That Sense of Accomplishment

I’ve noticed a theme in the comments here and on other sites regarding the productive use of time when playing MMORPGs.  There’s a tendency for people to say something like, “I want to feel like I’ve achieved something.”  Players want to log in and know that what they did meant something.  No one wants to feel like they have wasted their time.  However, I think the way in which we perceive progress or achievement has drastically lost focus.

Back in the days of the original EverQuest, or even a few months ago when I played again, I could log in and technically lose experience yet still feel like I made progress.  Progress wasn’t just about leveling up or getting better loot.  Traveling was an accomplishment.  Meeting someone new was progress.  Progress wasn’t measured in huge leaps, but in tiny little steps.

WoW Boss Kill
There are more ways to progress than leveling up, killing a boss, and getting loot.

Part of the problem is the ease of which we progress in modern MMOs.  Leveling up from 1-50 takes a couple weeks at most for the average player.  I remember spending 6 months leveling up in EverQuest, and I was one of the fast ones soloing my entire way there on a Necromancer.  When you consider your time spend as a journey, and not a sprint, it’s okay to log in some days and perhaps appear to make no progress.  Chances are you’ve taken steps toward unlocking the ability to progress.

Then there’s the other perspective I have come to know quite well these past few months; it’s okay to just play the game and have fun.  I know to some people making progress is fun, but what happened to just “playing” the game and feeling satisfied?  This goes hand-in-hand with what I’ve been talking about these last few days.  There’s a pervasive mentality out there trying to convince people that unless they are the best raider, the best PvPer, always leveling up, always moving (like a fish) then they are somehow drowning and going to die.  It’s okay to act like a hobbit and kick back, relax, and enjoy the scenery!

WildStar Housing

Many of you agree with me that although this problem rests on the shoulders of the player, we have to acknowledge the fact that games these days are being designed to encourage people to move faster, consume more, and go in a straight line.  Games like EQN Landmark are going to start challenging some of those tropes for the MMO industry like Minecraft did for others. But such a big jump is going to be a disconnect for a lot of people.  I feel like we’ll need a smaller more gradual step to reintroduce the idea of ‘existing’ in a world rather than ‘playing through it’ as fast as possible.

Everything here ultimately boils down to gameplay that, no matter what it involves, makes the player feel accomplished.  Whether it’s decorating a house or killing a dragon, leveling up or riding a boat, finding a sword or dying a horrible death, these things have to be independently unique and fulfilling experiences.

  • I remember in Vanilla wow I was looking for a group to go Scarlet Monastery. I was in Ogrimar and asking friends and Friends of friends to form a group. Finally we managed to make a group but 2 people did not had any Flight paths north of Ironforge. No problem, we will go all together by foot(we did not had mounts yet, mounts was at 40..). And our Journey did begun. We went by foot all the way to Southshore, chatting and asking for tips each other and what adventures we had in the game until now.

    Finally after long time, we are at Southshore but this is only half the Journey…we now need to go to Scarlet Monastery, crossing the hostile territory of the Horde and specifically, Undercity! Once there I told people, hey this is undercity, the city of Undead, be careful! And Horde was there…after we got ganged multiply times, we finally managed to reach Scarlet Monastery and enter the dungeon…We did only the one of the four dungeons there and of course we got only a 5-10% of level.

    I spent many hours and I did not “progress” by today standards…but did I had fun? Of course! I still remember this and the people I was with. I still have screenshots on my computer from that era of the game…

  • LOTRO tried to do some of this. They had a fleshed out musical system where you could actually collect and play musical instruments with others. And I don’t mean just play some prerecorded junk but actually play the instrument to make music. It’s the only MMO I’ve ever played that actually did seem to have a noticeable role playing population on regular servers. Of course it fell down in other aspects for instance decorating your house was limited to placing items in predefined nodes.

    SWG did some great things for enabling non-theme park activities, the buildings though were pretty limited in layouts and such, but you could decorate and fill them however you liked. I think something like SWG could do very well if they gave players the possibility to make more varied structures and change the landscape. Hopefully EQ Landmark will do that.

  • Been meaning to do a post on this topic for ages. I used to go to bed after an evening playing Everquest and fall asleep as I reviewed what I’d achieved that session. It was satisfying and relaxing and no matter how badly a session might have gone there were always positives to take away, things to be pleased with or proud of or amused by. Really, always.

    It had, I think, a lot to do with the pace of the game and to the fact that few officials markers of progress were available. It was rare that I could say “I gained a level” or “I got an upgrade”. Satisfaction came in much subtler ways and that subtlety gave deeper satisfaction.

    I’m very far from convinced any of that will be recaptured by EQLandmark. I am anticipating something an awful lot closer to GW2’s Rain of Achievements. We’ll see, and soon.

  • One if the aspects that I believe has also been lost in MMORPGs is role playing. I think they these days, aside for a very selected and small community of players who make an effort to keep role playing alive, it generally comes down to a concept of “lore”, which is now used primarily as base on which questlines are built. For the masses role playing is either nonexistent or wierd. Now, for those of us who transitioned into MMOs from pen and paper RPG games this is a big part of suspension of disbelief. Without it it just a game. It used to be cultivated and promoted by devs and now feels like it’s being completely ignored. What are your thoughts on that, keen?

  • i think that you guys have too many expectations on EQ Landmark. just dont want you to be frustrated when you find out that is Minecraft with better graphics.
    i know that you cant see it because right now your brain isnt objetive because you need “hopes” and “dreams” and you want to believe that EQ Landmark is the promise land.

    (i see you like a teenager dreaming with justin bieber. i wouldnt like to destroy your dreams but is true)

  • Eves timed skill system-ed works really well this kind of gaming. It took the problem of leveling out left you to just enjoy the game.

    Any game that comes out in the future has to deal with a horde of people trained to try and ding levels. The only work around is to remove their ability to control their dinging like Eves system did.

  • @wufiavelli Age of Wushu is the only new fantasy MMO that also tried that system too(as far as I know) and I loved it…I could enjoy the game, doing whatever I want, while in the background my skills/power progress slowly. The problem was that it was p2w(in my opinion), ffa pvp and the lag for people in Europe since all servers is in America. I am surprised why no one else have tried that and I would expect ESO being a pve sandbox with a similar system instead of the usual leveling system and zones restricted by level…seriously, a elder scroll game that you cannot move to the world freely and need levels to do so…

  • Yeh, i tried age of Wushu its a decent game. Does a lot of interesting things. The payment model did turn me off though.