Life is like a box of chocolates…
…you never know what you are going to get.
Is the starting experience in an MMOG representative of how the game will be later? Is it worse or better? First impressions are important and many people will likely not spend that much time before deciding whether they will continue to play or not. Game companies know this of course, so usually one would expect the starting experience as good as it can be, given the limited abilities of a new character. That is of course assuming that it is an RPG style game where a characters abilities is extended and developed over time.
The reason for writing this is a recent revisit to Vanguard for me. I read on another blog that SOE had reactivated old accounts over the holidays and I thought I might give it a little bit of time to see if the game would interest me more this time. While the performance of the game definitely seemed better, it is not an apples to apples comparision. I have a better graphics card now than when I played Vanguard before and I did not see much people at all in the newbie areas I played, much less than when I tried the game for the first time.
From a game play perspective, I did not see any significant difference as I remember it and while the performance was an issue when I first tried it, the game play was the main factor that caused me to cancel it. It was the same feeling now, I had no urge to get back into the game and play. The environment still was the mixture of nice looking and ugly pieces. If I had been a new player without MMOG experience, I think I would have considered the tutorial part lacking. The game will be uninstalled from my computer, no plans to keep playing it after this “free trial” period.
So my thoughts are then if there is still some gems hidden which I will never get to because I do not like the starting experience? Or has the work SOE has done up to this point with the game mainly been fixing issues for those that where ok with the starting experience, but are still in the game or left at much later stages? Or have I just picked the wrong starter areas?
It may of course be working as intended and it is not some game play for me and never will be. If so, then I am happy that the starting expeience is the way it is – it is honest then.
World of Warcraft, City of Villains and Tabula Rasa are some other games that in my opinion have pretty good starting experiences/tutorials. Good enough to keep the interest getting some game play basics in place. I have some more mixed feelings about starting experiences in Lord of the Rings Online and Everquest 2 – there are multiple areas there which I think have varying quality, although none of them is directly bad.
So how quickly do you decide whether you want to continue with a game, for example if you are playing a free trial? Nowadays the free trial times are generally shorter than a number of years ago, but I think that is fine. Most of the time I make a decision within a few hours of play time, sometimes even in a matter of minutes. A couple of days or a week free trial is generally enough time for me.