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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!