On the Cusp

For the first time in an MMO, I feel I am on the cusp for forthcoming content. I am no longer catching up to the masses. I have always been a more casual gamer in MMOs. The aged Bartle Test would classify me as an EAKS. In Lord of the Rings Online, I am finally max level, nearing the end of the current epic quest line, and finishing up the current zones. Being on the cusp does not mean I have nothing to do; rather, the anticipation to forthcoming content is a bigger deal. It’s a bittersweet place to be.

When I started Lord of the Rings Online they were just about to come out with the Book 13 update. I was fairly late to the party. But, that meant that I had a ton of polished content to get through.  When Book 13 dropped I dutifully read the update notes, and except for the specific class changes most of it did not yet apply to me. 

Now, the road behind me is long.  I can see nearly all of the paved road ahead of me.  That sense of discovery that drives us “E”xplorers will not fully return until the next big content update.  I have a feeling that many “A”chievers on the cusp have similar feelings.  It is a great feeling to have accomplished so much, but I find no better feeling towards an MMO then when a new content patch comes out or I am logging in for the first time.

One of World of Warcraft’s developers recently suggested that players “try out some other games” because players were devouring any new content entirely too quickly.  It was a brave remark that became well noticed.  I believe it was mostly poignant because World of Warcraft is the subscription MMO.  It’s massive billion-dollar business model is based on people not playing other games.  To be fair, Ghostcrawler did put in the party-line suggestion at the end of his post to “check back with WoW every now and then.”  On the opposite side of the MMO genre, ArenaNet has been telling Guild Wars fans since the beginning to ‘go play other games too.’  Of course, this makes more sense with their buy-the-box business model.

This, once again leads to a dilemma for developers and subscribers of any subscription game.  Developers need subscriptions, which subscribers pay as long as there is reason to stick around, but subscribers devour content faster than developers can create it.  Subscribers that leave are less likely to return for just any update, especially if they are hooked on another game at that time.  Subscribers that stay with no “new” may start to get pissy and create an unhealthy environment (read: forums) for developers to wade through.

I like being on the cusp, but standing at the edge of the paved road is new to me.  I haven’t been standing there long. Once the paving crew is done with the next mile, I am usually slow to start and long to catch up again.  It is a bittersweet place to be.

we have to go to the desert, baby

3 thoughts on “On the Cusp”

  1. All I can say is…”Wow” you lasted that long?


    (PS: Yes, everyone can blow by this, as they all know how I feel about LOTRO…but, really…. well done indeed)

  2. According to Bartle I am an EASK, so I can see where you’re coming from with Moria. I haven’t played properly in some time, though I did log on for a couple of hours last night. What did I do when I was on? Worked on Moria Deeds, scratching my Achievement itch.

    That quiz knows me so well.

  3. Explorers consume content. Subscription models sell time. It’s a simple dichotomy. If devs sell content like the GW crew, the concerns about loyalty sort themselves out; Explorers will always find and happily pay for good content. If devs sell time, they instantly introduce a Sword of Damocles over the head of the player, especially an Explorer who tends to take their sweet time puttering around. That sort of stress runs contrary to the point of playing games to relax.

    Short story long, I’m in the same philosophical boat, and this is a great article, Rav. Running with the road analogy, what if the devs set up a good system whereby players could build trails? Or, what if the road were a series of culdesacs, and you knew going in that there were finite limits to the exploration until the next culdesac, rather than being teased by an open road that just ends?

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