Fishing! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

Okay, if fishing in MMOs was like this, I'd be there in a heartbeat

I just don’t get fishing.

I don’t.

To my mind, fishing is a holdover from RPGs and MMORPGs of the past, a vestigial activity that was supposed to represent a “daily life” activity that was something other than killing ten spiders (or spider-monkeys).  And so, MMO after MMO, fishing sneaks its way in — usually in the fantasy genre — and players torture themselves into liking it, just because it’s there.

Hey, you know me, I’m all for MMO activities that aren’t directly tied to pig slaughter, but we’ve had a decade of developers trying — and failing — to make fishing an amusing, entertaining and attractive side hobby.  What ends up going in is usually a soul-sucking grind that has two buttons: one to cast, one to click when the bob bobs.  Then you get to see if you caught something cool or (more typically) not, like you’re playing a slimy slot machine.

I’ve seen enough friends torment themselves with WoW’s idea of fishing to know that it’s akin to walking barefoot on a glass-strewn floor, in agony every step of the way.  WoW tries to justify fishing with a couple rare rewards and a tie-in with cooking, but at its core it offers a paltry payout for a repetitive, dull activity.

Not that LOTRO is any better, mind you, nor Free Realms’ Fisherman job.  Some even claim that earlier MMORPGs, like EverQuest, did fishing better than anything we see today.

Some appreciate that fishing is something you can do while you’re waiting around, kind of like pulling out a ball of yarn and knitting a sweater until your friends arrive.  Its convenience is probably the strongest thing going for it.

I’m just curious why, even though fishing endures in MMOs, devs have clearly stopped trying to do anything different with it or making it more enjoyable.  It’s not as if we lack for video game fishing simulators, sold on every computer game aisle at Wal-Mart and Dan’s Country Discount & Liquor Store.  Apparently Star Wars Galaxies and Vanguard at least attempted to make it more skill-based, but I guess it hasn’t caught on.

And I’m wondering why we’ve stopped at “fishing” for the go-to second hand activity — there’s got to be a lot of other hobbies out there for a character just lounging around.  Origami, perhaps?

17 thoughts on “Fishing! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

  1. Starayo March 26, 2010 / 8:08 am

    Whatever, Syp.

    You’re just jealous of me and my [Titanium Seal of Dalaran]. 😛

  2. Professor Beej March 26, 2010 / 8:48 am

    I’ve been saying this for years. I always think I’m going to actually fish on a new character because there’ll be some silly reward I want. Then I spend my time with about 30 casts and regret that I can’t unlearn secondary skills. The sea-turtle mount and +5% XP ring are simply not worth being bored that badly while playing a video game. I understand downtime and crest/trough gameplay, but fishing takes it to the extreme.

  3. Centuri March 26, 2010 / 9:08 am

    Fishing in FFXI ended up being worthwhile. Though you do need to use a lot of third party sites to figure out what to do as the location, type of bait, day of the week, time of the day, and the local weather all had an impact on the type of fish that could be caught.

    At first it was a rather mindless process of catching fish and just involved hitting enter. Therefore lots of people botted. Then it was actually made into a mini game where you had to fight the fish. It is fairly well done and it is a profession and side progression game that is more difficult that current end game raiding on some other MMOs

  4. Glenn March 26, 2010 / 9:39 am

    Ok..I know its not an MMO but it is supposed to be changing to one soon…Torchlight. It has the first type of fishing that I don’t mind. It gives me fish that I can feed to my pet which turns it into something else with different powers for X period of time. It lets me catch my breath from the the constant hack and slash (which is quite fun I may add)and drop a line….it’s pretty quick and you can totally pass it by…It has a mechanic where you have to left click when the target reticle collapses on the picture of the fish…so you can miss it totally and have to start again…overall I think it is a nice touch.

  5. Tarisai March 26, 2010 / 9:50 am

    Hang-gliding would be way more fun.

  6. Aillas March 26, 2010 / 9:54 am

    One WoW guild I’m in makes fishing the newbie/lowbie event – get together in Rachet and fish off the pier as a contest with prizes. Doing it that way made it a little more tolerable. 😉

  7. moxie March 26, 2010 / 10:07 am

    My husband LOVES fishing in WoW… all resource gathering, for that matter. He has an extremely high-stress job so a lot of times the last thing he wants to do at the end of the day is raid or run instances. Instead he’d rather mindlessly fish or do loops around Sholazar Basin for mining/herbing. He can do both for hours, sometimes while watching TV, and most of the fish end up cooked and donated to the guild for the raiding group.

    In LotRO, honestly I haven’t delved into fishing because at this point, there’s simply way too much other stuff to do.

    I’d like to see a more interactive fishing system similar to the one in Animal Crossing. You have to actually SEE a fish in the water first, and then you have to cast your line in such a way that the bait is in front of the fish in order to get it to bite (they change direction and move around). Then once it bites, it “tugs” the bait up to 5 times… you have to wait until it actually drags the bobber under the water before you click, or else you lose the fish completely.

  8. Rog March 26, 2010 / 10:07 am

    I liked WoW’s original fishing system before it was nerfed and then reformed into the chase-the-pools game it is now. Heh one of the early popular guilds on our server were the “Friendly Fishermen”.

    LOTRO’s fishing isn’t bad and I love the trophies.

    Overall I love to see fishing in any RPG. It’s a few buttons to click and relax while chatting with friends. Sure beats Messenger software that way. It’s also a bit of a game of chance isn’t it? I’d rather enjoy a relaxing round of RPG fishing than some slot machine game.

    Of course it’s not for everyone, but it shouldn’t be. We need more activities in these games that appeal to a portion of the crowd rather than the masses.

  9. Sharon March 26, 2010 / 10:38 am

    In WoW, I’ve never gotten fishing past 75 on any character. I just can’t do it. It makes me want to gouge my eyes out. It’s ridiculously time consuming, and if you don’t click on the stupid bobber when it splashes, then you miss the catch. Having to equip the fishing pole, then unequip it is silly also. It’s clearly designed to be a time sink in the same way that epic flight is a money sink.

    EQ2 fishing is way easier to level. It’s painless and takes a fraction of the amount of time that it does in WoW. No swapping equipment, just a single click and the fish node is harvested. Now, I might actually max fishing in a game for a change.

  10. warhammermer March 26, 2010 / 10:39 am

    I love fishing in games. I maxed out the fishman job in free realms pretty much as soon as it came out. I like it in lotro and am slowly leveling it up.

    I used to fish a lot in old wow when I played that. Never got into ff enough to try it there. I tried it in eq2 aswell.

    I find it relaxing and peaceful. I can chat to my guild or my partner and fish away. Plus usually you get something for it in the game, a bit of coin, a title or a random piece of gear.

    I’d like more of these hobbies in games rather than less. Its something different to do.

  11. Thac0 March 26, 2010 / 10:44 am

    I like fishing too. I like to sit and relax and use my graphical chat client sometimes instead of running around being busy. I haven’t fished in lotro as of yet, but i know i can get things to mount on a wall! Thats pretty cool imho.

  12. Longasc March 26, 2010 / 11:05 am

    I think you could extend the comment on “fishing” to “crafting” and other non-combat activities.

    I would like more than combat. Crafting needs to become more meaningful to the game, and not just a game of resource collecting (which I like somehow) and then “crafting”, aka waiting for a progress bar. LOTRO and WoW do that.

    WoW fishing is getting better though, by now you can fish yourselves nice buff food, provided you can also cook the fish. LOTRO fishing … gave up on it after catching a x-pounds gold fish trophy. Even Torchlight has fishing – and really, it feels odd in this game. It might be a nicely implemented minigame, but one wonders why it has a place in this game.
    And yeah, I always did fishing while waiting for SSC raids in TBC.

  13. Sleepysam March 26, 2010 / 12:53 pm

    Syp, why is fishing in the kill zone? Why not all gathering professions? Just because fishing has a slightly longer cast time and a second click to make up for not really having to move?

    They are all decent diversions while waiting to start another activity.

  14. silvertemplar March 26, 2010 / 5:40 pm

    Luckily in LOTRO there’s a better “hobby” than Fishing and it’s not even listed under Hobbies….Music Playing. At least i can pull out an instrument anywhere, anytime and play some tunes while waiting…fishing you still need water :).

    Anyhow it’s evident Turbine ran out of Hobby ideas right after fishing…there’s this whole hobby tab and “system” with one hobby only…clearly the devs got so bored of this activity they figured they’ll just stop right there…

  15. Dblade March 26, 2010 / 6:10 pm

    Fishing in FFXI was fun. Very involved, too. You needed to know the right bait, have a strong enough rod, win the minigame, occasionally fight off monsters you fished up by accident, and even had some minquests you could do, as well as fishing guild contests.

    Very relaxing and low stress too.

  16. Isopropyl Alcohol December 3, 2010 / 1:20 am

    my sister is an addict on Slot Machines, she always play any kind of game on the slot machine “‘”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s