Wrapping your head around a mountain of MMO content

It seems to me that there’s a big difference when and how you come into an MMORPG. Do it at the beginning, then you’re among company that all shares the same common experience of feeling out a title from the get-go, writing up guides, and sharing advice. Do it later on, then you can feel a little behind but benefit from the experience and writings of others.

But what about when you come into the game many expansions into it, or return to it after a long break? It’s not as if the game waited around for you to join to start for real; it’s been growing and developing for months, the meta (or whatever you want to call it) has shaped and reformed numerous times, there are people who have theory-crafted it to death, and it can feel absolutely overwhelming when you try to get your head around the mountain of content that’s piling on more with every successive patch.

Several times, I’ve found myself in games like LOTRO and WoW, MMOs with a decade or more of growth behind it, and found myself flailing my psychological arms in frustration as I try to separate what I can do, what I should be doing, and what I don’t even know there is to be doing. It helps to listen to podcasts, find reputable sites with guides, and not be afraid to ask questions, but that only seems like it goes so far.

Generally, I try not to let this feeling bother me. I figure out what’s the most important things to be doing (and that I can do as a generally solo player) and focus on that. If a goal comes along that looks appealing and possible, I’m open to pursuing that. But I can’t lie and say that it doesn’t bother me to think that maybe there are things in the game that I would like to do (either for the experience or rewards) but am ignorant about because I’ve developed “tunnel” gameplay or just haven’t come across it yet. It’s a discouraging feeling to find out that there was Activity X you should have been doing for weeks now that could have benefited you, but you wasted that time because you didn’t know about it.

I don’t think there’s a silver bullet for absorbing and sorting through all of the content of games in their double digits. It’s a process that requires experience and the occasional bout of extracurricular research. I always wish that games had in-depth and clear catch-up guides available for players — new, returning, and experienced — that want to fill in holes in their knowledge. Maybe we call those “wikis” these days. Maybe that’s just too much to read at once.

Have you ever caught yourself in this situation? How do you deal with it?

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3 thoughts on “Wrapping your head around a mountain of MMO content

  1. Kaozz March 23, 2017 / 4:55 pm

    I tend to browse the forums in this case. You can get a lot of information, little tidbits or even returning guides. I frequent many even if I’m not active, for me it helps and is always the first thing I do when I return. I think that’s always a hurdle in returning, finding out things.

    I’m a forum junkie, I even read the Reddit forums, lol. I’ve always had a desire to read up and learn about each game I play, no better source than actual players I’ve found.

  2. Bhagpusss March 23, 2017 / 5:33 pm

    I do it piecemeal, looking things up as they occur to me as I play. I’m doing it in LotRO right now, taking it slowly and just doing things I already understand until I feel ready to take on something new.

    I think the F2P or trial offers most MMOs have nowadays really help with this. It’s certainly helping a lot in LotRo. I really like the idea of being able to slowly switch features on at a time of my choosing (very important that – the opposite of, say, FFXIV where features are switched on only at a time of SE’s choosing). I wish developers would use that process a lot more than they do, entirely separate from business models.

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