| Mail |
You might also like: WoW Insider, Joystiq, and more

Reader Comments (78)

Posted: Jul 5th 2011 6:10PM Zethe said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I agree with the EVE online part. I also prefer the polished gameplay which is one of the reasons im liking the look of SWTOR.

Posted: Jul 5th 2011 6:14PM C Rose said

  • 2.5 hearts
  • Report
Well for me it's 2 things. Rendering performance HAS to be great and character animations and physics have to be tight and responsive.

WoW run's smooth as silk and the character control is the most responsive and realistic I've ever seen. Those things are, for me, essential.

High quality graphics and innovative gameplay are all well and good, but if (like LotRO) the game looks good, but run's like crap, I'm out. A lot of F2P titles are clunky and distractingly awkward when you're controlling your character and watching their animations. I don't know why companies feel these elements are not important.

Posted: Jul 12th 2011 4:24PM Borick said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Tempes Magus Yep. Without 'haptic' animations, sound and combat flow it doesn't matter how much process you put into developing the game -- it's going to be garbage.

Even then, it's less about polish and more about intuitive features. You can have visceral combat with 8-bit animations and crappy translated foreign text and have a better game than something with AAA polish and million-dollar rockstar producers.
Reply

Posted: Jul 5th 2011 6:17PM Dril said

  • 3 hearts
  • Report
2 parts to this comment:

1)

The famous Blizzard polish is starting to show cracks.

Half-assed cutscenes, invisible mobs and random sticky combat are all starting to plague what was once a virtually flawless levelling system; why this is I'm not in a position to say, but when the industry leader is no longer a byword for absolute quality (regardless of whether or not you like the game mechanics) it's troubling.

However, I must say: I don't think polish alone will suffice. Take Rift. It was polished. It also bored me to tears and caused me incredible disappointment. Worse yet, it was only polished because most of its mechanics were ripped wholesale from WoW; when polish is only achievable by blatant copying, that's even worse.

Paradoxically, as MMOs get easier and more casual-friendly (and, no, they aren't one and the same) they're also becoming less and less polished. That's intriguing.

2)

I, personally, believe there are three areas where polish HAS to be done, otherwise the game will fall through quite rapidly (and by polish I mean rigid ironing-out and constant tweaking to make it perfect):

-combat
-UI
-social interaction tools (chat, guilds etc)

Beyond that, if the rest of the game shows promise, I'll tolerate the odd bug or two so long as the core is golden and shiny. But to have piss-poor combat, a broken UI and chat that doesn't work is a guarantee I won't play your game for very long.

Posted: Jul 6th 2011 2:52PM DarkWalker said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Dril
Well said :)

BTW, WoW has another case of lack of polish that really irritates me: there's a quite jarring transition in the leveling experience (including crafting) whenever the character reaches one of the previous max levels and changes expansion.

Quest building philosophy changes, crafting (and gathering) mechanics change, gear from casual questing jumps wildly in quality, there's a whole, hinted at, extra level of gameplay (the previous Heroics and Raids) that the player is not supposed to do anymore, even the very formulas behind how stats grow change.

I have a compulsion to reverse-engineer the base mechanics of most games I play; I'm not happy until I can understand how things happen, and formulate a plausible theory as for the why. As a result, those jarring edges in the leveling experience really put me off, making me feel like WoW is a hodge-podge of misfitting parts, where the developers either didn't care to better fit the parts together, or else were prevented from doing so by management on the pretense that only the latest expansion matters anyway.
Reply

Posted: Jul 7th 2011 10:48AM Dril said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@DarkWalker

"prevented from doing so by management on the pretense that only the latest expansion matters anyway."

The had of the nail has been hit.

It's more than that, though: Blizzard don't even stop with expansions. Only the latest patch is relevant; everything else is fodder to be nerfed and left to rot.
Reply

Posted: Jul 5th 2011 6:22PM C Rose said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
"Over its remaining six months, SWG will be what it's always been: the blueprint for absurdly deep MMOs looking to layer themepark elements on top of a sandbox foundation."

I have to also point out that this statement is both a little false and also quite poetically just as well.

First of all the game wasn't ORIGINALLY built with any themepark elements, they were crudely and poorly slapped on it at a later date. That's why it didn't work, because the game wasn't built for it from the ground up. Hence the reason it is failing and getting shut down. If it had stayed true to what was originally intended, then maybe SOE would have the profit margin to justify repurchasing the IP license from LucasArts.

However, your statement is perhaps unintentionally fitting because it was a sandbox MMO that was burdened with shotty themepark elements in order to try to "cash in" on all the WoW popularity. This was a mistake and the analogy is that you can't have a "strong" foundation built on "sand". (or a sandbox)

Posted: Jul 5th 2011 6:28PM Callagan said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@C Rose

Ugh, don't start another NGE fight. I thought we were finally over that when they announced SWG's death date.
Reply

Posted: Jul 5th 2011 6:25PM Callagan said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Gotta admit, Jef is probably the best pickup Massively ever did business wise. His articles must get a ton of views.

Polish to me isn't so much bugs, art, technical details, whatever. It's design decisions. Many games have design decisions that I just do not find fun. Unfortunately, I don't think there's a way to solve this, as nearly any game that wants to innovate is going to have at least a few stumbles. While I can look past some of them (especially if the community is good), if there are too many or they're too big, I just can't turn a blind eye and continue to pay for the game.

Posted: Jul 6th 2011 2:57PM DarkWalker said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Callagan
While I do have a few design decisions that will unfailingly drive me out of the game (slow travel, restrictions on respecs, etc), I wouldn't group design decisions with polish. They are quite different.
Of course, a highly polished turd is still a turd; no matter how much polish a game gets, poor design decisions can still kill it.
Reply

Posted: Jul 5th 2011 6:28PM Graill440 said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
For me the best polish award goes to RIft, and the mundaneness of the very same title seeing it was not feature rich, though i suspect the devs planned to add content it cost them subs, like me.

Not handling exploits properly, letting them go, not addressing any number of things they knew would hapen, not being prepared and instead pushing new content doesnt make for anyone thinking developers have any intelligence.

So, good job on making a water bucket that doesnt leak. My hats off to you folks. (laugh)

Posted: Jul 6th 2011 5:30PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Graill440 Rift does a lot of things right, and for players new to MMO's, there is plenty to do in Rift to make one happy for a very long time.

I'm an older-gen player. The polish in Rift just can't hold my attention for much longer. I know the "carrot on a stick" trick with MMO'S and its not working well for me this time. Constant content rinse/repeating has given me the "Why am I doing this, It never ends" blues.
I need adventure, risk, and immersion. I need constant ways of progressing my character beyond the stinky pile that is "gear grinding" and fake progress systems (artifact hunting, and achievements) that make you feel like you're doing something for your character, when you're not.

I'm of two minds with Rift when it comes down to it. I love it when I feel lazy, and want the familiar WoW but with different scenery. I hate it when I want to go out on a great exciting adventure and do something daring,fresh, and fun. That's just not going to happen with Rift. Adventures don't happen. Its all neatly planned out point A to point B. And that makes me sad.
I have a way-too-long list of what could change my enjoyment with Rift. World quest content that are not "dailies", Constant ways to improve your character (beyond gear grinding), world size and death penalties being at the top. The world is way too small. For an explorer, the world size is dismal.



Reply

Posted: Jul 5th 2011 6:29PM Issmir said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I do like some degree of polish, I'll admit it. I found the Darkfall trial hard - I enjoyed the feel of the world and the idea, but just couldn't stomach the graphics and animations.

But deep in my bones, I want depth, complexity and features. Rehashing the same game design every time is starting to get very, very boring. I'm kind of interested in how many upcoming (and arguably a couple of recent) MMO designers have looked at the "core" elements of MMO gameplay and said "Ok, why is this here? Do we want it? Why not?".

Personally, I think there's room for all manner of MMO out there, but not if they're all clones of each other.

Posted: Jul 5th 2011 6:46PM Everfaust said

  • 2.5 hearts
  • Report
@Issmir the problem comes from the sheer cost, time and manpower required to create these mmos.

most companies almost demand a product that will sell before they even give the green light to start it. this means they look at what other mmos are doing and what "works" then copy/paste it into our game. hence why there are so many wow clones.

the funny thing is, innovation or success still comes through even from a carbon clone ~ see perfect world or rift.

the problem is that companies are afraid to take a chance and waste hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars creating a game that "may" sell.

to date the only one I'm aware of that's using innovation "correctly" is Arenanet ~
Reply

Posted: Jul 5th 2011 6:57PM Issmir said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Everfaust

Well put. That's why I'm not expecting any real innovation other than "it's really big and everyone speaks" from the SW:TOR game in the works. At a rumored 300 kabillion US Dollars, they'd give their backers conniptions if they said "Good news! We're going to do everything in an untested way!"

"Correctly" is a personal choice in MMOs, but with games like Secret World, GW 2, APB:R and so on asking the question "Is this what an MMO is", at least the dialogue might continue. There's still hope for the genre. They might not all get it RIGHT, of course, but just having the conversation matters. At least to me.
Reply

Posted: Jul 5th 2011 6:49PM MaddZ said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
One of the reasons new MMORPGs fail so frequently is because they go the "feature-rich" route rather than try to polish their game.

If you create a game that is solid, stable, and enjoyable at each step of the leveling curve then you will maintain a playerbase until you can start adding in new features.

The problem with going the feature-rich route is that outside of said "ooh this is cool" feature you have nothing. Either that, or your make-or-break feature will fail to live up to expectations, which will force you to try and polish your game while simultaneously pushing out new features. The biggest examples I can think of for this are AoC and WAR. Both touted their PvP-attitude, and both really failed to live up to their own hype. In the case of AoC they really bet the farm on their PvP, to the point where their upper level zones had jack squat in them, and most of their stats didn't even work.

Now we have SWTOR on the horizon, whose "feature" is massive amounts of storyline and lore. 200 hours is a lot of game play time a class, I'll admit that. Just remember that its not uncommon for MMO players to put in 20hrs+ a week on a new game (or old one for that matter) and they will burn through your precious storyline in 3 months flat. If you don't have a baseline enjoyable experience ready for them outside your nifty feature your subs will go bye bye.

Posted: Jul 5th 2011 6:53PM MaddZ said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@MaddZ

My definition of "polish" in this case simply means the core game experience. Whether your focus is PvP or crafting, your core "players will do this 90% of the time" experience needs to be enjoyable, or at least solid.

My definition of "feature" in this case would be when developers focus exclusively on one or two small parts of their game, and then hype the crap out of it while ignoring other pieces of game play outright.
Reply

Posted: Jul 5th 2011 6:59PM Issmir said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@MaddZ

I don't agree with everything you said there, but you make some good points.

I think the next step would be to define "enjoyable" . WoW's crafting drives me ABSOLUTELY nuts, but I have friends who think it's the bee's knees, cat's pajamas and mutt's nuts.
Reply

Posted: Jul 5th 2011 8:56PM MaddZ said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Issmir

I think keeping things so that at entry point levels they are enjoyable, but ramping up difficulty along with level and proficiency should be expected.

In the case of WoW you start out making Copper Pants....and thats it. The exact same mechanic applies for making [Sexy Uber pants of the Sexy Uberness]. You get a bunch of bars of stuff, and voila, pants.

Unfortunately in a game where you either get the gear from vendors (pvp) or dragons (raiding) crafting doesn't have a lot to offer. It would take a massive design shift for Blizz to make crafting more engaging.

Luckily for them they went the "polish-first" route, and focused on raids/dungeons. Say what you want about WoW, that(pve) has obviously been at the forefront of their dev time and it shows.

As for enjoyable...that mostly depends on the demographic you are aiming for, and what type of MMO you want to create.
Reply

Posted: Jul 6th 2011 6:54AM Irem said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@MaddZ
To add to what Tempes Magus said, the reason a lot of MMOs that advertise "innovative features" don't exactly shake the foundations of gaming is because those features are often halfassed and/or implemented on top of an underlying structure that makes them seem shoehorned in. Or they're just disappointing and don't live up to the amount of press they get. Look at Aion: being able to fly in that game was at the core of all the marketing, but flight is severely restricted and lacks even the utility of a flying mount from other games. While that's understandable design given that it needed to be balanced for PvP combat, when it's advertised as pretty much being the theme and focus of the game, it's hard to not feel a little underwhelmed.

If a "feature" is less of a feature and more of a gimmick, it's just not going to hold player attention for very long. A lot of this stuff just wasn't thought through or implemented very well.
Reply

Featured Stories

Engadget

Engadget

Joystiq

Joystiq

WoW Insider

WoW

TUAW

TUAW