It's not a convincing, believable virtual world, compelling, involving gameplay or an intriguing, well-written story, important and welcome though any and all of those may be. No, the one thing that draws me in and holds me more securely and certainly than any other is the feeling that I'm making my own way in a world indifferent to whether I live or die.
|No-Pants Cat. Don't be this guy.|
In the Guild Wars 2 beta how did I spend most of my time? Trying out builds and classes? Exhaustively testing and submitting reports? Making a useful contribution to my own journey of self discovery or to the good of the game? A bit of that, yes, but that wasn't most of what I did. Nothing like.
|Yes, I took photos of my Discoveries in Beta. What are you, my therapist?|
|Amazing what a creature with no pockets can carry.|
Drill down into this and it becomes clear that I'm not doing it to get better at anything in particular or to get stronger so I can do anything specific. Nothing, that is beyond getting better and stronger so I can go further, see more and thereby get better and stronger to go further and see more still. That's my motivation. Get better, get stronger, see more.
|#1 priority for Headstart. Get this hat.|
Ah, there's that word. The one that, in the end, causes all the problems. I do want to look like a hero, or at least an anti-hero. Like Keith Richards, perhaps, or Phaid the Gambler, an ironic grin, a ready quip and a twist of crystal in my watch-pocket. I want to look like a hero, yes, but I don't much want to do anything heroic, certainly not slay dragons or delve dungeons.
|Am I too early?|
Here's my recipe for happiness in each new MMO: start with nothing, work your tail off (metaphorically speaking, for all the ratongas and charrs out there) til you have everything, then gracefully retire stage right. Re-enter stage left in fresh rags and do it all over again.
A dozen years in and it's beginning to look as though that process is infinitely recursive. My pleasure fails to diminish. The luster does not dim. It's good to find new worlds in which to repeat it because a change of scenery is welcome now and again but if the flow of new worlds ever stopped (it won't) I believe I could step out over and over into Norrath or Telon or Tyria and bootstrap myself up as a fox or a rat or a gnome for the tenth, hundredth, thousandth time with an anticipation almost indistinguishable from the first.
Everything else, the story, the socializing, the adventure, all of them trail along behind, supporting cast to the never-ending search for a better pair of pants.