The cycle

I play MMORPGs almost exclusively- there used to be only one, World of Warcraft, although i didn’t linger there for as long as most players do- i played for about 6 months before questing in Stranglethorn Valley and the Un’Goro crater put an end to a fun progression and made it a grind. Since then, i’ve gained maxlevel only once, in Rift, and that was because i had great fun in a great group- i think i did play only dungeons from the mid-thirties to level 50. Everything else i played, i got stuck in the early mid-levels. Let’s say level 30 usually is when i hit a wall. Curiously, i’m not alone in this, as Ironweakness has a post up to announce a series on his blog about levelling from “One to X”.

That post made me think about reasons for my not being able to do something like that, as much as i’d want. There are some.

Something else beckons

I like most mainstream MMOs that are out there. Often, when i return to a game, i wonder why i left/didn’t continue/don’t put more deliberation in that particular game. It really doesn’t matter which game it is we’re talking about- i cycle through Lotro, The Secret World, Final Fantasy XIV, SWTOR, Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars 2, Marvel Heroes, maybe even EQ2 and World of Warcraft (not really) all the time. It’s offers and updates that are calling me.

Just to take the more recent events- i’d like to play FF14 and Guild Wars 2 for their respective expansions. I wanted to get into SWTOR for their housing system, always want to continue Lotro for its story and world, The Secret World for the New player experience and so on. But while i am on game x, there’s always something happening in game y. I really wish i’d be there, at the level cap, to witness all new content. If i were to make an effort to play “One to X” in each of these games successively, i’d be in a happy place.

It gets cumbersome

The early levels of many MMOs are quite fun. Even when you are a time-challenged casual player like myself, you’ll be able to make some progress- even if it’s just “finishing one quest” in MMOs where one quest really matters, like in ESO or TSW. In Guild Wars 2, even in the higher levels, i manage to get a level out of most play sessions while mostly just taking a look around.

But sometimes, it’s just getting very cumbersome to make any progress in the games. So much so that i’ll need a whole play session just to figure out where i left, what my goals were and how to play my class. Quests and other ingame goals take you to places all over the virtual worlds, the inventory is cluttered and i don’t even know what is useful and what isn’t. Mobs take ages to get down and so on. Life in the midlevels is busywork.

The most recent example in my personal experience would be Final Fantasy XIV, where i simply wanted to get the main story quest up to the level my character is. It took me about two months and still i didn’t reach that goal. Of course i did other stuff- i made progress in crafting, different combat classes as well as gathering. Unfortunately, this all didn’t really feel like progress because i was merely catching up on all positions- trying to get the gathering and crafting jobs as well as the main storyline up to par with my combat class level- and it took ages.

Zone design

I don’t believe in worlds- even virtual ones, that are devoid of any humanity. Often, you’ll have the starting zones and they’re happy places- there are villages, woods, beautiful sights all around. All this vanishes when you hit the early midlevels. Think about Lord of the Rings Online- you start either in the shire, bree-land or Ered Luin – all beautiful places, with villages and signs of humanity all around. Then you’ll continue to the Lonely Lands- ok, they’re named fittingly, but all you get there is an inn. The North Downs aren’t much better- from the second area up until Moria you’ll only get ruins, cabins and other small places. There’s Rivendell, of course, but not much of cities in other ways. And then…comes Moria, the epitome of boredom in zone design (in my opinion; it’s designed in a very good way, but these are still basically caves).

And later on, there will be desert/lava zones. Nobody wants to see something like that. Of course, i can see why dangers must present themselves and an all-green happy-place world might be equally boring, but i still can’t understand why people build great cities in the early game and live in tents from level 20 onwards.

Ways out

So i was thinking- how could i do something like Ironweakness and Syp, who also plays a bajillion MMORPGs but somehow manages to be at (or almost at) the top of the content curve in all of them? Of course, one way to do it would be to not play 30 MMORPGs at the same time and instead reduce to a number i could handle- namely, one at a time. This won’t work, of course, because diversity is the spice of life, after all.

“Going buy-to-play”, as i’ve mentioned in my previous post, would be another way to reduce the amount of concurrent MMOs as well as lifting some pressure off me. There would be three games available- Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World. They would offer a diverse diet as well as some depth in their gameplay. All i’d really cut out would be Final Fantasy 14, SWTOR and the newly-returned-to EVE. And Lotro. But frankly, i doubt i’ll ever make it through Moria.

So i don’t know, this is still a topic. It’s a funny thing- this blog was created because i wanted to document my finding of a new MMORPG home- i guess it worked in that way. Unfortunately, when i started it i was of the opinion that i’d found it by now.


One thought on “The cycle

  1. When you asked on my post the other day about pushing through the mid levels, I was thinking you meant in SWTOR specifically, but I see you were speaking more broadly than that.

    I’ve always been slow at progressing through a game, even when I started in WoW. I think I leveled 2 classes into the teens, a hunter into BC content, and then finally a Death Knight to max. I think being able to start at 55 with that last class helped. But in WoW this was rarely a problem,I’ve leveled 8 of the 11 classes to max (as of last expansion).

    However since playing WoW my experience is similar to yours, only I’m not only enticed away by other games but also by other classes within the same game which slows down progress as well (unless you’re playing Rift, in which to an extent you can change classes quite a bit on one character and keep on trucking).

    For me this is one of the biggest issues; finding the right class that “clicks” with my playstyle. Considering how much time is spent in combat, it is no wonder this is a key issue for me, if I’m going to be doing something repeatedly for hours I need to enjoy it. I think I would be further in more games if they allowed (to an extent) class changes mid leveling like Rift does.

    But I’m sure there are other reasons as well. Community is huge, that’s another reason I stuck with WoW, I had a good guild. Ignorance is also helpful, because the less you know about other games the the less likely you are to be pulled away. It’s funny to be championing ignorance, but there you go.

    As for Final Fantasy XIV, if you want to make it to 50 in order to be ready for Heavensward I would strongly recommend ignoring everything but your target job and the main storyline. Because crafting must be leveled as if it were a separate class (because it is!) I don’t think you can approach it as you would other MMOs, leveling crafting as you go.

    Which brings me to something else that has helped with finishing characters: focus. If you’re playing multiple games and hope to reach the end you have to make some decisions on what experiences to leave out. I’m still not great at this, but when I do stay focused on only those activities that gain XP and ignore the siren call of other classes I make better progress.

    But then you may not want to limit yourself, and that’s okay. It just means you may have to remain in the leveling game rather than end game and I don’t think that’s a problem either, just a choice. It certainly relieves the pressure of needing to keep up with current content.

    Sorry this is so long! It just seems like you and I have similar experiences here and I wanted to share more of my thoughts.

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