So I’ve been playing some new games lately that I can’t talk about just yet but while being stuck at 92% of a patch that clearly hates me, I started musing on an old pet peeve of mine, namely MMO intro scenarios. To be perfectly up-front: they’re annoying.
I’ve never been the patient tutorial kind, not for the many oldschool RPGs I have played nor any other type of games, even though I’ll acknowledge there are genres where tutorials make a lot of sense. I’ve had a quick look at Reus over Xmas and would’ve been pretty lost without one. Then again, I gladly skip the tutorial in Witcher 2 because there’s nothing a key mapping menu can’t tell me if I really need it. For most games, I want tutorials to be optional.
Now, MMO tutorials are different in the sense that the large majority of them won’t just run players through a quick session of popups and UI-exposition – no, MMOs after all have narrative ambition! Instead, many feel compelled to invent some type of forgettable intro quest chain to demonstrate basic controls and menus to the player. What’s worse, they’ll have you start in some artificial, not rarely underground type of restricted area (two words: Allods Empire) that you really hate and, if you’re very unlucky, will have to re-visit and linearly follow through on every new character created of the same faction. Oh gawd.
Is it asked too much that I can just jump into a fresh MMO and be blown away by a brand new world? A wide vista opening in front of me, with beautiful starting zone music coming my way? Do I need to spend the first 20 minutes down in some pit, tunnel, whatever, faking interest in NPCs I can’t possibly care about yet, so when the game decides to kick me out I can’t even talk first impressions to friends because ALL I’VE SEEN WAS A TUNNEL?
Last time I checked, this was a genre where I have all the time in the world and where I don’t need to learn everything there is to know in the first few minutes.
I love you vanilla WoW. I love you still for so many things you did right, simply because you didn’t know better.
P.S. Obviously not all MMOs feature the exact intro scenario described above and many, like GW2, Rift or LOTRO, are allowing players to start outdoors. Still, tutorials and instruction pop-ups have become more obtrusive in recent years and I’ve seen way too many tunnel stories lately….and that’s all I’m saying.