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In My Understanding

An old school gamer discusses the challenges facing the MMORPG community and it's leaders.

Author: jesad

Becoming an O.G.

Posted by jesad Monday November 4 2013 at 3:15AM
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"I am inspired to write these "Older Gamer" posts every couple of weeks after reading the so-sad posts of the forum members who have grown up and got tired of putting all of their time into an MMORPG or worse, have grown disillusioned with the genre because of some "Holy Grail" of gameplay that they came looking for but for some reason had never found or been able to create. 

Often I try to explain what is wrong with the games or what is wrong with the developers, or the industry, but this week I think I just want to explain something very simple and true that I have known and believed for a very long time and that I hope resonates in the minds of the people who read it as something that is true.  This is not my goodbye to the MMORPG genre in as much as it is the feeling that I carry with me from game to game and from time to time between playing a title on a regular basis and not playing an MMORPG at all, which happens more often than you might think, and with a more increasing regularity the more I play.  But that is the explanation therein discussed, and so without any further delay, here is my entry."


"When I was a kid......"

It's a topic that encompasses the whole of life.  Change.  The things that are or seem different now than they were when you were a kid.

What did you know about killing a dragon when you were a kid?

What did you know about armor class, melee weapons, memorizing spells, or going on quests? 

You didn't know anything.  You were as green as the summer grass on an overcast morning just after a big storm.

Now though, now your an O.G. (To borrow the phrase).  You are an "Original Gamer" or "Old Gamer" if you prefer.  It doesn't matter that you are only 25, you've been playing MMO's since you were old enough to sit still in front of a keyboard.  You've walked the walk, talked the talk, slain the beast, and smote the knave.

You are a walking, talking, living, and breathing encyclopedia of MMORPG terms, titles, and experiences, and can't nobody tell you that you don't know what you are talking about when you say to them that things have changed from the way they used to be.

But have things really changed?  I mean, have they really, REALLY changed so much?

Sure, current day titles are more "accessible", can be played more "casually", require less "socializing", but were they ever really that closed off, demanding, and requiring of that much conversation?

Let's think about the you that you are now vs the you that you were when you were a kid.  And I am just going to go off of some sweeping generalizations here so if this wasn't your childhood, please excuse me.

When you were a kid you didn't know nothing.  You didn't know how to walk, you didn't know how to talk, you didn't even know how or where to use the bathroom on your own.  I'll bet that at least 75% of everyone reading this post can remember the horror of having imperfect aim during their first times being set off to use the bathroom on their own, and I'll put money on another 13% or better having had that experience more than once.  You didn't know nothing.

But then you learned to walk, you learned to talk, to speak, and when and where, and how to use the bathroom, you went to school, you met people, you learned what you liked and did not like about people, food, clothes..... and as you learned about more things, and did those things repeatedly the amazement that came with the initial experience of doing those things for the first times settled into simple amusement, and sometimes even became somewhat of a chore.

I think of driving when I talk about such an experience but some may recall things like doing the dishes, being intimate with a partner, or even crack!

The point that I am trying to make here is that as we learn more and have more experiences, more things become more commonplace about those experiences overall and an MMORPG is no exception to this rule.

I mean c'mon, what did you think?  That they were going to keep making them differently until they had fleshed out all of the different ways to make them?  Sure, that might happen eventually, but let's think about that concept for a second.

Pants have been around since medieval times and no one is out there hammering on the websites looking for a new kind of pants.

Checkers, Chess, Operation, Sorry, those games are as old as dirt but you can still go into just about any toy store and pick any of them up (for almost the same price respectively as they cost when they were created).

And for that matter, the automobile is still the same basic concept of 4 wheels, a steering wheel, an engine, and an enclosed chassis no matter what kind of cool stuff you put into that chassis or how you shape that chassis, or what name you call that chassis.

So it only stands to reason that the MMORPG, once fleshed out and polished up to a nice nifty shine, was going to stay relatively the same for years to come no matter what angles were taken on trying to make it seem "new and improved."

Remember "new and improved"?  Do you really remember us all looking that much more dingy before the "new and improved" detergents came out?  Do you recall us smelling that much gamier?  I don't.  But maybe it was because I was a kid and back then everyone pretty much either smelled like dirt, liquor, cigarettes, or food.

So you've killed a dragon now.  You've killed a couple of dragons.  You've killed dragons, minotaurs, centaurs, elves, half-elves, trolls, goblins, orcs; you've been to Rivendell. Qeynos, Ironforge, Greyhawk, worn armor, swords, robes, staves, daggers.  You have consorted with just about every kind of male or female known to man, spoken in old english, as a lizard, as a rat, as a pixie.  You have seen it all and done it all, and what you haven't done you have either heard about or seen on a youtube video (if you were interested enough to even look it up).

And the craziest thing about it all?  You might have done all of this before you having ever had your first kiss.

That's no reason to get upset though.  No reason to feel old, or to quit playing MMORPG's, or even to complain (although please vent if it is the difference between getting it out and acting out on it).  It just means that you have beaten the MMORPG game. 

You are now officially an O.G.

How else did you think you were ever going to beat a game in a genre that features games that never end?  Sure, you can hang around until one of them closes.  Players of games like Star Wars Galaxies, The Matrix Online, City of Heroes, and Warhammer all hold this distinction, but don't let anyone who was playing any of those games try and fool you, many of them, if not all of them, who were still sitting on those titles when they closed their doors, had not been playing those game consistently since their launch. 

It wasn't like T.V. where you hung onto every episode of some show only to have it mysteriously get cancelled as though you were the only one watching.  It took a SUBSTANTIAL number of people not logging in, not paying, and not playing to get those titles cancelled, proof of this being the so-called "lesser" titles that continue on in spite of their "so-called" extremely low server populations, and so it was far more likely that those people who you hear talk about how great those games were and how they should not have been cancelled were still kids, in the MMORPG sense of the word, which I believe I established above, when those titles got cancelled.

And of the few that were not, well, that's akin to being the guy who never leaves college because of the chicks, and you really don't want to be that.

So embrace.  You are an O.G. now.  You are not so easily impressed.  But stop being so hard on yourself and on the industry, because the honest to goodness truth of the matter is that they have to keep on making these things for as long as they can get people to spend money on them.  And this is because, just like you, they all have college loans and houses, and cars, and husbands and wives and kids and boats and huge miniature collections sitting in storage, and big screen televisions and most of all habits, that need to be paid for, and making games for kids who have never killed a dragon is how they manage to get that done.

You and me O.G. we get to ride off into the sun with only tales of our adventures to be told with the passing of time.  And there's nothing wrong with that because, much like in the prophecies of every good adventure story, there may come a time, when the kingdom is in dire need, when all hope is lost and only the bravest, most bold, and most seasoned adventurers can be called upon.....


(And in the meantime I am over in League of Legends causing noobs on the opposite team to rage quit and/or prematurely surrender because I am hammering on them so hard.)

At least, in my understanding I am.

See you in the games.


iridescence writes:

Good post except you seem to be saying "MMOs" haven't changed. You have." Whereas I'd say MMOs and games in general  have changed a hell of a lot.  At the risk of going all "back in my day..." When I was that kid who barely knew how to piss straight I got a game called Bard's Tale 2 which I thought was the coolest game ever. Much like you described. I thought it was awesome that you could do things like gather a party in an inn and basically play D&D with the computer whenever you wanted. Same with Ultima IV wich gave you a cloth map and "wow! you can mix your own spells with herbs and runes!". A few years later I had a similar feeling when I played my first MUD (MMOs weren't invented yet) I wasn't a kid anymore then but still thought it was cool that you could "play with everybody all over the world on this giant BBS called the 'internet'! :)


Thing is, while all those old games were good for their time, I wouldn't suggest playing them now. By today's standards they would seem pretty bad, but they were all we had back then. I stopped playing online fantasy games for many years but got that same feeling of excitement when I first downloaded LOTRO in 2007 (after bouncing off WoW not really getting the hype). LOTRO seemed awesome though, such a beautiful looking big world, interactive Middle Earth really come to life .I couldn't believe how far the genre had advanced since those primitive games I played as a kid and teen.  


Thing was, maybe part of it was just being new to the genre but I found LOTRO pretty challenging when I first played it. Not like those MUDs I used to play with full loot pvp and corpse runs but it still made you think. I still have a soft spot for LOTRO and play it off and on but it and other MMOs have change a lot even  in these past 6 or so years. Quest helpers, plentiful and easy fast travel, instance finders, sure I guess they are more convenient but they make MMO worlds seem more dead to me...Not to mention how easy combat is now, when I was playing LOTRO the other day I was noticing how I could fight 3 or more mobs at once with little risk of dying.  

So, no, I don't want the games I had as a kid. but I think things have gone too far in the other direction. Sorry for rambling, your post really made me think. Hope we still have a few more "cool dragons" to kill before we die...:) /salute



Tue Nov 05 2013 6:35AM Report
jesad writes:

I don't disagree but I can't fully agree either.  Coming from the base that you and I seem to come from, our interest in these kinds of games, as well as the games that came before them, makes us both somewhat "fanboyish" in our desire to learn how to play as well as "well versed" in what worlds like these should be like.

Kids these days don't even play with as intricate a set of pen and paper rules, if they ever play with pen and paper at all.  Their D&D has been all fleshed out and refined and so the same must be their MMORPG's.

Relatively speaking then, what seems dead to you and I might possibly seem just as alive and difficult to learn to them as our titles did when we first played them.

I mean, I could be wrong, but something has to be keeping these guys in business right?

Anyway, I do hope, like you do, that our days of adventure aren't completely over either.  And I look forward to the product that can find the sweet spot between what these games used to be and what they have become.

Thanks for the reply. /salute!

Wed Nov 06 2013 12:39AM Report writes:
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