You can’t make an MMO for people who hate MMOs
I think I might have a bee in my bonnet about Guild Wars 2. The peer pressure to get it – even if purely passive – from places like Twitter is pretty staggering at this point. It’s not a bad thing. Heck, I know that if I jumped into an MMO, especially if it has people I know from outside the game somehow, I’d completely lose myself in it. We’re talking about the “spends 8-hours-a-day” type of stuff here. I know because, quite simply, I have been there before, on way less ‘clever’ MMOs back in the day. Now, Guild Wars 2 has constantly been trying to sell itself to people who are not quite aligned with MMOs. To look at a transcript of the dev manifesto (http://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/ArenaNet%27s_MMO_Manifesto_trailer) (Yes it is a wiki link and no I will not look for more dependable sources, if you want to dismiss this article because that’s a wikilink, then go ahead and screw you), GW2 devs say that “if you hate MMOs, you’ll really want to check out Guild Wars 2”. That can’t be right, because GW2 is still an MMO, and there’s no arguing around it.
What is it that makes people hate MMOs in general? It’s not that some of them are fantasy wow-clones, because then it would be clearly said that “people hate current unoriginal wow-like MMOs”. But the MMO world is still quite a lot more diverse than that. You have SWTOR which admittedly has a different IP and setting, if not much else. You have EVE Online, which is just the quintessence of excellence for people who want to roleplay as supreme asshole accountants in space. You have all kinds of.. idk.. social-media-minigames like idk-stuff-on-facebook. You have the free-to-plays by the bucketloads. Thing is, it’s not the gameplay or the setting or the visual style that makes people hate all MMOs. It’s the addictive skinner-box nature of them.
That’s why I really dislike and avoid all MMOs, period. It’s the persistent world that advances without you. See, in nearly all singleplayer games, you play for a while, then you stop – maybe to eat, or sleep, or go to work/school, or just take some time off. It doesn’t matter, you’re free to do so. Whenever you load up the game, it will start right where you left it. That’s very much not the case with mumorpepeggers. The world of the game is a shared, constant thing. Even if all your quests will wait for you (which they won’t in Guild Wars 2, if I understand the in-world-totally-not-quests-you-guys thing), there’s the entire social meta-scene. You have to keep up with your friends’ levelling pace, to not fall too far behind. Lose them on levelling, and you can’t really do shared stuff and properly enjoy it, because it’s either a cakewalk for one side or a way too difficult “I can’t do anything so I’ll just sit back and let them carry” dungeon run. If you have any bit of competitive spark – that tiny voice niggling you to keep gaining levels/items/money/stuff to just keep up with others, with the leaderboards, with anyone on your friends list, well, you’re done for. Even if that is not the case, the overall world still advances as players within that world shift the average level-dispersion upwards. You’ll see more rare stuff in towns. You’ll see different marketplace dynamics. You’ll definitely see varying surges of players in the various PvE areas. And that is hell for those inclined to go in over their heads. Because this is a world that doesn’t wait for the player, but expects them to keep up. And that is the one aspect that all MMOs have, regardless of practically anything else about them. That is, quite likely, the most important aspect upon which people can say that they “hate all MMOs” – it’s because they hate the entire concept of a persistent, social world. Either because it is unappealing to them, or because it is too appealing to risk going in (my case).
Saying that Guild Wars 2 is a game made for people who hate MMOs is rubbish. Worse yet, it is pretty much a hook, a false lure, planted just to get people much like me attached to the game. And that’s something I can’t help but dislike seeing, the way the developers of GW2 think of their game as something so revolutionary, when it is still the same overarching MMO. Yeah, it has new mechanics. Yeah, it has some unique aspects. Yeah, it still has the social meta-world, and that’s the problem. It is still an MMO, and thus it is not for people who truly dislike MMOs.
~X2-Eliah would really like to get into Guild Wars 2 because plenty of cool people he knows on twitter are into it. But he still has university to think about. If only there wasn’t such a thing as “real life”. You probably think that this is contemptible and weak and pathetic. It probably is. Doesn’t really change much of anything, though.