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Ultima X Odyssey Details Unveiled

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the uo's-bigger-pumped-up-brother dept.

PC Games (Games) 9

Thanks to GameSpy for their interview with the lead developers of Ultima X: Odyssey, discussing their recently revealed PC "action-adventure, online role-playing game." As well as an in-depth dissection of the gameplay details, they discuss why the mainstream aren't flocking to MMORPGs: "They feel like the current crop of games is just very repetitive... they feel like a lost soul among billions of people. So, we're really trying to bring a single-player feel to massively multiplayer games", and also why this Unreal-engine title isn't intended to compete with their own quarter-million strong Ultima Online: "There's no reason to try to target our own game [in terms of approach/gameplay] when it's time for a new game."

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Interesting (1)

RobotWisdom (25776) | more than 10 years ago | (#6956653)

Whereas the Minter interview was utterly worthless, this one was full of details and theories and screenshots.

Difficulty attracting new gamers (4, Insightful)

tessaiga (697968) | more than 10 years ago | (#6957027)

Hall: Another big blocking factor too is, uh, people perceive massively multiplayer games to be a major investment of time.
I think Rick Hall hit it right on the head here. Except that it's not that people perceive MMORPGs to be a big time investment, it's that they ARE a big time investment.

MMORPGs really only start getting fun once your character becomes high level and competitive with all the other regular players out there. For most games, this tends to involve a large time investment on the levelling treadmill. The result is that people who have large amounts of time to invest in a MMORPG are those who are already in the market, and those who just want a game they can play at a leisurely pace see this as a huge barrier to entry.

Unlike single-player games, where even at the beginning of the game you're having fun because the challenges are typically tailored to your level so you only see enemies (and loot) which are appropriate to your level, in MMORPGs you see right off the bat the level 50 people and monsters running around doing all this much cooler stuff, while your level 1 newbie can't really do much of anything. At this point, the hardcore online gamers will put in lots of time in the boring leveling process in the hopes of rushing to level 50, while your average gamer will quickly get bored and give up. In most games, the leveling process tends to a chore (and you'll see people treating it as such) rather than a fun part of the game process. Whether this is a good or bad game design element is open to debate, but the point is that it limits the mass appeal of such games.

Compounding this problem is the fact that, unlike most online roleplaying games, your personal skill counts for very little. For example, someone who used to play a mean game of Quake in the past decides to pick up Half-Life. It won't take them very long to develop reasonably competent gaming skills. But for MMORPGs, all that time you invested in your level 50 Blademaster for Dark Age of Camelot doesn't mean squat when you sign up for Star Wars Galaxies. So it's not even that someone can invest some time picking up a new set of gaming skills and be over the hump on the learning curve; in order to be a long-term MMORPGamer right now, it's your ability to invest time (and tolerance for leveling) that would have to change.

Until they come up with some way to address this, the MMORPG audience will continue to be limited to a specific subset of gamers, rather than all gamers in general.

Re:Difficulty attracting new gamers (1)

Not_Wiggins (686627) | more than 10 years ago | (#6957561)

That's not half-bad an idea (sort of)...

If the barrier to entry for Joe Average is the amount of time it takes to level-up *AND* that effort is required anew when you start a new game, why not change the leveling up system to be cross-game compatible?

This isn't to say that one can just import characters from Dark Age of Camelot into Star Wars Galaxies. But, maybe one could present a character of such-n-such level, and be started off with a higher level character in the new game.

It would require agreements between companies. OR, more fiendish, if a single company implemented such a scheme, it might encourage customer loyalty; why start fresh on company X's game when you can get a leg-up by going to the new game by your current game's company?

Although that might aid in adoption of new games by existing players, it doesn't address the "level-up chore" that keeps casual players outside the loop. Admittedly, that's what keeps me out of the MMORPG type games and in with the FPS... I can put it down, pick it up, and enjoy it in small doses.

Re:Difficulty attracting new gamers (1)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 10 years ago | (#6966734)

I think there are a couple of things that make these problems (with MMO games) worse:

1) the low-level characters have to deal with low-level creatures that are rather rediculous. I ran around EQ killing bats. It's a freakin bat, it's about as likely to hurt me as a rat, but it's got wings so it's harder to hit. I quit playing Hexen 2 when they sent a spider after me because it was a rediculous enemy. Somehow, after dealing with these rediculous enemies off and on in several FPS games (can we say 'killing headcrabs with a crowbar'? Yeah, I didn't care for that game either, but not just because of that), I managed to get to the point where I was killing small orcs in EQ before I quit. UO it was rabbits or some crap. I got killed by a wolf when some higher level guy sat there and healed the wolf repeatedly and I tried to bail on the whole thing.

In PlanetSide it wasn't a problem of stupid enemies, it was a problem of a sparse world with a very limited progression, and very limited usefulness for the majority of the abilities in the game. To make it worse, although things like your aim and fps skills matter in the game (being an MMOFPS more or less), at the base level you're little more than cannon fodder regardless of your skill because you have extremely limited weapons and armour available to you. So, you travelled from your base to an enemy-controlled area and got killed, then you're trying to hitch a ride back. Or you could drop into 'instant action', which was basically dropping you either too close to or too far from the action, or into a hot spot that had died before you got there.

2) Since most of these games are considered RPGs, they adapt many of the typical RPG control schemes. This means that essentially you learn the interface/control scheme, and give up most of your control over the character. Each interface and each game's particularities have to be learned with each new game, but overall the reward is that you are no longer involved in the intricate details of playing the game. Either you go to the extent of scripting most of your actions, or you do a couple of minor actions (click on this, click on that, wait for the results) and watch things happen. As you said, your personal skill doesn't matter, and doesn't port well from one game to another. Additionally, it's just boring to most people, especially after you get beyond the realms of the single player RPGs people are used to playing (in terms of time spent on the game). I get bored with the combat system in a 40 hour RPG from time to time. What happens when I'm 50 hours into an MMORPG? There's no end in site, the system is going to stay the same (because I won't go play another game if I just have to start all over), and the majority of the focus is on tasks that basically take over control from the player. Combat's automated, non-combat skills tend to be automated, all I have to do is tell the computer what I want it to do, and wait. For people looking for glorified chat rooms, this is great. For someone looking to play a game, this is like listening to an audio book: it gets pretty much the same thing done, but you're better off doing it this way only if you have something else you want to do (or have to do) at the same time. I'll listen to an audio book while I'm driving on a long trip, but otherwise I'd rather read it myself (actually, I rarely listen to audio books, as they tend to put me to sleep).

hmmm (3, Informative)

gtshafted (580114) | more than 10 years ago | (#6957820)

I'm not even sure the average person would even get to the point where they figure out there's a big time investment. Most people just want something that's plug and play. Most online games are on a PC that most average people are intimidated and scared of. This doesn't even include the cost of maintaining decent hardware just to play these games. Most people use the computer for word processing, internet surfing, mp3 playing, and not much else beyond that. It's hard to justify spending about 300 - 500 bucks in upgrades when PS2 and Xbox start at 179.99 - 199.99 - and for the most part - they're plug and play (no messing with software installation, OS configuration, patches, etc...)

Basically I don't even think most people even bother to look at pc games in general - let alone massively multiplayer online pc games

Well... (1)

bluemeep (669505) | more than 10 years ago | (#6958219)

...If they manage to pull off that virtues system and make it half as cool as it sounds, I suppose I'll have to forgive them for canning Ultima Online II. I'll be interested in seeing how it affects player behavior; can a griefer still be a complete ass to others, yet be able attain Avatar status?

Ugh... (2, Insightful)

Man In Black (11263) | more than 10 years ago | (#6961459)

Can someone tell EA or Origin or whoever is making these games these days to PLEASE make a new single player Ultima! I used to play Ultima 4 for hours, and aside from Ultima 8, they were all quality games. I'm definitely not buying into all of this MMORPG stuff though. They're an interesting idea, but they all look boring compared to a good game of Ultima 7, and there's no way I'm paying more than once for a game.

Thank god we still have Exult [sourceforge.net] ...

Re:Ugh... (1)

glorinc (212422) | more than 10 years ago | (#6986463)

Ultima 8 and 9 both sucked donkey in my book...the others (I've only played from 4 on) were all excellent.

-G

Stolen idea from Lord British (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6987973)

Hey in Lord British's first interview since leaving Origin, I think *he* was the one who was harping on the motive that players hated MMORPG's, because they lost their sense of self...

I guess the main designer for EA read the same interview.

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