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Where's the Massive in MMOGs?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the bigger-and-bigger dept.

105

Grimwell writes "Like MMOG's? Concerned about their future? You should read Darniaq's article questioning the general approach to these games. From the article: 'I expect invention from Blizzard as I much as I would from the local Top 40 radio station. I'd hate to think that the entire breadth of MMOs is measured by the playing of a few of the hot selling titles. It's great what WoW has done for the genre, but man I hope people don't give up on the genre just because they hit 60 and realized they didn't want to spend 3 hours a night in Molten Core.'"

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MMOGs (1)

Lithgon (896737) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412480)

MMOG's failure is anything that caps what the player can do. WOW is a great game but capping it at level 60 will stunt its growth since players will reach there then stop.

Re:MMOGs (1)

metasecure (946666) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412509)

The Burning Crusade expansion will raise the level cap to 70. Furthermore, no one "stops" at Level 60. In fact, that is when the real game starts (the end-game).

Re:MMOGs (1)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412658)

I think saying that the endgame of dungeon running and PvP is the "real" game is BS. Plenty of people hit the level cap in a game and quit soon after... or sit around and bitch that there is nothing to do.

Re:MMOGs (2, Insightful)

freshman_a (136603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412728)


I think saying that the endgame of dungeon running and PvP is the "real" game is BS. Plenty of people hit the level cap in a game and quit soon after... or sit around and bitch that there is nothing to do.

...and plenty of people enjoy running end-game dungeons and PvPing. There's also plenty of people who take their time leveling from 1-60. There's also plenty of people who level to 60, then make a new character and enjoy leveling to 60 again. What's your point?

Re:MMOGs (1)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15414639)

That is my point... the "real" game is the whole game not the end game or the beginning or the middle.

Re:MMOGs (1)

ichigo 2.0 (900288) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412890)

A MMOG with no level cap would be pretty cool. Having a Sauron-like huge warrior that can take on an army single-handedly would be crazy, and a mage that is able to enchant incredible, almost one-of-a-kind (because only a very small percentage of players would ever reach the required level) weapons would be very popular. Obviously it would take a lot of work to make such a game, but maybe it could have instances with level-adjusted mobs or something.

Re:MMOGs (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413219)

problem is that players burn through content faster than it can be developed.

Re:MMOGs (2, Interesting)

kupan787 (916252) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413342)

Lineage 1 I believe had no level cap. I remember one player (he was Korean) was like level 75 or so (with the next highest around 65), and was still going. Leveling at this point was insane. It would take multiple months of game play to advanced a single level. His goal was to solo one of the in game dragons. That game is still being developed, and has had a ton of new content added since I last played (4 years ago). I like that idea. If I want to keep grinding, and working it out, let me enhance my character (if it is only a few str or int point increase each level past 60 for WoW). Lineage 1 had a lot of cool things you could do that added to the game content. For example n-zels and ndais used to increase weapon/armor stats...and the fun of attempting to overzel/overdai an item, praying it wouldn't blow :) Plus you could sell a +9 b-kat for a shit load, and it wasn't soulbound to your character. If Lineage 2 would have been based more closely to Lineage 1, I would have kept playing it. But Lineage 2 strayed way to far from what Lineage 1 was.

Re:MMOGs (1)

Avatar8 (748465) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413018)

Regardless of the level cap, 60 or 70, the type of player that burns through ANY game to get to the top level and then stops playing because they've "done it all" will never be satisfied in a MMO. This personality type simply needs something new to consume on a constant basis.

I'm the type of player that likes to explore and make numerous achievements besides leveling. For me, WoW holds years of entertainment as it stands right now.

The "power players" would consider me slow because I've been playing since beta, I have 11 different characters on two servers ranging from level 60 to level 12. I like trying all manner of things and I like being as self-sufficient as possible (resource gatherers supporting crafts to make money for my "group"). I have yet to experience many of the high level, "end game" instances. I know I'm missing a great experience (and uber equipment), but I do not have 5-6 hours a night to try and get a group willing to help an instance newbie learn how to play those high level mobs.

Re:MMOGs (1)

Durumbrain (896534) | more than 8 years ago | (#15415420)

On the contrary, I think that the lack of early caps on skills/levels is what ruins MMOGs. With a low cap, the focus can be on what you do instead of how much you do it. Instead of requiring time, the game could require skill. Capping levels does not cap what players can do, only what they can be.

The focus can move from simply hack n' slashing to strategic decisions, social interaction, trade etc. Players won't have to spend all their time on mindlessly killing stuff in fear of becoming weaker than others if they "waste time" on anything else.

If the basic idea of MMOGs was restructured, we could end up with endless possibilities and a gameplay that never has to end or become boring. A Tale in The Desert is a good example of the kind of revolutionary thinking I like.

Bullshit (0, Troll)

metasecure (946666) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412485)

I didn't read TFA, but "3 hours a night in Molten Core" is not the only end-game in World of Warcraft. PVP Battlegrounds, Blackwing Lair, Zul'Gurub, Ahn-Qiraj, soon, Naxxrammis and the upcoming Burning Crusade expansion pack -- the list goes on. I would assume the aricle is short-sighted throughout.

Re:Bullshit (2, Insightful)

Zentac (804805) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412577)

I think you misunderstand when mentioning other high level instances as alternatives to Molten Core, the issue is high level instances in general, so the only alternative is PVP, that makes two options. And thats just not enough. The Burning Crusade will add another 10 levels of content and some extra content to the current gameplay, but dosn't solve the issue of only having two options after hitting the level cap. and the level cap will be reached... fast. Or will be a grind, not good either.
There isn't much in the sence of lets say, factional politics as in EVE, just to name a thing that might keep a game interesting and compelling besides its core gameplay and content.

You are talking across cultures here (2, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413625)

A staple diet of RPG's is the rat. You would claim that at level 1 you fight rats and at level 10 you fight rats and at level 100 you fight rats.

The poster you react to would point out that at level 1 it is sewer rats, at level 10 it is dire rats and level 100 it is were rats.

The difference is minor BUT nontheless it is a huge culture shock to try to understand the other person mindset.

To them another high level dungeon is a complete new challenge with an AI that uses different spells and rewards that give different benefits. To you it is just another dump AI wich you can learn with a few tries and dumps yet more loot that gives a few stat boosts so you can do it all over again.

Some people want more of the same, some people want a change now and then.

I fall in the latter group BUT not because I think it is better or something. It is just my taste.

Yes you can ask yourselve what the point is about adding a whole range of Y zombies who are exactly like X zombies except with higher points but the simple fact is that it works for a large group of players. It is also easier.

Adding a new type of play to any game is HARD. The Sims is about the only one to do it. Most other games expand by offering you yet more of the same.

SWG was game with lots of "extra" gameplay. But think of it like this. Wich satisfied more people. Adding another high level dungeon OR a whole new range of clothes and hairstyles? Wich is "easier" to implement?

WoW caters mostly to the more of the same crowd and it seems it is the way to market success. No it doesn't appeal to everyone but to other companies the message seems clear. SWG was WoWed and so was EQ2.

Vanguard is getting heat for not being WoW and so are lots of other games.

You say you need more gameplay elements to keep the game compelling. That might be true for you. Not to the parent. He likes extra dungeons with new enemies and new loot. It keeps the game intresting for him.

Oh and EVE may be the bees knees but they really should get their head out of their ass for their payment system. I can play SOE (GlobalCollect) and I can play WoW (prepaid cards) but EVE does not seem intrested in my money.

Lambast the bigger games all you want but at least they learned rule 1. Never refuse a paying customer.

Yes! Exactly! (1)

sterno (16320) | more than 8 years ago | (#15414808)

"To them another high level dungeon is a complete new challenge with an AI that uses different spells and rewards that give different benefits. To you it is just another dump AI wich you can learn with a few tries and dumps yet more loot that gives a few stat boosts so you can do it all over again."

This is why I can't stand MMORPG's. They all seeme so much the same. Different environments and such but the basics are the same. In Everquest you cast magic spells. In City of Heroes, you cast spells or invoke technology, or whatever. You kill rats, or thugs, or whatever, but it's all pretty much the same crap.

Then you get the tedious and predictable AI's. All you have to do is either overwhelm them with sheer power, or use some trick.

I like games where I actually work against people. People think. They can be predicatble too, but sometimes they aren't. There's a challenge to it like Chess. Trying to figure out how they think and trying to change your patterns to throw them off.

Re:Bullshit (1)

MaXiMiUS (923393) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412589)

My reasoning is that MMOG's shouldn't even have 'endings', but that's just me.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15412618)

Bullshit yourself.. The point seems to be that people don't feel like dragging out in an instance for 3+ hours. I miss the days when MMORPGS were more open(read Ultima Online). They didn't say that MC was the ONLY endgame content, it was using it as a reference to the frustration many players have AT endgame. I quit playing after having two 60's decked out in epics and had nothing to do except run end game content over and over for the one or two last items I wanted.
    The PvP endgame? That's a joke the PvP is garbage. And I'm not talking class balance issues like most PvP MMO's suffer from. They try to balance it with player caps on instanced battlegrounds, and the end result is crappy PUGS (Pick up groups) vs. Elite A-Team Groups that are usually geared specifically for PvP and use voice chat to communicate.
*Give me a game that lets me choose what I do with my endgame time, not force me into pre-determined options.
** The above are my (AC's) Opinions yours may either agree or disagree with them.. If you choose to argue these opinions you may piss off and go back to playing WoW.

Re:Bullshit (5, Insightful)

MrJynxx (902913) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412664)

Hey I would agree with the author on this "hit 60, nowhere to go except spend 3 hours in MC"

I got into WoW during the first christmas it was out.. I'm quite a casual player, basically took me 8months to hit 60.. I then started getting into the high end content spending hours and hours in ZG, MC, UBRS, LRBS, etc, etc..

My bro who played on another server was apart of the most powerful/organized guild I've ever seen! Every single player had tier 2 armor/weaps pretty much all of the best.. One day my bro snapped and sharded all of his items and quit the game. So I asked him "wtf you do that for? you had the best shit, were uber strong" . His answer was the following

"you know what, why the hell am I wasting my life getting fat while running BwL and all these other instances to get good gear and items when all I can do is just stand in orgimmar like a complete moron with nothing to do but go back into these instances and waste more time"

So I thought, damn.. your right.. After spending hours, if not days worth of playing time the only thing I can look forward to is gear.. And I seemed to have the worst luck with instancing, i literally walked away with nothing but shitty blues and maybe one purple ring that was a complete waste. Big fakin deal.. once you hit 60 there really is nothing to do except running instances over and over again.. Sure there were BG's, but even then that become boring as hell..

I quit WoW, but I'm hoping burning crusade will bring back that spark in the game.. Until then, I'm going to spend my WoW time doing other things.

MrJynxx

Re:Bullshit (2, Insightful)

disassembled (977342) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412667)

I didn't read TFA, but "3 hours a night in Molten Core" is not the only end-game in World of Warcraft. PVP Battlegrounds, Blackwing Lair, Zul'Gurub, Ahn-Qiraj, soon, Naxxrammis and the upcoming Burning Crusade expansion pack -- the list goes on. I would assume the aricle is short-sighted throughout.

Er, I think the emphasis was on "3 hours a night", not on "Molten Core". Most of the end-game content in WoW requires a pretty serious time committment, well beyond that which is required to reach level 60 in the first place.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15413053)

My main character /played time: 70 days, at 60: 50 days.

If the author knows anything about WoW I'm sure you are correct in assuming he was using Molten Core as a reference to end game content in general. A good guild can tear through all of Molten Core in 3 hours and come out ahead in the money department. (I have personally done it in 3 hours, 24 minutes from first pull to Rag death and there are more powerful guilds out there). By far the most signficant time sink in all of the end game content is having 40 people actually learning how to correctly implement the strategies for all the various battles. I can remember back in the days when we first ventured into Molten Core, spending over 8 hours in a single run trying to get the strategies down.
This is why the vast majority of raiding guilds really look down on people who want to join them without having any end-game experience. People who join us have no idea what it means to really earn their epic items, and at the first sign that we haven't mastered a particular boss encounter yet they jump ship, taking 2-3 epics from the mastered bosses with them.
The only thing that comes even close (or excedes for a few people) to time spent learning new battles is time spent digging up the materials to make the whole thing happen (AKA farming). Most guilds pour thousands of gold in flasks, raw materials, and repairs into defeating bosses for the first time. During learning curve time our tanks usually walk out of the instance with nothing more than a 20g repair bill, with our squishies getting away with a measly 10g repair bill. Average of 15g * 40 people = 600g per run in repairs alone. Ask any WoW player how long it takes to make that much money.

This Bull Shat Gold (5, Insightful)

Tipa (881911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412681)

Endgame in WoW is ALL about doing the same thing, again and again, every single night until you can't bear to log in again. EVERY weekend, while I played, was spent in MC and ZG. Then they added the resets so every single night of the week was scheduled by Blizzard.

No thanks, I don't want to do Scholo for the three hundredth time. Seen enough of Strat, live and dead. UBRS is a Uber Bore. I play a holy spec priestess because my guild demanded I switch from shadow - faction grinding or farming gold for repairs is therefore incredibly slow and anything but fun.

I made alts, but the realization I'd have to subject myself to nights and nights more of Scholo, Strat and UBRS just to get geared enough to torture myself with more MC and ZG made me hang up my WoW account.

Guild after guild on my server imploded when they got to the endgame; and after awhile, so did the one I was in. Too many people left or restarted on other servers or returned to previous servers.

I read the article. He's spot on about the lack of imagination in current MMOs. One thing about EQ1 - leveling was so slow that many stopped worrying about getting a level a day (or week) and started doing the social things - the buff days, races, arena battles, role playing in Plane of Hate - the kinds of things you end up doing when levels and loot are fairly hard to come by.

Nobody would stand for that now. WoW, EQ2 and the others (including EQ1 since Luclin) have conditioned people to thinking that if they aren't making levels and not getting uber loot, that there is no fun to be had in the game.

The author of the article says sandbox PvP is the answer. I'm not sure about that - griefers live to ruin those kinds of things - but heck, it's about time for a game that can see beyond the grind.

It is time for player who can see beyond the grind (2, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413699)

That I think is far more needed. I comment a lot on stories about MMO's because deep down I like the idea of an MMO a lot. I always preffered COOP mode in FPS as well so MMO's game just seem right.

EQ2 has plenty of fun inside. Provided you allow yourselve to have fun. There is an option to switch of XP gaining. Since certain quests can't be completed when you reach beyond a certain level this allows you to remain stuck until you complete it.

And stuck you will be because it is very hard to find players willing to do quests that do not "pay out" enough.

Just ask yourselve. Have you ever done a quest that didn't pay out just for fun? Took on an enemy because it seemed right even if it was going to cost you by dying and lost xp/equipment?

No? Then your a grind monkey. Welcome to the rat race.

As for PvP being the answer. No it isn't. First off, cheating will be rife. just look at the halo story below.

Then there is the problem of balance. REAL PvP is about unbalance. You never want a fair war. Ask Captain Blackadder.

As for more orginized PvP well you would have to go to a system like the romans used for gladiators. But these people were very strictly regulated so that fights were as fair as possible.

The only real way is to just make two different games. WoW for the grinders and something else for people who want more. This is impossible. Just check how many people want to turn Linux into Windows. The idea that you would have WIndows for Windows people and Linux for Linux people is unaccetable to a lot of people. Everything must appeal to the largest possible group Elitism of the masses.

NWN (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 8 years ago | (#15414882)

"Something else" is already there in the form of numerous RP-centric (usually slow level progression) NWN persistent worlds. Granted, it's not "massive" by any measure, but for quality RP more than 10 characters gathered in a single place is a hindrance anyway.

Hypocrite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15412698)

Actually the article is fairly well-rounded and, even though it does make the same old suggestions, doesn't really falter all that that, and is hardly short sighted. What is short sighted, though, is to take issue with an article for making a generalisation by making a generalisation about it.

But I guess a side-effect of your 'Fanboy Goggles of Blizzard Can Do No Wrong' is that it hampers your 'Make An Informed Opinion' stat. Or maybe you just work in their advertising department.

(Script confirmation requires me to enter 'Immature'. Never seen it more fitting.)

Re:Bullshit (1)

Darniaq (738858) | more than 8 years ago | (#15415768)

Tell me how all of the endgame zones are any different? And I talked about Battlegrounds. And earlier about the commerce of AH (not included in this article because it was already long enough :) These are different from round robin luck-based equipment advancement in MC>BWL>AQ or ZG. Having spent significant time in those places, I don't see the difference. Once you know the zone, it's just about leaching from it. Unfortunately, the part quoted for this submission to /. doesn't connote that. I would have picked a different passage because I think the Blizz comment is taken out of context and prompts people such as yourself to misunderstand it so much you're not really interested in whatever else is said in the piece. Quite understandable. If someone called my kid ugly, I wouldn't be interested in hearing their full explanation either :) If you read the whole article, you'd see where I don't condemn this approach to development nor Blizzard for bringing it. People love this stuff, in huge numbers one cannot ignore. So it's financially responsible of companies to try to supply for this demand. Blizzards innovation was lowering the barrier of entry and being able to hit a global reach no other company has ever been able to match. All I'm saying is that there's more things to try.

Guild Wars (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15412494)

So basically the author of TFA has never played Guild Wars where PVP only players can start at a level equal to other PVP players, or opt for the RPG adventure _with_ PVP mixed in.

Not a fanboi of RPG's but ArenaNet does seem to attempt innovation, albeit slowly.

The problem is development. You think creating a console game is anything like creating a world for millions of interactive users?

Besides, most of what you see in MMORPG's these days are rehashes of rules and attributes that go all the way back from tabletop D&D, to Rogue, to Diablo, and so on to the present day. You have to have a well-established base before you can branch out.

Re:Guild Wars (2, Insightful)

HunterZ (20035) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412703)

Guild Wars took a more innovative approach, but it's still static, infinitely repeatable content. The author's points, I think, were:
- it would be way, way more fun if the actions of the player community as a whole were to drive a continuous evolution of game content, as opposed to the current paradigm of seting up a rat's maze of static content that is destined to run out sooner or later (or become boring if it's repeatable)
- removing the experience treadmill and level segragation would put players on more even ground, allwing for more realistic, less frustrating interaction between players
- it would be way more fun to eliminate the focus on grinding for experience and items and instead make a game where the players play to affect the larger happenings of the world itself

The problem as I see it is that this would be a lot more work for developers, and would be potentially less profitable as a result.

The end result, though, would be a 50,000 pen-and-paper RPG that is played graphically over the Internet. A great idea on paper, but really really hard to pull off successfully.

Re:Guild Wars (0)

zerocool^ (112121) | more than 8 years ago | (#15414151)

The end result, though, would be a 50,000 pen-and-paper RPG that is played graphically over the Internet. A great idea on paper, but really really hard to pull off successfully.

Welcome to Eve Online [slashdot.org] .

- it would be way, way more fun if the actions of the player community as a whole were to drive a continuous evolution of game content, as opposed to the current paradigm of seting up a rat's maze of static content that is destined to run out sooner or later (or become boring if it's repeatable)

Player controlled economy and territory.

- removing the experience treadmill and level segragation would put players on more even ground, allwing for more realistic, less frustrating interaction between players

No levels. Skills, but they train even when offline.

- it would be way more fun to eliminate the focus on grinding for experience and items and instead make a game where the players play to affect the larger happenings of the world itself.

Player controlled alliances. Might makes right - if you have the firepower, you control the territory. The orcs don't often rise up and take Ironforge, just cause they want it, but it happened to my alliance recently in Eve. Look: Eve Alliance map [eve-files.com] . Down at the bottom, Paragon Soul? Yeah, I was there when ASCN rolled in their dreadnaughts and the number of people in the local channel jumped from 30 to 115 in 10 seconds. I was there when we lost control of Smoske memorial and Anzac Pub space stations.

All of that map that is colored is player-controlled territory. The center is "high security" which translates more or less to "non-pvp".

MMOs can be good. Welcome to the future. Reply to this post with contact info, I'll see if I can get you a 15 day free trial.

~W

Re:Guild Wars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15414878)

Wrong, Eve is not the future, but the past. The combat UI is a decade out of date. The PvP is just like in UO: It's mugging, not combat. If one side doesn't completely outnumber / outgun the other, they just warp away. Or they're sitting 100+ km from a gate sniping anyone coming through as their still loading the system (and prepared to warp away the second anything shows up that might endanger them). People only fight when they have no chance of losing or are caught unprepared.

I've discovered the key of Eve: It SOUNDS really great and exciting. People talk of epic battles with massive dreadnoughts. It SOUNDS amazing. The dreadnoughts rolling in, as you mentioned, SOOUNDS exciting, but the reality is much more like a bunch of lvl 60s in WoW taking over one of those newbie areas. They roll in, a few people get blown up before they knew what hit them, everyone else simply leaves the system or logs off. The reality is a lot more e-peen comparisons, extremely dull mining, camping gates, and generally more of a grind than any other MMOG out there.

You see, while you gain "Skill Points" at a rate specified by time, you have to grind for cash. The two most common methods, mining and mission running, are frightfully boring. Mining is like fishing in Everquest... for hours. Mission running is like quests from other games, but there are only about two or three dozen total.

Oh, there is one more: Building. But this only works if you have a very old character who won the jackpot in the "tech lottery". You see, only something like a dozen players in the entire universe get a patent on each advanced tech item (some players have patents on more than one item), so they can determine the prices amongst themselves. If you make a character now, you'll never get one of these patents, they're already given out.

Eve is designed by griefers from UO. If you enjoyed mugging people in UO, then Eve is for you. It even has a crappy interface, just like UO...

Ugh (3, Interesting)

ebbv (34786) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412615)

It seems to me that the author of this article is less knowledgeable of the subject at hand than one should be before climbing to the top of the mountain and shouting your opinion to the unwashed masses below.

Game evolution comes incrimentally. Not only that, it is shaped by the interest of the public.

What the author seems to want is a many thousand player MOO or MUSH. I'm sorry to be the one to break it to him, but most people just have no interest in such an open-ended environment. MOOs and MUSHes were always more niche and less popular than their MUD brethren (though there were big ones out there, don't get me wrong.) But whereas anyone is capable of typing in a few lines of text and thus creating an object in a MOO, a modern game requires the ability to create 3D Models. And not only that to animate them. And not only that to do so well enough that it warrants repetitious viewing.

The bottom line being, what we got is what we got, and it's going to evolve from there. If he is really dedicated to his "revolutionary" idea (which is as much a rehash of the past as anything on the market today), then he should put his time and effort into creating it.

Re:Ugh (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412720)

Game evolution comes incrimentally.


I dunno that that's all that generally true; it certainly seems to me to be punctuated by major leaps.

What the author seems to want is a many thousand player MOO or MUSH. I'm sorry to be the one to break it to him, but most people just have no interest in such an open-ended environment. MOOs and MUSHes were always more niche and less popular than their MUD brethren (though there were big ones out there, don't get me wrong.) But whereas anyone is capable of typing in a few lines of text and thus creating an object in a MOO, a modern game requires the ability to create 3D Models. And not only that to animate them. And not only that to do so well enough that it warrants repetitious viewing.


And there is plenty of that being done in the community for non-MMO games, so I don't think its beyond reason to think that there could be a significant market for an MMO game that allowed this freedom -- of course, allowing it would rather sharply erodes the developer's control of the experience.

The real problem I see isn't users creating and animating 3D models, its providing both the freedom for players to create susbtantive behaviors for custom game elements and providing some reasonable constraints on them.

Re:Ugh (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412740)

Interestingly, there is some development towards a greater amount of player created content in games. Secondlife already gives players a ton of flexibility in designing what they see and what it does, although there isn't much of what most people would consider "gameplay" in that game. The upcoming game Spore promises to integrate player created content from all over the internet into each player's game, although it remains to be seen how it will pan out in practice. Neither of these are directly analgous to MOOs and MUSHes, but they are a sort of half step between traditional games (WoW, etc...) and those open ended content creation systems of yesteryear. Perhaps in the next generation we'll have something that's more MOO like, although from a gameplay standpoint it is _very_ difficult to properly balance user created content and still leave the users with enough flexibilty to be really creative. MOOs and MUSHes suffered a lot from that, either limiting players to effectively piecing together exisiting room with just a few lines of description, or being so open ended that anything resembling playblance (or even gameplay at all) was just thrown out the window.

Ugh-Mass appeal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15413226)

"It seems to me that the author of this article is less knowledgeable of the subject at hand than one should be before climbing to the top of the mountain and shouting your opinion to the unwashed masses below."

He would feel right at home here.

No market? Ever heard of Second Life? (1)

johnthorensen (539527) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413358)

What the author seems to want is a many thousand player MOO or MUSH. I'm sorry to be the one to break it to him, but most people just have no interest in such an open-ended environment. MOOs and MUSHes were always more niche and less popular than their MUD brethren (though there were big ones out there, don't get me wrong.) But whereas anyone is capable of typing in a few lines of text and thus creating an object in a MOO, a modern game requires the ability to create 3D Models. And not only that to animate them. And not only that to do so well enough that it warrants repetitious viewing.

What you are describing is Second Life [secondlife.com] , and I hate to break it to you but it's becoming immensely popular for exactly the reasons set forth by the author. Because it's so open-ended, people come -- and stay. They're over a couple hundred thousand in population now, and the rate of increase is growing all the time.

-JT

Re:No market? Ever heard of Second Life? (1)

jchenx (267053) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413591)

What you are describing is Second Life [secondlife.com], and I hate to break it to you but it's becoming immensely popular for exactly the reasons set forth by the author. Because it's so open-ended, people come -- and stay. They're over a couple hundred thousand in population now, and the rate of increase is growing all the time.
Looking at their website, they do list a population of currently 230,000. But folks online? A measly 5,902 right now. So I take it population is essentially just a list of everyone who has ever signed up for a membership. I wouldn't call that exactly "immensely popular".

I wouldn't even classify Second Life as a game, since it's so open-ended. It's a virtual world. I think what they're doing is very cool, but not my slice of pie. Nor is it what most gamers want, otherwise they'd be in that universe and not in WoW or EQ. It's still very much a niche audience. Maybe in the future, it'll be the greatest thing ever, but personally I don't think that'll happen for at least another generation or two. There are still too many technological Luddites this day and age. Let's wait until the "MySpace" generation grows up, though, and Second Life could very well see the boom that you're proposing.

Games are predicatable because the players aren't (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412668)

Perhaps the biggest thing stifling the genre is the players themselves. Too many pundits blame the games and in particular WOW. Yet WOW is where the bulk of the players and it is there for a reason. A very good number of players don't want a full time job followed by a game that is yet another full time job. I do not mean to equate WOW with being dumbed down or such. WOW isn't dumbed down, what Blizzard has done is added features to make playing the game the focus, not having the learn the inadequacies of the developers and how to compensate. Many games lack the niceities that WOW has because either the developers don't have the time and money to implement them or they are lazy. There of course is a small subgroup of developers who believe that players should not be helped but those games tend to die quickly as a hostile developer group never endears itself for long to any group.

The main problem I have with his writing is that he has the same illusion many others who write like he does, that CRPGs have depth the online ones do not. The only true difference is that in a CRPG you are the only hero around. How can it be expected to have a thousand heroes in one world? I guess you could instance the world but then who would care what you did? I have played MMORPGs where there was a single event that once done could be done by no others. Guess what, its annoying. Why? Because as soon as that event can be played out it will be. The one luxury an online game does not have is ability to time itself to all the players. A CRPG doesn't care, the player controls the time in the game. Someone is going to do the event first and everyone else will be left with either congratulating them or jeering the developers over how unfair it was because it happened when they were not online.

Still the games have to be mostly predictable because it is far easier to code for that. A lot of work has to go into making sure the players cannot do things "unpredictable". Unpredictable means exploitive and abusive. Developers have to make sure what they put in the game is used as intended and if not then the abuse must not adversely affect others. This limits their options. CRPGs don't care because players abusing a system only affect themselves.

Sorry, but very few CRPGs are more advanced that MMORPGs. It might feel as if they are but you are ignoring the fact that its only you there and you can control the flow of the game, how the events occur. That is the freedom you feel that is missing from MMORPGs.

Re:Games are predicatable because the players aren (1)

HunterZ (20035) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412817)

WOW is where the bulk of the players and it is there for a reason. A very good number of players don't want a full time job followed by a game that is yet another full time job.

It's true, Blizzard has boiled down the MMORPG genre to the elements that, ideally, are most fun (quests, exploration, small group runs). Of course, that runs out and people want more, so they concentrate on what's addictive enough to keep people playing (rep grinding, raiding end-game instances for uber loot, PvP battlegrounds, etc.). It works until people get burned out and realize how pointless it is in the end.

The main problem I have with his writing is that he has the same illusion many others who write like he does, that CRPGs have depth the online ones do not. The only true difference is that in a CRPG you are the only hero around.

I disagree with your interpretation of the article. I think his point is that you can make a game where the objective isn't to become a hero at all, but rather to have a small (but relatively equal) hand in changing the direction of large-scale events in a game world.

Still the games have to be mostly predictable because it is far easier to code for that.

That's it exactly: it would be an order of magnitude more difficult to make a dynamic game world in which the actions of players permanently change the game content in a meaningful way.

For example, imagine if the WoW developers unleashed the AQ invasion on the players, and depending on whether or not the players were able to stop it, the world would be different afterwards. The developers wouldn't know ahead of time how it would turn out because they'd let the players determine the outcome and then go from there with the direction of new content.

Or, imagine that the Horde players overrun Darnassus and kill the Arch Druid. Instead of him respawning 2 minutes later, what if he stayed dead? What if all the NPCs on the continent gathered for a funeral, followed by a power struggle for a replacement figurehead? What if this rippled out and shifted the balance and power and course of events in various ways across the whole game world? You get the idea.

And there's the problem: The developers couldn't just create a static amusement park world the way they do now. Instead, they'd have to be continually adding, changing, and removing content to create a dynamically changing universe in reaction to the players. This would take an enormous amount of time and effort, and would likely be a lot less profitable (at least at first).

Re:Games are predicatable because the players aren (1)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412927)

Or, imagine that the Horde players overrun Darnassus and kill the Arch Druid. Instead of him respawning 2 minutes later, what if he stayed dead? What if all the NPCs on the continent gathered for a funeral, followed by a power struggle for a replacement figurehead? What if this rippled out and shifted the balance and power and course of events in various ways across the whole game world? You get the idea.

Then I'm going to be a level 30 casual-playing character on that server and suddenly realize that the leader of my city has been killed by a bunch of uber-twinked 60's who ran the city over and over again until they could go through and cause the effect. Yes, serious life-changing events like that are great for the guild that manages to accomplishes them... and bullshit for everyone else. Of course, maybe they would just install a new leader, which would basically be the same as respawning the old one, and you'd see it happen three times a week.

Re:Games are predicatable because the players aren (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412973)

Then I'm going to be a level 30 casual-playing character on that server and suddenly realize that the leader of my city has been killed by a bunch of uber-twinked 60's who ran the city over and over again until they could go through and cause the effect.


This presumes the game would be driven by a "level up" drive; while that's an easy to code concrete reward system, its not the only possible model for a game, even an MMO. A game with a more dynamic environment wouldn't, ideally, have to feature levelling up to give players an evolving set of challenges.

Re:Games are predicatable because the players aren (1)

HunterZ (20035) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413255)

This presumes the game would be driven by a "level up" drive; while that's an easy to code concrete reward system, its not the only possible model for a game, even an MMO. A game with a more dynamic environment wouldn't, ideally, have to feature levelling up to give players an evolving set of challenges.

Exactly. In fact, the best thing would then be for the developers to try to balance things so that the Alliance players and NPCs would push back the Horde players in a desperate battle, eventually restoring the balance. Or maybe not: maybe the Horde would take over the city, and the Alliance players would have to flee somewhere else. It would work solely because the developers would still be there changing the content around to keep the game alive. It most certainly wouldn't be static amusement park content where the same guy would spawn back the next day with a different name, and the developers would be using the game to balance the odds so that large-scale or large-impact ganking and griefing wouldn't take place.

Re:Games are predicatable because the players aren (1)

llefler (184847) | more than 8 years ago | (#15416952)

There is always going to be some type of leveling. Your level is just a numeric representation of the accomplishments your character has achieved. It represents your skills, talents, and accumulated equipment. And players want to compare their characters. It's much easier to say I have a level xx Warrior than it is to say I have a Warrior with xxx sword skill, xxx blacksmithing, and all my armor is purple....

If you take away leveling, every character is brand new every time you log in. That would mean a less persistant world, and I think most players would like a more persistant one. Developers don't like that, it's harder to code for and harder to test. Right now you can take 100 different WoW servers, and the only difference between them is the players.

Re:Games are predicatable because the players aren (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412955)

It's true, Blizzard has boiled down the MMORPG genre to the elements that, ideally, are most fun (quests, exploration, small group runs).


That's one part of development, the other part is finding new elements. You could look at it as a necessary Revolution/Evolution duality -- there should be a constant process of recombining existing gameplay elements to find the best combination -- and perhaps Blizzard has done that well with what is out there, currently, that works in the MMO realm.

But there also needs to be development of new gameplay elements to add to the mix (and perhaps resurrecting old ones that have fallen out because they didn't work well without some of the new ones, but might work better with them). Otherwise, the market stagnates.

And there's the problem: The developers couldn't just create a static amusement park world the way they do now. Instead, they'd have to be continually adding, changing, and removing content to create a dynamically changing universe in reaction to the players.


Or they'd have to design systems in the game that added or removed elements of content and adapted behavior dynamically in reaction to the players.

Re:Games are predicatable because the players aren (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 8 years ago | (#15417219)

Interesting thoughts, and you have a point with your conclusion.

In a less permanent way, however, it is doable and has been done. In DOAC and Neocron, players can conquer places that give their realm or clan an advantage. While that can be reversed by a counterattack and things are back to the status quo, it does not happen automatically.
So the first step beyond the static amusement park exists.

Another idea are player-built cities, which have reportedly been tried in SWG with mixed results. I think the concept is worth rethinking and improving (maybe limited to certain places, and offering a construction kit for putting your houses together?).

Re:Games are predicatable because the players aren (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412886)

I have played MMORPGs where there was a single event that once done could be done by no others. Guess what, its annoying. Why? Because as soon as that event can be played out it will be. The one luxury an online game does not have is ability to time itself to all the players. A CRPG doesn't care, the player controls the time in the game. Someone is going to do the event first and everyone else will be left with either congratulating them or jeering the developers over how unfair it was because it happened when they were not online.


It seems to me that for a "do once" model to work there need to be a frequent-enough emergence of new things to do, and that there should be things that need done that rely on more than one small group acting, and require action over an extended time. This probably relies on getting away from tightly scripted events, though, and finding away to make adaptive, emergent challenges entertaining.

I don't think the industry is far from being able to make that kind of game.

Still the games have to be mostly predictable because it is far easier to code for that. A lot of work has to go into making sure the players cannot do things "unpredictable". Unpredictable means exploitive and abusive. Developers have to make sure what they put in the game is used as intended and if not then the abuse must not adversely affect others.


That's certainly a valid concern, and certainly controlling abuse is a concern, though whether or not tight controls on what can happen is the best way to acheive that is...well, I don't think its entirely clear. I think new "light-handed" ways of controlling abuse and subtly promoting activity that enhances enjoyment of the gamer community is one area that MMOs can be expected to advance in.

I am tired of being the hero (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413895)

And I wouldn't mind being the lesser hero or even one of the unwashed masses for a change. It might be refreshing. That nobody has tried it before is not my fault.

Ever heard of the anti-hero. There was a time when that was new. Before everyone only made movies with the hero who overcame the baddie. Then someone somewhere dared to create a hero who wasn't all the different from the baddie, or even worse who was the baddie.

Could a RPG but made in wich you are not the main hero. In wich it ain't you who gets to become king but are instead one of the people in the background?

The GBA game Fire Emblem seems to do this. You are just the tactician. NOT the heroine seeking her grandfather or later the hero seeking his father.

I haven't finished it yet but you might not even get the girl!!!

Yet it works. Unlike so many other Japanese so called RPG's you are not being forced to much in a role. You are a silent bystander not one of the faggoty princes.

Could an MMO work by not having "real" heroes. Well not in its current form. for an MMO to be an MMORPG there needs to be an element of story and suspension of disbelief. It doesn't work if you have to stend in a line to give the NPC a broom in exchange for her blue stone.

Current quests are static. Very static. That mortally wounded soldier asking you to deliver a last letter will still be mortally wounded centuries later.

Can this be made different. Can game designers come up with "generic" quests that are generated for each player randomly? So that as I am exploring an area I come across a small battle and find a mortally wounded soldier who requests me to deliver this letter and then dies and disappears making this quest unique for me?

It would not be easy. How to balance how many quests to give. How to make quests groupable (do only I get the letter, all the members of the group or the group gets 1 letter to deliver together). Could you add the element of competition. Say while I get the order to deliver a warning by a spy of an assasination an other player gets the order to assasinate? (no pvp all that I need to do is warn the npc to be assasinated)

The problem with "random" quests is offcourse simple. No guides on where to find quests. What quest you would get (and therefore the loot) would depend on a random number generator. Current MMORPG players seem to prefer picking only those quests that give them phat loot.

Abusing the game is offcourse a valid concern but hardly stopped by making the game predictable. In fact it is knowing exactly what the game will do every turn that makes it easy to exploit weaknesses. Camping phat loot spawns only works because you know that the spawn is every 6 hours.

With random quests you could easily make the endboss spawn somewhere out of the way. Perhaps even put the final boss in an instance so he is safe and people don't have to stand inline to slaughter the dungeon boss.

Yes translating CRPG's to an MMORPG is not going to work. But that doesn't mean there aren't other ways.

One idea I like is to make areas develop and collapse overtime. Create say 10 areas/worlds. At the start some are developed with cities and other niceties while others are wild.

Because of player dynamics some of the areas will become more popular then others. SWG had for instance coronet on correlia develop into a hub. It was here that most of the player housing was build for stores, it was where most items were put on the bazaar, where most medics healed, most dancers danced and where the snarf was hunted to extinction. (this is bad, server overload, lag, the death of other areas and boredom/grind)

So the developer changes the game. Because of all the rebels the city comes under strict imperial control (existing game mechanic) with very strict control on illegal goods (existing game mechanic, to pay for it taxes (existing game mechanic) are increased (home ownership and bazaar transaction fees), the snarf being overhunted becomes diseased (existing game mechanic), bar owners set a fee for performing (new game mechanic), same with medics wishing to heal.

Note that I listen (existing game mechanic) meaning that the existince of this idea is already there, just not used to control the popularity of an area. So for instance some critters were diseased but not based on how popular they were. Disease was a pain in the butt and therefore avoided like the plague.

Note that none of this can be called nerfing. You can still trade in coronet, you will just pay a higher fee meaning either less profits or higher prices. Stimulating people to take their business elsewhere. You can still hunt snarfs but now the risk is a lot higher.

In short the hopefully this will disperse the population across the galaxy until a new hub forms and you pull the same stunt there.

None of it requires massive changes. We are not talking a faction shift, or making a city turn to rubble.

Just letting real world forces loose on the gameworld. Nothing changes really but the players would still be in a dynamic world.

I'm not worried about the future (4, Insightful)

Soong (7225) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412674)

Great ideas for the future of MMORPG are plentiful. I played WoW through to the end, got Level 60, beat the game. I know the ins and outs. I can do better. Why, I just thought up half a dozen great ideas in the minute before I posted this comment. So it's just an implementation problem. Well, I have that solved to. Or I will. It'll just take some time to write. I'm going into stealth mode and living in my mom's basement to keep my burn rate down, but when I come out in a year or two I'll have the most awesome technically advanced MMORPG ever! Give away the demo, bittorrent out the client, sell subscriptions, profit! I wonder why more indie game developers aren't doing this already? I mean, it's so obvious!

Sandbox mmos... (5, Insightful)

Scorpion265 (650012) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412769)

There is a wonderful one out there, Eve online. There aren't levels perse, just new ships and skills you can add to your charecter to make things different. There are so many things you can do in that game it's staggering. PvP- be a bounty hunter or a pirate, be a trader, be a miner, scientist, you can make EVERY item in the game. It's truely a fun experence. As you get more skills, alot of time goes into skill development, but it happens when you are offline. you set a skill to train, and it'll take two weeks, but that's two weeks if you are playing or not. If anyone is interested, pm me and we'll go do some rat hunting :)

Re:Sandbox mmos... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15413665)

As a fellow EVE player, I'd like to point out that it isn't every other MMOG.

EVE will not hold your hand at all. If you can't figure out what *you* want to do to have fun, the game will be very boring, very fast.

There is no level 60. There is no Boring End Game Dungeon With The Same Old Monsters Only With Different Models. There's even no grinding unless you want there to be - a player with some decent skills (both coded and basic lessons you can learn from your friendly neighborhood pirate), a player in a frigate can be as or more valuable than a player in a battleship. You'd be hard pressed to need to grind to afford a frigate!

Do you want to shout "Arr!", raise the jolly roger, and make people who should know better than to carry around billions of ISK worth of equipment in an unescorted hauler cry?

Do you want to give yourself braindamage and mine asteroids for weeks on end?

Do you want to topple empires?

Where's the massive indeed. ;)

Re:Sandbox mmos... (3, Informative)

zerocool^ (112121) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413745)


Another thing to mention is that Eve doesn't use "shards". There's none of this "Oh, you play WoW? What server? Oh, too bad, I'm on Mediveh". It's ONE SERVER, but at times, we've hit 25,000 simultaneous connections. They accomplish this with big hardware (IBM dual core dual xeon blades, at the moment, i think) and a RAMSAN [superssd.com] from a company in Texas.

The game is... it's really hard to explain it to someone who hasn't seen it. It's almost entirely player controlled. All of the low-security space is permanantly up for grabs, and Might makes Right, period. The economy is by far the most complex I've ever seen in a game. Anything you can think of to make money is fair game. There is no "end game" - i.e. there is no lvl 60. If you get bored, join an alliance. Start a war. Train your character in a different direction. I mean... just go check it out. That's all there is to it.

(and I've only been playing since Feb.)

~Xiaodown

Piloting a Ferox with more tech 2 gear than you can shake a stick at.

Eve's problem is lag (1)

leftie (667677) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413917)

Eve might be a cool game if you happen to live near where they base their servers. Otherwise, it's a laggy mess.

In my mind, all Eve has proven is that the technological barriers are still to high for MMOGs to be a single world based on one group of servers in one location.

Re:Eve's problem is lag (1)

Thumper_SVX (239525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15415943)

Well that's a bunch of crap. The servers are in Europe, I play Eve from St. Louis, Missouri about 3 nights a week. I've never had a problem with lag that wasn't caused by my own local network (I had a DSL "modem" go bad recently). I also played it on my laptop from a hotel room in Tucson, AZ and Denver, CO recently while traveling on business... never had a problem.

If you're having a lag problem the first place to look is probably your own local configuration. Are you playing using wireless? Do you have a good signal? The quality of your own local connection makes a huge difference.

Also, if you're running a local home network check your switch/hub. Are you sure you're not causing collisions because your PC is at 100/Half and your switch expects 100/full?

See this is why I think home networking (done right at least) is still beyond Joe Public... that's why they pay me to do it right for them :)

Re:Sandbox mmos... (1)

sgant (178166) | more than 8 years ago | (#15414888)

I played Eve for a while. It's a great way to get to sleep if you're an insomniac as it has to be one of the most boring games I've ever played. But that's just my opinion...and I know several people that just love Eve.

This sentiment is actually common in the industry (1)

merreborn (853723) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412789)

Mud-dev con 2003 was attended by developers from all over the industry, including Shadowbane's lead, and some DAOC staff. IIRC, Raph Koster had RSVP'd, but ended up having to visit Lucas Film at the last minute, as SWG was in development at the time.

At any rate, the main sentiment of the conference was "Hey, let's do new things", with talk of abandoning things like:

The "server" construct. Why do you have to pick a server and stick with it in every MMO to date? Shouldn't this be abstracted away? In fact, there have been multi-user environments that have done just that for over a decade now.

The repeatable "fedex quest". Why is it Professor Smith needs us to run the Miracle Serum across town every 5 minutes? Don't they have enough already? Why don't quests have real side-effects on the game world? Why, when I deliver the serum, isn't someone actually cured?

Of course, doing new things in a way that actually attracts enough players to fund a large project is tough. That's really the game (and media) industry's problem at large: the same old same old is lucrative. Innovation is risky.

But if it's any consolation, game developers agree: the old shit's getting boring.

No Developer will figure it out. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15412790)

I have played AO, SWG, COH, and WoW. None of these games had end game content or even lifetime content (SWG) and no MMOs ever will. The MMO design has been flawed since the evolution of it and that leads to the flaw of CRPGs vs PnP.

As with CRPGS and MMOs they are limited by code and time. People want open ended end game content. How? How do developers develop everything and nothing for an ending. How many people would it take to constantly add an countinous ending to a story? How many GMs would it take to run events for people to participate in with consideration to timezones. What? What is considered good end game content vs bad.

Now I bet a lot of you have answers to all of those quests. Now take every person who answered that question and try to compile and code all those request. Thats the life of an MMO hear how to do end game content from hundreds of thousands of people and trying to pick the good from the bad. Then making a desicion to actually put into use the good. Then getting approval to do the development. Then going back and getting some of the bugs cleared. Then finishing it with QA. Then pushing the changes to Live. Then getting feedback that this isn't what some of the customer wanted.

There are limits to how much a team can create vs a DM doing a campaign on the fly. MMOs are a waste of time cause you never get the game you wanted to play, you are getting a game that some stranger want to play.

There are more than four virtual worlds! (1)

Attaturk (695988) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413793)


I have played AO, SWG, COH, and WoW.

I'm not having a dig at the parent but I just wanted to use that quote to illustrate a point.

According to MMORPG.com there are over a hundred MMO's active at the moment with another 90+ in development and/or in testing but I've lost count of the times that I've seen articles and comments here and elsewhere that seem to use the subjective experiences of a handful of games - usually the most hyped ones - as some kind of general indicator of the entire marketplace.

Almost all of the complaints made about these major MMO's have been addressed in dozens of these others - some were even specifically developed in order to approach some of the issues differently.

Can we please be a little bit less blinkered when talking about this space?

After all it wouldn't make sense to only talk about MacOS and Windows when talking about operating systems, now would it?

Don't complain. Shop around.

Actions Matter? (1)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412848)

It's not about re-integrating PvP. It's about removing the requirements of XP and equipment. This shifts the focus away from first growing ones power and then going to use it, allowing people to get into the action faster. That sounds like Planetside,

No, what that sounds like is Halo. Create a character, equal in power to anyone else, and just go fight against them? What's the point of it being an RPG if there's no reward for exploration and creation?

The issue is that repeating the same content ad nauseum has very limited appeal in general, an issue when added to just how limiting these games are.

Not to people who play Halo, who I'm sure play the same maps over and over. Surprisingly, the people at large aren't that objective to rerunning content. The idea that you have to constantly be doing something new seems largely new to the RPG community alone.

Allow me to sum up the article - "WoW sucks. I want to play something else."

Players don't want to be played (1)

Tipa (881911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412946)

In Halo, etc.; the maps mean little, really. Just like the WoW battlegrounds. You are playing against other people, you don't hardly even think of the maps. In Arathi Basin, for instance, you know the weak points and strong points based on who from the other team is guarding them. It's all about player content - in this case, the players themselves - instead of static scripted content - in WoW's case, the boss fights which are so tightly scripted my guild (and most other guilds) had a UI mod which told us everything to do and when to do it.

(Those idiotic, required UI mods really burn me up. Turned my job, healing, into a two button affair - one for healing, one for curing. Just read the screen to see where to stand. Watch the raid wipe because someone was trying to do something unscripted.)

The point of the original article was that when players are allowed to be innovative and creative, you no longer have to worry what to do when the content runs out - the players are inventing their own goals and rewards. The ONLY way in WoW (et al) to do that is by playing the metagame of the endgame guild itself - on message boards, the blizzard forums, what have you - playing out social interactions out of game because the game itself does not value anything beyond the grind.

I never played Shadowbane (was in DAoC at time), but it sounds pretty much like the kind of game he would have wanted. That game failed, but maybe someone needs to give it another shot.

Re:Players don't want to be played (1)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413231)

The ONLY way in WoW (et al) to do that is by playing the metagame of the endgame guild itself - on message boards, the blizzard forums, what have you - playing out social interactions out of game because the game itself does not value anything beyond the grind.

Interestingly enough, that's the same way you get social interaction in Halo. WoW was not built to be this incredibly deep social experience. It was meant to be about getting together with other people to kill stuff. There are a lot of games out there that have a much deeper, richer community than WoW has. They also have about one-tenth of the audience.

I don't know about your "endgame mods," but I played in a guild who was trying to defeat Ragnaros for the first time, and we died. We died over and over. We talked strategy, we tried different standpoints around the lava, my own class - the healer - talked a lot about how to conserve mana and where we needed to be in relation to the rest of the group. If your guild has decided to just google the answers to everything and leave it at that, then good for you, but we had a lot of fun trying to crack that hard egg.

If you don't enjoy "the grind," then go play another game. That's what WoW is about, it's about grind, and if that's not what you're into, then go play something else. Although you certainly seemed to enjoy it long enough to have played long enough to figure out how to start using boss-specific UI's.

Re:Players don't want to be played (1)

Tipa (881911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413321)

Guild I was in required them, along with Ventrilo. All we were were warm bodies in the raid machine.

Raids were setting the mods right, listening for instructions where to stand over Vent, then hitting my two buttons. I never got the chance to "try and crack that hard egg". On my server, half the people had been in endgame guilds on other servers, and knew exactly how to do everything. We never had to try and figure ANYTHING out. Was just a matter of executing the script perfectly (and getting the correct resists up).

But then, I wasn't in WoW from Day 1. I started this last October, reached endgame in January, was bored with it by March. And I did leave once I reached pointlessness (and half the guild went to another server to restart, another quarter just quit, as I did, and the last quarter joined other high-end guilds).

This strays from the point. You burn through content in WoW extremely quickly - and then what happens? The raids are fun the first couple of times, but they get old fast.

My favorite memories are burning spiders in Duskwood with my mage, or exploring the world in Beta with a stranger I met who became a close friend.

The game itself could only be improved by letting players control more of the content. Heck, do like old EQ and stop instancing. A race through MC with another guild to see who gets to Rag first would be exciting. I have LOTS of good memories from EQ1 of racing to Rallos Zek or Trakanon or even Vex Thal. Our enemies weren't Yelinak or Klandicar or the Avatar of War; they were Affliction, Ring of Destiny and Midnight Fury. And when raids were done, we'd do some casual grouping in some experience zone and laugh about the competition.

WoW's overuse of instancing for most raid targets makes guild competition meaningless. All you fight are the scripts, which after all, are designed solely for the purpose of feeding you loot and getting you to return to do them again.

Re:Actions Matter? (1)

PepeGSay (847429) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413359)

What MMOs are selling is the idea that your monthly fee is paying for things that are new. That expectation was created by the game companies when they said "Pay us $50 up front, then $15 a month and we'll keep giving you new stuff." Every game so far has tapped out the users patience when the user base starts asking "this is what my $15 a month gets? and I have to pay for the expansions anyway when the really big and cool stuff comes out again?".

Re:Actions Matter? (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 8 years ago | (#15417362)

Not to people who play Halo, who I'm sure play the same maps over and over. Surprisingly, the people at large aren't that objective to rerunning content. The idea that you have to constantly be doing something new seems largely new to the RPG community alone.
The difference is in the opponents:
While most NPCs are rather stupid and repetitive to fight, in Halo (or my preferred FPS, Day Of Defeat) you fight other players who will throw a lot more surprises at you. The challenge is in beating the other guys, the map is merely the arena you fight in.

That said, maybe MMORPGs should have a C&C-like command console for the GMs to control the mobs. With that tool, it should be much easier to launch the occasional invasion attempt and make the attackers show at least a bit of strategy.

Lonewolf666, now logging in for a bit of DOD ;-)

Re:Actions Matter? (1)

xtieburn (906792) | more than 8 years ago | (#15422619)

'No, what that sounds like is Halo.'

I dont think he means it in that way a key part of the article is when he says.

'Instead of power depth based on level, focus on power breadth.'

Or in other words you still have the RPG world and way of working but instead of your character leaping in and getting to work ramping up through the levels your reward is essentially to create your character. The only thing I can think of that I can liken it to is Fable. By expanding how you can define your character in the world you can spend far more time doing that than just shooting up to level 60. (Oblivion and the Elder Scrolls games also have this the leveling up part is almost a background occurence to what is happening in the game.)

The problem being how to do that in a MMORPG especially one like he suggests with several thousand players all in one environment. He doesnt really give any answers for that.

Like a lot of stunningly great ideas his article appears to be far superior on paper than it would be in practice. At least until he shares with us exactly how all of this would be implemented.

Right Here (3, Interesting)

Zero1za (325740) | more than 8 years ago | (#15412933)

http://www.eve-online.com/>

Over 26000 in the same universe (single server, well, cluster of servers) last weekend. Player interaction makes up the end game. That is, pvp actually has a point beyond "points" and revolves around territory/resource conflict. Politics are far beyond anything else available too.

26000 on Eve servers? Must have been laggy mess (1)

leftie (667677) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413938)

People who live near Eve's servers have fun. The rest look at screens locked up by lag.

Don't have a point to make? Troll away, then (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15414456)

Yeah, uh-huh. Your lack of references really helps me believe you're not a troll. Oh wait, no it doesn't.

This guy has posted another comment literally identical to this one. Check it out [slashdot.org] .

Re:Don't have a point to make? Troll away, then (1)

Thumper_SVX (239525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15415962)

And I posted a rebuttal. He's a troll... can't justify his comments. I actually disprove his comments by playing Eve Online from thousands of miles away from the servers. Go figure :)

Crappiest game ever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15414245)

Gaining skills is a matter of setting your skill you want to game, and then waiting a long time. There is no actual playing involved. Every single activity takes forever and is incredibly boring. Even PvP, the only possible enjoyment in the game is incredibly boring and tedious.

Re:Right Here (1)

analog_line (465182) | more than 8 years ago | (#15420061)

The politics are so far beyond anything, they're barely politics. What it really is, is a gigantic cyberspace gang war. National boundaries (the empires) can't be changed by user action, so all you have is the people who sit in the areas the cops protect, or the ones who are doing whatever they damn well please out in the zero zones where the cops won't go.

It would be a fascinating anthropology case study if I was an anthropologist. Not worth my time otherwise. I deal with enough of that shit in the real world, I don't need more of it in my escapism.

SSDD (1)

Avatar8 (748465) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413228)

This has all been said before during the previous generation of MMORPG's. It's all well and good for these virtual world idealists to generalize about what should be in MMO's, but where's the proof of concept or implmentation?

TFA winds up saying "let players really impact the world." You know what happens when you allow that? You end up with a torn-up, useless crust of a world that no-one wants to visit because those that made the changes were idiots and ruined the wonderful world that was. Case in point: Ultima Online.

UO had high ideals and lofty goals: real economy, a real ecosystem, PvP and combat where skill mattered, not levels. What happened to it?
1. Raph Koster applied his ideals of how a society should act, but because it was so foreign to all the players, it was either ignored or abused. There was no "society" in UO; there were "clicks" as in real life and in any MMO.

2. UO's system of PvP drove players away by the thousands (my wife was one). Those that remained sent up such an uproar that we finally received consensual PvP... by mirroring the world, effectively dividing the population (75/25 by most counts). This, too, worked to drive players away. The PvPers had no prey and the non-PvPers had no way to retaliate against griefers.

3. Player-requested content and non-requested content. Players asked for all manner of content that had no place in the Ultima history: they got it. EA allowed Todd McFarlane to design content for an expansion. He single-handedly drove several thousand more players away. What exists today is Samurai Empire; something so foreign to the Medieval Europe theme of Britannia they might as well use machine guns, steam trains and spaceships (yes, I remember that Ultima I and II had spaceships.)

4. Skills vs. levels. I have yet to see a system of PvP that is balanced (part of the reason I despise it and avoid it). In UO the skills system simply required players to come up with certain skill combinations that worked best for PvP or PvE. At least with a level system you know that if the levels are equal, you can look to other factors to provide advantage. Regardless, if there's a way to get an unfair advantage, someone will find it and exploit it.

In summary if you give the players the reigns, they will no doubt ruin the world and drive off the other players.

I for one am very pleased with how Blizzard crafted WoW. I see room for lots of minor improvements, but the overall implementation is outstanding.

Re:SSDD (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 8 years ago | (#15414077)

FA winds up saying "let players really impact the world." You know what happens when you allow that?
Second Life? The Sims Online?

Re:SSDD (1)

Avatar8 (748465) | more than 8 years ago | (#15419362)

Neither of which are games which I would consider playing, nor do I consider them successful in concept, delivery or number of players (Just judging by their websites and reactions of people I knew who tried them; I've never played either one because they hold no interest for me.)

Did they do better than UO as far as letting players rule the world? If the numbers on the website are to be believed, apparently so by a slim margin.

Re:SSDD (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 8 years ago | (#15414187)

EA allowed Todd McFarlane to design content for an expansion.
Actually, that's not precisely true. McFarlane's designs, the revived Blackthorn, the Juka and the Meer races were all originally intended to populate the UO sequel, which went through a number of name changes and was eventually shitcanned because EA thought it would compete with the original. Those designs were sat upon for several years, before they finally made their way into an expansion.

Re:SSDD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15415027)

The word that you're looking for is cliques.

jeez...

Re:SSDD (1)

Darniaq (738858) | more than 8 years ago | (#15415728)

Actually, the point of the TFA was that old ideas are not dead ideas. You raise good points about open worlds affected by players, but your talking from precedent only. That makes sense of course, since what else do we measure things by? But when you consider the precedence of an idea, don't ignore when it was executed (was it before its time?) nor how it was executed (did it actually pull of its intent?)

Re:SSDD (1)

Al_Bundy55 (977488) | more than 8 years ago | (#15418171)

"In summary if you give the players the reigns, they will no doubt ruin the world and drive off the other players"

I read the quoted text above and just had to laugh at how much that sounds like the real world...

No wonder it played out that way in UO when people were given whatever they demanded... Todd's "monsters," Samurai's... omg... I saw that stuff happening and thought what the hell? Who actually plays that sad, twisted excuse for Ultima?

Re:SSDD (1)

Avatar8 (748465) | more than 8 years ago | (#15419387)

I agree.

I played for 7.5 years starting in October 1997. I'm not sure how or why I stayed that long. When Samurai Empire came out, I quit "playing" and numbly continued "maintenance" of my account. When WoW came out, I sold my account for a pittance of what it would have been worth in UO's prime. I was grateful to be rid of the addiction.

I had disagreements from the start that UO was not similar enough to the Ultima series. This was rationalized by the multi-split world. In essence, Ultima prime, the Sosaria where all the series occured, was intact and not directly affected by the muliple shards that comprised UO.

The developers strayed further and further from the core history as time went on. I'm probably one of the top ten Ultima/Britannia/Lord British fans in the world, but what EA did to UO was too much for me.

To date, of the few hundred people I knew who played UO, I only know of four continuing to play. I have no clue of who is playing now.

The "Massive" is in EVE Online (5, Informative)

syukton (256348) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413252)

EVE Online is the best Massively Multiplayer Online Game in existence. When I say "massively" what I mean is that there aren't "shards" or "realms" or other divisions between groups of players. Everyone plays on the same "realm" which had 26,000 players online concurrently last weekend, out of a playerbase of about 110,000. How is that for massive?

There's also the in-game universe, which consists of a network of more than 4,000 solar systems. How many zones are there in other MMOGs like WoW, Everquest, Everquest2, and so on? 200? 300? Again, massive.

Oh, and you wanna talk massive? Check out the ships [grismar.net] you can fly. You do of course start the game in a tiny (by comparison) ship, but through the training of skills you will be able to fly bigger and badder ships over time.

Skills are another area where EVE takes the term massive to the limit. Any player can learn any skill, of which there are literally hundreds. You aren't limited by your "class" because there are no classes. The skills you have determine the activities you can perform, period. There are certain types of spacecraft which are designed to be used by members of a particular race (there are four: Caldari, Amarr, Gallente and Minmatar) but there is nothing preventing say, a Gallente pilot from learning the Amarr skills so that they can fly Amarr Battleships. One thing about skills that differs from other games is that you select a skill (one at a time) to train, and then it will train over a period of time, regardless of whether or not you're online. So if it will take you a few days to get the Caldari Cruiser skill from level 3 to 4, you can put the game down for a long weekend and come back to your new skill and the benefits it entails.

Everything (item-wise and ship-wise) in the game is produced in one of two ways: you take it as loot after killing an NPC pirate ("rat" in game terminology) or players make them. Most of the equipment and ships are player-produced. It is possible (although difficult) for a single player to mine her own ore, start her own production queue, and start producing her own ships, guns, ammunition, microwarp drives, armor plating, and so on. It's much easier to be part of a group.

That brings us to Corporations. Corporations of many types exist. Some corporations exist solely to mine the ores of the asteroid belts in the outer regions. Some corporations are pirates, who exist solely to kill other players and take their equipment. Some corporations are explorers, or escorts, or manufacturers. Corporations can be as small as 20 people or as large as 1,000 (or more). Multiple corporations can form Alliances, perhaps granting a Mining corporation the privelege of mining precious ore in an outer system controlled by a Pirate corporation in the alliance.

At the beginning I mentioned the 4,000 solar systems. These systems each have a sovereignity and a security level. The security level determines a player's safety in the system, ranging from 1.0 (secure) to 0.0 (insecure). At a security level less than 0.5, any player can attack any other player. At a security level less than 0.3, players can set up their own space stations (you read that right, you can deploy and operate your own space station) and claim sovereignity over that system, effectively making it "theirs." Alliances will claim sovereignity over vast networks of systems, as well. So of that massive 4,000 systems, perhaps half are at a security level of 0.5 or greater and are "protected" by The Federation. Outside of these systems though, anyone and anything is fair game, and the stakes can be quite high.

Outside of Federation Space, there is one thing that is more massive than any other game out there. If you have two alliances, each with 4,000 players or so, who both want to control a region of space because of, say, the extremely valuable minerals in the asteroid belts required to build a certain type of ship, then those two alliances can (and often do) go to war. There is nothing, I repeat: nothing like watching hundreds, if not thousands of ships in one system battling it out for territory and the riches contained therein.

There's more. Much more. There are missions ("quests") ranging from "transport X units of Y subtance from this system to that system" to "hunt down the pirate XYZ and bring me his identification card." There are deadspace complexes ("dungeons") of varying difficulty where you (or you and some friends) can blow up enemy ships for the equipment they bear.

EVE Online is in my opinion the only truly "Massive" MOG out there.

Re:The "Massive" is in EVE Online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15413430)

EVE would be a great game... but it is run by a group of UO griefer refugees who haven't looked at the rest of the industry in three years...

1) The worst combat user interface imaginable. The developers are religiously against the concept of easy keyboard shortcuts. Virtually everything has to be done through mouse clicks and context menus, even in combat.

2) PvP consists entirely of griefing. One person or gang mugs someone else who isn't set up for it or is so massively outnumbered as to be laughable. If this is your idea of fun, please seek psychiatric help.

3) While the universe is huge... one patch of space is pretty much identical to every other patch of space. Some systems are tinted blue, some tinted red. But let's face it, space is space. Comparing it to the massively detailed continents in fantasy RPGs is rather a stretch.

4) The PvE side of the game is exceedinly dull. Either static missions (And I mean VERY static), or possibly the most boring thing I've ever seen anyone do in a videogame: Mining. I remember playing the UO beta (which is why I never bought UO), the developers were all psyched over "You can be a baker!" or "You can be a fisherman!"

Re:The "Massive" is in EVE Online (4, Informative)

aafiske (243836) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413526)

You missed the most important feature! (well, one of them...) Newbies are not helpless against the mighty.

Take WoW for example. Say you have a group of 30 lvl10s. You will never, ever kill a level60. They will just resist, dodge, absorb or tank all your damage and one-shot each of you without breaking a sweat. A level 30 in the 30-39 bracket? Welcome to hurting.

But in eve... big ships have penalties to hit smaller ships. Now, smaller ships can't really put out the damage to kill a big one, so a battleship vs a frigate would basically be a stalemate, as long as the frigate keeps its speed up. But a tiny fleet of frigates can easily pin down and kill a battleship. Some corporations base their operations on that: large groups of cheap ships that always lose a few members when taking on big game, but end up doing much more damage monetarily speaking. (You lost 8 250k frigates, they lost 2 100mil battleships. You win.)

It's such a refreshing change that you can be actually useful in a short period of time, I figured it'd be a shame not to mention it.

Eve griefers grief-and-run (0)

leftie (667677) | more than 8 years ago | (#15414004)

Eve is set up for veteran griefers to grief-and-run. Griefer jumps in with USS DreadMYuberness at the jumpgates. Unloads on newbie with massive broadside of whole arsenal of USS DreadMYuberness . Newbie usually dies in first onslaught (often while screen is locked up by lag due to the graphics for the new system just jumped into are loading). If newbie survive first onslaught, Griefer jumps out before newbie can call for help.

Jump system actually makes griefers more untouchable in Eve than other MMOGs. Ship speed is basically moot because everyone has to use the gate transit system. Griefers pounce at the gate itself. Unload on newbie before help can arrive. Loot whatever they can kill in one broadside. Jump out in the unlikely event the newbie survives first broadside.

Re:Eve griefers grief-and-run (1)

WuphonsReach (684551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15415046)

Take WoW for example. Say you have a group of 30 lvl10s. You will never, ever kill a level60. They will just resist, dodge, absorb or tank all your damage and one-shot each of you without breaking a sweat. A level 30 in the 30-39 bracket? Welcome to hurting.

That's the big problem that I see in a lot of PVP setups. I'm waiting for the day when someone realizes that PVP action needs a different scale of effect then PVE. The level 60 player should have more tools at their disposal, but not more power or health.

While a level 60 would probably win a 1v1 battle against a level 10, the level 60 player should walk away from it with moderate damage rather then not getting a scratch. That gives level 10s a chance to use teamwork to bring down a level 60 player.

Re:Eve griefers grief-and-run (1)

esper (11644) | more than 8 years ago | (#15416040)

I slightly disagree... Which is to say, I agree that levels should be deemphasized in PvP, but they should also be deemphasized in PvE. I think this whole notion of PvE and PvP using different rules is absurd. If something has to be toned down because it's too powerful in PvP, then it's probably too powerful in PvE also. Plus, if the two are kept to the same rules, you largely avoid the situation of having PvP builds that are nigh useless in PvE and PvE builds that get ganked in an instant as soon as a hostile PvPer comes into sight. (I don't doubt that there would still be some dichotomy between PvP and PvE builds, as a result of players and mobs tending to use different tactics, but it would be much less extreme than in the typical situation you have now where each type of build is minimaxed for a different set of rules.)

And I have to agree with the earlier poster that Eve does this right - the veterans in their battleships may be a lot more powerful than a raw recruit in his first frigate, but they're not completely untouchable simply because the game says "Level 1 has a 0.001% chance to hit level 60 and only does 1/1000 of normal damage even if he does. Level 60 has 95% chance to hit level 1 and does 100 times normal damage."

But, then, I've been saying that levels should be abolished (in both computer and pen & paper RPGs) ever since I first played a game that wasn't fixated on them.

Re:The "Massive" is in EVE Online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15413637)

If EVE is so great, then why do many many people post about it here instead of playing it?

I was being sarcastic, but I actually know the answer - it's the Progess Quest way that you can level your skills without interacting. So you're getting that RPG +EXPkerching! buzz whilst hanging out on slashdot instead of having to kill goblins for it.

It's sad that the fun level of gameplay in MMORPGs is so poor that not playing at all is preferable :(
Maybe someone will come up with a good MMO some day. I'm waiting for someone to figure out a way of doing MMORTS (and making it fun).

Re:The "Massive" is in EVE Online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15414087)

yeah, 4000 solar systems all more or less alike; at least in WoW each area is unique.

Massive 'empty space' isn't really all that interesting.

I'llgive you 'massive' -- you have to mine and mine and mine and click and click a massive amount of the time!

foofoo

Not the only non-sharded game (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15414469)

Guild Wars is a single universe, as well. However, it's not really a "massive" game, as everything is instanced...

Re:Not the only non-sharded game (1)

syukton (256348) | more than 8 years ago | (#15416635)

Guild Wars is totally sharded. All of the cities are broken into multiple "districts" (aka "shards") which physically separate groups of players from one another. Further, all non-city action is instanced which could be considered a form of "sharding" in and of itself.

Re:Not the only non-sharded game (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15419680)

I have an idea, why don't you read my entire post?

Ha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15413277)

MMOs do not fail because of a level cap. MMOs fail because too many people forget they are supposed to have fun playing a video game. Every community I have gotten involved with eventually devolved into the same middle-school clique-ish bullshit I walked away from when I got my high-school diploma. I am not paying a monthly fee to see anonymous twats start and perpetuate drama in the forums and in the game itself. Not every PvPer is a griefer and a bully. Not every PvEert is a nerd that lives in thier parents' basement. I do not want to associate with 1337$p34ke|2$ that act like twelve-year-old Counterstrike players with a chip on thier shoulder because they got kicked out of a clan.

The ones that ate my last nerve were the ones that take any MMO so seriously that they act like they very trolls they claim to fight and expect everyone else to do the same. How much of a loser do you have to be to expect everyone else to make a video game the center of your world like you have?

Myspace is huge. Yes, it has chain-letter and porno spam, but it rocks my socks and people are signing up in droves. Why? It's much more grounded in reality than any MMO ever will be. The ones that are my friends in Myspace are friends in real-life, not some virtual world retard that choses to engage in flame wars over bullshit like elves, orcs, and hit points.

I have turned off the computer and went outside. Life is better now. Enjoy your gold farmers.

Solution (1)

muhgcee (188154) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413299)

y = player level
x = time played

y = x^2

So, maybe it takes 20 hours to get to level 25, but it takes 2000 hours to get to level 80.

Re:Solution (1)

Nesetril (969734) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413352)

ok so x=20, y= k * 400. you need the constant.

formula becomes y = x^2/16.

that means that in 36 hours you will reach and breach level 80.

O.o

This is why one should choose one's level (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413474)

I for one expect the future of MMOG to be one where players choose:

1. the size of their world - do you really want to play with 500,000 people or wouldn't 5,000 work better?

2. the level they play at - why not have a test game where it figures out your actual play level, and then suggests you choose that World - for example, if you test out at play level 4, you could choose any level, but it would suggest you choose level 1-5. Then for each level (World), you only see people at that level. Once you have maxed out in your World, you would be allowed to either: start at the beginning in a level 2 or more higher, or start at half or less of your current level in a level beyond yours, minus all items.

3. the age mix they play at - you could choose age ranges like 10-14, 13-17, 16-24, 19-29, 25-40, 30-50, 40-60, 55-80, 10-18, 19-99, etc. Note I specifically made them overlap.

4. the backround rules they play with - for example, maybe no sockets, no team treachery (you can't attack team members without warning them 10 seconds before you attack), bosses stay dead, bosses don't regenerate, and so on.

5. latency level - do you want a more strategic slow game or a fast reflex game?

Just a few ideas from a former game designer.

Players ruin it for themselves (5, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413537)

What exactly is a MMORPG about anyway. A game like tetris is easy. Highscore. Chess is easy. Beat the opponent. Quake is easy, beat the other players.

Well that is what WoW does. The highscore is your level, the opponent is the AI and the other players are the horde or non-horde.

If you look at how most players talk about WoW you get the distinct impression that it is all about loot and levels.

Has anyone ever held a fishing competition in WoW? Or just organized a tour of nice looking spots? A beauty contest? Anything not related to getting loot or XP?

To some players it is this that makes an MMORPG. To have fun. This is to me what made SWG at a time such a nice game. To do stuff that was just fun to do without worrying about how many levels it would give you. IRC with pretty pictures.

An example, SWG, the tour of endor. For all its faults SWG could look pretty nice and it was clear at least some of the artists had spend some time looking at the source material and getting it. Endor was one of those. It was kinda fun to find the stuff from the ewok movies there (yes I liked them, bite me). So with a group of newer players we organized a tour. Just to drive around and see all the spots. It was sorta popular. Plenty of people wanted to join and had fun but we also got some almost violent reactions from players who just couldn't see the point of doing something that did not give XP. There were two ewok villages and visiting just one of them gave you a Point of Intrest badge. So when we set off to visit the other one member became enraged at the waste of time. Never mind that the villages were nicely done, he wanted XP and he wanted it now.

Same with Everquest 2. We were in a small group fighting red conning enemies and not doing to well. Death still carried an XP debt and it even carried over to your party members. Then again our motto was, if you ain't dying you ain't trying. It was simply more fun to defeat an enemy with a sliver off live remaining (and promply get killed by the next spawn) then fighting critters at optimum level wich were from a tactical viewpoint yawnville.

Yet again this led to almost violent confrotations with other players who just couldn't get that we were wasting our time on this. How dare we fight reds when they were having trouble finding people our level for the blue/green areas.

The point is that for us the battles were not a grind. They really required you to think about what you were doing rather then just hit the same special over and over. All those people who complain about repetitive fighting just ain't putting themselves to the challenge.

There is plenty of stuff to do and challenges to be had in EQ2 and SWG (well before both were WoWed anyway) but most people rushed by on the quest to get maximum XP. Just check how few players ever went into the deeper dungeons in EQ2 or how deserted the middle planets were in SWG.

I think I call it the Midnight Club vs Grand Prix Legends Syndrome.

In Midnight Club your enemy is always slighty better then you. If you got a D class car, they have C class, if you have level 1 upgrades, they got level 2. If you got 1 nitrious boost, they got 2. Improving don't matter, you will still be raising enemies slightly better then you. It is an endless grind to the top where your reward is a super car that is no fun to drive because now you still will get knocked out the race by being rear ended by the AI.

Grand Prix Legends on the other hand puts you in a car that is impossible to control but is the same car everyone else drives. If you tune it to just a little bit better performance the other drivers stay the same. So you do gain real benefits by becoming better and better. You don't so much "win" as slowly climb up higher in the rankings, first races you are lucky to finish but there is no price to pay. You can simply advance to the next race and finish a season on 10th place and still have improved. MC you don't improve unless you win.

A game like EQ2 is like Midnight Club. You are level 1 and fight level 2 critters. You advance to level 2 and fight level 3 critters. ETC ETC. You increase your armour, the enemy does more damage. You do more damage, the enemy has more armour.

A game like EQ2 afterall doesn't have a price for second place. You either win or you loose. For some reason, the fellowship of the ring like groups are not possible. The idea that a low level could party with a high level seems evil to almost all MMORPG's designers. Why? Because it would allow the low level to advance to quickly? Why? Because they would get huge XP payout. Why? Because that is how the game works! Why?

In most MMORPGS the core of the game is the combat and the combat is fundemantally flawed.

Imagine an unbalanced group. Say a level 10 fighter, a level 3 thief a level 1 mage and a level 5 cleric. Standard MMORPG design would demand that the level 10 fight only level 10. A level 10 enemy would have suchs stats that the other members of the group would be useless and extremely vulnarable. The moment the level 10 enemy attacks any of the lower levels they would be death in 1 hit. In EQ2 the level 10 fighter would have to aggro like a motherfucker to keep his allies safe.

Yet this is not "real". In the movies if a high level monster attacked a low level group member then the low level group member would assume a very defensive stance and the high level hero would be able to get there just in time to defend his ally. Not in MMO land. 1 hit and the ally is death. No super defensive stance needs apply. Hell the hero can't even stand infront of his weaker ally and stop the enemy from rushing past.

The problems are just to complex to describe fully here. One of the problems is the lack of a proper battlefield. Most MMO fights are a mess where the idea of a defensive line is unheard off. Just try forming a line of fighters with behind it the casters. Good luck.

Such ideas as defending the staircase with your tank while the casters pelts the enemy from above are quickly ruined by the game mechanics. To be fair most single player games also suffer from this. Total war is about the only game that seems to repect battle lines and severly punish anyone foolish enough to attack an archer with melee in the way.

But lets take that same unbalanced group and now put them in a proper battlefield so that we have the fighter standing to block any enemy assaulting. Say the bottom of a staircase. The 1 level 10 has been replaced by a dozen level 1 enemies. This does not make live extrmely easy for the level 10 fighter. EQ2 had something like this in the form of a large group of insects. 1 is easy, 10 together is a lot harder.

Now the caster can do some damage, and be safe as long as the fighter does his job of blocking. The thief can guard the rear and the healer can keep them all safe. All because we added some tactics to the game rather then just giving us enemies with just a little bit higher stats then us.

I know the above sounds like a ramble and is not very well worked out. I have been thinking about this for some time and it makes sense in my head but is hard to spell out.

The entire idea hinges on making battles more tactical. The current battles all follow the same rule, all focus on one enemy take it down, then the next. That seems totally wrong to me. It leads to a jumble were people spam their specials and everyone needs to be at least high enough level to be able to survive being randomly targetted.

Some of the more advanded single player games use concepts I would like to see introduced.

Weapon reach. If you run past me inside my weapon reach you risk a change of being attacked with no defence. That should stop you just rushing past to attack the caster behind me. If my reach is 3 meters then if I stand in a 3 meter hallway you can't get past me.

Stances. From super offenseive, to super defensive to protective. The firs tis easy, hit as hard and fast as possible relying on speed to take out the enemy before they can damage you. The second sacrifices any change of doing damage to just stay alive till help arrives. The last focusses on preventing someone rushing past you over defense or offense.

Damage regardless. An arrow through the head hurts. Doesn't matter if it was fired by a level 1 or a level 100. The chances of hitting change but not the damage. Meaning I can neither ignore that group of low level skeleton archers but neither is that newbie archer useless in my group.

My ideas are far from worked out and I can see plenty of problems. The only way to really get a more tactical battle would be to introduce a grid. Yes horror of horrors. Hell I even think that removing the current 3D freedom of movement is bad. Instead it would be more like realtime chess in wich your avatar is not directly controller but instead you tell it where to move and it moves as best it can according to its capabilities

Jagged Alliance fans will get the idea. This would also allow for better moves. Seen the guild wars FMV opening? Nice moves eh? Pity they ain't in the game. Remove direct control and instead click on where you want your avatar to move. Click behind the enemy and the thief will duck under the enemy, the fighter will go through the enemy and the scout will jump over the enemy.

the current move in MMORPG's to twitch gaming is offcourse totally incompatible with my ideas. Wich is why I am not hopefull off ever getting a better kind of MMORPG.

Twitch gaming seems to attract the gamer who wants his levels and XP and loot fast and furious. just having fun regardless is not something they understand or desire.

WoW is great for them, pity for those of us that want something else.

Re:Players ruin it for themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15413792)

Asheron's Call has defensive line tactics, pretty much have to use them for a few of the quests if you are the intended level range, and I seem to remember at least one popular hunting spot where it helped as well.

Lame gameplay (2, Insightful)

WNight (23683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15415037)

I just finished playing Oblivion. It's a perfect example of the enemies always being a level above you. You can literally go anywhere in the game, even into "Oblivion", as a second level character with a wood club and beat the game. But *every* bandit in the game has $30k in armor later in the game, even when they ask for the same $100 bribe. If they fell upon one of their own, they'd be rich for life, but instead they extort the peasantry for pennies. Sucks. Ass.

Luckily, as soon as it came out many modders changed the loot progression, the leveling world, the way skills and levels work, etc. Now, with the right collection of mods, the world is a scary place. Walk into the wrong areas and bandits will gut you for lunch money. Come back with better skills and kill three with a single spell.

Anyways, one way to make this work is to make defense easier. There are a lot of good ways to keep people away. Polearms, caltrops, a doorway. Another was is to make "hit points" not change much as you get more powerful. Like in real life. One bullet can stop Rambo. What keeps you alive is building defensive skills, armor, well-chosen weapons, tactical advantage, stealth, etc. This way combat becomes more guerilla in nature, instead of standing around trading sword blows like a Final Fantasy game.

Re:Players ruin it for themselves (1)

fvdham (800916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15415312)

Of course the good game you describe is called PlanetSide.

Re:Players ruin it for themselves (1)

esper (11644) | more than 8 years ago | (#15416081)

Perhaps... aside from the part where he complained about twitch gaming being part of the problem. (And I agree, which is why I lost interest in PlanetSide before my free trial account even had time to expire.)

Why I gave up on WoW (2, Informative)

egburr (141740) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413634)

  • When I could get on, I let it take all my time.
  • When I couldn't get on (maintenance, crash, full), I couldn't switch to single player. Come on folks; how hard would it be to have a single player setting (or better yet a limited multiplayer server for a local LAN!) for those long times when the servers are down?
  • Lots of well-documented bugs that never got fixed
  • Even a 2nd grader understands "honor" better than Blizzard does.

I have since figured out that I would rather play a multiplayer (4-10 people) game than a MMORPG. The server tends to be more stable, the players more consistent, and the cost a LOT less. Even when I played Wow, I seldom got the feeling of the supposed millions of people who were playing, except when I walked into one of the major towns. Other than in town, I doubt I ever saw more than a dozen people at any one time, anyway, so what's the difference?

Agreed in Part (4, Insightful)

linds.r (895980) | more than 8 years ago | (#15413779)

The article author's views on WoW are fairly spot on, in my mind. It fails because of its total staticity in all areas. Dieing does nothing. Killing someone respawns them 200m away. Clearing a town just gives you a clear town for 20 seconds. Battlegrounds and Raids only have the effect of giving you minute advantages in ... battlegrounds and raids.

His solution, however, is a tad too drastic. Removing leveling all together, and its associated goals is not necessary. The next step MMORPG wise is adding some dynamism. The internet isn't ready for a fully player driven world, not with current anonimity and maturity. Perhaps when the stigma to adults of playing these games is cleared there will be interesting opportunities for this.

The compromise, something that would provide a lot of self-sustaining play, would be to add structured social aspects. I know these have been done to a certain degree in MUD's and planned in some MMO's currently in development, but this needs to be done completely and well to succeed at all. Add a certain number of factions, not all known as playable to the player. Kingdom A, Kingdom B, OtherFormOfGovt C, MysteriousFactionFromFarAway D, WizardsGroup E, ReligiousOrg F, RebelliousGroup G, etc etc. Allow the player to start in the world, introduce them to it, then allow them to join one, get a 'job', a role in the world, and give it meaning. Governing a town, a city-guard, mercenary, thief, shopkeeper, the possibilities are endless and obvious. These roles would have to have world impact and a possibility for progression. Guards would defend their town from opposing factions, real players come to raid/invade, and possibly get promoted to captain etc.

Players would get known for more than being level 60, but for their choices socially, and their effect on the events. This would have to mean that existing towns, and all manner of similar places would have to be able to be taken over. Not easily, nothing should be easy in that way, but it needs to be possible. Of course these are really fine grained examples that hopefully illustrate the necessary dynamism.

WoW is an example of what makes MMORPG's Suck (1)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 8 years ago | (#15415033)

The leveling, the questing, the instancing, the consensual pvp, the carebearization of players entering the genre. When people get banned for scamming other players via sending a mystery box in the mail for 10gold on delivery, and it turns out to have 1 copper in it, you know something is wrong with the game.
If you want a truly revolutionary and amazing game, wait for Darkfall.

Most, if not all MMORPGs suck (1)

Al_Bundy55 (977488) | more than 8 years ago | (#15418222)

Most of the MMORPGs all suck, if not all of them, sadly. They suck the life out of hapless players who for whatever reasons waste vastly inordinate amounts of time often driven in the end by the greed for stuff that the original post talked about. The main players, the popular ones, all follow the model of gain powers and stuff, worthless virtual stuff that people will devote 40 hour weeks to obtaining and in the end for what? So they can do it all over again on the next harder rung of the grind ladder and get more power and stuff, rinse, repeat, eventually burn out, then finally quit - hopefully with some RL relationships still intact.

At least after a couple hundred hours in a CRPG like Oblivion you return to life or if nothing else, move on to a completely new experience. Hopefully you've enjoyed some kind of story to go with the exploration, leveling up, getting stuff, questing, killing stuff, etc.

I've known and I suspect many of you have as well, people who literally live in lands like Norrath. They spend as much time there as many do on full time employment. One person I liked well but felt sorry for had actually been playing EverQuest for an average of 40+ hours per week for a full six years and that was only the /played time on her main. She has other high level characters and as far as I know, lives in Norrath still.

I know these are player issues, not game issues but these games are designed with grind in mind. Keep the player busy, doing SOMETHING, however mundane, stupid or mind numbing it may be. EverQuest Monks sitting for some 50+ hours hoping to kill the one mob they need for a piece of pipe that is just one step in their "first" epic weapon comes to mind. Clicking over and over and over to gain a skillup in what is supposed to pass for "crafting" items, etc. The timesinks in many of these, maybe all of the mainstream ones? are simply hellish wastes of time and life. Yet people enslave themselves in the quest for the holy grail of raid gear and top rankings on thier server, etc.

We've all seen those who prefer to purchase a ready made (already played) high level character on ebay, lots of plat or gold or whatever the currency is to get the best stuff, twink out thier toons, etc. This is the most obvious example of people who don't even get that the point is to actually play the game, not purchase it preplayed for you. That people do this at all says something about how these games work and reward players and what kind of players sometimes gravitate toward this kind of game system. There is a high greed factor at work in many of these games and it is frequently a source of bitterness among players as some steal kills, camps, etc. from others.

So they make it all instanced in many of them now. Great. Now you have games like D&D Online where basically you just plow through dungeons that feel like Diablo in 3D with a group of people too busy killing stuff, busting barrels and looting chests to actually interact with each other. Not exactly D&D in its purest essence if you ask me. Not even close, despite the license.

I have yet to play WoW but I am guessing they have evolved the genre substantially or they would not be enjoying the success they are, even though I have read enough to understand that it is evolution here, not revolution.

I think I am going to play WoW and see for myself why it enjoys the success it does. I hope to like it. I know I plan to play casually. I have a life and I enjoy lots of other things and other games. I will not be a slave to one game and I pity the poor souls who do fall into that. It's OK with me if I am done at 60. I can try playing another class for a new experience, perhaps on the other faction, in another city, etc. That works for me. I am not raiding every night in the hope I get a lucky roll for a single item that might give me a chance in pvp. I'll pass thanks.

Maybe I'll try a "instant" pvp toon in Guild Wars just to see how pvp can be. That may also be fun. Skip the grind and just roll a toon and go fight. That sounds like it could be fun also and again, no career playtime needed to get to the action. Works for me. I don't mind medieval Halo myself. Not that I want all of them to be that, but a few with various themes would be fine by me. Just don't ask me to pay a monthly for that or I will just go play Halo or BF2 or whatever instead.

Bah (1)

chazzf (188092) | more than 8 years ago | (#15420593)

Bah! My MMOG is Wikipedia.
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