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Reader Comments (42)

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 11:18AM Darkmoone said

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Jef, to review a game you only really need to ask yourself 2 questions regarding any MMO. Does it have a good end game?, or does it have good PvP?. However it long it takes you to fully answer those 2 questions is your answer. Everything else revolves around those 2 questions.

I mean have you ever seen someone say, hey this MMO has the best PvP and end game raiding ever but the classes, graphics and ui suck? never. It's usually the other way around amirite?

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 11:26AM DrunkenGamer said

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@Darkmoone perhaps for you those are the only two elements - but i am a extremely casual player that does not particularly enjoy PvP

So for me a review that only stuck to those two elements would miss the part that i enjoy, exploring the world and playing out the story via the quests (not roleplaying either, unless the game really suits it)
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Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 11:26AM Borick said

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@Darkmoone If the classes, graphics and UI suck (for their generation) then they are unlikely to develop a solid end-game.

Also, the folks who believe that the game starts at max level are the significant minority. I think that most people just want a social venue with engaging rewards. They do not necessarily desire sports-like end game play.

MMOs have stalled in providing service to those players, and lost a lot of market share to the Facebook social games.
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Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 11:37AM Darkmoone said

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@Borick

That's my point Borick you can't have a solid end game without having a good ui, classes, etc. No one is going to play a game where the reviewer says the classes and crafting are the best ever but the end game sucks.

This is why i said before anything else answer how good is the end game question first and foremost.

@DrunkenGamer

I'm sorry to say you would be in the minority, because if the majority of MMO players cared about was lore and questing then Warhammer, AOC, SWG and Aion would have bigger player bases.
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Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 11:45AM Borick said

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@Darkmoone Ah, I get what you are saying now. If you can identify a solid end-game, then it can (mostly) be assumed that the other things are in order.

That's probably a good rule-of-thumb. My problem is that I have yet to find a game that does control, animation and pacing as well as WoW did in 2004. Lots of copies, but even Rift doesn't feel 'better' to me -- merely different.

I'd probably make a poor reviewer. I've been firm in my opinion of what I want in MMO gaming since EverQuest, and anything that even sniffs out as the 'same old' DIKU-derived game gets my rejection stamp, no matter how good the spin is on those mechanics.
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Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 2:43PM Nepentheia said

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@Darkmoone

*chuckles* And then there are a number of players who want nothing to do with the end-game, and even less to do with PvP.

There are players who do want a fully immersive game-WORLD to play in and would like to know just how all-encompassing the game is, and is there more to the game than just end-game raiding and PvP.
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Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 11:47AM Jeromai said

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I'm not big on reading reviews. I doubt any one person can see it all and still get the full impact of an MMO and share my tastes at the same time. More often than not, it'll be a brief overview and a general score in the "don't insult anybody" range. Boring.

My only wish for reviews is not that they spend a certain amount of time on it. The vagaries of real life and job deadlines. I just would like that the reviewers get whichever portion of the game they looked at described -right-. I cannot count the number of times I read a review and twitch because they got something that can be proven factually wrong. If they only played from level 1-10, say so. Describe your experiences until then. Wildly extrapolating from there what the level 30 experience is like, doesn't help since MMOs can change drastically at any level range, be it a skewed xp curve or a shortage of quests or PvP opens up or whatever.

I do like reading first impressions, opinions and blogs from people and collectively forming an initial decision whether I should try the game out or no and make up my own mind about it. It helps if the person describes the game and its features, systems and structures -before- throwing out an opinion on it. The more they can describe accurately, the better.

"The crafting sucks, or the crafting rocks" doesn't help me one way or the other. "The crafting system is reliant on reflexes and good timing, and is sensitive to lag" or "The crafting system is the standard MMO click and watch progress bars tick down, incrementing one to the skill each time" or "the crafting system uses progress bars, but it's a random percentage chance before the skill increments" and thus I love it or I hate it is much more helpful.

As for how long I personally take to evaluate an MMO for myself, it varies drastically. I get a first impression by aggregating what others say about the game, check if there's a free way for me to sample at least part of the game, and try it out. If it turns me off in 30 mins or an hour, then I turn it off. If not, then I keep playing and evaluating. When it stops being fun in my periodic evaluation, I stop.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 11:55AM (Unverified) said

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Let's take a look at reviews. I think you only need 2 hours to watch and do a review for a movie. 5-6 hours for a book. Between 5-20 hours for the average game.
For MMORPG to do a good review you're already around 30-80 hours if you want to do it right. If you want to do it REALLY right, then you do a follow-up review after playing 125-200 hours, that is if you want to get a good impression of later-stage gameplay (endgame or level cap content).

That's a hell of a time investment for a reviewer, especially since some do it for a living or as a profession and in the time they'd need to do a solid review of an MMORPG, they could've easily reviewed 5 and more other games.
So, any follow up or 'post-2 months' review is a work of love, only about an MMORPG that someone was willing to play for over 100-150 hours.

I think they should be split though, a launch or initial review where it should be made very clear that this one only gives an impression about the first 30-50 hours of gameplay. And if possible, 2-3 months later a follow up, 'final' review, because gameplay can change and feel different after 2 months and hundred+ hours of gaming than it was those early days. That's the nature of the beast of MMORPG's, the time investment that can be done and to many MMO gamers is expexted to be done is far larger in an MMORPG than in other types of games, with the additional factor that gameplay that they're occupied with can change drastically over the weeks of playing one.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 1:39PM Beau Hindman said

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@(Unverified) I think you might be best served in reading the dedicated columns to specific games. Those writers are literally playing and reporting on only one game.

For the rest of us, like myself, I literally have at any one time scores and scores of games to look at and to report on. I consider it my job to tell people about new games, but as I said earlier there is no way that I could tell you about any good number of them if I spent not only dozens, but hundreds of hours on each one. That is, frankly, unrealistic. I would have no ability to do my job then.

This is why I call them "first impressions" and generally cover the first week or 10-15 hours of gameplay. Bear in mind that those few hours are just as important, if not important, to a game and player than any end-game content (if such a thing even exists.)

I am proud of the fact that we at Massively are good about letting readers know exactly what we intend when we write about a game. We don't use scores or stars, and we do not even do reviews, technically.

http://massively.joystiq.com/category/first-impressions/

Again, though, we have several dedicated columns for those readers who are looking for a more in-depth telling.

http://massively.joystiq.com/gamecolumns/

Again, these are some VERY interesting comments, especially the ones that list a specific time limit. I'm sort of amazed at some of the figures I am seeing, especially considering how difficult it would make telling you guys about all of the new titles that come out at a constant rate! :)

Beau
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Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 4:20PM Borick said

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@Beau Hindman When they make your playing hours a billable expense, then we forum trolls can hold you to 100+ playing hours per game to vet your rating. It is assumed you know games, and have a willingness to follow-up on anything requiring more in-depth review.

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Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 12:44PM Carolina said

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Writing about games I play has become one of my hobbies. I like to be able to organize a good first impression before ever thinking of reviewing a title. I believe that having the first impressions thoughts organized make it an interesting read to come back after you've played for months, to see where your difficulties were, to see that maybe things you hated in the game now you love, and so on. Not to mention that MMOs update and change all the time. By the time I'll actually review a game, maybe a key characteristic that made me hate it or love it will not be there anymore.

With that said, a review itself will take me months, since I won't "stress test" a game, just play it to have fun and share my view on it later. Also, the first weeks of a game are a lot about learning how to play it, and that can get in the way of enjoying the game world itself.

As for endgame, it deserves its own first impression and review, because to me endgame of an MMO can be a total different game.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 12:54PM hereafter said

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I think a few months is probably sufficient, depending on how you spend it. It's important to write such a review in light of what you played and for how long. So if you played once class solo to max, then avoid speaking too much about the class balance (beyond casual impressions) and don't say anything definitive about the PvP or endgame (though motivation to play those modes can be something worth reviewing).

There are general things like the flow of combat and the pace of quests and rewards that can be talked about almost from the very beginning. Not to mention graphics and aesthetics, which are visible from the start. Overall feel and general comparison to the feel of other MMOs can also be mentioned.

I know with Rift, my first impression during the open beta was that it was too much like WoW (and I'm not even referring to the combat, for the most part). I played a couple classes up to about level 16 and then decided to forget about it. Later, the craving to play actually returned and convinced me to buy it. Later still, I became quite aware of the game's linearity and as such have relegated it to the "if I really get a hankerin" category of my games that don't see much playtime anymore. Each person's different, but if you had asked me to review it in those first couple months of getting excited about it again, I would have said much nicer things that I would now. It's worth waiting until that honeymoon phase is over before trying to review an MMO fairly.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 12:56PM (Unverified) said

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If "Is this game any good or not?" is the question that a review seeks to answer, the issue gets complicated when tackling MMO games. Sure, there are some standardized features that make any MMO good (strong tutorial, solid mechanics and balancing, intuitive interface) and we can see these things within a couple hours of playtime. On that, you can quickly tell if a game is worth any time at all or not.

But, I think for MMOs more than anything else, the question should be "Is this game going to keep you interested for long enough to have the time invested into it"

And for that, you need to play it out. Get involved in its community. Breathe the game, speak its language. We've all played a game that was somehow technologically inferior to a competitor, but stayed because of the friends we've made or a particular mechanic we enjoy.

Maybe a couple months is enough time?

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 1:02PM Scrobes said

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I wondered about this. I suppose, by necessity one needs to have some form of review at the official release of the game. But by virtue of what they are, MMOs evolve over time (or should ;o). As such, I often think reviewers should contemplate the idea of coming back to an MMO and reviewing it after a year or something.

And even going on from that, maybe reviewing it *each* year perhaps. It's no surprise that MMOs can change drastically over their lifespan. We've all witnessed that with various examples. New players join all the time, old players are moving on all the time. What the game was at the start of its lifecycle is not necessarily how it currently is, especially given changes like moving to free-to-play. So a more recent perspective on a game assists would-be players, who are maybe eyeing up trying out the game before committing to it.

I think reviewing an MMO at its start and then never coming back to it is probably not doing the developers and the game itself justice. Because in theory, surely it can only get better as the years go by, or that's what we would all hope for!. ;)

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 2:20PM Budukahn said

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Personally? I'd say ten hours, or ten levels, whichever comes sooner. If the game isn't entertaining you and showing you why exactly it's different from it's rivals and why you should care then in my opinion, it has already failed horribly.

I don't believe in some magic hour X at which point the game becomes awesomely fun and all the pain and grind to get there is justified. There shouldn't be any pain, it's entertainment after all. Personally, I rather enjoy large scale raiding, gear collecting and PVP - why does this always have to be tucked away behind levels of uninspired grind?

Ofcourse, if the game *is* fun past the ten hour mark, it probably needs closer attention. Let us not forget Age of Conan's Tortage deception.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 2:37PM Nepentheia said

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A whole lot of MMO reviews don't get into the aspect of 'the long haul' and how conducive the game is to keeping a player interested in it--especially beyond the ever-present questing or hunting or raiding. For instance, what is the community and social structure of the game like, what is the putterability-factor, what is there to do other than the usual grind to keep players invested and immersed in the game.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 2:43PM Bakelite Alchemist said

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My best buddy is an MMO addict and has made me run through many opening sequences (e.g. Everquest, City of Heroes, Auto Assault, etc.) under his guidance. This usually takes one or two nights (i..e. 5-12 hours) of intensive gaming and gives me more than enough information. If I had no guidance for an MMO, this process would take about twice as long as I stumbled about or gawked at the scenery.

This time is reduced to mere minutes if I find that the game requires regular outlays of real money beyond a monthly subscription or that PvP is required to play.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 4:10PM wfseg said

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2-3 months of playing

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 4:12PM (Unverified) said

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It only takes a few minutes. Watch a few trailers, click around the official site and read a few nerd rage QQ threads on the forums. Then you can pass your judgment. Sites have already started burning ToR and it doesn't even have a release date so join the club.

Posted: Jun 22nd 2011 6:27PM HiroProtagonist7 said

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Depends on the game. Personally I look for control and immersion and if I were writing, I would have a hard time not mocking certain games if I was forced to play them for too long

If the game has dressed up fancy anime man-children with giant feathered caps it takes me less time to evaluate then it took to write this sentence. Point and click only movement also gets the circular file cabinet.

Action based combat gets more time than average as well as games with a lot of social tools, housing etc.

Tab based targeting get some extra time if I actually feeling like I'm fighting and not just staring at button timers.

I would strive to love a game with a full persistent player alterable open world, combat like TES and housing your could just walk by instead of teleporting into, crafting that made sense and quests that had an effect on the world.




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