Gordo’s Gaming Blog

My adventures in the many worlds of gaming.

Posts Tagged ‘MMOs

Theorycrafting – Immersion

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Naked Mailbox Dancing...

 

Naked Mailbox Dancing...

 

I was interested a few weeks ago to read this article at Massively. But I guess what was more interesting were the comments. It seems the majority of people (well, Massively readers at least) don’t feel that attached to their characters. Most simply, when they’ve had enough of a game, log out when they get bored, and if they don’t log back in again, well, no sleep will be lost over it.

But I got thinking. Recently, I’ve dabbled in Morrowind and Oblivion (two of the finest games I’ve ever played) and I found myself, as I approached the end of a gaming session, riding to a city to close the game down in my house, or an inn. Of course, there’s no benefit of this. No benefit at all, except maybe the peace of mind of knowing that I won’t boot up straight into a fight. But, most areas would guarentee that. Then I thought of MMOs again. The only time I’ve ever felt the need to log out in a certain area is for the rested XP bonus for logging out in an inn or a city in WoW, and similar things in other games. That in turn, got me thinking. In some ways, it’s a bribe for immersion. You act “immersed” and you get rewarded. So why do MMOs feel the need to bribe you to do something that CRPGs provide naturally?

MMO developers like to have the buzzword “immersive” attached to their products. It’s a neat little word that conveys a lot of positive emotions about that product. If something is described as immersive, I think;

  1. There’s lots to do – you become a part of the world
  2. Character progression is good – you develop alongside the character you play
  3. Once you play, you want to keep on playing – it’s the “can’t put it down” effect that you get with books, or “can’t switch it off” effect with a TV show
  4. You’ll play lots, so you’ll get good value for money – even more important these days
  5. Most importantly, it’s fun – that, after all, is the reason we play games

The thing is – if I’m being bribed into feel immersed, I don’t feel immersed. It’s simply min-maxing – making the best of the time I play the game. But, am I an average gamer? I have an awful tendency to overthink things, and to attempt to simplify things. Does that mean, that, even though I don’t feel immersed, most players do? I’d love to hear your opinions. Do you feel immersed in MMOs? How about single players games?

Part of the reason why I think I feel immersed in single player games is, they feel more realistic. There’s no addons, and often a minimal UI. There’s no leetspeak in the chatbox, no goldspam. The graphics are invariably better, the world is quieter. Monsters don’t respawn after two minutes. People behave like people – they don’t sprint everywhere (except me), in good games, they eat, they drink, they gossip, they live like people. There’s nobody standing on the mailbox dancing naked. I think, ultimately, that’s the reason I feel immersed in single player games. I don’t have to worry about guild politics. I don’t have to worry if I make a huge cock-up – there’s nobody to laugh at how noobish I am. I can simply relax and enjoy the game. I can concentrate on the dialogue, often I have choices (as opposed to MMOs where questing simply involves running through dialogue boxes, which all end up at the Accept/Decline screen). I guess that, at a basic level, immersion is simply feeling a connection with the game you’re playing. And if I can concentrate on the game, as opposed to what’s going on behind the scenes, it’s easier to be immersed.

Written by Gordo

April 11, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Posted in MMO, PC

Tagged with , , , , ,

What’s going on?

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Before I start, let me apologise. I’ve treated this blog badly, as have I you, my reader. For that I am truly sorry. I willattempt to explain my absence, and hopefully, you’ll find the explanation fair.

I'm Back

I'm Back

The simple truth is, I’ve lost “it”. I’ve lost whatever “it” was that caused me to enjoy MMORPGs. That’s quite a statement, I know. “Burnout” – that is, when you’re “burned out” on a game (this often applies to MMORPGs, due to their time-grabbing nature). Well, I feel “Burnout” is the closest description to what I have been “suffering”. Only it’s not simply one game I’ve “burned out” on. Every MMORPG I’ve turned my hand to, I’ve found, sadly, uncompelling. Since I last wrote, I’ve played WAR, WoW, LOTRO, EVE, to no avail. Maybe I’ve become jaded by the genre, but I truly believe that I’ve fundamentally changed, somewhere, deep down, and those kinds of games no longer appeal to me.

So what have I been playing? The good news is, I’ve not lost my drive to play all games. That’s good news for me, as I’ve drawn a lot of entertainment and excitement from games throughout my lifetime. Also, it’s good news, as otherwise, a gaming blog would be a bit of a waste. I’ve been playing Team Fortress 2 a lot and Football Manager 2009, also a lot. In between, I’ve dabbled in Runeforge, a RTS/TCG and Mount & Blade, an indie medieval simulation, which I’ve had a lot of fun with.

Of course, I’ll go into more detail in later posts. This post was simply a heads up, letting you know I’m alive and well, and intending to ressurect this blog.

Written by Gordo

March 28, 2009 at 4:20 pm

LOTRO & Me

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I realised looking through my archive, I’ve never talked about my experience of LOTRO in any detail. Now’s as good a time as any. LOTRO and I, we had something of a love-hate relationship.

It all started June of last year (2007). I’d dabbled in WoW previously, but never got hooked by it. In fact, I’d got bored of it. I reached level 63 and dropped it. Me and a friend were on the look out for something new. He suggested LOTRO. I was unsure. I love the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, for that matter, both for the books and the films. But that’s a different story. Back to LOTRO. Eventually, my friend persuaded me to play. I made an Elven Hunter, him a Lore-Master. My first thoughts – this game is beautiful.

We levelled up, pretty steadily over the new couple weeks. It was truly amazing, so much fun. It took all the good stuff from WoW, and added it with a load of neat new features. It was great fun. Soon we hit 50. The leaders of my guild got bored of the game, and I found myself leader. All good fun, at the time. We were fairly well populated, and under my fresh leadership, people seemed reinvigorated and refreshed. I was running almost daily events, whether that be instance runs or social events. Soon we were raiding as well. After a couple raids however, some of the less serious players dropped out. I managed to get a very successful raiding partnership going between some of my kinship’s players and those from another kinship. After a week or so of the new arrangement, we felled the Balrog! This was several weeks after the first kinship on the server got it down, but at the time it was an achievement nonetheless. I’d have to say that the moment when the Balrog first went down, I was pumped full of adrenalin in a way that I’ve never felt before or since in games.

Sadly, that was where it started going downhill. Now, because of the masses of fun I’d had in this game, I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay. Yet, patch after patch, Turbine were adding stupid, meaningless features to the game. No meaningful content was coming in. Eventually, I cancelled my subscription. That was around May of this year. Around the same time, however, Mines of Moria was announced. Now, that did excite me.  Mines of Moria is a quality looking expansion, for a game I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. And the chances are, yes, I’ll go back to LOTRO when the expansion comes out. Maybe, I’ll even purchase a lifetime subscription.

Written by Gordo

October 4, 2008 at 12:32 pm

Posted in Lord of the Rings Online, MMO

Tagged with , ,

EVE Online – My experience so far.

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So, my EVE trial has been running for three days now. And in all honesty, I’m still totally in the dark in this game.  It’s immensely confusing compared to most games I’ve played before. So many skills to level, so much to buy, so much to do. I feel as though whatever I’m doing isn’t an effective use of my time, and I’m finding upgrading my ship very difficult. Maybe you’re not intended to upgrade your ship until you’ve been playing for a long time, but at the moment, I’m in the dark as to what I need to do. Should I do mining? Should I do missions? Should I buy and do engineering? It’s all very confusing.

So far, I’ve been sticking to mining. Filling up my (tiny) cargo hold, returing to the station, processing, then selling. It works, but I’m getting money very, very slowly. I tried to do a mission but it seems the next one in the chain leading on from the tutorial requires more cargo space than I have! So that route’s been put on ice for the time being.

I’d forgotten what it feels like to be a total ‘noob’ to a gamestyle. It was the same when I first played the traditional MMORPG. It took some getting used to, but that was designed as an inherently easier model to understand. This model is designed to occupy players of all levels (I’m using the term in a figurative sense – there are no ‘levels’ in EVE), and as such, it’s extremely confusing and daunting to a newcomer. It’s as though none of my skills from any other game are much use in EVE, and as such, each time I play I’m trying to learn more than is possible. I guess it’s because I, as a player, had gotten to the stage where I thought myself fairly capable, and savvy enough to pick up new games at the drop of a hat. Oh, how wrong I was.

The sad thing is, I’m finding the game so confusing and difficult to advance, that I’m not enjoying the game. I hear reports from people about all these different events going on throughout the galaxy, and how exciting it is, and I just think – I wish I could be excited by that, I really do. But I can’t, unfourtunately. Not yet. I’ve still got over 10 days left of my trial, and I hope something can spark the magic that’ll cause me to enjoy this game, but as it stands, sadly, I won’t be starting a subscription.

It’s weird, as not every game I’ve played has caught me and dragged me in from the outset. Morrowind comes to mind. You may have read my review of it, and seen how much I enjoyed it. As I mentioned, it wasn’t a game that caught me instantly, but after a couple of hours of playing, I was hooked. I expected maybe to experience the same thing in EVE, but I didn’t. I just remain confused and overwhelmed. Everything seems slow. I see people talking about billions of ISK, yet at the same time I’m only pulling in 50,000 or so from a couple of mining trips. And when looking through the market, all items that I could use to upgrade my ship are waaay out of my price range.Flow

It’s interesting. Recently, at Keen & Graev’s blog, I was reading an article about the ‘Flow theory’ and it’s implementation in games. It got me thinking about my experiences in EVE. I consider myself a fairly average gamer, I enjoy most mainstream games, I have a fairly average playstyle. So why can’t I become immersed in EVE? Why can’t I truly enjoy it like so many other plays do? Am I expecting too much, too fast? The way I see it, is on the flow graph, the challenge is too high, and abilities gained too low. Therefore I’m anxious. Not having fun, sadly.

I hear people say it truly takes months to really ‘get into the flow’. But the thing is, I’m paying for this game, and I can’t see the point in paying for several months when I’m not enjoying it. That’s just my logic I guess. By that very same logic, it’s impossible for me to enjoy this game. I won’t pay for it if I’m not having fun, and I won’t have fun if I’m not paying for it. I guess I may just need to accept this isn’t the game for me. That’s not to say I’ve totally abandoned hope – I still have some days left on my trial, so I’ll continue, and see what happens. The problem is, I think ‘I’ll start EVE up and give it a go’ then I think of another game I could play, an instant hit, and I get that game out instead. Maybe in a world of so many instant hits, there isn’t room for the games that require dedication any more.

Written by Gordo

June 26, 2008 at 4:40 pm

Posted in EVE Online, MMO

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