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Motor City Online Officially Closes Doors

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the bye-bye-vroom-vroom dept.

PC Games (Games) 21

Thanks to MCO Stratics for pointing to EA's official Motor City Online site, which has a message announcing the closure of this MMO PC racing title: "We at Electronic Arts and MCO Staff both past and present would like to say thank you for being a part of a great online racing game experience. Motor City Online service ends today, but it will live on forever in the hearts of the racers who loved the game." The closing announcement was originally made in February, citing popularity problems after "the game was quickly dominated by skilled players", but the servers finally shut down on August 29th.

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21 comments

It's a shame (3, Insightful)

Graelin (309958) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835290)

the game was quickly dominated by skilled players

This happens everywhere. Have you played CS lately? It's the same thing. These types of games, those which require reflexes and map-study, will always be dominated in this manner. I think MMO RPGs fare better in this regard, as these skills are much less important.

America's Army has a good approach, requiring you to advance to a certain level before playing some missons. Too bad they don't enforce some kind of noob-only rules on the lower maps.

In the end this is just a hurdle all MMO games will have to face.

Re:It's a shame (3, Insightful)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835430)

Everything you say is true to a point, though I think the biggest obstacle is that a game has to reach a "critical mass" in terms of its player population so that there are enough players of every skill level to make the game fun for everyone. While Counterstrike definitely has a lot of skilled players who can wipe out the inexperienced easily, it's a small matter to drop out of a game where you're outclassed and hunt down a game where people are closer to your level. This is because there are enough people playing the game to ensure said variety of skills, and because the game is popular enough that there are still new (or at least less experienced) people coming on.

Motor City Online, OTOH, never picked up enough people to develop a synergy where new people are always coming in, and the total population was never large enough to always have that special rainbow of ability.

Of course, another aspect is that most "twitch" games (Quake 3, Unreal Tournament, etc.) are going to be static in terms of the skills and equipment of the avatars being used - even in Counterstrike, a couple of lucky kills could earn you enough money to acquire the good equipment. In games where you earn your avatar's skills and equipment over time (MCO fits this because you could improve your cars and get new ones), the new people are at a serious disadvantage if there aren't enough other new people around to play with.

Warcraft III, Blizzard (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 10 years ago | (#6852114)

A nice few points to blizzard on the concept of their "skill-based autoassignment." As you get bumped up in skill levels (based on wins vs losses, etc), it autoassigns you against similar skill levels. I've found that while it's not 100% effective, after playing for awhile I've managed to get to a level where I avoid being teams with a lot of newbs (but meanwhile newbs end up teamed with other newbs).

Re:It's a shame (3, Interesting)

DJayC (595440) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835539)

This happens everywhere. Have you played CS lately?

Not only that, but CS is ridden with cheaters. It seems like on every public server you have kids with wall hacks and aimbots and stuff. Valve has been trying to block the cheating server side, but the design of the game makes it hard to detect certain scripting techniques. I would go as far to say that there are more people that seem to be "skilled players" (who are actually cheaters) than people who are actually skilled. A lot of the CS "elite" don't play on public servers just for that reason, and tend to play on private servers and in tournaments.

Re:It's a shame (2, Informative)

Suicide (45320) | more than 10 years ago | (#6836619)

America's Army kept track of game progress with a text file. All you have to do is open the file in notepad, and you can play any and all missions.

Uh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835642)

Sorry but if you don't design a game with these problems in mind then you don't deserve a budget. It's called "foresight" and it's something that's lacking in far too many MMOGs (Star Wars immediately leaps to mind and starts waving frantically).

This is why I'll never touch a MMO (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6835752)

Sure its fun while it last, but when the servers are closed, unless soemone managed to make an unofficial server, the game becomes useless.

Re:This is why I'll never touch a MMO (1)

karmavore (618727) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835822)

If anyone is interested in such a project then I would suggest politely asking EA if they could open source any code that is not encumbered by other license agreements. Alternatively, it may or may not be possible for them to privide some documentation that could aid in reverse engineering a clean room implemention for those extream diehards out there.

At least it can't hurt to ask.

Re:This is why I'll never touch a MMO (1)

Aliencow (653119) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835957)

Oh no ! You would've lost a 40$ game after only 2 years of fun !

Go to the movies and get a 20$ popcorn, that'll last you for long.

Re:This is why I'll never touch a MMO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6836062)

Exactly, while a game that isnt completely dependant on such conditions would keep me entertained for much more time.

Your popcorn analogy was just stupid.

Re:This is why I'll never touch a MMO (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6836202)

So can I smash your computer games and DVDs after two years, as you must've had all the fun you'd ever want out of them?

"Look at me, I'm a child of the early 1900s. I can pick up games I played as a child and play with them again until I die if I desire to do so."

"Well look at me, I'm a child of the early 1990s. I can pick up games I played as a child, and do nothing but stare at my reflection on the CD, because it's FUCKING WORTHLESS otherwise."

Hence...the fact that I've never purchased an online-only game. Sorry Square, you milked over a dozen FF games out of me, but you'll lose me on FFXI.

Re:This is why I'll never touch a MMO (1)

Squirrel Killer (23450) | more than 10 years ago | (#6852562)

Oh no ! You would've lost a 40$ game after only 2 years of fun!
Count me among the MMO non-buyers. The reason isn't that you only get ~2 years of fun out of the game, but that once the company shuts down the server, you can never experience the fun again. Imagine publishers not just taking Lord of the Rings out of print after two years, but tracking down every copy and making them unreadable.

Not only will I not buy entertainment that can be turned off at the publisher/distributor's whims, but I honestly wonder why anyone would develop such project? Why dedicate yourself and your inspiration to a project that won't last? Paycheck? That's fine and all, but I sure wouldn't want to trudge through such an uninspired experience.

I played this game for awhile (0)

LearningHard (612455) | more than 10 years ago | (#6835923)

It was a fun game with a great premise. I loved how you could buy real parts and not just generic things like gran turismo has. The bad part as others have said is the game was dominated by early-adopters and those with skill. I rarely saw someone else with my amount of playtime because new players just weren't entering the game. I think it would have done much better if it had been sold as a single-player with multi option instead of a pay-per-month mmorpg.

xbox live (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6836010)

xbox live solves this problem, by, 1 having an intelligent search feature for varying skill levels, and 2 voice communication in every game further lets you find where you belong.

One other problem (2, Interesting)

luekj (692478) | more than 10 years ago | (#6836157)

Was that they forgot that they were missing some key elements of the actually succsessfull online games. Methinks that MCO just lacked that 'person' connection having you run around as a car all the time and nonesuch.

Obviously, it's important in any communication game to have an avatar you can relate too.

Re:One other problem (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 10 years ago | (#6838029)

For what it's worth, the car was your avatar. I prefer that to the gorgeous looking but rather superflous humanoid avatars in games like EVE - of course, in EVE, your starship is your avatar, too.

Sigh... (1)

Suicide (45320) | more than 10 years ago | (#6836632)

I remember hearing about the game before they had any betas available. I was very interested. Then, I didn't hear anytihng until after they had it in stores. Nothing, no advertising, nothing at all.

Now I don't get all the game magazines, but I visit the major online retailers regularly. I try to keep up on new games comming out, and I never heard anything. If htey really wanted it to do well, and wanted people to play it, then people need to nkow about it. Half the people I mentioned it to asked, "there's a game like that out?".

The game was dominated by skilled players. Isn't that how auto racing is? Look at nascar, do the same people keep winning regularly? Its multi-player, you can't always win, but you can have fun playing.

Re:Sigh... (1)

Babbster (107076) | more than 10 years ago | (#6836884)

I recall marketing (not much but some) after the game came out, but it played up the gearhead aspect as opposed to having fun racing. While this might have appealed to people who were already into cars, especially in terms of customization, it didn't play to the more general audience just looking for some entertaining gameplay. I know that I shied away from it because I have little to no interest in power/weight ratios, torque and the like.

The other reason it probably suffered is because it wasn't attached to an already popular franchise. Like it or not, people gravitate to the names and games they already know. If the Gran Turismo people could manage to put together something similar, I think it could take off big-time.

Re:Sigh... (1)

Mike Hawk (687615) | more than 10 years ago | (#6845743)

Isn't the tradition to complain about the "hype" surrounding a game before its release?

Once again, on slashdot, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Re:Sigh... (1)

The Other White Boy (626206) | more than 10 years ago | (#6846428)

i was one of the people betaing MCO back in the day. a big part of the problem was that, after we had been betaing for quite a while, we found out that the version that went gold was like three patches older than what we had been betaing. between that, and it actually shipping with no features that weren't in beta but were said to be (custom paint, etc), most of the people in beta who SHOULD have been shoe-in customers, said they'd had enough.

it also didnt help that there was nothing in the final game that wasnt available in the beta easily (the economy was so out of whack in beta that you could get anything you wanted within a few days, so everybody had ubercars).

Clients. (1)

saintlupus (227599) | more than 10 years ago | (#6841798)

Well, I guess I won't be getting that Mac client I wanted, then. It's sort of a shame -- this looked like a good game, too.

--saint
(Who is a computer geek _and_ a gearhead, a combination that's more common than people think.)
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