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[Column] General: Exploring MMOtivation

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe CitadelPosts: 22,955MMORPG.COM Staff Epic

One of the things that players love to do in MMOs is play the explorer. There are, however, different types of exploration. What type of explorer are you? Check out Genese Davis's latest column on MMO motivation and then tell us about your method in the comments.

The factors that motivate players evolve as they begin to find out what matters most to them. A pioneer of the MMO industry, author, professor, and game researcher, Dr. Richard Bartle created one way players can decode their Gamer DNA. Known for being the co-creater of MUD1 (the first MUD) and the author of the seminal Designing Virtual Worlds, Dr. Bartle produced groundbreaking research on player personality types in online games, and in his analysis, players can be divided into four types: Explorer, Socializer, Achiever, and Killer. 

Read more of Genese Davis's Exploring MMOtivation.



  • JaedorJaedor Denver, COPosts: 1,171Member Uncommon
    ESAK here. I'd describe the socializing explorer pretty much as you summed it up: "Come look and see this cool and awesome thing I found!" It's why I don't play Oblivion anymore, and it's why Rift's Dimensions are my endgame.
  • SenadinaSenadina San Diego, CAPosts: 896Member Uncommon
    I like exploring when there are things to find. In TOR, for example, there are lore objects, chests, and datacrons to find. However, I wish they were more random. Or in the case of TSW, I loved stumbling upon quest NPCs and interactive objects that began quests in the environment. Loved that. Just give me a reason to explore, beyond a pretty vista.

  • bliss14bliss14 eleva, WIPosts: 572Member Uncommon
    Just yesterday I stumbled upon the Hidden Garden in GW2.   I must have spent about 2 hours in there and the satisfaction of completing it was great.  No wiki's or help, just exploring it and completing it.  It is things like that that make my day in an MMO.
  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member Uncommon

    I'm a territorial explorer, a pioneer.  I'm looking for somewhere peaceful to settle, to claim, control and develop.

  • VorthanionVorthanion Laguna Vista, TXPosts: 2,472Member Uncommon
    I'm 80% achiever explorer and 20% scenic explorer.  That is why Daggerfall and Morrowind are my absolute favorite games of all time.

  • MaelzraelMaelzrael Las Cruces, NMPosts: 375Member Uncommon
    Escape from the day-to-day bs of real life is what motivates me primarily.

  • zinger71zinger71 Fort St John, BCPosts: 63Member Uncommon
    ^ ^ This
  • WylfWylf Boston, MAPosts: 278Member Uncommon

    What motivates you to explore?

    Almost all of the above; Rare titles and mobs, achievements, hidden chests, crafting materials, finding quests and Easter eggs, checking out the views…

    Great article! Thanks Genese
  • SandricSandric Austin, TXPosts: 103Member Uncommon
    All the above for me.  Though largest amounts Achievement and Social.  I am kinda lazy so I rarely actually work on a wiki (not never, and I do contribute) but I often kinda go meh.  I do provide significant help ingame to people who need it and to guild/clan/alliance/monarchy (AC FTW), etc.

    Major or Current Characters
    AC - The Brute lvl 85 macer -HG (retired)
    SWG - Lihone Su'alkn Master Ranger/ MCH - Flurry (Retired)
    EVE - Sulone - Cruiser Lover (Retired)
    LOTRO - Sandric lvl 50 Burg (and others)- Brandywine (Retired)
    GW2 - Sandric lvl 80 Thief - Dragonbrand (Retired)
    NeverWinter - Sandric lvl 60 Rogue - Dragonshard (Retired)
    Archage - Sandric lvl 50 everything - Naima (Active)
    Others (Lots) (Retired)

  • larrypsylarrypsy Laguna Woods, CAPosts: 34Member Uncommon

    I explore virtually every new game which leaves no time to complete any journey...

  • WizardryWizardry Ontario, CanadaPosts: 11,925Member Epic

    I must be in the oddball category,i prefer all four of those aspects in my game,but i guess i do like to be a killer for the most part.

    IMO you need something to socialize about first,otherwise why pick THAT game to go in and chat?I do beleive there are people as i have talked to them,that just pick a popular game knowing there will be lots of people to chat with,often adding in Skype and Ventrillo.

    The Achiever analogy is as i have seen to be the most shallow.Judging by the way games are designed to hand hold,you could hardly use the term achievement

    .I did mention i like all four aspects,it is why i loved FFXI,a community dreiven game,imo the best combat out there for a rpg,you really felt satisfaction in achivements because there was ZERO hand holding,none at all.Exploration was obviously cool because my first weeks in a non hand holding game, i remember joining a group and everyone wanted to just romp across the world and explore new areas to fight in.We started from Tahrongi Canyon and ended up in Korolloka tunnel,quite the jaunt for a bunch of noobs.


    Never forget 3 mile Island and never trust a government official or company spokesman.

  • TithenonTithenon Everett, WAPosts: 113Member Uncommon

    "What motivates you to explore?"  I think the biggest part, for me, is the "Ooh, what's that?!" effect.  What I mean is, when I move into a new area, regardless of means by which I find myself there, if I see a bit of landscape, or pretty colors off in the distance, that grabs my attention right away, I usually say "Ooh, what's that?!" and soon find myself moving in that direction.  What I would like to see in MMOs is climbing - I mean real climbing, not just moving up a steep hill as quickly as possible.


    "Rare titles?"  No.  I couldn't care less about titles.


    "Chests hidden in remote areas containing epic gear, consumables, and crafting materials that benefit you no matter the level of the zone?"  I can't say these interest me, though they can be a nice surprise.


    "What about discovering breathtaking landscapes?"  I certainly like to see these pretty places, but I think the drive, for me, is to get to the top of them, to the deepest or highest point, and perhaps even into areas that are not developed, yet, like I did with every available square centimeter of World of Warcraft prior to Burning Crusade.  The breathtaking landscape draws me in, but being able to look back to where I came from after I get up there, is where the thrill is.  The ONLY place I've found to be somewhat counter to that was Rivendell Valley/Imladris in LotRO, which vista you get to see as you're entering the valley in the first place.


    "Do you prefer quest lines that are guided/linear and have a cohesive story?"  I prefer to have a sandbox environment, with tasks littered about, or which are concluded upon completion of their requirements, but yes I would love to have a deep storyline that actually has something to do with the back-story, the history, the uniqueness of the setting, and takes some time to solve.  I want to have "...adventures, Gandalf...", where a group of aspects are assigned to all tasks and the adventure's twists and turns are determined by what I do in the adventure and the aspects that are affected.  I haven't figured out precisely how to do this, yet, without the various databases for the game being completed overloaded, but once I do, I'll let you know.


    "Or do you like the freedom to explore areas yourself and find quests along the way?"  Well, part of my answer from immediately above, applies here.  To be complete, however, I LOVE to explore, regardless of whether I'm doing it as part of a task group or chain, or on my own.  I've already been known to do both, and have gotten myself in trouble a few times as a result.

  • VancePantsVancePants Los Angeles, CAPosts: 43Member Uncommon
    VERY interesting stuff about the bartle tests. I wikipedia'd that shi* - it's friggen' illuminating.


  • ScotScot UKPosts: 6,332Member Rare

    I find it hard to believe exploring is an activity players do in todays MMO's. There are those with a more open world, but how do you explore a ribbon of landscape? Little tunnels that open into small areas. You would have to be blind to miss anything.

    In a true open world MMO exploring comes into its own and shows modern easymode MMO's to be the shallow games that they are.

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  • ksternalksternal Hainesport, NJPosts: 82Member Uncommon
    Hands down I'm a The Achiever Explorer.
  • hardmode25hardmode25 micasa, LAPosts: 12Member
    of course we love explorer, much people work hard to create a virtual land and deserves to be explored... like the womens created by nature... bitch, please...
  • TimIrishTimIrish Austin, TXPosts: 2Member
    Originally posted by Vorthanion
    I'm 80% achiever explorer and 20% scenic explorer.  That is why Daggerfall and Morrowind are my absolute favorite games of all time.

    I also feel that I fall into this same split category. I'll have to check out Daggerfall and Morrowwind. Thanks Vorthanion for the suggestions, and great post MMORPG/GeneseDavis. Learned alot. Liked it.

  • MajorBiggsMajorBiggs Visalia, CAPosts: 709Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by hardmode25
    of course we love explorer, much people work hard to create a virtual land and deserves to be explored... like the womens created by nature... bitch, please...

    Lately there hasn't been much to explore besides a football field sized zone with "caverns" here and there, and exploring is moot because you'll need to kill the mobs/get an item from that secret mysterious "oooh!" cave  for some braindead NPC. A world with actual exploration would be Asherons Call 1 and 2, Istaria, Neocron, EQ1 and 2, The Saga of Ryzom, and DAOC (and a ton more, mainly from years past). Though womens definitely need to be explored...

  • aspekxaspekx Brandon, FLPosts: 2,167Member Uncommon
    what mmo is that pic with the title 'flower' in the right corner?

    "There are at least two kinds of games.
    One could be called finite, the other infinite.
    A finite game is played for the purpose of winning,
    an infinite game for the purpose of continuing play."
    Finite and Infinite Games, James Carse

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