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Reader Comments (38)

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 3:14PM MrVister said

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An hour?

I usually give a game about 10 min to convince me it's worth playing. You are way more generous than me.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 4:05PM ShawnSchuster said

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What's funny is I actually had 10 minutes as the original title, but then I thought I'd be a bit more generous. I like to give games at least an hour, but yeah, there are many that I've played 10 minutes and that's all I needed.
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Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 3:39PM (Unverified) said

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The problem is the general view of the MMO player now. Let's be honest. Back when games like Legend Of Mir, UO and EQ were out. It was a "Chatroom with a view". The big epic quests only felt that way because you had people around you to chat and talk about most of the time. The problem with the "instant gratification era" of MMO's is that more often then not...they fail even that one hour test and its sad. There are some bastions of "the long haul" MMO but its now all about running in and feeling like you can kill a million dragons. Its why im finding Aion so hard to enjoy. 10 levels in...the game suddenly hits this wall of "Right...your a god that can't die basically......have fun helping people find pigs!"

The best you can do is this. Find a place with friends. All jump in somewhere together. Take the plunge into something you've not done before and make the effort :) That one hour gets longer when you all laugh and you start to all work together. Thats the only way you can keep people's ADD down i find. ^_^

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 3:23PM Faryon said

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Nice article. I agree with many of the points you are making except where you say developers should focus more on niche games. I understand the logic behind this statement, but focusing too much on a certain group of players isn't really good game design imo. I agree that every game needs a primary focus, but games should also have a few other good features which works well with the primary focus to draw players from the area around the target group.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 3:28PM (Unverified) said

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Very Well Written, I couldn't agree more. I find myself playing more and more Xbox Live because my mmo appetite cannot be satisfied with World of Warcraft any more. (Yes even with the Pre-Cataclysm Patch)

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 3:29PM InkSix said

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I'm shallow. If a game does not have an art style I like I wont play it no matter how fun it is.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 3:31PM Tredo said

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I think this is why so many sandbox games are on the horizon. The developers have found that you can fulfill many players needs with letting them do what they want in a game, and not what they are made to do. The sandbox genre is growing, and I have a feeling that is going to be the next niche we find in our hobby!

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 3:35PM (Unverified) said

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Great read. Expresses exactly what needs to be said to the industry in general.
Not just MMOs.
For me, 2011 is the year that either convinces me to keep playing these things or just stop altogether.
I think FFXIV was the nail in this years coffin lid for me.
How ever *left-brained* financiers are they need to be told up front that the product can't be shipped unless it is core feature-complete.
I wish there was a law of some form of consumer advocacy special interest to help back us up on this.
I hate feeling ripped off...worse, I hate feeling ripped-off with no recourse.
And the FTC and BBB are a joke when it comes to this stuff.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 3:37PM (Unverified) said

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I think you pretty much nailed it. D&D online got 10 minutes out of me until it just felt like nothing new and not worth my time. FFXIV got three hours. I enjoyed the graphics but it still felt like FFXI, including several things that made me leave that game many years ago. I did a free trial of Eve online years ago, but the tutorial was too long and my ADD won out. It seems first impressions are everything when it's so easy to flip the channel.

I very much agree upcoming MMOs need to make sure that first vital 10 minutes is intuitive, fun, and immersive.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 3:49PM Carefulwiththatpoptart said

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I'm relieved to know its not just me who will give an MMO an hour before I say
" F*%k it, I've seen this before." And yet, I keep trying them out. It's a vicious cycle.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 3:48PM Space Cobra said

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Here it is: My opinion's worth of potatoes right here, in writing!

Many people try to capture their "first experience" in an MMO and, actually, this is true with many things, on and offline. This is not fully impossible to do, but in my experience and noting life, it rarely happens.

Your first experience (with anything) will always be your best (unless we are talking about BAD first experiences, but remember, "First impressions" and all that of the human tendency to judge first). This is true, I feel, with MMOs. The closest we can come to a first experience is just enjoying the current game, but you will never fully capture "that illusive butterfly".

Now about focus and niche:

Generally, speaking, even though the Hobby has grown by astronomical numbers, it still is very much a niche market and you see that all over the place. Yet still, what is the domain of pure RP-ers, traditional hard-core PvPers want to fit in constant open world fights into titles (and I would think, some wouldn't mind if Hello Kitty Online became a PvPers heaven. ;) ). Same can be said about other sides. There is the "I am building something/character/stats" model and the "quick-easy 30 minute game" models and all the rest. In one sense, if one game can unite these different elements, it would be revolutionary, but in another sense, there would be friction among the players. In this sense, IMO, a "niche" fits well here, even if the game tries to go for a "balanced game with a bit of everything" if you focus on some key concepts and stick with those, a game should do well. But, there will always be spectacular exceptions that rock player expectations.

As for the Dev side...well, focus on concept is good, but it can be bad, as a few famous literary stories have told the tale. One gets blindsided, especially if they forget or miss details that would *help* their game. While some people look fondly on UO, I was there at Beta and launch and look sourly at it: PvPers like it, but I was forced into that role. Richard Garriott was warned about this but he wanted to let players have "freedom" because he trusted the "human condition" (he has a history of doing that). So, even though many pointed it out, we needed a lesson and this was it. Since then, time has seemed to erase this lesson and a few others.

I think the problem with niches is knowing your market/targets. Some games may be great fun for a short period of time, but expansions may bog it down if they don't continue the same philosophy. Other games would do well over long term, but business people may be looking at earning profitability just at that fiscal quarter so they add other stuff.

Casting a wide net isn't bad, but it is hard to balance things over the long-term in such cases. So, yeah, niche is probably the way to go....if only corporations would know this...but they don't and historically....it shows! There is too much a reliance on surveys and data: many times, gut-instinct is the best and not expecting an instant hit. Even Hollywood suffers with this.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 4:06PM Sanador said

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If 2011 is anything like 2009 and 2010 was for mmo's, then we all have a lot worry about in regards to the future of the genre. Warhammer Online..BUST...Aion...BUST...APB...FAIL...Champions Online...BUST...Tabula Rasa..FAIL, Age of Conan...BUST

I'm really hoping at least one game in 2011 gets it right!

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 4:09PM Harley Dude said

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It's funny...most of the people I see complain about the lack of innovation actually want a clone of an older game, or mention a mechanic that's been done before and not innovative. Who cares about innovation as long as it's fun, has enough content, and is relatively bug free? Could someone tell me anything WoW did that was innovative?

IMO most of the "failed" MMOs are because of a rushed release with a lack of content and being overly buggy.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 4:24PM (Unverified) said

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I agree entirely, although I would have put it more bluntly and said "most of the people I see complain about the lack of innovation actually want Ultima Online re-released with 3D graphics."
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Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 4:29PM (Unverified) said

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The problem is, all the demanding "give me's" that people have voiced and that you're making in your article are the very things game developers are trying to do and they're making hollow, boring, uninspired games. Asking for instant gratification is what the new games have tried to do, and it takes away from the immersion.

Also asking to stay in a niche is a double-edged sword because even some of the best PvP games had a large amount of PvE. Look at DAoC vs. WAR: DAoC is known for its PvP yet a large part of the game has always been PvE and players needed that to keep the game from being 1-dimensional and keep them interested for more than an hour each day. WAR cut out the PvE and it cannot hold on to players interests.

"I want it all and I want it now." Don't you get that more in most modern mmos? I mean, that's exactly the opposite of what the original mmos did. If you show all your stuff off in the start, there's no reason to continue playing.

Its rather brainless to act like an ADHD stimulation starved customer with no time to invest in fulfilling goals and long-term activities, and that's giving developers the wrong idea on how to make games. If progression and growth are things you no longer have patience for, maybe you should retire from MMOs? I think the real point should be that most new games are not worth the patience and time, and then you feel like you need the instant gratification, but that's a different argument.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 4:30PM arodriguezc said

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My game experience is:

Lineage 1 - 7 months
WOW - 5 years and counting.
AoC - 3 months
WAR - 3 months
Tabula Rasa - 4 months but loved it! wish they would bring it back!
Aion - 15 hours total
Fallen Earth - 15 hours total (but I will get to this in a minute)
Champions Online - 1 month
City of Heroes - 1 month.

I play other MMOs to get away from WOW since it has been my main MMO for the past 5 years. I don't stay in the game that long because I do not find that reason to stay in. The only game that I can say that is bringing me back is Fallen Earth, because once you get past the tutorial (which sucks by the way... well the old one anyway). But lately I have been thinking about FE a lot... mi character is level 10 and zone 1 but for some reason I am crafting and kicking butt at the same time and find myself thinking about the game even when I am raiding in WoW. But out of all of the games that I have tried I can say that 4 I have enjoyed a lot.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 4:37PM Syesta said

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I'm probably the MMO developers' favorite type of player, because I'll pay retail price just to try it out and give a game a fair shake.
Even if it only piques my interest, I'll try it full on for typically 1-2 months before deciding whether or not continue.
Rare is the retail-level MMO I come across that doesn't at least hold my attention for a decent amount of time...I think LotRO and STO are the only ones I paid full price for to fail the litmus test (only played LotRO for about 2 weeks, gave up on STO in 3 days).
Funny enough, I think I've gotten the biggest bang for my buck out of Aion and FFXIV in the past couple years.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 4:49PM Zerdiox said

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It's strange really, I see people complaining that games should grab you from the minute you start and make it feel like you actually contributed... And the strange thing is, the more I heard about it, the more I keep remembering Guild Wars 2. A giant boss right at the beginning, a manifest clearly stating they want people to feel like a hero again and well... It just seems to click, I can't help it. It seems that the manifesto from GW2 has found it's way in to many people's mind. We must break the chains that tie us to the old ways of MMO's, we must destroy that static world and make it feel alive. Everybody must be a hero again and no matter the level, should experience epic content.

Yes, GW2... It will rock...

Yes, I'm a fanboy :D

Posted: Nov 3rd 2010 1:58AM Transientmind said

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Funny, that 'hero' thing.

I had an interesting experience with a mate of mine whose first MMO experience was WAR. He absolutely loved it, drank the fanboy kool-aid and would cheerfully rag on WoW at every available opportunity. (Without having actually played it, only WC3.)

Fast-forward to a LAN party with a few mates, and we hopped on to our WoW toons and ran Culling of Stratholme. My WAR-playing mate looked over our shoulders and made constant, "Woah," noises as we burned down hundreds of zombies and dragons.

Afterwards, he expressed envy. "Dude. You guys were kicking absolute ass... it totally looked like each one of you was some kind of legendary hero. You were killing so much stuff, and everyone was treating you like champions! WAR doesn't do that. WAR treats you like a rank-and-file soldier..."

CoS is a little skewed, but I had a think about my own experience with WAR and WoW and I think he's probably right. WoW makes you feel like more of a badass... and I think that's because of the PVE focus. When you pit equally-skilled players against each other, you have to expect - on average - to lose half the time. Losing half the time in PVE? Doesn't happen. You win ALL the time.

(This part is beside the point, but: he played WoW for a couple weeks then cancelled all MMO accounts. He is studying medicine and quickly realized after two sleepless WoW-filled weeks that he would not be able to sustain this lifestyle, but he also couldn't go back to any other MMO after having played it. I contend that once he had slipped into the same raid-grinding stupor that we had, he might stop... but he says he knows himself and feels otherwise.)
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Posted: Nov 3rd 2010 6:05AM Zerdiox said

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Oh I don't deny you can get that hero-feeling from WoW. You see, I played it myself, but after going trough two toons to lvl 70, I quickly lost that feeling. No matter how much you kill, they always come back and nothing changes. That's what numbed the feeling of being a hero, nothing changed, no matter what you did. That's why I never felt like a hero for a long time.
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