From Star Wars: The Old Republic To EVE Online – Keeping MMOs In The “Friend Zone”

Posted by on December 26, 2011 at 9:18 pm

In my mind, 30-day trials for massive multiplayer games are perfect. It gives me a lot of the time I need to get into a game, plum its depths, and then formulate a reason to never play it again. Why? Because MMOs can easily sponge up every moment I have available. If I fall in love with one, we have to be together forever. The best solution is to keep these games at a distance, and refuse the will to commit to them. Afraid to commit to an MMO? You’re not the only one.

EverQuest – Played in 2000 – The first one I ever played, realized at PC gaming’s great transition to 3D accelerators (the marketing term for video cards in 1999), running around massive polygonal environments with tons of other folk for the first time ever. How the relationship ended: After about six months when we lost our broadband connection after the dot-com bust and the game’s icy treatment of new players (hardcore players would collect binders full of printed off materials that resembled a D&D campaign) didn’t help.

City of Heroes – Played in 2005 – Before committing to World of Warcraft, I tried this one out. It was a short courtship. How the relationship ended: The game’s incredibly shallow gameplay meant there was no reason to play for long stretches of time. Death still incurred experience penalties, setting you back that much further every time you bit the big one. Heroes was uninstalled quickly.

World of Warcraft – Played in 2005 – This is the game I sunk the most time into, back in some of its earliest days. Its incredible art direction, quest trails, and outright execution kept me bound for months. My best character, a Human Priest, only got to Level 50 before I gave it up, playing in a 10 hour stretch once to finally get my mount at level 40 (long before they were just handing them out like party favors). How the relationship ended: I stopped playing completely ahead of the Xbox 360 launch in November 2005, but my attempts to return in 2006 were difficult. No one was doing the same instances my priest was doing, all my interface mods were still rendered useless every time a new patch came out, and all my friends had moved on to raids and that, places I never got into. I tried again in 2009 when my family got into it, but I knew that if I started playing again, I would pretty much never stop. I put it down.

EVE Online – Played in 2005 and 2006 – Another game I wanted to try before committing to World of Warcraft, it wasn’t the game’s learning curve that scared me off, it was the lack of passion in the game. I’ve longed for a decent space-based MMO forever and EVE certainly had the chops. There’s plenty to do, plenty to see, and the world is (mostly) controlled by the players themselves, which is the ultimate setup for a Galactic Emperor for myself. How the relationship ended: The first time came when the trial ended and I decided that WoW would be a better (and definitely more fun) use of my time. After I tried to get back into WoW and failed, I managed to get play EVE for about three months. The problems racked up quickly: losing literal weeks’ worth of virtual income because some jerk-ass decided to take his level 1 or 2 laser against your beautiful, weapon-free mining barge was a disaster. Then, being able to afford high-level equipment and ships and then having to wait two (again, literal) months to learn the skills to use them? No. Nuh-uh. Ditched.

Star Trek Online – Played in 2009 – I really wanted to love this game. With the release of JJ Abrams’ film out that year and a hopeful redemption of the franchise, this game took everything wrong about Cryptic’s MMO structure (they did bring us City of Heroes) and the worst part of Star Trek’s history and mashes them together. How the relationship ended: I had access to the game in late beta and was underwhelmed from the very beginning. The shallow gameplay lead to parts that should’ve been so much better, like ship creation. You have your own star ship in Starfleet and even that’s just a disappointing bore. Cryptic bragged about how quickly they made it and it’s obvious in every part of its manufacture: STO feels like an MMO straight out of the Massively Multiplayer Creation Kit with a Star Trek skin.

Star Wars: The Old Republic – Played in 2011 – This one’s a bit premature, but I know the end is coming. It’s a polished MMO that follows WoW’s lead when it comes to gameplay and narrative, but the game is bringing so much less to the genre now than World of Warcraft did in 2004. Sure, it’s cool to be in Star Wars, sure it’s cool to be a Jedi, but it’s just not enough to keep playing in and out for months. Who knows, maybe I’ll still be playing it in a year. I’m just resting on an article or two about it…

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  • Arthur Hansen

    Wow, what a negative article that almost makes it seem like MMOs are a waste of your time with quick catch-phrases like ‘shallow game play’.

    • Anonymous

      With all due respect, I posited the premise properly: the games have to be very good. And when they are good, they take up far too much of my time. City of Heroes and STO were devoid of any reason to delve into them further aside from a few extra abilities and exploration. In other games, like WoW or EVE, there was always some new aspect of the game I could learn, but those felt like demos to other, better games.

      • Trappedslider

        I take the VA for TOR didn’t really hit a cord with you?

        • Anonymous

          The VA?

  • Rolesnevich

    Funny all your comments about story are from beta when then game was bad. It not perfect now but it is way better many of the big issues have been fixed. I of course there still room for improvement

    • Anonymous

      Are you talking about STO?

  • Bobbie

    Spoken just like a WoW fanboi who expects every game to be exactly like WoW.  I’m sure you’ll disagree, but you’ve said absolutely nothing substantive about any of these games execpt that they weren’t WoW clones.  City of Heroes more shallow than WoW?  Hardly.  You pretend that you gave EVE a fair shot, but it’s clear you don’t understand any aspect of the game: your chance of becoming a “galactic emperor” is nil, especially when you seem completely unaware that the biggest shortcoming of the game is the rampant ganking that goes on (an unarmed ship?!?).  Expecting Cryptic to produce a decent game without the intervention of another developer — especially after the very public debacle that is Champions Online — demonstrates your lack of awareness of the gaming industry in general.  Games attempting to be “WoW killers” are what’s wrong with the industry, not what’s right about it, and it’s just incredibly sad that you even wasted your time trying other games when you were obviously predisposed to discard anything that wasn’t a clone.  It’s even sadder that you felt compelled to present your uninformed dogma as a review.

    • Anonymous

      I’m not a WoW fanboy, so your argument fell apart in the first sentence.

  • Kenneth Gibson

    eve online is first and foremost a pvp game. It was probably your fault you were ganked anyway

    • Anonymous

      I think I was disappointed I couldn’t use my high-end mining lasers against my squeaky opponents. Obviously, if extracting metals from ultra-dense rock is easy, why couldn’t I obliterate some tug boat with a laser because my mining barge is too slow to leave the area. Being in secure space when it happened doesn’t help, either.

  • Hal Jordan

    So Bobby doesn’t like Champions Online, eh? He said “nothing substantive” about it either. I’ve had a lot of fun with it and wouldn’t call it a “debacle.” It’s a good way to have fun killing zombies or robots for a while without getting sucked into something that’s going to capture you for hours or cost you money. Some other free MMOs you could try are DC Universe Online (my favorite), Global Agenda, Tribes Ascend (in beta), and StarCraft II (you have to buy the game, but is free). I tried to get interested in Perfect World again, but couldn’t. Finally, Star Trek Online becomes free to play on January 17. There’s plenty of variety to choose from, and if you rotate through them in sequence maybe you won’t get so involved.

    • Anonymous

      Resident artist Cody played Champions for a time and enjoyed it, I never got around to it.

      Global Agenda, Tribes: Ascend, and StarCraft II are _NOT_ MMOs. I’m not sure where you get that impression.

      • Hal Jordan

        All three are massive, all three are multiplayer, and all three are online, hence the term MMO. Maybe you are going by some other criteria.

        • Anonymous

          No, they’re not. Not even slightly. An MMO requires a persistent world in which large groups of players, thousands, converge in the same world. StarCraft 2 is a strategy game for up to eight players in matches. Others are mere interactive lobbies with instanced matches. I’m talking about the games I mentioned above, those others are not MMOs at all.

          • Kevin

            No, that’s a “Persistent MMORPG”; a persistent world instance is not required to meet the definition of MMO (which can have several flavors) 

            Inside the industry we refer to lobbied games as MMO if the number of subscribers is high enough and the servers/infrastructure is centralized (e.g., the net code doesn’t only put two players together, but continues to manage the connectivity, the profiles, items, stats, etc.)

            Maybe a good way to describe this is: Guildwars and Diablo 3 are as much MMO as WoW, even though both don’t have a persistent world (in fact, diablo 3 is built upon nearly the exact same technical designs as WoW… its just that the game design doesn’t put everyone in the same place)  

            The sad part is, I personally would also /want/ to use it for gameswhere a world is persistent, since these are generally more interesting.  Alas, within the industry the term MMO is now in the hands of people who deal with money (finance/budgeting/etc.) and is unlikely to change.

            … at least internally.   I suppose it doesn’t really matter what it is refered to by players themselves…  :)