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Reader Comments (16)

Posted: Jun 11th 2008 5:40PM tchuks said

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Good article. This seems to be the standard for all MMO's though. Imagine if you only had 1 chance to kill a rare enemy and it didn't drop the best item. And that was it.

You couldn't wait 2 hours to try again, you couldn't in any way shape or form fight this rare monster again to get the item that only this monster drops. Would people still be playing the game?

The whole point is to give people many chances to fight the same monsters for that rare drop, or for XP, or for farming ingredients/items.

Furthermore, some mission story lines will have you kill the 'boss' or an enemy that seems to end the story... but you can regain access to this zone (if you want to help friends) and see the same boss that somehow is re-born and the story you thought you completed has the arch-nemesis facing you yet again.

These small imperfections in the story have to be there otherwise no one would be able to do anything twice.

And even in real life you can do the same thing twice. Except for die of course :P

Posted: Jun 11th 2008 8:08PM Durinthal said

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First off, the main reason that you only have a small chance to get a certain drop from a mob is *because* of the fact that they're going to be back later. If there's only one of something, it might as well be fully decked-out at all times. (I'd like to see them actually USING the equipment too, but that's an unrelated rant.)

And the point of not having a respawning boss is to change the story. You killed him, he's not coming back to lead the bandits. But maybe his brother does, and they eventually regroup and that forms another, different instance. No, you won't have multiple people doing the same thing, or if you roll an alt you'll have to do something different. That's a good thing, in my opinion.
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Posted: Jun 11th 2008 6:37PM (Unverified) said

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If asherons call would just replace there graphics engine so all the characters didnt look like a Lego MMO I would dump all the fancy crap games I have been playing. I have preached for years that it is the best game I have played since fallout. It's just that im spoiled by having toons with actual rounded non polygon faces =P

Posted: Jun 17th 2008 12:38PM organiclockwork said

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Amazing article, as usual. The so-called "persistence" of persistent worlds has been a huge pet peeve for me, especially within WoW where they have so many resources available to them, yet DM-run/sponsored events never happen, which - on top of taking out the persistence that could make the game that much greater, makes RP simply...stale. Nothing ever changes, so it's always the same old stuff being talked about.

Anyway, rant over. Excellent article.

Posted: Jun 12th 2008 1:29AM Durinthal said

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This is a great article. As organiclockwork said above, the lack of true persistence and change in a world is something that's bugged me for a long time. You have to redesign nearly every aspect of the game to pull it off well, though.

I think that a significant part of the issue is the mindset of both the players and the developers (well, the section of the company that wants to maximize profit, at least). The lack of consequences in most cases is a big disappointment for me. Make permadeath possible, but easily avoidable if you're paying attention (again, I have to turn to my favorite MUD for this, DragonRealms). Put in a justice system where guards can throw players in jail for ganking in towns. Give a player that's being a dick a temporary ban (NPC bounty hunters + prolonged jail time, you don't even have to touch the actual account).

Posted: Jun 11th 2008 8:26PM Durinthal said

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I'll note that I just now read the "Crime and Punishment" article from a couple of weeks ago and came up with the above ideas on my own (well, some minor theft from DragonRealms again).
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Posted: Jun 18th 2008 10:14PM (Unverified) said

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Man, DragonRealms, I haven't heard that name thrown around in years. God I miss those days, my roomie and I used to play that way back in highschool.
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Posted: Jun 11th 2008 10:36PM (Unverified) said

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Nice article, good stuff. Anyone who is after this kind of thing should definately try EVE, perhaps that would have been worth a mention? (you did link SA to be fair)

It's not totally persistent but there is by far more persistence than in most (perhaps all) MMOs. When you destroy a player's ship and kill them, it is destroyed forever. He'll then have to buy another, which is not there until another player manufactures it. The player will live again, but there is a good explanation for this which ties in to the setting. Alliances can permanently conquer space and deny resources to enemies. Players actually have a real effect on the world for once.

Posted: Jun 12th 2008 1:29AM Seraphina Brennan said

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You are indeed 100% correct sir. As an EVE Online player myself, I can attest that it is pretty good at persistence -- especially as every single player of that game plays on the same server. Talk about impact.

Repercussions are another great way to add persistence, but I think that's perhaps a discussion best left for a column next week. :)
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Posted: Jun 12th 2008 9:48AM Ergonomic Cat said

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These are about the same arguments I use to mock people that argue about persistent worlds in any MMO.

Although I have to disagree with the statement that any team is 5 people playing solo - there are a few games where that really isn't the case - City of Heroes being the main one. I know the general point is that "we're all playing to enjoy the game ourself" but there are things like Superteams on CoH, where people only play with a certain group, and build their characters specifically to complement the rest of the team. They just expanded the scale from 1 person in a team to one team in a group, but still....

The only way I can imagine a truly persistent world is a world with hundreds and hundreds of instanced servers. Where there are certain quests you can only do once, but there are only 50 other people working it. But that's no fun either.

Tale of the Desert did that to some degree, just by being small. It has a world that resets every so often, with people building unique monuments, curing diseases for the server, etc.

Pirates of the Burning Sea did something similar with the ports.

Both of those games are doing blockbuster retail sales, too. ;)

Posted: Jun 12th 2008 5:43PM Dolar said

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The thing is, with every good experience with MMO persistence, there are 10 other times it was tried and failed.

I was a EQ guide way back when, charged with running and acting in the games storyline events. No matter what the event, we could not get halfway through it before a certain guild or group of players would just attack the actors and try to kill them for "Loot". In fact the main reason these events ended was because the players were so unruly to manage. It took twice as many people with guide powers to punish and keep the idiots away from the event in place then it did to pull the event off. Eventually we just had to start death touching people if they even got near an actor. In the end, it just took too much man power to pull off and SoE canceled the events.

Lets also take a look at the Sleeper in EQ. It was a worldwide event that could only be done once on each EQ server. And it was cutting edge content, only the best of the best guilds could hope to even try beating the sleepers warders. Most guilds had an agreement to not engage the final warder until a time when all capable guilds had a shot at the other warders as their gear drops would pretty much vanish after the sleeper was awoke.

On the server I played on however, as a dick move the highest progressed guild got all the kills they wanted, and then woke the sleeper at 3 in the morning on a weekday. Meaning the world event that accompanied it(the sleeper travel a lot of world zones and was just an important piece of world lore) was missed by most if not all players on the server. And it happened all over.

Then lets go with the WOW tries at persistence, the AQ gates and the QD island areas. AQ gates were held hostage by uber guilds for weeks on some servers. When the events did happen you could not participate because the lag was so extreme. QD isle has been largely successful, but there have been some issues there with people being dicks and blocking people from progressing.

While a persistent world would be great, people on the Internet by and large are dicks. If there is something that can only be done once, you can bet there will be a group of people there trying to ruin it for the rest of us. There is also the amount of programming that would be needed to make a persistent game interesting. It would mean new content and goals on a monthly basis. Would mean paying a lot more then 15 bucks a month I think.

Posted: Jun 12th 2008 11:34PM Seraphina Brennan said

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Hence why persistence is expensive -- people are dicks. But if a game actually had the CCRs make a stand and protect the event, banning people who were dicks for an amount of time and removing them from the area, I'm certain the dickdom would calm down.

People have to be shown that the penalties outweigh the benefits. Standard psychological theory. If you're going to lose your account for a month for messing with an event, then you're not going to screw around with it.
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Posted: Jun 13th 2008 12:31PM (Unverified) said

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I thought the world PvP in Blizzard's Burning Crusade was an attempt at getting some persistence into the game. You fight other players in Terokkar Forest, capture the control points, and then your faction gets their +5% bonus for the whole zone for six hours.

It's costly to have scripted events like what Acheron's Call had, or what Matrix Online tried (tries?) to do. Eventually, investors will arch an eyebrow and say "can't we cut costs somewhere to make our Q3 profit targets?"

Posted: Jun 18th 2008 7:12PM (Unverified) said

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This was deffinatly a good article. I do have a few points to make about it though:

1. There is a game in the works that plans to impliment 'Once-and Only Once' plot points into the game, as well as having the bosses of such plot points be massively powerful and GM controlled(a concept that is fare to rare in my opinion). You can check it out at http://www.mortalonline.com/ and read to forums for more information(since thats the only reason I know that much about it... the main site is still a little vauge).

2. You mention players that enjoy hasleing other people, commonly called 'Griefers'. There's multiple views to this. One is that they are players, and they realise it is just a game. They like to mess with people becuse they genuinly find it funny just how serious people end up taking a game that is, in fact, only a game. Goes back to the old meme/Mantra 'The Internet is Serious Buisness'.

Of course, it is a pain when you run into organized squads of them, but I have only ever witnessed this happen when the targets are real flaunters and our pretty much jerks themselves. Isolated griefers acting on their own messing with random people? Sure, year it happens. In real life, you walk out your door, there is a chance your gonna get mugged. The way I see it, they are part of the immersion factor. A real pain in the ass, but you can't deny they add a certain unsavorry element to the games underbelly. To say they aren't playing properlly is like give a child a ball and telling him he's only allowed to kick it.

3. One last thing. I totally agree that there seems to be a barriar in many games that turn them into multiplayer-singleplayer-games. There is very rarely a singular goal(other that grinding) that unites all players, or even unite one faction, or even a guild, for more than a few hours. Leaving of the bit about real change, this is why games like Ragnarok do so well for themselves. There is a real unifing cause that unites a guild or alliance of guilds togehter. I used to play on the offical server Iris back before the release of Rebirth classes, and a full on alliance strugle over 2-3 castles was truely epic.

I rember one wonderful night where the 3 guild alliance we were in held 7 casltes in 2 cities for alomst 4/5th of the war. In the end, we had 2 in each city, with the guild I was in holding 2 of them to our own name. An undeniable visage of our strength for all players to see as our banners hung in the city squares. It was quite the high note to leave on, since this was my retiring fight, as the budget couldn't support my playing anymore.

Even so, I can't help but feel a little down knowing that the guild I was in has no doubt broken by now, as it has been over 5 years. What has it really affected in the game as it is played today? Not a thing. Our casstle have no doubt traded hands so many times, it would be staggering to count. A temporary opening of a high level dungoun and a large plie of Mun and tresure is all that was gained, nothing changed. If there was a game that would allow those same events to happen, but allow for some permanant change that effected all players from then on, I would play it in a heart beat and take the hand of the first well formed guild that offered one to me, much as I did in Ragnarok.

Posted: Jul 10th 2008 3:10PM (Unverified) said

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This article actually reminds me of Eve Online... Not "truly" persistent, npcs respawn so you can make money, quests repeat, etc. yet when it comes to pvp, once a ship is lost, that ship is lost forever. When somebody takes a space station, it is now theirs, until somebody else fights to take it. Real sieges, real wars; this of course leads to real betrayals.

So although Eve isn't your "classic" MMO, it does seem to meet much of the requirements put forth in this article...

Posted: Jul 10th 2008 5:41PM Seraphina Brennan said

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And that's why EVE is getting an entire article devoted to it this week from me. :D
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