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MMORPGs are bad game design

DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
edited April 2011 in Debate and/or Discourse
First off, this is not a thread in which we debate addiction in and of itself. I expect that the conversation will sometimes stray into related topics, but I would like to leave the conversation as to whether it is healthy to spend X amount of time playing games to another thread.

Instead, I would be interested in seeing discussion on and debate around the actual market of MMORPG's and the things that seem to be design law inherent to the genre. For example: 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."

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. MMO's, though they may have fascinating story, utterly divorce that story from the gameplay. In my experience, I almost never get any kind of emotional experience from an MMO. There are components of the game that, if I approach them almost as reading a graphic novel, separate from the gameplay, are compelling. However, in the course of actual gameplay, I don't actually get this benefit.

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.

(I should also insert the caveat that there are certainly exceptions to some of my assertions. EVE players will offer that game as dispute to many of my claims, and they are certainly right, though I just can't find EVE particularly "fun." Claims are really focused around the fantasy and light sci-fi MMO's that glut the market on a regular basis. Certainly we should call attention to games which have somehow broken the bad trends described. However, there still remains a dominant market of games which seem to be a repetition of the same, old design ideas.)

Additionally, (and as a reminder separate from debate regarding addiction) modern MMO's seem predicated on the idea that the best kind of game is one that keeps the player playing forever. Most of these games, if you really intend to play through the majority of the content, require that you devote most or all of your leisure time to them. With single player games, or even casual one-off competition games like FPS's or arcade fighters, a player still must devote their time and energy to a single game to become "good" at it.

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. Take raiding, for example, which first became really defined as such in Everquest and has continued since. Because of the nature of requiring a large community to work together to use this content, a natural schedule of play arises in which a player must log in at pre-defined times, scheduled out by week, to participate in the final tiers of content. While a competitive 1v1 RTS player must certainly play regularly and often to be competitive in his tier of play, he is not as beholden to a rigorous, predefined schedule of play like the raider, who not only has to log in to scheduled nightly raids, but must also invest time in grinding content to stay competitive with gear, enhancements, potions, money, etc.

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've passionately followed the MMO market since my days with Dark Age of Camelot and played just about everything that's come out. Some games (Guild Wars and EVE as major examples, hell, even Second Life if you want to think of companies that really tried to go outside the furry box) really tried to shake off the old mold. By and large, though, I feel like there is less and less experimentation in the market, and it disappoints me. Many a nerd has always held very high hopes for the possibilities that digital worlds hold for us, and I'm constantly awaiting the day when someone brings us something positively ground-breaking.

What is this I don't even.
Darkewolfe on
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Posts

  • RobmanRobman Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    WoW is hella fun, that's a fact

    Raging about the unchanging game world and how the "plot" only advances with each major content patch won't change that. It just means that WoW-type games aren't fun for you.

    Fortunately, there are lots of alternatives out there for you.

    Robman on
  • ForarForar #432 Toronto, Ontario, CanadaRegistered User regular
    edited March 2011
    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?

    My guess? Money.

    Wasn't it estimated a while back that between designing, creating, implementing, advertising, supporting and maintaining a game that could challenge WoW would be an 8 to 9 figure investment over the course of several years of development? It's a big risk, and requires a fairly large subscriber base paying into it in order to merely break even, let alone make money off it.

    A competing factor is that people are creatures of habit. Finding the right balance of familiarity and innovation is difficult; make it too similar and "it's just WoW re-skinned", make it too unique and you risk alienating your base, many of whom don't necessarily want to abandon Exp, Gold and Levels. As much as you or I might appreciate a game that forged a new path, I highly doubt that millions of us exist and are willing to pay the bills for the months or years it might take to recoup those costs.

    Combined, there is definitely a push to take what WoW has done to the MMO market and have a different enough approach to classes, PVE and/or PVP content, endgame and whatnot to draw people in, but time is a finite resource, so you either have to try to pull gamers from WoW/other games (and for more than just a 1 month "this sucks" test) or expand the market. While certainly possible in both accounts, doing so in the hundreds of thousands or millions of players is no small feat.

    I played CoH for about a year before I got into WoW, which I played for 4 or 5 years. Glanced at ST:O for a month, Warhammer Online for a month, and have pondered a few others here and there.

    Forar on
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  • AtomikaAtomika Or, The Whale Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Similarly, I never understood the long-term attraction to games like SimCity, The Sims, or FarmVille.

    It's like, at what point are you done? What is the goal? My wife rushes home from work every day to make sure her crops get watered, and I'm all, "Why? What the fuck for?"

    Atomika on
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    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.

    For instance: In many of the best games I've ever played, the mechanics of actual gameplay (be they combat, puzzle solving, etc.) were fluid and provided me all the feedback I needed through sound or visuals directed by the art of the game. WoW has done much better at this than most other MMO's, but they're all still guilty of their design. In God of War, a well respected game in many circles, the user experience was intuitive. "That boss is telegraphing the next event to me, by performing a certain action and indicating visually or through sound in an aesthetically pleasing manner that I will want to dodge to the left now." Too often in MMO gameplay, I feel more as though I am fighting against the UI, rather than the enemy I am facing. There are dozens of effects which all look similar, and I have to consult either an icon or my previous knowledge of the encounter to know that the effect I'm looking at is doing damage to me when I move, for instance. It's not intuitive, and it isn't seamless. MMO's rely on GUI elements to keep me informed, rather that elements in the game world, I guess. I am forced to remove myself from the game world to consult that information.

    MMO's take shortcuts, like giving us a "target's casting bar" rather than giving us a way to deduce that information from the game world we see on screen. This is the kind of stuff I'm talking about when I say bad game design. Not that the games have no satisfaction or value to them, they certainly do. The numbers are indisputable. But I don't think they're living up to their potential. They rely on the uniqueness of a collaborative online digital community (something that is fantastic) to sell their boxes, without being driven to innovate in actual game design and bring us new and unique gameplay that really leverages that system.

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
  • XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    "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."

    This is almost every game ever.

    Alternately, 'Jump on Platforms here, then there', 'Race on the race track here, now there', Solve a puzzle here, then there', etc here, now etc there.

    Xaquin on
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Most MMO limitations seem to be a product of the MMO format itself.

    We just don't have the global network or computer hardware to make them work the way we want them to so we're stuck with the current paradigm.

    Figure out how to get say, reliable 100ms latency anywhere in the 1st world and I think we'd see some interesting changes.

    electricitylikesme on
  • WMain00WMain00 Registered User
    edited March 2011
    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?

    Because currently new ideas don't catch on. Players prefer familiarity within the MMO mechanics system. The trick however is to make a game that has familiar mechanics, without becoming too much of a copycat.

    That's the current trend, but i'd estimate that WoW's time is almost up when it comes to it being the defacto choice for how a MMO should be molded. Players are now starting to get a bit bored of the same old thing, and this will result in MMO development trying out new ideas.

    I'm optimistic The Old Republic will replace WoW as the standard, but it remains to be seen whether they'll try out new innovations, or stick to old tried and tested formulas.

    WMain00 on
  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    meh... it's just a giant multi-million person Skinner box. You push the button and you get your treat. It's really no more difficult then that. And if some rats...err... players... keep pushing the button till they die, well, that just means the treat is really really good.

    On the other hand, I'm hoping Star Wars The Old Republic breaks this stalemate.

    Sentry on
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  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Most MMO limitations seem to be a product of the MMO format itself.

    We just don't have the global network or computer hardware to make them work the way we want them to so we're stuck with the current paradigm.

    Figure out how to get say, reliable 100ms latency anywhere in the 1st world and I think we'd see some interesting changes.

    APB has attempted to do real-time gunfights with manual, third-person shooter gameplay, and high speed car chases.

    Latency issues were massive with that game and it generally came down to whoever had the better connection speed won gunfights.

    So, like you said, until the network infrastructure is tighter and more global, it will stand as a pretty hefty restriction on MMORPG gameplay.

    Pony on
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    WMain00 wrote: »
    Because currently new ideas don't catch on. Players prefer familiarity within the MMO mechanics system. The trick however is to make a game that has familiar mechanics, without becoming too much of a copycat.

    This also fascinates me. This resistance to change. I heard a good argument the other day. Why is that the default tutorial of every MMO, and the default key-binding, sets you up to move using WASD. Every competitive MMO player knows that WASD movement is wrong. That is is a severe limitation to the player to try to play the game that way. Why do games continue to build the initial interface in this manner? Is it that new players would become quickly frustrated if their pre-determined expectations for WASD movement weren't met at start up?

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Although I will say, the lack of dynamic combat focussed MMOs has always been slightly weird to me. Even if PvP is not your bag, it seems like there'd be a big opportunity to basically run it as "the world" versus GMs playing a large-scale RTS.

    Of course all these ideas basically require very different notions of advancement to work. Still, I loved Shattered Galaxy back in the day.

    electricitylikesme on
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Although I will say, the lack of dynamic combat focussed MMOs has always been slightly weird to me. Even if PvP is not your bag, it seems like there'd be a big opportunity to basically run it as "the world" versus GMs playing a large-scale RTS.

    Of course all these ideas basically require very different notions of advancement to work. Still, I loved Shattered Galaxy back in the day.

    Alternate skill advancement... That's probably the most basic change I'd like to see more of. Star Wars Galxies the original tried it. Guild Wars made a monumental change that was honestly ground-breaking, in my opinion, by having collectible skills. I understand that Funcom's Secret World is going to have a non-XP based skill system which is somehow reminiscent of collecting cards. These things all seem awesome to me, and I really hope to see more changes like this. But we're still not seeing a landscape that is in any way particularly impacted by the presence of players in most games.

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I'm basically done with MMORPGs. I still play City of Heroes, because I've played it basically since Beta and I'm into the community and shit.

    Plus City of Heroes has player-generated content, missions, enemies, etc. and no other MMORPG has anything like that, so getting to "DM" for my friends by generating custom missions and storylines for them is pretty cool.

    But I am basically done with anything that is calling itself a "MMORPG" before it even comes out. TOR? Don't care about it. I am done with RPGs in general and the only RPGs I can stomach anymore are ones that rip most of the RPG elements out (ME2, DA2, etc.) or games that are actually a different genre entirely with some RPG bits tacked on (Borderlands, Saints Row 2).

    MMORPGs, for me, are a poisoned genre. They just scream "anti-fun". So, I'm not interested in the genre or what's happening with it or what games are coming out for it. Game developers would be smart to just abandon that clumsy acronym altogether, and uses phrases like "Competitive Online Game" or something, because it allows you to have more reasonable expectations with consumers, people don't automatically compare your game to WoW, and you can just make a good game without catering to a bunch of bullshit.

    Pony on
  • YogoYogo Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Similarly, I never understood the long-term attraction to games like SimCity, The Sims, or FarmVille.

    It's like, at what point are you done? What is the goal? My wife rushes home from work every day to make sure her crops get watered, and I'm all, "Why? What the fuck for?"

    Two Words: Emotional Investment.

    The more time we invest in a certain object, which has the affordances of rewarding us materially or mentally, the more we will feel compelled to invest more time into it. A real world example would be a child which grows over time and has the affordances of rewarding us mentally (first) and materially (second). The flowers in your wife's FarmWhille garden may reward her in similar ways.

    This also applies to MMO's intrinsic game design. It is designed to compel you to play more. The more you play, the more you are rewarded. The more time invested, the stronger your emotional attachment to your virtual world object, the more money the developers are going to see.

    Yogo on
  • kildykildy Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    WMain00 wrote: »
    Because currently new ideas don't catch on. Players prefer familiarity within the MMO mechanics system. The trick however is to make a game that has familiar mechanics, without becoming too much of a copycat.

    This also fascinates me. This resistance to change. I heard a good argument the other day. Why is that the default tutorial of every MMO, and the default key-binding, sets you up to move using WASD. Every competitive MMO player knows that WASD movement is wrong. That is is a severe limitation to the player to try to play the game that way. Why do games continue to build the initial interface in this manner? Is it that new players would become quickly frustrated if their pre-determined expectations for WASD movement weren't met at start up?

    This isn't MMO related, it's just expectations related.

    Every game with non click movement comes with WASD out of the box. It's been like that since FPS games and works fine for that, it just fails when you need to press more buttons than 1-5 regularly. But when I open a game and have player control, I have some basic gameplay expectations before the tutorial even starts. I expect either WASD, my mouse, or the arrow keys will move. I usually expect that I or B will open my inventory or bags. I expect that C will open my character display.

    Basically, just like FPS games before them, we've come to expect a lot of basic keyboard interactions, and changing that will just be annoying as hell over time.

    As for the main thread on MMO gameplay: deep, involved storylines where you feel emotionally attacked are an RPG thing, not related to the MMO concept of it. The MMO medium makes involved storytelling harder (due to the volume of players, you can't exactly explain why that building is ALWAYS on fire, so your players get the emotional trigger of watching an NPC they like's house burning down. WoW's phasing system is about as good as we're getting so far on that aspect, and even it's pretty lame). But go to X, do Y and the plot is barely here is .. pretty much a hallmark of every non RPG game ever. Can anyone tell me the plot of nethack? Was nethack horrible game design?

    kildy on
  • AtomikaAtomika Or, The Whale Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    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.

    Atomika on
  • WMain00WMain00 Registered User
    edited March 2011
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    WMain00 wrote: »
    Because currently new ideas don't catch on. Players prefer familiarity within the MMO mechanics system. The trick however is to make a game that has familiar mechanics, without becoming too much of a copycat.

    This also fascinates me. This resistance to change. I heard a good argument the other day. Why is that the default tutorial of every MMO, and the default key-binding, sets you up to move using WASD. Every competitive MMO player knows that WASD movement is wrong. That is is a severe limitation to the player to try to play the game that way. Why do games continue to build the initial interface in this manner? Is it that new players would become quickly frustrated if their pre-determined expectations for WASD movement weren't met at start up?

    Fundementally yes, a player will end up frustrated if they find certain keys don't perform certain functions. For instance, if player is commonly used to the crouch key being control, but sometimes its C. Or the Use key being Enter instead of E. These are functions that cause the player to become slightly frustrated when playing the game.

    A player expects a particular set of mechanics within gaming that, if they're changed, will lead to the player becoming frustrated at the game.

    WMain00 on
  • XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    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.

    so it's fun?

    Xaquin on
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Xaquin 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.

    so it's fun?

    Hurts after the 3rd time in a day.

    electricitylikesme on
  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    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.

    But the entirety of all MMORPGs are hinged on those basic concepts, so even if they had this amazing storyline with ongoing changes to the world or whatever

    I would still not want to play the game.

    Pony on
  • AtomikaAtomika Or, The Whale Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Xaquin 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.

    so it's fun?

    Sure, it can be.

    Doesn't mean I want to spend a lot of time doing it, though.


    And specifically with MMORPGs, every gameplay mechanic can be (and has been) better reproduced within the the single player/LAN party format, with the exception of the long-term social aspect. Games like Fallout 3 or Dragon Age still do much of what MMORPGs do, but manage to tell a story and set a logical endpoint with goals. That's just what I like in a game.

    Atomika on
  • Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Sentry wrote: »
    meh... it's just a giant multi-million person Skinner box. You push the button and you get your treat. It's really no more difficult then that. And if some rats...err... players... keep pushing the button till they die, well, that just means the treat is really really good.

    This. If you think about it too much, it seems really creepy.

    For a non-MMO example, I played Miner Dig Deep and found it addictive, although all you do is go down into a mine free of enemies, harvest ore, return to the surface, sell the ore, and buy more lamp oil so you can go back down into the mine and harvest more ore just so you can sell it for more oil so you can go back down and get more ore ad infinitum.

    I feel like games should be more about constant excitement and fun than an endless cycle of addiction with only minimal pay-off.

    Hexmage-PA on
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  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I wonder what OP thinks the goal of game design is, if not to get people to want to play your game.
    So finally the ultimate question: Why is there so little innovation or experimentation of game mechanics in the MMO market?

    The answer is that of course, there actually is innovation and experimentation going on all the time, which is why we all aren't still playing ultima online. But I suspect you really meant "why has WoW gone so long with effectively no mass market competition?" And the answer to that question is that they're really good at making their game, and introducing a new game that can immediately compete on equal footing is enormously difficult and cost-prohibitive.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Xaquin 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.

    so it's fun?

    Sure, it can be.

    Doesn't mean I want to spend a lot of time doing it, though.


    And specifically with MMORPGs, every gameplay mechanic can be (and has been) better reproduced within the the single player/LAN party format, with the exception of the long-term social aspect. Games like Fallout 3 or Dragon Age still do much of what MMORPGs do, but manage to tell a story and set a logical endpoint with goals. That's just what I like in a game.

    A point of deviation between those two is, in a single-player game you are the only person doing those quests. You are the only person doing those storylines.

    So changing the game world in response to your actions, have an overarching villain that you defeat, the satisfaction of victory, all that is easy because you're the only one doing it.

    In a MMORPG, you can only achieve this sort of feeling with instancing/phasing, and it's just not the same. You still have other dudes, running around, forming parties to do the set of quests you just did. It takes the oomph out.

    MMORPG idealists (people who actually have all kinds of ideals of what MMORPGs "could" be) are all "but I want an immersive, dynamic world where I see other people running around doing their own adventures and stuff!"

    Yeah well, if you also want in-game quests and storylines, those have to be repeatable for other people, which inevitably leads to a feeling that nothing you do matters.

    There's only one MMORPG on the market that actually follows through on the whole "dynamic, living world where everyone is a real part of an ongoing story" promise of MMORPGs.

    And that's EVE Online, where there's barely any "PVE" to speak of and the game is entirely focused on PVP amongst the territorial and political disputes of the various player-run corporations and systems.

    EVE actually developed a pretty great model for how to run an "open world" MMORPG. I don't mean EVE's gameplay, which alienates a lot of people.

    I mean the central concept of EVE having a static, central, "safe" place where noobs can learn the ropes, do some mob-hunting to get basic gear, etc. before they venture out into the "wilds" of player-run territory. That's where the real game of EVE begins, and it's a part of the game a lot of people don't see in 14 day demos or whatever so they just get the impression the game is this boring-ass mining simulator.

    Pony on
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Although I will say, the lack of dynamic combat focussed MMOs has always been slightly weird to me. Even if PvP is not your bag, it seems like there'd be a big opportunity to basically run it as "the world" versus GMs playing a large-scale RTS.

    Of course all these ideas basically require very different notions of advancement to work. Still, I loved Shattered Galaxy back in the day.

    Alternate skill advancement... That's probably the most basic change I'd like to see more of. Star Wars Galxies the original tried it. Guild Wars made a monumental change that was honestly ground-breaking, in my opinion, by having collectible skills. I understand that Funcom's Secret World is going to have a non-XP based skill system which is somehow reminiscent of collecting cards. These things all seem awesome to me, and I really hope to see more changes like this. But we're still not seeing a landscape that is in any way particularly impacted by the presence of players in most games.

    Oh, we've seen it. Asheron's Call was big into it, and even WoW dabbled in it a bit back in the day.

    Do you know what the rub is? Having a big dynamic game world that's constantly changing actually kind of sucks. The idea that you can be a hero and change the world in a way everybody else will recognize sounds awesome until you remember that only one person or one group of people can actually have that authentic experience. And since you probably can't design original content fast enough to keep up with a ravenous playerbase, you have them repeat it. This is how you get a static world.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I also think people in this thread are getting unreasonably hung up on terminology.

    The gamespace in what we colloquially call an "MMORPG" is really a spectacularly bad environment for "role playing." This is because role playing ultimately depends on shared expectations, and people who play these games have radically different expectations in terms of immersion (everything from "lolrp" to folks who never want to break character.) Chuck'em all in a pot and the odds you'll get genuine role-playing out of it are vanishingly small.

    These games, fundamentally and mechanically, are about collaborative problem solving. You can't complete all the content on your own, so you have to get together with some number of other people to leverage your various synergistic abilities in a way that overcomes set challenges. When it's done well it presents a lot of social and gameplay challenges that are really fun and gratifying to overcome, they just have little to nothing to do with "role playing."

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  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Although I will say, the lack of dynamic combat focussed MMOs has always been slightly weird to me. Even if PvP is not your bag, it seems like there'd be a big opportunity to basically run it as "the world" versus GMs playing a large-scale RTS.

    Of course all these ideas basically require very different notions of advancement to work. Still, I loved Shattered Galaxy back in the day.

    Alternate skill advancement... That's probably the most basic change I'd like to see more of. Star Wars Galxies the original tried it. Guild Wars made a monumental change that was honestly ground-breaking, in my opinion, by having collectible skills. I understand that Funcom's Secret World is going to have a non-XP based skill system which is somehow reminiscent of collecting cards. These things all seem awesome to me, and I really hope to see more changes like this. But we're still not seeing a landscape that is in any way particularly impacted by the presence of players in most games.

    Oh, we've seen it. Asheron's Call was big into it, and even WoW dabbled in it a bit back in the day.

    Do you know what the rub is? Having a big dynamic game world that's constantly changing actually kind of sucks. The idea that you can be a hero and change the world in a way everybody else will recognize sounds awesome until you remember that only one person or one group of people can actually have that authentic experience. And since you probably can't design original content fast enough to keep up with a ravenous playerbase, you have them repeat it. This is how you get a static world.

    Or, you end up with a world like EVE's, where players simply own and control territory and resources and entire star systems, and the game's "storyline" is a natural product of war and political machinations between these factions

    Like, see this map?
    influence.png

    That's EVE's universe currently. That map is dynamically generated. Those giant colored blobs are player-controlled territories.

    EVE has all kinds of stories in it. Player stories. The downfall of Shrike's Titan. The treachery that brought down Band of Brothers and ended a three year long war with Goonswarm. Massive fleet battles. Heroism. Subterfuge.

    These are not in-game storylines created by some devs. This was the result of having a "dynamic, persistent world" that the players took control of and made their own stories with.

    Pony on
  • SyphonBlueSyphonBlue Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    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?

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  • AtomikaAtomika Or, The Whale Registered User regular
    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 used my 1-month freebie on Warcraft, and found it incredibly dull. It's just not for me.

    Atomika on
  • kildykildy Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    MMO Sandbox games have a massive dollar risk to them. EVE is relatively successful (though from the players talking about it, the success is in spite of the game, the technology, and the development staff), and a completely different form of game.

    It's also entirely reliant on players creating the desire to keep playing. The risk is that you make a sandbox, a few people show up and don't make anything interesting with it, and never attract that critical mass of people that you need to keep things happening.

    Plus, isn't the vast majority of eve not actually involved in that map at all? I haven't looked at the statistics in years, but last time I checked at least half the playerbase never left highsec.

    kildy on
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    yes, I'm familiar with how EVE works. I also don't think it really is what folks are describing when they say they want an MMO with a "dynamic, changing world" or whatever. It's also a niche game, which kind of reinforces the point I was making.

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  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    I also think people in this thread are getting unreasonably hung up on terminology.

    The gamespace in what we colloquially call an "MMORPG" is really a spectacularly bad environment for "role playing." This is because role playing ultimately depends on shared expectations, and people who play these games have radically different expectations in terms of immersion (everything from "lolrp" to folks who never want to break character.) Chuck'em all in a pot and the odds you'll get genuine role-playing out of it are vanishingly small.

    These games, fundamentally and mechanically, are about collaborative problem solving. You can't complete all the content on your own, so you have to get together with some number of other people to leverage your various synergistic abilities in a way that overcomes set challenges. When it's done well it presents a lot of social and gameplay challenges that are really fun and gratifying to overcome, they just have little to nothing to do with "role playing."

    This is something to chew over. I think you're definitely right. MMORPG's as we define them are mostly geared more toward group collaboration in conquering an abstract goal (continue to press these four buttons while moving to places where the floor is not purple) versus other things we might associate under the words "role-playing." I also think that MMORPG's lately have diminished the impact of these social events by automating participation in systems. For a wide variety of reasons, people spend less time talking (typing) in games with strangers than they used to, as the market leaders have determined that streamlining the players pipeline to rewards makes them happier.

    Darkewolfe on
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  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    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.

    Darkewolfe on
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  • PonyPony Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Okay, this is a little tangential, but it is related to the current topic, so bear with me.

    There's basically a rather large gulf between what "RPG" means in console/computer games, and what "RPG" means in tabletop games.

    Video game RPGs came from tabletop RPGs. Before any of those games existed on PCs or gaming consoles, there was Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop RPGs, with their hit points and level-ups and +1 swords.

    This isn't new information to any of you. You all know this. But, there's a weird thing that happened as tabletop RPGs and video game RPGs went in divergent evolutionary directions.

    An intrinsic component of tabletop RPGs is actually roleplaying. What separates D&D from say, Warhammer, is you are playing as some guy, who has a personality and backstory and viewpoints that are (possibly) quite different from your own. When you make decisions in a tabletop RPG, you're making them "in character", you're thinking how your character would think in that situation, you do things that make sense for the character and not so much based on what you personally would do in that situation. You use your imagination and think outside yourself for a moment, and that's the essence of the "roleplaying" part of the roleplaying game.

    Video game RPGs did not, originally, emulate that aspect of tabletop games. What they emulated was the game mechanics of tabletop RPGs. The hit points and the leveling up and the buying health potions and all that. Managing your inventory and skill points and picking up new weapons as loot and all that shit. That's what defined video game RPGs and still does.

    When a person says Borderlands is a "FPS with RPG elements", they don't mean that you get to get into the psyche of Roland the Soldier and talk to NPCs and make choices in the game based on what you envision Roland to think like.

    No, there's absolutely none of that in Borderlands. I actually had to go check the Borderlands wiki to find the name of the Soldier guy because there really isn't any choices or dialogue options to speak of in the game. It's actually a fairly linear FPS game.

    But! You do level up, and acquire new and better gear, and you put points into skill trees. Those are considered "RPG elements" in video game parlance.

    What I've personally come to realize over the years is I actually hate most RPG elements. I hate level ups and replacing your +1 sword with a +2 sword and putting 2 skill points into Skullfucking to unlock Advanced Skullfucking. I hate that shit.

    But what do I love? Roleplaying. I like actually getting into a fictional character's head and playing as that character, especially when it's a character who is (in whole or in large part) my creation.

    It's why I love Mass Effect, and Dragon Age, and Knights of the Old Republic, and shit let's just say "BioWare Games" and make it simple.

    Those games have roleplaying. Is it usually limited to a handful of dialogue choices per conversation? Yeah, usually, but those choices make for replayability and unique experiences. Those games also usually feature pretty critical plot choices, usually based on some kind of moral quandary (do you help the rebels, or slaughter them all? etc.)

    So it's more than just allowing me to alter the story. It's allowing me to alter the story as my character, making choices internally consistent with the character I have created in my imagination.

    That is a roleplaying game. You don't need deep inventory management and complex skill trees to make a game a roleplaying game. Just let me roleplay. In fact, the less of the residual "junk DNA" you carry over from video game RPGs' Dungeons & Dragons heritage, the better! I don't even like Dungeons & Dragons!

    Thus far, I have seen no MMORPG that truly emulates the actual roleplaying experience of some of the single-player games I've mentioned. City of Heroes, with its most recent Going Rogue expansion, comes closest of MMORPGs that are currently released. They added morality choices and dialogue trees (simplistic ones, but they're there) and branching storylines that can go in different directions based on what your character would do. It's one of the reasons I came back to CoH after a long hiatus from MMORPGs.

    The Old Republic (hilariously enough, also from BioWare) is promising to have this same level of roleplaying and are making it a major marketing feature. That's... nice, I guess, but there's just too much else about it being a MMORPG that leaves me out in the cold and makes me uninterested.

    But, it's a good start. If TOR is successful, maybe it will set a trend for other MMORPGs to actually include roleplaying.

    Pony on
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Why is it that you think development is stagnating

    some new MMO that's trying to do some new thing comes out like, every three months

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  • Descendant XDescendant X 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.

    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?

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  • PonyPony 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.

    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.

    Pony on
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited March 2011
    Why is it that you think development is stagnating

    some new MMO that's trying to do some new thing comes out like, every three months

    They aren't making any core changes, though. They're certainly including a few new design elements, but it's still mostly variation across a board of options. How do you get your kill quests? Do you get them from a stationary NPC? Do you get them from a generated event in a space (rifts/PQ's)? How much ability do you have to swap out your skill sets? Small changes that aren't really changing the gameplay experience, just changing the pattern of experiencing that gameplay slightly.

    Maybe the question really is terminology. What is Massive? Are some of the modern shooter games we're playing really more like MMO's? Was Blur an MMO?

    Darkewolfe on
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  • Descendant XDescendant X 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.

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  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'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.

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