Why is it hard playing new MMOs?

collectionDespite my rather untrue reputation of playing dozens of MMOs all of the time — and somehow writing, working, and helping to raise a family even so — the truth is that I tend to have a couple comfort MMOs that I dive into on a regular basis and then a scattering of other titles that go from one-shot curiosities to every-so-often loads.

But for a while now I’ve been struggling with a frustration over why it’s hard for me to, say, just load up an MMO I haven’t played before (or in a long while, or much at all) and go for it. Because I can’t. I try, I stretch myself, I make vows to expand my boundaries, and then I inevitably go back to the handful of titles that I’ve played for a while yet. It’s frustrating because I know that there’s a lot of good stuff out there that I really haven’t experienced, and I would always like to have a broader base of experience. But there’s a block in there, maybe a few of them, and this post is my effort to try to put a finger on why it’s harder to swap between MMOs than it was playing console games.

I guess for starters there’s the fact that every MMO has its own control scheme and UI setup, and no two are exactly alike. Oh, there are plenty that are similar, but the same? I haven’t seen it. This one game has double-jumping and the other game barely allows your feet to clear the ground. One game allows rebinding your keys while the other doesn’t. One has a less responsive chat window than the other. One has the dorky running animations, one has the combat lag, and one has the instant mount summons. One is tab-target combat and the other is all about twitch action.

Differences are fine, but when you’re bouncing between games, you have to mentally shift between what they are and attempt to get your finger memory to where it needs to be. That’s not a problem when you’re primarily playing one MMO. It starts to stack up when you add more games to the mix. MMOs are too complex sometimes with all of these nuances and features when you’re trying to shift between them.

Speaking of remembering, does anyone else have a good system for keeping track of dozens of logins and passwords? That’s a factor, too.

There’s the financial barrier as well. If it’s a sub-only game, well, I have to make a rather big call as to whether or not I’m going to tack on another bill to my card every month. If it’s F2P, I have to figure out how much I’ll be penalized for playing without paying and see if it’ll cross the threshold of unbearable or not.

When I play more than one MMO during an evening, I notice that it takes me a few minutes of in-game play to make the psychological transition between the previous game and the new. During that time, I’m resenting the new game because my “feel factor” is still on the one I just came from.

Jumping into new MMOs also requires a lot of learning, more so if the game has significantly different systems than other titles. If an MMO has been out for years and years, then you’re playing catch-up with a mountain of combat that vets have long since become accustomed to.

I also have a hard time playing a game in the moment — playing it for its own sake right then and there. If it’s an MMO, I can’t help but think about my future in the game and if I’m going to actually be spending more time here. And if my internal answer is, “I can’t see going the full distance” then my mind starts throwing up roadblocks to letting me enjoy even a partial distance.

This all isn’t a problem that I can see MMO studios wanting to solve, by the way. Studios would vastly prefer that I make their game a permanent home and welcome any obstacles from jumping ship — however temporarily — to other games. There’s always an ongoing effort to establish brand loyalty and get players to plant roots.

Don’t mind me and all of my brain-flotsam today. Just thinking out loud here. Wishing that it was easier to game hop than it is. Maybe realizing that this is just how I’m wired and to enjoy what I enjoy without feeling like I’m being left out of the fun of othe games I’m not playing.

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16 thoughts on “Why is it hard playing new MMOs?

  1. Nick Foster (@goldenhornet) July 3, 2015 / 4:00 pm

    “Speaking of remembering, does anyone else have a good system for keeping track of dozens of logins and passwords? ”

    https://lastpass.com – not just for MMO logins, but all user/password combinations. You remember your master password, LastPass remembers all the others.

  2. krieglich July 3, 2015 / 4:20 pm

    “Speaking of remembering, does anyone else have a good system for keeping track of dozens of logins and passwords? ”

    I use an app to store my logins and passwords, there’s no chance to remember them all. It stores the data offline only, so it’s as save as possible.

  3. krieglich July 3, 2015 / 4:22 pm

    Oh, Nick, I know a lot of people trust in lastpass – but if this will be hacked one day – wow, I can’t even imagine the horrors…

  4. Stephanie “Stargrace” Morrow July 3, 2015 / 4:40 pm

    I use keepass, for passwords / user names. Saves locally to my machine, and if someone wants to hack my machine (plus the password on keepass) in order to get at my video game passwords, well…. that’s a lot of work involved.

  5. Jaedia July 3, 2015 / 5:18 pm

    I think it’s because MMOs are designed to keep people playing for the long haul rather than on a hop in and out basis, and after a while of doing the latter, you want to just settle in and play the games.

    And for passwords I have a notebook dedicated to passwords next to my computer. My memory SUCKS and I don’t trust technology. Can’t hack paper. 😀

  6. ultrviolet July 3, 2015 / 8:58 pm

    Personally I feel like if I want to jump into an MMO and pick it up quickly, but the game doesn’t let me, or the game doesn’t grab my attention enough to make me *want* to re-learn it, then it’s not a game I should waste my time playing right then. Games that are so complicated that you can’t ever leave them are broken, imo. (Looking at you, EQ2 and LOTRO.) (It’s one of the many many things that makes FFXIV perfect for casuals btw – the re-learning curve when you come back is very low.)

    On passwords.. I tend to use a very methodical system which includes the game name in the password. It’s unique for each game and I can guess it later if I forget.

  7. Atherne July 3, 2015 / 10:21 pm

    I just adapt to whatever the UI is, though that may take longer in some cases. That isn’t what would keep me from playing. Not liking the classes, characters, story, or being killed constantly would make me walk away. Also that feeling you aren’t getting anywhere. Deadly.

  8. Pierre July 4, 2015 / 3:33 am

    I have a lot of passwords, all extremely strong and impossible to guess.
    A very simple solution I’ve used for years now is to write all of them in a text file. Before launching a game, I open this text file and copy-paste the proper password from this file.
    It works fine, and the risk of someone hacking the text file is very low, except if you name the file too explicitly.

  9. Chordian July 4, 2015 / 4:26 am

    I rotate a small number of passwords and also have them written down in a text file. However, I’m not just having them there in clear text. Say you have the password “sebastian” (not one I use myself). I write the domain/game on one line, the user name on the next, and below it “s********”. The first letter in the text file then tells me which one of the rotated passwords I’ve used. It’s probably not 100% safe, but I’ve used this method for many years without problems.

    I don’t think I would ever want a program to handle my passwords. I’m probably way too paranoid to let it do that for me.

  10. Xannziee July 4, 2015 / 5:45 am

    A mmo is mostly about playing with friends, not so much about the game itself. Therefor it may be best to only play 1 mmo at a time and if we need change, mix with single player games. Otherwise we might get frustrated…. and some ppl might prefer single player games only.

  11. Sylow July 4, 2015 / 8:09 am

    KeyPass all the way! An encrypted file on your computer, easily also copied to another place (like an USB stick) when needed. An automated batch script creates a backup of it to an external harddisc once a week, so i really can’t loose the file with a single incident.

    It avoids the risk of being lost by just being a piece of paper next to the computer. It avoids the risk of being read by any random visitor. It avoids the risk of being an online password storage, which could always be hacked, not to mention that you give all your valuables to somebody you don’t even know. It avoids the risk of loss from computer failure, with the exception that a critical failure right during the backup could be catastrophic.

    The only remaining significant risk is that my flat burns down, killing the external harddisc and the computer at the very same time. If that happens, my MMO passwords might be the smallest of my issues, though.

  12. jason wolcott (@woolydub) July 4, 2015 / 8:45 am

    I am the same way with new MMOs. UI, movement, art style, and combat are usually the first things I take a hard look at. It always bums me out when I see great things in an MMO but my pet peeves get in the way. If a game has a clunky interface coupled with an art style I don’t like, it’s hard to want to keep coming back no matter how good the other systems may be.

  13. Wilhelm Arcturus July 4, 2015 / 5:24 pm

    I don’t know about “dozens,” but you recently posted about how you plan to actively play 9 (or more) MMOs during the remainder of 2015, so I suspect you are responsible for your own reputation.

  14. Telwyn July 6, 2015 / 3:41 am

    To cut down on unfamiliarity when returning I often customise a game to use similar or standard controls for very common tasks (mount/unmounts, interrupt skill etc). I’ll rebind anything that’s too different from the control scheme I’m most used to – which is a mash-up of different games over the years.

    Generally if I play two games one after another it’s because I’m happy to switch so I don’t feel what you say about “feel factor”. Usually that’s a sign I’m approaching end-game in the one and the level grind is slowing or the questing becoming more formulaic so having a break stops me getting burned out.

    I use a text file offline (not on the internet) and I sometimes use paper as well (kept in a different room from the PC). I do not use apps as they encourage you to forget passwords and I do not trust these services not to get hacked some day.

  15. Hawkinson July 6, 2015 / 12:10 pm

    I recommend password safe for password management. I use Dropbox to sync my passwords to computers and phones and tablets. It has a free android app and I paid for drop box syncing version of an apple app. This recreates last pass, and if I ever get worried I can take it off Dropbox and stick it on a USB stick. I feel safer since Dropbox isn’t exclusively known for storing passwords so I feel an attack is less likely. Password management has lots of great options, this one is my favorite.

  16. Chestnut Stonebough (@ggchestnut) July 6, 2015 / 1:10 pm

    For games that I *can* re-bind keys, I do as much as I can to make things as similar as possible for my big-item actions; strafe, screenshots, loot, etc. Those that don’t usually aggravate me to a degree, lol.

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