I know, I know. What I'm about to write will draw the ire and hellfire of countless MMO players. In fact, what I'm writing is the equivalent of walking down Hollywood Blvd wearing a wooden signboard that says "I like to kill kittens." And yet, I've simply got something to say. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!
I've only played MMO's for about 4 years. I didn't even play Everquest, although I did know a guy who quit college to play it, forsaking his education to frolick with elves. The first MMO I ever played was Final Fantasy 11, and it was only my love of Squaresoft that made me decide it was worth a try. Being an old school RPG gamer, I was wary that I could have fun playing a game that essentially had no story. I levelled a character up to 22 before realizing the game didn't have enough healers to smoothly produce good groupings and terminated my account in disgust. For all it's beauty, it just couldn't make it worthwhile to wait 3 hours to find a functional party.
Next I beta tested Lineage II. It didn't really capture me, but I was also distracted by the promise of a superhero MMO called City of Heroes. The character creation system is simply more fun than any other one I've interacted with. I got very involved, joining Supergroups, completing Task Forces, and playing with large groups of friends. In the meantime, it was hard to ignore the murmurs rising to a low roar in the gaming grapevine about a little Blizzard project called World of Warcraft. I was a tremendous Diablo fan, so I was thrilled to see so much work and time going into such an exciting project. I kept tabs on the website, eagerly read the details of new developments, and applied for the beta as soon as it was available. When I got my approval email from Blizzard, I was simply ecstatic. I was finally going to play the most anticipated MMO game ever made! Off to Azeroth!
I logged in and started as an Alliance female, exploring the world around me. As I did so, the pattern of play became evident. Kill stuff, questing, kill stuff, questing, collect herbs, contact, kill stuff, contact, quest, contact, quest, quest, quest, contact, yawn, contact....
Did I just yawn?
I'm not tired. I'm excited. I've been waiting for this for months.
I was. And I was vastly disappointed by my own boredom. It's only the beta, I told myself. Blizzard has more work to do. It's just a weird first impression. I'm just coming into it at the wrong point. I'll try again when the major release comes out. I sent my feedback to Blizzard and didn't take myself too seriously.
A few months later the game was released and won every award you can possibly conceive of. Game of the Year, Top 10 MMO, Best Multiplayer game, Best design, Best audio, Best Absolute and Effortless Conquering of the Entire Universe as We Know It. I was still apathetic. All my City of Heroes friends slowly forgot their characters and drifted over to WOW. I met a Blizzard developer who encouraged me to try again and gave me a free account. Now I could play WOW at no cost until the year 2029. No, I'm not joking. Blizzard friends have hookups capable of giving the average MMO player a brain aneurysm. In the meantime, here I am, not really wanting to play. I know, the irony is infinite. At this point WOW enthusiasts want to beat my head in with a piece of meat.
This time, I managed to get a character up to level 11 before I got too bored to continue. I soloed, killed more stuff, completed more quests, and explored the incredibly detailed and beautiful world. In the end, not even playing for absolutely free made me want to continue playing. I wanted to care, but I just never did.
Perhaps I can blame this on the fact that I don't tend to enjoy medieval RPG settings. Perhaps it was because I never really played in any groups. Maybe I should have played a Horde character. I don't claim to have an important enough opinion to be able to declare World of Warcraft a poor game. It clearly isn't. It's a beautiful game with a tremendous amount of attention to detail, a rich storyline and tons of interesting features. For me however, it's completely boring despite all this. A split second after I think this to myself, I feel immediate guilt. This is how Catholics must feel all the time.
With the Burning Crusade expansion due out in January, I can't help but think I should try again, even though all previous evidence points to that being a complete waste of time. I'm still waiting for the lightning bolt to hit me that will transform me into a WOW addict. Why hasn't it happened? Everyone else has ascended to heaven already. I'm still waiting to be touched. Lord? Can you hear me?