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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Burnout...an MMO Tale

Posted by garrett Monday February 15 2010 at 7:01PM
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OK I have officially reached burnout on MMOs.

So I thought to retrace my steps a little and find out where things got to this point.

So looking back on 2007 I was playing World of Warcraft full speed. By that time I had been working here at MMORPG for nearly two years as a writer and news editor. There were two monster games on the menu. Age of Conan and Warhammer Online, both of these games were going to challenge the elephant for rights to rule the jungle.

Keep in mind something very important, I am a HUGE Conan fan (so big we'll be doing interviews in the coming months about the new Conan movie). I also have played Warhammer Fantasy, 40K and Fantasy Role Play from the time I was about 13 years old (before that it was only D&D).

In 2008 I quickly left WoW to join up with Conan in the world of Hyboria. AoC carried me through the summer and Warcraft became an after-thought. In a convention heavy 2008 I saw everything. NYCC was great, but more importantly Leipzig was the place to see Warhammer Online. The trailer was insane, the hype was high, and I had spent many hours writing and covering the game.

In September with the launch of W.A.R. I jumped in full speed, leaving Hyboria behind to play my all time favorite race Orcs! However, with Warhammer I only had one option as an Orc and was unhappy with the choice. So I played a Gobbo Shaman. I pushed and pushed and got to level 30.

Then, I was at the Lich King Launch in NYC and happen to head home that night with a copy of WotLK (thanks Joe). After chatting with the WoW guys they kept saying to give the new expansion a try. So I did, I started a Death Knight. The single best MMO starting experience I have ever had was the opening zone of the Death Knight class. Sure it was pure evil, but it was fun...a lot of fun. Isn't that the point of games, to be fun?

Lich King hooked me in and bam a year of WoW has followed. I took stints into DDO again but still went back to WoW. Over the last few months I was part of a hardcore raid guild that grew very quickly and did really well in terms of the new patches. However, the demands of raiding got to be a lot with work and the family so I slowed down.

This slow down though has led to a dead stop. Now I find it hard to even log into WoW or any other game due to shear burn out. Was it too much to keep up with WoW raids? Was it the short falls of AoC or W.A.R. that started to get to me? 

None of the above, I think I have found out the answer. It is the daunting idea that if I log into an MMO I have to work to get somewhere. Even if it is a ten minute instance run in WoW, there is still this idea that you have to progress...progress...progress....

It rings in my ears like a bell of doom. Would it be revolutionary to ask MMOs to tone down the progression, and add more fun short term elements to games? Looking back on DAOC, one of my all time favorite MMOs, I remember logging into the end game at level 50 to go out and hunt around the frontiers for a while and get in some fights. If no one was on, I'd log out and jump back in later on, but the feeling of progression or work was not there. Sure there were Realms Ranks and all that, but it was fun and there was no obligation.

I think the entire concept of progression in MMOs needs to be re-thought, re-defined, and re-worked so that the games we play do not feel like part time jobs.

Just one MMO player's opinion.

MadnessRealm writes:

Have you tried DarkFall yet? I know you posted on the DarkFall forum asking if you should try it or not.

Then again, you won't be able to do much PvP unless you farm/grind a lot (i.e Progression) but there's a lot of other things to do which might make the slow Progression less annoying.

Perhaps also look into Mabinogi. Definitively something different and very accessible at all levels so you don't have to rush to hit cap (which doesn't exist by the way). There's no Orc race though ;)

Mon Feb 15 2010 8:27PM Report
Jairoe03 writes:

 Definitely need a good change of pace like a single player game, shooter or RTS. It's nice to be able to switch mindsets and experience something totally different. For some reason Global Agenda comes to mind because I used to be a big Tribes 2 fan and it reminds me of it. Hope nostalgia isn't trying to kick me in the rear. Lol

Mon Feb 15 2010 9:41PM Report
Inktomi writes:

Garrett, your a new yawkah? Well that means perma-bumps to me!

On topic: Blizz has an internal Carrot-on-a-stick system built into WoW. It has become a double edged sword in the long term. People can strive just so much and then it becomes, "I already spent 40 hours raiding for 1337 gear, what do I need to do it again for?"

I feel that most games are on the progression track with some exceptions. Those games you don't hear about a lot because there isn't as much flash from them. WoW is very flashy. 

Mon Feb 15 2010 11:56PM Report
Derros writes:

I completely agree with you on the progression bit.  I feel like this particular expansion went by alot faster than BC did, maybe its just because im working now and dont have a whole lot of time to raid.  I think one of the problems with WoW is there arent a whole lot of long term goals other than the gear grind. 

I just asked myself, if I start playing WoW again what would I be doing?  1) dalies for money I dont really need since I have epic flying.  2) Grind heroics for badges for gear I dont really need since I dont have time to raid.  3) level up another alt to do 1 and 2 with. 

Tue Feb 16 2010 9:27AM Report
TJKazmark writes:

I'm in a burnout phase as well, having hit the wall a few weeks ago. I'm in the same boat as you with the feeling of progression; it's the reason I stopped playing.

I'd be interested to see an MMO that tries to put a more even emphasis on different aspects of a game world. Combat, exploration, crafting, lore, and community (housing, guilds, etc...) are pretty big for me, so to see someone bring all of those in as major components would be pretty tempting.

Tue Feb 16 2010 9:34AM Report
Fawarendan writes:

Well, I'm a WoW player nowadays, played since 2007 too and I must say: I just play WoW because it's beautifully made. Come on, there's no other game around with so much thought in it, so much players, so much to do (even if it's a Carrot-on-a-stick system), a great lore, an ok PvP experience, and so much other good features.

I can't say it's always FUN, but it keeps entertaining me on-line wise. When I'm on a burnout, I stop the raiding and start a [For the Horde!] raid (this is always fun), go do some random achievs (we got 2 events going right now, u know?), solo some old forgotten instances, play a RTS, FPS or just single-player RPG. I might even try another MMO, but they never hook me up, maybe GW2, SW:TOR or FFXIV will do.

But I disagree with you Garret, this old neverendless grind was already in MMO's and will always be. I don't think developers are going to change it soon, its giving them money, no problem at all. We just need to change our MMO-player mentality. The best MMO time of my life was early 2000's, in Tibia and Ragnarok Online. There was almost no quests, and those wouldn't give u enough experience to level. All players had to grind killing mobs, hunting forever, because the progression was so freaking slow.

But that was so FUN! U know why? I used to get ready for hunting-time in Prontera or Venore, then invite some RL friends, game friends and random people to group, we would all go to a LAN house together or join teamspeak, I would check the magazine I just bought to find a good hunting place we could never go alone, and BANG! Hours of fun. I did a lot of 24-48 hours playing spree in these two games (first was UO, and thats bad to health haha). In early RO I reached level cap in almost a year, and there's no level cap in Tibia. Got tired of them after little time I joined the so called "l33t guilds". Coincidence? I don't think so.

Wanna have fun in WoW again? Google "static groups" and don't give a damn to be a "pro".

Tue Feb 16 2010 9:55AM Report
Erlijus writes:

It is good to read that I am not alone in that phase... As you, started playing WoW back in January 2006 (one year+  after launch). Got hooked to MMOs... Since then, a lot of back and forth between games, trying always to get that same feeling I had when my friend demo'ed WoW to me (and I subbed the morning after...). Never have I been able to have that same feeling of pure awe in front of a game... I miss that bliss...

Last attempt: Darkfall. Great game, way better than what i was anticipating by reading reviews. Only problem: you need to spend long hours in front of computer to be at least productive. Love the game, but I fear I won't be able to invest the hours needed... 

So for me, question remains: am I burnt out of MMOs forever (games being so similar), or will I ever be able to recreate that January 2006 feeling one day? Time will tell... 

Tue Feb 16 2010 9:56AM Report
Evasia writes:

Your last sentence says it all just one players opinion nothing more.

You maybe burndout by progression and thats only becouse you can't play so much anymore you guys should be more honest about then condem or whine about how much work you have to do to come somewhere in ammo.

Your obvious product of new generation that ones it fast with no sweat be uber in no time.

Well good sir there are also those who want the old style mmo's where you have to work to get somewhere.

WoW is already super easy THEMEPARK madeness and you want it even more super easy bah:(.

And again only becouse now you can't spent as much in mmo as you want and can't comepete with those who can so you whine about that:(

Typical WoW or themepark mentality:(

To harsh judgement?  I say no you just wanne take all that makes a true mmo and degrade it to a multiplayer mmo with removal of any progress mostly rpg element.

Tue Feb 16 2010 1:32PM Report
Evasia writes:

Im btw more and more gonne buried your topics becouse you make no sense anymore.

First you ask to play darkfall and then you suddenly make topic where you say your agains progression lol, that make no sense Garret:P

Tue Feb 16 2010 1:36PM Report
Skuz writes:

The bearings in your hamster-wheel finally wore out.

Bring back "Worlds" to fool around & do many different things besides the gear treadmill..

Tue Feb 16 2010 2:12PM Report
Preponerance writes:

 It could be a combination of work and recreational time that's messing you up.  I could no way be a gold/credit/ISK/Plat farmer cause I would be doing that all day then come home to play a game would feel like I'm at work again.

 

However I don't work in the gaming industry so I seem to enjoy the time I have playing games rather than loathing them.  

 

But I too became "disgruntled" by the progression phase and was quit burnt out.  I decided to take my gaming away from fantasy and looked into the Sci-Fi stuff.  I'm currently play Eve Online and I can honestly say I don't have the urge or the need to keep up with the Jones'.  There is so much to learn I can't just jump in and try to get to the level cap. Progression seems non-existent other than training up your skills which I'm on the part where they take days to learn, I can spend more time researching and learning other dynamics of the system.

Tue Feb 16 2010 2:19PM Report
Ichmen writes:

while i do agree partly to your statement of too much "grind" not enough "reward" i have to say removing the progression grind will normally kill most games. the ability to login and be BAM instant level is boring and lame. if there is no work requirement, there is no point playing. same with real life work. if there is no paycheck why do the work??

progression in games is the paycheck for playing them, because you worked hard XX days you earned XX level and XX of special stuff only people who have reached that level attain. that is the drive to actually work to that level.

i have played many MMOs out of korea/china/japan.. ect. the reason those games are as mass produced as they are, is the progression. alot of gamers in asia tend to have the time to grind away in them to reach high levels. unlike the western areas where we tend to go for the quick rewards instead of the long processes to achive them.

while i would love to see progression toned down a tad...i cant really fathom how a game would play out if it was removed. one game i played which has long since shut down for good.. was pirated up the backside by illegal servers, unlike the few legal game servers out there which capped levels and XP. the pirated servers basicly gave you max level off lv 1 monsters.. their logic... the game is pure PVP why should they waste the months it takes on actual servers to get max level.. when they want to PVP right now...

lol well saddly for them most if not all of those servers died after awhile.. people got bored... nothing to do when your max level and no one to fight against.

Tho the only advice i can give to burnout.. is try some other style of game(s).. if you a pure PVPer, drop back and do an RPG or something... if not.. go completely out of your norm and play like a FPS or RTS or hell even a TBS game if they are even still made anymore.. tho for TBS as great as it is.. i really dont suggest the CiV game series... great games.. but ugh soo very time consuming..

Tue Feb 16 2010 3:09PM Report
Zilverrug writes:

Roleplaying works for me in similar cases: just running around a city in silly dresses and actually interacting with people and brightening their days. It makes them happy, it makes you happy and you won't get any xp or whatever from it, except pure bliss (and some occasional gold).

Tue Feb 16 2010 3:58PM Report
gorgogorn writes:

I know exactly what you mean, I remember grinding for rep in WoW and dreading logging in to do the same few quests. My exact thoughts were why do i want to come home from work just to pay to have another job.

 

And for those that say we want it too easy, that's not true. We want our games to be games not jobs. We want to log in and have fun not feel a responsibility to grind for that next thing.

Tue Feb 16 2010 4:24PM Report
corpusc writes:

i've hated the "progression" ever since EQ1.

i'm looking forward to the new MMOs that will have NO character progression. where its all about personal real life progression (with maybe some inventory collection/accumulation, & lateral extra abilities or perks that won't unbalance you in POWER against newbies, if you wanna consider that char progression, don't think most people would). MOST non-MMO games are that way. its just this crazy idea that all MMOs have to be based on RPG ideas for the past 10 years.

games for healthy people are about having moment to moment fun (and *gasp* NO "work" cuz healthy people already DO real work in REAL life) and REAL experiences (not accumulating experience POINTS, in such mindless/repetitive ways).
 

Tue Feb 16 2010 4:36PM Report
joeballs writes:

I agree with garrett 100%. MMOs are becoming so generic, that you might as well just play the more polished one and be done with it. There's no real advantage to trying a new one. They're all the same (with a few exceptions, but still require work and are not very fun).

What amazes me is all these companies coming out with new mmos that simply have all the same feature. What's the point? Do they really think that by following the mmo standard, that they're guaranteed to make money? Who's making this decision?

The standard mmo is driving me crazy. I mean, with all those people on a server, can't these devs think of anything else to do? If I wanted to play "go kill 10 xxx and bring their pelts back to  me", I might as well play WoW (the more polished game). Why would I want to play another game that has the same exact gameplay? A new skin isn't good enough. It wears out quickly. The stories get boring so you end up clicking through the screens just to get the quest. Can you imagine the amount of effort it took to get all that dialog into the game only for most people to skip it? Doh!

And it's not that we need to play a single-player game to break things up; we want to play a game with lots of people on the server. We like the social interaction and teamwork. We just don't want to hunt mobs for xp for the next 3 - 6 months over and over and over. It takes up a lot of time and is not very fun anymore.

IMO, making a standard MMO as we know it is a big waste of time and money at this point. The genre needs to evolve. What's the holdup? Is it lack of innovation? Or are devs just afraid to try anything new? I don't understand why the genre is so stagnant. Most of the other game genres have eveolved significantly, but mmos... well, they're still the same as they've always been for the most part.

 

Tue Feb 16 2010 5:34PM Report
hermit000 writes:

I am also experiencing "burnout". currently subbed to wow, and i have no desire to log in anymore. I dont really like raiding for gear that will be obsolete 2 weesk after cataclysm launches, and I can only run the same 10 dungeons ad nauseum for so long. I dont necesarily want a sandbox mmo to play, but i would most definatly appreciate a non-level based game where your characters skills would actually mean something. Too many companies are stuck in the holy trinity rut for game and group composition.

It feels liek games these days are lackign a little something.(insert nostalgic when i was yoru age comment) I remember when i first started playing video games, we didnt have cheat codes, we didnt have walkthroughs, or mods or hint sites. you played the game to finish it. It could kick you in the face day in and day out, but you went back and you finished it, why? because they were fun, they may not have been the prettiest games around but they were fun. Modern mmo's are lacking that fun factor that kept a whole generation of zit faced kids glued to their tv's, hands cramped onto controlers for hours on end coming back for more.

They have replaced this with mindless grind and meaningless quests. there is little need to actually think anymore. If you cant figure it out in a couple seconds you hop on a web site that tells you how to do "it". where are the puzzles? where are the though provoking story lines? where is the character? and no i dont just mean the accumulation of stats and gear that have replaced charcters in games.

Remeber sitting around a table with friends playing your favourite roleplaying game, playing your favourite character. were they just the numbers on the page or did they actually move beyond that. the nuances of their speech, the shared memories of achievments and antics pulled during previous sesions, their goals and dreams. MMO's have yet to be able to capture any of that other than the number sona screen telling you how good you are at killing some poor rat "x" number of times.

Tue Feb 16 2010 7:09PM Report
Amathe writes:

I believe I know exactly how you feel. I keep hopping around, looking for that new experience to rekindle the excitement. But every time I am standing there in my newbie gear holding my newbie sword, I think "are you really going to do this again?" Do you really need to? Because I know it's only a matter of time before I end up doing time wasting paint by numbers nonsense, the only purpose of which is to get another level or item.

I want a game where I can just run off into a dark forest and see what's there, and maybe be chased off by some marauding monster. Instead, I end up next to the usual guys with exclamation points, wanting me to deliver my obligatory letters and kill my 10 boars, who are conveniently marked on my immersion busting in game gps map.

 I can't even express anymore how tired I am of that.

Tue Feb 16 2010 7:21PM Report
ravenshroud writes:

I think we are at the same stage as the US government.  A lot of good ideas exist to fix the system, but the system resists the change.

The 3rd generation game never appeared.  When can I build, govern, and support my own completely destroyable kingdom?  When can players create quests for other players?  When will scarcity of resources become the natural conflict needed for games as opposed to prescribed enemies.  It is time to move on, but I think developers got wow fever.  We need a game developed by a gamer instead of a business.  But how does a gamer like me afford to build that game for you?

 

I have written the game in extreme detail so many times that would be easy to program and replace all this 2nd gen crap.  But I am a lowly network engineer; my ideas never to see the light of day, like many others.

Tue Feb 16 2010 9:11PM Report
UnSub writes:

You've burned out after being in a hardcore raid guild, have greater demands from work and family yet it is the games' fault?

Welcome to a change in lifestage.

Wed Feb 17 2010 1:51AM Report
Schockey writes:

 Well I am burned as well. It is like chasing your first drunk, you will never get that same feeling again :). You can come close, but it will never happen. It was the reality of daily quests in LOTRO, that made me realize my situation.

Wed Feb 17 2010 6:02AM Report
Blazz writes:

well first things first you gotta get rid of the end-game concept, and the great devide created by the start -> finish gap in character power.

Garrett, surely you have friends playing these games, yes? But you can't "keep up" with them, in one way or another, gear-wise or level-wise?

I mean, this is is one of several fundamental flaws with the current MMO design of content made at certain levels, for certain levels. What we need is either to get rid of levels, or to change their meaning to one of progression in character, and abilities, rather than direct strength and power.

 

And I agree that we need the 3rd generation of MMOs. It's a shame no one wants to create the nice game with good core concepts in it... oh well.

Wed Feb 17 2010 8:50AM Report
MasterDelvin writes:

For me, all the games have one thing (save one) in common which is, at the end... its the end no matter what your doing, raiding, pvp or a combination of both to get what you don't currently have. A very short plug for SWG (prior to the ultimate disaster in mmos) was that SWG has an amazing social/crafting setup where players could actually have housing together along with guild halls, shops, and a real feeling that when all the fighting, all the pvp'ing was done for the day, you could still go to any number of player cities and relax, craft, talk with friends and shop.

It seems more and more, the large social part of these games are dying out which again for me is the end to end all. Player housing and detailed crafting professions are an afterthought if at all in new games and even the goofy dancing, flirting and just outright pointless emotes that make people laugh are going. This alone boggles me since the very reason we play these mmos is to be with others, yet the companies do not view this as paramount to keep their game alive.

Just recently went back to AoC again only to find 4 servers and really no one on or a small handfull of people doing something, Vanguard down to four servers and well... like SWG sony needs to stick the fork in that one too. Seems even LotR though a nice boost with the last couple of add-ons has helped, the social (housing) is still bland.

If anyone cares :) and is writing for a game... think about this.... the value to have say 35% to 55% of your player base sign on simply to do a little crafting, perhaps chat with friends in player made towns where there is a reason to craft, sell and buy player made even own their own shops, spend the morning (night) going around collecting their resources, buying and trading so on.... again from my 25 years of experience in games, SWG at start, had it...did it right and then because of one of many reasons decided to murder their game, sent the players off into the four winds.

What would that be worth to you ?> :)

 

Wed Feb 17 2010 9:42AM Report
gogogogone writes:

I hated Hated HATED WoW PvP.  Getting killed by someone that put 3 80's farming enchants for a level 19 that's been level 19 for 3 years so you can get killed 1,000,000 times is as dumb as a bag of pudding.  Nearly as brilliant as EVE.  omg. 

WarHammer has the best PvP (RvR), going.  Pual is a good man.

I never tried AoC.  When I heard they forgot to write the code for crafting, I blew them off like they blew me off.  Did they do any crafting yet?  Or it's still limited to people level 40+ because the are still lazy?  I heard the creatures wander and have purpose.  I heard they have trees you can chop down.  Then I heard they put in invisible walls where they forgot to code the maps.  And, pvp players camp nodes nearly invisible and kill people over & over like on EVE.  And even if you get good stuff, it doesn't make anything like in WoW, or can only be added to a player town which people come and burn down...so it's a wash.  I was SOOO hoping AoC would be there for us, but maybe in AoC2.  Tell me I heard wrong please.  Please, please, please.

Thu Feb 18 2010 2:02AM Report
Gomezy3k writes:

What I hate about MMO's is NO ROLE PLAYING!!!!   I grew up playing AD&D amd moved into White Wolf and Hero Systems games and loved them.  Unfortunately I have yet to find an online game that even comes close to actual RPG games.  I tried DDO and it sucks.  I made a thief (my favorite class) and the character was worthless.  No one playing had a clue about role playing or even had an interest in playing with someone who did.  Their idea of playing was to power up to the max, run top speed through the dungeons as fast as possible and kill everything that moved. 

I have yet to find a good MMORPG.  Every one I have tried sucked.  I tried the free week of WoW and after 2 days just quit and removed it from my computer.  It sucked even worse than DDO. 

I want a game where you can actually interact with others and role play, clerics act like clerics, mages like mages, etc. and the idea is to cooperate with each other and work together. 

 

Thu Feb 18 2010 4:38PM Report
UnsungToo writes:

I don't think you're burned out on MMO's, but how they make you play them.

I've been writing down idea's for MMO's, maybe not everbody's flavor but different in how they're played. Check out the concepts on my blog here at MMORPG.com.

We need more variety and different business models for MMO's. Sure you might be willing to pay fro your games and are ok with it, but because developers build their game around those specific set of guidelines based on the business model, they just leave to much to be desired, resulting in player burnout.

I really should get to work on a sci/fi or fantasy concept.

Well anyways, if it makes ya feel anybetter, i've been burned out for years.

 

Fri Feb 19 2010 4:02AM Report
Speiberbob writes:

agree to a big part,

I am burned out with Lotro atm, its a great sorytelling game, but like the many other MMORPGs games everyone and his mom is out to

grind to max lvl then grind for the next gear carrot.

Would love to see finaly another open world mmorpg beside EVE to come alive and fly.

Testing mabinogi atm..aint so bad((gpraphics is hard to stomach at first))

Fri Feb 19 2010 2:44PM Report
wolfx writes:

All I have to say is when all else fails and burnout comes grab a gun and 1st person shot everyone LOL that cleans out the burn out for me no quest no grinding just point shoot  NEXT!!

Sat Feb 20 2010 9:15PM Report
roger675 writes:

 I mostly agree, with one exception.  With me, the burnout is not for the total universe, but one game at a time.  My analysis gives the following:  when the game loses the intereste generated by doing new things, or gets to be so hard, it feels like work instead of play, I start to wander.   My suggestion is that the people making games need to address the player profiles they want to attract, and how long they want to keep them.  They should also advertise that, or possibly a site like MMO could categorize the games that way.

 

Mon Feb 22 2010 10:13AM Report

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