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The Barbarians At The MMOG Gates

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the don't-forget-to-loot-and-pillage-before-you-burn dept.

Role Playing (Games) 78

simoniker writes "Areae president Raph Koster is perhaps best known as a designer of Ultima Online and the previous CCO of Sony Online Entertainment, and in an in-depth Gamasutra interview, he discusses his views on 'game grammar', the uniting of MMOs and online worlds, and the software patent problem. In particular, he's been talking about the 'barbarians at the gates' for hardcore MMO makers: 'Even the creation of the MUD in the first place was that. It was the Internet-based reaction to the stuff that had existed on the microcomputers and the Plato network and all of that. All of a sudden, "Oh, wait! We can put a text MUD on Arpanet!" And it was like, "Whoa!" and it spread like wildfire, and all of a sudden, all of that other stuff went away. So it's really possible for that stuff to be happening now with microtransactions, with portals versus traditional publishers, with digital distribution publishers versus traditional publishers, and with MMOs from MTV versus MMOs from Sony or EA or NCSoft.'"

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78 comments

Meh. (3, Insightful)

Perseid (660451) | more than 6 years ago | (#21051159)

Am I the only one who prefers sitting by myself with a controller playing a good single-player game? Am I the only one who still refuses to pay a monthly fee for a video game? Am I...getting old? :)

Re:Meh. (-1, Troll)

Acrimonymous (1164185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21051279)

No, you're just mature.

The only real selling point of any MMOG is "community", but 99% of the people playing them are either complete dicks or immature little twats who have unfettered access to a parent's credit card. Generally speaking, the sorts of people that drift to online social gatherings are exactly the sort of people no normal human would want to socialize with. Normal human beings don't want pimply little nincompoops trash-talking them across the internet just because the lifeless nerd managed to hit the proper combination of keystrokes to win at PvP or morons talking about their nutsack while you're trying to have an epic battle with some fantastical creature of legend out in the wilderness.

MMOGs are almost exclusively the realm of immature brats and idiots. Until someone fixes that problem... I'm with you brother. Hand me the other control pad.

Re:Meh. (1)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 6 years ago | (#21051445)

Actually you don't even need a CC for most games now. Often they take game cards which you can buy off ebay or a multitude of sites using paypal (which can be linked to a bank account). I was able to order game cards for WoW without a credit card...that was a long time ago.

Re:Meh. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21051623)

No, you need to get over yourself.

Just because your online experience was apparently a bad one, don't assume that all people who play MMOs are "complete dicks or immature little twats". The comment is narrow minded and naive, and the fact that you even said this shows an immature attitude.

There is something to be said for a group of people who can combine together to down difficult raid bosses and contribute to one another's rise in abilities or overall economic power. Organization is a mature trait, and is explored greatly in an MMO.

Further, having anywhere from 2000 to 30,000 users on a server at any one time either interacting directly with one another or indirectly passing each other by adds an atmosphere to a world that no single player game EVER can. There is something to be said about playing against unscripted rivals, or better yet, knowing you were defeated or you won over another human being rather than a computer.

So in reply to your statement, I suspect YOU are the one that is anti social, and the one that can't deal with others. Apparently you cannot even deal with a virtual social climate, one that matters less and affects you less, than a real one does.

Anonymous Coward

Re:Meh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21051711)

... nah. I'm with the other guy. Solo gaming is the best. Online gaming sucks. Even back in the days of MUDs. It just sucks.

sign me: Old Anonymous Fart

Re:Meh. (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 6 years ago | (#21051803)

It's just a truism of MMO gaming. Pickup groups suck and public chat is full of immature annoyances. Sturgeon's law applied to people. However, "grown-up guilds" are common, and an MMO experience can be free of the usual annoyances if you join a guild of the like-minded. If you're new to the MMO scene this is not at all obvious, so of course you'd have a bad experience, not realizing you're just hanging out with the wrong crowd.

Re:Meh. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21067925)

That's pretty much it.

MMO socialisation has VERY FEW DIFFERENCES TO ANY OTHER SOCIAL SETTING. The main difference is that people seem to want to vocalise their beliefs enmasse. While this does not ring true for all MMOs - WoW & LotRO come to mind as the biggest breeding grounds of this verbal diorreah.

As an avid MMO player (not just one either) I can see the benefits of playing an MMO as part of guild/clan/corp/whatever. The arseholes are usually sorted out fairly quickly, even a tallented arsehole is a liability - and *most* leaders can see this.

The real immaturity in these games comes from people demanding that a synthetic social environment should bend to their will.

(and yes, posting anon to protect my Eve corp from griefers and wankers. They exist in Eve as with the rest, you just have to be smart about it and not cry on /. about how everyone's so immature in the game,)

Re:Meh. (-1, Troll)

Acrimonymous (1164185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054897)

No, you need to get over yourself.

Go back to waving your e-peen at thirteen year olds in Warcraft. They might actually think something of it.

Re:Meh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21055039)

Uh, intelligent and well thought out comeback.

Re:Meh. (4, Insightful)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 6 years ago | (#21051751)

The only real selling point of any MMOG is "community",

I prefer MMOGs to single player, not for the chatting or guilds, but for the fact that humans make for more interesting teammates or opponents, than the computer does. On the rare occasion that you have teammates in a single player game, they never do anything interesting or novel. Having other characters in my game world that make choices that haven't been tweeked by a game designer make the game more interesting for me.

On the 99% of everyone is an annoying twat thing: I've spent hours in City of Heroes, doing missions with a good team, where hardly anything not game related was said in the chat box. Sure there are a lot of junior high kids in MMOs who want to talk trash, but the same can be said for going to a baseball game or the mall or anywhere else in the world were there are teenagers. Usually they adore the PvP aspects of a MMOG. Personally, I usually stick to the PvE aspects of the game (and out of guilds or clans or whatever) and have quite an enjoyable time, with a minimum of immature brats and idiots. If MMOs aren't you cup of tea that's cool, but as the genre matures so do a fair portion of the players, don't paint us all with the same brush.

So maybe it's worth looking at combat MMO? (2, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21056283)

I prefer MMOGs to single player, not for the chatting or guilds, but for the fact that humans make for more interesting teammates or opponents, than the computer does.

Game AI is definitely one of the things that makes me not want to play video games any more. Why? Because game AIs suck, so instead they either make the enemies stronger and faster than you (bosses), or they put more of them up against you (everything else), so that your human AI advantage is countered by overwhelming force. I got tired of the whole combat video game back when side-scrollers were king.

If MMO has changed that, maybe it's time I looked into it again... because so far I've pretty much avoided the whole combat MMO thing in favor of social MMOs because I've gotten so used to combat being a boring slog.

Re:Meh. (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 6 years ago | (#21069865)

That is the thing. I think on-line play has taken off as computer AI is still in its infancy. I am not really a fan of online games but multi player Worms on xbox live is more fun than single player as the oposition is more fun.

Re:Meh. (2, Insightful)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053703)

Based solely on reading your comment one could assume then that console gamers are made up entirely of self-righteous, elitist, condescending assholes. Generalizations are fun, aren't they?

In most MMOs there's about equal numbers of wage earners playing the game as "immature brats"--and honestly, the majority is probably more in favor of 20-30 somethings than kids. But of course you don't remember the normal (or even "nice") people you interact with in such an environment, just the ones that piss you off. Which brings me back to your comment rather nicely...

Locking yourself away in a room to play with yourself doesn't make you a better person than anyone else who chooses not to. Depending on who you talk to, it may make you blind, though... Likewise, choosing to spend your time on an MMO doesn't make your tastes any more refined nor does it mean you're any more socially adept than the next person.

Spouting vitriol about someone who decides to spend their free time in some other (legal) pursuit than you, however, does cast some doubt as to your value as a human being.

Re:Meh. (-1, Troll)

Acrimonymous (1164185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054913)

Based solely on reading your comment one could assume then that console gamers are made up entirely of self-righteous, elitist, condescending assholes.

That's not a logical conclusion at all. In fact, it doesn't even make sense.

In fact, to the contrary, if we assume you're one of the retards addicted to MMOs, it really only just provides more evidence of my claim that you're all idiots and dickheads.

Re:Meh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21056097)

Sure it makes sense. His point was that generalizations could be misleading. That went right over your head, and you went ahead and made more overly broad generalizations.

Perhaps you were trying to be a somewhat funny troll? Or were you just frustrated at his joke?

If I ever do start playing an online game, I sincerely hope that a majority of people with similar character to yours remain on the consoles rather than in a social environment.

Re:Meh. (2, Insightful)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21058441)

That's not a logical conclusion at all.
It's no less logical than your claims. It's probably a bit more logical, in fact, since there is observable evidence to back up what I've said that anyone can see. Instead of over-broad blanket statements about a large and diverse population, I've made a comment about an individual who's comments can be used to extrapolate the likelihood of my theory being true.

In fact, it doesn't even make sense.
Probably because you're so full of vitriol and spite that you can't even see it.

In fact, to the contrary, if we assume you're one of the retards addicted to MMOs, it really only just provides more evidence of my claim that you're all idiots and dickheads.
Thanks for proving my point.

Re:Meh. (1)

Acrimonymous (1164185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21058759)

Anyone can log in to any of the popular MMOs and clearly see that they're populated mainly by dickheads and idiots, too, what's your point? All it takes is five seconds of "Barrens" chat in Warcraft or the opening areas of Guild Wars, LOTRO, and Everquest 2 to see the simple fact that the games are overrun by children who think the height of wit is drawing a phallus on the minimap and lifeless morons who have an embolism if someone new asks a "n00b" question.

MMOs are predominantly played by immature children and people who's only accomplishment in life is obtaining a +4 Vapid Nerdblade of Retardation.

Not everybody thinks that playing videogames with people who constantly scream COCKNBALLS! in the all chat window or boast about their 1337 ability to click the mouse in PvP matches is fun. Deal with it.

Re:Meh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21051291)

The way I validate it for people who don't want to subscribe to a game is this:

Most gamers buy a game for $40+.
Most gamers churn through that game / get bored with it in 1-2 months (much closer to / less than 1 month).
Most gamers go out and buy another game soon after this.
With this in mind, most gamers spend ~$40+ a month to keep on gaming.

MMO players pay ~$15 a month for the same effect.

Re:Meh. (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 6 years ago | (#21051577)

With this in mind, most gamers spend ~$40+ a month to keep on gaming.

That depends on the game and the gamer. For a lot of people who don't have hours and hours to play a game continuously, it may take more than a couple of months to beat the game. For example, it took me several months to beat Final Fantasy 10, simply because I didn't have the time or the inclination to put more than a couple hours of play into it per day.

Your analysis also ignores replay value and free online play. To return to Final Fantasy, once you beat the game, you can start a new game, and go through and try to find all the side quests and secret items. Also, for some games, such as Halo, Super Smash, CounterStrike, Warcraft III, etc, the main appeal these days isn't the single player campaign. Its the multiplayer experience.

Finally, one can "beat" MMORPGs, as well. You'll always have the power-levelers who max out their characters within a week. What's in it for them? Mostly set-piece PVP battles. I don't think that games such as World of Warcraft and Everquest present new content every month.

Because of the above reasons, your assertion that non-MMO gamers pay $40 per month to get the same experience that MMO gamers get for $15 is simply untrue.

Re:Meh. (2, Informative)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#21051635)

Max level in a week yes, but it's designed to take weeks/months for them to actually beat the end game content, usually by forcing them to gather together in groups of 25-50 and repeat the same element over and over again until the group collectively has enough keys or loot ("power ups") to proceed to the next stage.

Everquest expansions routinely took months to out and out beat, and most players -never- got see most of the end game content.

Re:Meh. (1)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053721)

Finally, one can "beat" MMORPGs, as well. You'll always have the power-levelers who max out their characters within a week. What's in it for them? Mostly set-piece PVP battles. I don't think that games such as World of Warcraft and Everquest present new content every month.


There's plenty of progression left after reaching maximum level, at least in a good game there is... And WoW's "content" patches are every 2-3 months usually...

Re:Meh. (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21051759)

MMO players pay ~$15 a month for the same effect.

      Ahh but you forget that REAL MMO players have more than 1 account ;)

Re:Meh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21051791)

Am I the only one who prefers sitting by myself with a controller playing a good single-player game? Am I the only one who still refuses to pay a monthly fee for a video game? Am I...getting old? :)


I loved playing MUDs in their heyday, but find their MMO descendants completely un-fun... having to cater to a mass of disparate paying customers necessitates blandness, whereas MUDs were engineered according to the whims and vision of (usually) a single person, for better or worse. It's the difference between art made for art's sake versus the commercial-oriented variety.

The convenience of using the telnet protocol to access a world of MUDs versus the need for costly, multi-gigabyte, proprietary clients also made MUDs pretty special compared to their lame offspring.

Re:Meh. (1)

cicatrix1 (123440) | more than 6 years ago | (#21051955)

Refusal to pay a monthly fee is pretty retarded. I mean if you don't like the game, that's one thing. But if you refuse to play because of stubbornness; then it's not too far from ignorance, if you ask me.

Re:Meh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21052203)

For me, the reason why I don't play WOW is that you pay for two months, and that expires even if you don't play.

I'd prefer a buy-60-days scheme, where you use up one day at the time.

Re:Meh. (1)

Qetu (732155) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054403)

There are game cards you can buy for WoW that have that exact formula of pay-as-you-play.

Re:Meh. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21056535)

No. Buying a game card is the same as buying a subscription for one month and then canceling (except that you can buy a game card with cash) - you purchase the right to play for x number of days, and that right expires when those days are up, regardless of whether you've actually played the game or not. What the parent is suggesting is a system under which you would pay (let us arbitrarily say) $.75 for each day on which you log in to play the game. Thus, at the end of a 30-day billing cycle, you might pay $7.50, or you might pay $1.50, depending on how active your account has been.

Re:Meh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21052115)

Ummm, original MUDs don't have monthly fees. Hardcore mudders definitely agree that you shouldn't pay $15 a month to waste your life. Wasting your life should be free.

I don't like coffee, therefore starbucks = failure (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052401)

The world doesn't revolve around you. Learn to accept this.

More precisly, it doesn't revolve around your demographic, there are enough persons who are willing to play a monthly fee and who want to play in a multiplayer enviroment.

Different tastes, is that so hard to accept? No, it doesn't mean you are old, just means you have an over-inflated ego. Frankly that isn't age dependent.

Every single story about MMO's you get some person complaing about monthy fees and somehow the world is supposed to care. Here is a newsflash for you. Blizzard is RAKING it in. WoW should be closing in on the billion dollar revenue mark by now. That is hard to ignore. Game companies that struggle while they see thousands of people downloading their games for free and here is a company with an OLD OLD OLD game still raking it in. You think these companies care about you? They got a choice, spend fortune developing a single player game that will be obsolete in months, hopefully get them a onetime income and maybe some sparechange for the value release with tons of players using their forums for support a full week before the game is actually OUT (pirates move fast, and leechers have no shame) OR spend that money on an MMO and get a ton of cash each and every month. Gee, difficult one.

No, I don't like paying $5 for coffee. (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053139)

Starbucks is expensive, so are monthly fees for games. I like the gp, prefer to invest my scarce resources in more rewarding pursuits. Not to denigrate any who are of differing opinions upon the optimal ratio of movement of light on various display surface in response to jocular motions of one's extremities in the electronic imitation of various endeavors in proportion to monetary coffers.

Re:No, I don't like paying $5 for coffee. (2, Informative)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053741)

Starbucks is expensive


So get coffee at Dunkin' Donuts.

so are monthly fees for games


Since reactivating my WoW account I've spent significantly less purchasing new games. At the end of the day it's saved me money.

I like the gp, prefer to invest my scarce resources in more rewarding pursuits.


I wouldn't call GTA rewarding, personally. There are some games out there that are considered "art" and really should be experienced for the experience's sake, but most of them aren't from this generation anyway...

Re:I don't like coffee, therefore starbucks = fail (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055625)

The world doesn't revolve around you. Learn to accept this.

More precisly, it doesn't revolve around your demographic, there are enough persons who are willing to play a monthly fee and who want to play in a multiplayer enviroment.

Different tastes, is that so hard to accept? No, it doesn't mean you are old, just means you have an over-inflated ego. Frankly that isn't age dependent.
By that same token, everybody and their brother is trying to get a new MMORPG to the market. Blizzard's dominance will not last forever. There is ever potential that they will see their market fragment, much like TV. Remember when a show like I Love Lucy could claim an audience of half the frickin' country?

So, there's every possibility that there's a good niche to be found making the kind of multiplayer game that would appeal to someone like the original poster.

I like starbucks, non-coffee drinkers are a threat (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21061049)

The world doesn't revolve around you. Learn to accept this.

Ahm, isn't this exactly the problem you are facing? So the OP said they prefer single player games and wanted to know how alone they were. Yet the response you just gave the person is incredibly defensive and has the tone of 'if you don't like multiplayer games then there is something wrong with you!'. The game market isn't a zero sum game.... people CAN play single player games without seeking to destroy multiplayer games.

Sounds like a classic case of reading one's own attitudes into someone else's words...

No... (2, Insightful)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053685)

No, there's plenty of antisocial shut-ins left in the world. Look at the SomethingAwful forums, if nothing else...

Seriously though, there's nothing wrong with a "good single-player" game. The problem is there are so FEW of those on the market today, and finding time to lock one's self away on the off chance that a game actually turns out to be good is just not high on most people's priority lists. Even a bad game can be fun with friends, but giving up human contact for something that turns out to be mediocre is just pretty lousy...

I tried to play Okami, it's a genuinely great game, but why should I play Okami when I can play something with my fiance? See my friends? Hell, even Gears of War was nowhere near as fun as when my brother sat down to play it co-op with me... And killing dumb NPCs in Oblivion can't compare to fighting real people in WoW. Why should I be stuck w/ a linear game playing experience when I can choose my own path elsewhere?

Single player games will never disappear, but I'm pretty sure they'll never be taken as a serious force in gaming again. I'd expect most of them to fit the "casual" category from now on with a few rare holdouts like Square-Enix.

Re:Why Offline will matter (3, Insightful)

Gnostic Ronin (980129) | more than 6 years ago | (#21054585)

I love offline games. The reason that I don't like paying a monthly fee for games is that in order to get the money back, you have to set aside time to play it. Not paying for a month means that lvl 60 Bard you've been working on gets deleted.

That's the trouble. MMOs have the same time-sink mentality. If you travel with a group, you'd better keep up with them, because if you get to be more than 2-3 levels behind them, you can't do the same quests as they do. So they either redo the easy quests with you, or leave you behind. So you'd have to play several hours a week -- in order to play the game.

Now compare the above to an offline RPG. I own the disk. No one's going to charge me to use my copy of FF12. No one will delete my lvl 60 party for nonpayment of fees. I don't have to set up a time to play it so that I don't fall behind the rest of the party. I could set the game aside for 6 months, never touch it (say if I get busy, or if I simply *don't want to play it*) and everything will still be exactly as I left it. I'm not going to lose out just because I didn't have enough time to play this month.

That's what I love about offline gaming. I don't feel pressured to put tons of hours into a game just to get a little pleasure from questing with my buddies. I don't want to feel like I'm losing money because I'm not playing as much as I did last month. Offline does that.

Re:Why Offline will matter (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055529)

Not paying for a month means that lvl 60 Bard you've been working on gets deleted.


Actually, no, it doesn't. All MMORPGs will save your characters for some period of time while your account is not active (if there's anybody that deletes in less than a year, I'm not aware of it). Many MMORPGs simply never delete your characters. Not paying for month means you can't play your lvl 60 Bard that month, no more.

Chris Mattern

Re:Why Offline will matter (2, Informative)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21058359)

If you travel with a group, you'd better keep up with them, because if you get to be more than 2-3 levels behind them, you can't do the same quests as they do. So they either redo the easy quests with you, or leave you behind.


A well designed game doesn't have this problem...

No one will delete my lvl 60 party for nonpayment of fees.


I've never had a character deleted for nonpayment of fees. My WoW account was inactive for a year and everything was there when I got back. A friend of mine reactivated my old EQ account last year and everything was still there (amazingly).

I could set the game aside for 6 months, never touch it (say if I get busy, or if I simply *don't want to play it*) and everything will still be exactly as I left it. I'm not going to lose out just because I didn't have enough time to play this month.


I haven't had the time to play WoW for more than an hour or two a week for the past three weeks as I've been working on my Master's Thesis. When I do get back to the game, my character will not have gotten any less useful. But then again, PvP has always been a great thing for people like me with limited schedules...

theres no deletes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21058609)

No sane MMO business model will EVER delete a character.

As far as I know, the ones still in business now have yet to ever purge "main" characters, a few have purged name placeholders but often they just auto-rename them to something generic (which you can rename again to an avilable name) and don't delete them. (e.g. your bank mules are still there)

The data storage is a joke, and the potential of drawing a former customer back is far too much to ignore. If anything, expect to get "free month" offers from any MMO you have ever played every time theres a new expansion coming soon or if they just feel like it. Hell, the new trend might be to offer to put you up some levels/gear/skill/whatever along with a discount on all previous expansions just so you are ready to go out and buy their next expansion.

I could see where after a period of time you might have to wait 24 hours or so for an automated restore on accounts older than X years or so, but given that even the most complex MMO character might take double-digit kilobytes (if that) its not a huge technical obstacle to just load it on the fly as they reactivate.

There's also people who "just play games"... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21056229)

No, there's plenty of antisocial shut-ins left in the world.

There's also people who don't consider video games their only potential avenue for socializing, and maybe even go whole *days* or (yes, really) *weeks* without playing one. They're not gamers, they just play games. Some of them might even consider that people who are so focussed on video games at all... MMO or otherwise... as the "antisocial shut-ins".

This isn't new, though, Raph Koster is wrong about that. Putting myself into a Victorian frame of mind, I can easily visualise an overly serious Bridge player telling someone who's setting up a game of Solitaire after spending the day working at the boat club, before they head out to help with the Scouts in the evening, that they're an antisocial shut-in for playing solitaire. Bertie Wooster and Jeeves would definitely be involved, somewhere.

Re:There's also people who "just play games"... (1)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 6 years ago | (#21058399)

There's also people who don't consider video games their only potential avenue for socializing, and maybe even go whole *days* or (yes, really) *weeks* without playing one. They're not gamers, they just play games. Some of them might even consider that people who are so focussed on video games at all... MMO or otherwise... as the "antisocial shut-ins".


1) I kinda figured the "anti-social shut-ins" was obvious sarcasm
2) Yes, I realize this. I myself am not currently playing video games as I finish my Master's Thesis. I also rather enjoy getting together with friends for dinner, tabletop gaming/roleplaying, watching TV/movies, cooking, etc. MMOs just happen to be a way we can get together without having to actually GET together, which is convenient w/ our busy schedules (and since some of us are being spread all over the country, currently).

Re:Meh. (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055593)

Am I the only one who prefers sitting by myself with a controller playing a good single-player game? Am I the only one who still refuses to pay a monthly fee for a video game? Am I...getting old? :)
I think the biggest problem with MMORPG's is that they're time sinks. Now of course one man's time sink is another man's fun game so what's the difference? I think the problem is that most games are designed for anything from ten to forty hours of play. A shooter is linear, beginning to end, you're done. Something like Civilization, you can put ten hours into playing a vigorous game, beat it, and come back to play another round a month later. You can play different games in the meantime. Single-play never gets old.

An MMORPG asks you to dedicate all of your playing time to it in order to get anywhere. Because there is a finite development budget, time sinks are used to recycle content. You play through a level on a shooter once. If it was a shooter MMORPG, you'd play that level again every time some NPC wants you to collect goblin noses. You keep grinding that level to improve your stats and wait for the publisher to release new content. Once you've beaten all of the regular content in the game, you're doing high-level raids with raiding guilds and wondering why everything has become boring. What's more, the discrepancy between casual and power gamers pulls the developer in different directions, trying to keep both camps happy.

So to sum up, the problems with mmorpg's are as follows:
1. Finite content which forces them to recycle, thus the "grind" for leveling up
2. Requiring inordinate amounts of time to keep up with friends who might be playing more often than you
3. Monthly fee makes you feel like you need to keep playing to justify the cost, even if it feels like things are less fun, making you come to resent the game and the fee.
4. Time constraints, especially for gamers who have unfortunately grown up and gotten jobs, families, etc.

I think the future for multiplayer games is less in the direction of RPG's and more along the lines of Halo. You can sit down for 20 minutes of multiplayer and have a blast, you can do it for a few hours and still be grinning. You don't have to form clans, play on a rigorous schedule, you can just log-in when you have the time and have some fun.

Re:Meh. (1)

garylian (870843) | more than 6 years ago | (#21058699)

Well, for the most part, that monthly fee really isn't that much, compared to other entertainment options.

For the base MMO game, you will usualy pay about $45. You get the first month included in that price. Now, for the same price, you can by a FPS, or a RPG, etc, and get usually a month's worth (on average) gameplay for your $45. Then you are going out and paying anoher $45 for the next game, or breaking into multi-player games with little to no enforcement.

With the MMO, you get more content, and you pay about $15/month after your initial month, for it. The games are much more massive than a regular one, and you get usually many months/years of gameplay for your investment. The expansions come out frequently enough to keep most people happy. And there is usually enough rules/decency policies to keep the games from devolving down to a childish level. (Though the more PvP there is, the more childish people act.)

Now lets look at what else that $15 could get you.

A dinner for yourself at a decent resturant, if you have no alcoholic beverages or desert. Don't bring a date. Or a dinner date at McDonalds. Whohoo! You da MAN with the ladies, now!

A movie with popcorn and a drink. For yourself. Bring a date and double that up! Or you can catch a matinee and no eat/drink, and get in for that $15.

3-4 DVD rentals at Blockbuster or some other chain, unless you go the mail route.

I could go on, but really. If $15 is going to break your budget, you probably shouldn't be spending ANY money on games. And if it's going to make you whine, then you are a little too much of a tight-wad.

My father is in his 80s, and at first he thought it was nuts that I spent that kind of money a month for a game. And then he realized just how much time I could (and often did) spend in game, and how few other games I was buying every year. I went from buying 8+ games a year to 2-3, which included expansions to the MMO I was playing at the time. I got my wife playing, and now we have one more thing to do together.

Lord knows I get a good 40+hrs a month in my current MMO for that $15, and I find that a great deal.

It's Raph "Galaxies" Koster (2, Insightful)

Bonker (243350) | more than 6 years ago | (#21051319)

Why the hell does anyone even care what this guy thinks when he's brought ruin and strife to more MMO communities than most people will ever subscribe to?

Raph's ideas and theories have REPEATEDLY proven inaccurate, unworkable, stupid, and wrong. The gaming industry as a whole would be better off if he were filtered off into the black hole of FAIL with Romero.

Re:It's Raph "Galaxies" Koster (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21052001)

Raph's ideas and theories have REPEATEDLY proven inaccurate, unworkable, stupid, and wrong.

So have Richard Bartle's, you could argue; in any case, you still have to respect them for being pioneers, and in Koster's case, giants in the industry.

Personally, I think Koster is just ahead of his time. People said the same of Tesla.

Re:It's Raph "Galaxies" Koster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21052737)

hi raph.

eat another hamburger.

Re:It's Raph "Galaxies" Koster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21053309)

pioneer? lucky amateur at best.

Comparing a windbag industry joke like Koster to Tesla is embarrassing.

Can't wait to see what his investors do to him

Re:It's Raph "Galaxies" Koster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21058729)

I know Koster is a fun and obvious punching bag, but SOE managers never wanted SWG to be EQ in space. They purposely told him not to make that. Management already had EQ, with EQ2 in the works; they didn't want to compete with that. They wanted a place where people could "live" in the Star Wars universe.
 
Since WoW, it's hard for people to keep perspective, but SWG was a very successful game at first, and it's downfall had little or nothing to do with Koster.

Please stop (2, Interesting)

tshetter (854143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21051335)


Every time someone talks about some evolution of something we have now they go and mention MTV.

MTV provides nothing but attention whore PR.


Please stop mentioning them in your next-gen-extreme-thing PR.

-ts

Re:Please stop (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21051741)

Please stop mentioning them in your next-gen-extreme-thing PR.

      Sounds like someone isn't going to get their "Sweet Sixteen"...

Re:Please stop (2, Interesting)

tshetter (854143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21051849)

If season 5 of real world changed direction and went porno-docu...with different actors of course...that could have been positive.

MTV might have been the new Playboy.



But we have The Hills.

"LC is wearing an American Eagle headband; $40."

arghh, why the *FSCK* does that have to be somewhere in my mind?!?!

Purge!!!

koster again (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21051419)

*incredulous deadpan*

raph koster... standing in the corner shaking his fist.. at... large MMO companies.. that.. don't ... 'get it'...

this is the the guy that drove UO and SWG into the ground... failed to keep EQ relevant

WoW came along and ran over them like a mac truck over a 90 year old grandma.

Blizzard created the genre defining title and expanded the MMO market to its current level

the only thing koster expanded was his beltline

Re:koster again (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21052053)

raph koster... standing in the corner shaking his fist.. at... large MMO companies.. that.. don't ... 'get it'...


Britney Spears tops the music charts but isn't heralded as the ultimate evolution of music.

MMOs are still in their infancy... there's tremendous room to grow, and it's great that there's an experienced and thoughtful philosopher working in the trenches to make real their potential.

Raph Koster's ideas are akin to Socrates'; try him if you must, but they will persist through time -- hopefully in furtherance of a better future for the genre, because it's really, really boring right now in spite of any one company's success.

Re:koster again (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21052805)

again, hi koster.

you had your chance. No one outside of your delusional circle-jerking group of failures thinks you are anything other than a marginally-educated fat and lazy fraud.

this is slashdot, not mud-dev, you won't fool anyone here.

Re:koster again (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053653)

WoW came along and ran over them like a mac truck over a 90 year old grandma.
raph koster... standing in the corner shaking his fist.. at... large MMO companies.. that.. don't ... 'get it'...

Would you say the same thing about the creators of Resident Evil?

Let me put this into perspective for you, in consoles (including handhelds), 7 of the top ten sellers of all time contain either the word "Mario" or "Pokemon". (The least of these titles has sold over 15 million copies.) Combined, they sold some 200 million units.

I guess anyone working on a "Bioshock" is out of touch, with stupid ideas, and should be shunned. Clearly anyone making those games just doesn't get what people want.

I think we can all see the fallacy in that kind of thinking...

Same goes for Warcraft vs other MMOGs. Eve, though I despise the developers and refuse to pay them a cent is a brilliant mmorpg that will NEVER acheive the same popularity as Warcraft. And even Everquest I, before the expansion dogpile was also a brilliant mmorpg in spite of its warts that could also never acheive the popularity of WoW. Both games are hard to succeed in. Both games require teamwork in a way that Warcraft simply doesn't approach. And both games punished mistakes and carelessness harshly. Sure Warcraft has a raid-game end-game to cater to the 'hard core' but most people don't go there, and really, to really suceed in Warcrafts raid game you just have to be -there-, you don't have to be -good-.

Re:koster again (1)

TiredGamer (564844) | more than 6 years ago | (#21059371)

"Sure Warcraft has a raid-game end-game to cater to the 'hard core' but most people don't go there, and really, to really suceed in Warcrafts raid game you just have to be -there-, you don't have to be -good-."

This is a stereotype of the older, larger raids (20 and 40 person teams). New raids in WoW are much smaller (10 and 25 person teams) and thus require better players to succeed as a whole.

Future of Single-Player (3, Insightful)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21051499)

RK: Well, yeah. I'm one of the people who went out there and said, "Single-player gaming is doomed," and I actually used that phrase. An Xbox Live Achievement is a soul-bound item, and Gamerpoints are experience points, and BioShock is a one-man instance dungeon in the Xbox Live MMO. That is the direction that single-player gaming is going, frankly. CN: That's an observation that I think has a lot of merit. RK: I think that all single-player gaming -- all of it -- is going to have spectator modes, presence, chat, persistent profiles, and all of that shit. I think every single-player game is going to do all of that.
I don't like that direction. Sometimes its ok, like with Steam's profiles, friends chat inc game and stuff. But othertimes, I just want my singleplayer game to be, well single. I like to switch off friends, play in offline mode and not feel like there are people watching or recording data while I'm playing. Sometimes I *gasp* don't need or want a previous game effecting my current one; sometimes I want a clean slate experience. Oh, and I certainly don't want to pay for any persistance, either Xbox Live. Silver or not, all it'll end up as is another way to get money from me; frankly, I hope Steam will roll right over Windows Live Gaming.

It kinds of says a lot about his kinda gaming (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052483)

We just had an article about a great game, The Longest Journey. As great as it is, it is kinda hard to imagine it having spectaror modes, presence, chat or persistent profiles and whatever. There are tons of games like that. Not all gaming is FPS.

Who cares anyway? Do you really want to see how another person does in a single player session? Sure, some games it might work, racing games where you can compare times. And then only in those racing games that are "equal".

I really don't need or want to know how fast some kid with nothing better to do can run through a level. What is the point, not only doesn't it matter to me, boasting about it like boasting that you managed to come in 3 seconds last time you were with a girl. Eh, yeah, good kid, but as you get older you might realize speed isn't everything.

What I do fear is that with piracy offline gaming might die. Simply put, MMO's are the only effective anti-piracy measure so far. Soon Blizzard will release their first solo game since their huge sucess WoW. It might be intresting to see how it does financially, cost of development vs income from sales. Offcourse it is not a completly fair comparisson as StarCraft 2 will be about multiplayer as well and that might very well need a piracy proof system as well but still.

I can however all to easily see a future meeting at Blizzard that goes slightly like this. Right, we got two games, the MMO cost us X to develop and made us XXXXXXXXX and the single player game cost us X and made us XX. Guess people what kinda game we are going to make next.

Re:Future of Single-Player (1)

ZombieRoboNinja (905329) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052527)

"Lot of merit" my butt. Does this guy really think people are playing Bioshock in order to unlock some stupid "achievements"?

Re:Future of Single-Player (3, Interesting)

RaphKoster (603840) | more than 6 years ago | (#21052553)

So, empirically, a lot of people ARE (btw, EEDAR just did an interesting study on achievements, if you haven't seen the articles). Heck, the silly Burger King games turned into hits in large part thanks to achievements. Note, the fact that I think the industry is going this way doesn't mean that I necessarily LIKE it. It's just the trend that I see.

Does he really talk like that? (3, Funny)

ruprechtjones (545762) | more than 6 years ago | (#21053255)

"Oh, wait! We can put a text MUD on Arpanet!" And it was like, "Whoa!" and it spread like wildfire, and all of a sudden, all of that other stuff went away."

It's Crush from Finding Nemo! "Saw the whole thing, dude. First you were all like "whoa", and we were like "whoa", and you were like "whoa..."

STFU Koster, you still owe us for SWG (3, Insightful)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055149)

RK: Well, yeah. I'm one of the people who went out there and said, "Single-player gaming is doomed," and I actually used that phrase.


Any MMO can be played "singe player". There are a ton of people who play WoW "single player". The other people that run around them, sell them items on the auction house, and try to converse with them? They might as well just be computer NPCs. And that's the extent of it. Really. Some people like to play WoW by leveling up multiple characters on their own. They never group with others, they aren't in guilds, and yet here they are, still paying the monthly fee to play WoW. Some people play in the Battlegrounds only. They never actually talk to anyone, and the players they fight might as well be computer NPCs too, because they never communicate, they just fight and forget.

The cool thing is that even though they've been playing WoW "single player" for all this time, at any moment they can decide to "get out there" and join a guild and get together with people. That's always an option for them, and I've seen it happen. Then the game becomes truly multiplayer, when you are working with others on common goals.

But make no mistake, single player is not doomed. It will never, ever die.

Re:STFU Koster, you still owe us for SWG (1)

RaphKoster (603840) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055365)

On the playing WoW single player thing: well, yes, of course. If anything, I am saying that is going to become MORE common, because more of the formerly single-player games will push towards that play pattern. I don't think single-player games are going to completely go away. I think they are going to increasingly get nested inside multiplayer contexts, until it will get hard to find ones that aren't. But we'll always have our instances. :)

Merging comments... MMO turing test? (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21056041)

Hmm... your response made me think about my response some more.

In an environment where network access is sufficiently invisible, and the "game AI" (horrible term, I know) sufficiantly subtle, you could potentially get into a state where you don't notice whether the game you're playing at any given moment is online or offline, single or multi player. In fact I could see someone deliberately designing a game like that, so the main effect of getting into MMO mode would be that the "game AI" seemed to suddenly change.

The (reverse) turing test for a game would be two-fold. First, whether the game is rich enough to make it matter whether the other player is a human or not... and if so, how long would it take for you to tell if there's another human in the game, or how expert you would have to be to tell human from computer tactics. Of course, if you bring in verbal or typed messages that's likely to blow the test right off, since you'd need real AI to pass it... so that's why it would have to be a reverse turing test: with an opponent who doesn't respond to messages, could you tell if it was an NPC or a taciturn PC?

Re:STFU Koster, you still owe us for SWG (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 6 years ago | (#21059447)

Let's look further ahead.

There will come a time when the defining characteristic of a single player game is that it has no connection to the outside world. Why? The knowledge that you have no connection to the outside world will be the only way you can be sure the other characters in the game you are playing are not "real".

The interesting situation here is that when this happens, and game NPCs can pass turing tests with ease, then you might be unallowed to play the game anymore as you used to. Where do the rights of a sentient entity begin and where do they end? Can you kill a sentient AI if it is 'just part of the game'?

Society _will_ eventually say no. There will be restrictions to the AI so that it cannot be deemed intelligent or sentient -- so that 'human' rights do not apply -- in any game. Games will be required to be 'dumbed down'. And this is one reason single player games will never die. Because in them there is no regard for rights or conduct except exclusively in the context of the game. This is already seen today in MMORPGS where conduct is extremely important and you can be banned for any number of things that are detrimental to others.

That is, of course, if you believe AI is even possible. If you believe it is, then in my eyes this is an inevitability. If you believe it isn't, then I'm surprised you read this far. And what are you doing on Slashdot?

BMT

Re:STFU Koster, you still owe us for SWG (1)

Belacgod (1103921) | more than 6 years ago | (#21064021)

The AI is not the in-game character. Killing an AI-controlled monster is like killing a human-controlled character in PvP. The AI lives on, and fights the next person.

Re:STFU Koster, you still owe us for SWG (2, Interesting)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 6 years ago | (#21064279)

Interesting distinction. Each character is an aspect of that AI, so you aren't exactly killing the AI, but you might be 'harming' it, unless it gives consent that would be problematic.

So, does uninstalling the game kill the AI? Is that amoral?

I don't expect that this will be an issue in anything but the very distant future...

Re:STFU Koster, you still owe us for SWG (2, Interesting)

Belacgod (1103921) | more than 6 years ago | (#21064579)

Uninstalling wouldn't kill it. If the company discontinued the game and deleted all the files, that would kill it.

As to its consent, it's the same consent any human player gives when entering the PvP areas (or else, seeing as it's the AI's job to play these characters, it's the same consent that, say, a Renfaire jouster gives to be knocked off his horse for the amusement of the crowd, or a LARP NPC player gives to be defeated by the paid guests.

Re:STFU Koster, you still owe us for SWG (1)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072977)

Program the AI to make "being entertaining" their ultimate purpose in the game. Program their death to be satisfying and rewarding.

Sort of like the livestock in the restaurant at the end of time. They walk up and happily self-carve onto your plate.

Takes alot of the "icky" out of blowing them away.

They're still part of the MMO world. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21055949)

Some people play in the Battlegrounds only. They never actually talk to anyone, and the players they fight might as well be computer NPCs too, because they never communicate, they just fight and forget.

Even if they never communicate with you, if they're treating you like NPCs and acting like NPCs, they're still not acting like AIs, and you're not acting like AIs, so they're not getting the same experience as single-player, and you're still getting a different experience because they're there.

Similarly, in RL, most of the people around you... they're treating you like an NPC, and you're treating them like an NPC. I think you'd have a different experience if they were all androids operated by simple AIs, even if you don't pass the time of day with the bank teller or the automatic teller.

Finally, there are single-player games where you're part of a team, as well as ones where you're one-on-one or controlling each of the team members in turn.

Multiplayer isn't all about mixing chat rooms and combat, just like MMO in general isn't just about combat or even things that "look like games". There's all kinds of experiences and ways of interacting with people, and until we get strong AI MMO and single-player are going to be inherently different.

Could someone post a 5 line summary (1)

gnalle (125916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21056059)

I am too lazy to read the entire article. Could someone post a 5 line summary of what the guy is trying to say?

Ideally the slashdot abstract of the article should have provided me this 5 line abstract, but somehow the slashdot editor failed at this task.

Re:Could someone post a 5 line summary (1)

Avatar8 (748465) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072209)

Sure. If you've ever read any article by Koster, it will sound about the same. Fairly formulaic acutally.


"|current trend| is going to fail."
"I have weird, out there ideas about |idea1| and |idea2| that are like 'whoa!'... ya know, out there."
"All this |concept| about |genre| is 10 years old now, so we're seeing a, ya know, 10 year cycle."
"|produce1| and |producer2| think my |pulled-out-of-my-ass concept| has some merit, so they're on board with it."
"|random shit| is consuming all my time right now, so I'm not up on |most popular game in the world|"

That's about what I got out of it. How can a game designer/producer not be interested and involved in all variety of games, or at least trying/testing/playing a handful of the genre in which he's supposed to be an expert? I really need to quit reading interviews of Raph. He keeps disappointing me.

He got one thing right... (1)

Avatar8 (748465) | more than 6 years ago | (#21072479)

"What the fuck? Who cares! This cannot possibly be useful!"
That's my general sentiment of the entire interview and all his circle speak about the game grammar.

Seems to me that game designers and companies are speaking the language just fine. Are there a variety of systems that cannot relate to each other because they use different game systems? Sure. That's called variety. That's called different points of origin. It's called originality of the designers.

Should game designers learn to speak a universal language of game concepts, design elements and terms? Why should they? This would imply that they're going to be collaborating on the games they make. Do game designers of different companies need to speak to each other in a common language of terms? No, because the level of detail about their games should not be discussed with others outside of the company due to IP and NDA limitations.

I compare this to the music writing systems (like Raph did). Yes, having a notation system makes it easier for those with the creative skill to create something in the technical realm so that technical people can analyze it. Can the techs then improve on the creativity by crunching numbers, changing the flowchart and tweaking the terminology? Doubtful. Great games are works of genius and inspiration, not the digital architecture underneath. Granted the implementation affects the overall outcome of the game, but the soul of the game is what keeps people playing. Two examples comes to mind. Magic (Microprose, early 90s) was a fantastic, turn-based game. It had major technical issues that caused sound incompatibilities and frequent crashes, but people kept playing it and clamored for a sequel. Even Ultima IX I considered a success because of the story it concluded and the elements of the story that unfolded while I played it. Technically it was crap because EA wanted to hit the Christmas rush and wouldn't let Origin quality test it.

Just because you can break something down into its components and analyze it does not mean you'll be able to improve upon it or even make any noteworthy discoveries about it. Obviously, Blizzard found the magic formula of MMOs. I doubt any game grammar or analysis could help them improve it any further. It will take a step in evolution of MMOs to unseat Blizzard as the MMO king. With a common gaming grammar, I foresee more cookie cutter games with the exact same mechanics but with different skins. Hmm... sounds just like what Raph's company is trying to produce: a generic MMO engine.

Also sounds like Raph would be a great EA employee getting all the assimilated studios to use the same gaming grammar to more easily fit into the EA template.

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