In playing MMOs since Ultima Online there are a long list of reasons why I used to log in every night. As you get older and life kicks in, it becomes harder to find time online. However, there are certain aspects of MMOs that I feel really bring out why we play these games. It is the reason so many independent projects are finding funding now, because we want to play together.
As good as many single player RPGs have been in the past few years, people still enjoy online play to be with their friends. Years ago as a kid, I played Dungeons & Dragons with my neighborhood, then rode our bikes home for dinner, no it was not Stranger Things, it was real life. MMOs allow you to do that on a nightly basis with your guild or friends. You logged in and had a purpose.
Going back to Ultima I remember creating adventures for myself every night. I would try to orc fort or dragon cave to make some gold. Then maybe hit a dungeon with guild mates. Ultima always had the threat of player killers showing up, so you had to be ready. Some nights I would just log in as my PK and link up with a group to attack random players all over. After months of playing, I ended my run, but still even 20 years later remember my highlights and friends online.
As MMOs became more complex so did the community. In Dark Age of Camelot, we PvP’d every single night, some nights you took off from fighting to level an alt. Eventually, we started crafting like crazy to get superior weapons. Then it was back to PvPing. It was almost like we had a weekly schedule. I only raided once in DAOC and it was a twelve hour ordeal, but I had the flu so I was not going anywhere. Again it was all about playing with your friends online. Finding guild mates and going out to fight. DAOC with its three realms had very tight knit communities within the game, we all knew each other well.
After years on Dark Ages and a short stint on Galaxies I moved into World of Warcraft with everyone else. Four of us ran a guild from day one of WoW and we kept it going for almost a year. That was when MMOs really became work. Coordinating raids and events did become a second job. It was at this time that I started writing here at MMORPG as well. Once that happened MMOs took on an entire new tone.
Once WoW really exploded, time started to slip away. Soon real life events took the place of online events and the game simply became a side thought. I did have many happy returns, coming back in for Lich King was one of the best times I have had in MMOs. Playing Warhammer Online and Age of Conan were also a lot of fun. However, through it all MMOs suddenly were a job, a great job, but one nonetheless.
Over the years I will say the thing I miss most about MMOs is joining a guild, having a purpose, and playing in a fantasy world with friends. It is so hard to get together for those nights of D&D when you hit adulthood, but, there are moments on MMOs when you can find that old glory. Even if you play solo, which I find myself doing a lot more lately, you know that your guild is always there. I think with MOBAs and Arena games coming into the market, things have changed. It has become more competitive and less about meeting up with your friends. Battles are about winning, which they always were, but you did not lose as much in defeat. Overall, with games like Crowfall and Ashes of Creation hitting the market in the next few years, it will be great to recapture that old MMO spirit again.