Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.

Recent flooding of the river of my life has left me frantically paddling against a tide which takes me ever away from my small quiet pond of gaming solitude, which itself has begun to stagnate. I’ve had little time for gaming or blogging in recent weeks, and I have to confess, I don’t find myself missing either terribly much. Standing at the altar in the Church of MMO, I have found my lack of faith disturbing. It may seem to the contrary –based upon much of my writing here– but I did once believe in the MMO genre. I’ve stood for a long time on the beach of bloggers, watching the tide of new blogs crash and churn with each new wave, and although no two waves are ever the same, the outcome of their enthusiasm and energy often is: rolling and thundering at first, but becoming ever less sonorous as the passion wanes, indifference prevails, placidity thins, before slowly retreating down the beach. Every grain of sand deposited in this way a topic. Every grain of sand the same. The same topics, delivered time and time again onto the beach of blogging, which rests at the foot of the cliffs of the MMO genre. The cliffs remain unchanged, indifferent to the weight of sandy evidence presented at their base, where measuring the progress of the genre is to measure the progress of the sea against a coastline – a measurement of antediluvian span.

I hold an answer in my hand. The Grail to some, but to my faithless mind it appears as no more than an empty cup. I should be excited by Guild Wars 2, but I find myself more melancholy, for me this feels less the beginning of an adventure, more a last hurrah – a final farewell to the genre. I do not expect things to change with Guild Wars 2’s release; the tide will roll in once more with a new wave of enthusiasm, soon to be dashed against the unchanging countenance of the genre’s cliff face, leaving behind another sandy layer of blogging topics, every grain the same as those that came before. At which point I imagine I will take to the seas on a small raft built of apathy or antipathy and look for adventure in other lands, for, I will be forced to concede, I can no longer find it on this barren shore.

There is a beta for Guild Wars 2 this weekend, and I find myself with time to participate. One last hurrah, one last hope for redemption. And then, perhaps, `I will embark and I will lose myself, And in the great sea wash away my sin.’

11 thoughts on “Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.

  1. spinks

    There used to be a shared dream that devs and players both held about MMOs and their communities. I don’t know who broke faith first, players by wanting to win and minmax, or devs wanting to monetise and turn them into games.

    But I do know that MMO communities take time to bed in. I still have good hopes for SWTOR, I think Bioware does understand the importance of community and things like the last event show that they can run events that encourage people on servers to hang out.

    I also don’t think GW2 is going to break any moulds, because it’s going to attract a lot of the standard playerbase. The WvW PvP could be interesting, but I also can’t get excited about the game. I just can’t.

  2. darkeye

    Really excited for GW2, counting down the hours to the beta, but share the belief that I’ll likely not return to the current crop of MMOs even if my time in GW2 turns out to be short or sporadic. I think that will be GW2’s greatest strength, unlike current themepark MMOs if I was to take my time or take breaks while levelling or gearing up, I’d end up with a mountain to climb to catch up before getting to play with other people, unless shorter pathways are introduced subsequently. Playing a few PvP matches casually or doing one session of WvW a week will be worth the investment for me, without having to think about boring tasks like maximising token gains, provided the expectations match the reality. I do think there will be a backlash on release though, when people realise it’s not for them, particularly the ‘standard’ playerbase.

  3. pitrelli

    Hmm I’m really looking at guild wars 2 as a last chance saloon with regards to mmos.

    I do have faith in arenanet and think this may just be the game changer people like me have been waiting on. From the outside looking in they have created a tremendous starting point….its how they build on it which will matter in the long run. Roll on beta :)

  4. Van Hemlock

    Poignant and familiar. I can’t decide if I’m an old fashioned lighthouse keeper – solitary, obsolete and clinging to a way of life mostly out of habit and tradition, or well on my way over the horizon on my own boat, in search of I don’t know what. Some new lands of an entirely different sort. Maybe the destination of the boat isn’t important, only the amiability of it’s crew?

    More practically, I don’t think GW2 will change a lot and am already wondering what will be next after that, with similar weariness.

  5. bhagpuss

    Young people just don’t have the staying power these days, do they? Honestly, all this ennui!

    Me, the longer I play MMOs the more I want to play MMOs. I’m no more likely to get bored with MMOs than I’ve gotten bored with reading science fiction novels or listening to raucous guitar bands. Kept that up for over 40 years so far with no sign of waning enthusiasm yet.

    I’m fired up for GW2 but beyond that I’m also fired up for Wildstar, Otherlands and EQNext. If none of those were around I could very easily fire myself up for The Secret World. By the time I’ve had a bash at that lot, there will be a whole new bunch.

  6. ArcherAvatar

    I want to nod sagely with a very concerned expression on my face… I want to, but I can’t…

    I played MMOs of various names and natures for over 10 years, and reached a point (emotionally) very close to where it sounds like you are right now. I stepped away… took a “break” and waited to see if anything would change… that was over 3 yrs ago now.

    Tomorrow (April 27th) at 3pm EDT my long hiatus from the genre will end.
    I can sympathize and empathize with your sentiments, but I can no longer share them because I have drunk the cool-aid. There is nothing but optimism and hope inside me where GW2 is concerned. This is what I’ve been waiting for.

  7. nugget


    (Also, has anyone ever noticed that Murmur in Shadow Labyrinth [WoW] plays a very distorted but still recognisable version of the X-Files theme?)

  8. Modran

    Very nice first paragraph.

    I’ve been away from MMOs for quite a while now. I am missing it, but each time I break and try another, I’m disappointed.
    GW2 seems interesting. But I know I’ll wait at least 2 to 3 months before trying it…

  9. Brian 'Psychochild' Green

    First of all, this better not be the beginnings of a goodbye letter. If you stop blogging, I will hunt you down and do unspeakable things to ensure you keep writing. UNSPEAKABLE!

    As to MMO ennui, seems like it comes in those metaphorical waves you talked about. To address what Spinks said, I think that it’s not so much one side breaking faith, as a death spiral. Gamers wanted less obstacles, even though it ultimately lessened the experience in the game. So we have what we do now.

    I still have hope. All modesty aside, I think Storybricks has a lot of potential. We’ll see how that goes. ;)

  10. Melmoth Post author

    @spinks: The thing I’ve been most excited about with GW2 is the soundtrack. Goodness, but I love that soundtrack. It’s a strange stance, but I’m actually hoping that they’ve made a game that does the soundtrack justice.

    It will be interesting to see how their ‘One server per account’ policy works out; I’d like it to mean that we get a strong community which is proud of its server, much like the realm pride that existed in DAOC. The fact that they don’t overly punish players for moving servers is wonderful, I just hope that the cost is high enough to prevent excessive server hopping. Being able to guest play on another server will hopefully be a nice way of seeing if a community fits one’s outlook, before making the transition proper, at least.

    @darkeye: There’s definitely a feeling that the game is designed to also cater to players who don’t want to just rush to the level cap. Obviously this was a strength in the original Guild Wars too, in the fact that the level cap was really an irrelevancy in the grand scheme of the game’s content. I’m definitely looking forward to skill point hunting and the like.

    @pitrelli: That’s the thing that’s keeping me going at the moment: early reports are positive, and ArenaNet is a company that has yet to give me cause to lose faith. I’d certainly like for my passion for MMOs to return with this game, and for me to find myself as invested in it as I have been with other games, such as DAoC, WoW and LotRO in the past.

    @Van Hemlock: Clinging to the cliff edge, perhaps? I’m hoping with this one that I can claw my way back onto more solid and familiar ground. Wherever I go, I certainly hope to remain part of this current crew, it’s a merry and concordant lot, which definitely makes the destination less important, indeed.

    I’ve been thinking about it a bit, and to be honest, if ArenaNet have included many of the niceties of modern MMOs, while managing to maintain the uniqueness that Guild Wars had, I can see myself enjoying the game quite a lot. My concern is that, if that isn’t the case for whatever reason, then I can’t see anything else forthcoming which might appeal instead, as you say.

    @bhagpuss: I don’t know, if every science fiction novel made the same spelling mistakes, or every band played in the wrong key, I think I’d probably tire of it after a while. That’s the way the genre feels to me, the same mistakes (which are being pointed out time and time again) repeated over and over like a particularly grindy version of Groundhog Day.

    “By the time I’ve had a bash at that lot, there will be a whole new bunch.”
    I think that’s part of the problem: I don’t want to have a bash at a whole load of games, I want to find that game (and community, as Spinks mentions above), where I can settle down and belong for a good long while.

    @ArcherAvatar: I certainly hope that Guild Wars 2 can be the game that three years of pent-up expectation demands.

    I’m still not convinced it’s that good, but I’d be very happy to be proven wrong. I may get a hint of an answer this weekend.

    @nugget: I hadn’t noticed the Murmur theme, no. Spooky! Like Mulder! Do you see? Spooky Murmur/Mulder… never mind.

    @Modran: A most sensible rule. I’m not entirely sure why I’m getting into this one from the outset, as it’s been a long time since I’ve cared about being there at the very beginning. It might be desperation on my part: I need to know whether I’m going to enjoy it, because otherwise I probably need to start looking for an alternative primary hobby.

    @Brian: Promises, promises, you kinky devil (I’ve read the fanfic, remember?).

    “As to MMO ennui, seems like it comes in those metaphorical waves you talked about.”

    Quite possibly; I have surfed the wave of ennui before, but this one feels different somehow, as though it’s less likely to return me to the shore. We’ll see.

    Thing is, for me, systems like Storybricks don’t fall under the generic MMO umbrella. They’re more a hybrid of PnP RPG and MUD, which is a far more interesting prospect than the Game of Peens which current MMOs have become.

  11. Rem

    I too had found myself in a crisis of faith, weary of the ever-repeating template, watching the same flaws and systemic weaknesses dash dreams and visions to pieces over and over again, regarding GW2 as a last gleam of light, a last straw of hope to cling on (klingon?), with a more than subtly implied feeling that “if GW2 does not deliver, MMOs at large will have failed at their once so outstanding promise, at least for the time being”.

    And then I succumbed. I grew weak, vulnerable, susceptible and succumbed. Succumbed to the call of the dark prophets, the sweet whisperings of a world I’d been denying for so long, I had declared unsuited for me. Returning home one day after several days away on business travel and neither willing nor able to face another batch of meaningless quests in SWTOR – for as enjoyable the game has been and as much as I’m glad to have played it, it’s become a path to nowhere for me – I succumbed to the sweet whisperings of the dark prophets and downloaded EVE.

    Now I am a believer once more. The faith is reignited. I had closed my eyes on EVE for so long, and now that I’ve opened them, it shines so bright and fills me with light. With hope. With warmth. It shows me a world that is … a world, with a worldly feel, with things having their place, a place that matters in relation to other things having their place. It shows me options, opportunities, paths and alternatives, truly different destinations to pursuit with truly different ways of travelling towards those destinations. It shows me a community that puts all reports about it to shame, as it’s been years since I’ve seen such a friendly and humane group of gamers who just happen to enjoy the game they play. It shows me incredible depth and a remarkable scope. It shows me things I could, if I so please, work on for months and years if I so desire as well as small yet meaningful steps I can take right now. It shows me purpose.

    Maybe this is all just a newbie’s enthusiasm – though wouldn’t that be strange, considering how EVE is infamous for its supposed terrible newbie experience. Maybe the shine will fade and I’ll miss the fantasy setting too much, along with its vibe of the pristine, the untouched, the mysterious. Maybe it’ll turn out to be not for me after all. But for now, I have hope. Hope, that even if GW2 does not single-handedly save the genre, there is a place for me. A place called New Eden. For now, I have faith.

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