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Reader Comments (15)

Posted: Feb 4th 2009 6:38PM Graill440 said

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Trying to get a developer to change their mind is futile unless you can directly influence them. When i worked with RTI we were developing variable programs and vr environments that make MMO'S look like simple puzzle games. These required zero defect upon delivery, in one week alone i submitted over 430 QDR's on one piece of a project, code, hooking, whatever, if it didnt work it was destroyed and remade, not "patched".

The phds called me asshole, the doc, lots of things behind my back, but they always kept their mouths shut when i was telling them what they would do in meetings.

We dont need 10 things for this or 5 things for that to fix the "MMO industry" we only need devs that are held accountable and make games for us, not themselves or what they think will be neat, and have realistic goals and budgets.

The argument can go on till everyone is truly QQ'ng in their coffee or whatever they drink, the facts are this, limited budgets and or suits that have their noses where they dont belong, devs that improperly make presentations while showing both budget and technical impossibilities and yet give ignorant timelines for completeion of a project. And lest we forget the joke that is called beta testing, open, closed, whatever, i imagine this is the single biggest joke among devs. Good QA doesnt exist anymore.

Like it or not unless you can fire a dev on the spot or fire that suit that makes ignorant chnages or suggestions on the spot "our" MMO"S will remain the garbage they are today.

Posted: Feb 4th 2009 8:42PM Holgranth said

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While some of the other stuff he said was ok his responce to 5,6,9 and 10 were all WAY off.

5. Uhm ya the mobs DON'T nessesarly have to be more difficult just give the actual impression that they are smarter. Like aggroing on Los, requiring a GROUP of players to hit an npc village.
6. Ya LETS go there!
9............... yea well Ghostcrawler effect seems to be 90% positive for WoW......... and the Mark Jacobs effect is mostly(?) positive for WAR?
10. Too bad, so sad.... your F'd if you do release early and F'd if you go under waiting for perfection.

Posted: Feb 5th 2009 4:56AM ultimateq said

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"Don’t make me grind:

Totally agreed here, on both of these. In fact, I’m tempted to combine them and call this the Blizzard Rule."

"Ditch Levels and Classes:

...and World of Warcraft is pretty grind-free..."

Sorry dude, Doing thousands of quests to level up is still grinding. And frankly I hate how other games are following the example. Playing Tabula Rasa, after level 12 I never did another quest. I just leveled defending Capture Points from large hordes of enemies. Questing is over-rated, and grinding is under-appreciated.

However, I can see why someone would like quests, and would certainly enjoy questing over grinding. By no means do I condemn anyone for questing. Its an excellent way to level, get money and get gear upgrades. However, I think designers should offer intensives to do either. Because as it stands right now, virtually every MMO on the market has you leveling with quests.


"Also, I have seen metrics prove conclusively, time and time and time and time again, that in a game that *does* have monsters with decent AI and that use strategies that require some thought to defeat, that players will avoid them in droves and seek out the ones with the most brain damaged AI possible."

I would like to see the game your talking about. Every MMO that has come out that I've tracked, all use the standard Hate System; With the exception of early Star Wars Galaxies. They later implemented the Hate System with the "Combat Upgrade".


"Encourage grouping

Yeah, let’s not go there."

What is that supposed to mean? I can't agree nor argue with you when you fail to explain.

Everquest encouraged grouping with an EXP Bonus. It was flawed at first, because there was no range on earning exp with a group. They later changed that. Everquest offers no more and no less incentive to group than any other game.

Everquest does encourage you to know your class and find a good guild and make friends. Because unlike World of Warcraft, GOOD raiding guilds don't come a dime-a-dozen, and they aren't crappy 10-man raids either.


"Listen to, and engage with, players

The players are often WRONG."

Agreed. While there are a few honest players, most of them will lie to get ahead.

Posted: Feb 5th 2009 5:12AM (Unverified) said

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Because as it stands right now, virtually every MMO on the market has you leveling with quests.


Grinding isn't restricted to levelling though. One of the reasons I quit WoW was that all I had to look forward to at my level was hour after hour of PvP or Faction grinding.


What is that supposed to mean? I can't agree nor argue with you when you fail to explain.


I would assume that this is a reference to the fact that soloing in EQ was a hideous experience. I remember soloing mobs on Luclin and enjoying ONE kill every 20 minutes due to my Monk not being able to recover health at a decent rate and having to wait on my self-heal to cool-down so I could use it in combat.

Keep in mind this wasn't an "Elite" or any form of boss mob. This was a Dark Blue mob, a mob weaker than my character.

I really don't want to go back to those days...

I made a point in the other thread that there's nothing wrong with social co-dependency in games. It's a great thing. SWG's cantinas and entertainers and that game's player-driven economy were prime examples of how it can work. But to force people to spend their time trying to find somebody to group with to kill mobs or complete quests is totally counter to the concept of freedom/open-ended gameplay that attracts so many to MMOs.

There's a middle-ground that works: include group quests and solo quests. Have areas that are dangerous for single players. Give non-combat social-dependencies priority in crafting (so Profession A needs something from Profession B and vice-versa.)

But forcing players to group to play is a retrogressive move, IMO.

Posted: Feb 5th 2009 5:24AM (Unverified) said

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Oh and with regard to the "questing is still levelling" comment, I disagree.

To me, grinding is the concept of repeatedly doing the same thing over and over to advance your XP/cash whatever. For me, that's when you're killing orcs at 100xp a pop and you need 5000xp, which translates to 50 orcs at a rate of one every 90 seconds so it'll take... well, you see what I mean.

Questing on the other hand provides a storyline and motive (however thin) and - when done well - becomes the driver to continue playing.

Levelling through questing should be a side-effect of questing and in good games it is.

On many occasions I've found myself shocked when I've seen my character level-up at a quest turn-in, simply as I've been so engrossed in the events of the quest that I'd failed to notice how close to my next level I was.

Posted: Feb 5th 2009 9:03AM ultimateq said

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I caught what you mean on Everquest and honestly, I had forgotten about all of that. I had played EQ from Velious all the way to The Serpents Spine. After I leveled my first character it was nothing but super fast PLs on all of my following characters.

We have different views on what constitutes grinding. I guess the reason I consider questing as grinding is because I find it to be as tedious as killing thousands of creatures, although much more productive.

In WoW's case, Faction grinding is extremely tedious. I'll give you that! I can't think of any alternative though. If you take it away, all of the gear and bonuses become trivial.

Posted: Feb 5th 2009 9:34AM (Unverified) said

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The way I see it, there's a distinction between "normal" XP gain and grinding.

Normal XP is a reflection (however artificial) of your progress in developing your character. Normally it's a bar that expands as you complete quests, kill mobs, find new zones, or whatever mechanic the developer uses to measure "personal growth."

That's something that - in a good game - happens as you play, be it that you're fighting mobs, winning pvp battles, crafting or completing quests. In some way, some progress is made on some internal counter somewhere, but it happens as a by-product of your activities when they're judged to be worthy of recognition by the game.

To me, grinding on the other hand is when a player ignores the "what" and focuses on the "why" of the thing. In this case, rather than play the game and advance as they do so, they choose to make advancement - usually through a repetitive cycle of actions - their sole focus. It's - as I say - about doing a calculation, watching a bar move and then repeating the process simply for the sake of reaching the next level, at which point it starts over.

I know it's a minor distinction in some games (as I say, EQ was totally misnamed, as you rarely "Quested" and day-to-day advancement only came through mob grinding) but as I say, in a good game, you'll - or rather you SHOULD - advance/level up in a way that's a side-effect of just playing the game.

Posted: Feb 5th 2009 10:12AM Tom in VA said

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This whole back-and-forth on fixing broken MMOs really cracks me up.

Blizzard is raking in megabucks and laughing (at this discussion) all the way to the bank. A game is not "broken" if people enjoy playing it -- and, more importantly -- are willing to pay to play.

All the moaning about MMOs being broken sounds like peevish whining to me.

The whole process of MMO development is one of constant (attempted) "one-upsmanship". So far, no one has been really able to "one-up" WoW and I'm cool with that, but someone will, eventually, develop a new MMO that makes WoW look stodgy, dull, and old hat.

And the whiners will come out in force and rail against *that* MMO for a while and so on it goes. Meanwhile, bazillions of people are just playing these games and having fun.

On a side note: Guild Wars handled the leveling issue with great ingenuity and panache. Basically, in that game, you (quickly) level to the cap of 20 -- and they kept it there. I really think this is an ideal MMO model, one I wish more MMOs would follow. It means, for players, that they can "skip an expansion" if they so choose. I also think Guild Wars had a nifty way of merging class distinctions with its dual-class feature.

Whenever I read these kinds of blogs, I marvel at how the authors act as though WoW is the only MMO on the playing field. Look around guys, there are a lot of MMO flavors out there.

Posted: Feb 5th 2009 10:47AM (Unverified) said

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A game is not "broken" if people enjoy playing it -- and, more importantly -- are willing to pay to play.


From a financial point of view, of course it's a success, but - to be a pretentious prick for a moment - there's the "artistic" consideration to look at and in many ways, WoW fails to deliver beyond expectations or "challenge" the player in meaningful ways.

Okay now I've got my artwank bit out of the way, the point I'm making - and I think others are trying to address in their blogs - is that without meaningful innovation, the genre will die. And for all the stuff WoW does well, it's not an innovative game.

So where is the innovation WoW needs going to come from?

Posted: Feb 5th 2009 11:29AM Tom in VA said

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But the thing is, the genre *deserves* to die if it's not fun. MMO developers have a vested interest in continually improving their games and the MMO genre in general. Even Blizzard recognizes this, and they may be the ones who actually "one-up" WoW with some even more inventive and entertaining MMO.

I admire Blizzard (and their prize product, WoW). They took a genre of entertainment and really made it soar.

I am former WoW player; I found the game got repetitious and dull, so I left, but, clearly, lots of people are very happy with WoW, based on the sales and subscription revenues. Blizzard has the savvy to recognize that they need to constantly innovate and consider new ideas and game mechanics. To some extent, they will do this in WoW with each patch and new expansion and to some extent they will do this with their next(-gen) MMO. Give them a little credit, for Pete's sake.

Other MMO developers are champing at the bit to get a piece of the pie, and they, too, will innovate to achieve this. Some will fail spectacularly (and deservedly so), but others will introduce new features and the genre will gradually evolve and improve, just as all computer games today are an improvement over ... Pong.

What I don't get is the all the effete moaning and groaning about the "state of the game". Maybe it's just that people aren't getting what they want *fast enough*. And that, to me, sounds pretty peevish.

I am currently playing LotRO. I like LotRO. Is it innovative? Well, yes, in some ways, I consider it an improvement over WoW, but I also think it owes a lot to what WoW has done before it. Each new MMO builds on the last one, innovating here and there with mixed success. But the genre overall continues to improve. Just once, I'd like to see a blog about *that* ...

The MMO glass is half-full, not half empty, imo, and -- unlike so many of these bloggers -- I am very satisfied with the current state of MMOs and also quite optimistic about the future of this form of game and the many improvements we will see in the months and years ahead. Personally, I think SWTOR is going to really strike out in a new direction and offer players an experience that's very different, new, and better than what we've seen thus far.

Bloggers like Chick utter (non)profundities like "MMOs need to be better" as though they are Oracles of Delphi and have received some sort of special insight revealed only to the enlightened. All I want to say is "Doh!" Of course they need to get better -- and they will.

Posted: Feb 5th 2009 12:07PM (Unverified) said

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I disagree about WoW being innovative though. It's a reactive game, not a proactive one (Jesus, I sound like David Brent...) in that their content is based more on response to other games rather than actually introducing newer content off their own back.

I'd like to see them - as the industry leader - improving their game instead of just adding more to it, becasue WoW is stale and as such, it's stifling the industry. People claim they want change but the moment they play something different, they all cry "It's not WoW!"

We both have a similar history - I played WoW, enjoyed it but got bored and moved to LOTRO, which I love and I wouldn't go back to WoW now, but for everybody in that situation, there are probably a hundred people who just "stick to WoW" and assume that's all there is to MMOs.

And as a result of that, Blizzard are happy to keep feeding them the same treadmill of fast-burn content ad infinitum. And why not? It's making them a tonne of money.

However, it's not helping the MMO industry move forward as a lot of the Money People think a "Good MMO" is just WoW-reskinned and so end up only investing in what they see as a "sure fire hit" failing to realise that given the choice between playing WoW or playing World of Warrior Craft, people will choose the original.

It's lowest common denominator stuff. As I say, nothing wrong with that if you can see it for what it is, but it's like trash TV or hamburgers. I hate to sound like that Funcom asshat but sometimes you want a steak, not a hamburger.

Posted: Feb 5th 2009 4:23PM (Unverified) said

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I would disagree with it being lowest common denominator, and I can't stand it when people compair WoW to fast food. That makes the assumption that the game is horrible but it's super easily accessible, that is most certainly not the case. Are there things that could be better? Sure there are, but there isn't an MMO out there (and I don't imagine there ever will be) that does everything perfect.

I think Blizzard does a stellar job of building and improving the game, it's still one of the only big MMO's that actually has fun and interesting PvE encounters. That's stuff that AoC and WAR haven't managed to figure out, being as every boss in both games are just harder hitting versions of every other mob in the game. The grind is also becoming less and less visible, you get faction rep by doing things you were doing anyway (running dungeons) and it barely takes any time.

I do agree, though, that Blizzard could try to actually lead the industry in innovation for once. There are a lot of improvements they make over already existing ideas, and the new phasing system is amazing, but there could definitly be a lot more. Hopefully their future expansions and whatever this new MMO is will deliver a bit more on that.

Posted: Feb 6th 2009 3:04AM (Unverified) said

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Now *that* was a fantastic post.

Posted: Feb 8th 2009 1:35AM (Unverified) said

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uhmm, good day. .may i know who u are? im just curious because u have post a coment on my email add before.... thank you. anyway, nice website

Posted: Feb 10th 2009 3:27PM (Unverified) said

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Posted some comments in one of those linked blogs, but the blog itself is old enough that my comments are pretty much the only things there in days.

So, on the list of 5 things wrong, my opinion on three of them:

Guild Wars has the solution to aggro:

Body Blocking. If I stand here, you can't. And it that's the only way to get over there, you can't go there. But if you shove me, I will slide away if I'm not resisting (afk) or don't have walls on my side.

Its officially not a true MMO, but other than a subscription fee it has every feature of an MMO... and now many MMOs don't have that... so... whatever...

Anyway, this massive, multiplayer, online game, has no aggro system. The melee toons have to blody block to keep mobs off of the ranged toons.

I've spent years playing monks in Guild Wars. That's the nearly no armor, no useful weapon, healing class. And the mob AI is designed to 'geek the healer first and hardest.'

We pull, and everything runs straight for me.

And suddenly the melee guys get in the way, make a wall, trip the archers, silence the casters, and so on... and... I live, get off my heals, and we continue.

Its kind of like when I play a cleric in table top DnD... :)

The "DM" in Guild Wars plays mean, but the game gives the characters the tools to fight back. We can block, the combat maps have obstructions we can hide behind, or use to form body walls, we can trip, disarm, silence, and so on...

But, so can the mobs. :)


City of Heroes - sidekicking.

Solves the problem of not being able to play with the people you want to play with.

When you group up but your levels don't match up, you can sidekick the lowbies, or the lowbies can do the opposite to the high levels. Your level gets set to one away from the other person, temporarily, and all your abilities and stats scale up or down to match.

Likewise XP scales to match. So if your level 11 toon joins a level 48 raid, you kill a level 50 boss, but you get XP as if that boss was level 13, while the level 48 raid member next to you gets XP as if that boss was level 50.

Loot also somewhat scales, but it's not fully perfect. Its meant to be, but there is a slight edge to being sidekicked, loot wise, and sometimes an edge to being dropped down (I can't remember the term for it). But that just servers to encourage people to use the system - resulting in making the game very alt friendly.

Kind of a known bug that turned into a feature when the results it had on the community became known.


Static Worlds can be fixed by using a random table to generate worlds.

Remember all those random dungeon tables in things like the D&D DMG back in the 1970s?

Take what we know know about world design, and apply that to an MMO.

Have a zone be populated by X mobs. A table is used to fill them. One dies, when the refresh heartbeat occurs the table is rolled on, and you roll coord's and drop the new mob there. It could be something completely different. All that's static is the total population.

Elite / special versions of mobs could be done in a similar manner. Either or both of:
1. A table of elites, and a global number of elites live on the server at any one time. One dies, roll on the table, and populate in a random spot.

2. A population total of elites live at any time. One dies, and the next hearbeat, roll for a zone, and populate a random normal monster somewhere, but then use a scaling formula to change it into a special mob, give it special moves, and have it wear the very gear it will drop in order to give it a special appearance.

You could even work this out to building randomly made instances.

Even random world maps, random cities, and so on. Even random quests and storylines if your designers are brave enough... After all, the quests written by actual humans are pretty bland as is... "get me 5 pig livers..." - Random plot generators in old D&D 'how to DM' books were more original in their results...
- and we've had decades of design now to know how to make better tables. Players wouldn't know it was random unless you told them. They'd just wonder why nobody ever got the same quests unless they shared them.

On server launch, the first player to log in literally creates the first zone as he walks through it, and so on. So that every server in your game is unique.

- But that might be stretching resources too far.

Back in the mid 90s, we had everything ready to launch a MUD on this theme, but things fell apart for other reasons.

We wanted to solve the static problem, we found one solution. We figured out how to keep it low on system resources (staged generation, heartbeats, we were thinking on the scale of running it on 1995-era commercial PCs using Unix and dialup after all), and how to get the generation to look internally consistent rather than the actual random.

I'm surprised that no one has used that or a better solution, not even in part.

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