One of the attractions of MMORPGs… and MUDs before them… and role playing games before that I suppose… has always been, for me, that when you make progress, you keep that progress. Unlike, say, an RTS where every game starts you over at the beginning, you get to pick up where you left off and carry on.
Not always obviously. I can tell you about losing levels on deaths and other horrors that came out of the 90s. But for the most part when you made some progress, accumulated a bit more wealth, got that next piece of gear, it was an accumulation that added up over time.
It is why wise developers are very hesitant about purging the player database. Would I be interested in playing EverQuest II if I didn’t have 18 years of this and that piled up on various characters? Perhaps not… and all the less likely if I had stuff that got taken away.
Anyway, that is all well covered ground, part and parcel of the sunk cost fallacy that keeps many of us going back to the same old MMORPGs.
But in the last decade or so we have had some games that are MMO-like, titles like Minecraft and Valheim, where you get your own persistent world. You can share it with your friends and play together and still get that MMO feeling, on a smaller scale, with the progress fix that keeps us going.
But the small scale of those worlds, the limited groups we venture into them with, mean that they are also more disposable. Sometimes we like to start again fresh. That can be fun.
And sometimes we have to start over again because the games in question add new content which cannot be accessed unless you start over with a fresh world. That can be okay too. I started fiddling around with Minecraft a bit on my lunches because of The Wild update that hit last week. And, of course, we re-started out adventures in Valheim again to try some of the new things that were added since we left off a year ago.
But then we are left with the old worlds, the places where our efforts went, where our progress gets left behind, where to monuments to our creative time wasting linger while we go on to newer versions of the world and the game.
And, again, sometimes that it fine. Sometimes we don’t have all that much invested. Sometimes there wasn’t anything special or meaningful completed. But sometimes there was. I tend to think of Skronk and Ula and the Italian town they built in the big Minecraft world we played in for several years.
And that is just one of the highlights. Other people constructed amazing machines or giant monuments across the land. Even I spent ages building kilometers of roadways and minecart tracks, bother overland and in the nether.
We move on because we want to see the new content, but I always wonder what to do with the old worlds. I have backups of a few Minecraft worlds and our original Valheim world. I hate to delete them. But I always have trouble letting go of things like that… sunk cost fallacy again, the thing that keeps me playing MMORPGs.