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Reader Comments (77)

Posted: Jun 24th 2010 5:08PM (Unverified) said

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I think Blizzard has a listening device implanted in your brain, because the revamped quests for the low-level zones in the current Cataclysm build are awesome. They are much better than the current live game's quests and they really draw you into the world. I know eventually someone who's jaded will reply to my post saying how WoW is already dead and has been for some time, but I stand by my statement that the next expansion is like a brand-new game, packed full of fun from the time you roll your character.

Posted: Jun 24th 2010 5:16PM Krag said

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Even the BC starting zones in WoW were awesome. They've learned a thing or two, and I think they're revamping them all for Cataclysm.
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Posted: Jun 25th 2010 9:52AM (Unverified) said

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Apples and Oranges.

WoW is a game that was establised at a point where it was norm to do what is now considered boring. And what was boring now was still fresh and new for most. Not to say they are doing anything wrong with revamping old zones, but much of the revamping for me if it is ANYTHING like wotlk quests then it is even more theme-parked and restrictive. Forcing you to go in a direction instead of letting the player discover their own way (hence removing depth). I personally see everything that is now artifical in the game, hence why I stopped playing. The world stopped being alive, and instead is set on a timer to when Blizzard wants everything to go for (without anything hidden from the player, because we cannot waste quests for depth!).
WoW is dead in a sense, this 'brand new game' already exists. Still makes billions (and they cannot even give Arthas a proper CGI goodbye, the cost cutting is amazing), so in that sense it is very alive. In a way I respect them just like I respect Bobby Kotick for forcing IW in making MW2 which itself made millions/billions. Doesn't mean I respect their current game philosophy through, I don't think it will (and shouldn't) work long term.

Anyway, I am still open to the idea that WoW could become 'good' again. But I doubt it will ever be what Vanilla was in terms of its whole connecting landscapes, depth while still being accessible (was a casual in vanilla), and just pure fun that wasn't restricted to being shoved into a specific direction.
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Posted: Jun 30th 2010 12:33PM kalipou134 said

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WoW will not die unless Blizzard pulls the plug, and its not gonna happen any time soon (as in years)

Now that thats out of the way, I completely agree with the article and I'd love to shove it into some of the "wow-haters" (you know, those other MMO addicts that keep grasping at their dying MMO in the hopes it'll get better but we all know they're dying for a reason) some more.

WoW is number 1, it is the current top dog of the MMO (free or not) play field. Not because it has good graphics (obviously) not because it has amazing endgame content (it does get boring after MONTHS) not because its PvP mechanics are top of the line (which they're not far from, oh I went there, yes I did) but because WoW not only DOES make you grind, it does so without you noticing it, and THAT's the right way to go about it.

All those idiots you see saying "lol WoW is easy mode, i like grinds, real MMOs are grindfest WoW is for nubs lololol" have no clue what they're talking about because they spent too much time on free2play/badly developped games and/or have been playing for decades (long ago, grinds were al the devs could come up with, thus being standard).

WoW makes you grind, you kill mobs for hours on still. Except you also loot quest items from said mobs, you kill them with groups, you switch areas, you get ganked.

instead of going down the lazy route of "well we didn't feel like bothering so just grind your way to max lvl because we, cheap ass devs, didn't feel like shaping out our game, so we only worked on the end-game content (which is also half assed 99.9% of the time), it gets really good once you hit max level but you'll have to grind mindlessly like a stupid zombie for months with no reward whatsoever.

If MMOs were restaurants, WoW would be the one serving you the grind with potatoes, carrots, steamed beans, freshly baked bread, good wine on a silver platter.

Meanwhile, other MMOs just throw a cardboard plate with no so trustable chicken on it and tell you "But hey, the desert is really good, I promise, maybe".

Where would you rather eat?
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Posted: Jun 24th 2010 5:10PM Thac0 said

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I cant say anything but that I couldn't agree with you more. Games should be fun from level 1. I don't need to flog myself for 80 level before the fun starts, i'm not playing a game that long if its no fun.

Posted: Jun 24th 2010 5:19PM (Unverified) said

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I agree 100%. I am so tired of being forced through dull and boring content because it's all about the end game. This is why I get so bored with MMO's. I like to enjoy the ride.
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Posted: Jun 24th 2010 5:26PM BaronJuJu said

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Well said Seraphina, I completely agree. This reminds me of a recent experience in a MMO where I joined with a friend who was a long time player in the game. he proceeds to race throught he first 60 levels so we could "get to the good part". By the time I was level 40 I still wasn't familiar with the way the class worked and I had runt hrough 4 continents of content so fast I couldn't remember one quest I did to save my life. I tried to go back at times to at least explore the areas we raced though a bit more but he would state that it was a waste of time. ultimately this turned me off from the game and as soon as I hit 60 I left, even with sub fee's paid for additional months.

"Endgame should start at level one," should be a mantra that gamers insist upon to all game developers from now on. If you put all the "good stuff" at level 90 then by God just make us level 90 from the get go.
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Posted: Jun 25th 2010 6:24AM nearly nil said

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There is flip side to the argument though: in recent memory we have had a major game (*cough* AoC *cough*) that had an amazing first 20 lvls with innovation everywhere, eye-candy, immersion, and buckets of fun. Great start for reviews, but then it all came to a crashing halt and the real game started...
BTW AoC is one of my favorites. I love the vast improvements from launch, but the criticism still stands.
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Posted: Jun 25th 2010 6:31AM nearly nil said

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For that reason alone, reviewers should slog through a decent amount of a game to find out if it gets worse, and not better...
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Posted: Jun 25th 2010 9:42AM Thac0 said

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The thing is i never felt like AoC stopped being good after 20. Its just the voice acting stopped. Also if anyone had payed attention to what the devs said all along before they played the game they would have known that the first 20 levels were more a single player game and that you were then going to be spit out into a conventional mmorpg world.
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Posted: Jun 26th 2010 1:57AM mysecretid said

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Agreed, Sera.
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Posted: Jun 24th 2010 5:17PM Arkanaloth said

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must agree entirely.. all too often I hear "The game starts at ", my argument has always been that such a statement is crap. The game starts at level 1, if I have to wait *that* long for it then it's not worth my time.

Posted: Jun 24th 2010 5:33PM ImperialPanda said

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Article sounds good, but applies poorly to MMOs (especially MMORPGs).

Mostly due to technical limitations, MMO gameplay will never be as complex as say StarCraft or Chess. MMO stories will never be on the same scale as a single player RPG. And MMOs will never require as much reflexive skill as a FPS.

In fact, I think you have your metaphore completely backwards. The bun and toppings correspond to the bells and whistles they toss you during the level up process. The meat equates to two things. One is the sense of accomplishment when you jump through the various hoops developers put in your way. The second is being a part of the community of that game world.

If you consider gameplay to be more important than "accomplishments" and community, then perhaps MMO is not the genre for you.

(that is not to say leveling up should require coffee to keep you awake, but it's not the holy grail as presented by this article)

Posted: Jun 24th 2010 8:16PM Brianna Royce said

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Guys, it's kinda poor form to vote down a post merely on the grounds that you disagree with it. This guy didn't flame or say anything rude. He offered a counter to Sera's argument. It might not be a great counter, but it took some courage to come into a thread like this with an unpopular view. At least have the courage to argue with him rather than anonymously trying to bury differing viewpoints.

Use the votedown for trolls and dingdongs, not for polite counter-opinions.

-Bree
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Posted: Jun 24th 2010 8:45PM Seraphina Brennan said

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...Bree said ding dongs.

And, yes, I support counter-opinions, and I understand where Panda is coming from. Well done, sir. ^_^

~Sear
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Posted: Jun 25th 2010 7:11AM Patrick Mackey said

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MMORPGs are already technically more complex than chess - there are more options and more things to think about; it's just that Chess is less organic than an MMORPG and skill in the game is nebulous. As for StarCraft, well, I have no idea. I have a sneaky suspicion that Guild Wars is more complex than StarCraft, as it has way more "moving parts."

I think the term you're looking for is "deep." Even then, MMORPGs have a huge amount of knowledge to learn. I think a lot of the problem in MMORPGs is patching - we tend to master the nuance of a "finished" game rather than complain to the devs about balance (because doing that does no good). In a MMORPG, if something is broken you can complain instead of L2Ping.

Long live StarCraft.
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Posted: Jun 25th 2010 10:24AM Thrasher said

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Good point and I agree. these arguments come from both sides with no suggestions on how to change anything. games like MO have nothing to do make your own path and story, then switch to others where there are more quests to do then you can swallow.
while the game should be fun 1/2 of an mmo is about playing in a fun community and alot of times you do not experience this untill well later in the games.
If you put all the so called fun in the front of the game I.E. raids, gear, end game type bosses then it becomes a RoM type affair, grind this dungeon to get this gear so i can gear up for the next dungeon to get more gear on and on THEN you risk being labeled a "grinder".

It would be nearly impossible to make the game all about quests as the amount of new content would have to be released at a staggering pace to keep up with the lvling junkies so therein lies the balance problem. and if this IS what your after then you need a traditional RPG not an mmo.
then there is the factor and its the biggest one, sometimes I just dont like what you like, but to be fair after years of being a hard core raider and grinder (which I happen to like grinding) I have seen the "fun" almost always start later then sooner, but this is when friendships are forged and the community comes alive (most of the time)
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Posted: Jun 25th 2010 2:04PM ImperialPanda said

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I was kind of dreading coming back to check on this lol... :P But thanks for the replies.

Yep, when I said complex I meant depth in skill. Almost always, it's possible to "plateau" in terms of skill/strategy for MMO. Whereas even after 12 years of starcraft, and however long chess has been in existence, people still not have been able to reach a point where their play can be considered as perfect as humanly possible. It's still possible to play better. Not so for MMOs, especially ones that are less action oriented. It may take a little research, but eventually people come to a specific order of skills/positioning that they need to perform and then they can't really play any better than that.

To clarify my point a little, I just wanted to point out that different people consider different things fun. And the design philosophy for traditional games will not apply to MMOs. MMOs (subscription) need to attract players who play for 1+ years on their game to be profitable. Box sales don't even come close to covering the cost of developing and maintaining a MMO.

When you have to plan/develope for 1000s of hours of gameplay, it's literally impossible to make every moment as fun as a single or non-massive, non-persistent multiplayer game.

When designing, it's better to develop gameplay features that closely relate to the unique aspects of MMOs, i.e. the persistent nature and the massive community, to differenciate the MMO from other genres. Gameplay (esp low-level) will get better over time as developers streamline their development process and have more middleware and experience. But that can't be their main priority because ultimately they need to first cater to the players who are interested and willing to stay for 1+ years.

Trust me, they do try to make everything as fun as possible. But there are priorities they need to consider and they need to strike a balance when allocating the limited development resources they have to the various parts of the game.
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Posted: Jun 25th 2010 6:15PM (Unverified) said

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Wait, Chess has infinite strategies and MMOs plateau on skill early on?

You've got that backwards.

Chess as a game has had the same rules, the same mechanics since it was invented, we're talking a thousand years! People aren't inventing new rules and strategies for the game, they're just memorizing the different possibilities.

Any MMO, even a very poor MMO, sees the addition of new content at some point in its life. Even if the content is simplistic, that represents a turning point where the skill changes. The most powerful item at one point of the game is no longer true at another, and the best way to accomplish some task may be different before and after a patch. The strategy can't plateau because the game is changing!

I like to use Kingdom of Loathing as my example of the holy grail of changing gameplay in an MMO. The main mechanic of the game revolves around going from level 1 to 15 in the most efficient manner possible, doing the mandatory quests along the way and the sidequests as they prove advantageous. Every month a new item is introduced that may impact this most efficient path, so the game remains fresh constantly, no matter how quickly players manage to deduce that optimal path each month.

-SirNiko
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Posted: Jun 26th 2010 6:39AM Patrick Mackey said

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I think SirNiko has the right idea.

We have this sort of romantic view of Chess, StarCraft, Counter-Strike 1.6 and Super SF2 Turbo. These games have evolved over years of play, have no further true iterations (except in the case of Super Turbo I guess) and are remarkably well-balanced and designed. Lots of people play these games, and while truly "new" strategies haven't really been developed in these games, a lot of effort has been placed into practicing them. People still can't play these games perfectly, but there's a reason why.

In StarCraft, even if it was mechanically possible to play perfectly, the game would still be somewhat rock-paper-scissors based on predicted build orders. Because SC has a human factor, perfect micro/macro is just impossible, so we get exciting seesaw matches where little mistakes can create big comebacks. Still, Brood War hasn't really been innovated a ton since Savior vs. Bisu and hasn't really innovated at all since Flash became a household name in Korea. The meta still shifts, because builds counter other builds, but they really don't get any tighter - progamers know how the ideal ways to build for "x" unit composition in the early, mid, and late game, and the real high level gameplay is about predicting the opponent and implementing counters, both through tech and tactics.

MMORPGs evolve continuously, so we don't ever get to this mega deep level of exploration of high level endgame tactics. We figure out mostly optimal stuff, and often before the counters are explored, devs nerf it with patches. If we had a version of Guild Wars that stopped patching all of a sudden forever, hardcore players would develop an elaborate, StarCraft-like meta (really, they already have) with intricate counters and deep strategies. We'd learn all the "optimal" broken builds, build for counters, and have a pretty deep, engaging game.

StarCraft has stuff in it - take defilers, for instance, which 'should' ruin TvZ. Terran players have since learned how to deal with defilers, but the truth of the matter is that if Zerg techs to defiler, most Terrans have a very hard time doing anything. They appear very broken on the surface, but the meta has adapted, and Terrans have found ways to deal with them - most of which involve very difficult micro, and require the Terran player to have better keyboard control than the Zerg player. If SC were a MMO, defilers probably would have been nerfed pretty bad - they alter the ZvT matchup so much that it doesn't even resemble a normal game anymore - it's a game of whack the defiler, and if it succeeds enough times, then the Terran gets to actually play, and if it fails, Zerg just wins.
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