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Reader Comments (42)

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 8:06AM Jormaster said

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I think you should have to play the whole game, different classes and abit of the endgame, this will all take you i think a month and then check the game back in half a year for a new review.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 8:07AM Jormaster said

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I think you should have to play the whole game, different classes and abit of the endgame, this will all take you i think a month and then check the game back in half a year for a new re review.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 8:22AM Mogloth said

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It does take a while depending on what you are reviewing.
Crafting would not take as long to review as would the leveling process. I think it would be best if there was a group that did the review process. Each person would have their own focus in the process. Then you take everyone's report and you compile a review.
You could then go back after a couple of updates have hit the servers and do another review.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 8:28AM Dril said

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In a trinity-based themepark: you should have experienced at least one role in every aspect of the game, and have at had some grouping experience with the other two roles. This includes any PvP, raiding or anything else on offer.

In something like EVE: a reasonable knowledge and experience of most aspects of the game. This would include hi-sec, lo-sec and null-sec PvE and PvP, market PvP, crafting, production, mining, PI etc.

You cannot "review" a MMORPG without having seen a lot of it. A lot of gaming journalists don't do this properly (and that's notwithstanding their blatant pandering to marketing hype rather than actually playing the game.) The best way to see a MMORPG is let's play series and endgame vids, aside from actually playing it.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 8:34AM Somberlain said

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The thing is most MMOs today are so similar to the established model of leveling and dungeon running that it wouldn't take very long to get a feel for what the game is trying to do. MMOs made today aren't very complicated it shouldn't take longer then around 25 hours to get a feeling about the game play, crafting, dungeons etc..to make a review about it. Endgame is only about a small portion of the game and honestly what game is so different from the norm that you don't already know what to expect by those 25 hours are up? its either grind PVP or PVE dungeons and then run raids ad nauseum. People make out reviewing MMOs like if your trying to find a solution to make clean coal technology or something, they just arent that complex anymore.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 8:50AM Daverator said

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I think that it should be reviewed in sections:
Initial Review: This should be the "classic" review, this should give impressions of how the game works, class structure, crafting, social interactions, quests and so forth. This can be done within a "reasonable" amount of time, maybe 20 hours or so, depending on the game. What sets this game apart?

Endgame Review: This one is the much tougher one to tackle, and can only really be done after probably 100 hours into the game. This one can touch on endgame issues, what type of endgame content is there? Raids, dungeons, open world building, pvp.

Of course there is a HUGE problem with this...
If you are doing a "professional" review, first off this puts the second review weeks after launch (IE when no one cares). Also minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. So that means before your reviewer spends one minute writing down his or her thoughts, they have spent $725 on the game (if they paid for their own game then tack on $50). Now I know reviewers aren't paid by the hour, but you cannot ignore that time is money, and they have spent close to a grand on this project, even if they might get paid far less for it. That also is of course using minimum wage. Most people require a little more than that to exist.

The counter point is that playing games is fun so you shouldn't charge for all of it. But the fact is that a reviewer is isn't having fun is still obligated to finish the assignment.

When you consider all of this, it is no small wonder that most of the big games sources do laughable jobs with MMOs.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 8:54AM Daelda said

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How long does it take ME to decide about an MMORPG? Well, since I am not a professional reviewer, I don't actually have to be fair in my review - thus, how long it takes can vary by the game. I have certain features that are important to me - no, or little "forced" grouping, no unrestricted PVP, good Crafting, a good story, variety/customization, a good Guild system, RP support, etc. If a game fails badly in one of these areas, the game, as a whole, fails for me.

Of course, future updates and changes MAY change my mind, but once an MMO fails a first pass inspection, then it will be much harder to give it the benefit of a second pass inspection - but not impossible.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 8:58AM Fabius Bile said

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around 1 month for a decent P2P game, a couple classes to mid/high end, several dungeons and batlegrounds, the crafting system, etc.

30 minutes for F2P games of asian inheritage...

install, login, find out the classes are gender locked, it lacks a proper WASD, the animations are horrible, all the quests I get are Kill Ten Rats or FedEx, and after level 5 I get less than 1% of a level per mob kill and the level cap is 100...

actually I dont even need to bother reviewing the newest F2P asian games anymore. I played my first one like 7 years ago, and every time I downloaded a new F2P asian game i found out it was practically that same game just graphic/names changed...

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 9:06AM Irem said

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When I read an MMO review, I'm expecting it to be from the point of view of someone who has just started the game and is deciding whether or not to keep playing. What's immediately compelling about it? Does it draw the player in, or do they feel like they're waiting around for the good stuff to happen? Is the combat fun from the beginning? What's the community like? Can a new player make enough money to support themselves easily? What are some cool features?

Usually I know after a week whether or not a game will be something I'll ever want to touch again. A lot can be determined by how much thought the dev team has put into the initial experience, and I'm usually not willing to stick with something that promises to get better later (that's an unrealistic request to make of the player). A week is not only enough time for me to decide whether or not I'm hooked, but to get some context for what other players are saying and pick up on whether or not they're happy at higher levels, as well as what kinds of problems they're having.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 9:08AM Mikkhail said

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It only takes a matter of minutes to tell if a development team has taken a dump on my hard drive ... but it can take several months to tell if they have delivered a really, really good game.

Of course, there are varying degrees of enjoyment that can be had while I am in the process of determining if it is a really, really good game. So, ultimately ... one spin through to determine if it is top notch ... less that 30 minutes to determine if it is utter crap.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 9:09AM Jade Effect said

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MMO reviews would be difficult to write, since the experience of individual players can vary greatly. Playing a MMO is not like running down a long winding corridor in Final Fantasy 13.

If you have a supportive and organized guild, you will have a grand time. It'll be a blast to run about Emain with your gank guild group in Dark Age of Camelot. Your Slayer in Warhammer Online will be a killing machine with the support classes behind him. Lineage 2 can be a grand time. People look at the game and think grind. Yes, there is grind, but it is meant to be done with friends and clanmates. Working together really cuts a big grind down to manageable size.

Even solo-friendly games like Rift would be fun when you either pvp with an established group of friends, or do instances without relying on PUGs.

However, when you're playing by yourself, most MMO games will suck greatly. You'll get ganked while running (without speed buff) to Dun Crim. Or your Slayer will die all the time charging into the fray.

So how do you write a review? "Game is fun if you have friends to play with"? Well, duh.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 9:11AM (Unverified) said

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It's the same as review but i have walked away from an MMO after just a few hours. But sometimes they change the game over the period of time im playing it so as to make it unplayable. Starwars Galaxies is a good example of a game that just got worse and worse.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 9:16AM Beau Hindman said

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This is a very interesting discussion. As someone who has to write about MMMOs on here, I'd like to say a few things.

First, despite what many might think, not all MMOs are the same. One MMO might have crafting that works this way, while it works that way in another, while another MMO might not have crafting at all. So, saying that "investigate each class" or "play through each dungeon in the first 10 levels" sounds OK, that just doesn't apply to every MMO.

Second, what does "important feature" mean? While it would seem obvious, it is not. In each and every game I have played and written about, there are different players who enjoy different aspects of the game. So, which player am I writing for? What about roleplayers? I didn't notice many comments saying that "examining roleplay potential" as an important part of the "review" picture.

Last, "how long" is defined differently by different players. What if I played for a month...then I would still not be getting the same experience as if I played several months., or several years, etc. An MMO is designed to last forever, thanks to the randomness of real-life player interactions. There will never be enough time in the world to "review" an MMO.

The point is that there are so many variables in a "review". I can only speak for myself and how I write, but I specifically call what I do a "first impression." I do not spend months and months playing a single game for a single article...if I did, there would be an article from me only every few months, and there are too many MMOs to talk about. So, I play the game and tell simply of what I *experienced*. I am not going to list every possible stat or crit chance. That's information that you, the reader, can find out for yourself as you play. Hopefully you wouldn't want me to spoil that stuff for you, anyway.

Anyway, very interesting topic. And some interesting answers, also. :)

Beau

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 10:26AM FrostPaw said

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If you're deciding if its worth it for yourself, as long as the free trial/play lasts or until you don't want to log in anymore.

If you are reviewing it for a website, I wouldn't want to read a review about an mmo that hadn't been played for at least a month at launch or 2 weeks as a return further down the life of the game.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 10:30AM Tom in VA said

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Personally, I find "preliminary impression" reviews to be the most helpful for MMOs I am considering: (1) because these reviews tend to come out sooner and (2) because games that are good from the get-go are generally going to be good for at least a month or two (at least in my experience), so if the first 10-15 levels are fun, the first month of the game will usually be pretty good as well. That is, the game's "fun value" will last long enough to justify whatever the buy-in price might be.

I have zero tolerance for games that aren't fun till you reach the max level and/or the endgame. I have no interest in that sort of game at all.

Thus, I don't mind reviews that say, "I played Rift for 2 hours and quit!" (you'll find plenty of reviews on Amazon like this!), as long as the reviewer tells you WHY they quit. Sometimes people writing such "incomplete" reviews actually entice me to try certain games, simply because their dislikes are precisely the kinds of features I'm looking for.

Anyway, it's reviews that cover those first 15-30 hours in the game that matter most to me. After that point, I can decide for myself whether I'm going to stick with or drop a given MMO.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 10:31AM eyeball2452 said

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I think if the recent reviews on major game review sites were well done and accurate. Basically, the system has the reviewer blogging about various aspects of a new MMO over a week or two and then aggregating those thoughts in into a structures review format.

For me, I tend to play open betas and if something strikes me as interesting, I'll pick up the game. Therefore, I focus on how well executed the intro content is (is it exciting? Does it draw the player in?) and the level 15-20 content when advanced game systems appear and begin to mature a little.

I also raid, but I consider that to be more associated with the subscription price vs the box cost. End game content keeps me playing after the first month, but isn't necessarily the reason that I start playing an MMO.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 10:43AM Tom in VA said

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@eyeball2452

I've noticed this, too. It's a great way to do reviews of longer games, since this approach merges the advantages of preliminary reviews with the thoroughness of complete reviews.

I also like it when MMORPG reviewers go back and re-review games that have been out for a while, e.g., STO and AoC. Most MMOs evolve in significant ways over time, so the reviews of them should do the same.
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Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 11:07AM Borick said

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@Tom in VA I've re-reviewed lots of MMOs that I've quit. I've yet to find ONE that changed their control system or gameplay.

MMO developers like to change content and spin it as a change in gameplay.
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Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 10:33AM cored said

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MMORPG reviews, much like any game review, at least on a major site, are merely ads. They aren't really reviews because they don't honestly assess the games, not just because they can't within the time allotted, but because they are in bed with the companies making the products they review.

No gamer I know would trust anything from one of these reviews, if they even bothered to read one. If they are interested in the game, they will play the open beta, and then they will have a very good idea whether or not the game is worth buying.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 11:05AM Borick said

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With 30+ years of video game experience, including 20 years of online gaming and more than ten years playing a dozen or so MMOs, I know what I want before I try a title.

Does the game require hard target selection? Then it's garbage to me.

Is the control system immersive, or designed to cater to arbitrary mechanics? If I can't sit down at a game and feel like I'm immersed in the perspective and actions of the character, then it's garbage to me.

Does the game funnel players into an arbitrary 'end game', leaving few options for dynamic, emergent gameplay? Garbage.

Most everything that would require significant playtime to review are things that have been seen before and merely iterate a degree of polish.

I know what I want as defined by what all of my previous experiences were NOT.

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