BY Heather Richtmyre  //  June 23, 2010

Finding your purpose in an MMO.


hat do you wish to achieve in-game?

And why did you decide this? What constraints and options led to this decision? I could say that my interest in player-vs-environment content in World of Warcraft was determined by the expansive and attractive environments of my first raid, or by the removal of attunement requirements when my character first reached the maximum level, or simply by my distaste for some of the attitudes more prominent in the game's player-vs-player choices. Choosing to pursue this objective then led to certain constraints related to gear and talent choice, along with time-based concerns about scheduled raids.

And World of Warcraft does not have the most open options for endgame. I could pursue PvE, PvP, or perhaps try to obtain gold, though such begins to lack usefulness for higher quality gear.

The customization of an open-ended sandbox game allows for more precise tailoring of an objective. With EVE Online, I still haven't reached a coherent idea of what I'm trying to accomplish. Pieces such as the game's career guide can assist, but still offer a staggering array of options, many of which could be combined or only partially engaged in. Adding in the lack of experience with many aspects of the choices, and deciding whether to further study how to scan down wormholes and sites of interest — or train to use new ships — becomes rather daunting at times; particularly when training times are measured in weeks. The short tutorial overview of a few different options also provided some aid, but proved frustrating on several occasions.

However, the customization of an open-ended sandbox also allows for more precise tailoring of an objective. Even looking at single-player games in this mode can showcase games where exploration and nearly ignoring the main plot can give an enjoyable and varied experience. But, such is still contingent on the player determining how to discover and pursue the exploration choices, and may result in some costly lessons when venturing into dangerous areas.

For now, I'll continue to debate future objectives, while engaging in whatever activities are offered. This has already resulted in eliminating several potential choices, most of which are related to mining and manufacturing. Even playing escort to a group of mining ships seems quite uninteresting, let alone pursuing such resource harvesting as a primary goal.

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