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Reader Comments (10)

Posted: Apr 16th 2008 2:33PM (Unverified) said

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I think the faction grinds in wow and other games of its sort are just lazy ways for developers to introduce content. “We need more stuff for people to do! I got it, let have them kill 10,000 monsters to get some new bracers. That’ll keep them busy for a while.”

No matter how they dress it up your still just grinding your life away for easily replaced insignificant rewards. So factions are just another tool for a mmo developer to implement to introduce content where there is none. (Although I would argue that grinding does not = content, but that’s a whole other topic.)

I should mention in EQ2 you can switch from your good faction to the evil one and vice versa by completing a long quest chain. That’s a good example of a meaningful faction mechanic where your decision has real impact on how you play the game. Just wanted to throw that out there.

Posted: Apr 16th 2008 1:38PM (Unverified) said

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Yep, yep. I mentioned the betrayal quests, and I think they're really cool. Honestly, I'd love to play a Night Elf on the Horde (I hate the ways Tauren druids look) or an orc on the Alliance.
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Posted: Apr 16th 2008 2:10PM Scopique said

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It's funny that when talking about how NOT to do factions, you only talk of WoW, but when talking about how you SHOULD do factions, you mention anyone else. Telling? I think so.

The problem with MMOs (at least according to Blizzard) is that all avenues must be open to all players of similar build at one point or another in the life of that avatar. It's not JUST that you can't affect the game world, but that you can't affect the game world because someone would cry foul. It's this baseline thinking that makes WoW's factions worthless.

Indeed, as was mentioned both here and in other comments in the previous article, factions are representitive of opposing groups. When you do something nice for one group, you should make the other group angry. When you are held in high esteem with one group, it's natual to assume that the other faction is going to want to curb-stomp you.

The notion that all you get from improved faction is better loot is assanine and, as Jargo said, lazy. Factions should allow access to different areas, or preclude you from reaching certain areas. They should allow better JOBS, because the more a faction trusts you, the more access you should have to more important people within that faction. The reverse is true for hatred: some quests should be closed off to you.

This has been something we've been planning in MetaPunk for quite some time now, but I doubt you'll see any major MMOs enacting a system which is designed to close off concent from the players based on their own actions.

Posted: Apr 16th 2008 2:10PM (Unverified) said

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I think the original EQ was headed in the right direction, and I think EQ2 has some really good ideas. So there's a few examples.

But yes. I hope the upcoming crop of MMOGs (and Blizzard's upcoming expansions) tries to do some more interesting things with faction.

The fact that you needed great rep with the various factions to do heroics originally was a fumbling stab towards a good idea, in my opinion... but it didn't really make a lot of sense. An entire instance that you couldn't get into until you proved yourself might be a little better.
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Posted: Apr 17th 2008 10:54AM (Unverified) said

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@#1--

Dead on! The aversion to anyone complaining that their class/faction/race/whatever is being treated unfairly is one of my biggest complaints about how Blizzard has evolved WoW since its inception. I'm not sure where the mindset demanding this equality comes from, but it's there for sure...
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Posted: Apr 16th 2008 2:35PM (Unverified) said

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I think another interesting question is; why don’t more mmo’s have a deeper faction system anyway? The example you gave about the black temple in your article would be awesome but I imagine extremely complicated to implement while maintaining game balance. Another issue might be sort of like what you described with the original EQ and the complications that would arise for players who damaged their reputation with an important faction they might need the support of later.

Do more gamers want a “mmo on rails” experience where they don’t have to worry about making a potentially bad decision in regards to their character or are big game developers simply not interested in allowing their players to make those choices for some reason?

In regards to the faction grind in order to do the heroics in wow, I believe it was just another grind to keep you busy without any sense or reason behind it. Grind an instance to get into the heroic instance to grind that instance to grind out tokens from more gear. It’s a step up from “kill 5000 rats” but it’s essentially the same thing.

While it must be difficult for development teams to keep churning out new content for players, I think that copying the same old tired grind game after game is ultimately going to hurt mmos in the long run. Once people get tired of the grind in one game what’s to say they will skip the next one because it’s just more of the same? While I think that there will always be some grinding involved with any mmo I think that developers should move away from the “grinding as the core mechanic for the game” philosophy before the industry begins to stagnate. But now I’m way off topic. =P

Posted: Apr 16th 2008 4:27PM (Unverified) said

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"In fact, what if the population of WoW could actually influence the story of the game based on how many people across all servers chose which side?"

Oh man that'd be awesome.


I think the reason that more games don't do it is simple, it tends to not fit.

If the game is PvP focused (UO, L2, Eve Online, Shadowbane, etc.) there's no reason to do it. You already have a much deeper faction system being played out by the players themselves as a result of their actions.

In an RvR/Side v Side focused game (AO, CoH, DAoC, Warhammer eventually) a deeper mechanic would only really complicate things or be largely superficial. If people of your faction can't be attacked and need access to the same areas as everyone on your faction you can't really split those players off as much, in DAoC for example it'd faction each realm and split apart realm pride plus make the PvP mechanics seem contrived (I can attack the Hibernians but this Midgard player who is a champion for a faction I also hate I can't).

If the game is PvE focused then you run into the problem of limiting players from content. This requires you to make lots more content (for example if you could side with Black Temple, Shattrah, or Kel'thas, then you'd need 3 times the dungeons for players to run through than if everyone is running the same ones).

So really it comes down to deeper factions are hard to make fit properly into a game. EQ does a great job and it'd be really neat to see a guild vs guild game really do it well.

Also I really enjoyed the article but you should have talked about the 3 different factions from the Velious expansion (Dragons, dwarves, giants). While my memory may not be the best I do believe this is one of the most significant choices players can have in factions that's something a little deeper and less superficial than simply good vs evil or side a vs side b. Players could, I think, ally with 1 or even 2 of the factions or instead be hated by all and simply raid all three instances.
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Posted: Apr 16th 2008 7:28PM (Unverified) said

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While I think you're going too far (Seriously, there's no way you'll get Horde/Alliance crossover, Blizzards very adamant about that) I do agree more opposed factions would be a great idea in WoW, and opposed factions that mean it. I'd like to see in the next expansion a new war, one that is deep and serious and REAL (as in, you see the fighting around you) and having to pick sides.

And I'd like making that decision to be tough, and permanent.

Posted: Apr 17th 2008 4:17PM (Unverified) said

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First of all, God bless you for trying to un-brainwash this generation of MMO players who don't have a clue what compelling MMO play is anymore.

The potential for faction and rep goes even way beyond simply choosing sides. For example, consider the original EverQuest's Necromancer class. With its pet summoning, life draining and high DoT DPS, the Necro was one of the most powerful in the game; able to wow-style-solo to max level in an MMO where it was virtually impossible to advance without grouping. If you wanted to be a strong, self reliant character, who didn't have to bother with finding a group or mooching buffs from other players, this was the class to pick.

But it came at a heavy cost because they were universally hated by NPCs and would be killed on sight if he ventured into most cities besides his home town--even then it was often accomplished by sneaking in via sewers or other backdoors. Along with that came denial of certain quests, the ability to trade easily with players, and a host of other functions that modern MMO players take for granted. Hell, the first thing most Necros had to learn in the game was where to easily find their own food and water in the wild.

This gives the necromancer player two options: grind for the good guys and and spend a lifetime trying to crawl out of the faction pit that you were born into, or say 'screw it' and just be a bad mutha out on your own and deal with it.

To boot, this was a choice that couldn't be just UNDONE with a respec, so you could play one way one week and next week just flip back. It would take a looong time to move that rep bar in either direction. Gradually, NPCs would hate you less and you would win them over, gaining access to quests and needed resources.

I remember my first rogue I created was started in Qeynos; a half-elf. Eventually I made the long walk (yes walk) into the East to check out the wood elf city. WTF? The wood elf rogues' guild (the Scouts of Tunare) didn't want anything to do with a blood-in member of the cutthroat Circle of Unseen Hands guild from Qeynos. But, I had been made aware of a really cool dagger quest reward from them that I wanted, so I quested and grinded until they liked me enough to get it, but guess what: the Unseen Hands didn't like me anymore after spending 5-10 levels helping out the sissy elves.

Regardless of the server-wide jaw-dropping faction concepts being mentioned above, situations like these presented a truly compelling RPG experience even on the individual player level that hasn't been reproduced in recent memory.

Posted: Apr 17th 2008 5:24PM (Unverified) said

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EQ did exactly what he is talking about with the black temple. In EQ the second expansion Velious came out with 3 new factions all pretty much hating or indiff to each other. If you were with one faction atleast one of the other factions would hate you..and there town would be a great place to raid ie killing npc's people might be shopping from or questing from so you could do your own quest. Also raid zones opened up. For example there was an area called the temple of veeshan, and you had 3 directions north, east and west plus the entrance. East was where dragon outcasts were placed by the "good" dragons and it was safe to hunt there and it had great quests loot, if you sided against the dragons though you could raid in the north area, where the loot was even better, but to get there you had to fight through some extremly tough mobs right at the entrance that raiders in the west end were not just cool with but oculd actually do quests for. So yes they had factions that could cut you off from content (mind you nothing was irrepairable if you killed enough of the enemies of people who didnt like you eventually they would like you, course your old friends might want to slay ya). This was one of the very first EQ expansions so if the technology was possible then sheesh even more dynamic factions should be doable now. The question is ...Why arent they?

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