August 5, 2010 9:14 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend wants me to start playing a MMORPG with him. I'm feeling more than a little overwhelmed. Help me?

My boyfriend is a long-time gamer and has a MMORPG (Rappelz) that he enjoys playing. He'd like for me to learn how to play so that it can become an activity we do together. I've never played an RPG before and am finding myself overwhelmed by all the stats and rules and abbreviations and time commitment.

I can tell that playing this game together is something that he would really enjoy. I'm not so sure yet that it's for me, but I want to give it a try and at least learn more about this activity that is important to him.

Are there any resources that might help me learn the basics of playing an RPG? Is there anything you wish you had known when you were starting out? Is there anything that would make playing together as a couple more fun? Any other advice you have would be appreciated.
posted by Colonel_Chappy to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There seems to be an introduction on the site. I apologize if this comes across weird, but why isn't he helping you? Isn't that half the fun of bringing someone new into a game? RPG's generally are pretty simple. You have health and enemies have health you both hit each other with sticks until you have less health. All the stats items and bonuses just effect how long you have to hit each other with sticks or spells.
posted by edbles at 9:27 AM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've never heard of or played Rappelz, but I'm a gamer girl :)

Are there any resources that might help me learn the basics of playing an RPG?

Any chance I could convince you to give Pokemon Diamond (or Pokemon Pearl) a shot? People have lots of opinions on pokemon, but It's still a traditional rpg.. and will let you get comfortable with the concepts of health points, mana/energy, and playing strengths vs weaknesses. It's not complicated by any means.

Is there anything you wish you had known when you were starting out?

The fact that MMOs are full of real people mean that the good of humanity is there.. and so is the bad. You're going to run into rude 16 year old jerks. Try to develop a tough skin and not let them get to you.

Trolls exsist in MMOs too. Don't feed them.

Is there anything that would make playing together as a couple more fun?

When I started my first MMO.. I was just testing it out for the same kind of reason that you were. I wanted to play with some of my friends. My boyfriend almost immediately bought the mmo and joined me in the game. It's now one of our favorite things to do together. We don't do anything special, one of us asks: Hey, want to play? And the other goes: Sure!
posted by royalsong at 9:29 AM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I say make an honest go at it - go all in one weekend, spend it on the sofa, go on missions with his team, etc.

But be clear when you're enjoying yourself and just as clear when you're not. If a game stops being fun and isn't stimulating, to borrow from Poirot, the "little grey cells", then it's worth talking about similarly all-encompassing, just-the-two-of-us things you'd like him to do with you.

If all your together time is spent doing stuff he wants to do - and there's no variant of it that takes less than, say, three hours at a time, that could lead to some feelings of unhealthiness on both sides: does he expect that you'll be asking him to dance lessons, beach cleanups, winery tours, etc?

tl;dr: talk about it! :)
posted by mdonley at 9:32 AM on August 5, 2010

Best answer: Disclaimer: mostly based on my own situation, which sucked. Sorry to be Debbie Downer here; it's entirely possible that you will have tons of fun.

My former partner was a big MMORPGer, and this was one of the things he wanted us to do together. Which... didn't work out so well, because it was so expressly HIS thing, not something that we were into together. Even when we played together, he had strict boundaries and strategy sessions that didn't necessarily interest me, but I felt very excluded when these things weren't "open" to me.

One of the wonderful thing about MMORPGs is that there are so many way to play. If you want to schedule raids with your guild and hook up TeamSpeak and spend hours on a Saturday engaging in PvP (player vs. player combat)? Great. If you want to earn lots of money and spend it all on funny outfits? No problem.

I'd encourage you to learn more about the game, but be clear that you may not want to play in the same way he plays. Maybe you can schedule certain times to do the same thing, or maybe your playing styles will be linked only by shared locations and common knowledge of the game and the people who play. Just don't let him force you to play it "his way," or let playing together in this game take the place of other activities. Make time to introduce him to an activity you think would be fun to do together, too.

I just don't like seeing (predominantly) guys think that their problems with girlfriend socialization will be solved by making her do something that they are already very invested in. There are very different dynamics at play for many female gamers, and it's always hard to come into an activity where one person already has a significant history.
posted by Madamina at 9:33 AM on August 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

The first thing to know is that they're all different, even when they use the same terminology it doesn't necessarily mean the same thing.

I've never played Rappelz but most games give a brief overview of the various stats and what they do at character generation. Also most decent MMOs have some form of 'tutorial level' (wikipedia indicates that it has a 'trainee island') that guide you through the process of controlling your character and accomplishing the basic tasks you'll be repeating to level up. Have you tried starting a character and just diving in? That's usually the best way to get started.

Again, abbreviations will vary from game to game (eg. LFG = Looking for group but in some games they might say LFP - looking for party or LFT - looking for team and a variation on that would be LFM - when someone has or is trying to start a group and is Looking For Members), if someone says something you don't understand, ask your boyfriend to explain it - you'll soon pick it up.

The "time commitment" thing is a myth, you don't have to play 14 hours a day. If you don't play for 2 weeks your character will still be there, unchanged. Some guilds require members to play a certain number of hours per week or be available at certain times but you don't have to join them. There are plenty of MMO players who have jobs and family obligations and a sensible idea of priorities!

Don't be roped into being a 'girlfriend healer' if that's not what you're into. If you're going to play you should be able to play whatever style of character you want. If your boyfriend doesn't respect that then he's not really about sharing his hobby and spending time with you, he just wants someone to help/buff his character ;)
posted by missmagenta at 9:39 AM on August 5, 2010

If you look at games as the high-end players play them, they can be very intimidating. But most games are designed to ease you into the depths of all that information. Usually when you start a new character, you're in a training area where the first bits and pieces you need to know get fed to you in little bites. Everything else just slowly adds itself to your knowledge as you keep playing and get introduced to more ideas.

Short form: don't be scared! Just jump in with a new character and noodle around without worrying about how you're playing or if you're doing it "right". Just have fun, explore, try out all the stuff the game is introducing to you.

My husband and I play together a lot, and it really does bring us together. Every MMO I've played has couples in it and they're usually having fun.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 9:46 AM on August 5, 2010

Have you tried single player RPGs? Things like Torchlight or Oblivion. This might help you get a feel.
posted by mippy at 9:49 AM on August 5, 2010

I've sworn off playing MMORPG's but there's definitely some things about playing them that translate to all mmo games in general-

Read! Read blogs, wiki articles, and forums dedicated to the game. If you're not into roleplaying as a noob nor want to develop a reputation as a noob, research is paramount. This game has been around for a while so there should be a lot of resources available. And then of course, actually playing.

Remember that the veil of anonymity behind a computer screen will make some people be total douchebags and assholes. Growing thick skin and learning to ignore those people would be wise. You may also meet some of the nicest, coolest people ever and end up meeting up with or grabbing a bite once a month. I've met some really cool people in-person from games I played and we're still friends.

As for playing as a couple, I can only offer conjecture- don't make him feel obligated to play together all the time. Ask him for help in-game when you really need it, otherwise some verbal suggestions or strategies may help. Don't run around the world telling people you're a couple. Heck don't lead people on to believe you're female unless you're ready to deal with the amount of attention (good and bad, mostly bad) that comes with people knowing.

on preview, nthing Madamina- a fleshed out mmorpg will allow people to pick a multitude of paths in the game- the casual player who plays weekly and collects every vanity item, the player who wishes to explore every inch of the realm, the player who loves to kill other players, the player who likes to group up with others and conquer the most difficult challenges, the player who just likes to sit in town and chat, etc.

Find which path you enjoy the most and see if it aligns somewhat with your boyfriend.
posted by liquoredonlife at 9:52 AM on August 5, 2010

Starting to play an MMORPG with someone who has already become established is one of the most monumentally frustrating adventures I have ever undertaken. My ex decided that it would be much more fun for him if I became a gamer. I started playing WoW shortly after release because he thought we could do it together. Well, I sucked. I was one of the all time worst players I've encountered. He was frustrated because I wasn't playing at his level, and I was frustrated because I totally sucked.

I figured out at the start of the first expansion that it was all math, and suddenly I was good. He resented it, and got frustrated that I was better than he was. The real fact of the matter is, he had wanted the girlfriend healer effect, and it wasn't what he got. Make sure you realize that if you aren't having fun, you don't have to continue.

I'm a very big gamer now, and my current partner and I game together all the time. Once you get the fundamentals, it can be great. Don't expect to get it right away, and don't be too frustrated with yourself if you don't.

I wish I'd known when I started gaming how cruel and mean people are. Expect to find the lowest common denominator all the time.
posted by Zophi at 9:56 AM on August 5, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I've been playing RPGs since childhood (they were text based back then) and every single one of them had newbie areas/quests that will slowly introduce the game's mechanics to you. You could also read the introduction guide on the website beforehand to help solidify the concepts. Yes, there are a lot of stats and strategies on how to maximize them. However, I've been able to enjoy playing without cracking my head too hard on how to create the most powerful characters using the most efficient methods.

When it comes down to it, all you're really doing is killing things, picking up money and items and gaining experience to level up. Which brings up my next point. Enjoy the stories that go with the quests! RPG stands for role playing game but the vast majority of players don't role play. They like the strategy aspect. If that's not your cup of tea, try to treat playing like reading a book and participating in the story.

One thing to watch out for when playing as a couple. I usually take point because I'm more experienced. Your boyfriend will likely call the plays. That's ok. But if it turns into constant and specific do this do that, let him know that's not fun.

I think it's great you're taking an interest and are willing to give gaming a try! I play a lot of video games myself. My boyfriend does not. I was absolutely delighted when he agreed to try a co-op shooter with me. I want to say don't worry about the time commitment. I bought the game for us months ago and we still haven't finished. It's enough that he acknowledges my hobby and enjoys it to a certain degree. On the flip side, I don't spend all my time playing or insist we play.
posted by vilandra at 10:00 AM on August 5, 2010

Pokemon's a great suggestion. (If you don’t have DS you can probably find clones online, like if you were to let’s say type Pokemon brower game into google and then click the link that said Play GameBoy Games Online Emulator you might find a version of Pokemon in the Load Rom menu ). If you're looking for free easy to access simple less morally questionable RPG access, try Kongregate, Sonny 2 and Monster's Den, look like pretty standard examples of the form. I've only played Sonny 2 though. this page is a strategy guide specific to rappelz but seems to require and understanding of gamer vocabulary.

Health – you have it and so do your enemies. Your attacks and theirs will damage one another’s health.

The stats generally:

Attack – this is a number that helps determine how much damage you will do to something
Defense – this is a number that helps determine how much damage something will do to you
Evade – this is a number that helps determine how likely it is that an attack will actually hit you

Sometimes they take these stats and then stick the words magic in front of them. That refers to those qualities if the attack against you is made of magic. All this stuff grew out of D&D basically so it’s just a ton of math that you don’t really need to worry about at first. Eventually, you’ll get an intuitive feel for what your character is good and bad against, just by playing. You won’t necessarily having to compare stats all the time, that’ll come later if you want to get more strategic.

If you want to raise your stats so that you are stronger (do more damage when attacking), tougher (take less damage when attacked), or sneakier/faster (are less likely to be hit when attacked), you can usually do that one of three ways in games getting items or earning experience. Items can do things that raise or lower your stats. Higher stats are usually better. So equipping a sword that has +10 attack means you will generally do more damage when you attack things than you would w/o the sword equipped. But that only happens when you have the sword equipped, it’s not a permanent effect. Another temporary way to improve your stats is to use a potion or spell, these things will juice your stats for a certain time limit. So for example you might going up against someone who is super hard and someone in your group might cast a spell to raise your defense so that you can last longer and take less damage during a battle. Experience on the other hand is permanent, you earn experience by killing things or doing quests, which often require killing things. If it’s related to crafting or something you earn experience making things.

Character classes, determine which kind of things you will be good at when fighting enemies. Generally there will be people that are good at damaging things up close - tanks, people that are good at healing other people - healers, people that are good at hitting things that are far away/have special protections -casters/archers.

Crafting skills, let you make items in game rather than having to buy them.

Money, you get it from killing things, you can use it to buy things like items and potions. In fantasy environments it’s usually called gold.

But really it's easier to just get in there and play. Make a random character don't worry about the stats just click stuff and start playing. You may find that once you grasp the fundamentals you don't like the play style you created, but you can probably just create a new character and trash your first one.
posted by edbles at 10:13 AM on August 5, 2010

Sorry, this page is a Rappelz strategy guide. Also here is some punctuation add them where appropriate above.

posted by edbles at 10:21 AM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would recommend picking a new game he hasn't played before. Sure, his experience will help him pick up a new game faster, but at least the gap in understanding the mechanics etc. will be less than if you jump into Rappelz.
posted by juv3nal at 10:45 AM on August 5, 2010

Best answer: My advice would be to give it a shot by yourself, see if you like it, and if it becomes an activity that you find yourself enjoying, gain some experience on your own then let him know you'd like to do it with him -- or that you've developed your own social network in the game, but you'll play with him once in a while. Or just sit next to him when you're playing in different places.

The initial learning curve of something is often a good indicator of whether you'll enjoy it or not in the long term; games that require wading through arcane controls and rules to ramp up will be games that require wading through arcane controls and rules to play regularly, they'll just be more advanced controls/rules. My personal experience with WoW, for instance, was initially "gee, there's a lot of running and grinding, but I'm sure when I get more experience, it'll start being fun" -- and by the time I hit level 12, I realized that the running and the grinding are an integral part of the experience, and walked away.

And of course, if you play by yourself and don't like it, be honest and hopefully he'll respect that you tried, and be willing to give something of yours a try (on the same terms, of course.) It's easy to believe "oh, I love this, and my partner will love it too if they just give it a try", but I can tell you that often, people with lots in common also have things they enjoy that their partner hates and vice versa. Which is okay, of course -- the important thing is that you give it a try.
posted by davejay at 10:48 AM on August 5, 2010

Best answer: Sorry if this isn't helpful.

I think the first thing you need to think about is whether or not YOU really want to play the game. Is this really the best way for you to "spend time" with your boyfriend or is he just trying to bring you into his addiction because it's easier than actually really doing things with you?

I say this as an old time MUD player. (MMOs before they had graphics.) I did Ultima Online and WoW (The former was an early graphical MMO and the latter is still the most popular MMO world wide.)

Many MMOs aren't really "fun". They're incredibly addictive, more like being hooked on video slots. Sure you get that dopamine rush, but you're essentially a rat pushing a level on a variable ratio reinforcement schedule. I know a lot of gamers will bristle at that comment.

Is your life really going to be better if you start sitting in front of a computer for an extra 3-4 (at least) hours a day? Keep in mind that MMO players measure their time played in days, weeks, and months spent online. That's increments of 24 hours,168 hours and 730+hours. I know people who probably spend more of their waking life in front of the computer than in the real world.

Will you still go outside as much when you start playing? Will you go shopping and cook and see movies and have dinner with friends? Will you go to plays, or art shows, or concerts? Will you continue to jog in the morning or go hiking on the weekends? These are all things that might suffer.

I know there's an element of melodrama here, but starting an MMOs can be like considering whether or not you'd like to try heroin for a few weeks and see what happens.

I've lost more friends to MMOs than I have to drugs, or disease, or accidents or anything else. I'm talking about people who essentially become hermits once they get into it. Look at your boyfriend's hardcore gamer friends. Are they happy? Healthy? Do you want to live a life more like they do? Many of my friends gained an extra 30-40 lbs, developed hunched backs, and became sickly pale.

I'm just saying that there are probably better ways to spend meaningful time with your boyfriend. Set dinner dates or cooking days, or movie days or exercise together. Join a book club, take a class together.

I've never met anyone who has really become happier after they start an MMO. Being consumed by the compulsion to do something is not the same as enjoying it.
posted by Telf at 10:50 AM on August 5, 2010

Best answer: Oh, and hey, you might want to think of it as two games: the Rappelz game, which you're finding out if you like, and the meta-game, your relationship game, where he's going to learn whether his partner is willing to try new things she may not like, and you're (maybe) going to learn what he's like when his partner doesn't like the new thing that he does.
posted by davejay at 10:52 AM on August 5, 2010

I have played Rappelz. Oh my. How do I break this to you?

I have played Rappelz because I considered taking a job with Galanet/gpotato here in Dublin. I played the game and no longer considered taking the job.

Rappelz is one of many nearly identical Asian F2P (free to play) MMOs that have been making the transition to the west recently. These games are also referred to as "Asia grinders", and that's what they are, from level one on. Grind means a lot (a LOT) of repetitive actions. You will kill the same monster hundreds, if not thousands, of times. This happens to some degree in most MMOs, but most western (or western-friendly) games dress this up nicely in some way, with lots of quests, lots of moving around, etc. Asia-grinders are pretty much conveyor-belt gaming.

But what would I know. I hate MMOs. I'm a hardcore gamer. I've been playing games since I was 4 years old (and that was 1984). I play compulsively. I know all about getting completely and utterly lost in a game. And I don't get MMOs. I find them the very antithesis of gaming.

This is how I feel when I play an MMO:

You are pretty much exclusively rewarded for the amount of time you invest. There is no real skill involved (not until you get to end-game content at any rate). There aren't any "meaningful decisions" beyond "when do I do which quest".

My advice is that you shouldn't play MMOs with your boyfriend unless you find you're also having fun. Try one out. They're all rather easy to get into these days. Try Rappelz, it's free to play after all. But if you're not having fun, don't do it for his sake. I've had a girlfriend who did things for my sake. It did not end well.

I'm assuming you're not a gamer. How about your boyfriend meets you half-ways? I know from the experience of having a total non-gamer girlfriend how AMAZING it is to have your gf play anything with you. There are many very good alternatives to going full-on hardcore MMO with him, and I'm thinking you may enjoy some of these more.

For instance, and this has already been mentioned, if your bf wants to stay with the "make a little guy walk around a fantasy world and kill lots of stuff" paradigm, Torchlight is a BRILLIANT rpg. It's single-player, but that kind of thing has never stopped me and the one gamer gf I did have. Granted, we lived together, but we did have a LOT of fun just sitting next to each other, playing our single player games, talking about them. We played Heroes of Might and Magic 3 back then because I am very, very old.

Even if you can't sit next to each other and play, play-and-watch is a LOT of fun (I'm assuming here you and your boyfriend aren't in a long distance relationship; if you are, I'd have to think of a different set of recommendations). I remember playing through all of Portal with my (non-gamer gf) watching and enjoying herself massively. I remember watching her play Tropico and getting a huge kick out of that.

This might be a second recommendation. City-building games are less hectic and more strategical. They can also be aesthetically pleasing to play, and there's a deep satisfaction in getting a city running just-so. My current recommendations would be Tropico 3 (WITH the expansion pack, to be sure; that stuff should have been included in the core game) or The Settlers 7. Settlers can also be played online, but I haven't had much luck getting that to work.

Moving even further away from hardcore mmos, there are a number of "casual" gamers that even hardcore gamers find strangely appealing and that non-gamers seem to like a lot. The one I'd like to mention here is Plants vs Zombies, a "tower-defense" type of game where you have a yard about to be overrun by zombies and must plant defensive flowers. It's a LOT of fun, and my sister, who had until that point not touched a single game in her life got totally addicted to it. In a good way.

So what I'm saying is, meet him halfway. Figure out if you can't find a game that you enjoy (hey, maybe you'll enjoy the hell out of Rappelz, and if so, more power to you! I just find that highly unlikely) and get him into that. Trust me, the fact that you'd be playing anything with him will make him very happy.
posted by DanielZKlein at 10:52 AM on August 5, 2010

You should try it and see if you like it. You might like it! But don't feel like this is something you have to do.

It's not like if you were dating an orthodox Jew and he needed you to keep kosher with him for religious reasons. It's okay for you not to play his MMORPG.

Surely there are things that you do, that you wouldn't require him to do, correct? You have hobbies and interests and favorite television shows that he's not into. That's okay.

I say this because I have dated two MMORPG guys so far.

The first guy was desperate for me to join, so that we could play together. Well guess what, I didn't really enjoy the game, and I wasn't very good at it, and it was intensely frustrating for us both.

Eventually I figured out that "I wish you'd play with me" translated to "I want to interact with you, but I don't want to stop playing. Therefore if YOU play, I can have my cake and eat it too."

The second guy, I made it clear from the start that I was Not Interested In Playing. We carved out chunks of time to do things together, and chunks of time when he would be gaming and I'd be doing my thing. And I have to say, it worked really well that way, but this approach requires a lot of mutual respect on both sides.
posted by ErikaB at 11:28 AM on August 5, 2010

I'm going to nth everyone who says not to keep doing it if it's not fun for you. I will encourage you to give it a shot though.

Telf: I am happier having started playing an MMO. Just because you've not had a good experience, doesn't mean the whole kit and kaboodle is bad.

From the tips section from the makers of WoW: Everything in moderation, even World of Warcraft.
posted by royalsong at 11:48 AM on August 5, 2010

I started playing Final Fantasy XI with my boyfriend when our relationship was still in the long-distance phase. I've been playing it for almost six years now, and still enjoy it greatly. Sometimes I'll take a week or more off, 'cause I need a break, and will go play other things. But I keep coming back, often with a renewed sense of adventure after a break. Sure, there are douchebags in any game, but I have made some very good friends in FFXI; some I have met in person, and some I am sure will be friends for life, even after we're done with the game. Finding the right guild ("Linkshell", in Final Fantasy XI) is key. Are you a hardcore gamer? Social and laid-back? Do you like PvP? Hate it? Are you a role-player (get really into character, adopting the quirks of your character's race or background)?

There are some guilds that are very demanding, especially "endgame" guilds that are composed primarily of "elite" players, with a strong focus on very challenging events, with strict attendance policies and rules for treasure distribution. There are some guilds that are purely social, basically a neighborhood bar; don't go there looking for help with a mission but they're a great bunch to shoot the breeze with. Don't be afraid to try several on for size, until you find "family" that you really feel comfortable with. This may be your boyfriend's guild, it may not, but often that doesn't mean you can't still do things together.

In our Final Fantasy XI group, one of our Linkshell members told us that he'd likely not be playing for a while, as he'd just lost everything when his home was ravaged by fire and the resulting water damage. Though most of us had never met him in person, almost everyone in the Linkshell pitched in what they could, and together, we were able to send him a nice chunk of cash to help him get back on his feet. That really impressed me, that we had all formed such a tight bond, despite having never met in person, and is probably a large part of why our group is still just as tight, years later.

Playing a MMORPG with other people and forming friendships in-game is not all that different than forming friendships in person. The triumphs and tragedies that you share in your adventures together can produce some really tight friendships, some of which will continue even after you've stopped playing the game. :)
posted by xedrik at 1:05 PM on August 5, 2010

Whatever you do, do not start playing Puzzle Quest 2. It will eat your life.
posted by DanielZKlein at 7:14 PM on August 15, 2010

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