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Posted: Feb 16th 2010 4:14PM ultimateq said

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Pay, Differently - I entirely agree.

The "G" Word - Grinding doesn't bother me. But don't let that comment fool you. I am certainly open to new ideas. However, grinding is a tried and true method of progression; no matter how tedious it may be.

Explore New Worlds - I like the idea of procedurally generated areas. So sometimes it may look similar to something else, but is entirely different. I think with enough work, they can make some really good algorithms to create content on demand to keep things fresh, like dungeons, islands or entire continents.

Good article. I think the future looks bright for MMOs, and the they will only get better from this point on. We had our initial MMOs (EQ, AO, AC, etc) to pave the way. We had our 2nd generation MMOs to bring in the following (WoW primarily), and now we have suffered a string of terrible MMOs. I believe in balance, so I can only hope that some good MMOs will come in the future. Good MMOs perhaps in the form of the above mentioned APB, FFXIV and Guild Wars 2.

Posted: Feb 16th 2010 4:30PM (Unverified) said

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MMORPGs have always and will always be the best, and most rewarding game types.

The only problem now is that wow has broken the genre entirely, and its influencing the market in the wrong way. Everyone wants a slice of blizzard pie, and feels like if u don't have 8 million lonely Americans paying 15 bucks a month ur not successful.

Game Companies need to get back to non-prescripted lore and make long terms games where performance and dedication are rewarded more than attendance and interest.

Posted: Feb 16th 2010 4:36PM (Unverified) said

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World of Warcraft didn't innovate anything technically, but Blizzard did remove much of the tedium associated with the genre and provided copious content and community tools (open APIs, etc, went a long way). So they attracted a much larger gaming audience. It's why backwards games like Aion, full of its 2001 era grind and lack of interactive content just doesn't connect with the modern, Western gamer.

The next step is to design a MMO without adhering to modern conventions. Don't try to stick to the formula of text-based grinding missions, compartmentalized narratives, and looping end game content. This works well for Blizzard, but if some developer wants to reach out to an even broader audience, they're going to have to design a solid game that just happens to be a MMO.

Bioware appears to be trying that. We've seen that they're not afraid to make story driven games that abandon previous conventions and are loaded with quality, fully voice acted content. If Star Wars: The Old Republic can provide enough of that for the average gamer, and EA is committed to funding the game beyond the initial glut of content, then it has a chance.

Posted: Feb 16th 2010 4:44PM (Unverified) said

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Or optionally you can do away with levels entirely and base "Progression" off of skills and gear. It would also be a real feather in a mmo's virtual hat to insert a smattering of one of a kind drops that don't require "elite r@iding skyllz" to acquire, leaving it entirely up to dumb luck or...*GASP*....a gm even where the player is forced to role-play, or pull off a feat of daring-do or something. In everquest a guy on Tribunal was given a unique sword after finding a GM disguised as a NPC somewhere in the world and going through some server event with the help of his guild and pretty much everyone else on at the time (crashing er....next zone south of nektolus....um...cant remember...at the time). Of course the unofficial forums erupted in nerd rage that so and so participated but didnt get HIS chance at the glowy whatever. But you get my point.
What the hell ever happened to organic, unscripted, random events? Let the whiners whine that its unfair because they were at work or asleep at the time, I guarantee the majority of players will find grinding away on fire beetles allot more interesting if theres a chance we may run into a wandering wizard or something with a unique quest!

...TLDR version:
Bring back unique human GM run evens in MMO's. Put the RPG back in MMORPG. If its all scripted, If I can expect the same exact experience every single time I login, eventually I will tire of it and quit logging in.
"Game experience may change during online play"

Posted: Feb 16th 2010 4:51PM Bezza said

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A good article, I agree with the points made. There is certainly room for growth and evolution of the genre and we are seeing quite a bit of that lately and probably will continue to do so.

As far as wow is concerned, I don’t accept the premise that wow sets any standards for the genre. I have always maintained that its great success in luring subscribers is more a matter of timing (ie it was among the first) and accessibility (ie you can play it on a 10yr old laptop) not necessarily because it’s a good example of what a mmo should be.

Wow players are not known for their ability to adapt to other mmo’s, specially if the mmo in question is not another lame wow clone. Developers should accept that wow is what it is, it has carved its rightful place in the genre but by no means does it lead the genre in any form of innovation. Leave that to Bioware and other studios who have picked up big IP and developed them accordingly.

Posted: Feb 16th 2010 5:01PM (Unverified) said

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WoW not only set standards, it re-wrote what we expect out of our games. There was nothing comparable at the time. Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot and anarchy online were too niche each in there own right. Everquest took forever to get anywhere and required hours of sitting around doing nothing looking for groups. Anarchy online was buggy as hell, and required a math degree just to get your implants in, and DAoC was not accessible to care bears that hated pvp.
WoW hooked people by reducing the time between incremental gains (carrot on a stick) and made it easy enough for a beginner to play, and challenging enough for a nerd to enjoy. That and one of the most arguably adorable graphics engines at the time. Dated now I know, but back then the fledgling "realistic" graphics were blocky and ugly.
Hating on WoW is a common internet meme now, sort of like the guys that hang out at the Mac Store in the mall sniffing loudly when someone with a pc laptop walks by. Your no less of a drone by joining the smaller group of drones.
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Posted: Feb 16th 2010 6:11PM (Unverified) said

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WoW's graphics weren't ever supposed to be realistic, they were supposed to be colorful and aesthetically pleasing -- and they succeeded in showing that if the game runs at a high framerate and has good aesthetics it will sell more than a highly realistic game that takes a dual-SLI rig to run at a high framerate. I had a computer science professor who once proclaimed "Nobody likes a slow game!" -- how true!
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Posted: Feb 16th 2010 7:31PM Lionhearted said

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Danarchy, WoW -- at least pre dungeon finder -- didn't do anything to help people "find groups" that EQ and others didn't do, too. WoW just gave everybody the ability to solo. In EQ, as a druid, I could travel *much* quicker than in WoW and solo, but most other classes had to depend on characters like me to travel quickly (until the Planes of Power expansion, when travel became fast for *everyone*), but only about half the classes had any ability to solo and only about a quarter of them could do it well. So it was very tedious for players to level up classes like Clerics or Warriors (doubly so because they were so gear dependent)... which made groups that much harder to find for everyone. EQ has since tried to fix some of that by introducing a limited mercenary system, but they sort of missed the boat on that one =p

I only say any of this because I think it's important to realize that WoW didn't really revolutionize much... it just payed a lot of effort to ensure that there was at least *some* balance in ensuring every class had the capacity to solo. That may get a lot of praise from the base of players, but there's something to be said in making a game group oriented... and WoW was just never that. Overall, WoW's probably a healthier-styled game for the average player than creating a game which forces most people to group, but there are consequences to that route (which include, but are not limited to, fewer groups than there could be and fewer players who have ANY talent grouping -- oh, if I could count my dungeon wipes in WoW because of a bunch of idiots who didn't understand their roles and how to behave in a dungeon...)
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Posted: Feb 16th 2010 4:58PM Tizmah said

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I'd like to see more physics based enviroments and physic based combat in MMOs. I guess that's hard to do though in an MMO world.

I just want an MMO again that makes me stay up all night the first time I start playing again because I'm having so much fun.

Posted: Feb 16th 2010 7:08PM Lionhearted said

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Sadly, after having played many MMOs, I don't think there's anything like that first MMO that breaks you into the genre. I remember someone screaming "TRAIN!!!!!!!!" in all red letters (I later learned that was /yell) when I just zoned into Crushbone in Everquest. I kept looking for where the train was in that fantasy setting... seemed weird to see that sort of technology in a zone filled with Orcs that wanted to bash my brains in.... Then I saw it... 15 orcs that each could squish me...
and I bolted for the zone line! I then knew what "train!!!!!" meant. LOL.

In our first MMO, we're so naive and just don't know what to do or expect, it's a completely new world that we've come to experience in full. By our second MMO, even if the new game is somewhat different, we at least know how the genre works and know general tricks of the trade. It may be a new world in the roleplaying sense, but not in our sense of how to act and behave in it. So the experience we're all trying to recapture is going to be really, really hard to duplicate.
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Posted: Feb 16th 2010 5:58PM Graill440 said

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To funny. Many of us have been stating these things for years. Now "they" feel there is a need to be more voiceful? Sheep.

Picard at massively, his eyes open. Good for laughs.

Posted: Feb 16th 2010 6:05PM (Unverified) said

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WoW is really the end of MMOs of its type as a hugely popular genre. The problem with having a huge persistent world is that people form their own small social bubbles anyway, so the "massively" part of it usually devolves into seeing other peoples' posts in the auction house as the game fragments into a zillion little instanced content groups.

I forsee the future of MMOs as a return to the battle.net style chat lobby with players creating their own copies of the world to adventure in. Players would still be able to chat and sell items between each other through the main lobby, and there would be no need to maintain separate server "shards" which keep players from each other.

With a game that's easy to learn this would be an even bigger goldmine than WoW because the "lobby" would sort of resemble a souped-up facebook game, and the adventure part of the game would resemble WoW or Diablo.

Posted: Feb 16th 2010 7:08PM Lionhearted said

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A few things: to correct the article, WoW is not growing. It's population is stable, but it seems to have plateaud at around 11.5 million users.

As for those who think there will never be another thing like WoW, don't be ridiculous. While there's likely to be far more "niche" MMOs with subscriptions ranging from between 250,000-a million, more of those are being added every year.

There are some games recently out or coming out relatively soon (1-2 years) with potential for millions. STO seems to have the potential of having over 1 million subscribers within a few months. TOR, behind the Bioware label and Star Wars IP, will almost certainly get around 5 million users if it's any good. Beyond that, there are some other MMOs coming out with potential for over a million subscriptions -- DC Online, the new Final Fantasy MMO, etc. Some of the games coming out may be surprise hits and get to around 4-5 million within a year or two of being out.

Furthermore, FTP/MT-based games *already* rival WoW -- for example, Free Realms has 8 million users. DDO is continuing to grow. Others will follow suit. Games like Guild Wars 2 could be huge hits and sort of fit in this category.

Given a few more years, some game is going to come out and really challenge WoW. Or, WoW may lose subscribers and slowly fade to a more 'normal' subscriber base. Who knows? But it's inevitable that something will someday truly challenge WoW and quite possibly surpass it in numbers. That game will probably bring something new to the genre that not only leeches numbers, but more importantly brings new people into the genre. Perhaps it'll be the first major (and good) console mmo of this or the next gen consoles?

Posted: Feb 16th 2010 7:02PM Averice said

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If you just look at the 10 comments above mine, it's obvious that there are a million different views on what an MMO should be.

I'm looking forward to both GW2 and FF14 for the very reasons listed at the end of the article. I don't expect them to break new ground or new territory, and any talk by developers or fans of a game being a "next gen MMO" has not rung true in my ears. Even Bioware's MMO just looks... bad. But that's a personal opinion from a viewpoint that I can thankfully say has never been swayed by Star Wars lore, but it's rather obvious that Bioware's MMO isn't being made to pique my interests. Even though I love their single player games, it as of yet hasn't displayed possession of the gaming qualities I look for in an MMO.

@hans The entire draw of Aion for me and many others WAS the fact that it was an oldschool game. Aion knew it was an oldschool game, it had grinding, it had classes that were made to do one thing and one thing only. It was unapologetic about this, and it told players straight up that this is how the game was going to be. One of its major draws was increased focus on accessible group/world PvP, and happened to coincide with WoW publicly cutting those from their lineup. Aions crafting system is still one of the best MMO crafting systems I've ever come across, it was my favorite part of the game. Aion did miss the mark on the leveling grind though. The first 20 levels were much like Vanilla WoW, and that's how people wanted it. EQ and DAoC grinds were too much, Wrath WoW is too easy, Vanilla WoW was a good amount of grind. 21 + got to be a little crazy and many, including myself, dropped because of that.

Posted: Feb 16th 2010 8:02PM (Unverified) said

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That's cool, I'm wasn't trying to detract from anyone's opinion. But the discussion is about how to move the genre forward. The mechanics available in Aion are old, and have proven to only satisfy a (shrinking) niche of a niche within gamedom. It might be enough to sustain a development studio, but it's doing nothing to actually innovate or grow the market.
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Posted: Feb 16th 2010 9:53PM Wensbane said

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I have to say I agree with practically everything Kyle wrote. Especially the part about payment models, which is, imho, the most important one.

Great "Digital Continuum". Well done!

Posted: Feb 16th 2010 9:56PM (Unverified) said

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Why thank you kind gentleperson. :)
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Posted: Feb 16th 2010 11:25PM Nadril said

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I've grown really tired of MMOs, haven't even been subscribed to one in probably over 6 months. It either seems like they restrict what you can do too much or are open games but with no actual meat (content) to them.

I still remain optimistic for games such as Guild Wars 2 but it really is the last hope in my mind to convince me that MMOs are still a valid genre that isn't plagued by long development cycles and unrealistic expectations.

And that's the million dollar question, delivering a game that can be played "endlessly" without boredom or running out of fun stuff to do.

Posted: Feb 17th 2010 1:23AM Valdur said

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Totally agree with you,Today's MMO = boredom after 3 months.Looks like most developers forgot that all that are listed in this"excellent" article are the basics of MMORPG.

It's really ironic when you see a single player game with no co-op feels more like an mmo than all the recently released MMO.

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Posted: Feb 16th 2010 11:40PM (Unverified) said

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WoW succeeds because it provides multiple ways to play the game for gamers with entirely different playstyles, ages and motivations. You can always complain about how elements are implemented, but virtually all gamers are catered for.

You have a persistent world with lore, tons of content, great artwork and animation (if lacking a few polygons) and a game that keeps improving. You have solo, group questing and dungeons, talents and professions through the levelling process as well as well designed classes and specs that offer a variety of gameplay. For the PvP inclined you have full PvP servers, battlegrounds, open PvP areas, arenas (team deathmatch in 2 3 and 5) and even (shudder) duelling. End game is another play style and content is always expanding and gear can now be obtained through PvP, badge acquisition from fighting in random dungeons, crafting and reputation as well as the traditional random boss drop. This means more players are enjoying end game content than ever before. For those players who enjoy acquisition, there's achievements, farming, rare pets and the auction house.

Then there's the social aspects to the game from pugs, guilds and the new dungeon finder which allows you to cross realm pug instances - whiich has it's good and bad points ;-) Altoholics are also catered for with account bound gear and artifacts and recruit a friend.

The LUA based interface means there are thousands of player written add-ons available, that range from the indispensable like Auctioneer to in-game Peggle and Texas Hold-em. The best of these add-ons' characteristics get slowly added to the Blizzard interface. While some may frown at the graphics, the game is playable worldwide even with latencies exceeding 500ms on a variety of computers and platforms.

In WoW, I always have options. If I want an instant group dungeon, some scheduled raid, a bit of PvP, farming, achievements, crafting, questing, guild activities or swim around Azeroth's continents, I can. Yes, there are still things that WoW could do with like flying available everywhere (coming in Cataclysm) and guild housing and I'm sure lots of people will object to the various play style implementations in WoW, but it does provide accessible enjoyment for most people and enough game design to attract the hardcore.

So where do we go from here? The attempts to implement FPS mechanics are still stumbling on the servers required for truly massively multiplayer and the restrictions of latency and light speed. I can play on TF2 servers in the US from Australia at 250ms, but it's a different game in country at 50ms.

The various permutations of levelling and skilling really just break down to "OK we'll grind this way" and any hint of progression assumes an end and then a search to keep people entertained when they reach the end (usually by another progression to another end). There's also the dichotomy between an interactive story and a persistent world you can totally mess up. Rich content requires lots of work and procedural generation is fine if you prefer quantity to quality.

WoW is essentially just polishing the apple (please substitute another object if you wish) and I think we need a different approach and not WoW clones or cookie cutter MMOs such as STO.

What that approach is I have no idea. Most of the game mechanics and "innovations" we've seen have been present in much earlier games and some go back to pencil and paper and war gaming. Blizzard's new MMO may be interesting given that they're standing on the shoulders of giants and have had a significant and persistent test population in WoW, but it may be more of the same. The main problem is the amount of time and money needed to create any significant MMO, let alone marketing it and the need to provide a return on investment. Any radical design is risky and the pressure to publish often results in bad or incomplete implementations.

So I'll enjoy WoW for the moment, wait for Cataclysm and say meh to all its clones and hope for something new to appear on the horizon.

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