My relationship with the online gaming world has always been one of tumult and short lived romance. It’s rare that our budding courtship survives the singular month of play included in the purchase of the game, much less progresses into true friendship. Oh, there have been exceptions. EVE Online still entices me back, ever so often, with it’s free-to-play short periods for returning players. But most other games have never held their appeal.
I suck at MMORPGs.
I’ll save you the French essay (you know, where the thesis comes at the end) and come out and say it: MMOs tend to be called ‘multiplayer’ for a reason. I rarely get very into an MMO unless I’m playing it with friends. Even in those cases, when they inevitably stop playing, so do I. The longest MMO I’ve played on actually isn’t technically an MMORPG, it’s a MUSH called Elendor. I’ve been there for almost 12 years now, by virtue of the fact there are no graphics and interaction with other people is pretty much mandatory.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve played a LOT of MMOs. But other than Elendor, I’ve never really stuck around. EVE Online is probably the next runner up at just under two years, again because being in a player corporation (similar too but far cooler than a guild) in almost mandatory. Unfortunately, so is playing EVE like a second job and showing up to “biweekly scheduled mining operations” in addition to normal gameplay. So… I don’t log into EVE much these days.
So… skipping ahead. World of Warcraft is an interesting game, though. Despite the fact it’s been around FOREVER (in internet years), I still think of it as that young upstart trying to be an easier-to-play version of EverQuest. I played it for a while when it came out, but never got into it (again, didn’t have friends that were also into it). I think I’ve re-subscribed or opened up new accounts three times since then, if not more. One of those lasted into the second month of play, although I wasn’t online very much. My friend may have talked me into continuing the subscription so he’d get a cool item for “recruiting” me.
A week or so ago, I started playing WoW again. (this probably should have been the first sentence.) I had heard good things about the game post-Cataclysm (the latest expansion) and I’d really like to have a video game I can just jump into and play whenever I get bored. What’s interesting is… I really do like it. For a while, I was only logging in whenever my friend (different friend this time) was logged in, so I’d get the special triple XP refer-a-friend bonus, but recently I’ve just really like playing, even without the bonus.
I think a couple things changed that have helped a lot.
I’ll credit Blizzard with the first one – the “Dungeon Finder”. I heard a lot of folks bitching about this when it came out, but it’s changed the game for me in a good way. What it is, if you don’t know, is something that allows you to start queueing for a dungeon/instance no matter where your character might be in the world and without having to find a group first. When a group is ready (from other people also queuing), it teleports you to the dungeon, you run it with the temporary group and then it teleports you back to your original location when you’re done. Talk about easy! And fun! The last time I played, I had to travel to the zone with the instance and start heckling (well, not really) people on the local chat until we found enough people of the same level that all wanted to group. It was a nightmare.
The second thing is the guild I’m in. I know this isn’t really a “change” (I’m sure there were good guilds before… somewhere) but it’s different for me. The folks in it are generally fun, know what they’re doing and are more then willing to help out. I also haven’t been handed a mandatory schedule yet, so that’s a plus.
All in all, as much fun as it is to “hate World of Warcraft” as being a n00b version of EverQuest, I’ve been having a really good time. Then again, if someone knows of a good EverQuest guild I might just be willing to sign up again there, too.