SaltyMike’s weekly show, Answer the Call, discussed a topic near and dear to me. What do you consider progression in an MMO? As a new generation of gamers joins the market, where jumping from game to game has become the norm, many have lost sight of the varying play styles that exist. In what I consider the Golden Age of MMOs, when Everquest I, Asherson’s Call, Ultima, and the alike reigned, there were frequent discussions about the different player motivations, aka play styles. We hadn’t entered the cookie-cutter theme park phenom burgeoned in by the juggernaut, World of Warcraft. 

I have a love/hate relationship with Blizzard as being the best and worst thing to have graced the genre.

World of Warcraft introduced many thoughtful standards that now define MMOs, while simultaneously bludgeoning individuality with a spike studded meat clever. On Richard Bartle’s taxonomy, I’m an Explorer with self-defined achievement conditions who is occasionally social.

I can thrive in sandbox games because I prefer to define my existence to whatever extent the game allows. I enjoy creating my own adventures while acheiving goals. My class, profession, knowledge of the game, its meta, analytical thinking, ability to identify opportunities that I can mostly achieve alone, is what excites me. Playing with others as a defined group is when I wear my semi socializer hat, which represents only 25% of my gaming time. All I need are the core mechanics, interesting lore, compelling environments, some freedom of choice, the ability to interact with other players to earn a living, and I’m good. I don’t need game generated checklists or a player-controlled economy to thrive.

Based on Marczewski’s user types, I’m a Free-Spirited Achiever, where autonomy and mastery motivate me.

I’ve been flitting solo through your MMOs since the very start. It’s often challenging, especially in the old days. And still, it’s a preference. I like defining progression on my terms. Sure, I’ll group up when the need arises, such as dungeons, but leveling is something I’ve enjoyed doing alone. 

Silent me, roaming through a fictional world, with an inner dialogue going of who I am, what I’m trying to achieve, and why. I have short and long term goals, with a method to my madness. I start the session with the musts. What should I do right now that will help me further my goals? Followed by, is there something outright fun that I’d like to do? And ending with farming, a task I find quite soothing, as it lets me wander the game harvesting in favorite zones while chatting with org mates. It’s an ideal session for me. Take care of business, have fun doing whatever, clear my head to decompress. Gaming session over.

Nothing about the way I will play Star Citizen is about grinding for ships. They’re a tool, like picking a class or player profession. They’re not the end goal or the objective. Fostering exciting player interactions that are efficient, fun, and profitable is the objective. Grinding to buy things? Nah, that’s what I do in the real world. There is no right, wrong, best, or worst. There’s no definitive only this is progression or only this fun. Others have their play style, and I have mine. What’s character progression to you?