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Massively Multiplayer Online Pain
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Massivly Multiplayer Online Games

City of Villains

I wanted to try something different, so I picked up City of Heros/City of Villains. I cancelled my account not one week after starting it. When the game's publisher asked me why I'd cancelled, I had this to say: The amount by which the content creators did not care and the sheer number of mind numbingly bad mission instrctuction sets drove me mad - when I could even find missions my level. The addition of required objectives not even listed in the mission description and the failure to list why a mission is regarded as failed when all listed objectives were met did not help. The sheer apathy of the creators left me with a dull and listless gaming experience that makes me ashamed I wasted $20 on it.

The game frequently left me without any idea what the hell I was supposed to be doing, both inside a mission and in the game as a whole. When I leveled past Mercy Island, I didn't get any indicator that I should go to Port Oakes, instead I wandered around Cap Au Diable seeing purple wherever I went. Eventually one of my inactive contacts did say "I don't have anything for you - why not visit so and so over in port oakes" Mind you at the time I first visited the area, everything there was also purple (the color of monsters you don't mess with in this game) so I'd had no expectations that anything had changed. When I got there, I found half the NPCs were gray, meaning I'd almost levels past the entire zone by loitering in Architect Entertainment playing crappy user created missions. To be fair, the buggy, non-proofread player created missions were on par with what I'd gotten from Paragon so far, so I can't be too harsh on the user created content in comparison with the official offerings.

Let me give you an example. I had a mission "Steal Henri's Cross from the trolls". That's all it said I had to do. being a stalker, I snuck past the trolls, found the cross and snuck back out. But the game went "Mission Incomplete - Steal Henri's Cross from the trolls - you have Henri's cross". I kept thinking "I just have to find the drop point now." And ran around doing that for a while, but my map marker just stayed at the Troll compound. Fed up, I asked the internet. The internet said "Oh by the way, you have to kill all of the people guarding the item in a theft quest". What? I'm not allowed to complete the mission by doing exactly what it says I should do? I have to go in like some gung-ho fool and slaughter the trolls too? This was annoying because when I thought I'd cleared them all out, one was hiding and I ran around for a while searching the area going "But they're all dead!".

Second example - Rob a bank in the allotted time with the secondary objective of defeating the hero sent to stop you. I steal the money, kill the hero and get back out of dodge. The game says "Mission still not completed" then "Mission failed" without ever telling me what the secret condition was that I had to meet. This was pretty much the last straw. I cancelled my account and uninstalled the program after that.

World of Warcraft

Without a doubt, the MMO that sucked away the most of my time during it's run was World of Warcraft. I got two characters up to the level cap just before they raised it and opened Outlands. I lost track of how many hours I'd spent in that game. But in the end I realized "I'm still doing the same menial tasks I was doing at level 1". This comes almost certainly from that fact that in the world of MMOs, I am a casual gamer. I cannot and will not devote the time and effort needed to be a hardcore raider, and I can't stand the personalities of the people who do. I was even in twoo different top-grade guilds in my time, but I was always on ther perifery. I was the guy that got called on if and when there were only 39 people or some similar "not quite full" number around. But I never whined or complained. After all I was really in it for the questing. WoW was filled with interesting and funny quests that kept me occupied - for a while. It reached a point where I needed a raid group to accomplish my quest objectives, and the raid groups never wanted to bother. "Oh that was years ago - this is the raid flavor of the week now". When Burning Crusade came around, I poked around outlands for a while, but I realized there was really nothing new there. It was all recycled and rehashed formulas from before with new graphics.

Some say there is plot in Northrend, but WoW lost me long before that expansion came out. I just grew apathetic and decided it just wasn't worth my time or my money anymore.

Final Fantasy XI

Dear *Bleep*ing *Bleep* *Bleep* - the HORROR!

My first MMO and Only Final Fantasy game was FFXI. This game punishes you for playing. It was clearly designed for a console and lazily ported to PC. It took thirteen or so different screens just to log in and play. The interface was utter crap with keybindings which continually frustrated me for their nonsensical arraingement, and a menuing system absurd and awkward to navigate. And as if just to annoy me - you can't remap the keys. Their control scheme was the only one you were allowed to use.

As I mentioned I'm a casual player, Square Enix HATES casual players. FFXI is the only game I've played where "Easy Prey" translates to "Kicks your Ass". And Easy Prey is the lowest grade of monster which grants experience points - seven to be exact. Mind you it takes several thousand to level. Thus the only way to actually level is to join a group. Now you can't just throw together any set of characters and expect to do anything against the dreaded "Even Match" (the lowest acceptable prey for a grinding group - generally frowned on unless no other monsters are available due to overcrowding). Now a party has to have a very specific set of skills in it to be sustainable. Mine were not on the list. The only way I could get in a group was as a 'puller'. The job of the puller was to go out alone to find one and only one of the type of monsters being hunted and draw it back to the waiting party. If you pulled more than one you either used a special ability to escape - or you died out there, alone. It was a painful and thankless role that I got sadly good at. Even then, I was still spending most of my time 'looking for group'.

Another thankless part of the puller's job is the rampant overcrowding of the grinding areas. Due to the fact Square Enix HATEs people who play FFXI, only certain zones can be reliably used to level in. So very often, every group of your level will be in the same area competing for the same prey. The "long pull" was standard operating procedure. Because while monsters will chase you to the edge of the zone, they will give up if you put too much distance between you and them. So you had to run to not get caught but still had to avoid actually getting away, and you had to do this over an extended span of overhunted ground. If a monster spawned between you and your party and no one else pulls it while you're running - you're screwed.

Oh, guess what. You know those hard earned experience points - if you die you lose them. You can even lose levels from this. So not only is gaining levels a royal pain in the ass, but de-levlling is a constant risk. FFXI is also the only MMO where I've seen parties disband with party members one experience point away from levelling. I kid you not. They left me there, one XP from my next level, forced to wait hours looking for group just to tick off that one little point. And of course my skills were not in demand, so it's a long wait. Why didn't I switch to a tank or a healer? Because I'm really BAD at those roles. Sure it would have been easy to find groups, but they'd dump me real fast when I proved to be incompetent at my job. I had a much longer rant I IMed to someone back when I still played this game, but it drove me to quit by it's own sadistic abuse of the players.

In retrospect, it was my awful experience with FFXI that made WoW so much more inviting during the early months. I kept running into so many things that did not suck the way they did in FFXI, and the constant positive comparisons bouyied my enthusiasm for the game. so WoW was theraputic treatment for FFXI trauma.

As it's one positive note - FFXI was gorgeous. It is still the best looking MMO I have ever played. Even if it did tend to cull character models in the near foreground to save memory - even when you had them selected and were talking to them. For the record it's been years since I quit, and I still have hte most vitriol for this game of any of the MMOs I've played.

--Robert McCarroll