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Explaining the Dearth of Console MMOGs

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the because-nerdvana-has-pc-labs-installed dept.

Role Playing (Games) 123

spielermacher writes "Gamasutra is running an interesting analysis written by Flying Lab Software Producer Joe Ludwig explaining why there are not more successful Console MMOGs. Some reasons given: lack of keyboard, MMOG players like to play in pairs, business model doesn't always work out for the developer, larger installed base of game-quality PCs, and others."

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How About The Dearth of Comment? (2, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23731563)

I, for one, lament the dearth of teletype MMOGs, let alone those that can be navigated from my console. Count me in the minority...

Re:How About The Dearth of Comment? (1)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#23731683)

MMOGs?

Re:How About The Dearth of Comment? (2, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23731837)

Before your time. There were MMOGS and ROGGERS. You may have seen their like in the movie, QQUAGROPHENIA.

Re:How About The Dearth of Comment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23732163)

I think Naughty Bob was attempting a humorous invocation of the HTML element.

Re:How About The Dearth of Comment? (2, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23732381)

I can indicate tags on the teletype. I just can't read em!

Have you ever tried "view page source" on a heavily CSS-laden site in 300 Bps, on tearoff, zebra-printout?

Re:How About The Dearth of Comment? (1)

pablomme (1270790) | more than 6 years ago | (#23732331)

Are you talkin' 'bout my g-g-generation?

Re:How About The Dearth of Comment? (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23732465)

I'm expecting the Slashdot Mods [slashdot.org] to put the figurative "boot in it", at any minute!

Re:How About The Dearth of Comment? (1)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#23735731)

It's half man, half dog. They're their own best friends!

MUDs (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23731727)

I, for one, lament the dearth of teletype MMOGs, let alone those that can be navigated from my console.
What dearth? There are plenty of MUDs [wikipedia.org] .

Re:MUDs (1)

ShawnCplus (1083617) | more than 6 years ago | (#23732393)

Long live MUDs. All of the Dikus and Mercs, SMAUGs and ROMs(not so much ROMs), MUCKs and MOOs, and all other immensely geeky media.

Re:MUDs (1)

sanosuke76 (887630) | more than 6 years ago | (#23738269)

Hey, you forgot Envy! :)

Re:How About The Dearth of Comment? (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#23731885)

I object to your characterization you insensitive clod!

Re:How About The Dearth of Comment? (2, Informative)

SeePage87 (923251) | more than 6 years ago | (#23732203)

Oh, to be back in the days of ASCII TradeWars played on the BBSes with a 4800 baud modem. Now I have to play http://www.starportgame.com/ [starportgame.com] Starport: Galactic Empires on broadband. What's this world coming to?

Re:How About The Dearth of Comment? (4, Funny)

Eudial (590661) | more than 6 years ago | (#23733347)

Welcome to Slashdot MUD

>-|-OD+

Login: Eudial
Password: *********

Welcome!

> look
You see various posts, modded funny, insightful and troll.
> examine fp
You see the First Post. It is modded 5, Funny.
> look in fp
It's dark. You see nothing.
> equip torch
Ok.
> look in fp
It wasn't that funny. Just got the attention of all moderators since it was first. Poster has a low UID.
> attack fp.
You try to stab the fp, but miss.
The fp stabs you in the face.
You die. The post was funnier than you thought.
R.I.P.

Connection reset by server.


Hmmm... could work.

Re:How About The Dearth of Comment? (2, Funny)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 6 years ago | (#23734867)

You would have been eaten by a fr0st p1st long before you whipped out your torch.

Re:How About The Dearth of Comment? (1)

Eudial (590661) | more than 6 years ago | (#23735175)

You would have been eaten by a fr0st p1st long before you whipped out your torch.
Fortunately, the dire fr0st p1st that used to prowl the MUD dropped it's torch and was eaten by a grue.

Re:How About The Dearth of Comment? (1)

Macgrrl (762836) | more than 6 years ago | (#23741101)

It's dark. You see nothing.

You are eaten by a Grue.

No Keyboard (1)

jacem (665870) | more than 6 years ago | (#23731577)

Consoles don't have keyboards so it must be a pain the a** to login let alone set up your account.

JACEM

Re:No Keyboard (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23731615)

Ha! I have mastered posting to Slashdot with an Apple Remote! [wikipedia.org]

I can do anything!

Re:No Keyboard (3, Informative)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23731965)

Actually, the Logitech ProBoard was sold for about $20 and was fully compliant for the PS2 and Final Fantasy XI. I've recently discovered it works on both the X-Box 360 and the Wii.

Re:No Keyboard (1)

dlaudel (1304717) | more than 6 years ago | (#23734355)

Any USB keyboard will work with the XBox360. Not sure about the Wii or PS2, though...

Re:No Keyboard (1)

2names (531755) | more than 6 years ago | (#23734707)

I have a bluetooth keyboard working just fine with my XBox 360. Just plugged the bluetooth transceiver into the Xbox and paired it to the keyboard. It just works.

Great thing is, the same keyboard works natively with my PS3, too.

Re:No Keyboard (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 6 years ago | (#23739817)

[CronoCloud@midgar CronoCloud]$ cat /etc/redhat-release
PS2 Linux release 1.0

[CronoCloud@midgar CronoCloud]$ cat /proc/bus/usb/device (edited)

S: Manufacturer=Mitsumi Electric
S: Product=Apple Extended USB Keyboard

They work fine. :-) and with regular games that have keyboard support too.

Re:No Keyboard (3, Insightful)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#23736179)

That doesn't really matter. computers ALL have keyboards, it's a given. As long as you have to buy the keyboard extra for the console the PC will always have that advantage to it. you can't design a MMO around keyboard usage on the console and expect it to do anything but flounder and as long as you only have a controller then it will continue to be inadequate.

Re:No Keyboard (1)

oahazmatt (868057) | more than 6 years ago | (#23736781)

That doesn't really matter. computers ALL have keyboards, it's a given. As long as you have to buy the keyboard extra for the console the PC will always have that advantage to it. you can't design a MMO around keyboard usage on the console and expect it to do anything but flounder and as long as you only have a controller then it will continue to be inadequate.
But video game systems have always been itemized, with the exception of the early Nintendo system. You will not get everything you need for games you may not buy in one package. USB keyboards are available for the option of expansion.

It's not unfair to request that the publisher of the MMO provide a USB Keyboard (a small one, such as the ProBoard mentioned previously) in the packaging. If Rockstar can package a safe-deposit box in GTA then a compacted keyboard can be included in FFXI or a WoW port.

When the Wii debuted, it wasn't packaged with the Wii Wheel or the WiiFit mat on the pretense that you might buy those games. Those items were packaged with the game. When Final Fantasy XI debuted for the Playstation 2 it was packaged with the harddrive needed to play it.

Consoles are itemized, and the required components for a particular game should be made available with the game, not the console.

Re:No Keyboard (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 6 years ago | (#23739743)

Console gamers are not stupid. If a game works best with a dedicated controller, they will buy them. Like all those Playstation 1 gamers who bought Dual Shocks in 1998, or the PS2 gamers who bought headsets in 2002, or all those EQOA and FFXI players who either bought keyboards or used one they already had.

yeah.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23736655)

In fact, ANY usb keyboard will work on your 360 or PS3.

Re:No Keyboard (5, Insightful)

fitten (521191) | more than 6 years ago | (#23732013)

Because chatting via typing is difficult when you don't have a keyboard. The other option is to use voice communication and it's hard enough dealing with text chat much less several dozen people all talking at once... seriously, could you imagine Barrens chat if it were voice? or the chat inside Ironforge? How about all the gold/isk sellers spamming voice chat? Many people use most MMOs as a fancy graphical chatroom. When you can't chat... well, there you go.

Voice works great for guilds/corps/groups/raids but that is selective admission into the channel(s) already.

And then you get into needing lots of buttons for game play. You need how many for your spell icons in WoW? How about adding attack and all the other commands as well? (crafting/harvesting/etc).

There just aren't enough buttons on a gamepad for them all, and if you did have them, it'd turn into a keyboard of some kind (maybe a chorded one).

Re:No Keyboard (1)

joggle (594025) | more than 6 years ago | (#23735391)

I agree about the lack of buttons. It's really a shame too since it should be trivial to allow USB keyboards to work with the Xbox 360. You'd probably need a larger hard drive to support new game data as it becomes available though.

I'd love to play something like LOTRO on a 360 if I had a keyboard. That way I could keep track of which of my friends are online playing other games and I could ask them to come over to help me or, for example, I could load up Halo 3 to play that with them a bit if I was just doing some grinding in LOTRO.

Re:No Keyboard (1)

Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) | more than 6 years ago | (#23737119)

Umm...the Xbox 360 does take USB keyboards buddy. Read some of TFC's.

Re:No Keyboard (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 6 years ago | (#23735421)

And then you get into needing lots of buttons for game play.
Todays controller do have tons of buttons, it really wouldn't be all that hard to map everything WoW has to offer on a controller, which after all only has 12 action buttons in its default GUI, while game controller have 14 action buttons. And that is not even considering that a console MMORPG could be build up from the ground for a controller and thus be made to work with that perfectly instead of trying to retrofit a PC game to the console controller, after all there are tons of console RPGs that work just fine. Chat with a controller would indeed be a problem, but then there are things like the Microsoft Chatpad and of course all consoles these days support USB keyboards. Maybe one could even do speech recognition to do transparent voice to text translation.

The technical side of things seems to be well covered. If anything the comfort could be a problem, typing on a USB keyboard on a couch doesn't work as well as on a desk.

Re:No Keyboard (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 6 years ago | (#23737351)

Voice works great for guilds/corps/groups/raids but that is selective admission into the channel(s) already.
Most people on MMOs never talk to anyone outside their guild/group anyway, so that's not exactly a problem.

And then you get into needing lots of buttons for game play. You need how many for your spell icons in WoW? How about adding attack and all the other commands as well? (crafting/harvesting/etc).
Who says that a console MMO needs icons for dozens of spells?

Or for that matter, who says an MMO has to have spells? Your main mistake here is assuming that every single MMO ever made has to follow the WoW/Eq/D&D set of clones.

I think the main reason console MMOs haven't taken off, is that console gamers like short, fun, action-packed games, not six hours killing boars to level. I have to admit that after a Ninja Gaiden session, watching my WoW character auto-attacking while I sit there watching is something of a let-down.

If a console MMO is going to take off, it needs to be fast, fun, hardcore action. Grinding must be removed completely, no tedious walking up and down, and no taking months to get all the best gear. This pretty much eliminates every MMO ever made, so it'll have to be a new concept.

Re:No Keyboard (3, Informative)

tacroy (813477) | more than 6 years ago | (#23732449)

Both xbox and ps3 can use a keyboard, and the xbox has a "chatpad" which dock into the normal controller and works incredibly well. Also, the bulk of chat would most likely be audio, something consoles have working quite well.

Login is the least of your worries (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#23732587)

Actually, having played a lot of MMOs, IMHO the login is the least of your worries.

In WoW a Shaman can easily run out of the 60 icon slots on the toolbars. On COH most of my characters had to keep some of the temporary powers off the 3 toolbars available (only _very_ recently they provided the option to open more).

You need _some_ way to activate them quickly. Be it keyboard or by clicking them with the mouse. Scrolling through lists of choices with a gamepad, in real time, would suck more ass than the vacuum toilets on the Soyuz ;)

I mean, seriously, I can see the talks after a WoW-style raid:

Tank: "Dude, FFS, why didn't you heal???"
Priest: "Sorry, guys, I had to look for a mana potion in through my action list."
Mage: "Heh. Do what I do, just scroll to it in advance."
Priest: "STFU, noob. The only reason I wasn't at it, was that I looked for the bandages earlier when you over-nuked."

The best I've seen done with a gamepad was Sega's PSO, which was little more than a hack-and-slash with 6 actions maximum, assigned to 3 keys on the gamepad. Plus one "shift" key to select between the first and second set.

The sequel, PSU, reduced that even more. Yeah, so you can play it on a gamepad. Except with any given weapon you have exactly one special attack you can assign to a key. And you have to scroll through a list to even select your mana potion or put on some special glasses. (Which turn off your sword, since you don't have enough buttons to activate the glasses _and_ use the sword.) It gets (A) annoying fast, and (B) repetitive fast, since the number of actions is finite and small, and there are no clever combinations and strategies to use with them.

Re:Login is the least of your worries (2, Insightful)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 6 years ago | (#23735627)

Not all MMOs require massive numbers of on-screen spells. Everquest provides 8 spell slots (if I remember correctly), and Guild Wars only allows 8 skill slots at a time as well. Part of the strategy in these games is choosing a subset of your available firepower that will work well for a particular mission or area. WoW is obviously optimized for a PC platform with a mouse and keyboard input. So, yeah, a straight port of WoW would probably be pretty awful. But it's certainly possible to design a compelling game that doesn't require 60 icons on the screen at once.

Re:Login is the least of your worries (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#23737155)

Not to mention you could use buttons as shifters. Hit the left shoulder pad and it changes your active spell slots to an alternate. Now you have 8 possible spells you can cast in a split second (on an standard PS/XB controller.) Use both shoulders on both sides and you have the possibility of 16. Use them in combination (topleft + topright + x) and you come up with 40 buttons and I haven't even touched the direction pads.

Re:Login is the least of your worries (2, Interesting)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 6 years ago | (#23735729)

Speaking of Phantasy Star Online and keyboards, you could actually get a Gamecube controller with a keyboard in the middle. My friend had one and it was one of the funniest things I ever held. He used it for PSO, which he played all the time.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/media/2389/1/9342.jpg [nintendoworldreport.com]

I had it on a Dreamcast (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#23736003)

Heh. Yeah, I bought a Dreamcast keyboard just to chat in that game. Not as cool as the combination in your link, though, I must admit.

Re:Login is the least of your worries (1)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 6 years ago | (#23739207)

In Saints Row, all weapons were selected with one button+stick movement. Pressing B brings up a wheel(radial dial) displaying all the available weapons(12 I believe?), and you flick the stick in the direction of the weapon you wanted. Let go of the button and the weapon is selected.

You can use several buttons in this manner for quick selection of a large number of items/abilities since this would eliminate the need for scrolling. There may be some need for accuracy and practice, but very minimal relative to what gamers go through in mastering the control schemes of other games.

Just press+flick to get to any of them. LT could hold 12, RT could hold 12, LB could hold 12, RB could hold 12, Y could hold 12 menu options, B could hold another 12 menu options, this would be more than enough for any MMO. Make X+(any button) toggle that 12-set to another 12 set(but customizing your arrangement should eliminate the need for frequent alternate set access).

Re:No Keyboard (0)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 6 years ago | (#23733661)

except every major system out there can use a keyboard with one of them (PS3)capable of using a wireless bluetooth keyboard. My Wii and 360 both use the wireless keyboard I bought for FFXI on the PS2 5 years ago perfectly fine.

Re:No Keyboard (1)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 6 years ago | (#23735425)

If the lack of a keyboard was seriously the only thing stopping console video game companies from making millions upon millions of dollars, I'm pretty sure they would have released one. I mean, they have the technology, it really isn't that complicated.

Re:No Keyboard (1)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 6 years ago | (#23736611)

Consoles don't have keyboards so it must be a pain the a** to login let alone set up your account.

Setting up, say, an XBox Live account (name, address, card details...) with a controller is annoying, but you only do that once. Entering a password is a mild annoyance, but that's pretty much irrelevant for most people because the consoles have the whole "logging in" thing down pretty well. You don't need to re-enter all your details to register for every game. I can set a password on my PS3, but I have no need to, so for me "logging on" consists of starting the game. I've not seen a password for an actual game, only ever for my PSN ID, and I never have to enter that. You can use a keyboard with a console though - a standard Bluetooth or USB keyboard works fine with a PS3.

But look at Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution, Buzz, Wii Fit etc. - specialised controllers are big business in the console world. Why not offer a dedicated controller? A trackball or thumbstick and a load of buttons could make for a better controller than keyboard+mouse for MMORPGs.

Dearth? (0, Redundant)

chalkyj (927554) | more than 6 years ago | (#23731581)

I certainly hope someone is able to explain what ever that means.

Re:Dearth? (3, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23731665)

He's the 7 foot asthmatic guy in black leather, and the samurai kabuto.

Re:Dearth? (4, Informative)

Fex303 (557896) | more than 6 years ago | (#23731743)

Let me introduce you to the dictionary [reference.com] , a new invention that lets you find out the meaning of words.

In future you may be able to use such a device all by yourself without posting inane comments on /.

Re:Dearth? (3, Funny)

Whalou (721698) | more than 6 years ago | (#23732149)

Where's the +1 burn mod when you need it.

Some reasons given: (3, Insightful)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 6 years ago | (#23731585)

Some reasons given

Or the most obvious answer... parents don't want their TV tied up for 16 hours at a time while their 26 year old son "Johnny" does back to back raids. =P

Another argument about his lack of job hunting skills and the small TV in the bedroom doesn't cut it. =D

Re:Some reasons given: (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 6 years ago | (#23731655)

I dunno about you but most people have TV's in there bedroom.

In some cases houses only have one TV, but they also only have one computer.

Think about it.

Re:Some reasons given: (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23731715)

According to Nielsen, the bedroom TV is for Pr0n. Games stay in the family-room, thankyouverymuch.

Re:Some reasons given: (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#23732159)

XBox 360 on the front TV.
Original XBox in the bedroom.
Laptop whereever it's needed.
Desktop in the computer room.

And pr0n is portable......it'll play on any of the above devices.....

Layne

Re:Some reasons given: (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#23731775)

In some cases houses only have one TV, but they also only have one computer.
On a video game console, one TV serves up to four people. On a PC, one monitor serves only one person because major PC game publishers don't feel that shared-screen multiplayer is worth anything.

its all possible... (2, Insightful)

theuhstuf (1153693) | more than 6 years ago | (#23731689)

...but no one is willing to take the risk. I've been playing WoW with a xbox360 controller for years and I love it. :p Joy To Key is one of the best pieces of software ever developed... ( http://www.electracode.com/4/joy2key/JoyToKey%20English%20Version.htm [electracode.com] )

Re:its all possible... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23733383)

so i guess you have a rogue?

Re:its all possible... (1)

Gridpoet (634171) | more than 6 years ago | (#23733547)

no silly, he plays a Boomkin Drood!

^_^

Re:its all possible... (2, Funny)

MarcoAtWork (28889) | more than 6 years ago | (#23734859)

no way, he plays a mage, after all how many buttons does it take to bind 'conjure water'?

Re:its all possible... (1)

Macgrrl (762836) | more than 6 years ago | (#23741155)

Having looked at the WotLK alpha leaks I'm already worrying where I am going to find another 5-6 keys to bind for my Boomkin. I already use the numberic keypad, mouse binds and function keys.

Now all I need is for them to improve the survivability of my treats... they're hysterical when you let them loose in the midst of multiple packs of mobs.

Erm, obvious? (1, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | more than 6 years ago | (#23732277)

  • limited networking ability on the consoles
  • less multi-threading support in traditional console app architecture
  • product-oriented publishers not good at running service-oriented servers
  • what to do with little kids in big adult world
  • ...
  • profit!!! (which can't be determined until servers run for months)

Re:Erm, obvious? (4, Insightful)

JebusIsLord (566856) | more than 6 years ago | (#23733429)

* The modern consoles ALL have built-in networking.
* The modern consoles (Wii exempt) both have multiple CPU cores. Anyhow, a) why do MMOs need multi-threading more than traditional games, and b) why do you think the multithreading support is lacking in consoles?
* The same developers who make MMOs for PCs (Sony, Square Enix), make non-MMO console games. These guys already know how to run the business end of it.
* The console market is huge, so games can target the young, the mature, or everyone. There are also parental controls on all 3 modern consoles.

Not to flame you, but I don't think any of your answers are "erm, obvious", or even "erm, likely". There is tons of online gaming on XBOX, just not massively multiplayer.

My guesses:

* No keyboard for socializing! The 360 has a headset. I'm not sure about the PS3. The Wii is screwed on this front.
* Hard drive space is limited on the 360, and these games have HUGE update requirements.
* XBOX Live users are accustomed to a single XBOX live charge for online pay, and might balk at additional per-game charges. Sony plugs their "free online play". These games make their money off recurring charges.

Re:Erm, obvious? (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 6 years ago | (#23736729)

  • modern consoles all have networking, which either depend on wifi or need you to route yet more cable to your television area just for some of the games that you will use on your television
  • modern consoles have plenty of cpu, agreed, but
    • you definitely notice any lag if you can't write nonblocking network code
    • you need to actually use the threading cpu features to get the benefits
    • it's still not in keeping with many game developers to write multithreaded games
    • we can't limit ourselves to the huge megalith companies if we are discussing more more more variety
Totally agree with you on the keyboard vs headset thing, and the harddrive thing, though.

Re:Erm, obvious? (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 6 years ago | (#23739435)

[blockquote]which either depend on wifi or need you to route yet more cable to your television area just for some of the games that you will use on your television[/blockquote]

What? Your cable modem isn't next to your TV? And even if you don't have ethernet right near your TV, WiFi is an obvious and easy solution.

[blockquote]modern consoles have plenty of cpu, agreed, but

- you definitely notice any lag if you can't write nonblocking network code
- you need to actually use the threading cpu features to get the benefits
- it's still not in keeping with many game developers to write multithreaded games
- we can't limit ourselves to the huge megalith companies if we are discussing more more more variety[/blockquote]

Oh Please, the CPU's are a non-issue.

Re:Erm, obvious? (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 6 years ago | (#23743169)

All games written for the current gen machines (Wii tech is really last gen) use multiple cores and multiple games. Its now a requirement to use multiple threads. You can't ship a title without it these days, sorry. (And its really simple to write nonblocking net code anyways - you don't really need threads because you're typically 60ms behind what's in the net queue and what's being displayed. Polling is fine.)

The 360 has a 120GB harddrive. Lots of room for content update there. Even on the smaller drive (20GB?) you could keep a bunch of patches stored for later use. Expansions could come in extra discs from the store, like big Wow or EQ updates.

Re:Erm, obvious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23738459)

Keyboards work fine on the wii. That's what the usb ports on the back are for :)

Re:Erm, obvious? (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 6 years ago | (#23738781)

The Wii actually is dual-core. Same CPU family as the other consoles' CPUs, too. But its satellites don't work.

Console specs (2, Informative)

DrYak (748999) | more than 6 years ago | (#23739289)

* The modern consoles (Wii exempt) both have multiple CPU cores.
Nope. The PS3 has a single PowerPC core. You're confusing it with the SPU (of which there are 7) which are specialized stream processing units.
But the system runs on the PowerPC core.

The XBox is the only to feature 3 main cores.

* No keyboard for socializing! The 360 has a headset. I'm not sure about the PS3. The Wii is screwed on this front.
All 3 consoles (and even previous generation consoles) feature USB port. All console can use USB keyboards. (Out of the box for Playstations and XBoxes ; the Wii needs a firmware update which is automatic as soon as the Wii has internet access).

Previous generation consoles (DreamCast and GameCube) supported keyboard, either by using a console-specific keyboard or by using a PS/2-to-console adapter with whatever keyboard you have lying around.
And even if this required some hardware purchase (both hardware for the keyboard and a broadband modem if either you had a GC or didn't like the built-in analog of the DC), that didn't prevent hack'n'slashes like Phatansy Star Online to be produced and achieve success on those consoles.
The keyboard was even supported on the DC version of Quake 3 to offer classic keyboard and mouse gameplay style.

In addition the keyboard it self is a pretty lame excuse. Radial menus have already been proved to be efficient (Silver is an example of PC+DC game which used radial menus for quick accesses) and consoles gamepads have pretty much enough axes to allow radial menus. So it's possible to put enough short-cuts even if there's no keyboard.

My opinion is that the current crop of top MMORPG that are both successful and well marketed happen to run on PCs.
In short : almost everybody is on WoW currently, and WoW runs only on Windows PCs. It's hard to compete with it and be successful by introducing yet another MMOG in a saturated market where PC games already have a monopoly.

Re:Erm, obvious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23744049)

No keyboard for socializing! The 360 has a headset.
Because nothing builds immersion like your badass level 60 Blood Elf partner squealing like a 12-year-old boy.

Half-wrong... (2, Informative)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#23732553)

Voice chat is great for small groups. It even works pretty well for short messages from one player to another. It really doesn't work so well for chat groups of 100.
Nothing really works well for chat groups of 100. Voice chat can be done on that scale, though -- you just have to setup channels properly.

There are other reasons to want a keyboard -- keyboards have far more buttons than controllers, meaning more actions, and MMOs can be complex. And there's the registration, login, etc.

People sit pretty far back from their televisions, and even HD displays really aren't very high-res compared to PC screens.
People do sit pretty far back. But HD is 1920x1080. Raise your hand if you have a computer monitor that high. The biggest I have is 1600x1200, which is not widescreen, and is 153,600 pixels fewer than a 1080p screen.

MMOs take four to five years to build. People keep trying to convince themselves that they can do it in three years, but they're wrong.
So what? Good MMOs are continuously updated for five to ten years. No reason to think you couldn't port it to a different platform and give it a graphical update in that time.

Many, many people play MMOs (and other games for that matter) in pairs. I've played 6 different MMOs with my wife. Lots of people play with their spouses, siblings, or kids.
And many, many people play console games in pairs, trios, or quartets. We tolerated split-screen for Goldeneye on the N64, where each player might get, what, 180x140 worth of screen space? And now we're on HD displays.

Console MMOs really need to support split-screen play on a single machine, which adds to the development complexity.
And developing for a single platform, instead of the "PC platform" of whatever the fsck the user decided to buy, should reduce development complexity.

There were some good points here, and I'll stick with my PC platform as long as I can -- on Linux -- but I don't see anything compelling.

Here's one thing that does matter: MMOs are big, and getting bigger. Much of them must be download in patches. It's difficult to buy a computer with a hard drive less than 80 gigs these days. It's difficult to buy a console with a hard drive more than 60 gigs, unless something's changed.

Oh, and consoles very likely won't allow mods. Many people live by their WoW UI mods, custom voice chat, etc.

Re:Half-wrong... (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23733067)

Wow, there are a lot of good things in there, but overall I think you're wrong.

People do sit pretty far back. But HD is 1920x1080. Raise your hand if you have a computer monitor that high. The biggest I have is 1600x1200, which is not widescreen, and is 153,600 pixels fewer than a 1080p screen.
Great. I sit 2 feet from my monitor, most people don't sit within 6 feet of their TV. I can't imagine playing an MMO and being able to fit as much chat on my TV and still keep it anywhere near as readable as it is on my computer.

So what? Good MMOs are continuously updated for five to ten years. No reason to think you couldn't port it to a different platform and give it a graphical update in that time.
Port to another console? You just want them to wave their magical wand and suddenly the code works, they don't have to work on the timing and threading that's unique to each console, and they don't have to turn it into a major project that takes years? I would rather they work on content and fixing bugs/balance.

And many, many people play console games in pairs, trios, or quartets. We tolerated split-screen for Goldeneye on the N64, where each player might get, what, 180x140 worth of screen space? And now we're on HD displays.
And MMOs are considerably more complex than goldeneye. Also, try fitting the chat text into 1/4 of a TV screen. Also, TFA mentions that, done properly, the split screen on the console could be a huge selling point since people play together.

Re:Half-wrong... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#23741099)

Great. I sit 2 feet from my monitor, most people don't sit within 6 feet of their TV.
The article mentions that, and so do I. That's why I have the signature I do.

Port to another console? You just want them to wave their magical wand and suddenly the code works, they don't have to work on the timing and threading that's unique to each console, and they don't have to turn it into a major project that takes years?
Erm... Portable code doesn't require magic, and it doesn't always take additional years. It does require forethought, though.

The years of work that go into an MMO are, what, content, server load balancing issues, content, client update management, content, less-laggy network play, and oh yeah, content. Maybe I'm completely out of my league here, but it doesn't seem like the client is such a huge problem -- more like that you'd pick up any off-the-shelf engine and adapt it.

Making that content scale might be difficult, but then, take Half-Life 2 -- plays reasonably what was mid-range hardware for 2005, yet scales up with things like HDR. I think it could be done better still -- keep in mind, MMOs don't need to have absolutely bleeding-edge graphics. Just create very high-res models, and scale them down programmatically.

And MMOs are considerably more complex than goldeneye.
Are MMO clients that much more complex than goldeneye?

Also, try fitting the chat text into 1/4 of a TV screen.
Voice.

Also, TFA mentions that, done properly, the split screen on the console could be a huge selling point since people play together.
True, but it seems to kind of weaken the "barriers" listed. The excuse here is not trying to fit stuff into 1/4th of a screen -- more likely 1/2, I'd guess (think couples playing) -- but that it would increase development complexity.

HDTV resolution? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#23733149)

People do sit pretty far back. But HD is 1920x1080.

Or 1280x720, or 1280x1020, with chroma subsampling further reducing the effective resolution. But more to the point, as you say, "People do sit pretty far back." so you DO need bigger text to be legible regardless of the resolution.

Re:Half-wrong... (1)

ajs (35943) | more than 6 years ago | (#23733853)

Voice chat is great for small groups. It even works pretty well for short messages from one player to another. It really doesn't work so well for chat groups of 100.
Nothing really works well for chat groups of 100. Voice chat can be done on that scale, though -- you just have to setup channels properly.
Actually, for 100, open text channels work fine. For 1000, they break down.

the primary problem, IMHO, with MMOs on consoles is that it's a totally different play style. Children didn't get MMOs started, it was teens and young adults for the most part that created the phenomenon, going back as far as Ultima. Those people play consoles, but for the most part they play consoles as a social event, getting friends together and bashing on a few bad guys. MMOs require more time spent, and longer social interactions with others who are not present.

What I would like to see is DS-like devices or even phones (iPhone comes to mind) that can play a cut-down version of popular PC MMOs. I'd just like to be able to do things like move my characters around and list things on the auction house in WoW. Man, that would be so huge.

Re:Half-wrong... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#23740929)

What I would like to see is DS-like devices or even phones.... I'd just like to be able to do things like move my characters around and list things on the auction house in WoW. Man, that would be so huge.
One of the disadvantages of having a ginormous virtual world all under the control of one corporate overlord.

Re:Half-wrong... (2, Insightful)

Eponymous Bastard (1143615) | more than 6 years ago | (#23734879)

A couple of your points

So what? Good MMOs are continuously updated for five to ten years. No reason to think you couldn't port it to a different platform and give it a graphical update in that time.
But updating, say, from PS2 to PS3 is so far from trivial it's not even funny. Compare to going from XP to Vista, for example. For that expense you can port to Mac or Linux easily.

No businessman is going to make a decision of starting a project that is going to have to be ported to a new platform before even releasing, when you can stick to the PC and keep your investments low.

The only way I can think of convincing someone to do this is if you have advanced knowledge on the next console platform and start developing early, so as to be the flagship product of the console. Maybe the next XBox will focus on being an MMO box and allow the developers to get a head start by developing on a correctly configured PC.

Many, many people play MMOs (and other games for that matter) in pairs. I've played 6 different MMOs with my wife. Lots of people play with their spouses, siblings, or kids.
And many, many people play console games in pairs, trios, or quartets. We tolerated split-screen for Goldeneye on the N64, where each player might get, what, 180x140 worth of screen space? And now we're on HD displays.
And once again, we hit the hardware limitation problem.

In GoldenEye, both players were in the same map. In an MMO there is a chance that they'll be in completely different areas, and consoles don't usually have that much RAM, let alone having to split texture memory, etc. Likewise, barring cordless headphones, you'll be sharing sound too. And since you won't be reading as much, it's just a mess.

Then again, you could have two consoles on different TVs anyway.

Console MMOs really need to support split-screen play on a single machine, which adds to the development complexity.
And developing for a single platform, instead of the "PC platform" of whatever the fsck the user decided to buy, should reduce development complexity.
And it's easier to develop for x86+windows+OpenGL/DirectX than for multiple consoles or generations of consoles.

Seriously, consoles are nice and all, but the current hardware doesn't look like a match for MMOs. Maybe the next generation will include an MMO machine, with extra hard drive, wireless keyboard, specialized controller, headphones/microphone, voice recognition, enough memory for split screen, etc. But until then, don't bother.

Re:Half-wrong... (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 6 years ago | (#23739981)

Seriously, consoles are nice and all, but the current hardware doesn't look like a match for MMOs.


You did know that the two biggest console MMORPG's are both PS2 games? A console from the previous generation?

Re:Half-wrong... (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#23741185)

For that expense you can port to Mac or Linux easily.
Done right from the beginning, you can port to Mac or Linux easily anyway.

No businessman is going to make a decision of starting a project that is going to have to be ported to a new platform before even releasing
Without sarcasm, I'm guessing businessmen aren't driving Duke Nukem Forever.

Notice also: This exact thing happened to Halo. It was originally going to be PC/Mac/Linux -- Mac, at least, because Bungie had always done Mac stuff -- and became an Xbox exclusive.

In GoldenEye, both players were in the same map. In an MMO there is a chance that they'll be in completely different areas
Keep in mind, same map doesn't necessarily mean at all close to each other. Also, with a dynamically loaded game, "same map" doesn't necessarily mean anything.

Likewise, barring cordless headphones, you'll be sharing sound too.
Why bar cordless headphones? And I don't think that either of these are particularly relevant -- you could always force the players to stay within a certain radius of each other. Remember, it's supposed to be about playing together.

And it's easier to develop for x86+windows+OpenGL/DirectX than for multiple consoles or generations of consoles.
Really? I would have thought the other way around -- especially given OpenGL is ported to a few consoles, too.

Maybe the next generation will include...headphones/microphone
The last generation of the Xbox gave you a headset with Xbox Live, required to play online games. Most games used voice as the default method of communication -- even where there was an onscreen keyboard, people would voice chat, send voicemail, etc.

voice recognition
What does that have to do with any of the above?

Re:Half-wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23737649)

>People do sit pretty far back. But HD is 1920x1080. Raise your hand if you have a computer monitor that high

Me! MEEE! 2560x1600 (HP 30" display with a two G92 8800GTS SLI setup) - Sweet, sweet, CoD4 ass-kicking high resolution with max quality @ 91FPS!! :)

Re:Half-wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23744069)

HD is 1920x1080. Raise your hand if you have a computer monitor that high.
There are still people with monitors smaller than 1920x1200?

At their heart, MMORPGs are glorified chat rooms (4, Insightful)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 6 years ago | (#23732951)

...and its hard to chat with no keyboard.

MMORPGs owe their origins to the world of MUSHes and MUDs, which were essentially chat interfaces oriented around playing a game as a common activity.

Much of my time in any MMORPG is spent talking with my group, whether determining tactics for the next fight, discussing game issues and features, or just finding out how things are going in their lives. All of that requires a convenient means to communicate, and while some people use voice communications for much of this, most still use typed chat. A console is simply not chat-friendly in the same manner that any PC is. Voice chat is less useful in many cases because you are not provided with any visual tag as to who is speaking as you are with in game typed chat (and when the female elf you have been playing with turns out to have a deep male voice, its harder to associate the spoken voice with the character at least at first). Its fine when you *know* the people from regular contact or in real life, but when playing in a pickup group (PUG), thats not the case.

Now if a console system were to integrate a decent keyboard with the game instead of various controllers then this might change, but consoles appeal to a different style of gameplay (one I fail to appreciate) and often a different type of player. While standard games may be steadily moving to the console format in many cases, MMORPGs will remain PC oriented until new technology arises (some new form of voice recognition chat that puts what you say on screen as speech balloons say, rather than hearing it as voice, or more than likely in addition to doing so) that makes playing them possible and convenient. Personally speaking I know I could never use the substandard control available from a controller more effectively than the control gained from keyboard+mouse, although I am trying to adapt to using a Nostromo in some games at the moment. Even then its not as effective for me.

Re:At their heart, MMORPGs are glorified chat room (1)

pmontra (738736) | more than 6 years ago | (#23733659)

...and its hard to chat with no keyboard.

Exactly, expecially because many people don't like voice chat, for example when they can't speak in their native language. In my case I can read English well and write a pretty understandable one (well, hopefully - you judge it) but sometimes I miss words on TV and things get worse when I have to speak and understand quickly lots of different people.

Finally, even native speakers may find the tone of their voice inadequate or do not want to give away their age or gender by speaking. I heard stories about charismatic MMOGs team leaders that lost all their credibility when somebody discovered them to be 12 year old boys or so. Actually, this proves that the adult team members were some fools caring more about their pride than about the skills of the leader, but also that the pre-teen leader had good reasons to hide himself behind a textual chat.

Re:At their heart, MMORPGs are glorified chat room (1)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 6 years ago | (#23734427)

Finally, even native speakers may find the tone of their voice inadequate or do not want to give away their age or gender by speaking. I heard stories about charismatic MMOGs team leaders that lost all their credibility when somebody discovered them to be 12 year old boys or so. Actually, this proves that the adult team members were some fools caring more about their pride than about the skills of the leader, but also that the pre-teen leader had good reasons to hide himself behind a textual chat.

Ah good point, text-based chat also provides anonymity for people who want to preserve it. A lot of female players get hassled endlessly in many MMORPGs, primarily because no one can reach out and "instruct" them on why that is not appreciated. I know my wife got a lot of sexual harassment in DAOC for a while there (people moving their toons behind hers and simulating sex acts (using physical /emote commands) for instance as well as a lot of verbal abuse, requests for cyber etc). I can understand a strong desire to avoid that on many people's part, and using voice chat will make that rather difficult to say the least.

Now it would be handy if some developer built in speech recognition that rendered your spoken words as chat text and thus let you operate keyboard free as I suggested above, but given lag and other problems endemic to MMORPGs, I can't see that working all that much better than the current system.

Re:At their heart, MMORPGs are glorified chat room (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 6 years ago | (#23739921)

You sir, are clueless. Why? Because you haven't been paying attention. Why do you think the PS2 has USB ports? To allow different kinds of input for different games, thats why. People have been plugging USB keyboards into the PS2's since 2001! Any console gamer who buys an MMORPG "knows" that they are going to want to hook up a keyboard for in-game chat.

It truly is a non-issue.

Keyboards... (1)

Vrallis (33290) | more than 6 years ago | (#23733101)

Even with voice chat you aren't going to produce a very social game (which is what MMOGs really are about) without a keyboard. A joystick and four buttons won't cut it...which is why I still consider a standard PC of any flavor to be far superior to any console they can come up with.

Re:Keyboards... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23733303)

Anyone try hooking up a usb keyboard to an xbox360?

Re:Keyboards... (1)

machxor (1226486) | more than 6 years ago | (#23734145)

Even with voice chat you aren't going to produce a very social game (which is what MMOGs really are about) without a keyboard. A joystick and four buttons won't cut it...which is why I still consider a standard PC of any flavor to be far superior to any console they can come up with.
I never understand this argument. I can plug a standard USB keyboard into my PS3 just fine. Heck there are even mini-bluetooth keyboards available.

New consoles are their own MMO (2, Interesting)

analog_line (465182) | more than 6 years ago | (#23733569)

This brings up something I've been devoting a bit of thought to lately (and has played into my decision-making on whether or not to get an Xbox360). What if the online console ecosystem we're creating is really it's own MMO.

From an interview on gamasutra [gamasutra.com] that was linked here a while back that this article pricked to life out of my memory:

CN: Is that the converse of "The PC market is dead?"

RK: Well, yeah. I'm one of the people who went out there and said, "Single-player gaming is doomed," and I actually used that phrase. An Xbox Live Achievement is a soul-bound item, and Gamerpoints are experience points, and BioShock is a one-man instance dungeon in the Xbox Live MMO. That is the direction that single-player gaming is going, frankly.


I think this is more and more becoming a reality. Even in the nailed-down online component of Mario-Kart Wii, there's the world-wide Time Trial leaderboard where you can download the ghost of the best recorded time on the planet and see if you can beat it, and if you do, upload that score and have worldwide bragging rights.

Re:New consoles are their own MMO (1)

xhrit (915936) | more than 6 years ago | (#23735211)

You could do that with nethack's bones files since 1987. When you die in nethack it is permadeath; the game drops your corpse, loot, and whatever killed you in a bones file. In this way a player using a publicly-hosted copy of the game can encounter the remains (and loot) of many other players. The only thing new is a central server to distribute the bones.

:)

Re:New consoles are their own MMO (1)

Quattro Vezina (714892) | more than 6 years ago | (#23737023)

Hell, public NetHack servers have existed for ages...

Patches (2, Insightful)

dontPanik (1296779) | more than 6 years ago | (#23734015)

MMORPGs are constantly evolving games (or at least they should be) because people find exploits and the interactions must be kept fair. Consoles have more difficulties delivering these patches although with more widespread internet access among current generation consoles this is less of a problem.

keyboard (1)

wakingrufus (904726) | more than 6 years ago | (#23735309)

I think the lack of a keyboard for command shortcuts is one of the major reasons. that said, i can see a decent mmorpg being developed for the Wii, using wiimote gestures with button press modifiers. That would be really fun to play. the issue of communication would still be tricky though.

Font Size (1)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 6 years ago | (#23736005)

I'm going to go with the Font Size as being the big reason behind most "MMOs" for consoles being glorified shooters.

Final Fantasy XI, which was made for both the PC and the PS2, annoyed me to no end with their Ginormous unified chat box/action box. With combat events, private messages, chats, and system announcements all appearing in the same space, it was tremendously annoying to try to do more than one thing at a time.

Voice chat should help this a bit, but text still dominates most of the MMO UI now and would result in a dumbed-down "Consolized" version that will turn most MMO fans off. Higher resolutions making fonts smaller has only gone on to irritate players (see: Dead Rising).

Perhaps a controller-mounted secondary display system a-la the Dreamcast VMU or the Gamecube's ability to output to a GBA would be a decent solution. AFAIK, the PS3 can "talk" to the PSP and the Wii can send data to a DS, both wirelessly, so maybe it's only a matter of time before some genius figures out how to mate the handheld device as a vital HUD component for a real console MMO.

Re:Font Size (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 6 years ago | (#23740175)

Yes, the chat box was annoying. I set it up to use the smallest font size and to take as little space as possible. I also used the chat filters to only show what I needed to see. That made it usable for me. I sat close to my TV so having the chat size smaller wasn't a problem

So what's the difference ... (1)

aeschenkarnos (517917) | more than 6 years ago | (#23736087)

... between a console with a keyboard, console controller, optional mouse, the internet and a high-res TV, and a computer with a keyboard, console controller, optional mouse, the internet and a monitor?

Re:So what's the difference ... (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 6 years ago | (#23740111)

[CronoCloud@midgar CronoCloud]$ cat /proc/cpuinfo
cpu :MIPS
cpu model R5900 V3.1
system type EE PS2
BogoMIPS 392.39
byteorder little endian
unaligned accesses 1902
wait instruction no
microsecond timers no
extra interrupt vector yes
hardware watchpoint no
VCED exceptions not available
VCEI exceptions not available
 
[CronoCloud@midgar CronoCloud]$ cat /etc/redhat-release
PS2 Linux release 1.0
Not much, really. Yeah I know, I need a PS3 so I can install YDL on it.

The most obvious reason: (2, Funny)

icebike (68054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23736531)

Why all the drama trying to figure out WHY these games disappear, when the fact that these were BORING from the beginning is patently obvious.

Forgot the most obvious one (0, Troll)

Quattro Vezina (714892) | more than 6 years ago | (#23736985)

Console gamers don't like treadmilling.

We simply have better taste.

Re:Forgot the most obvious one (0, Flamebait)

daveime (1253762) | more than 6 years ago | (#23737507)

Console gamers have the attention span of a concussed duckling.

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Forgot the most obvious one (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 6 years ago | (#23740037)

Not know many console gamers? There's plenty who will play some very very complex games for hours on end.

Two differnt reason to play. (1)

Xmastrspy (1170381) | more than 6 years ago | (#23737699)

To me, consoles will always be a... blow in the cartridge, put game in, mash buttons type of activity. Quick and dirty.

If I want to play WOW on a console I would need a keyboard, mouse, headset, comfy chair, all my tunes, etc. In effect, I have just built the same thing I have in my computer room. Its called a PC.

Consoles stick with the quick and dirty please.

It's not "problems" with consoles (1)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 6 years ago | (#23743747)

There are lots of reasons why MMOs don't work well on consoles, but the bottom line problem is how people play MMOs.

I always run WoW in windowed mode, and I have friends who do the same. The game is designed and paced so that you don't have to concentrate 100% of the time. In fact, it's more like 50% of the time.

That makes WoW more like a board game than a traditional video game. It's a social thing, in addition to a competitive thing.

Voice chat sucks in MMOs. Yeah, most guilds use it for raids, and I use it (Vent) for arena, where quick communication is a necessity.

But here's the thing: in MMOs, you're frequently conversing with people you don't know, sometimes with hundreds of people at a time. Frankly, I don't want to listen to people in the game, because many of them are assholes (it's an Internet rule, remember?).

But it's more fundamental than just the lack of a keyboard. PCs are communication devices. I can look up strategy or statistics on my PC. I can IM with friends.

In addition, I play WoW on the go quite a bit. Some guilds have regular raiding schedules. Mine doesn't, but I still have a regular time when I do arenas. I have a decent notebook, so I can play WoW when I'm away, which works great because game state is stored on the network.

All of this stuff can be done on a console. But all you're doing is turning the console into a glorified PC.

And, FYI, no console has 2560x1600 screen resolution (roughly double 1080p). And no console has a GPU that's even close to my Radeon HD 3850. This hardware isn't even "high end" anymore, it's definitively mainstream.

Re:It's not "problems" with consoles (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 6 years ago | (#23743847)

And, FYI, no console has 2560x1600 screen resolution (roughly double 1080p). And no console has a GPU that's even close to my Radeon HD 3850. This hardware isn't even "high end" anymore, it's definitively mainstream.
If you think that 2560x1600 is mainstream, then you must hang around with billionaires.

I suppose not having a keyboard and windows

The explanation is simple (1)

Frozen Void (831218) | more than 6 years ago | (#23743809)

Consoles are temporary niche,where fixed hardware(the console) has to compete with evolving hardware(the PC).When the PCs become much cheaper(~few decades),the niche will disappear along with all the gadgets which use one of PCs functions.
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