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Reader Comments (23)

Posted: Oct 24th 2009 12:37PM Wisdomandlore said

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I think procedurally generated content could solve the problem. Say you get a quest from a farmer to kill some wolves. If you succeed, the farmer expands his land. Maybe he encroaches on some goblin settlement, or starts a feud with some other farmers. You have more quests opened up. If you fail, the farmer loses his cattle and eventually his farm. The local town suffers food shortages. You have to supply them with food. If you don't, the town falls apart. The villagers leave. No more town.

Basically "success" will give you rewards and change the world one way. "Failure" doesn't harshly punish you, but it does affect the world negatively. Either path opens up new quests and alters the world. It changes the world. This of course requires a an actual persistent world where environments, NPCs, etc can all change based on player actions. It would also require more real estate over all to provide content for all players. And obviously more powerful servers and new technology.

Posted: Oct 25th 2009 2:26AM Dread said

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I remember that that's what Darkfall was promising years ago. Mobs that leveled up if they killed players, higher level mobs attracted newer and bigger creatures to the region etc. If one bunch of mobs was over populated you got quests to thin the herd out, if they were killed out other creatures moved in etc.

I agree its the next REAL evolution in MMO gaming, not this eye candy pseudo flying RvR crap. That's last decades news.

If only someone could actually deliver it.
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Posted: Oct 24th 2009 12:48PM (Unverified) said

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what your talking about there is guildwars, you'd be in your own instanced game all the time to keep it dynamic... however that also means playing alone normally.

Posted: Oct 24th 2009 12:52PM (Unverified) said

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The problem is that fantasy MMOs currently have a very linear progression so that being able to outright fail a quest would entirely halt your ability to play on from there, and that they are heavily dependent on character development (levels/skills) and "phat loot" so character death and equipment loss would not go over well with the typical players of these games. For the most part MMORPGs are single player games that you play simultaneously with other people.

I want to see a fantasy MMO with a real sense of risk and danger of loss. Sci-fi has it covered already. EVE online punishes every failed encounter with the loss of your ship which in itself gives a genuine adrenaline rush. Give me this feeling in a fantasy setting somehow, please!

Imagine a fantasy MMO where you are genuinely frightened to enter a dungeon for fear of what could happen if you do, or where if you are smart/skilled/lucky enough to survive to "level 80" you will be a legend, not just another face in the crowd with identical epic loot.

I want that game, but I fear that it would take a total overhaul of what we recognize as an MMORPG and I doubt that anyone would want to risk putting their money into something so radically different.

Posted: Oct 24th 2009 2:57PM (Unverified) said

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Thats simple, just play Tibia. Its fantasy based and if you die you lose 10% experience, which can be about a day of work depending on your level. You also lose all the items in your backpack, as well as the back pack itself, and you also have a chance to lose any of the equipment you have equipped at the time. You definitely think twice before you try to take down a dragon.
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Posted: Oct 24th 2009 1:04PM (Unverified) said

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Yes the opportunity to fail would be a welcome improvement from my perspective. Love it or hate it, death in Everquest and the subsequent corpse dragging/rezzing experience added huge consequences to anything you did in game. It made you think twice before running solo through certain zones or plowing into a dungeon without a plan or a solid group. Where they got it wrong I think was with the experience loss penalties, they were too huge and amplified even more if you got killed trying to get your corpse back.

There are likely plenty of other areas where the chance of failure could be introduced. Taking risks makes things exciting and in all the current MMO's there is really very little risk involved.

Posted: Oct 24th 2009 1:09PM Vandell said

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NO. Do not want. I don't play games only to get frustrated, which is why I've quit MMOs recently. Making them more difficult is the wrong way to go when it comes to my tastes.

Posted: Oct 24th 2009 1:23PM (Unverified) said

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Given the recent successes with players and reviewers of Demon's Souls, I would say that there's definitely a cadre of gamers who are seeking a challenge involving skill, not just time. Failure there is not necessarily permanent (you loose currency, which doubles for experience), but it's pretty harsh nontheless.

By all means, bring that back into our MMOs!

Posted: Oct 24th 2009 1:23PM lazymangaka said

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There should absolutely be ways to fail, but in an MMO setting where you can't simply reload a save an expect to try again, you can't fail for good. It simply wouldn't work if everything in a game were phased, and I can see it playing out like this:

Toon 1: "Wanna do [X Instance]?"

You: "Sorry, no can do. It's not open for me because I didn't collect enough boar
livers, and the whole town died."

Toon 1: "...Wait, seriously?"

But, on the flip side, you should have penalties for failing: Having to do quest sequences over again, or reductions in loot for multiple failures. Not to the point of being frustrating, but just so quests aren't so throwaway.

Posted: Oct 24th 2009 1:33PM Nintendesert said

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You don't have to make every person and every quest have a direct output of the land changing, but instead a plurality of quests over time change the game. If more people are failing a quest, then the game starts shifting in that direction. Environment changes, NPCs etc, then over time if more and more players succeed it can shift the other direction.

Each player plays a part in shaping the world together.

As for MMOs and what they are missing, it's true. The Risk vs. Reward system has been tossed out in favor of All Reward All the Time.

In UO, if you died at the bottom of Hythloth there's a good chance you weren't getting your gear back. Your stats and character didn't change, but whatever you had on yourself is now down there with the demons.

In UO dying meant that someone could take all your stuff. Unfortunately in the new MMOs gear is the sole reason for playing, so letting others take it from you isn't feasible.

In a player crafted world where a large and robust market is allowed to flourish, losing some gear isn't such a big deal.

The MMO world however has shifted to cater to the ADD generation and isn't about making a world anymore. Origin's motto was "We create worlds."

Now we're in an MMO market dominated by Blizzard, "We create bumpercars."

Posted: Oct 24th 2009 8:02PM Sean D said

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Some people will use cheat codes without restraint to beat games. Others adamantly refuse to do so. You can't please both.

The thing that makes or breaks MMOs for me is the community. I can enjoy an MMO I wouldn't normally play if the community is predominantly respectful and mature. This can be tied back to content, though, as it's the content that draws the community. If an MMO has a higher learning curve, requires that players invest more time, or is more story-driven, I believe you'll see less immaturity. I believe the opposite is true. The more immediately gratifying a game is - the more it gives you easily - the more you'll get those players with the mentality that cheating is the best way to beat a game.

Posted: Oct 24th 2009 2:28PM elocke said

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I disagree with this. I don't think failing or the chance to fail is what is missing. Matter of fact, I still fail in some games, like WoW, because I'm not an elitist jerk who runs top end raid 24/7. I casually raid and learn it the way it is meant to be learned, and it can be tough and sometimes I don't complete the raid or get drops, etc.

What I think is missing is again, World Immersion. It's what makes me buy expansions but after playing through it with a few toons it gets old. There needs to be a catch. The only thing I can think of is FFXI in its current state. There is SOOOO much to do in that game, it is mind boggling. The only major problem with FFXI, is that I need a static party to do it all, which is where it fails.

Posted: Oct 24th 2009 3:10PM (Unverified) said

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I started to play WoW last november until June, and had to stop because of professional reasons. However, what i felt was that, WoW in particular, is getting easier, and more tuned to the casual player. I'm more of a casual but I don't agree with that, because if you want raids, massive adventures and battles you should work for it, that's the fun in it for me. And, it lacks more world events, either from a quest made from thousands of players, or new expansions like cataclysm. Or more invasions from giant npc's, that made you log every day in hope to be part of some event of that kind. If i want fast play, i'll go play a shooter...
Meanwhile I tested the trial of Lotro and now I'm in DDO, and one downside is smaller worlds and less sense of community. Lots of times, i'll just log on and stayed in stormwind chatting with everyone in general channel or the guild. I guess the number of player in the server is always important for that feeling that you are in a real city or area with a lot of people. And wow is so big that many times i would just take a walk and help other players or discover new areas.
I mean the grind is boring, especially in the outlands, but give me the good things and i'll play a game nevertheless.

Posted: Oct 24th 2009 3:35PM Critical Mass said

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1) Immersion. By finding stuff interesting and react to it, not being occupied with solely tasks or actions. A sense of depth of immersion, be it rain effects, lore or whatnot. Anything that has some kind of consequence adding depth to the game mechanics. I would say that consistency could be a way to keep things "real" in a sense, so that you don't simply overlook things because the novely wore off.

2) Social aspect, with interaction beyond simple hack'n'slash on eachother. A common feature would be the chat window(s). I am thinking that there should be other stuff as well, e.g the way gamers are organized and interact inside the game in regard to game mechanics.

3) A sense of purpose, aimed at prolonged gameplay over timespan of perhaps a year or longer.

4) Escapism. I guess this is more for gamers who seek something else than a hack'n'slash game, by simply being content with playing the game for what it offers, not having your "personal sense of fun factor" determined by quick gratification.


Problems:

Gamers probably desire different things in a game. Mixing mushroom soup with pieces of almond cake, ending up with something undesired.
---> Don't mix game features senslessly without a coherent design.

Something unique is found in the game and someone writes a guide about it, undermining the mystique.
---> Spawning could be made unpredictable in various ways. Surely one could come up with a system of offering content that isn't easily deciphered by a group of players. Also, perhaps an "optimal" way of dealing with this, could be to give players an almost unfathomable range of options, making people play the game and not having the game playing the gamers.

Senseless grindfactor. So you collect alot of stuff, but is the stuff worth anything or is it usable? Would people accept a "grind" if it meant a realtime 1:1 time scale effort, making playing mmo abit like a job? I think I know I would in some ways, if it mattered and made sense in the end.
---> Stuff making sense.

Shenanigans, griefing, goldfarmers.
---> Fix bugs, fix exploits, ban people in game, ban people on the forums, screw over goldfarmers logistically. Someone is stacking a lot of resources? Have a group of players find and pillage the whole thing. Hiding a warehouse stocked full of hides can't be that easy.

Characters become end up with similar characteristics. So after a while, everyone can fight, cook, cast magic, build stuff, carry alot of stuff.
---> A clever system for creating and developing a character. So if you are a weakling, you will never ever get to have the strength to do certain actions. Bind the subscription fee to a limited stat roll, and force people to risk ending up with sub par characters.

Player not online to stave off an attack or theft of assets outside his timezone?
---> Mabye a bank/vault/community system or something could be used to keep some tings more safe. Or have the players dig down valuables in the ground making theft mind-numbingly boring or at least requiring some effort at spying. Maybe money and assets is not that important anyway.

In the end, I dislike reading about what might be missing in mmo's, as things seem to be overly simplified not taking the whole of a game into context. So I don't like idealism, unless I know exactly what to do with it, or what I want with it, else I fear the end result will not make much sense when abstracted into an ideal.

Posted: Oct 24th 2009 4:36PM (Unverified) said

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I think whats missing is not just the opportunity to fail in one way or the other but more in general the opportunity to make decissions with real consequences.

When i look at the back of my box of Neverwinter Nights 2 i read the sentence: "Everything you do has a meaning". When i play WoW i feel more like: "nothing you do has a meaning. Because we all end up in Dalaran doing our dailys no matter if we rolled a troll or a dwarf, got exalted with Thorium Brotherhood back in the days, completed our epic class quest, chose Aldor or Scryer, speced shadow or holy."

It's more like an interactive film so to say.

Posted: Oct 24th 2009 5:11PM (Unverified) said

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Yes, appart from the ocasional attack from the horde at SW or IF, wow
world is very peaceful and dull concerning world events. What amazes
me, is that it isn't so difficult to implement the ideias spoken here
in the games. At least, at first sight...

Posted: Oct 24th 2009 5:52PM Seare said

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I think Bioware has this covered. What's missing is true immersion, choice and genuine consequenses that effect your missions and character development. I'm not a fan of harsh death penalties. However, if Bioware is true to their word, then your choices and falures will effect your gameplay.

Posted: Oct 24th 2009 7:32PM (Unverified) said

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The sense of risk vs reward in todays mmo's is definitly NOT there. Those who played EQ know what I mean. That game made you think twice before just randomly doing anything which leads to immersion, challenge, strategy, entertainment, and an overall better play experience. I don't play these games to be crash test dummies that go and throw themselves at anything knowing I have nothing to lose. I enjoy a challenge and nothing feels better than taking a risk and winning. Bringing that back in the right way is the first step.

Secondly the lack of a fully connected world is another prime suspect these days. Anytime a player can disconnect themselves from the rest of the world you lose immersion. Do this enough and you lose the MMO in MMORPG. That second M stands for MULTIPLAYER. I think alot of developers lost that knowledge somewhere along the line. When I log into a mmo and can't go group with my friends due to them being in an instance, that takes away from the game.

Last but not least, playing these games on rails has become the new trend. All of these games today are theme park mmo's it seems. Very few go the sandbox route. The easy way to go is theme park if you want your players to get to their goal which is usually to level up and reach a certain end game content. The problem with this game style is that it is very easy to see through and realize that you are running on rails. No one likes a rail shooter, they like the freedom to explore and venture around. Just the same, mmo's on rails gets old fast, having a sense of exploration and freedom of choice in mmo's is KING.

In the end it is all about the dollar these days. All of these game design flaws I listed happened due to big companies wanting to make more money. I've pretty much given up on HUGE companies with AAA titles making mmo's because I know they will follow this trend of not designing for the better of the community but instead to design to the masses to make more money in the end. Indie mmo's WILL bring the next big thing in my opinion because they are the only ones willing to take chances. It all circles back to risk vs reward, big companies don't like risks.

Posted: Oct 24th 2009 11:29PM Graill440 said

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You will never see a game where you fail perm, that is restarting from the character screen fresh, nothing intact, no money, no inventory, nothing including your name.

The money models, investors and narrow minded folks that make these games havent the will nor the talent to pull it off.

Posted: Oct 25th 2009 7:41AM SkuzBukit said

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I think a "permadeath" game will not be successful, though there may well be a niche for it it will be a tiny one & unless a company can add that as a mode to an already financially secure game which is without tyhat mode already solid, I just don't ever see it being viable as a concept.

Consequences upon death need a serious rethink, removing death penalties, or reducing them to very minor irritations definitely does do a lot more than some posters here seem to believe, & I honestly think that a game's sense of achievement & sense of risk needs to be tangible & important, failure should have some form of knockback, but I don't think developers have been anywhere near creative enough about death in MMO's.


EverQuest, my second MMO after UO definitely gave something to the game as a direct result of it's harsh death penalty system (though it is now a hell of a lot less than it was), and the corpse runs & other aspects really added to every aspect of the adventuring in the game, it gave everything you did a sense of gravitas.

When I say that developers need to rethink death I am meaning actually innovate, create a new death system, perhaps even a "mini-game" second-chance whereby you are in the spirit realm & need to now find your way back to your corpse but everything is different here, and it has it's own hazards, like soul-eaters etc, take too long to find your way back to your body & you truly die & need to get a ressurection, then go fetch your corpse, could even be expanded upon later and added to in many ways, but that's a starter idea.

Penalties for death should exist in some form & in a way that tries to fit in with the whole story & feel of the game it's in work better, give them a rationale, a minigame, or even a whole sub-game of their own, you basically want a deterrent, knockback, to add suspense & danger to the game, danger is an essential part of our human experience, take it away from games that are trying to create an alternate world to exist in & you remove the very sense of it being a world, it becomes "just a game".

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