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Posted: Oct 15th 2009 1:15PM (Unverified) said

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no. moar lewt.

Posted: Oct 20th 2009 11:34AM (Unverified) said

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The severe issue has to do with been there and done that. Sorry but since the innovation of 3D MMos like EverQuest, nothing has really been brought to the table. The only real change is it's easier than ever to play. Warcraft, no matter how you slice it is ment for casuals. The raids in Vannilla WoW was compared and failed in light of EQ. The answer is play EQ. Today EQ to an extent joined WoW's mentality while still trying to be THE game for difficult encounters.

(FF MMO pretty much beats them hands down however.)

What todays MMO needs now that so much has been covered is real time 'button strikes' PvE/PvP mmos. Always before gear has been 'the' object of desire to improve your char. I think we need to get away from that and head to combat/roleplay 'options' Everyone should start off with few manuvers and as you level your 'attack/defence/RP' grow. let each additional skill mean something. Let each class mean something. Let multi class be an option. Kill the 'healer' aspect of it all. Let tanks heal themselves. let it be part of their 'skill' sets. Define chars more by choice of skills and not so much armor. Limit macroes for defence and combat so people can't 'auto' them. Auto timing things would mean the macro does the work and not the player. Something that plagues just about ever decent MMO today.

Course all we change is the carrot being skills and not armor. But then again if you don't know how to use your button mashing skills well you won't progress far. Least then it's more player dependant and not gear. Something I think anyone who desire their efforts to mean something; be it casual or hardcore, can understand and agree with.
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Posted: Oct 15th 2009 1:18PM (Unverified) said

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If achievements were removed from the genre, popularity would drop. I have no doubt. People would still play them as a means to escape the real world, but without contemporary gaming achievements that's all it would be--a second life (not to be confused with Second Life).

MMO's owe some of their popularity these days to the fact that they are no longer just virtual worlds or super-deluxe chat rooms (were they ever really *that* featureless? I don't think so). HOWEVER, I do feel that the genre has become too enamored with achievements and has forgotten how to properly act as a virtual world at the same time. I'd like to see the genre find a nice sweet-spot/equilibrium between video game and virtual world. Some games like Eve and FE seem to be on the right track in my opinion.

Of course it's all subjective, but I think most can agree that the genre is undergoing a divergence lately. I'd venture as far as to say that it is splitting into three directions, but that's debatable. Games like Global Agenda (I don't know a ton about it, so my judgement might be innaccurate here), Crimecraft, and APB seem to be going the way of smaller-scale, faster-paced, and easily accessible romps. Meanwhile another sub-genre seems to be large-scale PvE games such as WoW, Champions Online, LOTRO, etc. It may be wishful thinking, but games like Earthrise, Eve, and Fallen Earth seem to be trying to get back in touch with creating the feeling of actually being in another world again. Of course these are just subjective examples and there are all kinds of hybrids/exceptions, but that's why I said the divergence into sub-genres seems to be in progress (as opposed to complete).

Posted: Oct 15th 2009 4:49PM Xocolatl said

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When you take out the progression aspect from an RPG, then you're left with storyline and game play itself (MMOFPS). Now I definitely don't mind good story--it's RPGs we're talking about, so story should've been the first focus anyway.
Otherwise, we can always focus on the game play aspect. People keep coming back to action games because they like the actual action. Personally, I think World of Arena/BGcraft, Guildwars and WAR is a great example of big name games focusing on the action. If the game play itself is satisfying (for whatever reason) then it works just as well.
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Posted: Oct 15th 2009 1:20PM (Unverified) said

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the games simply are no longer large enough. we have systematized every possible avenue for progression in game, and we veterans are good at mastering those systems quickly, making the game worlds seem smaller and smaller.

the beauty of EQ and WoW and many other 1st and early 2nd gen games were that they were so large, you could easily play 2 or 3 alts to end-game and still not see every piece of content available. you could very easily get "lost" and the games very much felt like what they were intended to be... "virtual worlds".

with the neater, cleaner, more tightly designed environments (not to mention thottbot, allakhazam, etc.) that ability to lose one's self in the game world has been slowly eroding.

i'd like to see an era again where i can talk about quests that i've done with someone and they didn't even know they existed, or i had to explain in detail where to go find them. i'd like to see so many armor drops that you could play for weeks without seeing another player in the same duds.

essentially, "massive" just isn't massive enough anymore.

Posted: Oct 15th 2009 2:25PM Macabre 13 said

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Nice post, and my feelings exactly.

I'm currently enjoying Aion, as I feel (so far) it has very fun PvP, but I'll be the first to admit that the game world feels incredibly tiny (compared to other MMO's).

It's not necessarily a bad thing for that specific game, as larger areas would likely thin out the population, resulting in PvP encounters occurring far less often, but it certainly feels like I'm just a part of a region, rather than a part of a world.
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Posted: Oct 15th 2009 1:21PM (Unverified) said

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I'd like to clarify that, while it is clear that I personally prefer games embracing a return to being virtual worlds, I respect ALL games for what they are individually and what they contribute to the industry and especially the joy they bring to the players that enjoy them.

Posted: Oct 15th 2009 1:23PM Existentialist said

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All of you feelings this should play EVE online. Stop trying to self diagnose and give an excellent sandbox a try.

Posted: Oct 15th 2009 1:30PM (Unverified) said

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sorry dude, but EVE's a yawner at the moment. i'll take another look when they merge this new shooter concept with the MMO, cuz you're right, it has major sandbox appeal... not to mention it's a gorgeous game.
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Posted: Oct 15th 2009 1:34PM (Unverified) said

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I have tremendous respect for Eve, but I simply didn't enjoy it at all. Even with all the players in the game, I just felt so alone (and not in a good "solitude of outer space" kind of way). Everyone says, "Get into a corp," but the game was still lonely even with my island/liferaft of a corp to keep me company. The gameplay was too "hands-off" for me, and while everyone says that there's so much to do, I didn't feel like there were enough choices to feel truly free. It seemed to boil-down to PvP (I cite gameplay and community as the barriers I faced here), economy (number-crunching isn't my thing), mining (who doesn't think that needs to get majorly spiced-up?), mission-running (seemed pretty thin as a primary focus of play to me), and exploration (I played before this was really developed to the point it is today).

I apologize for the long-winded psuedo-review of Eve there. I really do love the game for its influence on the industry, but I did want to show that just because a player (like me) loves and wants sandbox/freedom/virtual world doesn't mean that Eve is a guaranteed winner. Anyone who hasn't tried it should try it, but it's not a miraculous cure-all for everyone's "sandbox" woes.
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Posted: Oct 15th 2009 3:33PM Pingles said

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I am in the same boat as the two folks above me. Eve is a fascinating and commendable accomplishment but it was NOT my cup of tea. I am a fan of space shooters and MMOs and it seemed like a perfect combo for me but the cold, silent galaxy was too depressing. And the "go-to" method of piloting was too restrictive for me.

Again, I think they have done a great job with the outside-the-box game design but it's not my thing and I'm afraid it's not quite the thing the public is looking for (imo).

Also startlingly beautiful at times...
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Posted: Oct 15th 2009 5:50PM wjowski said

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Typical MMO-gamer capriciousness. They say they want one thing but when they get it, they disregard it.
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Posted: Oct 15th 2009 1:28PM (Unverified) said

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I think the problem is that MMOs are the "Living, breathing, worlds" that the claim to be.

What they are is themeparks. You come in, ride a few rides (dungeons, quests, etc), maybe with other people, then leave. Come back the next day, and the rides may have changed a little, but may not have. Eventually the fun is from winning stuff at the booth games (getting loot/gaining levels) and not just being in the park (playing the game).

Really, the only way to break from this is to actually make it a living breathing world. I want to, not play one night and hear in the morning that a guild took over a city, or that a village was destroyed. THAT is what MMOs should be. That is what is missing.

Don't get me wrong, the theme park MMOs are fun in their own right, but they do feel empty sometimes.

Posted: Oct 15th 2009 1:30PM Tanek said

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I like that the image you chose is from Guild Wars, since that is one I would choose to hold up as an example of what is missing in other, newer games.

Yes there are levels, yes there is gear, but neither are so central to the game that they are all you are playing for. In the original campaign, you can easily reach max level by the time you are barely 1/3 of the way through the missions and the best gear in the game is not so so much better than the worst gear that not having the best limits you terribly.

I don't play these games for the gear, I don't play them for the "ding" (although I admit I still drool when the bell rings; darn conditioning >.< ). I play them for the adventures, the stories, and the players I meet along the way.

Right now, LotRO fills all of those very well for me, but in structure it still falls into the leveling/gear trap. Expansions have raised the cap, introduced better gear that gates content. While I still think it is great fun for now, I worry that without a new plan down the road all of the MMOs following this pattern will collapse under their own weight.

Then again, it isn't like I design games or have any concrete solutions to offer at this time. For now, my faith is in these companies to see where the road is going and to plan out something that will be good for both the players and the business. (Fingers crossed for GW2.)

Posted: Oct 15th 2009 1:35PM Snow Leopard said

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What I’ve always wanted out of an mmo is the ability to easily get all my friends together and start a vast and complex world with characters we’ve made ourselves. To me, that was the original joy of tabletop games and still remains the reason why other video game genres are so popular. I can get three friends together and start playing halo or gauntlet or any other cooperative game. However, If I have a new friend who wants to play an mmo with me, I need to roll a new character and level up with them and we always have to work to stay at the same level and stage of progression or else its like we’re playing two entirely different games.

“So don’t play in this genre then” some may argue, but to me the mmo is the only genre that offers such vastness and creativity. I can’t travel around the world in Halo and meet up with hundreds of people and I can’t explore the world or make a custom character in a brawler. I can’t say how many friends I’ve introduced to WoW who login and ask “can we go there? That looks cool.” or “can we see where you live?” and I have to tell them I can’t and they need to spend five more weeks before they can even see a fraction of this wonderful world. For once I’d just like to welcome new players in and say, “Here, let me show you around. Let’s go traveling”.

I guess one needs to ask what they want out the mmo experience. To me, it’s the leveling aspect of this game that is turning mmo’s into single player games, what with everyone grinding incessantly just to get to the point where they can play with the larger player base, and it’s the free exploration and flexibility of single player games like Oblivion and Mass Effect that is making RPG’s more “massive” . To me, it’s this massive feature and the idea of playing with people that is the most important to me. Levels be damned. I just want to explore the world and slay monsters with whomever I want.

Posted: Oct 15th 2009 1:37PM Kalex716 said

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EVE is the prime example of a game with amazing emergent gameplay that is so unique onto itself with such a wide range of goals that if you ask a specific question, you can get 10 different answers from 10 different types of players and they would all be right. Anyone in MMO design right now needs to be taking entire chapters out of that games production playbook!

The problem with EVE is, theirs very little instant gratification. Its not designed to engage you in the immediacy like most contemporary games do. It takes a long time to get its hooks in, and the sheer boredom of some of its mechanics beg people to question "why"? This is particularly the case if people come to it with preconceptions about MMO's and videogames in general. But nevertheless, it's the only game going right now that offers you true open ended options, and you really can apply your own creativity towards and achieve things that others might not be able to!

Posted: Oct 15th 2009 3:17PM (Unverified) said

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It's also not for people who aren't engaged in the space-fantasy, like me. Even though I liked Star Trek and Star Wars when I was little, I've always liked avatars, and the fantasy genre. I would love a game like Eve, but one that was make for fantasy lovers.

something like the illegitimate love-child of Darkfall and Aion.
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Posted: Oct 15th 2009 1:36PM Wisdomandlore said

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I think the author definitely hit the nail on the head when he said the adventure is missing. The theme park model of design encourages players to stay on track, and recent games like Champions and Aion actually give them no reason to do so: there's literally nothing to explore.

When I think back to the best times in LOTRO or FFXI, many of them are when I and a group of friends would veer off the beaten path, poking our noses in places we had no business or attempting a quest we had no idea how to do. FFXI especially and LOTRO originally (not so much after MoM) had plenty of places that no quest sent you. They were just places to explore and see sights and have fun.

Unfortunately developers see such "fluff" as waste now. Achievement oriented gamers bred on WoW stick to the path of least resistance (which isn't to say that WoW doesn't have lots of fluff or places to explore). Thus content that isn't related to a quest tied to a central quest hub isn't used. And developers can't afford to create content that players ignore.

I think there are places for achievement oriented games. However, with nearly every big-name MMO going this route, eventually someone will make a big hit that follows a different path.

Posted: Oct 15th 2009 1:52PM Aganazer said

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It seems like I have been seeing posts like this more and more often lately. I think the core audience is finally starting to see MMOG's as more than a simple game. A lot of people are starting to look for that magical balance of gameplay that people find satisfying in a virtual world.

There are so many factors and so many different personal preferences that its nearly impossible for any one game get it right. Unfortunately it seems like the big budget games are getting more narrow in what they offer instead of offering a broad range of play styles.

One of the core aspects of virtual world design that gets overlooked too often was described fairly accurately a long time ago by Bartle's in his paper about player types who suit MUDs. For something written over 10 years ago its contents are still amazingly accurate. Player balance between play styles is important. You can't have a satisfying game if everyone is an achiever (Champions) or if everyone is a killer (Darkfall). Its the balance of the player types that will create a community.

http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm

Its much more than just having a balanced community though. The play styles associated with each player type are punished in many cases. Killers are completely segregated. Socializers have no social hubs. Explorers are actively punished with a rigid quest system. Most modern games are completely focused on being played like an achiever. Well, what if you're not that type of gamer?

Another missing aspect of nearly every MMOG ever made is the utter lack of non-combat activities. EQ2 tried to slap on a CCG, but it was poorly integrated. UO had chess boards. Why is it that every MMOG I have ever played has taverns that are completely empty? Even crafting, which should be the number one non-combat activity, is typically focused on creating items that are only used for combat.

There is nothing particularly wrong with themepark style quests leading the player around, but at least let an explorer get credit for the quests he accidentally completes while out wandering around. At least add some worthwhile sandbox features for those that enjoy expressing themselves. Put some meaningful non-combat activities in areas to be used as social hubs. Balance some risk and reward for treading into dangerous open PvP because in most MMOG's there is no reward for any player type other than a killer to put them self at risk of being killed in PvP.

Posted: Oct 15th 2009 2:29PM (Unverified) said

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If I really must, I'll quote the answer to your questions:

"Have you ever stood and stared at it, marveled at its beauty, its genius? Billions of people just living out their lives, oblivious. Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world, where none suffered, where everyone would be happy? It was a disaster. No one would accept the program, entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world, but I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through misery and suffering." - Agent Smith
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