Spring Break MMO Study
It is old news to anyone that was paying attention that GameTap is shutting down Myst Online: Uru Live on 10 April.
There have been plenty of people involved with either the Myst community or the game industry and media who have already written about why Myst failed as an MMO, twice. The conversations have gone everywhere from "the world was not ready for a game like Myst" to "Cyanworlds was not ready to present Myst."
The short version, or at least the most official one that the community received was that the game just did not attract enough players and GameTap could no longer justify having the game.
In all honesty, the game is already shutdown. While the servers are still up and accepting connections, there has been no new content since the end of the last episode, late last year.
With the closing of Myst Online, I find that I do not have an online game to play. Several weeks ago, I started looking at what other games had to offer. I have tried to talk to people I know who do play various games about their experiences in their current game of choice (or games, as the case may be). I am shopping around and looking.
One part of this, at the end of February, I started playing the trials of a couple of games.
At the end of the demo for Myst Online, back when it was first available (then just known as Uru: Ages Beyond Myst and Uru Live), about an hour, I was hooked. I could not wait for the beta to be over, and the game to open. (You can see how clueless I was about how games like this actually work). I figured that if what become Myst Oneline could hook me in under an hour, then a mature MMO should be able to do the same thing in a couple of days to a couple of weeks.
So I started. The first game up was The Matrix Online.
I actually have some idea about MxO. I work with some people who have been playing the game since its begining. Now, MxO does not actually have a trial. I figured out how to get into one by poking around the Sony Online Entertainment site. This may be important. The lack of an active trail period means that the only people playing MxO are people paying for MxO. And that means the commuity in the game may not actually be used to new people showing up and just learning the game.
There were a lot of things I liked about MxO. The skills and abilities system seems really very flexible. It seems that in other games, it is possible to build out a character in such a way that the character is functionally unplayable. MxO does not have that problem, as a player can always go back and just build or buy the abilities they want, and not load the abilities that they want, even if they bought them. This seems interesting, in that any character can possibly fulfill any any for any purpose. It is also possible to build a hybrid character that mixes abilities from more than one domain. So, no really rigid silos.
As I know people who are passionate about their characters in the game, I have seen what the community in the game can do, at its best and worst. I did not tell them I was going to try the game. I tend to play on my own, and honestly, it bothers me to have to rely on others for my own entertainment.
Playing on my own, I really did not get a good view of the community. In fact, when the people I know did find out I was trying the game, they suggested I stay away from certain areas. This was not because the game was too hard there. It was because the people I would find there would not really be the kind who I would want to deal with. Too bad that this is the only area in the game where I actually ran into groups of any size.
Short version, the MxO community may have some really stong people playing, but I didn't meet any of them. If the beginner areas of the game are populated with high level people (at the cap) who seem to have nothing better to do than to sit around one spot in the game and cyber all day, and that's what a new person sees, I'm sorry. And the parts of the story that new characters are exposed to are from the begining of the game's run, not the current state. And after I was told there "wasn't anything to do until level 50," I came to terms that no matter how much I liked the movies and things built up around them setting, I was much happier with MxO not ever having played it.
Would my experiences have been different if I had been shown around by my coworkers? Or even just dropped their names with the groups I did deal with? Maybe. But I did not want to play in a game where I was only going to be taken seriously in relation to an in-game celebrity or really popular person.
I only played 10 days of the 14 day trial I had managed. On the 10th day, there was an update to the game (the release of the Dataminer area) that prevented me from playing the last four days. Seems fitting. Even the game, itself, did not want me involved.
I had Good Friday off. I have all this coming week off. I figured I would try at least one more game trial. Friday I started trying Eve Online. Today I decided I was not going to continue with the trial.
I have been a little concerned about Eve Online since hearing about an incident where a member of the game's team had the way Myst did. I want to be able to escape and loose myself in the story of the game, not just mash buttons and watch the game do things.
To be honest, Myst Online: Uru Live did not deliver what I was looking for either. While I was much more invested in Myst than I was or will be for any game that I am may try, the game was lacking a cohesive story. There is another post in that idea. This one is long enough.
If anyone is actually reading this, and knows of any games that have trials that might suit me, please try to get in contact with me and suggest them.
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I ha've been thinking about what's wrong with my approach of trying out games. I am trying to play the games alone and see what happens. As I said in the previous post, these games are really just social networking sites with a bit more of a purpose tha