Scenes From an MMORPG Pt. 1: A Noob’s Tale

Being a child of the 80s, I was fascinated with video games. Even if I didn’t have any money, I always found my way to the arcade. I was lucky enough to own an Atari 2600, and as time progressed, so did my gaming systems. As I got older, I started straying away from video games. Any console I’ve owned after the mid-1990s was gifted to me, and I only played in moderation.

I had discovered online role playing in the late 1990s, and even though it was played though group instant messaging and email, it suited me and my increasingly busy life. Then the day came when I decided I was too busy for online roleplay. I was getting married, working full time and I had decided to go back to college.

So that’s how I missed the phenomenon that is Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games or MMORPGs for short. MMORPGs are video games played by large groups of people in the same virtual setting. Players assume the role of a character and can interact and team up with other players to face more challenging aspects of the game. MMORPGs started in the early 1990s, and grew in popularity throughout the past decade. With most games charging a monthly subscription fee to play, it has become a multi-billion dollar industry.

Even though I understood what MMORPGs were, I never gave it a second thought. Then I discovered The Guild; a Web series about a group of online gamers. The series reminded me of my old online roleplaying days, so I decided to do some research and try out MMORPGs for myself. Since I use an old Intel iMac, I can’t play most MMORPGs.

With my technical limitations and frugal mentality, I decided to try out Runescape, Battlestar Galactica Online, World of Warcraft, Pocket Legends, and Runes of Magic. For the first part of this series, I’ll only review the first three.

Regarded as the most popular free MMORPG, this was my first MMO experience. The game is  browser-based, so I met all the technical requirements. However, once I started, I didn’t know what to expect. Runescape is fantasy adventure, and I have to say that I really gave it a chance, but I was bored with the intro quest; to help a computer controlled warrior defeat a dragon by getting things from his bag and following his orders while HE fights the dragon. This was my only quest in Runescape, and I haven’t been back since. I may be impatient, but I wasn’t having fun with the time I was investing.

Battlestar Galactica Online
Based on the SyFy channel original series, this free to play MMORPG is browser-based and uses in-game currency that must be purchased to do various things including ship upgrades. The graphics are astounding and run very smooth on a web browser. However, this is the game’s only good quality. Playability itself takes a little getting used to, and as you progress, you find that its nothing more than a shoot-up-game set in a non-canon story. In BSG: Online, you have two options as a player: you can assume the role of a new pilot who fights along side characters such as Starbuck and Apollo, or you can choose to be a Cylon. I have yet to explore the Cylon side of the game. Even though I enjoyed this game to an extent, I’m not eager to hop back on.

World of Warcraft
Deciding that the 2GB of RAM on my old Intel iMac was sufficient enough to run World of Warcraft, I downloaded the 10-day free trial. Since this is arguably the most popular MMORPG, my expectations were high. I was looking forward to some epic fantasy adventures as well as some group interaction.

Upon creating my Night Elf character, I entered the realms of World of Warcraft, where I was quickly put on simple quests where I can learn my fighting moves and character’s abilities. It was a little frustrating at first, fumbling with the keys and trying to fight creatures and beasts, but once I got used to it, gameplay was a lot of fun. One thing I wasn’t able to do was interact with other players, since the chat feature is disabled for trial accounts, unless I’m invited to a group chat. This made things difficult when trying to team up with other players.

As the trial came to a close, I was eager to complete more quests, and they were getting more difficult. One thing I didn’t like about the game was the amount of traveling my character has to do in order to move along in the game. I understand that it’s designed to help me deal with obstacles during a quest, but I was getting more frustrated with being killed on my way to my destination, and having to repeat the steps to get my character back on track. Overall, I enjoyed World of Warcraft, and it met my expectations.

Of the three games I covered, I’d choose World of Warcraft. However, I can’t justify paying a monthly fee for something I may not play for months at a time. In Part 2 of this post, I’ll discuss an iPhone MMORPG, as well as a newer free-to-play game that’s being compared in quality to big games like World of Warcraft.

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