My foray into the world of MMORPGs thus far has not been easy. I can’t count the number of hours I have spent on forums and review sites. I have a few conditions that I’d like to see met as I choose which to invest hours upon hours of time…
1. Free to Play. I’d rather it wasn’t Pay to Win, too. So far, it seems that the new F2P way EQII is doing things is more of a P2W format- all of the good races have to be paid for. The ones left are okay, I guess, but I would want to be a Ranger, sooo…
2. Popular. When I was looking into Second Life (I know it is a MUVE, not an MMORPG, but I am looking to do research here, so I had to exhaust my options), it became so obvious that the community was popular in 2006, but since then? Wow- what a graveyard. I don’t want to spend time on something that will be a flash in the pan and irrelevant weeks after I finish. Unless you are looking to get some, ahem, base needs met, Second Life seems to be not for you.
3. Fun. I am more of a platformer sort of girl, so I’d like something that has a more open action style. The best one I found for that was Tera Online, but according to the reviews, the quests are bland and boring. Not cool. Next!
4. Kind of Easy. Like I said, I am more of a platformer girl, so the difficulty of most MMOs is a turn-off for me. Even the newer 3D platformers can be a little hard for me. I am playing The Secret World right now, and I think I picked the wrong kind of weapon at the outset, so now the zombies are just tearing me to bits. Why did I pick a sword when I could have picked a gun? I’m stupid.
So where does that leave me? Star Wars Galaxies gets iffy reviews, World of Warcraft isn’t free to play, Everquest 2 isn’t that popular anymore, Guild Wars 2 looks really hard… ugh! I’m stuck. Help! I have always been a gamer, but not an RPG gamer. There are things about them that I really like, though.
To give you an idea of where I am coming from, here is the beginning of a “novel” I started that is semi-autobiographical. I’m the girl manager, and the guy manager is a friend of mine from back then. I wrote this about ten years ago, so notice that GameCube and Everquest 1 are involved…
A man, fortyish, with long black hair and suspenders with skulls printed on them stood about a foot taller than the average man next to him.
“Do you go to the movies?” The scary man looked down at the other.
“How much does that cost ya?”
“I don’t know, about eight bucks.”
“Well. Here’s the thing. With this particular selection,” he held up a small box with a woman, scantily clad in a leather loincloth and a jeweled leather bustier adorning the cover, “You get all of the drama of a movie with interactivity. It doesn’t last just two hours, either- it is there twenty-four hours a day, seven days per week. And, it only costs ten dollars per month. But, you get the first month free, so there is really no risk.” The scary tall man leered down at the smaller man. “Whaddaya say?”
Alisa walked through the front door just in time- another lost soul was about to be born. “Louis! Stop trying to turn my customers into brain dead idiots.” She walked over to the unsuspecting victim. “What did you come here to buy, sir?”
By now, the customer was so shell shocked, he could barely speak. “The new Perfect Dark,” he barely managed the words under Louis’ penetrating stare.
“Right this way.” She lead the man to the Nintendo section of the store and spoke to him, reassuringly, about the great reviews that his selection had garnered. He seemed as though he had recovered.
When Alisa finished with the customer, she turned to Louis. “This is not the Everquest store. This is the other store, where customers are safe and souls aren’t stolen. What are you doing here, anyway? It’s your day off.” She couldn’t help but smile a little. Louis prided himself on being “evil,” but he typically cowered when she admonished him as he did now. He didn’t even argue with her soul-stealing accusations.
“My store is out of Perfect Dark. I came to transfer a few copies.”
“Oh no you don’t. Those have been flying off the shelves.”
“Darren told me to.” He almost sang the words, which seemed even funnier coming from someone who looked like Louis. Darren was their district manager. Alisa smoldered. “Fine,” she said. She looked over her shoulder, to the cash register where the traumatized man was completing his purchase. “Erica! Transfer five copies of Perfect Dark to store 67.”
Erica, Alisa’s assistant manager, smiled from behind the counter in that blank way of hers. She swung her blond hair over her shoulder and drawled in her Texas accent, which seemed incredibly out of place in the suburbs of Chicago. “Five copies of PD for N64. Coming right up!”
“Very funny.” Louis didn’t have much patience for Erica. She had the best of intentions- at least she seemed to, but she wanted either Alisa’s or Louis’s job so bad that they didn’t know what to think of her. She could certainly sell, though. Gamer guys weren’t used to seeing a little blonde behind the counter at stores like this. Alisa considered herself a genius for having more girls on staff than guys. She always argued when one of her fellow store managers complained that it was the reason that her store was number one in the region, but she secretly knew they were right.
Alisa and Louis walked to the back storeroom. The room was large, with two doors along one wall and shelves around two sides of the room. The shelves were littered with old marketing posters, accessories that didn’t fit on the walls, extra paperwork, extra shelves and brackets for the store, and other “stuff” – Alisa didn’t even know what was there. Behind one door was the staff bathroom, which Alisa insisted be kept sparklingly clean at all times. The other door was locked- it was another bathroom, but instead it was used to store systems- Xboxes, GameCubes, and PS2s. There was another door, on the wall farthest from the store, which lead outside. The final wall of the large storeroom was Alisa’s office. Her desk was an old, beat-up, barely useable one but Alisa kept it immaculate. The store’s finances, human resources, and marketing were all handled from this post. Louis didn’t have this kind of space. He looked around longingly as he always did. His store was located inside the nearby mall whereas Alisa’s store was in a strip mall, so square footage was harder to come by for his store.
Alisa sat down on her “desk chair,” a metal folding chair. Louis leaned against her desk and looked down at her. It was a long distance when you took Louis’s 6’7” height against Alisa sitting down. Even when she stood, she had to turn her face completely skyward to look at him. She tried to hide the pain in her eyes as she spoke, for Louis’s sake.
“Have you heard anything?” Alisa asked.
“Not a thing. I will let you know.” Louis smiled, sadly.
“This is killing me, you know.”
(That’s as far as I got. I know. The suspense is killing me, too.)