done.
I’m willing to ride out the growing pains because of the potential. If I felt that the game had no potential then I would have jumped ship a while ago. I’m going to continue playing my Ironbreaker (Lvl 31) on Phoenix Throne and my Squig Herder (Lvl 30) on Dark Crag. Both of those characters have a ways to go before they hit that invisible wall in T4 where the lack of choices and extreme repetition sets in (right now I’m only experiencing part of it with them). Hopefully by that time the problem will be solved.
UPDATE: I’ve come to the conclusion that playing WAR as it’s ‘meant’ to be played is what’s leading me to burnout. I’ve recently altered the way that I play and completely gone against the grain and it’s yielded amazing results. I’ve found a tiny pocket of what made DAOC special by avoiding zergs, BO’s, and keeps entirely. Read the two blog posts above this one to learn more.