Series: choosing MMOs

Since 2009-ish I’ve been following MMO news sites and reading blogs. I find the genre of MMORPGs a fascinating one, I play many different games and enjoy reading about others that I’m not necessarily tempted to play.

I recently found a spreadsheet I had produced ranking my then selection of MMOs – this dates back to late 2009. It was the time I was first getting a bit bored with World of Warcraft and looking for a potential second game to play.

Not a scientific methodology...

Not a scientific methodology…

Of course this is a very subjective view of these games, I wouldn’t even necessarily agree with the scores if I thought about my gaming priorities today. But I did find it interesting as a thought experiment, how much thought do people give when choosing MMOs and what are the important criteria?  The free-to-play and buy-to-play releases since have flooded the market with new games, and there have been some notable subscription games launched on top of that. So how best to decide what to play?

Gaming costs time and money, with MMOs it’s often a forward investment. Many of these games have most of the gameplay locked away at the level cap, before then you quest and level up, but your character hasn’t reached his/her full potential and the majority of the playerbase will be mostly invisible to you.  So choosing MMOs on a whim as you might console games can result in considerable time syncs leading to a disappointing ‘end game’ where all the real action takes place. I won’t get into a discussion on the merits of this fundamental design (flaw), the genre seems pretty happy with it. What I’m interested in considering here is simply the metrics for judging MMOs across my own personal, naturally subjective criteria.

The original scoresheet I made was a bit overly complex, I will simplify this into series of  posts over the coming weeks to examine my take on each issue across the games I’ve been playing – not necessarily to compare them per se, but to see how each issue affects these games.

  1. Immersive world and story
  2. Combat
  3. Varied PVE activities
  4. Character customisation
  5. Group play (i.e. Friends and Family Factor)

I’ll note here at the start that I’ll not be commenting on PVP as it doesn’t interest me. The final post in the series has an evaluation using the scorecard system to rate the MMOs I play.

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13 Responses to Series: choosing MMOs

  1. Shintar says:

    Interesting how back then, you rated WAR higher on long-term stability than LOTRO, DDO and Guild Wars. Also, apparently DDO had the best community? Interesting.

    To be honest I suspect that for all the different ways in which MMOs try to appeal to players, for most the decision whether to play or not probably comes down to two very simple factors:
    1. Are any of my friends playing this?
    2. Do the world and character models make me want to be there?

    • Telwyn says:

      I guess I really thought the IP and development would carry that game further though to be fair it did have pretty big sales initially. DDO on the other hand never really took off until the relaunch, and LoTRO seemed to be doing not much better based on my then limited experience of the server population on Laurelin. I was trying to remember why I would have listed DDO as better community wise, I did have some awful pug experiences in LoTRO early on (on the RP server no less!). DDO was full of elitist jerks on the old EU servers BUT grouping was necessary for almost all content as there were no mercenaries and no solo-able content past the starter zone. So I guess I had to pug a lot more so the good and bad experiences kind of evened out to a better overall experience.

      • Meznir says:

        I would guess you put DDO high as you used to do a lot with your guild at one point – the ranger levelling group and the main group.

  2. trivialpunk says:

    I find it interesting that you didn’t mention encounter variability and flexibility. I’m sure that could be filed under Combat, but one of the advantages of using the Holy Trinity of Tank-Healer-Damage is that it allows for interesting, controlled, thematic battles. When I reviewed the recent GW2 release, I bashed it for having fairly samey end-game boss content. Admittedly, I grew up in World of Warcraft waters, so I’m a bit biased, but I really saw some spectacular development in their encounter designs; they used simple variables to produce a host of different combat scenarios that could be broken down into demarcated steps. You’re right; there is an end-game threshold that changes the entire game play experience. I’d almost judge those portions of MMO’s using different criteria. I look forward to your break-down.

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  4. What criterion you are talking about?

  5. Pingback: Series: Choosing MMOs – immersive world and story | GamingSF

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  8. Pingback: Series: Choosing MMOs – varied PVE activities | GamingSF

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