It used to be fun
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 November 2012, 2:39 am
I cancelled my World of Warcraft subscription this weekend, it runs out end of this month. When you do that, Blizzard asks you why you want to quit. And as in every survey, the available answers never cover what you really think. I went for the "The game used to be fun, but isn't any more" answer, with the "I don't like daily quests" sub-option. But that paints a somewhat distorted picture. It would be more accurate to say that I burned out of MMORPG combat in general.

That message was driven home by me playing both XCOM and WoW recently. In XCOM every move matters: Do you stay behind your cover, or do you move forward to increase your chance to hit? Combat is tactical, position matters, and bad decisions hurt. In World of Warcraft I have the spell rotation or priority list put on buttons 1 to 6, and just press the left-most button I can, regardless of position, regardless of monster type, regardless of anything really. And it isn't much different if I changed from WoW to Guild Wars 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, The Secret World, or most other major MMORPGs. Combat works the same in most of these games, and when developers think about innovation in MMORPG combat, they want to make it more twitchy and action-based, and even less tactical and decision-based.

MMORPG combat "works", but it can't hold your interested forever. I've been killing monsters like this for a decade, and thus I'm now not having fun any more. That is a burnout phenomenon. And because combat is so essential to playing a MMORPG, I think I will stop playing all games with that sort of combat for a while. I did have fun with some parts of Mists of Pandaria, following the quest lines through the new zones for example. But more and more I get into situations where to do something I want to do, I would first have to do something I don't want to do. For example I would want to do the level 87 to 90 quests I didn't do yet, but with a level-appropriate alt, not my level 90 main. But to do that I would have to repeat a lot of content I already played through in Jade Forest and beyond to get to the minimum level for those quests.

And ultimately even an interesting quest can't forever hide the fact that the individual steps to do the quest are so trivial. Trivial combat, or running around and clicking on sparkly spots. If I don't feel challenged, there is not much satisfaction in completing a quest. It is like getting a reward for doing boring chores. The challenge I am looking for doesn't exist in modern MMORPGs, where the idea of "more challenge" is to hit the same series of buttons faster, and while hopping on one leg. MMORPGs are not strategy or tactical games.

Even a major new game or expansion can't hold my attention for much longer than a month these days. These games ultimately are too similar these days, and the minor variations don't hold my interest for very long. I think I'll stop playing MMORPGs for a while, and concentrate on other games, pen & paper or single-player.
Tobold's Blog



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