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Image of Love and Hate: MMORPG Environments

Each year, ESPN columnist Matthew Berry writes an article called ?love/hate?. In this article he gives opinions on why he loves and hates certain football players that year. This idea although simple, can be applied to the video game world; so that?s exactly what I did. This series aims to break down what we Love and Hate about the MMO gaming world; including aspects like a game?s economy, chat methods, leveling capabilities, and overall player interaction.

In last week?s article, I covered the ups and downs of dealing with community chat in MMO gaming. The ease of communication can be wondrous, but the mass amount of players can often make it a hassle to deal with. Players may create the society you become part of in an MMORPG, but the developers create the ambiance.

Players need to be accepting of a game to feel dedicated enough to come back. This is important when it comes to an MMORPG, because many games involve players walking around the same scenery day after day. Most MMOs have large environments that take a decent amount of playtime to travel through. Luckily, developers know this and do their best to create some of the most beautiful landscapes the video game industry has to offer.

Players begin their massive gaming experience leveling through early areas. Until being dedicated enough to reach higher levels and achieve faster means of travel, gamers are usually subject to repeated grinding in these same areas. When people have to keep returning to the same locations, they tend to become masters of their MMORPG landscape. Other times, players are so immersed in their gaming experience that they don?t notice the full extent of such brilliant environments until having to pass through them for non-battling purposes.
If you are going to play a game that puts you through the same areas multiple times, appealing scenery goes a very long way. Developers are doing amazing things with daily weather effects, location specific creatures, and both visual and stat affecting seasonal changes. The things you look at when passing the time in an MMORPG can keep you hooked or put you to sleep. I love when a game finds a way for players to enjoy gaming ambiance even during mundane acts like basic travel.
There are obviously some amazing journeys to be had in the enthralling environments MMORPGs have to offer. Sadly, some worlds present a lackluster effect that can give returning MMO gamers a migraine. It makes sense creating more thorough and realistic sized worlds, but not if you are going to have players to go through the same locations over and over with no new experiences of goals there.

One of the biggest reasons I quit Final Fantasy XI was because of how long it took to get places, even with the use of a mount. It wasn?t even the fact that I had to travel far that killed me. It was the fact that I kept running into walls because I would look toward my television knowing I would never see anything new in the games early areas. Every experienced player will end up exhausting uses in low-level areas of their game, but it doesn?t hurt to give them innovative visuals.
If I was warned that starting a game in one location meant traveling through the desert for the rest of my character?s life, I may have made a different decision in starting location. MMORPGs should save the most stunning visual moments for later levels, but players have to kept entertained long enough to get there. I hate when an MMORPG starts losing replay value because of repeat experiences of the same dull environment.

What do you think about the importance of visual in an MMO game? What MMO aesthetics have kept you hooked? Which games have lost their appeal because of mandatory repeat experiences? This is the third area of MMO gaming that can be a breaking point for players involved. Check back with MMO Attack next week when I discuss the leveling options of both lone and group play.

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