Progress Quest isn’t all there is to MMOs

Tobold is “floored” that I enjoy and yearn to play multiple MMOs, although this is nothing new here on Bio Break (the enjoying and yearning, I have no idea how often Tobold identifies with flooring).

His thoughts and questions on juggling multiple MMOs aren’t bad, and in fact are ones that I have been mulling as of late here, but there is one quote that I’d like to address because I think it deserves a response:

“In one game 20 hours per week results in some sort of progress. Split over many games, nothing much is happening.”

Two thoughts:

(1) Slow progress is still progress, especially when you focus on a single character and aren’t trying to rush or get raid-geared. The tortoise eventually crossed the finish line of that race, no matter what the hare did, after all. Even a year after WildStar released and I took a break and played several alts, I still am creeping up on the level cap in that game with my level 47 Engineer. It feels like a fallacy to assume that everyone plays at the same pace; some are much faster than you and some much slower. It’s OK to go at your own speed.

(2) To me, at least, “progress” isn’t the be-all, end-all of why I play MMOs. Goals are great and measuring progress can be satisfying, I don’t deny (and I participate in that too). But to me, the experience of playing is more important — the stories, the human connections, the observations, the fun-in-the-moment. After all, one’s “progress” will eventually be cancelled out by quitting or a game shutting down. That’s inevitable. But experiences and memories that are generated from those games last much longer. The latter is what I’m invested in.

It’s why I never feel like it’s a waste to try new MMOs (or retro games, for that matter), to sample older ones, or to leave games after an extended stay. Usually I take away something, even if it’s a post on Bio Break or a newfound perspective on the genre.


8 thoughts on “Progress Quest isn’t all there is to MMOs

  1. Aywren July 7, 2015 / 12:12 pm

    I get where you’re coming from with this. I have played a lot of MMOs since UO, and I can count on one hand the number of MMOs I’ve actually reached level cap in. Despite that, I have tons of stories, alts and memories of experiences within those games, which I wouldn’t trade for all the raiding in the world.

    I do try to stick with one game to be serious with (FFXIV right now), but I don’t limit myself from exploring the story and atmosphere of other games. For example, I’ll pop back into Wildstar when it goes F2P just because I’m curious about the world and like my little chua. I doubt it’ll be a main game for me, but there’s value to me in that experience.

  2. Wilhelm Arcturus July 7, 2015 / 1:45 pm

    Well, I might make the claim that “experiencing the game” is progress of a sort, and if you divide your time up between many games, that experiencing is similarly constrained. Progress can have many flavors.

    And, as I asked on Tobold’s post, there is the question as to what constitutes actually “playing” a game for each of us. I noted that I only consider myself to be playing two MMOs, but I actually logged into and did things in at least five MMOs during the previous week. But I do not consider myself actually playing them, logging in or not, because I am not really invested in them at the moment.

  3. Asmiroth July 7, 2015 / 2:14 pm

    I find that Tobold plays games for the meta, rather than the meat. (See what I did there).

    For a long time I split myself between a fair chunk of games. A few hours here and there. Aside from the obvious “now where was I” feeling, I have seen 2 downsides to it.

    First is the social aspect. The in and out stuff makes it hard to build strong social bonds. If I’m on once a week for 2 hours, it’s hard to make a dent. Solved by cross-game guilds mind you, like the AoA.

    Second is the cost. For the subscription games, I can carry 2 subs at once and not feel too much shame (W* and FF14 right now) – I realize I’m likely in the minority on that front. For the F2P/B2P games, I feel like a freeloader sometimes. Then I get the itch to support the devs and realize there’s rarely a package that I think is value for the time I’m playing.

    Contrast to the upsides of a near continuous stream of new content and rarely getting that feeling of burnout.

  4. bhagpuss July 7, 2015 / 2:54 pm

    I’m with you on “the experience of playing is more important” although Wilhelm is also correct in observing that if you don’t progress very far your experience will be limited. Personally, though, I’d rather have limited experience than none at all so I’m happy to dip in and out of as many MMORPGs as I can, even if my exposure to most of them never goes much further than the first few levels.

  5. Dolnor July 7, 2015 / 3:33 pm

    I don’t play MMOs in the normal fashion. I am not a completionist, I don’t aim for the highest gear score, I don’t strive to level-cap. I play games in a way that brings me distraction and enjoyment. The guilds I join the shake their heads when I don’t dungeon-run/PvP-gank…”Why are you even here?” It was like when I used to ride my motorcycle…friends had destinations they had to reach while I enjoyed the ride without any destination.

    I need variety…lots of new different things. This is why I enjoy testing (alpha, F&F, beta) games MORE that playing the released version. The testing community is about discovery, helping, joking, messing around…discovering new things together. Release is about exploits, PK-ing, bots, peer-pressure, gear score, guild drama.

    I’m currently playing 5 games…a little here, a little there. Each different with their own types of distraction. I’m not under a peer-pressure deadline. Just enjoying the different MMO experiences!


  6. soulboundlife July 7, 2015 / 4:12 pm


    That’s one of the things I really appreciate about FFXIV is that they don’t dis-incentivize people from playing older content, which allows for less pressure on people who aren’t keeping up with the high-level content.

    Shoving everyone to the top is not a smart way to design MMOs, in my opinion.

  7. weritsblog July 7, 2015 / 7:18 pm

    Seems pretty easy to play multiple to me. I go where the new content is. I’m not a fan of doing tasks over and over.

  8. Balkoth July 7, 2015 / 11:47 pm

    “It feels like a fallacy to assume that everyone plays at the same pace; some are much faster than you and some much slower.”

    I think a large part of it is the difference between people playing an MMO socially and people playing it as a solo game. Hard to make connections if you split your time too much and the people you grouped up with at level X may be vastly beyond you if you don’t play for a while, which makes it hard to do more stuff with them.

    “But experiences and memories that are generated from those games last much longer. The latter is what I’m invested in.”

    I agree…which is why I find your perspective/situation kind of puzzling : / Seems you’re making it vastly harder to generate those experiences and memories.

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