Recently over at Bio Break Syp had an article answering a question for a reader regarding doing MMO’s wrong and, as per usual Syp attempted to enlist him in the ever growing cult of Alting. I can’t say I disagree with his conclusion, I see this feeling a lot in the current generation of mmo’s and being a player who enjoys a main, one main character focus over all others this feeling of burnout is all to familiar but there must be something better to do than abandoning how you play and the part you love.
To me, playing a main is just focusing on how I enjoy and how I get the most out of a game. I like to focus on just one character and then experience all there is and learn as much as I can about them. To learn the skills, the different ways of play, how to win in certain situations and be the best at that character I can possibly be.
To do this I usually end up playing the same content over and over, read countless threads on the forums and engage in a lot of discussion. It also means being flexible with your character, understanding all their skills and traits and trying to build your own functionally and effective killing machine. It, to a certain extent is also about being a representative of your class and I actually enjoy giving a certain amount of advice to others about the class.
This gives me purpose within games and out. Learning the depth extends the life of a single character immensely and that’s where I get my enjoyment. It is fundamentally about gaining knowledge then seeking out challenge and overcoming adversity… maybe also making your mark within the world in whatever you want to do best. Unfortunately with the prevalence of cheap content filler, repetition of the same or similar content with a slightly different skill set this isn’t as possible any more. The gameplay remains relatively unchanged while you progress and even though classes may perform differently it is the same mobs, the same engine, and the same combat style. Alts do well in extending the life of such content but to me it isn’t as real as seeking my teeth into something on a main.
We really haven’t had a contender that can test the hypothesis of whether you can create a mmo that is more of a long-term game with a focus on mains for a long time. Most titles just aren’t meant for the long-term play; fast levelling systems and the race to level cap… forgetting and obsoleting vast amounts of content. Grinding the same dungeons gets tiring… incremental increases in stats aren’t that meaningful and as such we seek new experiences yet settle on the same because their really isn’t much to pick from at the moment. With these types of games it’s better to just have short bursts of slightly new things otherwise the façade fades away.
So to feel, “burnt out”, like the commenting exclaimed is not really an indication of needing to change themselves. This is not a failing of the player, there is no right way to “do MMO” in how you play them. There are and should be a variety of content and gameplay styles to fill different interests. A mmo should be able to satisfy both those that enjoy a main or alts, unfortunately companies, except for a select few smaller and growing studios know how to “do mmo’s” and we wait now while they develop and then the industry as a whole can play catch up as per usual.
Until then… when in Rome I guess but I will always have that urge to focus on one character in its entirety. It’s the passion burning within me and that can… and probably will be a wonderful thing some time in the future