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MMORPG.com Staff Blog

The staff of MMORPG.com gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

Author: staffblog

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

Community Spotlight: The First 60 Minutes

Posted by MikeB Thursday July 15 2010 at 3:35PM
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This week’s Community Spotlight focuses on the thread “The first 60 minutes in a new mmo - how important are they?” by Amathe, a reader who is no stranger to our weekly spotlight.  Pretty straightforward, Amathe wonders how important the first 60 minutes in an MMO are. So what’s the community have to say about that? Well, let’s start with Amathe, of course!

“I always love starting a new game.  The box is laying next to my desk.  I've just made my decisions on what race and class to play, and chosen my appearance.  My character has appeared in a new world waiting to be explored. My family has been told to leave me in peace for the evening.

Now the question is, what will the first hour be like?

In that hour I will experience the graphics and sound, get a flavor for the game's community, try out the UI and maybe face off against a few monsters.  For me, they key is whether the combination of those things and others evoke some emotional desire to see more and want be part of this new world.

So how important is that first hour?  Do first impressions really matter?  Or do you need to give it days, weeks or months before it's fair to start evaluating?”

Dannydeuce definitely appreciates a good initial impression, but can be pretty forgiving depending on the circumstances:

“Nothing quite like that initial feeling.  Just reading your post made me happy.  This is especially true in a brand new game were everyone is starting from square one on opening day.

With that said, it is important for me but I understand problems happen.  I will get a good basis of what this game consists of, but I won't judge the server status or other related issues if the game has recently been launched.  Will I make presumed assumptions of the game as a whole...probably not.  But if the problems with a game do no get fixed in a timely fashion, it will infact make my stay at the given game not quite peachy.”

TheHatter feels the first 60 minutes are crucial; however, he believes the two week mark is the real key point:

“As far as MMOs go, the first 60 minutes to me are extremely important, but not to the point where the developers are trying to cram a bunch of content into the first few levels. To me, the first 60minutes show me how good the combat is, how good the movement is, and just how well the engine runs the game and whether or not it's my style or not.

Personally, the 2 week mark is the kicker for me. If I make it at least to the first 60minutes, I'm probably going to keep playing for up to 2 weeks. At that point, I either lose interest in the game or decide the game doesn't have the content I was hoping it had. A good example of this recently is Atlantica. I loved the game, I loved the combat, I loved pretty much everything about the game.... except the lack of character development content. At the 2 week mark, I had gotten a good idea how their advancement system worked and I just didn't like it. I was hoping for something more along the lines of FF Tactics advancement. “

Axewielderx puts a ton of weight on the first 60 minutes:

“The 1st 60 minutes of any game are the most important of any game, at least from my point of view they should be. This time frame the developer is sending me a message. This message is their vision of what this new world is and means to them. If they think this message is important and worth hearing and seeing, then they will present it to me in that way.

They will have well thought out game mechanics, a storyline that is interesting and worth learning more about, graphics that present this vision acurately, and because of having done these 1st few important things, there will be a community that seems interested in taking the journey into this vision.

If the developer did not take the time to show me their vision, why would I spend my time there?

Just MHO,

Axe”

Opinions appear to be pretty split. There are a good deal of gamers that feel the first 60 minutes, or even the first 20 minutes are absolutely crucial, while many others take into account the progression of an MMO and allow days or even weeks before they make a decision. One poster mentioned that the first hour isn’t too relevant for him as by the time he’s made the decision to purchase an MMO he’s done a lot of research and has generally made up his mind at that point. I tend to fall into that category as well, however, that doesn’t really apply to those of us who are trying a game as part of a trial or buddy pass or something, in which case the first hour is crucial to me.

In fact, developers recognize this as well, and they deliberately design out “first play experiences” or first play sessions which normally target the first 10 minutes to one hour of gameplay and have an intended goal for the players experience in that timeframe. Developers, just as you do, realize this is a pretty key period of time to “hook” the player and they generally pay a good amount of attention to just about everything you are intended to experience within the course of that first hour. Heck, there are focus group tests that often focus squarely on just that first play experience.

So how important are first impression to you? And do they come attached with a pre-determined time frame? Let us know in the comments below!

Axewielderx writes:

Congratz, Amathe! :)

Thu Jul 15 2010 4:17PM Report
Miroku271 writes:

I am more of a researcher myself, but in the case of trial/free passes, I believe from character creation and level 10 is when i know if i want to continue playing the game or not. Most things are experienced in an MMORPG by level 10 such as talent points, seeing the depth of crafting skills, battle systems or even simple pvp (Dueling all the players leveling where you are).

Thu Jul 15 2010 5:22PM Report
hogscraper writes:

I put no stock at all in the first 60 minutes. I have had great experiences in the first bit but then ended up hating the game before I even hit the level cap, (AOC), and didn't like anything Guild Wars had to offer until I hit level 10 or so. After playing a dozen MMO games for at least a month I've noticed that the beginning periods are almost never like what you find at the level caps. And the more I play the more I realize they shouldn't be. Personally I want to approach what the game offers slowly, checking out every single thing going on, crafting, questing, mechanics, etc before I decide it has nothing left I want to do. I will definitely play a game as a merchant if the crafting is great but the rest is rubbish. Most of the things that really turn me into a long time sub are things you can't possibly experience in the first 60 minutes. 

Thu Jul 15 2010 6:02PM Report
Athcear writes:

I don't know if it's the first hour, but certainly the sum of your first play session, however long it ends up being.  That first impression is key if it's a game you're unsure of.  One that you're already psyched for, or you have friends playing with you... that's different.

Thu Jul 15 2010 7:15PM Report
cwRiis writes:

 

 

My first reaction is that the initial 60-minutes isn't all that important.  Then I thought a little deeper.  I now believe the first 60-minutes won't be a big factor in keeping me.  But it just might lose me.

My reaction to one extremely popular and wildly financially successful MMO was to quit after only an hour or two of play.  Two years later I came back to try the free trial again.  An hour was all I could take.

Another very successful MMO got a reputation very quickly for it's starter island covering the first 20 levels.  I'd have to say that I was captured, and continue to enjoy that game still with multiple classes at the level cap.

A game keeps me with quality first, depth of game second, and for long term loyalty,a continuous breadth of content to explore and interact with.  But I do think you can lose a player if you can't demonstrate some unique quality aspects in the initial exposure that tickle the imagination into wanting more.

Thu Jul 15 2010 7:30PM Report
Silver_Leaf writes:

Particularly for MMOs, I usually spend the first 60 min testing out the different startup features and reading guides so I don't screw up. That is of course after scrutinizing the terrain, graphics, and systems and comparing it to the other games I play, to see if its worth the 3 hours a day for as long as I play this mmo.

Thu Jul 15 2010 8:16PM Report
b0bbyZ writes:

I thing that if the first 60 minutes of a game turn you off and you don't like what you see, then it you stick it out for longer your opinion probably won't change. However, if you like what you see, it won't necessarily mean that you will keep liking it. I guess kind of like how a square is a rectangle but a rectangle isn't necessarily a square? The first 60 minutes SHOULD impress you, but for me it takes a couple weeks to really decide whether I wasted my money or not.

Thu Jul 15 2010 10:12PM Report
plescure writes:

i think the importance of the first 60 minutes of an MMO, for me, depends entirely on wether its F2P or P2P. if ive just forked out anything upto £30 to purchase an mmo game, even if my initial time in the game is awful i will perservere well beyond that to see if the game is a diamond in the rough, and also to try and get my moneys worth.

 

however on a F2P mmo game i dont have that same motivation. on a few occasions i have d/l'd a free mmo and never played it again after my first hour or so. these games may well have hidden depth and enjoyability if you put the hours in but im not willing to risk 10's of hours of my life finding out when its much simpler to move on to another game that i am more confident that i will find enjoyable and rewarding.

 

Being a family man, i no longer have the luxury of endless hours of computer time. i like to be very careful about what i invest my time in as my computer time is far too precious to waste on a game that ultimately ends up to be completely unsatisfying

Fri Jul 16 2010 6:22AM Report
Claymix writes:

The first hour is very important to me. In that hour, I usually gather as much information about the game as possible. I get a good idea of the effort the developers put into the graphics and the engine. I will always give even the worst game a second chance (AKA, another session), but the first sixty minutes will shape how I view and experience the game. If it's clunky and jumpy (I'm thinking of a specific game right now, but I won't say it), I'm going to be unimpressed. If it flows nicely and, despite having a few bugs, works, then I will look past some of the faults it may have and play on.

With me, the first sixty minutes shape how I view the game and also shows me how the developers want me to view the game. Like I said earlier, even if the first hour is abysmal, I'll give the game a second chance. Chances are, however, the bad first impression will have doomed the game for me.

Fri Jul 16 2010 7:13AM Report
Skyllz writes: 3 stages in MMOs for me. -My first time login in. This is when I log in, I wont bypass the intro movie(probably the only time) and try to get myself immersed into what the story line is and what I have ahead of me. I will take my time to create my first caracter, no matter how hard you try, this first caracter will most likely be restarted at some point in the near future but I still give it my best shot. Then it starts... my first quest. I need to be entertained and explained how shit works properly to allow me to enjoy my new found powers or whatever I can do. Screw up this part and you lost me. -After 2 weeks. At this point, I usually have 2-3 starting caracters up to a certain level depending on the MMO and I'm starting to see if I will find my niche caracter that will bond to my playstyle. If I cant find anything that hooks me up, I will have given it a fair chance. -The 1 month test. This is when I stop and ask myself... do I pay for another month. Am I going to keep playing this for at least another month... By then I should have some sort of vision of where my adventures will take me, in what format(PvE, PvP, Raids, solo) andI decide if it suits me or not. Once I decide to pay for that month, I rarely played for less then 6 months. Fri Jul 16 2010 7:20AM Report
FreedomBlade writes:

Well the first 60 mins of Age of Conan were amazing but the rest of the game was an instanced based shiteness. However the first time you log in you do need some draw. I recently bought Xysom and after about 2 mins thought "Oh my God what have just wasted my money on" however after about 10 mins I realised how damn good the game was or can be when there is more put into it.

So yes and no. More important is how much you think about the potential after your first session.

Fri Jul 16 2010 8:04AM Report
SkullDeep writes:

First sixty minutes are important to me for FTP games only. You can get a good feeling about the community and game pretty quick. For P2P the decision i make if i want to keep playing is based on the whole free month that game with the game.

Fri Jul 16 2010 8:05AM Report
Ozivois writes:

I agree with SkullDeep.  For P2P games we are committed to 30 days so there is a psychological obligation to play out the 30 days to get the time you paid for.  FTP games, however, can be abandoned immediately and the only investment was the download time.  I have found myself abandoning several FTP games after an hour of gameplay due to a poor experience. 

Fri Jul 16 2010 5:01PM Report
Vazert writes:

I too agree with SkullDeep on this one. It does depend on if it is F2P or P2P.

P2P i wait a few months and check out the boards and blogs for issues.

F2P I usualy know if it is the game for me in about half that time.

Fri Jul 16 2010 5:53PM Report
curiousg63 writes:
Most definitely!
In my first hour with a MMO, Fun Factor, Graphics, Sound and Learning Curve! 
Fun Factor / Learning Curve.,, QUESTING!  Not farming or GRINDING the some section over and over again becomes tedious and the enjoyment factor falls flat.  What keeps me in a MMO is wanting to see what that next level will bring. But If I have to repeat the same thing over and over again I get bored. It seems the first hour of a MMO in most cases the questing has an interesting story line and tutorial to get you acclimated to the game and in a lot of cases after you reach Level 10 it gets boring, in comes the other players to make the game enjoyable. I remember playing EQ2 in the higher levels with a full group to complete a quest, the quest itself was so so, but the people that were with me (light hearted / jovial and fun to be with, making the experience more enjoyable.  When a MMO becomes more work than relaxation, the other players become obnoxious then it’s time to move on to another server or cancel the auto payment option from your credit card!
Graphics! Well we pay a premium for the equipment, so we should be able to turn that EYECANDY UP!!!  Of course keep a good frame rate when doing so.
Sound ..  I went from a THX certified 7.1 speaker setup to 2.1 because for some reason I have better experience using the 2.1 / or Headphone setup. 
Within the first 60 minutes myself it’s not about leveling quickly, but experiencing the content and a good story is a must! Without having that, I turn to single player RPG’s to get my fix and the MMO is disregarded quickly.
Sat Jul 17 2010 4:02AM Report
Halibrand writes:

I research the MMOs I play beforehand, always making the decision with at least one other friend.  Two of the ones I've played have turned me off in the first 60 minutes, with me never logging in again.  With Everquest 2, a couple of years after it launched, I was very put off by not the artwork of the game, but all the stuff that gets laid over top of it: names, health/mana bars above units, and all the other UI jazz.  The clutter just seemed too annoying, too unattractive to me.  I realize that there might have been options for me to fiddle with in order to clean it up some, but in the end this was what the developers chose as the best way to display their vision, and to me it was a good indiciator that I was on a different wavelength than these people.  My friend's way of putting it at the time was "Ugh. I'd rather go back to Galaxies, and I don't like Galaxies."  For Fallen Earth, I really liked how the tutorial was set up and the appearance of the game, but I found out quickly that the auto-pilot I'd developed in other games clashed harshly with the style of this game where you enter/exit combat mode, and your hotkeys and mouse do different things depending on the mode you were in.  I knew that I would be able to adapt to this in time, but I also knew that it would be an annoying couple of weeks for it to become natural.  Then once I was out of the tutorial and into the game proper, and it didn't have quite the same direction or clarity of the tutorial, I found myself looking at the Game List on mmorpg.com again.  It just seemed like it would be too much work for me to get to the point where Fallen Earth was the same kind of fun that other games were right from the start.  Yet all the other MMOs I've played sparked something in me within the first hour that made me want to play another hour.  I suppose it's a lot like dating, really.  There's the "weird, but cute," the "weird, and NOT cute," the "hot, but too much effort," the "I suppose you'll do," the "ooh, gimme gimme," etc.  Doesn't matter if I just paid 50 dollars: if there's no spark, there's no second date.  Life's too short.

Sat Jul 17 2010 10:03AM Report
MumboJumbo writes:

Something of a million dollar question. Good analogy above, too. Verbatim: Life's too short: The elimination process starts even before: Research, short-list, reviews&recommendations, media samples in a genre that appeals only. Finally the investment and the first/best 60mins of the game learning everything and respecting/applauding the work of the devs.

Something's seriously gone wrong already if the first 60mins already starts casting dark clouds of doubt on the edge of your gaming horizon in this shiny new world!! On the contrary everything SHOULD/MUST smack of fine craftsmanship and "feel" organic and not clunky especially a rounded-feel: What happens if I try jumping off here or do something suitably random and seemingly pointless... if this sort of mini-experiement produces a coherent in-game "they even thought of this" then all bodes very positive, then a good 2-weeks of MMO gameplay is on the cards. How long the MMO keeps is partly how innovative it is and partly how the player-base reacts and partly how much you the individual dig specific vision the game creators are trying to convey which will affect your personal tolerance. A lot of players probably guess where an MMO has nailed it or fallen down on some important concept intuitively from the start eg only 2-factions in a heavily based pvp game is going to be a limiting-factor that is a multiplier for future playability eg.

Sun Jul 18 2010 5:48PM Report
Shinami writes:

When I play MMORPGs I always make the point that one should play a game for at least 100 hours before starting a judgement and if the game within the first 100 hours begins to follow the pattern of other games that you are perfectly in your right to use comparison as a judgement.

If I want a new experience in a game, why should I go through the same experience I played in the other game for dozens of hours to get at the new experience?

Sun Jul 18 2010 7:41PM Report
Evasia writes:

First impression is indeed importend but can not be decisive on your judgment to continuing or not i think.

When i first enter world of agon darkfall i real got feeling of morrowind when exploring world only looking much better and it helped my view overall of liking the game and gameworld or not this was in beta btw.

So first 60min are part thats importend to give a overall feel of game.

Mon Jul 19 2010 8:15AM Report
Dwarvish writes:

The first 60 minute can be very important. If that 60 minutes failes to move me there is a good chance I will loose interest and may never try the game again.

 That said, it takes several weeks to get atrue feel for game mechanics, combat ,  now that you are past the easiest mobs. and story line....if there is one.

 I have started games that for a few weeks were alot of fun, but at month 2 the real warts are starting to show. Major class/skill imbalances, repetatuve quests and lack of anything that would make me want to continue.

Mon Jul 19 2010 8:23PM Report

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