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MMORPGs are bad game design

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Posts

  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    SyphonBlue wrote: »
    You don't like MMOs, don't play them. Why is this shit constantly brought up? Where's the RTS/FPS/TBS/TPS are bad game design threads?

    I do like MMO's. I've spent massive amounts of my time playing them. I'm interested in seeing conversation over whether or not development of NEW MMO elements is stagnating.

    I think the stagnation issue in MMOs is more to do with fiscal realities than to do with the actual design. Every fantasy (and most sci-fi) MMORPG on the market that I'm aware of fits very neatly into the 'evolution of design based on Ultima Online and other, similar graphical versions of MUDs'. There are plenty of ways to play around in that space and try new things, either evolving existing systems or trying out whole new concepts, but the realities of the MMO market are such that innovation is basically the opposite of what a company would want to do.

    There are two scenarios where you, a game development company, would be putting out a new MMO.
    1) You already have one or more successful MMO games on the market.
    2) You are new to the industry or your prior MMO efforts have failed or become obsolete.

    In scenario 1 the only time you're going to put out a new MMO product is if it's a new iteration of your existing product which you will then phase out (EQ1 -> EQ2 and similar) or if it's completely and utterly different from your old product(s). If you're iterating an old product you can afford to innovate a little bit, but your customers don't really want new and different out of a sequel; they want the old game with better graphics and more content. Changes that aren't strictly evolutions of existing mechanics are going to earn you droves of people who want to stick with the old, familiar game instead of this stupid new thing (regardless of its actual stupidity).

    If you're in scenario 2 then the obvious path appears to be "develop something radically new and different so as to avoid competing with WoW". The problem is that your player base already plays WoW. Or, if not WoW, some existing MMO. There are relatively few people out there who want to play an MMO game and don't already. Which means that if your game isn't Wow But Better, it has to either be so awesome that they no longer care about WoW, or so awesome that they're willing to shell out for two subscriptions at once. And cut back on their WoW playtime in order to put some hours into your game. The odds that your game are this awesome are very small. And even if your game is awesome, it doesn't have going on a decade of continued content releases and a multi-million-player install-base. On release day it's going to be a small, lonely place no matter how good the game design itself is. These facts encourage developers not to innovate because "new, empty game that's not like my old MMO" isn't a space where a lot of players want to migrate to. "New, empty game that's very similar to my old MMO but where I can get in early and get epic lootz first/run the top clan/etc." is a space that might actually draw some folks out of their old subscription.

    So that leaves us with one category of people who are really incentivized to innovate in MMO design: publishers who already have an established, successful MMO and want to release a second one that will run concurrently with the original. That's a really small pool, and for good reason. If you already have a million subscribers for your game Fantasy Slash Online, what sort of strategy meeting is going to end in the conclusion that the best use of your development dollars is production of Super Weird Quest, an innovative new MMO that may or may not meet with commercial success and requires the lion's share of development money go toward establishment of the infrastructure and gameplay, rather than toward development of two content updates for Fantasy Slash Online that will, if nothing else, keep you million extant subscribers playing for the next two years?

    Back in the day when the only MMOs were MUDs and the vast majority were both free to play and designed and run by amateurs, there were all kinds of bizarre games out there. You could find a new game every day to try that had mechanics in some way dissimilar to every other game you'd played before. But it was like that because one or two guys in a basement could crank out a gameplay system in a long weekend on top of an open-source code base, throw together some areas to kill stuff in, and put it online. If nobody played their game, or if a bunch of people played and then left when they stopped putting up new content, it hurt nothing but their free time. Nowadays we have MMO games that essentially have a lifecycle on the order of a decade and with established player expectations that little or nothing will change in the gameplay beyond addition of more classes/races/skills/levels/quests between release day and the day that the sequel comes out. It's a business model which is the precise antihesis of rapid innovation, in which making a foray into something new and different is an almost guaranteed recipe for financial failure.

    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Jesus, people. This thread is like a running gunbattle with stupid bullets.
  • Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. 5386-8443-8937Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I enjoy MMOs. Many do, dare I say millions.

    Seems like solid game design to me if the point to game design is to make a game people enjoy.

    sig.jpg
  • LorahaloLorahalo Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Pony wrote: »
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    SyphonBlue wrote: »
    You don't like MMOs, don't play them. Why is this shit constantly brought up? Where's the RTS/FPS/TBS/TPS are bad game design threads?

    I do like MMO's. I've spent massive amounts of my time playing them. I'm interested in seeing conversation over whether or not development of NEW MMO elements is stagnating.

    The answer here is probably yes. The way I see it, there's very little that can be done to bring NEW elements into the MMO genre. In the end, you've still got a massive timesink that provides very little in actual reward to the player beyond what he or she interprets as reward.

    Just look at all of the new MMOs that have been released. Most of them promise new gameplay elements and styles that end up being slight variations on old elements. Players are drawn to the promise of new gameplay, spend $50 for the game, bitch about it for a month, then go back to WoW or CoX or whatever tried-and-tested game they jumped ship from.

    I'm with the people who say the only game that breaks this mold is EVE. The problem with EVE is that it's dense and opaque and you can fuck your character up unless you know what you're doing. Then you have the playerbase, who for the most part are a bunch of homophobic racist neckbearded sociopaths with symptoms of severely repressed rage (present company excluded :P). But if you can work your way past the UI and the playerbase, EVE can be a lot of fun.

    Then your only problem is that you've just spent twelve hours between your home station and an asteroid belt mining and dodging mobs or rival corps and you leave your computer to find that you've lost your job, your dog's died from malnutrition and your wife has left you and has taken the kids and emptied the bank accounts.

    And you think to yourself: How the fuck am I gonna pay for my EVE subscription?

    You can buy more EVE playtime with in-game currency. It's extremely expensive, but can be done. You can literally pay for your EVE subscription by playing more EVE.

    I guess that explains why parents worldwide are finding the decaying corpses of their grown male children in their basements, hooked up to saline drips and catheters, their bony fingers still clicking the mouse buttons in a horrifying post-mortem nervous tic, and their unseeing eyes staring at a 22' screen while in their headphones other players yell at them for being SpaceJews.

    A bit off topic but I recall a story where a ship with something like $1200 worth of game time in it got blown up, losing every license extension.

    3DS: 1118-0244-2697
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited March 2011
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Well... I'm not raging, first off. I've been seriously thinking about MMO game design. I've put my years of play into WoW, and I certainly got value out of my time in game. Similarly, I've spent a decent chunk of time with many of the alternatives. It's my opinion, though, that MMO's are not well designed as far as satisfying game play goes. They are set up to make it satisfying to play, in that you are rewarded at a basic, primal level which you find satisfying, but no MMO's game design, if just taken by itself, is going to be lauded as best in class.

    So you've played WoW for years and had a lot of fun doing so, which is why you're eminently qualified to say that MMOs have shitty game design and are not legitimately fun.

    MMOs are a genre. Unlike other genres, this one requires thousands of people to continue paying money for access, while also being able to interact with one another in a persistent game world that still allows new players to join in for the first time and play from the beginning.

    Honestly, the game design in the better MMOs is fucking brilliant, given what they have to accomplish in order to please everyone.

    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

    I make tweet.
  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    An element of MMORPG design that people keep coming back to is that you must include the grind.

    There must be level ups and slightly upgraded equipment and always one more little morsel of reward to keep people playing.

    And I guess that's true... if your gameplay sucks.

    Let's be honest. Nobody plays WoW because they find rolling their fingers across the number keys to be a thrilling gameplay experience. Nobody thinks that pressing tab to target someone and then constantly running around them while your auto-attack hits them and you wait for your other abilities to cool down is fantastic, thrilling gameplay.

    If these people exist, I've never met them.

    People play MMORPGs for a lot of reasons, largely the schema of constantly out-of-reach rewards you are going for. But they're not playing them for the thrilling and action-packed game mechanics.

    But then you look at First Person Shooters and other, non-"Massive" online games. In those games the gameplay is the point of playing. Yes, you are playing to win, but you actually enjoy playing the game.

    You don't need level ups and equipment upgrades and shit like that if people just enjoy playing your game. Just glancing at my Steam account right now, I have over two hundred hours of playing Left 4 Dead 2. An FPS game with no "RPG elements" whatsoever.

    I play single player. I play multiplayer. I do versus, campaign, scavenge, whatever. I like the game.

    I do not need to have a Level 14 Ellis spec'd out for throwing Bile Bombs in order to enjoy playing L4D2. I like the gameplay, and that's good enough for me. Yes, the game has come out with new content since release (new campaigns, new gameplay modes, etc.) but that new content was available to me immediately. It wasn't a "reward" for my time spent playing, it was just new shit for me to play with. I didn't have to "unlock" it by putting in so many hours or leveling up my Hunter Pounce.

    If Blizzard said "Alright so in the next patch everyone is going to be raised to the level-cap and you will be able to pick whatever gear you want from the game, and you can just do the quests and play PVP as much as you like", WoW would fall apart in a month.

    Why? Because people don't play WoW for the gameplay. They play it to gain the rewards. No rewards? No game. It's why Blizzard has to keep raising the level cap and adding more raid gear and making it easier to get to the level cap "where the game begins", because nobody's really playing it to actually play the game.

    It's why, in the end, people use the Skinner Box comparison. People aren't playing for the gameplay, they're playing for the reward.

    I hate that entire train of design, personally, and I think a game with good solid gameplay doesn't need it.

    But, as ELM and I were saying earlier, having that sort of exciting, action-packed gameplay on a "massive", non-instanced world would require a level of programming and network connections that the world doesn't seem ready for.

  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    How is that even a criticism? Yes, you will have to kill things to get rewards. Generally speaking you will have a quota of things to kill as opposed to a perfectly granular distribution of rewards across individual kills. Yes, NPCs will exist in the gamespace and by necessity will be either stationary or moving in defined patterns. Yes, there will be times and places in the game environment where events occur that attract players. Yes, your character will have progressively more powerful skills/abilities/spells/whatever that are exclusive and which the player can select and customize in some way.

    You're criticizing the gameplay at such a fundamental point that it seems kind of useless, to me. I mean if all of those things should be changed for the sake of innovation, maybe we've been doing this the wrong way all along. Maybe counterstrike was/is the best MMO.

    Hmm. You and I, I think are defining MMO's as very different things. To you, an MMO must adhere to the things I think are stagnating to qualify under the name. To me, the game merely has to have a persistent game world, a large number of players and some meaningful way of tracking ones participation in that game world. I am not a game designer and don't have the brilliant, innovative game design idea I'd like to see, so I can't provide an excellent example.

    Why not a game where the world was more dynamic, where gameplay mechanics were not almost exclusively limited to twitch-based combat? Maybe more collaborative puzzle elements. I know Secret World is supposed to have something like that too, though I'm still concerned whether they're going to adhere to the mostly, "Press three buttons in a row to kill something" system. Why aren't there more MMO's where there is an NPC society that makes more changes to the landscape around you? Why don't other gameplay tropes make it into MMO's? I guess WoW has tried this a bit, introducing some more dog-fighting type elements through their jousting mini-games and stuff. This is the kind of movement I want to see, but at a greater pace. I think the fallback argument against is what everyone is tossing out: It's a huge financial risk to experiment.

    "Well, look at this. Appears we got here just in the nick of time. What's that make us?"
    "Big Damn Heroes, Sir."
    "Ain't we just."
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    With very few exceptions, all recent MMO's come out with a gameplay system which is almost identical to that of World of Warcraft, which moved the standard (previously set by Everquest) from "kill a bunch of stuff here, then kill it there" to "Kill and/or loot X things in order to receive direction as to where to kill and/or loot next." Even the "progression" made by Warhammer Online and then Rift wasn't real progress, with a system implemented that was, "As a group in an area, kill and/or loot X things in this smaller area with a timer."

    This used to be true of single-player console games until the GTA3 era... and is still somewhat true. Most games have linear progression, even sandbox games with a storyline component still tell that story in a linear fashion.

    I'll also point out that this criticism doesn't really apply to PvP at all, either in or outside of the MMO genre. That said, this appears to be largely market-driven. WoW has attempted PvE non-linear progression (Nagrand and Sunken Temple come to mind) and players don't tend to engage it. They ignore it in favor of more linear progression. I find that unfortunate, but whatchagonnado?
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    My problem with this system is that it simply does not tell a story well. The original function of the RPG style game was that of telling a story to the player in an interactive manner.

    Let me see if I can put this frankly.

    Bullshit.

    The story in early CRPGs - Wizardry, Bards Tale, Might & Magic - was nearly nonexistent. Doubly so in online/multiplayer text-based RPGs like Legend of the Red Dragon. You had some dudes, there were some powerful evil dudes somewhere, and you killed a bunch of less-powerful evil dudes to level up your dudes while you find the more powerful evil dudes.

    Why do I react to this so forcefully? Because I really don't give a shit about storyline in gameplay, and I know I'm not an anomaly. If I want a story, I've got a library full of DVDs that will each give me a better story in 2 hours than most video games give me in 10.

    There are games that are exceptions - Mass Effect, notably - but for the most part, I'm not looking for a good story.

    Also, I disagree with the implication that failure to tell a story through gameplay implies bad game design. Many of the most popular, addicting, and downright fun games from Pong to Tetris to Rock Band don't have any story to speak of.
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Similarly, MMO worlds, though incredibly large, are completely static. The compelling story of the original MMO's is an idea that thousands of players would unite to create a digital world driven by their actions and adventures. The reality is that players are almost "on rails" progressing through a constantly repeating clip of action, which is constantly resetting for the next wave of characters to progress through. It was monumental when Cataclysm released for World of Warcraft, for instance, because SOMETHING HAD ACTUALLY CHANGED THE LANDSCAPE. This was mind-boggling, and it only took more than half a decade for it to happen.

    There are technological and social hurdles to this. I largely agree with you here - I don't like how static the game world is. (Keep in mind, though, that until recently, game worlds in single-player console games were static, too. No matter what you did in GTA3, for instance, the world never really changed.)

    Keep in mind though that two of your complaints here are partially contradictory. You can have a game world that is not static, and you can have content progression that is not linear. Having both, though, runs the risk of a player missing out on content - potentially a lot of content. Being able to do both is a challenge for all genres; doing it in a multiplayer setting is even harder. WoW is doing some interesting things with zone phasing, but I'm curious to see how this is going to turn out.
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    However, nowhere else do we find an example of a game genre that not only requires significant time investment over the long run, but also mandates that time investment be made consistently on a schedule.

    Again, untrue. You are correct that this is anomalous in video games, but it is normal in offline games. Pen-and-paper RPGs require that your time investment be made consistently on a schedule. For that matter, plenty of people schedule their gaming outside of MMOs - whether we're talking bowling nights, poker nights, Friday Night Magic, soccer practice, or the company softball game.

    Social gaming requires some adherence to a schedule. The only reason FPS and RTS games allow you to play at any time of day on your whim is because of their popularity. For that matter, you can get a 5-man group in WoW on any time of day... provided you're a tank or healer, but that's more an issue of game balance than fundamental game design.

    That said, one of my major criticisms of Everquest and of WoW at launch is that it overemphasized the need for scheduling. EQ was particularly bad (until they added instanced content), in that your choices at the upper levels were either to raid, or to camp timed spawns in the game world. At the time I was playing EQ, my game time was usually really late at night, so raiding was right out of the question. WoW is, blessedly, consistently moving further away from that model. Publishing 5-man and 10-man dungeons increases the likelihood that you can find a group available to play on your time; instance saving ensures that you don't need to block out several hours at a time; incremental rewards (marks, emblems, reputation) give you the opportunity to progress even if you can't find a big raid group. And most of the larger, 25-man content is very short, time-wise. It's only at the extreme upper end that scheduling becomes onerous.
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    So finally the ultimate question: Why is there so little innovation or experimentation of game mechanics in the MMO market? It certainly happens in all game markets, but none seem quite so susceptible to copy-cat syndrome. Why do we so rarely see even basic changes in the basic "gear goes in bag, gear goes on head, shoulders, cloak, chest, legs, feet, hands" system? Why are quests so reliably "Kill X, pick up Y, repeat?" Why do so many games adhere to the Dungeons and Dragons staple of "250 xp per quest, 40-100 levels, every level you get a new skill" system?

    I somewhat feel that your characterization of the games market overall is unfair. I don't think that "innovation" in the way you imply is unique to MMOs. What you're basically describing is the stabilization of a genre. RTSes haven't changed that much since Total Annihilation. FPSes move forward a little bit at a time, but a few arguable exceptions (Portal?) we're still playing games using the same mechanics as Tribes 2, Team Fortress Classic, and Halo 1. You get too far outside the tropes of a genre and it's either not that genre anymore (MOBA games started as RTS mods but are now their own genre; alternatively you can point to some genre-breaking indie titles) or people get annoyed by it and stop playing.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Well... I'm not raging, first off. I've been seriously thinking about MMO game design. I've put my years of play into WoW, and I certainly got value out of my time in game. Similarly, I've spent a decent chunk of time with many of the alternatives. It's my opinion, though, that MMO's are not well designed as far as satisfying game play goes. They are set up to make it satisfying to play, in that you are rewarded at a basic, primal level which you find satisfying, but no MMO's game design, if just taken by itself, is going to be lauded as best in class.

    So you've played WoW for years and had a lot of fun doing so, which is why you're eminently qualified to say that MMOs have shitty game design and are not legitimately fun.

    MMOs are a genre. Unlike other genres, this one requires thousands of people to continue paying money for access, while also being able to interact with one another in a persistent game world that still allows new players to join in for the first time and play from the beginning.

    Honestly, the game design in the better MMOs is fucking brilliant, given what they have to accomplish in order to please everyone.

    First off, that's a really combative way to disagree with me. Opening up with a veiled aspersion against me rather than your argument is not conducive to productive debate.

    Secondly, I am not saying that WoW was not a good game. It was, and I played it. I enjoyed the time I spent with it. I think it was good in spite of its inability to move past the MMORPG gameplay tropes. Most MMO's are successful, I think, because people want to play games collaboratively. A game with less-than-optimal gameplay but a collaborative, social environment is still more interesting than a game that is pure solo, at least for some people.

    What I am trying to argue here is that the genre could improve immensely if they tried to move past the most basic gameplay functions, and streamlined things to keep up with some of the gameplay mechanics that single-player or small-group games are implementing to become more fun.

    "Well, look at this. Appears we got here just in the nick of time. What's that make us?"
    "Big Damn Heroes, Sir."
    "Ain't we just."
  • Descendant XDescendant X Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Lorahalo wrote: »
    Pony wrote: »
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    SyphonBlue wrote: »
    You don't like MMOs, don't play them. Why is this shit constantly brought up? Where's the RTS/FPS/TBS/TPS are bad game design threads?

    I do like MMO's. I've spent massive amounts of my time playing them. I'm interested in seeing conversation over whether or not development of NEW MMO elements is stagnating.

    The answer here is probably yes. The way I see it, there's very little that can be done to bring NEW elements into the MMO genre. In the end, you've still got a massive timesink that provides very little in actual reward to the player beyond what he or she interprets as reward.

    Just look at all of the new MMOs that have been released. Most of them promise new gameplay elements and styles that end up being slight variations on old elements. Players are drawn to the promise of new gameplay, spend $50 for the game, bitch about it for a month, then go back to WoW or CoX or whatever tried-and-tested game they jumped ship from.

    I'm with the people who say the only game that breaks this mold is EVE. The problem with EVE is that it's dense and opaque and you can fuck your character up unless you know what you're doing. Then you have the playerbase, who for the most part are a bunch of homophobic racist neckbearded sociopaths with symptoms of severely repressed rage (present company excluded :P). But if you can work your way past the UI and the playerbase, EVE can be a lot of fun.

    Then your only problem is that you've just spent twelve hours between your home station and an asteroid belt mining and dodging mobs or rival corps and you leave your computer to find that you've lost your job, your dog's died from malnutrition and your wife has left you and has taken the kids and emptied the bank accounts.

    And you think to yourself: How the fuck am I gonna pay for my EVE subscription?

    You can buy more EVE playtime with in-game currency. It's extremely expensive, but can be done. You can literally pay for your EVE subscription by playing more EVE.

    I guess that explains why parents worldwide are finding the decaying corpses of their grown male children in their basements, hooked up to saline drips and catheters, their bony fingers still clicking the mouse buttons in a horrifying post-mortem nervous tic, and their unseeing eyes staring at a 22' screen while in their headphones other players yell at them for being SpaceJews.

    A bit off topic but I recall a story where a ship with something like $1200 worth of game time in it got blown up, losing every license extension.

    That's nothing.

    This is the story of how one corp ripped off a rival corp for $16,500 in virtual goods.

    Anyhoo, now I'm completely off topic and I'll stop going in this direction. I've said my piece.

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  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Pony wrote: »
    Let's be honest. Nobody plays WoW because they find rolling their fingers across the number keys to be a thrilling gameplay experience. Nobody thinks that pressing tab to target someone and then constantly running around them while your auto-attack hits them and you wait for your other abilities to cool down is fantastic, thrilling gameplay.

    If these people exist, I've never met them.

    I enjoy the core gameplay of WoW. I find the progression a little irritating frankly.

    My main in WoW was a tank. I liked that leadership role, marking targets, keeping an eye on crowd control, judging when to push harder and when to slow down, quickly trying to taunt adds.

    I enjoyed that aspect of Everquest, too. I played a bard, so my job was primarily to do crowd control and pull. It was similar - I was on the front lines, judging the state of the group, determining when we could safely fight another monster and when I had to keep additional monsters locked down with mesmerize.

    As for "rolling your fingers across the number keys" - I would liken that to a fighting game combo. Sure, there are certain combinations I might do frequently, but not only is there a timing aspect of it, like playing piano (1 beat 2 beat beat 3...) but a decision-making aspect of it (do I need to use the ability that gives me more attack power, or the ability that gives me more endurance, or the ability that speeds up my teammates' mana regen)?

    The reason I don't play WoW at the moment? Wrath of the Lich King was too easy. The dungeons weren't challenging to me, so I didn't bother with progression through the endgame. I no longer found it exciting. Now that I've heard positive things about the challenge level in Cataclysm, I may come back.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited March 2011
    Pony wrote: »
    As someone who values the narrative components of games, MMORPGS have little appeal to me. I still like the traditional RPG model of leveling and goldfarming and whatnot, but doing that endlessly with no concrete goal seems like just a lot of jerking off.

    I hate this stuff. Hate it. Intensely. I hate it in single-player games, I hate in multiplayer games. I hate it.

    I think most big-ticket RPGs have overcome the pains and tedium of goldfarming/XP-farming by actually making the acquisition of those things much more of a user-driven experience with many possible ways of coming by the points/gold/mana/whatever you need. For instance, in games like Oblivion or Fallout or Dragon Age, you allocate your levelling into whatever strength you desire, and changes stem from that throughout the game. You want to be big and strong, wearing massive armor? Be prepared to give up speed and agility. You want long-range weaponry prowess? Better learn how to get the hell out of the way when shit gets up close.

    I also think those games have realized that you need to make XP farming actually fun in itself. Most RPGs from the PSX era and before employed combat as this obstacle you had to overcome in order to do the fun stuff, like buying cooler weapons and furthering the story. The combat wasn't really fun itself, it was just picking the right options from a menu, and once you found the right options, they typically didn't change. It was just, "Oh, an enemy. I will select "Fight" until it is dead."

    And really, the RPG makers basically admitted this when they started coming out with features like the ability to hit a button and have the battles go on autopilot. Basically, the game was offering you a way to not have to play it. And this was considered progress. There are a lot of great games from back then, but they were mostly great games in spite of the combat system, not because of it. Everyone kind of just assumed combat was boring and lame left it at that.

    Games like Dragon Age have awesomely dynamic play that is more strategy-oriented and requires you to run around doing shit in real time. And games like Oblivion don't even have a separate "combat" engine. You're always in combat, really, just sometimes there doesn't happen to be an enemy visible. And when you do have combat, it's generally pretty quick and then you go on with your business.

    I look at the current crop of RPGs and I can't imagine going back and playing, say, FFVI, even though I have some awesomely nostalgic memories of that game.

    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

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  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    If there were a game that gave me that 5-man heroic dungeon dive experience, without the focus on slogging through progression, I would totally play it.

    I heard that Guild Wars did that, but I didn't know a single damn person who played Guild Wars. (That's the other reason I like games like this... I want to play with my friends.)

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited March 2011
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    First off, that's a really combative way to disagree with me. Opening up with a veiled aspersion against me rather than your argument is not conducive to productive debate.

    Secondly, I am not saying that WoW was not a good game. It was, and I played it. I enjoyed the time I spent with it. I think it was good in spite of its inability to move past the MMORPG gameplay tropes. Most MMO's are successful, I think, because people want to play games collaboratively. A game with less-than-optimal gameplay but a collaborative, social environment is still more interesting than a game that is pure solo, at least for some people.

    What I am trying to argue here is that the genre could improve immensely if they tried to move past the most basic gameplay functions, and streamlined things to keep up with some of the gameplay mechanics that single-player or small-group games are implementing to become more fun.

    Well, I thought your basic premise is kind of silly. I was poking fun at that.

    Anyway, I think you may be defining "gameplay" differently than I do. I think of "gameplay" as the total of the experience you have while engaged in the meat of a game. Take away cutscenes and conversations and the like, and what's left is gameplay. If you're walking around a lot, that's part of the gameplay. If you're in battle, that's gameplay.

    Whereas you seem to be defining gameplay as the physical mechanics your fingers do while you're playing. By this definition, lots of games have shitty gameplay. What about, say, chess? You click on a piece and then you click where it goes. The mechanics of that are boring and simplistic. If the act of clicking is what you call gameplay, yes, it's pretty fun. But I don't think you can remove all context from gameplay. Whatever WoW is doing, whether the mechanics are fun, that depends on the larger context of what you're doing. And what you're doing is killing a bunch of shit in order to gain levels and loot and whatnot. And that gameplay, ensconced as it is within the larger gaming experience, is fun. And it is expertly designed. I can tell because even you blew a year on it.

    There is certainly room for growth, sure. But I think calling it bad design is just silly. It does exactly what it was designed to do and makes people happy while doing it. It's like you're saying that FPS games have bad design because you're burnt out on shooters.

    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

    I make tweet.
  • WMain00WMain00 Registered User
    edited March 2011
    I'd argue that a large problem with Eve is that it suffers from a "epic stories that you'll never be a part of" problem. Alot of these instances of grand stories are read as epic scale tales, but invariably the truth is that they occured on a rather small scale against a collective handful of individuals. Your average grunt, of which 90% of the Eve population is made of, had no real reckoning in the event.

    Don't get me wrong though, I think Eve will outlive all other MMO's on the market currently. It's designed in such a way that could still be going 50 years on.

  • HappylilElfHappylilElf Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    As far as MMO storylines go I think it's really a case of you get out of them what you put into them. WAR and WoW both had some really fun an interesting storylines. But if I skip reading any of the storylines and just click "ok", run off to kill my mobs/collect my shit and then run back to click "ok" again? Well, yeah, they're going to come across as very lackluster.

    SW:TOR looks like it going to try and move it more towards Mass Effect style interaction which I think will be a plus assuming the game can get off the ground and retain a playerbase.

    sigtk.jpg
  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Rogue Coral Springs, FLRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Coming from someone who's only played one MMO ever(Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine, and lord willing it'll be my last), I really enjoyed being able to run around dungeons with a posse of like-minded PAers and/or Megatenists, but the appeal wore out fast, mostly because of how repetitive everything was.

    The good music and atmosphere design only carried it so far.

    fiV9i14.jpg
    蒼く咲く華 日は灯り 天に流れる | Kill The Past
  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I disagree with the conclusion that MMO game design is stagnating. Over the last few years, I've had the misfortune of trying out a number of MMO's that didn't really catch on long-term: Age of Conan, Star Trek Online, WAR, Champions Online. All of them were less than succesful, to put it mildly, but they all came out with some innovative ideas that are gradually getting incorporated into MMOS. Things like, a personal storyline (AOC), open teaming and public quests (WAR), use of phasing (CO).

    The thing is, the MMO industry is pretty young. There are only a handful of games that have been around for more than a few years, so MMO designers are still trying to figure out what formula of features and design decisions work.

    As for EVE, it's success as a world where the players control the storyline is overblown. There is a minority of EVE players who involve themselves in the zero-sec game. The majority, however, more or less treat it like a traditional MMO with some sandbox elements.

    Aetian Jupiter - 41 Gunslinger - The Old Republic
    Rigorous Scholarship

  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Rogue Coral Springs, FLRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    As an aside, what I thought was innovative about Imagine was the modern(technically cyberpunk) setting. Characters have guns in addition to summoning and magic usage, an SMT trademark.

    The combat was a combination of melee, firearms, magic, and summoning, and it worked. What didn't were the repetitive dungeons and horrible experience scaling. I should not have to go through a dungeon innumerable times to reach L37 just because I finished all the story acts(which gave ridiculous amounts of experience).

    fiV9i14.jpg
    蒼く咲く華 日は灯り 天に流れる | Kill The Past
  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Pony wrote: »
    An element of MMORPG design that people keep coming back to is that you must include the grind.

    There must be level ups and slightly upgraded equipment and always one more little morsel of reward to keep people playing.

    And I guess that's true... if your gameplay sucks.

    Let's be honest. Nobody plays WoW because they find rolling their fingers across the number keys to be a thrilling gameplay experience. Nobody thinks that pressing tab to target someone and then constantly running around them while your auto-attack hits them and you wait for your other abilities to cool down is fantastic, thrilling gameplay.

    If these people exist, I've never met them.

    People play MMORPGs for a lot of reasons, largely the schema of constantly out-of-reach rewards you are going for. But they're not playing them for the thrilling and action-packed game mechanics.

    But then you look at First Person Shooters and other, non-"Massive" online games. In those games the gameplay is the point of playing. Yes, you are playing to win, but you actually enjoy playing the game.

    You don't need level ups and equipment upgrades and shit like that if people just enjoy playing your game. Just glancing at my Steam account right now, I have over two hundred hours of playing Left 4 Dead 2. An FPS game with no "RPG elements" whatsoever.

    I play single player. I play multiplayer. I do versus, campaign, scavenge, whatever. I like the game.

    I do not need to have a Level 14 Ellis spec'd out for throwing Bile Bombs in order to enjoy playing L4D2. I like the gameplay, and that's good enough for me. Yes, the game has come out with new content since release (new campaigns, new gameplay modes, etc.) but that new content was available to me immediately. It wasn't a "reward" for my time spent playing, it was just new shit for me to play with. I didn't have to "unlock" it by putting in so many hours or leveling up my Hunter Pounce.

    If Blizzard said "Alright so in the next patch everyone is going to be raised to the level-cap and you will be able to pick whatever gear you want from the game, and you can just do the quests and play PVP as much as you like", WoW would fall apart in a month.

    Why? Because people don't play WoW for the gameplay. They play it to gain the rewards. No rewards? No game. It's why Blizzard has to keep raising the level cap and adding more raid gear and making it easier to get to the level cap "where the game begins", because nobody's really playing it to actually play the game.

    It's why, in the end, people use the Skinner Box comparison. People aren't playing for the gameplay, they're playing for the reward.

    I hate that entire train of design, personally, and I think a game with good solid gameplay doesn't need it.

    But, as ELM and I were saying earlier, having that sort of exciting, action-packed gameplay on a "massive", non-instanced world would require a level of programming and network connections that the world doesn't seem ready for.

    This is all completely wrong though (including your description of WoW gameplay).

    WoW is such a huge success BECAUSE of it's gameplay. A big part of WoW's success is that the game plays really really well. It's smooth and responsive and the gameplay feels right. This is a large reason it succeeds over other MMOs. The game plays better.

    And even beyond just the mechanical stuff, people play WoW for the gameplay. 90% of the players ignore the story all together. What they are in it for is playing their class. Using their classes abilities, often in conjunction with others, to overcome obstacles, get better gear, to beat bigger obstacles.

    What you are missing is that people want the rewards to be better at the gameplay. People don't brag about their better gear, they brag about how big their crits are in their better gear.

    The point of working for your reward is it attaches meaning to that reward. And this is one of the core aspects of MMOs. You can't cheat the system (not on any large scale anyway). All your rewards are earned and that gives people a big sense of accomplishment. Those rewards matter more.

    Having $texas gold in, say, Dragon Age isn't all that meaningful. You could type in a cheat or whatever and get that instantly. Having $texas gold in WoW is a big deal because it's a tangible representation of actual work that you can exchange for actual stuff that can't be obstained other ways.

  • WassermeloneWassermelone Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Maybe someone has already covered this, but,
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    My problem with this system is that it simply does not tell a story well. The original function of the RPG style game was that of telling a story to the player in an interactive manner.

    So what?

    That may be what RPGs were originally intended for. But genres evolve and genres change despite their designations. But the sole point of games is not necessarily story and so you can't really say not telling a story is bad design.

    If it was, Tetris would have bad design. Quake 3 would have bad design. Lumines would have bad design.

  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    WMain00 wrote: »
    I'd argue that a large problem with Eve is that it suffers from a "epic stories that you'll never be a part of" problem. Alot of these instances of grand stories are read as epic scale tales, but invariably the truth is that they occured on a rather small scale against a collective handful of individuals. Your average grunt, of which 90% of the Eve population is made of, had no real reckoning in the event.

    Don't get me wrong though, I think Eve will outlive all other MMO's on the market currently. It's designed in such a way that could still be going 50 years on.

    Indeed. The thing with multiplayer sandboxes is there's a good chance that you will be a nobody. Like playing a non-sandboxy MMO but without the game trying to give you your own story.

    This is, really, the problem with any actual dynamic content. In the end, you are very very likely not going to be the one who's effecting the dynamic parts.

  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Rogue Coral Springs, FLRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    My problem with this system is that it simply does not tell a story well. The original function of the RPG style game was that of telling a story to the player in an interactive manner.

    I liked Imagine's storyline. You're caught between the warring Messian(religious zealots) and Gaians(chaotic demon followers) factions, and your actions determine which faction you wind up aligned with, if any. It doesn't affect the overall plot much, but it does let you access certain areas(and get discounts).

    Shame it never resolved it. Guess they just want you to go play SMTII for that.

    fiV9i14.jpg
    蒼く咲く華 日は灯り 天に流れる | Kill The Past
  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Maybe someone has already covered this, but,
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    My problem with this system is that it simply does not tell a story well. The original function of the RPG style game was that of telling a story to the player in an interactive manner.

    So what?

    That may be what RPGs were originally intended for. But genres evolve and genres change despite their designations. But the sole point of games is not necessarily story and so you can't really say not telling a story is bad design.

    If it was, Tetris would have bad design. Quake 3 would have bad design. Lumines would have bad design.

    They are moving towards telling better stories though. And in a few different ways. It's just the limitatations of trying to tell a story to millions of different people simultaneously, all at different points in the story, with an automated system are many. It's not that easy.

  • CanadianWolverineCanadianWolverine Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I am curious what those interested in this topic think of this game, Love, developed by one guy IIRC:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TKyQzAR01Q

    And how many people on a Minecraft server do you need before that is considered a MMO?

    steam_sig.png
  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    shryke wrote: »
    WMain00 wrote: »
    I'd argue that a large problem with Eve is that it suffers from a "epic stories that you'll never be a part of" problem. Alot of these instances of grand stories are read as epic scale tales, but invariably the truth is that they occured on a rather small scale against a collective handful of individuals. Your average grunt, of which 90% of the Eve population is made of, had no real reckoning in the event.

    Don't get me wrong though, I think Eve will outlive all other MMO's on the market currently. It's designed in such a way that could still be going 50 years on.

    Indeed. The thing with multiplayer sandboxes is there's a good chance that you will be a nobody. Like playing a non-sandboxy MMO but without the game trying to give you your own story.

    This is, really, the problem with any actual dynamic content. In the end, you are very very likely not going to be the one who's effecting the dynamic parts.
    Having an effect in a dynamic game world is always likely going to have a pretty high barrier to entry. It has to, otherwise it would be meaningless. Yeah, I've read the stories of the newbie Rifter pilot tackling someone and helping his fleet win an important battle. But that was only possible because a number of corp leaders had devoted an unhealthy number of hours to creating a large and powerful alliance that has the manpower and logistical ability to have an effect on the EVE sandbox.

    There is a market for that type of thing, as EVE has shown. But, I'd say 95%+ of MMO players don't have the time nor inclination to put in the required hours and effort to become a "player" in the meta-game. If you want a dynamic game environment where your decisions make a difference, then you need to stick with single-person RPG's . I can't really think of any realistic way to design an MMO where more than a tiny percentage of the player-base can expect their actions to have any meaningful effect on the game world.

    Aetian Jupiter - 41 Gunslinger - The Old Republic
    Rigorous Scholarship

  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Modern Man wrote: »
    shryke wrote: »
    WMain00 wrote: »
    I'd argue that a large problem with Eve is that it suffers from a "epic stories that you'll never be a part of" problem. Alot of these instances of grand stories are read as epic scale tales, but invariably the truth is that they occured on a rather small scale against a collective handful of individuals. Your average grunt, of which 90% of the Eve population is made of, had no real reckoning in the event.

    Don't get me wrong though, I think Eve will outlive all other MMO's on the market currently. It's designed in such a way that could still be going 50 years on.

    Indeed. The thing with multiplayer sandboxes is there's a good chance that you will be a nobody. Like playing a non-sandboxy MMO but without the game trying to give you your own story.

    This is, really, the problem with any actual dynamic content. In the end, you are very very likely not going to be the one who's effecting the dynamic parts.
    Having an effect in a dynamic game world is always likely going to have a pretty high barrier to entry. It has to, otherwise it would be meaningless. Yeah, I've read the stories of the newbie Rifter pilot tackling someone and helping his fleet win an important battle. But that was only possible because a number of corp leaders had devoted an unhealthy number of hours to creating a large and powerful alliance that has the manpower and logistical ability to have an effect on the EVE sandbox.

    There is a market for that type of thing, as EVE has shown. But, I'd say 95%+ of MMO players don't have the time nor inclination to put in the required hours and effort to become a "player" in the meta-game. If you want a dynamic game environment where your decisions make a difference, then you need to stick with single-person RPG's . I can't really think of any realistic way to design an MMO where more than a tiny percentage of the player-base can expect their actions to have any meaningful effect on the game world.

    The "meaningful" part is kind of the stickler.

    Depending on your definition thereof, there's 2 schools of thought I've really seen:

    Phasing (like WoW): Basically, you can permanently effect and change the world ... for you. You change the world, you see the result, but it's basically just for you (and then anyone else who also changed the world). This can work well but does feel kinda gamey.

    Events (like GW2 or a ton of other games really): I used Guild Wars 2 here because they seem to be basing most of the game on this stuff. Basically, you can effect the game world, but someone else can effect it back to something else later. You can conquer town X for your side but then someone can come along and just take it back or something. The gameworld basically switches between various states.

    It again though depends on what you would consider meaningful.

  • CanadianWolverineCanadianWolverine Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Modern Man wrote: »
    I can't really think of any realistic way to design an MMO where more than a tiny percentage of the player-base can expect their actions to have any meaningful effect on the game world.

    Its possible I just posted the names of two games where they are designed to do what you didn't think was possible. There may be more.

    steam_sig.png
  • LawndartLawndart Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I'm curious as to how much of the "storytelling" in EVE actually takes place outside of EVE, in various online forums and whatnot. Why are guild rivalries, shenanigans, and scams in one MMO considered "story" but not in others?

    Not to mention that "yeah, I scammed this dude for umpteen-zillion spacebucks and then told him to go fuck himself and drove his spaceship into a supernova" is not exactly Mass Effect level narrative.

    I do think that plenty of MMOs manage to tell decent episodic stories, but fail to have a really cohesive overarching narrative. Plenty of the story arcs in City Of Heroes are well-crafted Silver Age comic book homages, even if aspects of the entire setting are both stagnant and overly restrictive. Age Of Conan did a decent job of having at least Tortage make some sort of narrative sense, and while it's been quite a while since I've played WoW I remember some quest chains such as the Deadmines having a decent narrative structure.

    Of course, you can completely ignore those stories in most MMOs, where you really can't in a lot of "traditional" videogame RPGs.

  • Modern ManModern Man Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    shryke wrote: »
    Events (like GW2 or a ton of other games really): I used Guild Wars 2 here because they seem to be basing most of the game on this stuff. Basically, you can effect the game world, but someone else can effect it back to something else later. You can conquer town X for your side but then someone can come along and just take it back or something. The gameworld basically switches between various states.
    This is one of the reasons I'm really intrigued by GW2, plus their approach to character classes. If they can deliver this, it'll be a major step forward for MMO design. Phasing is more meh, but it's not a bad compromise if you're not going to go all out in allowing player actions to affect a zone.

    Darkfall also apparently had some interesting approaches in this area. Monster spawns weren't static- over time, that group of goblins grew to become a more permanent and potent threat if you ignored them.

    Aetian Jupiter - 41 Gunslinger - The Old Republic
    Rigorous Scholarship

  • skyknytskyknyt Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited March 2011
    Modern Man wrote: »
    I can't really think of any realistic way to design an MMO where more than a tiny percentage of the player-base can expect their actions to have any meaningful effect on the game world.

    Its possible I just posted the names of two games where they are designed to do what you didn't think was possible. There may be more.

    Now scale those games up by a factor of 16 or 20 and explain to me how they stay coherent concepts.

    Tycho wrote:
    [skyknyt's writing] is like come kind of code that, when comprehended, unfolds into madness in the mind of the reader.
    PSN: skyknyt, Steam: skyknyt
  • nonoffensivenonoffensive Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I think part of the trouble with MMOs is the wide mix of player skill. You have the complete range of people from hardcore min/maxers to casuals all packed together on 1 server. What seems to happen is the game is adjusted to satisfy the most invested players. Suddenly having certain gear isn't good enough. Kind of knowing how to play your character isn't good enough.

    There's a fine line between the reward of experimenting with gameplay to improve yourself and becoming a goddamn professional. Games in general seem to be trending towards higher and higher skill level, or maybe I'm just getting older. Anyway, what seems to happen is there's no room left for fun in any given environment.

    People want to goof off, or do something different for a change, but the game system that has been designed around latency and unexpected internet issues doesn't really allow for any of that. You can't improvise because there is one button on your hotbar filled with 40 different icons that if you don't press it in the next 500 milliseconds your tank is going to die and then the raid is going to wipe. There's no question about which button you should press. A whole crowd of people have already worked it out. The dev team has adjusted the difficulty to make sure the dungeon they just spend 800 man-hours on doesn't get beaten in 1 the next day. And if you want the gear, you are going to have to bring your A game.

    You can go online and watch people play Tetris at world class level. They're funny videos because it looks like a computer is playing it. They are perfect at playing Tetris. Sure the game is relatively simple, that doesn't make Tetris a bad game. You can play Tetris by yourself, you can get lost for a couple minutes in the game and have fun. But there is an optimal way to play Tetris, and playing that way isn't going to be fun for everyone.

    The problem as I see it is making a game where everyone has fun together. People are going to play in different ways and the "RPG" mechanics employed by most MMOs ensures that there are very few effective ways to play. I see it as a problem that emerges from trying to mix episodic gameplay with a persistent environment. You've got a large amount of progression, but the further you get the more your options narrow. Pretty soon you are only doing one thing every night, because its the only way to get better. You want to do something different , but you've invested so much time in your character you don't want to throw it away to try something else. I think the answer is probably giving people more ways to be successful within the game.

    I think this is why achievement are so popular. Someone can look at a giant list of things and find one that looks fun, and strive towards it. This is where it gets complicated, giving people options takes loads of time and money. Someone out there is still going to burn through all those options in 24 hours and get bored.

  • QuidQuid The Fifth Horseman Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Feral wrote: »
    If there were a game that gave me that 5-man heroic dungeon dive experience, without the focus on slogging through progression, I would totally play it.

    Oh my yes. I loved L4D for just this reason. If someone could give me that same fighting experience with classes that can be modified I'd be all over that shit.

    PSN: allenquid
  • DrukDruk Registered User
    edited March 2011
    If you're looking for more story in an MMO, and you're a fan of Dragon Age, you guys do know that Bioware is releasing a Star Wars MMO this year? The devs have repeatedly stated that their main focus for the game is the story. Multiple meaningful decisions when interacting with NPCs, even in a group.

  • EmperorSethEmperorSeth Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Druk wrote: »
    If you're looking for more story in an MMO, and you're a fan of Dragon Age, you guys do know that Bioware is releasing a Star Wars MMO this year? The devs have repeatedly stated that their main focus for the game is the story. Multiple meaningful decisions when interacting with NPCs, even in a group.

    I am intrigued, if hesitant. As my recent experiences between Final Fantasy 13 and Dragon Age 2 have taught me, I've fully gone over to the Western RPG side this generation. Atlus excepted, though technically they haven't done anything this generation on the consoles.

    But my experience with MMOs has been spotty. The only game I've played with any regularity was City of Heroes/Villains. And while it was an okay experience, I never really enjoyed a lot of it. Hunting whole maps for that last Plot Coupon out of 10 was horrible and there were times when the game literally was putting me to sleep. It doesn't help that, in my opinion, the superhero setting is the worst possible one to make an MMO out of, and I sure as hell didn't feel superheroic with nothing changing and a mugger on every corner.

    It's an interesting subject because, were I to win the lottery, making an MMO is up there on my ideal list of ways to blow all that cash. I even spent a lot of my recent free time coming up with the basics of my concept, from the settings to the general gameplay. And yet every thing I hear about the core gameplay on modern MMOs either bore me or horrify me. Even the satirical Let's Play (I love the Shamus Young ones from The Escapist/20 Sided,) make me uncomfortable. The generic "collect x number of item y from monster z" quests, the insipid writing, the hours-long expectations of consecutive gaming, the high-level emphasis on constantly doing raids for a 2% chance of getting a slightly better item. Sure, millions of people play these games...well one game, but I question the value of that number for a product incorporating deliberately addicting rewards and the guilt of abandoning your friends by playing something else.

    So for me, it's not the core gameplay that's the problem, but the trappings around it. I'm even trying to think of ways to get past the "I don't matter in this world" syndrome, and I'm not sure EVE has all the answers to that, either.

    EmperorSeth.png
  • krapst78krapst78 Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    There is actually a lot of "system" innovation going on in MMOGs, even today. It's just a matter of looking in the right places. If you want to see radical shifts in game systems, then you need to widen your exposure. It'd be akin to me denigrating modern music and saying it has stagnated after listening to only Top 40 hits. A lot of novel ideas in MMOGs are being put forward by developers on the fringe, including independent developers (like the game Love mentioned by CanadianWolverine and Mojang's Minecraft), international studios, and in the world of academia.

    It's much rarer to see these large shifts in mass market commercial MMOGs because of the financial risks involved. This isn't to say that larger games aren't innovating. Even WoW, has evolved substantially since its launch, but they've done so in measured steps in order to not alienate their user-base.

    I've been working as a MMOG game designer for the last 10 years and I'm constantly surprised by the creativity of my peers. I've worked on a wide range of projects from small independent projects (I was the game director for Shattered Galaxy) to commercially successful sports MMOs (the FIFA Online series which rivals the popularity of Starcraft in Korea). I've had the fortune to work with tons of awesome people who strive to progress the genre. You might want to check out the projects of my friend Ethan Kennerly. When he was responsible for the game Dark Ages, he would run poetry, philosophy, and art contests that would involve the community. It was a punishable offense in the game if you talked about non-world topic without using an 'out of character' flag. Of course, you'd have to be caught and convicted by the players in the game as the entire in-game government, with it's own judicial and legislative branch, was player run. Ethan made it a habit to hire his team members not from other video game development fields, but from people involved in the LARP scene.

    Really neat and innovative stuff is out there if you're willing to search for it. Even though Russ Chimes' newest Disco House single might not be everyone's cup of tea, a lot of these hidden treasures are still massively invaluable to their core audience.

    Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father prepare to die!
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Quid wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    If there were a game that gave me that 5-man heroic dungeon dive experience, without the focus on slogging through progression, I would totally play it.

    Oh my yes. I loved L4D for just this reason. If someone could give me that same fighting experience with classes that can be modified I'd be all over that shit.

    Oh god. First-person fantasy dungeon delve on XBox Live, multiplayer co-op, with a long-term rich levelling system and a sidekick system to allow inexperienced players to enjoy playing with experienced ones?

    My legs would atrophy and I would die of dehydration.

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • CalixtusCalixtus Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I'm not sure why people think NPC interaction is the way forward. They're, you know, NPCs. They're all over the place in every single single-player game.

    Why would I pay 15 bucks a month for an NPC to recognize my grandeur, if I can get the same experience considerably cheaper from another game?

    Call me a statistical outlier here, but what makes MMOs awesome is the people in them. I'm not saying having multiple dialogue options is bad, it's certainly nice, but it's not a core feature. Or rather, it's not a core feature that is unique to games that think of themselves as MMOs, which means that any of your customers that think it's a core feature, well, you're sort of leaving a massive competitive weakness where a considerably cheaper game can offer your customer the same thing.

    (Related to this is; consider that people tend to forget that WoWs quest/story system was once considered awesome. No one gives a shit these days, because it set the standard so completely people even forgot it used to be worse. For all this talk of "engaging narrative"; These were all things said about WoW in the early days. A few years running, no one hardly thinks it's worth mentioning.)


    As for affecting the game world; I honestly don't think it's that hard. You need a good population to land ratio, some limiters to prevent people from spreading all over the place, and you've basically got the rough spots already. The only thing that matters is that you set the right limits.

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  • TetraTetra Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    My problem with MMOs is that their PVP design seems intentionally shallow and flawed. What do I mean by that? Well, in almost every other game that pits you against another human being, both players are intended to start on an equal playing field (not counting skill). In Poker, you start with the same number of cards; in Chess you start with the same number of pieces; in Starcraft you start with similar initial buildings and workers, etc.

    MMOs, though, willingly allow players the option to bypass these conditions -- to gain a one-up over their competitors -- usually by investing more time (hence more money) into the game. And when this happens, player versus player interactions usually become one-sided and frankly boring. Now, maybe when both players invest the same amount of time into the game and are on an equal footing, the game starts to regain an interesting dynamic, but in every MMO I've tried that rarely happens. You just get different tiers of players, and higher tier players beat up the medium tier players who beat up the poor schmucks who might as well not even show up. Group vs Group interactions (perhaps) have a little more leeway in this regard, but in general the advantage gained by investing more time makes fights incredibly skewed.

    For me, a person who enjoys going head to head against other players in any game, this is absolutely rotten core gameplay, but it works for the purposes of making the company money. I'm not even sure that an MMO that didn't adhere to this policy could be profitable, which is why I've sort of just written off MMOs for now. I know a few games tried to level the playing field a bit, but in the end it seems they always come back to the "invest more time in me and I'll make it worth your while" schtick.

  • devCharlesdevCharles Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I think this thread is premature because of two games on the horizon. Guild Wars 2 is attempting to have gameplay that is more in line with a more action based RPG. They also are planning to introduce a dynamic world that will actually allow players to impact the landscape of the game. Those two things could introduce a whole new way of looking at MMOs, especially if GW2 remains a buy to play model instead of a subscription model.

    The other game is, of course, Star Wars: The Old Republic. It seems like the goal of Bioware is to recreate the tabletop RP experience in group play with multiplayer dialog and allowing the decisions you make for your character to guide the story path the character takes.

    Basically, if both of these games do well, I am really excited for the generation of MMOs following these two games in a few years as both of those elements combined could create something spectacular. Personally, I would love to see a game with EVE's ruleset that didn't have their skill point thing and had some better gameplay put into a different type of environment.

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  • zerg rushzerg rush Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Pixel Poppers: Awesome by Proxy: Addicted to Fake Achievement

    I want to share this article. This is one of my favorite articles on the subject of RPGs and MMOs. It was one of the driving forces behind finally quitting WoW after being a hardcore (as in top 10 guild) raider. Here's the meat of the article, but I urge you to read the whole thing in the link above.
    When I was old enough to care whether I won or lost at games, but still too young to be any good at them, I decided RPGs were better than action games. After all, I could play Contra for hours and still be terrible at it - while if I played Dragon Warrior III for the same amount of time, my characters would gain levels and be much more capable of standing up to whatever threats they encountered. To progress in an action game, the player has to improve, which is by no means guaranteed - but to progress in an RPG, the characters have to improve, which is inevitable.

    [...]

    Then, one day in a Child Psychology course, I learned something interesting.

    It turns out there are two different ways people respond to challenges. Some people see them as opportunities to perform - to demonstrate their talent or intellect. Others see them as opportunities to master - to improve their skill or knowledge.

    [...]

    In childhood, it is remarkably easy to instill one orientation or the other. It all comes down to the type of praise you receive. If you perform well on a task and are told, "Wow, you must be smart!" it teaches you to value your skill, and thus fosters a performance orientation. But if instead you are told, "Wow, you must have worked hard!" it teaches you to value your effort and thus fosters a mastery orientation.

    What does this have to do with videogames? Well.

    [...]

    RPGs are many things, but they are almost never hard. As I realized in childhood, the vast majority of RPG challenges can be defeated simply by putting in time. RPGs reward patience, not skill. Almost never is the player required to work hard - only the characters need improve. Failing to defeat Zeromus might mean your strategy is flawed, but it also might mean your level is too low. Guess which problem is easier to remedy?

    Yet while the player is mostly marking time, the characters are accomplishing epic, heroic deeds, saving lives and defeating evil. Even when the player is not explicitly praised for this, the game makes its attitude clear. "You're awesome!" it says, in essence. "You're so strong and noble and heroic!" The player is showered with praise for non-achievements. It's like porn for the performance oriented.

    The characters make all the effort, but the player receives all the accolades. The game doesn't have to say "Wow, you must be smart!" to train the player to value impressiveness that was not hard-won - even when the praise is for effort rather than skill, it is a lie. The player has expended only time.

    [...]

    When I learned about performance and mastery orientations, I realized with growing horror just what I'd been doing for most of my life. Going through school as a "gifted" kid, most of the praise I'd received had been of the "Wow, you must be smart!" variety. I had very little ability to follow through or persevere, and my grades tended to be either A's or F's, as I either understood things right away (such as, say, calculus) or gave up on them completely (trigonometry). I had a serious performance orientation. And I was reinforcing it every time I played an RPG.

    I could point to characters and story as much as I liked. But I couldn't lie to myself - not anymore. Most of my enjoyment of Super Mario RPG, of Skies of Arcadia, of Kingdom Hearts - came from illegitimate sources. It came from overidentifying with the heroes and claiming their accomplishments as my own. It came from abusing them for fake achievement. I felt sick.

    [...]

    Imagine you were watching Lord of the Rings, but there was something wrong with your DVD player and you had to manually advance scenes by hitting a button. And you might have to watch the Battle of the Pelennor Fields a few times before you could make it past the Battle of the Black Gate. Periodically Sam or Aragorn would turn to another character and say something like, "You are so brave and heroic for coming along and helping me. I couldn't do this without you." But these moments would always be filmed in perspective shots, with the characters speaking directly to the camera.

    Would you roll your eyes, wishing they'd get on with it? Or would you feel a small but uncontrollable flush of pride? And what would it say about you if you did?

    MMOs take only time. As long as you're not terribad you can achieve anything in the MMO universe with enough time. You might not have fun after the first time you run a dungeon or participate in a raid, but your character is making progress. Your character's numbers are getting bigger! Other people can see how much bigger your numbers are than their numbers are and you can feel their awe and jealousy. You meanwhile have spent the last several hours playing a game you don't particularly enjoy, losing time you could have spent improving yourself via gym/studying/going out/etc.

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