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Reader Comments (29)

Posted: Jan 2nd 2009 2:09PM organiclockwork said

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I agree on all points.

I'd also like to see more persistence in games. I'd really like players to be able to impact the world around them. They should be a part of the world, not just exist within it.

As far as microtransactions go, if I see a game that offers items that are -way- superior to what can be acquired in-game by someone who chooses to spend time to earn their items instead of money, I will quit that game. You should not be able to get leagues ahead of people who put time into the game just because you have some money to burn. Small bonuses like experience boosts, cool. But the [Epic Weapon of Epicness] that slaughters everything in two swings? No. Just no.

Posted: Jan 2nd 2009 8:34PM Seraphina Brennan said

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You and I think too much alike, OC. I'd love to see some more persistence in our worlds. Some more epic storytelling too. Good call, I can't believe that slipped my mind.
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Posted: Jan 3rd 2009 7:06AM organiclockwork said

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I'm glad you think so.

A lot of my desire for persistence stems from the fact that I'm a big roleplayer, and it's hard to have meaningful roleplay when you can't even have the smallest bit of impact on the world. I honestly would not care about any of the things in this list as long as developers started making their worlds more persistence and allowing players to shape the stories or, hell, craft stories of their own using the gameworld.

Sadly, I feel that's a good ways off in most modern MMOs, who would rather play it safe according to the tried and true formula. I'm just awaiting the day where that formula ceases to work and games are forced to evolve.
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Posted: Jan 2nd 2009 2:14PM (Unverified) said

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This is a pretty stellar article that makes some good points for developers to look at in the coming year. I do, however, have to disagree with point three. Leveling content is not more important than end game content for a couple of reasons.

Leveling content is transitory. Hardcore or not, you will not linger in it forever. Eventually you'll pass it and it becomes dead content. It is of no use to you anymore. You're never going to say “gee I'm glad they spent 1000 development hours on it.” You're more inclined to say “Wow, this game was great until I capped, now I have nothing to do. Oh well. I'll go back to WoW where there is a ton to do at the end.”

I'm not suggesting that leveling content isn't important though. It has to be good, impressive and well thought out. It just isn't the most important thing anymore. The “hard” MMOs have long sense gone and the old model of “only a few will max level” is over. In this day and age a greater proportion of players are expected to cap out and sometimes more than once. They'll need something to do to keep them interested. Personally, I don't view alternate characters as “end game.” Repeating content isn't new content.

It also needs to be pointed out that end game content is not a synonym for “uber guild only content.” It just means things for maxed level characters to do.

Posted: Jan 2nd 2009 8:31PM Seraphina Brennan said

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I agree with your points and understand with your position (although I don't fully agree, but I'll leave that to another story) but I got an interesting proposition to bake your noodle on. It's a fun little thing that I've been tossing around in my own mind.

Wouldn't it be good if we could find a way to make leveling content last past the ranges it was intended to be done in? That does seem to be the one problem with leveling content -- it ends eventually. When the challenge is stale, it doesn't matter how good the content is.

What's your thoughts on that? :3 I just say this aloud because I want someone else's mind to overheat like mine has been. :D
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Posted: Jan 3rd 2009 7:11AM organiclockwork said

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I see your brain-baking proposition and raise you a brain-frying one.

What if you just got rid of the traditional leveling system alltogether? Perhaps made the game skill-based, so that you don't have traditional levels, but only your skill levels. Then, there are no more level ranges. Sure, there are still levels to raise, but it's no longer "Oh you have to be level 30 to do this," or anything of the sort. I'd also really like to see more games in which player skill actually matters more. Both of these, I think, would help make things a good deal more entertaining.

It's late and I'm tired. I'll contribute more when my brain is in better working order.
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Posted: Jan 2nd 2009 4:38PM Scopique said

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You may not spend the rest of your gaming life in mid-level content, but consider your own mid-game experience. What do you remember about it? Do you remember it because it was, in fact, something to really get excited about, or because you did it several hundred times with several hundred alts?

There needs to be some focus on making mid-level content more INTERESTING, because that's traditionally been where the grind exists. The most you get is the occasional new venue in which to grind. You start off with a new game: new tutorials, learning the interface and the mechanics, and the game is exciting. When you get the end-game, you're now able to put everything that you've learned to the test, and you feel powerful. In the middle...there's just filler. They can DO something with that middle space aside from just blind leveling.

If the developers spend 1000 hours on mid-level content, you damn well better believe that I for one will thank them for it. I'll take the time to appreciate it, be it graphical improvments, environmental improvements, or innovative activities.

And the "end game" is never the end game...they release expansions, and now what WAS the end game is now just a rest-stop on your journey of lining the pockets of the developers.

Posted: Jan 2nd 2009 4:03PM (Unverified) said

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Levelling content is the major thing in my mind. I abandon a LOT of MMOs in the teen levels, because it's dull. I don't have a lot of free time, and I have a lot of hobbies, so just hacking mindlessly through hordes of mobs for the promise of better content later won't hold my attention. I have better things to be doing, and I'll go do them.

To me, the answer is to make mid-game content more accessible. CoH's exemplar system, where you can "level down" to assist someone, or GW's 20 level system where you 90% of the game is of the right level for you.

Frankly, I'm beginning to think levels, in the standard geometric improvement model, are an abomination. Having ways of showing how much time and effort someone has spent on a character; good. Levels however do nothing but wreck the ability to go back and re-do quests you missed or loved, while isolating players from their friends if you get more than a few levels apart.

Posted: Jan 2nd 2009 6:09PM Lichbane1 said

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While I agree on most points, except your first point (#5). The symbols are clear, obvious and easily recognisable. Most recent games have (from Vanguard to LotRO to AoC) have gone for their own symbols which have been far from clear or obvious ... and I find that's a turn off.

Posted: Jan 2nd 2009 8:36PM Seraphina Brennan said

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Disagreeing with point #5 is absolutely, 100% ok. :D It's the silly point. :D
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Posted: Jan 3rd 2009 2:02AM Mike Azariah said

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The one I feel might have been added was "Remember the second M' Multiplayer. A few games seem to be drifting into 'solo online' games where the closest you get to being multiplayer is whining about the lag in crowded hubs.

Mercs and henchmen and AI bots to pretend they are your friends are . . .at best, depressing. We all know that they snicker at you behind your back in the deep dark recesses of the processor.

Make groups happen, Public quests was a baby step in the right direction (Thank you WAR) I know we cannot force people to play the way we would like them to, but we can enforce a measure of cooperation. Try 'going it alone' in Left for Dead online, get back to me later.

Multiplayer folks, whether it be by joining a guild, supeteam, kinship, whatever. It's why we play online . . . isn't it?

dd

Posted: Jan 3rd 2009 5:12AM (Unverified) said

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By 'we,' you mean yourself in this context. I'm pretty sure you don't speak for everyone. I enjoy playing solo in WoW, EVE, Warhammer, EQ2, and basically any MMO I have ever played. The term 'multiplayer' denotes 'multiple players,' as opposed to 'single-player,' i.e. a game multiple players can play at once, whether with each other or not. "Massively multiplayer,' then, denotes a game that has a massive amount of multiple players. Or, at least, that's how it works in my head.

I enjoy playing these types of games solo for many reasons - people are stupid, greedy, and prideful. Most people won't shut up long enough in an instance for someone who knows what is going on to explain the impending encounter to them. Also, if you group up with random people to knock out a quest or a dungeon, 9 times out of 10 it'll wipe, and after that wipe, everyone will leave without prior warning. But let's assume that this group downs the last boss, and the last boss drops some sweet loot. Cool. Now we get to roll for it, and whoever wins gets spat at and hated on for winning an item fair and square. Someone decides to make themselves feel better by convincing themselves and everyone else that it was somehow ninjaed. Great! Not to mention the fact that you've got a high likelihood of being stuck with a bunch of 17-year-old 'gangstas' with a crappy attitude, where most of this behavior comes from - products of the 'I'm going to grow up to be a rich, pimpin' hip-hop rapper star' generation that doesn't give a damn about learning anything.

No, I'd rather play solo. I'd rather rely on a person that I know very well, a person whose abilities I know well, and a person whose mind I know well - myself. You can't rely on anyone else for anything, because you'll just be disappointed.

Yeah, I'm bitter.
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Posted: Jan 4th 2009 2:58AM (Unverified) said

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Hence the formation of guilds with mature players. What you've said is akin to going to a party only to hang out in a corner, alone. What's the point?
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Posted: Jan 14th 2009 4:16PM (Unverified) said

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I don't think your analogy of going to a party to be alone. This implies there is simply nothing else to do but socialize. That's not true at all for most MMOs. I'd say a more apt analogy is going to a concert alone. Sure you'd have a ton of fun with friends if you went, but you can still enjoy the music by yourself.
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Posted: Jan 3rd 2009 2:47AM Brendan Drain said

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I think the biggest plague on the MMO industry would be companies doing things without understanding them. For example, Stargate Worlds (if it's ever released) is shaping up to be a nice fantasy MMO with a twist.. except that's not what it's meant to be. It's like the developers didn't realise Sci-fi was an option and jumped straight on the fantasy bandwagon, thinking a fantasy MMO with stargate content is good enough. And I'd bet when they thought of what an MMO should be like, they went ahead and used a fantasy MMO like WoW as their baseline without giving it a second thought. Sci-fi MMOs DO exist.

This example represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the broader MMO genre and they're not the only company making that mistake. Developers are perfectly happy to implement features without doing any research on them at all. For example, Age of Conan launched with capture the flag battlegrounds and other mini-games implemented because they just assumed that since their competitor does it they had to do it. They didn't stop for a moment and think of what battlegrounds accomplish in WoW and whether people would use them in AoC.

Another example that I'm surprised developers never pick up on is the promise of a player-run economy. It's like they have this checklist of things players want and are just checking off the things that sound easy. The reality is that a fully player-run economy requires enough people participating in a marketplace to keep the supply and demand self-balancing. Even EVE Online didn't launch with a fully player-run economy, it's been phased in over five years and still isn't all the way there yet. In a typical sharded MMO, the number of people on one server just isn't going to be enough unless the marketplaces are somehow merged across all servers.

A final big one is the promise of full pvp looting. I understand that Darkfall will have this feature and I know from experience that it can raise the quality of PvP immensely. However, it pretty much requires that the game use a generic item system. If you lose your items on death, you'll need to be able to get exact replacement gear fairly easily. It worked in Runescape in its early days, Ultima Online and of course EVE Online. This is the exact opposite of the standard fantasy MMO loot scheme where items can have random modifiers and special quest reward items are available. Replacing your full equipment set after death in a system like that would be next to impossible.

All I want to see in 2009 is MMO developers waking up and doing their bloody research.

Posted: Jan 3rd 2009 4:45PM (Unverified) said

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Colin did you play Horizons (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horizons:_Empire_of_Istaria ) ? I think that game had some wonderful ideas such as making it possible for players to effect the world around them, and player housing. In Horizons there were structures that if you and your community fix would grant you rewards.

For example in this one event there were four caves that players had to rebuild. These rebuilding projects were huge undertakings requiring the help of warriors, healers, crafters, blacksmiths, and flying mules (what we called our poor dragons). The warriors would clear out the cave allowing for the crafters and the blacksmiths to work on rebuilding the cave. The healers keep the warriros alive. The flying mules pick up the materials and deliver them to the crafters.

After days of that on a large server, all four caves were rebuilt, giving us access to four islands with four bosses. After dispatching the bosses a new race was unlocked, the Satyr.

Horizons had many similar events, I remember there was one where we had to rebuild a large bridge to gain access to land where we can build homes.

I love World of Warcraft but if they were to add these sorts of events and player housing I would enjoy it even more.

Posted: Jan 3rd 2009 9:27AM (Unverified) said

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I think you have completely missed the boat on a couple of areas in this article.

Leveling content is more important than endgame content? Thats ridiculous! You mentioned AoC in your point right before this one, but AoC proves that endgame content is far more important than what you do while getting there.

Every single person I leveled to 80 with (about a dozen people in my guild) loved the game until we hit 80. It took us about 2 weeks to get there. So for the first two weeks we zoomed through 99% of the content in the game. For the last two weeks we sat around asking where the endgame was. Since there wasn't any to be found we ALL LEFT THE GAME.

With no endgame content it might was well be a single-player game... something you finish and move on to the next game.

Posted: Jan 3rd 2009 8:19PM (Unverified) said

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I was with you until the very end when you bring up EVE Online. That's about as niche a game as you could have possibly mentioned, so I don't understand how it really factors in to what _most_ people want in an MMO. Of course, better to be a niche success than a mass market failure, I suppose, so if that's what you're getting at, then great. But EVE Online is aimed a very specific gameplay style that is most definitely not everyone's cup of tea. It's about the only game I ever came across that I really, really wanted to like and get into, but for the life of me, I can't understand why people think the game is entertaining.

It's also important to note that MMOs and CRPGs didn't invent the kill/quest, level system - that's pretty much been the core of all forms of roleplaying games since day one, and continues to be. The tabletop RPG graveyard is full of examples of really creative games that didn't adhere to this system.

World of Warcraft itself should show you why you don't have to reinvent the wheel to find success.

Posted: Jan 3rd 2009 9:18PM (Unverified) said

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Another "would be "developper making up his own list of what MMO's should be about.... sigh....

Listen guys, why do you think you can do better than Blizzard ?

Easy, you can't or else you would pull the trigger on those 11.5 million active paying players.

The 5 points range from "silly". Point 1, to complete nonsense in point 5.

If you don't see the success of Wow is mostly due to the fact that everyone builds freely in his own playing style on his own character, than you're blind.

And good ol' EVE again, sigh, the most BORING mmo ever invented, but the elitism that only gets beaten by Cricket.

The problem is simple, Blizz invented the perfect way to let players play for 1 year or even 2 and for some even 3 years the only game in town. All the rest is trying to catch up and only arrives 2 years too late on the market. Of couse you get some guys falling over LotrO (because they don't know any better) and seeing WotLK and its version of destructable Keeps makes you wonder where War is gonna go next summer. Under 100K subs?

These articcles are proof everyone thinks he knows what a new MMORPG should look like, well we've seen these last 2 years what kind of shit we had to endure.

Please stop making such articles and let the big boys handle things pls. Bioware and Blizzard that is. And no, Mythic, Funcom and Turbine are NO big boys in the PC game departments. Only in the "nerd" MMOrpg trial class.

Posted: Jan 4th 2009 11:07AM (Unverified) said

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Wauw what a shit faced sorry bugger you are.
It must be very sad living in your world where there's no room for constructive critism and new ideas.
Good, then go play your precious WoW, and let the rest of us read articles like this one.

And for the last comment, What BS!!!
Bioware has yet to prove anything in the MMO market, making excellent singleplayer games is nothing like making good MMO's.
Calling 2 developers who both made 2 MMO's, and the developper of the the tripple A MMO with the second largest subscriper base, nerdy and niche(wasn't actually writen in the comments, but that is what I derive from the tone), is just play retarded, now I will waste no more time on the likes of you.
Please leave the rest of us alone, and go back to being you own grumpy sad self another place.
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