Struggling to MMO

Posted By on Jul 17, 2014 in General Discussion | 7 comments


When Wildstar first launched, I was super excited. I stayed up until 2am or so just trying to create my character(s) and play around on head start weekend. A bunch of folks were hanging out on Mumble and everyone seemed super excited – and so was I! I played quite a bit for the first few weeks of launch, and maintained a reasonable leveling pace that combined exploring all sorts of things and feeling like I was making progress.

Then, however, life got a bit busy. There was some vacation, some work travel, some heavy work weeks, etc. And, eventually, I realized that I hadn’t even logged in to the game (or any other MMO, for that matter) for almost a month. That would normally be fine – I’m casual or whatever, right? – but the problem is that, even after being back to “normal” for a couple of weeks, I still just… can’t.

I’m not sure what it is, exactly, because I still like Wildstar. And every time people talk about it, I wish I was playing. But the one time I made myself log in, I just sort of wandered around my (really sparse) housing plot, looked at the 5g in my bag and the 1g it cost to make myself a relic farm, wandered around Thayd trying to remember where my quests actually were, and then logged out.

I talked a bit about some of this on the podcast this week, but I think there are a few reasons that I’m struggling:

MMOs reward habits. Or, maybe more directly, they are specifically crafted to be habit-forming. And I think they work best when they are habitual. You get into the routine of logging in, checking mail and auctions, remembering where you are in the questing, figuring out what names all your guildmates are using this time around, and going about your business. Once you break that habit, it can be hard to start forming it again. And particularly hard if you have previously been through the cycle of teaching yourself how to break an MMO habit!

Whether it’s true or not, I feel like I’ve missed out on a crucial period. My highest level character is 21 or 22, but it seems like the critical mass of my guild is now 40+. And so I’m not going to be among them when they are first running into Skullcano and encountering the guy who wants to make them into a stew, or the giant thing, or whatever the hell this picture is showing… And that’s fine, really. It’s not like anyone should feel bad for me that I was enjoying myself on the beach in Hawaii! It’s just that what I was looking forward to the most was the actual process of learning to overcome these things with people while they were learning, too. I think I kind of hyped myself up for that, and now I am left wondering if it’s all just going to be another WoW situation where everyone “knows” the best way to run any instance I go to, or whatever.

And, actually, the fact is that I could probably push hard at leveling and join most of my group by the time the stragglers are hitting 50 and starting to do dungeons and attunement things, and then I could still get involved with the learning of some things, even if it’s not all the things. That’s pretty cool! So then I come up with feelings about how speed-leveling is annoying because I like exploring and reading the stories and listening to datachrons and all that, and then I feel like I have to make that tradeoff which kind of sucks. Or, alternatively, I look at “having” to play 50-60 hours of mostly-solo gaming for a chance at something else later. And if I was going to spend 50-60 hours on a single-player game, I might actually play Skyrim! (hah)

Anyway, I’m mostly just venting here. There’s clearly some merit to the “Just start playing again! Log in for 20 minutes, do something, and see if you keep wanting to play. Then try again tomorrow!” plan. That’s probably how I will get over this funk, even. There’s also an argument to be made that I should just sort of give up on Wildstar (or maybe MMOs entirely?) for a while, since this does feel a bit like burn-out. But that sucks since people are actually playing together!

Mostly, I’m just looking to see if I’m the only person that this sort of thing happens to, and if there are any sorts of tricks that people have used to pull themselves out of it. In the meantime, I’ll work on the backlog or something…