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A couple years ago, I tried introducing my friend Tim to the MMO. The effort didn’t pan out, possibly because of the title I chose. World of Warcraft would have been the obvious choice; not only is it enormously popular and well-crafted, but it earned its fan base largely by aiming specifically at new arrivals to the MMO, emphasizing easy play and a reward structure that makes room for grown-ups with little free time for the grind.

Instead, I tried Pirates of the Burning Seas, for reasons that seemed good at the time. For starters, I was tiring of WoW and wanted to try something new; we could explore PotBS together. Also, Tim likes a pirate theme, and he was a long-time veteran of solo adventure games, so I didn’t expect much difficulty making the leap. But, though PotBS had a terrific engine for sea battles, it failed in the market at large, and it failed for Tim, who went back to Civ, Diablo, Baldur’s Gate, and replaying the Monkey Island series.

But there’s hope yet. Since passing on PotBS, Tim has fallen in love with Dragon Age: Origins, and agrees that Fallout 3 is the best Fallout entry yet. Both games employ much of the interface and game vocabulary that WoW refined to an international standard, whether or not it actually invented any of it and, more to the point, we can expect the narrative format he liked so much in Baldur’s Gate and DA:O to be repeated and multiplied in the MMO I’m most curious to try, Bioware’s upcoming Star Wars-themed The Old Republic. Even more promising, Tim sent me word of the impending Lego-themed MMO.

I’m not so excited about that one; the trailer shows a lot of animated Lego figures running into battle amidst triumphal fanfares and not much else, so there’s little to get excited about. And, after playing DA:O myself, I’m no longer so sure I’ll get into SW:TOR, either. But Tim will, sooner or later. As a solo adventure fan, it’s only a matter of time before he’s tempted into a title he likes.

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