MMORPG research, some initial thoughts.
I will be experimenting with the following computer-based RPG products:
- WOW (World of Warcraft) by Blizzard! with all the latest expansions including:
- World of Warcraft Battle Chest with The Burning Crusade expansion
- World of Warcraft - Wrath of the Lich King expansion
- World of Warcraft - Cataclysm expansion
- DDO (Dungeons & Dragons Online)
- Ultima Online Classic
- Everquest II Extended
- Lord of the Rings Online
- Guild Wars
- Eve Online
- Dragon Age Origins
- Dragon Age Origins - Awakening expansion pack
- Dragon Age II
The Dragon Age games are not online MMO/MMORPG, instead they are solo play computer-based "RPG".
I spent around 1-4 hours per game to get initially setup, create accounts, characters, register codes, and being the most rudimentary of the "adventures".
Each has an asterisk by it's heading.On a scale of 1 to 5 "stars" of my initial impressions. A "0" means I didn't spend enough time to develop even an initial impression, or did not find it memorable enough to develop one that I remembered 3 months later.
WOW... NOT! *
My first impressions of WOW were very disappointing. I quickly became bored and annoyed with the simplistic retrieval and hack-n-slash missions of collecting 12 gems, and 4 hides, etc. I quit after about an hour of this inaneness. Planning to come back when I was willing to "waste" more time. I did this with the original trials. Unfortunately I did not come back to it until months later and the trials had expired. So I will bite the bullet on a one month subscription for a whopping $14.99! giving it more focus. I had several conversations recently with some MMO/MMORPG players, and they indicated that it "doesn't really get good" until at least 20th level, but that it would "only" take a few days of real life game time to get up to there ("unless you're a total newb and get stuck", then it can take forever). So I will be giving it another shot shortly.
My experience with DDO wasn't much different from WOW, though it was much quicker to get up, running, and adventuring than WOW was. I will also give this more time later one. I spent about 1.5 hours with it initially.
Ultimate Online *
I actually hosted back in the late 90's an UOX (open source) version of a UO server running over my then "whopping" dual ISDN 128K connection, it was allowed to host up to 32 players, etc. and you built the world from scratch yourself, etc.
So far, in dabbling with UO, nothing was very distinctive, but I only spent about 30 minutes getting a feel for it. I'll come back to it and delve further as well.
Everquest II *
I know I tried it out, but nothing stuck in my memory, and I forgot to take notes. I probably only spent 30 minutes or so on it as well. I will need to come back to it as well.
Guild Wars 0
I don't remember if I did anything with this yet other than just get setup and connected. Will come back to it later.
EVE Online **
This is a much more unique setup, but somewhat overwhelming in the likely time investment. It is the most "Darwinian" of the MMO's I've seen so far. The administrators keep their hands off much more than any other of the games. This means you can be pirated, bushwhacked, etc. Entire corporations can dominate many of the entire systems (it's a space-base game), until rebellions through alliances of opposing forces can over turn them. This is intriguing, but I do not know if I will ever be able to invest the time necessary to real learn the nuances of the game. I have spoken with people who have played daily for years, and they are still not very high in the "pecking order" of the universe there. I will however at some point probably try dedicating a month or so, and see how it goes. It is intriguing in it's more unique and hands-off approach.
Maybe my bias of Tolkien's Middle-earth being one of my favorite campaign settings is biasing my experience, but it seemed that LotRO was by far the best at getting my up and running, and immediately engaged in action and adventure and missions that I cared about from the moment the game started. There was a sense of urgency. I tried starting as different races, and so had different beginnings. I probably spent about 2 hours or so, between multiple starts, experimenting. I will definitely come back and invest more time into this. Of the online MMO's, it was by far the most immediately rewarding. However, compared to DDO, UO, GW, WOW, EVE, I did not notice any initial opportunities to join with other players. The others seemed to encourage more social interaction, whereas LotRO was pushing more instant adventure, but with NPC's rather than other players. At least initially. This is probably more of tutorial approach. The tutorials from the other games were extremely boring, but LotRO's was interesting. I only experienced "flow" one briefly in the game, but that was more than any of the other MMO/MMORPG games so far.
Dragon Age ****
Though not an online MMO/MMORPG, as an offline RPG, I very much enjoyed it. This was fun from the beginning, and I had to keep making myself stop playing. I usually don't get that from non-online games in general, so this was something. I hadn't wanted to binge like that since back playing NWN (Never Winter Nights) for 2 weeks straight when it came out all those years ago. The character generation was extremely flexible and customizable too. I probably spent around 4-6 hours on the game cumulatively so far, and experienced "flow" more than once, losing time being wrapped up in the game.
Dragon Age II ***
Though still enjoyable, I found the extremely limited character selection options (5) very disappointing in comparison to Dragon Age I. I have spent about 3 hours on it so far. But I so far still find I more fun than II. I will take more time on both and see if that holds up over time.
So, that is very rudimentary, and unfortunately I did not keep very good notes at the beginnings. I had some notes, but they were mostly technical rants about how annoying registration and other features from the games were. I will attempt to keep more up to date logs through this blog as I invest more time in each game and compare/contrast them, while trying to develop theories and hypotheses about the experiences as they progress, so that I (and others) can look back on these notes later, and others can post suggestions. I hope others find this useful too.