Odd Phenomenon

It was Spring 2007, and I’d been playing World of Warcraft for almost 3 years. I enjoyed it greatly, but a pal started telling me about this really awesome new MMO developed by Turbine and based on Lord of the Rings. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that at that point my only exposure to LotR was the Peter Jackson movies, but I was still interested. I played in the beta, bought a Lifetime membership and ended up playing the game for about 2 months.

I ended up leaving LotRO so soon because I felt like the world itself was just kind of drab and boring… of course at that point the only MMOs I had ever played were City of Heroes and World of Warcraft, so I had problems adjusting to a more realistic & subdued art style. It was beautiful for a game world of course, and I would fully admit that even then, but for some reason it just didn’t click. It felt like something was missing.

Fast forward to 2010: I pick LotRO up again and start over, this time getting a character up into the higher levels and completely falling in love with the care and attention to detail that Turbine put into their version of Middle-Earth. Everything from the different music themes in each zone over the course of the day, down to the littlest details from the books, is absolutely perfect and immersive. It has housing & appearance tabs & plenty of fluff. I love spending time there.

What’s a bit worrying is that I’m feeling a bit about Rift the way that I felt about LotRO in 2007: The gameplay is similar to games I’ve played before (which is good!), the world is beautiful, the rifts are fun. I like Rift. I think it has great potential, and it certainly has many features that I like. It has faeries & angels & evil elves (kill them!) & fantastical creatures & crafting & pets & collections & all sorts of goodness.

But something seems to be missing. The hook, if you will.

The thing is, I’m sure that it’s not missing. It’s there, I just haven’t found it yet, or it hasn’t found me. And while right now I’m kicking myself for not sticking it out with LotRO back in 2007, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll be doing the same thing in 2014 with Rift if I don’t give it a fair shot as well. I don’t think it’s a Trion issue. It’s a Moxie issue.

It may be that there is so much hype before new games that there’s no way to avoid the inevitable letdown. It may be that with new games you feel pressured to “gogogogogogo”, to borrow a term from a popular MMO, and you forget to stop and just take it all in. It also may be that we’re so busy analyzing game mechanics and dissecting every last detail that we completely miss the big picture, the panorama that the developers and artists have created for us. We miss the forest for the trees.

The other strange thing is that while Rift still feels a bit alien, I also find myself really wanting to log in and play, even though my playing right now consists of just bouncing around Argent Glade and Sanctum. Perhaps I just haven’t put enough time into the game yet, or maybe it’s that I can’t get invested in a character that is going to be wiped in a few days.

How long does it take for a new MMO to feel like “home”? Do some games just fit instantly while others take longer? Does hype & over-analysis play a role in this? Does it work better if we go into games blind, with no expectations, and just experience the game as a complete newbie rather than as a grizzled-and-jaded MMO veteran?

10 thoughts on “Odd Phenomenon

  1. Rebecca

    I find I need to be in the right state of mind to enjoy a new MMO. I need to be ready to take a break from whatever I’m currently doing and in the mood for something new. Until that mood hits me, I’m just not really all that interested.

    1. Moxie

      That’s very true. When I first tried LotRO in 2007, I was still heavily into WoW and was easily pulled back into it. Whereas last year I tried LotRO during a WoW burnout phase and enjoyed it much more.

  2. pasmith

    My feelings toward Rift absolutely peaked some time ago. I stayed out of the open beta this week in an attempt to get the love back. I know once I log in Thursday night I’ll get swept up in the world again… I do everytime I play.

    I think for me what’s souring the game is all the talk about it, and even more, the talk about talking about it. Some people seem angry about people having issues with the game, other people seem angry about people who love the game, an still others seem angry that people are even talking about it.

    At the least, it’s a new world to explore for a while. I don’t really have a “home” MMO to return to, but this past weekend I went back to Star Trek Online and have been enjoying it. But I might be able to juggle Rift and STO, given how different they are.

    1. Moxie

      I think part of the animosity for pre-launch hype is because of all the so-called “failed” games of the past… people have been burned so many times. I understand that to a degree, but at the same time sometimes you just have to let the past be the past, ya know?

      And I say “failed” because for some reason it seems like the new benchmark of success is millions of subscribers, which I don’t think is realistic. As long as a game has enough subscribers to be profitable & continue putting out content, it’s successful.

      But yeah! STO & Rift are totally different types of MMOs… that should make for a good balance. 🙂

  3. pasmith

    Er, just re-read my comment. I certainly wasn’t talking about you or your blog!! I’m talking about some commentors on mine and angry posts on other blogs. I’m always up for some talking about any game; I just don’t see any reason to get angry about them. 🙂

  4. Jaedia

    I partly agree with you. Rift isn’t a game that’s making me imagine that I’ll be playing it for a long time after. I’m thinking a few months, at best. I mean, don’t get me wrong. It’s new and shiny (hooray!), and the collections/pets/mounts/achievements/rifts/prettiness do draw me in, which probably convinced me to pre-order really. Beta sold me into getting the game at all, but I haven’t been sold into sticking around too long. I kinda want to give LotRO a proper go, and Guild Wars, and I really, really can’t wait for Guild Wars 2. There’s a game I’ll be all hyped up for. Rift.. I dunno.. It’s missing something. Still, I’m sure it’ll be a fun few months!

    1. Moxie

      Right now, I’m not sure what Rift has in store for us… I’m going to give it a proper shot and try to jump in headfirst. I really do think it’ll grab me at some point, I just haven’t hit that point yet.

      I’m with you on GW2, that game is looking fantastic. LotRO is awesome too, but you really need to be in a LotR mindset to get into it. Still, I think it’s one of the most best MMOs around these days, particularly if you like casual play and lots of fluff.

  5. Skron

    Hey, Moxie. Aethenbrior here from Gaiscioch

    Unlike you, I’m pretty much a newbie when it comes to MMO. The first MMO I tried was LotRO. This was four years ago. I tried it out of curiosity. It was more of an experiment, of foraying into an unexplored territory, rather than playing the game because I actually like it. So, after four months of playing the game, and leveling my toon like a maniac, I burned myself out and then quit LotRO. I tried other MMOs after that but the same thing happened.

    A week ago, after I uninstalled my RIFT alpha and beta clients, I decided to visit LotRO again and played the game slowly. I started reading quests, exploring every nook and cranny, and just collected crafting materials for hours. All of a sudden, LotRO’s world opened up to me, and it’s beautiful. That’s when I found that I’ve been playing MMOs the wrong way all this time.

    So, that’s what I’m going to do in RIFT too. Play the game slowly and hope it will open up the way LotRO did.

    If not. Then, there’s Gaiscioch, which is pretty much the reason why I still play MMOs.

    1. Moxie

      Hi Aethenbrior!

      I hear you, that’s just what I had to do in LotRO as well. Rather than scarfing down every piece of gameplay info out-of-game, I just relaxed and played it with no real pressures or goals in mind. It definitely seems to be a game that rewards that sort of gameplay rather than just powering through.

      Rift will be the same way… there’s still a ton I don’t know about the game, but I’d rather go slowly and learn it as I go along. 🙂


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