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Building the Sports MMO Genre

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the +1-knuckleball-of-sneakiness dept.

PC Games (Games) 52

Kheldon writes to point out an interview with David Chang of GamesCampus about the up-and-coming sports MMO genre. He also talks about their efforts to bring older demographics into gaming. Quoting: "One of the things about the baseball game in particular that's so great is that there is a leveling component, not just to the team, but also to players. So you're exactly right in terms of the persistence. We want people to not just play a baseball game, but ... to grow their team and their players over time. So, there are things where if you win a game, that's how you gain experience points. If you win against a higher level opponent, you get more experience points; if you bottom feed and you take advantage of lower-level players, you don't get as much, and so on. There are a lot of MMO-type concepts in the game. If you're talking about individual players, if you hit a lot of homeruns, or if you steal a lot of bases, your power or your stealing stat will increase over each season."

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52 comments

Massively multiplayer baseball? (2, Interesting)

famebait (450028) | more than 4 years ago | (#28937849)

That might actually be fun to watch.

Still holding out for massively multiplayer Calvinball, though.

Re:Massively multiplayer baseball? (1, Troll)

Benaiah (851593) | more than 4 years ago | (#28938047)

MMO Baseball = Epic Fail

Trying to imagine it?.
Imagine if you are on the batters team, it would be like playing CS, waiting 20mins to get your turn to bat, only to strike out. It's like watching cricket.

Re:Massively multiplayer baseball? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28938303)

"It's like watching cricket".

The internet can make baseball better then.

Re:Massively multiplayer baseball? (4, Funny)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 4 years ago | (#28938791)

More accurately, it's like watching baseball.

Baseball? (1)

rxan (1424721) | more than 4 years ago | (#28940633)

I can think of no better way to kill the sports MMO genre than to start it off with baseball.

One of the things about the baseball game in particular that's so great is that there is a leveling component, not just to the team, but also to players.

OK, but that's only because people have been focused on stats in baseball games since, well, forever. Can't this be applied to any sport?

So, there are things where if you win a game, that's how you gain experience points. If you win against a higher level opponent, you get more experience points; if you bottom feed and you take advantage of lower-level players, you don't get as much, and so on. There are a lot of MMO-type concepts in the game.

Again, couldn't this be applied to any sport?

I could see a sports component in an MMO, but not an MMO completely based on sports.

Re:Baseball? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 4 years ago | (#28944397)

Well, "you" are an entire team, not one "player" who will sit around waiting for his turn at bat.

Still, Motor City Online gave people cool ways to get and upgrade and show off cars. And race them, of course. And it flopped.

Actually, reminds me of something else (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#28938067)

Actually, it kinda reminds me of Fargo's MMO chess [gamespy.com] idea :P

Re:Actually, reminds me of something else (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28940591)

So, did anyone actually implement it?

Re:Massively multiplayer baseball? (1)

sabre86 (730704) | more than 4 years ago | (#28944745)

I think a baseball MMO would be pretty cool, if only to people who like baseball games. Basic game play would center around pickup games (and may be drills), with computer and player controlled teams/players. If you focus at the team level, you can trade/level your players, acquire resources, equipment, etc and participate in season. You can use mini games and/or skill checks for difficult plays and actions -- possibly even mixing the two. Players could maybe pick between having the option of playing the mini game or just resorting to a skill check if that's not their thing. The Bigs 2 (which I've been playing develops several of these ideas pretty well.

Player centric would probably have a fairly slow pacing, which would work for me -- I like socialize in games. Also, if a lot of the people are sports fans, they could talk about that. Perhaps you could have a mini game that dictates how well a player keeps his head in the game.

Character levelling could be really flexible. Different play styles could be complimentary (Rickey Henderson like player batting in front of Albert Pujols like player), and you could have special team bonuses (much like the Bigs 2 [+ to outfielder speed, + to previous batter in line ups hitting, etc] ). An action point system -- like the Bigs big play and turbo meters would be nice, too.

Aging of characters would be something to consider as well. After about 20 seasons, your stats should start declining. If you're player has cemented his rep as a legend, that's awesome and you could have a seperate legends league/server for those people who can't accept their avatar has retired. Aging also pretty much gives you an unlimited leveling treadmill, though I'm not sure traditional MMO players would appreciate it.

The more I think about it, the more baseball (and sports in general) fit well into MMOs... they're one place where there are real world equivalents of guilds/parties/co-opt play (teams), leveling (increasing skills as experience accrues), PvP (matches/games against other players), grinding (drills/minigame practice), equipment bonuses, etc apply. Really, it's almost as if MMOs are a replacement for sports, they're so similar.

I really like the Bigs series (it combines RPGs and baseball, both of which I love) and from my experience with co-opt play in the Bigs 2, I would absolutely play an MMO based on similar mechanics, even as only one (or several) players on a team. I'd prefer that the MLB branding be set aside, though, for an MMO.

The biggest problems I forsee with a baseball MMO are pitching and bench players, as they don't play all the time and pitchers carry the bulk of the defense in baseball. Some special rules would have to be in play there.

Multiplayer calvin ball would rock!

--sabre86

Re:Massively multiplayer baseball? (1)

sqldr (838964) | more than 4 years ago | (#28949583)

Well, having played 10-versus-10 FIFA 2009, the football version basically works like this..

I'm in the middle, I'm in the middle, cross it!
You're offside!
I'm not!
Ok, ready?
shit..fuck..shit.. ok, cross it!
incoming! ...
OH YOU TWAT, that landed in row Z!
sorry :(

best laugh I've had in weeks.

Re:Massively multiplayer baseball? (1)

sqldr (838964) | more than 4 years ago | (#28949615)

wouldn't normally reply to my own comment, but as I posted that, the "fortune" comment at the bottom of slashdot was "You now have Asian Flu."

Great! I just spent the past 3 days in bed with swine flu :(

Real sports (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28937873)

How about going outside and playing actual baseball? Wouldn't that be more fun?

Oh, right. Forgot where I was.

Re:Real sports (1)

kryptKnight (698857) | more than 4 years ago | (#28938989)

How about going outside and playing actual baseball? Wouldn't that be more fun?

You could (and people do) say the same thing about Guitar Hero. Playing guitar well is hard, and so is playing real baseball. Guitar Hero proved that people can have fun with a simplified version of a real life hobby if the learning curve is easy enough and the interface is a close enough approximation of the real thing. In fact, pretty much every video game ever simulates something you could do in real life if it were so inconvenient, dangerous, or time consuming.

Just because a game doesn't appeal to you, doesn't mean someone else can't have fun with it.

I can imagine it. (3, Funny)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 4 years ago | (#28937879)

There is medicine here; use it? [ynq] (n) y
This makes you feel strong. What would you like to call this medicine?

also

The pitcher throws; it is a curveball. You swing and miss! You are out.
But wait... the ball hits the ground and takes a wind bounce away from the catcher!
You run to first base. You are safe!

Re:I can imagine it. (1)

Annwvyn (1611587) | more than 4 years ago | (#28937911)

I would like to call it: Erythropoietin Cost: 500GP/vial +2 STR, +2 DEX, +4 CON for 2d4 Weeks Fort Save DC 40 vs. Multiple Organ Failure

Re:I can imagine it. (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 4 years ago | (#28946051)

Wrong game. He's riffing on Nethack, not D&D.

Oops... (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 4 years ago | (#28937913)

s/wind/wild/

I need sleep.

Zero sum game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28937903)

This sort of reminds me of WoW's arena or the 1.x's honor system where one had to rank and keep ranked to obtain gear.

For a game where people just play their teams against one another, there isn't anything wrong with it. However, if it becomes a persistant world where only a few teams see the ability to level, people will get frustrated like they did when ganked in pre-Trammel UO the second they set foot out of a city.

Here is my question: Do teams get experience if they lose? If someone has the patience to keep fielding and losing, they eventually will get a decent team, similar to someone who always on the short end of the stick in WoW BGs, but is still able to purchase gear. However, if a team doesn't get experience at all, players will just give up because they put all their time into trying to advance their players, but obtained nothing out of it.

All and all, this is an interesting concept, but if no bone is thrown to the loser, there won't be many people continuing to play.

Re:Zero sum game? (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 4 years ago | (#28943355)

Yeah, they hopefully will be giving experience to everyone involved in a play after that play. Catch the ball, throw it to first, you get XP even if you didn't get them out.

The thing about MMORGs is that you can keep from having to fight off better players, and run around killing rats or whatever until you get enough XP to actually compete in PvP. (Or, even, not do that at all.)

A game that is only PvP is going to have to do something else. There needs to be a way to earn XP that doesn't require winning, or it is going to be very frustrating experience.

Of course, there's no reason, if they're having people on a team, not to let them have practices where they can earn XP. That would work too. (And even have a few public fields where non-grouped people can practice with random people.)

Sounds.... dumb. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28937989)

If you go out and run over a hooker and shoot random people... The world gets mad at you. So we have GTA for that.

But you CAN go out an like... PLAY SPORTS.

Even tho i personally think its all rather stupid. I see alot of people who enjoy sports.
But they are not the types of people who will sit and play a pc game for several hours.
And the types who do sit and play video games all day... Are not that much into sports at all.

Sounds like setting up for an epic failure.

Re:Sounds.... dumb. (1)

kryptKnight (698857) | more than 4 years ago | (#28939079)

Even tho i personally think its all rather stupid. I see alot of people who enjoy sports. But they are not the types of people who will sit and play a pc game for several hours.

The Madden and NCAA football franchises are among the hugest game franchises ever, and from what I've seen they're popular with people who enjoy playing and watching real football. Multiplayer sports games in general are a major segment of the video game market, so there's no reason to believe there would be no interest in sports MMOs.

Re:Sounds.... dumb. (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28940111)

The only reason why Madden and NCAA are huge franchises is because of the fact that sports games are the only games you can really do the same thing year after year after year, still get people to buy it and have the reviewers not totally bash it. It would be like releasing "level packs" for Super Mario Bros. for the lifespan of the NES, doing the same thing for Super Mario World for the SNES, doing the same thing for Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64, doing the same thing for Super Mario Sunshine for the Gamecube, and doing the same thing for Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii. It just doesn't work for any other type other than sports games.

Re:Sounds.... dumb. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#28942925)

It would be like releasing "level packs" for Super Mario Bros. for the lifespan of the NES

I would LOVE if they would do that. If they released more SMB levels like the "Lost Levels" for the NES, I would buy it today. I would also love to buy more episodes of Doom. When the formula is that good, more of the same is no problem at all.

Re:Sounds.... dumb. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28943193)

The "Lost Levels" was just the previously unreleased Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 game (not the US Mario 2 which was just an alteration of Doki Doki Panic).

Re:Sounds.... dumb. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#28943825)

Yes I know that. But it was also essentially just a level pack for the first SMB engine. The same way Doom 2 was just a level pack for the original Doom engine.

Re:Sounds.... dumb. (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 4 years ago | (#28943379)

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty certain we didn't invent GTA to give all the hooker-killers a safe outlet.

Old concepts for team ratings? (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 4 years ago | (#28938009)

So, there are things where if you win a game, that's how you gain experience points. If you win against a higher level opponent, you get more experience points; if you bottom feed and you take advantage of lower-level players, you don't get as much, and so on.

Isn't that a somewhat old and fairly standard team rating/ranking system? I'm fairly sure that various sports games already do that kind of system so that you can't do as well by just beating low teams.

If not then half of Games Workshop's sideline table-top 'skirmish' games already do it, and Blood Bowl has already been made in to a game (once with license, and before that without a license).

Re:Old concepts for team ratings? (1)

Denjiro (55957) | more than 4 years ago | (#28952307)

So, there are things where if you win a game, that's how you gain experience points. If you win against a higher level opponent, you get more experience points; if you bottom feed and you take advantage of lower-level players, you don't get as much, and so on.

Isn't that a somewhat old and fairly standard team rating/ranking system? I'm fairly sure that various sports games already do that kind of system so that you can't do as well by just beating low teams.

If not then half of Games Workshop's sideline table-top 'skirmish' games already do it, and Blood Bowl has already been made in to a game (once with license, and before that without a license).

Bloodbowl has actually been made with license twice. There's licensed games from 1995 and 2009 as well as the unlicensed 2004 Chaos League.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Bowl_(1995_video_game) [wikipedia.org]

And the best bit is: no Chinese farmers! (-1, Troll)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#28938073)

Since any "World Series" will only be open to American teams.

Re:And the best bit is: no Chinese farmers! (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 4 years ago | (#28939817)

Of course there's that pesky team in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

If there was another league that rivaled the skill level of MLB I might worry about it being called the 'World Series' but since there isn't... oh well.

Re:And the best bit is: no Chinese farmers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28942719)

Though this is not entirely what the GP intended, remember that Canada is in North America. Still, it's a good reason for we citizens of the United States of America to refer to our country as such; not just America. You want an abbreviation? Use US, USA, or "The States" as Canadians and the folks across the pond say. America is too ambiguous; it refers to the largest contiguous landmass in the Western Hemisphere, and it spans two continents.

All that aside, doesn't Japan have a decent baseball league? Would/Do they participate in the World Series?

Re:And the best bit is: no Chinese farmers! (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 4 years ago | (#28943293)

Japan does have a decent league and I'm sure their top teams could compete in MLB... but the overall quality is lower and I can't imagine their team would ever be a favorite to win it here. Now if MLB was only Americans (err, United Stateians) playing, then I would agree it would be absurd to call it the World Series.

Really an MMO? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28938117)

Will this actually be an MMO? Or a multiplayer sports game with a ranking system? If you can't wander seamlessly from stadium to stadium then it's not an MMO...

I am clearly missing something (3, Insightful)

digitalderbs (718388) | more than 4 years ago | (#28938445)

I know sports games are popular, but MMOs require a lot of time and devotion. If you care enough about a sport to play it with others online and devote months or years of your life playing it, why not pick up a ball a play the real thing outside, with friends?

Re:I am clearly missing something (1)

Skraut (545247) | more than 4 years ago | (#28938609)

Playing the Hockey MMO that is the NHL 09 inspired me to do just that. I quit playing the video game, and now am in an adult league playing 2 games a week. Have lost 40 lbs too.

Re:I am clearly missing something (2, Insightful)

azaris (699901) | more than 4 years ago | (#28938625)

I know sports games are popular, but MMOs require a lot of time and devotion. If you care enough about a sport to play it with others online and devote months or years of your life playing it, why not pick up a ball a play the real thing outside, with friends?

Because playing a sports game is not the same as playing the sport. Many people like sports that in reality they have no physical ability or coordination for.

there is also the team management side with player (2, Interesting)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28939403)

there is also the team management side with players trades and a lot of other non physical parts.

Re:I am clearly missing something (2, Insightful)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 4 years ago | (#28938891)

Same reason as with anything: Because you can't. 4'6" and dreaming of pro football? Forget it :)
Hulk-sized and want to be a jockey? Hah! Wheelchair-bound? Steeplechase is not for you.

An online world where you can pick from a number of sports are excellent then. Plus, it might even be A NICE DIVERSION, WHICH IS THE BLOODY REASON PEOPLE PLAY ANY , computer or not!

Re:I am clearly missing something (1)

damnbunni (1215350) | more than 4 years ago | (#28938967)

Because that requires having a body that isn't broken.

Re:I am clearly missing something (1)

Leafheart (1120885) | more than 4 years ago | (#28939601)

Why do people keep using this argument? It is so empty and shallow that it is getting tired.

Silly man(or woman), playing an sport video game is different than playing the same sport. Completely. And one may be good on one of those without been good on the other. And some have fun playing one of those and not the other.

How is this so hard to understand?

Re:I am clearly missing something (1)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 4 years ago | (#28939675)

Because the graphics aren't as good.

Re:I am clearly missing something (1)

Alternity (16492) | more than 4 years ago | (#28940065)

For the same reason some real musicians spend lots of time playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band and like it.

A video game of an activity is NOT the same as the activity it's based on.

Re:I am clearly missing something (1)

socrplayr813 (1372733) | more than 4 years ago | (#28940381)

That's just a variation of the Rock Band/Guitar Hero argument. As others have said, a game is not the same thing as a sport.

I don't mean to fall into the Slashdot pattern, but XKCD says it pretty well. [xkcd.com]

Re:I am clearly missing something (1)

CaptainOblivion (1254006) | more than 4 years ago | (#28941711)

That's what many people said about about a little game called Guitar Hero, and look how that turned out.

Re:I am clearly missing something (2, Informative)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 4 years ago | (#28942755)

I know sports games are popular, but MMOs require a lot of time and devotion. If you care enough about a sport to play it with others online and devote months or years of your life playing it, why not pick up a ball a play the real thing outside, with friends?

  • The offseason.
  • The climate where you are might not allow you to play when you want to (eg rain/snow/etc.).
  • The available facilities might be far away, busy all the time, managed by assholes, or cost too much.
  • Can't find enough people to play with locally, or they all suck or they are all disagreeable.
  • Sufficiently good virtual reality gaming might be good training for the real thing.

Besides, no one said you couldn't do both. When I was a kid, the videogame sports I liked most were the games I actually played in real life. Baseball Stars FTW.

Re:I am clearly missing something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28944489)

I already have a massively multiplayer sports game. It's called basketball. Solid graphics and the physics modeling is f'ing amazing.

Take a look at NBA 2k9 5v5 (3, Interesting)

GPLDAN (732269) | more than 4 years ago | (#28940215)

Here is a Youtube of 2K Sports NBA 2009. Played online, 5v5:

http://nba-tube.com/nba-2k9-online-5v5-teamup-lakers-vs-rockets-4th-quarter/ [nba-tube.com]

I think you can see, it looks and feels like a real game on tv. I think if you made Football 11 v 11 - people would sign on and play OG. I really do. I would play Madden online 11 v 11 and just work on being the best pass rusher in the game. I think online sports, where all the players are played by real people is the "next big thing" in gaming. In Football, there could even be a slot for coach, and that person gets to pick the play called. Then you could have 12 v 12. Real flamewars between Coach and QB's who go off script. I think it would be extremely popular, although some selfish people would refuse to play unless they could QB, that's how it is in real life too. It's whatever works.

Re:Take a look at NBA 2k9 5v5 (1)

Bullion (1133551) | more than 4 years ago | (#28950773)

Some mention should go to http://au.xbox360.ign.com/articles/908/908609p1.html [ign.com] Fifa 09 which does allow 10 v 10 online. And then there is http://www.footballmanagerlive.com/ [footballmanagerlive.com] Football Manager Live which has thousands of managers around the world building their teams to glory.

Gabe on Tiger (2, Interesting)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#28942307)

Gabe at Penny Arcade complained about [penny-arcade.com] the latest Tiger Woods game, because of the idea of leveling. Leveling causes the game to be more about time spent than it is about skill.

I don't know why I keep buying Tiger Woods games every year. I suppose because it's the only golf game available. I am always instantly frustrated by it and I end up putting it aside after just a couple days. The main problem I have with the game I think is the way your skills work. Tiger is essentially an RPG. That is to say as you play, your skills improve and you get better equipment. That's just not what I want from a golf game. Starting Tiger Woods is like walking on to the golf course wearing vendor trash and everyone else is in their tier 8 gear. You can not compete unless you put the time in. What I want is a golf game that's more like Halo or any other shooter. What I mean is that everyone has essentially the same character and what determines the winner is the players skill.

I want to see everyone start with a character that has the same basic skills. Then give everyone the same number of points that they can invest in their character to improve things like driving or putting. Then that's it, no more points no more stat upgrades. Now you're talking about creating a custom build for your character and then matching your skills with that build up against everyone else. Imagine if every time you tackled a guy in Madden your players got stronger. Then imagine you could buy footballs that flew further or were easier to catch. Sure some people might like it but most fans would say "this isn't football". Well that is essentially how Tiger Woods works and I guess I'm just tired of it.

Meat heads (1)

robow (1609129) | more than 4 years ago | (#28951957)

Just what the world of online gaming needs meat heads running loose I can;t wait.

Has already been done... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28955959)

Not sure if someone has already mentioned this or not, but this is not the start of MMO sports games.

Based on the description this is simply an updated version of the www.hattrick.org concept, which has been around for several years already!

Welcome to the Major Leagues! (1)

Tz-Auber (984141) | more than 4 years ago | (#28958269)

Greetings rookie! We'll get to playing shortly, however there's a lot of preparation we need to do. There are uncollected balls all over the field and someone needs to pick them up. Come back with 10 of them and we should be ready to start pre-season training. Be careful though, there are some hostile umpires out there who don't like players on the field before the game starts. Accept quest?
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