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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The first 60 minutes in a new mmo - how important are they?

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Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/02/05
Posts: 1667

OP  7/13/10 8:15:25 PM#1

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?

EQ1, EQ2, SWG, SWTOR, GW, GW2 CoH, CoV, FFXI, WoW, CO, War,TSW and a slew of free trials and beta tests


Novice Member

Joined: 9/09/05
Posts: 584

7/13/10 8:22:12 PM#2

at least a week usually, allthough if the games really bad ill know within a day (allthough after just buying it, it will be a few more days till i admit it to myself).

within a week i can usually tell if i will resub and if its worth subbing for more than one month.

(it takes me more than an hour to find a guild, talk to some people, and find out how to optimize the games graphics, and what my goals in the game are going to be.



Novice Member

Joined: 12/17/07
Posts: 175

7/13/10 8:26:08 PM#3

I agree with you, but there is another side to the coin.  The first few hours are crucial in getting you involved in the world yes.  Let's say that the graphics, combat and everything is very nice, and it grabs you in that first hour, that's all well and good, but will it hold on and not let go?  This is when you have to take the "newness" into consideration and how much that influences your first hour.


A personal example that happen to me of this, was the first time I played Aion.  I completely fell in love with it and bought it day one.  Yes, that first hour and week grabbed me, but right around level 17, it very quickly started to let go, and I grew tired of playing it even as I got to level 28, it just seemed like it wasn't going to grab me again and I wasn't looking forward to seeing that next big thing in this game.  


On the flip side of that, the first time I played  WoW when it came out... as soon as I jumped with my character and saw the "character" that was in my toon, as I saw Tirisfal Glades for the first time, I was completely enthralled by it, as I was with Aion, but the difference was WoW actually kept ahold of me for this many years, and I was always looking forward to seeing that next big thing and reaching it.


Novice Member

Joined: 1/29/04
Posts: 3120

Cynical? Me? Never.

7/13/10 8:27:38 PM#4

How many people will play the first 60 minutes, how many will play the next 60 minutes, how many people will play the next 60 minutes after that, etc, etc?

The first 60 minutes are the most important minutes. Its played by the most people, therefore, has a huge influence on the population of the game.


Novice Member

Joined: 8/08/09
Posts: 312

7/13/10 8:28:48 PM#5

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.



Joined: 5/21/08
Posts: 2735

7/13/10 8:31:08 PM#6

IMO it really depends on the game... which is partly where theres a problem. What i mean by that is, in some games what you experience in the first few hours is very similar to what you'll experience throughout the whole game, whereas in other games what you experience sometimes in the first few days / weeks is drastically different than the later / endgame experience.

While the UI and stuff may remain the same, the actual gameplay, features, and overall enjoyment in the game might be very different, especially in PvP based games. More often than not, the first few hours of play tend to be rather boring and tedious if youve ever played an MMO before and already know most of the basics, but then as you advance in the game and start dealing with a variety of class builds / specs, customizable gear, talent trees, bosses, dungeons, and eventually high end PvP its almost a whole different game.

For me, i usually try to give games at least a week or 2, though there have been many cases where within a couple of hours im able to make a decision about wether i want to waste my time playing it or not. Though there have been some that i put aside at first, only to give it another chance later and find a really great game underneath the initial turn offs.

i suppose one of the most important things in the first hour would be overall "polish". Is the UI user friendly and does it make sense, or is it just jumbled together and full of useless stuff with no room for customization? How difficult is it to make sense of what youre supposed to be doing, how to fight, manage skills / stats, etc and how smooth does the game play?


Novice Member

Joined: 9/14/08
Posts: 224

7/13/10 8:35:50 PM#7

Really it depends on the game for me.  There have been some where I decided within a few moments that it was a piece of crap.  There are others where it took me a few weeks to sort out and others yet that I played for years.  So while a first impression of a game definitely needs to be good it's the total depth and immersion into a game that will keep me there.

So if a game has a great begining, a mediocre middle and an blah end game then while the journey may have fun the end of it may not be.

  User Deleted
7/13/10 8:55:37 PM#8

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. 


Novice Member

Joined: 7/07/05
Posts: 3167

7/13/10 8:56:59 PM#9

First hour is very important.  When there were only a few MMOs, I tried them all, but now, there are way too many for me to waste time delving into one that isn't hooking me right away.  If it even seems lacking in polish, there's a good chance I'll be moving on.  Thinking maybe I'll check back in a year or so, but never actually doing so.


When I want a single-player story, I'll play a single-player game. When I play an MMO, I want a massively multiplayer world.


Novice Member

Joined: 4/15/06
Posts: 1339

pew pew

7/13/10 9:04:00 PM#10

Any one else start out in teldarassil in wow as a night elf?  ITs hands down the best opening of any game Iv ever played.  I have played every character though in wow, and gnomergan was a good one too(duskwood/ashenvale was my favorite zone and I loved every instance).  Aion when I first played the china version I new I loved it from the start.  The weather was so cool, and animations were cool, and the playability of it was smoth as silk.  The UI was beautifull even in chinese, and the gameplay was very controlled and unique even being played across sea.

Most any games Iv played start out feeling good. No game has ever let me down right from the begining.  The hard part with mmos is being a sustainable game that keeps people playing.  One game I didnt like from the start though would have to be pirates of the burning sea.  That game just leaves a sour taste in my mouth and best not served at all. I know there are fans of it, and thats good but its not for me.  Really my perception on games before release can be debatleable though as I remember making a great big deal about pirates of the caribbean and not knowing what type of game it was.  lol... 


Novice Member

Joined: 11/18/04
Posts: 3684

Heroes are about character - not gear.

7/13/10 9:11:30 PM#11

For the life of me, I cannot remember the first hour of the games that I enjoyed.  I'm trying, but there is nothing.  However, I have quit some trials, dropped out of some betas, and flung a box or two across the room for some games where within the first hour I was on the verge of beating my head on the desk in dismal astoundment at how bad the game was.

In a good game, in my opinion, you should not notice that an hour has passed.  If you are looking over at a clock to see how much time has passed, then the game has issues...

I miss the MMORPG genre. Will a developer ever make one again?

Explorer: 87%, Killer: 67%, Achiever: 27%, Socializer: 20%


Spotlight Poster

Joined: 11/14/09
Posts: 1538

7/13/10 9:44:46 PM#12

Not very important.
I'd say getting out of the noob area is more important.
They companies spend most of their money on polishing the noob area.

Well shave my back and call me an elf! -- Oghren

  User Deleted
7/13/10 9:52:11 PM#13

evaluation begins immediately
from the first minute i begin the game

condemnation begins
as soon as i start finding bad bits
that can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few days
the better the game is
the longer i have to play it
before i realise it sucks


Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/15/06
Posts: 440

7/13/10 9:58:51 PM#14

First impressions are everything. If it doesn't grab me right away it never will.


Advanced Member

Joined: 11/14/09
Posts: 1081

7/13/10 10:00:08 PM#15

First hour is the most important and its one of the reason games in beta get such a bad rap on forums like these. We are all guilty of "never get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression". It is in our nature. The two MMO's I played the longest, DAOC and WOW, had me from character creation, from the first quest, etc....I will never forget the first flight on a gryphon in WOW. I will never forget roaming the Highlands of DAOC as an Albion merc. Those memories were made from the moment I logged in.

Over the course of time, the game's reputation can change, but for many people, that decision to subscribe or not is made from the initial impression. Heck, I think so many of us are jaded now, our decision is made even before that first hour.

  User Deleted
7/13/10 10:08:54 PM#16
Originally posted by Amathe

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?


Yes, first impressions matter. The first gaming session, lasting at least a hour, is incredibly important. This is where you experience the most basic of all game mechanics and learn the fundamentals, something that will demonstrate whether or not this type of game really is for you. Ultimately, though, this is the most basic of all gameplay and you can't base everything on what you experience in this first session -but it will either leave you with the feeling of 'God damn, I love this game! I can't wait to see what else is going on,' or 'this is kinda alright, let's see if it gets cool in a few more levels,' or simply 'this....this is not my thing.' (Occasionally, it leaves you with the kind of feeling we've seen generated from the Mortal Online feedback!)

Players don't need a few days or a few weeks to evaluate their game fully, they need several quality gaming sessions that show them roughly 10-20% of the game's content and mechanics. For example, let's use WoW. When I loaded up my Warlock for the first time I had the first of three responses mentioned above. I simply loved it. The more I played the more I liked the game and I was able to see the sorts of things I would be doing later on and wanted to do, ultimately giving me the desire to get there and do them. I wasn't in a rush though, there was plenty of the World of Warcraft to experience and I enjoyed experiencing it. I didn't need to raid to appreciate how classes functioned, I only needed to group and experience dungeons to see how mechanics worked and would work in more advanced and complicated situations.

If a player is taking a few weeks or, god forbid!, months to evaluate a game they are either part of the team working on the game, incredibly indecisive or deluding themselves about the game's potential for them. Games do not need weeks to be properly evaluated. You won't see everything after several quality gaming sessions, likely leading up to 24 total hours of play over 6-10 sessions, but you will know whether or not you want to see more and keep playing. That is the point, whether or not we want to keep playing. If a game takes a month to properly evaluate you need to take stock of yourself and the game. If you really are an indecisive person then it's not the game, it's just you; if you are trying to give the game the benefit of the doubt and are still doubting the game, it's the game.

There is a strong point that needs to be made here and it is that it doesn't and should not take days, weeks or months to evaluate a game. People who think that is the case have some very awkward standards, either far too high or far too low, because the game should make you want to play it. People are going to have different likes and dislikes, too. Some people love WoW, AION and EVE and these are all quite different from one another. None of these games are bad, no matter what we think of the publishers in some cases and people need to wrap their minds around that. That said, some games really are quite bad and there is nothing wrong with saying that. Saying a game needs more time is just an excuse and excuses are a testimonial to failure: either you or the game failed. After all, if a game is doing poorly and people are being overly charitable there is no way that game is going to get better when it should.


Advanced Member

Joined: 4/12/06
Posts: 3921

I intend to live forever -- So far so good!

7/13/10 10:32:23 PM#17

I never base my decision to stay on 1 hour alone.  I need more time.  I'm one of those people who will rummage through things backwards and forwards, up and down.  I will get into everything and anything and all that takes time.  I have never decided not to play something in the first hour and I don't intend to start. 

Like one of the posters said, game developers spend a lot of effort to make the starting area work as well as possible and neglect whatever comes afterwards because they figure they'd hook you and then take their time and fix everything else.  Once I get into the meat of the game that's when I start to evaluate it more and decide that what I'm doing is worth money.  This is also when the community starts to shape up and I can see where it will go.  If it goes the way of WoW then I will most likely not play long.  If I do I'll burn through whatever content I can on my own, turn off all the public chat channels and the end my subscription when I'm done.

No required quests! And if I decide I want to be an assassin-cartographer-dancer-pastry chef who lives only to stalk and kill interior decorators, then that's who I want to be, even if it takes me four years to max all the skills and everyone else thinks I'm freaking nuts. -Madimorga-


Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/31/09
Posts: 2439

7/13/10 10:38:21 PM#18

They matter not only for the players interested but also for the journalist reviewers of the game which can be a heavy factor in swaying the opionins of new players.


Novice Member

Joined: 5/11/10
Posts: 395

7/13/10 11:00:31 PM#19
This is a complex one in my mind.
Guess it depends on the presentation, controls, and amount of depth (lore) I already know about the title. Does it have a satisfying character development plan? At least in theory. Is it pretty? Are there annoying things quickly discovered? What is the ambience level of the title? Is the world drab and empty or did the developers take the time to code interesting flora and fauna. Can't tell you what a difference seeing things like squirrels or bugs with simple A.I. makes to me.
But, don't think there is a silver bullet answer. If I had given EVE 60 minutes there is no way I would have a character with 8 figures of skill points.
However, games like Everquest II, Age of Conan, WoW, WAR I knew in less than an hour whether I really wanted to spend a lot of time there. In some of those cases, I spent a massive amount of time.
I suppose the games I have tried initially live up to my preset expectations. Maybe because I devour as much content as I can find before purchasing. Hmm, in some cases like Champions I kind of just tried it on a whim. Not expecting to get into it much. Played for a while, enjoyed and canceled.
You could apply a certain method to playing a game. 5 minutes, 5 hours, and 5 days -
How is your feeling 5 minutes into the game? What is it after 5 hours of playtime? What do you think after 5 days of owning the game? (not 5 days of in game time) You don't have to pro/con it or anything. At this stage you should have a pretty good sense of what you are in for or what your play experience is lacking.

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'If you put govt in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 yrs there'd be a shortage of sand'~M. Friedman

7/14/10 12:07:21 AM#20

Interesting question.  I would say that the first hour or two of an MMO are very important, but don't necessarily make or break the game for me.  I definitely get a sense of the game right from the character creation window.  Actually, I even pay pretty close attention to the intro graphics to see what they have to offer.  Both of those are an indication of how much effort devs have put into an MMO.

As far as the world itself goes, it takes a little bit longer for me to decide if I am going to like it or not, as it should.  If you can make up your mind about what the world is like within the first hour, chances are it's not going to be that good.  I'll never forget the first time I logged onto EQ2, there was another guy who logged on right next to me at just about the same time and the first words out of his mouth were, "I love this game already."  I don't know if he maintained that opinion after he really had a chance to explore it, but I thought to myself, "How can you possibly know this is going to be good after 5 seconds."

One thing for sure is that I don't think it's possible to ever recapture that euphoric feeling I got the very first time I logged onto my very first MMO.  Because I had no idea what kind of graphic world I was about to enter.  Now I do.  But that doesn't mean that the overall world can't be as good.  It just has to be done.

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