Friday, May 18, 2012

A Different (MMO) Direction

The ultimate sandbox- The world is your oyster. Be whatever you want, do whatever you want... Whenever you want. 

Lately I've been thinking about a different type of direction with MMO games- Specifically MMO games because I like a larger scale and a constant game that never seems to end, one that is updated, growing and always there. A direction that focuses less on combat. Are they out there? There are some, I wish there was more of a variety but sometimes you have to dig around.

Why one that isn't centered around combat? It is sometimes nice to just relax and take a different approach in a game. Like the Portal games, they were awesome, especially Portal 2, that has to be one of the most awesome games I've seen in a long time, it is more of a puzzle instead of combat. I'm not saying I want to only play games without combat because I enjoy those, but those that offer other things on the side in a wider range or even those that have a different way to play are a nice deviation and change of pace.

Maybe I am getting older but I find when I am particularly stressed, tired or even when I am sick I don't want adrenaline pumping games, I want something laid back and maybe even comforting. I want to explore, build or customize my character. So what is out there and how much depth do they have? Sometimes these games can be more inviting and have closer communities, sometimes they can have the opposite effect though.

So whats out there? My personal list:

Second Life
We'll have to go with my personal choices for today's post. I'd probably have to say my first go to game for relaxing when I'm sick for a week or days would be Second Life. I know, don't even start- Forget everything you've ever heard about Second Life, any bad stigma associated with it. When you get a game where virtually, almost, anything is possible- possible as in created by players- you have good and bad. This really is the ultimate sandbox.

People design the avatars, clothes, skins, shoes, games, items, and on and on and on. It is all created by the players. Some you will pay for some are given away free, you have to search, look around. The game doesn't have a direction, you choose your direction. You can be social, you can be a loner, you can have a house, whatever. It is all up to the player. You can create your own items, your own look, your own story.

What is there to do in SL? It took me awhile to meet people, my friends list is short but I do have some great friends. It also took me awhile to find things to do how to do things, the UI could use a lot of work and it is over complicated but once you get the hang of it, it isn't that bad. There is plenty to do! There are zombie games, treasure hunter, role play, to name a few. There are carnivals you can find, forests, libraries, classes. Really if you can think of it, you can find it. The best way to get started finding things out is to check out the SL Destination Guide, which features some great places to check out.

Free Realms
Another one that I enjoy on the side is Free Realms. Yes, I know it sort of has a kiddie vibe, but it also offers a lot of other things to do on the side. There is fishing (which I love), housing, appearance slots, lots of games and many holiday activities. For those who like to explore and collect it is a great game. It is colorful and vivid and easy to figure out.

The chat is a bit of a pain to get around sometimes. That is probably one of my pet peeves with FR. It is kid sensitive, so you really have to work around the filter to say certain things. General things sometimes, and numbers.

The farming is a lot of fun and there is combat too, which is pretty fast paced. The nice thing about FR is that you can be everything on one character. I love that. It is an easy game to get in and out of, while some of the community is young it is pretty upbeat. Drop down a boombox and start a party. Fun even if you don't talk to anyone, just checking out other people seeing what they are wearing and such.

This one is a bit different but it is fun and lighthearted. I like Glitch because it is really different. I hear it is going back into the beta state, to fix some things and do some revamping on stuff like housing.

The game doesn't really offer a traditional MMO experience but that is what makes it refreshing. You can milk butterflies and do all kinds of weird stuff. I don't play this one on a regular basis but it is one that definitely fits this list!

Wurm Online
This is not one I play. I have tried it in the past and considered going back to give it another try but it seems very time consuming to get anything done, maybe when I have more time I'll play around with it again. The main thing is freedom and depth, it offers much of that. Build things, tools, repair, collect animals, feed them, nurse them when they are sick. A ton of micromanagement as things decay and it seems animals can die.

Wurm isn't all about combat, you can farm, catch animals, craft and so on. You can have boats, carts and houses. But with all of this people can destroy things, steal and break in. That is probably the biggest reason I don't play. I'm not interested in a game where I can be griefed after spending massive amounts of time on something. That's just me.

It is very sandbox-y and allows a lot of things to do. It really looks to be a very charming game. It really deserves to be on this list as it is unlike most MMO games out there and has a lot of depth to it.

Speaking of Sandbox, A Tale In The Desert is another which focuses on crafting and trading, I'm not really in the know on this game but I hear it is worth checking out for the sandbox experience.

This is another I don't play but I've had friends rave over it. This game claims to offer more than repetitive combat and offer other avenues of play. Housing, farming and even owning your own castle.

I'd even go as far to list Vanguard as you can craft and do diplomacy and never mess with combat for the most part. But, combat is a big part of this game, it does offer other outlets for play though. Even EQ2 has crafting, housing and building of dungeons-which you never have to set foot in. You technically can have a crafter who never fights.

My husband also loves WGT (Golf), you can play with friends and random people. There are plenty of other games out there like this one. Just have to search around.

While not a typical MMO- Minecraft! Build, craft, explore, fight and you can do this all with your buds. The world is yours to create. Even better now that they added more to the game. Also- Terraria, very similar but in 2D, my son and brother liked this one a lot too.

Why isn't the list longer? Is this not a popular thing these days? With games like WoW adding in personal farms I beg to differ. I hope to see these types of games grow in the future or even existing games expanding to create more outlets for people to play with. I hate to say this but we already have enough WoW and EQ clones, we need some fresh ideas like these games offer!

I mean seriously how many years can one raid and never get tired of it? Don't you ever yearn to get outside the box and explore and do something different? Maybe get out of the race for dps, or away from that RNG that hates you and what about all the.....drama!? I know I do. I think we lost a lot of the RPG in many MMO(RPG) games today. They don't focus about the experience but more on stats, competition and a gear treadmill, sadly. Gear grinds are not horrible but it gets horribly boring when every other MMO out there focuses on the same exact thing.

What ever happened to factions which held importance, epic quests? Why doesn't WoW offer legendary quests instead of RNG drops within raids? Whats so epic about RNG? I better stop before I get off topic >.<

How about you, do enjoy playing something different? Perhaps you prefer to stay on rails or have more direction? Know anything fun like this? Share in the comments~


  1. I only JUST wrote a piece about Glitch actually:

    I do love non-combat casual MMOs or just non-combat activities. They just offer great alternative gameplay where you can make your own goals and not be forced to follow min maxing in order to remain competitive. Just relaxing fun. Give me an MMO with housing and I will immediately make it a day one purchase.

    1. I agree! I am a housing nut, I wish more MMO games offered housing. It is nice to just relax and do something fun for a change, like decorating or even gathering things for your property. I'm a collector too so any game I can collect things in is fun for me too! Heading to check out your post :)

  2. I've played just over half the games on your list: FR, Vanguard, Glitch, Mabinogi, Wurm and EQ2. I like (or love) all of them except Glitch which I can't stand. It's the only MMO I've ever played that made my skin crawl. I felt like I needed a shower after playing it.

    I went through quite a long period of thinking like you that I wanted MMOs with less or even no combat. After a couple or three years of thinking that, though, I slowly came to realize that isn't true. It can't be, because given the free choice of doing non-combat activities in the MMOs I play, most of which have plenty of them, I still spend something like 40-50% of my time fighting stuff.

    My current thinking is that I want something like a 50-50 split between combat/non-combat activities, but that I want maybe 80% of the combat to be very easy. I spend an awful lot of time nowadays two-boxing in EQ2, mentoring my max level/aa Berserker down to much lower levels and just plowing through mobs like a whirlwind through a wheat field. Technically it's combat but it requires no thought or attention and is almost hypnotically relaxing. Real non-combat activities actually require a lot more thought and effort!

    1. Lol, Glitch is a bit different I will admit, I find it cute though. I admit milking butterflies is a bit creepy, haha.

      I spend a fair amount of time in these types of games and it is a nice deviation for me. I don't want all games to be like this but it is a relaxing change. I suppose it depends on what you're playing. I like the option there after so many years of not having things like that in my games.




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