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Reader Comments (38)

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 4:56PM Sanador said

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Forgot to mention that I recently bought the Guild Wars Trilogy. Despite all the positive reviews, it couldn't hold me down for more than 3 days. The outdated graphics and combat animations just are not acceptable for me. I paid a lot of money for my rig and I didn't make that investment to play games that look like that. Tried Lotro again after it going to free to play and I couldn't even get past the tutorial. I show my console friends some of these games and they laugh their asses off when they see some of the graphics our beloved genre uses. Whatever game gets my attention in the future, graphics have to be really good! It's not everything for me, but it's important. I guess that's one of the reasons Aion got about 80 hours of game time from me.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 4:58PM clik said

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Heh 1 hour, I can tell if I will like a game just by looking at a 2 minute gameplay video on Youtube. The way characters move, their speed, the way they fight, how they respond to controls is pretty much the number 1 factor that goes into my decision. Once I get the surface things out of the way I will put more effort into reading about the rest of the game.

I've spent too much money on garbage MMOs because of forum hype.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 5:11PM aillas said

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An hour doesn't seem like enough time to give a game a fair chance. Yes I've played ones that made the first few hours drag, but I usually give an MMO several hours where I try to level up a few times.

I tried a few F2P games recently: Allods Online and Runes of Magic. I just couldn't get into either, despite spending 2-3 hours on each.

Right now I have a purchased copy of Fallen Earth that I haven't yet tried out, and its been on my list of things to do for a while.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 5:36PM Solp said

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I don't know what to say other than... Shawn, write more articles.

Also: /signed.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 6:38PM Loopy said

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Very nice article. I thought there was something wrong with me for ditching all those MMOs so fast, but i'm glad i'm not alone.

It's exactly like you said it: I'm looking for that old feeling of "wow!" that i had when i first started (incidentally) WoW. I really want to feel that butterfly in my stomach again, which i haven't felt in a long time.

LOTRO was pretty close to that, but it had little things that bugged me to a point that i just couldn't ignore the itch any more.

Here is to hoping that Bioware does it right with ToR (even though i have many doubts about it).

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 6:50PM (Unverified) said

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I highly advise you watch the TED talk by Barry Schwartz about the Paradox of Choice. http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice.html. It's absolutely fascinating and deals with the concept that when given more choices we not only have more difficulty deciding but we *feel* worse about our choice because of the idea that we could have chosen better.

He gives an example of how he choose a pair of jeans as a youth and he had one choice, so no sense complaining. Now, he went shopping recently and had dozens of options and cuts to choose from. In the process he found the best pair of jeans he ever wore. Yet, even after choosing the best pair of jeans ever, he still felt *worse* about his decision because, possibly, one of those other pairs could be even better.

Because MMOs are such a commitment (for some of the younger crowd a relationship with an MMO could be their longest relationship) both in terms of time and dedication it becomes so difficult to really give yourself to the MMO because there could be a better one and you could be wasting your time playing the wrong one. In addition because MMOs start rather bland and treadmilly (here's a character with 1 skill, go kill 100 rats and we'll give you a second skill), it's even harder to commit because basically the first 10,20,60 hours of most MMOs are just awful, but are a part of the "progression" to the parts you really enjoy.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 7:02PM Graill440 said

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Wont need but a couple minutes.

All game developers will be held to the latest ISO standards and oversight. No longer will they be able to put the terms like "as is" or "in progress" "constantly evolving world" to cover poor programming and management in a eula. The game developers will be held to the same standards and fines the rest of the software developers are held to, this includes heavy fines, loss of job/position and/or prison time for negligence or fraud.

Since there are no standards that can be enforced in the industry today we need these. Of course to be held to accountable standards one would need talent and honesty.....

(grin)

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 7:12PM Runewastaken said

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I have played or at least dabbled in just about every MMO that has come out and although I currently play WoW as a primary game and EQ as a secondary, I have yet to get the same "Wow" moments that I got in EQ. Maybe it is because that was the first MMO I had ever seriously played. There was nothing quite like running from Qeynos to Freeport watching out for giants, cyclops, cougars and what ever else got in your way, or seeing Kelethin for the first time. There are just some things that cannot be replicated and I need to accept that.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 11:05PM Scone said

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The problem is that some game developers focus TOO much on that first hour and not enough on the rest of the content. Perfect example: Aion.
Even X-Play thought that the first 10 levels, roughly 1-2 hours, were amazing. But once you pass level 10, the huge wall of grinding punches you in the kidneys. So I wouldn't just go on the first hour but instead give it a number of levels.

In World of Warcraft, I told myself, " Ok, so I will play to level 20. If I like it, then I will continue to play." This makes it so that if I miss out of some of the best end-content, I can still slightly taste it after the first hour. Give it a try and see a difference.

Posted: Nov 2nd 2010 11:48PM Transientmind said

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I've heard so many people ranting and raving like crazed zealots about Guild Wars 2, and a lot of that seems to stem from some kind of unthinking fanboyism toward Guild Wars. Since the last time I played the game was for maybe a couple days on release, I figured... what the hell. Why not go back and take a spin to see if this thing really matured into a hidden beauty?

The first five minutes were plagued with control and UI horrors, plus a dismal performance on my ridiculously-high-end rig. That's not enough to kill it, though... After all, I played and enjoyed AO for years, only jumping ship for WoW.

After ten minutes of raw, unadulterated, maddening frustration, I did a google search for 'Guild Wars rubber-banding'. Ten minutes of browsing through pages and making the appropriate technical adjustments (I have a background in networking and IT, this was all standard stuff really), it became very clear that this was a problem that wasn't going away for me in Australia.

...That was enough for me. Yeah, maybe there's an awesome experience, but it's buried under a thick, impenetrable layer of shit and I will never see it. When GW2 comes out, my first step will be to google 'GW2 rubber-banding'.

These days, I rely on youtube gameplay videos. If your animations are crap, if your UI is nonsensical, if glaring errors present themselves with great frequency in a 10min clip, I really don't need to see any more or waste gigabytes of drive space. Based on this... I hope like hell that ToR sees some HEAVY improvement.

Posted: Nov 3rd 2010 2:50AM Locus said

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I don't think it's very fair to criticise a game based on the fact that you have unique technical issues with it. Anecdotal evidence is the weakest of logical links, but since you seem fond of it, I'll state my case: I'm currently playing Guild Wars on an ancient Lenovo laptop from somewhere in Malaysia (approximate geographical distance to the servers about equivalent to Australia) without significant rubberbanding.

I'm actually playing with a friend of mine that lives in Australia and who, as far as I know, does not have some nebulous IT degree (He wouldn't pay eighty grand for a piece of paper that has "www.google.com" written on it, anyway.) to throw out to prove that he "knows what he is talking about", but manages to get around latency issues that he occasionally encounters through the usage of SSL tunnelling (He does this for WoW and Aion). I'm not sure if he uses it for guild wars, but he does not rubber band when he plays the game.
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Posted: Nov 3rd 2010 3:51AM Transientmind said

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Dear Locus: What's most frustrating about your point is that, being relatively well-spoken (written) and demonstrating an awareness of the meta-concepts of a post, you could actually convince some folks that your parochial defence of the game contains any of the logical substance you call me out for.

1) Weak logical link/anecdotal evidence of the 'unique' technical issue addressed: Do a google search for 'guild wars r--' ohwait. Google just suggested rubber banding. Loving the use of the disclaimer word 'significant' to describe your own lack of rubber banding. It's a real issue unique to this GAME for me, it is not present in other MMOs hosted out of similar locations. And I'm not alone. The general concensus is that it's something you work around. And I personally don't have the patience when there is so much quality elsewhere.

2) My degree? What degree? Since when did a 'background in networking/IT' equal a degree? If you were going for the non-confirmist indie-cred angle that your language suggest you were (disparaging $80k bit of paper), you have failed. The assumption was yours, and speaks volumes about the bias and haste with which you replied.

3) Citing the 'nebulous' degree (ie - a background in the industry) was a courtesy to readers, and a pre-emptive counter to 'ur doin it rong' knee-jerk reactions. In my experience I find it far more obnoxious to specifically cite the source of degrees or training, not to mention opening the very specific nature of a degree up to criticism itself, which detracts from the main thrust - I know what I'm doing.

4) Whilst - granted - tunneling is pretty hit-and-miss depending on your provider, it's something I actually tried. (Funnily enough with iinet, most major MMOs are often slower than many of the proxies I've tried. Possibility they have optimised their routes to those servers? I'll have to ask them some day.) Going any further to the point of purchasing new or differently-optimised hardware to play an ageing game to EXPERIMENT with its value for entertainment is not my definition of wise spending.


Thank you for playing 'rabid fanboy defence'. Your attempt at stealth failed.
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Posted: Nov 3rd 2010 7:56PM Locus said

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After reading your response, evidently you do feel very strongly defensive about this matter and pressing you on it would hardly be constructive and would merely constitute trolling.

It's probably partially my fault - few people are fond of unsolicited criticism, warranted or not.

Firstly, my purpose was to point out that your "I'm personally having technical problems with this game, ergo, this game must be absolutely bad" logic isn't sound. This you have not addressed. Do you honestly believe this? By using that form of warped logic, it follows that nobody playing Guild Wars from Australia would ever have a good experience.

Secondly, I'm probably riled against having to interview way too many self-important people with useless IT degrees in the last month and at the very least I apologise for taking *that* out on you. It was quite unbecoming.
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Posted: Nov 3rd 2010 1:55AM Valdamar said

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Good article. I agree with a lot of it.

I give new MMOs at least a dozen hours to hook me, often a full month if I bought the box. Usually the new player experience is so simplified and sanitised, with so few active skills/spells on new characters, that it makes gameplay seem much duller than it might be once you level past the newbie areas. So I don't think even an hour really does any existing MMO justice - but that's a problem with this genre, taking too long for the gameplay to get going - and it tends to put me off trying new MMOs at all these days unless I'm really optimistic about them, as I hate wasting time. Also there's a lot more MMOs around these days than there were in 2000-2005 - I can't play them all so I've become a lot more choosy (hence why I read Massively) - and the shoddy MMO releases of the past few years are making me even choosier, to the point where I rarely bother with newly launched MMOs at all and I wait to see what the media and players think of that game, and whether the Devs are going to support it regularly with content, before I'll try it. I just can't recall the last time I bought a non-MMO game that made me feel cheated out of my money, but I've felt that way about several MMOs at launch.

I also feel that MMOs need to be focused for certain audiences/playstyles - mainstream MMOs that try to tick every box just end up being bland, with no strengths, lots of partially developed features, and a dearth of content - the Devs just spread themselves too thin. Plus I've rarely had fun PvPing in an MMO that was designed/balanced primarily for PvE - and in MMOs designed mainly for PvP I tend to find that the PvE is a dull grind. I feel we need more MMOs that just focus on one playstyle but do it very well (e.g. Planetside only had PvP and no PvE). I'm fine with getting my PvP fix from a different MMO/game to my PvE fix - I've been doing that for years anyway. Just like you'll never find a car that is built to excel on a racetrack and also be great off-road, I don't think an MMO can excel at both PvE and PvP - the design goals are too incompatible.

The main thing I want from an MMO these days is that basic gameplay (i.e. combat) must be fun and interesting minute to minute, from the start - I will no longer wait hours, weeks, months or even years before an MMO starts being occasionally fun - I've made that mistake before, many times, hanging around until the later levels when the game is supposedly at its best, but that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is just never there. This is the main reason I've mostly turned my back on MMOs and returned to single/multi- player gaming - there I can often get most of the things I'd want from an MMO: character stat/loot progression; co-op or competitive play with my friends; questing/story (usually better written and more dramatic and focused than in MMOs) - and more importantly I get it a lot cheaper and I usually get a more fun gaming experience too, without all the negative things MMOs are known for: level/faction grinds; timesinks; repetitive/pointless endgames; endless class balancing; and of course dull combat gameplay.

After several years of very poor MMO releases I really don't have much faith in the genre anymore.

Posted: Nov 3rd 2010 3:06AM Jeromai said

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I have to dissent somewhat. Giving a game an ultimatum of ten minutes to an hour to "prove itself" seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy of always being dissatisfied with what's on offer. One's mind is already set on a glass-half-empty approach and one is then only too ready to poke holes and find fault at a ready target.

Y'know, every game is flawed. Every game also has its strengths. The question is whether you like the strengths enough and can dismiss the flaws as being not as important to your gameplay experience.

That's not to say that one must always force oneself to play upwards of 15+ hours or to a certain set character level in order to judge a game, but why not come into a game with an open mind?

First contact is always going to be iffy with uncertain control schemes and a UI that may be different from what one is used to. Sure, it might be nice if they all use a standard universally understandable genre-convention-following interface, but sometimes they deviate from the norm for design reasons, be they good or ill. At least give it long enough to build up some muscle memory before dismissing it as crap.

One criteria that is important to me is that the moment to moment gameplay experience has got to be fun enough to keep going on. Now my definition of fun is pretty loose, and encompasses even repetitive farming and grinding as long as the combat is flashy and stuff is killed easily... but my real point is to be clear about your own criteria, and whether it is set too highly. I gave up on Eve because it failed the easy fun combat criteria for me, but plenty of other people are perfectly fine with it because it allows them to participate in grand-scale combats and impactful, epic stories. If nothing satisfies you, then I have to wonder if your bar is set to a point where it'll take another decade or more for computing power to catch up.

To play a game long enough to get over the initial unfamiliarity hump and match and evaluate criteria, I'd say at least 3-8 hours. It's really not that long if you play 1-2 hours a night, just a period of 1-4 days. And you'd have given it a fairer shake than demanding it entertain you from the moment you boot it up and never slacken its pace. Which games can live up to that kind of criteria, I wonder.

Posted: Nov 3rd 2010 5:57AM Leala said

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Excellent point Jeromai.

If I didn't make it past the initial first impression phase (first hour or less) I would have never discovered so many wonderful games that I now enjoy.

If someone is determined to prove a game wrong, to find some fault in it to prove their more sophisticated gaming tastes or something, they will. Good for them? I think if there's an imaginary winner in gamerland, it will be the one who has the most fun, not the one who hates everything.

And if I don't like a particular game after all, I don't think it's a big deal. It's not some huge failing of the industry or the people who made it. Maybe it's just not my cup of tea.

Posted: Nov 3rd 2010 5:58AM Yggdrasill said

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"I don't play MMOs to be taught a lesson or punished for not spending 12 hours a day at it. I shouldn't feel like the game won't be fun until I hit level 50, where "the real game begins."

This sentence is pretty much what I think that defines all MMO players right now. Me and every player of MMO wants to grab a game and get that feeling of "fun and ignorance" from the start. But every MMO I test nowadays doesn't grab me for more than a hour, because within this time I find the classic quest "kill ten (insert something here)" and my hype bar starts going down right after. I know its not simple to create something new and different, but at least present the way we must kill the ten whatevers in a slight different way!

And yes, nobody wants to get the level 9999999 to start seing the wonders of someone's game. I'm not saying that no one likes to grab those astronomic levels, what I am saying that no one likes to feel bored to death to get the super high max level of any game, the players want to have fun in the road between the level 01 and 9999999.

I also really liked the part about filling the market specific target. Guild Wars came out as an MMO with a really well made PvP and Warcraft came out as a really good PvE with rich lore behind it and after they grabbed some good amount of players they started polishing their weaker parts, but the main attractions they advertised for release were already in a good shape from the start, so yeah, I agree and also think that is a really good idea to start advertising and focusing on a specific target in the game and later on the road open it to a wider target, because if customers like this specific spot the company focused so hard, one year from its release date they will be the MMO main publicity of the weaker but now strong improved feature that the company polished later.

I really enjoyed this article, congratulations.

Posted: Nov 3rd 2010 6:05AM DancingCow said

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I'm so disappointed by everything currently on the market that I've gone back to mudding.

But I think this article over-simplifies the situation by painting all MMOs with a single brush. Some MMOs have failed for releasing too soon. But others really just missed the mark on game design.

And it's difficult to pin down what you're saying.

On the one hand you say we need more niche games, rather than a few that will please everyone. Then you go on to say television was better when he had less choice but knew what to expect.

???

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