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Reader Comments (59)

Posted: Sep 27th 2011 2:47AM Khal said

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@Graill440

I think I get some of what you are saying. If they quit worrying about money and make a well rounded game the "money part" will take care of itself. Instead they try to emulate parts from other games they gaming media throw accolades at 1) in hopes that they can get the same results and 2) because it;s easier to pitch to the shareholders when you can point and say "look at those guys (that game) over there. We're going to do that."

Even though "doing that" hasn't reproduced the same, or even a sizeable fraction of the same, success so far.

Posted: Sep 27th 2011 3:36AM Grendel said

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I have high hopes in ArchAge - this may be the game that will let my heart beat like UO did in those long forgotten days. And let's face it: the vets of tomorrow are the ones which (or is it who? my english isn't the best) played WoW as their first MMO. All *I* need in an mmo is plenty of mechanics to socialize and true open world mechanics, I just keep dreaming, maybe some day ...

Posted: Sep 27th 2011 3:45AM Jade Effect said

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Mr Morrison can say whatever he wants. Talk is easy. Anyone can do that. He's talking about the perceived lack of progress, then I look at Funcom's Age of Conan, then I can't help but shake my head. Maybe one day, he'll be able to put his words into work.

Steve Jobs doesn't need to talk about innovating the mobile phone or the tablet market. His products speak well enough for him.

Posted: Sep 27th 2011 5:25AM Grinstone said

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I mostly agree with what Morrison says about the perception that games will fail. I expect that he left out mention of the community's snarkiness for diplomatic (or PR) reasons.

I think that there are probably as many people espousing the failure of games because they don't like it or out of schadenfreude as there are people who honestly believe that if the game doesn't reach WoW's level of success it is a failure.

As for pushing innovation and change, Morrison addressed that obliquely as well: MMOs have gone mainstream. World of Warcraft, by dint of its incredible success, has become the success formula. It's nothing new in the gaming industry that the moneybags are going to stick to what's tried and true to minimize the risk to their investment. Which isn't to say innovation and change isn't happening. It's primarily coming along in the slower change and evolution of existing MMOs rather than with the big bang of a "revolutionary" new MMO, so that change is less noticeable.

Developers always hope that their MMO will be a long-lived product. Due to that it's important to keep in mind that such a game should be judged at least as much by how it is developed over the course of months or years as with what features it did or did not launch. After all, I think it is fair to say that no game launches with all the features the devs would like it to have.

Posted: Sep 27th 2011 8:11AM Space Cobra said

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I should really post on his blog, but I know he reads here, too.

I think Morrison is right in his views. But I am gonna go over a few details:

1) Veterans and Player Expectations of success :

What is a "Vet" in this day? I certainly am one. The ones that can point to early games are one, but you have different value systems and even age groups, especially younger ones, who not only want to appear older/wiser, but also are a bit jaded. I've spotted some that, if you look more, have only started recently, and have maybe played 3 MMOs and are complaining of anyone of a particular MMO. Now, not all these opinions should be dismissed, but you have to sorta sift for the intelligent observations, because not everyone is a "poser" among these types of players, but it can be hard to sift.

In regards to that, as Morrison knows, it is easier to have someone post a grievance than hear from those that happily log in to a particular game and never post on forums or other places. Again, old stuff he should know about. (A possible solution is to offer/email a random survey to randomly chosen players like these, maybe every quarter or even yearly. You can stick with the same players and/or just choose a new batch. Most would be simple input in terms of question/answers).

In this regard, that of being a jaded gamer, I think that's where you are seeing more impatience and the want/need to move on to "something new", although most gamers have not really thought about what that "new" thing is or if they have, have not thought the idea through in terms of it will be fun or easy to implement or code. Actually, I am not a coding genius, but I have studied it a bit and one needs to at least, feel out what one can do in games at the moment. Many people are not cognizant of what it takes to program or willing to understand that aspect.

And really, there is vision. As a dev, you have choices: Do you stick to your vision or listen to players (or even your team of devs)? One path is not necessarily worse/better than the other, but everyone, from Devs to players, needs to "step back and view the bigger picture" not only what benefits or works for them, but what is fun (because we can't lose sight of the "fun" factor; these are games. Needless to say, my version of "fun" may not be yours.)

General Malaise :

Sometimes, you just have to think very differently and outside of the box and, even then, you may have people/players that may not understand something. Do you make something so experimental that you lose folks, but gain a cult following? There is always the danger that if you aren't at least an initial success and fail, people learn about and get used to your systems (sometimes people need time to get used to it) and then yearn for your failed, cutting-edge attempt. It's sort of like art or even certain cult-classic movies. Being a business, you need to hit respectable numbers to sustain your investment. And really, it is upsetting most still look at WoW and their numbers but have no idea that around 100K subs can be a healthy number. Should we keep with those low numbers? I think, in time, as the internet grows and more people get gaming as a hobby/diversion, you may see bigger numbers; already there is evidence of this, but yes, the old standards hold.

There are ways to bring such "new" ideas that may, at first, exasperate many players. I got some ideas, but I think a bit of a low cost way may be to take cues (or make) a single player game that you throw in such ideas and gauge success from that (Here I have to admit, when I say, "new ideas" I am try to think bigger and more revolutionary in terms of basic game play. Even wondering about UIs and Avatar standards. Really out-there stuff. But again, it's just brainstorming, isn't it?). Another way, is to devote some small resource into a hobby server in-house that would be mostly used after-hours. I'd probably have to explain it more, but it's similar to "working on something on the side in your spare time when working on a project". I guess, like building your own motorcycle/painting when you get the time. You could then either incorporate elements from it into other projects or see what sticks. I guess it'd be like an in-house "Second Life" for Devs (and maybe invited guests). I think the key is to test your "sketch ideas" to some sort of audience and get some reaction and these tests could be small or big.

Again, just suggestions. It may not work given budgetary and time constraints, but Devs are I feel, a bit like artists and like to try new and different things just as much as others want to see them. I kinda think an outlet is needed on a slightly bigger scale, but not one that requires lots of money. Again, questions can be asked, What is a UI? How to change it? Is there room for voice controls? Hand motions? What about specific controllers? Anything that can be done outside a game to enhance it (Okay, you got me, Secret World's been doing great in that department so far! ;P )? Should the Kinect be thrown out of the MMO or is there a space for it, even for a bit ;I do need more exercise, but maybe certain mini-games? What about cameras? What about even MORE integration between web sites or your windows and the game? (Maybe I am closer to being an experimental painter, like a Cubists, in a world of Portrait artists in terms of games?)

Personally, I think the scope of what to expect from games should be widened even further than just the graphics and gameplay, although those are important, too.

Posted: Sep 27th 2011 8:21AM Space Cobra said

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Also, one thin I left out of my wall of text: ;P

While I admit, it's sometimes better/easier to ignore some forum/customer comments and move on (and I agree, many of them ask the same question!), most companies do need some presence on the board. Even if you flat out tell them, you are not considering something, they need to hear it.

In some cases, while other posters do link to previous comments, Devs should do so, too. Just answer via a link to the prior response. At least it's an off-hand response. Sometimes communication overwhelms, but a statement of some sort, either public or on a board, especially during launch, is appreciated. Heck, sometimes a response to a question or two is also appreciated, especially during a Beta. At best, comment in the art forums and ignore the questions not relating to topic on there (but don't keep doing that; at some point, you should face the public). There should be more communication in a Beta, at least general statements, 1-2 times a week.

Posted: Sep 27th 2011 8:36AM heerobya said

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Why would I listen to the opinion of the guy in charge of Age of Conan?

Pssst.... your credibility was tossed out the window after players finished Tortage!

Posted: Sep 27th 2011 8:44AM nimzy said

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Yeah, I'm getting TOR because I'm tired of fantasy MMOs. That's really the only reason.

Posted: Sep 27th 2011 11:32AM Thorqemada said

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Space Cobra wrote down some really good points, i applaud !

Posted: Sep 27th 2011 12:17PM Acidbaron said

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Us veterans come from a time where community was everything, yes you could play solo but you felt the need for a strong community and it was even so that if you were an ass you could very well be excluded faction wide from activities.

Nowadays games are so casual friendly and GW2 and TOR included doubt TSW will be any different, that you can play a mmo all by yourself and be totally anti social and have almost no contact.
other then that we all know that interesting new concepts will not come from big companies who dare not to take risks and go outside the safety of the box, but from small indie companies.

It is true that we it's still the same old stuff being refined for the biggest part, just because a game has a story line or is fully voiced or has no -real- trinity system doesn't make it new, just gives it a brand new coat with flashier colours.

Posted: Sep 27th 2011 1:17PM fallwind said

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@Acidbaron

funny, all I hear in other threads is "there is nothing to do but raid!", then here someone says that you can do absolutely everything solo.

What games are you playing?
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Posted: Sep 27th 2011 1:56PM drunkingamebar said

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@fallwind most games feed 2 types of play, usually both types are boring after awhile because it's constantly held back by delayed content patches and people suffer from burnout. Depends on the person really, some people love to play MMO's completely alone, and hate when people get in the way /baffled. Some people love to raid, usually it's linked directly to flexing e-peen /fatlewts/, but these 2 types are completely streamlined into the game to appease the players. Really it's not the games fault, for it is just catering to the players whims.

The games won't change until the players do. Make a game that forces players to change will probably fail for 'being to different".
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Posted: Sep 27th 2011 2:16PM Acidbaron said

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It's true that raiding is the end all of everything but look further but do not twist my words, i said that you can play a mmo all by yourself without any social interaction, nowhere did i state you can do -absolutely everything solo-

Not sure what your background is but i've been in and out mmo's a good decade now, so i consider myself a veteran in the genre and in my eyes the communities have been further split up to the point i don't even notice a community feeling in some mmo's, other players are just there as an NPC would be there to be either killed or be a tool to help me get something done.

Would you say that raiding is a social community aspect nowadays, or simply a routine way of playing?
Do you really feel part of a community when inside a raiding guild? How about pug raids?

That's my point, there used to be a sense of community nowadays with as good as having no need for another and for the sake of making everything easy accesable and in some cases easy to complete to cater to the those who crave instant gratification.
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Posted: Sep 27th 2011 4:05PM drunkingamebar said

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@Acidbaron Being social in an mmo is pretty much gone imo, everyone is off doing their own thing - look at WoW they had to add guild "perks" and "Achievements" in order to justify having guilds at all. The fact that games are going so streamline, people don't need to interact with others, unless they want to achieve x goal. The dangers of wandering in an open world are very few and very far in between, loot is another aspect of the game that pushes socializing to the side, group up - serious business - get loot - leave group. WoW will get even worse with LFR - we all know what merging battle groups and cross server LFD did. (not just gogogogogogo! either)

I guess the point is, games are way to easy, and people want games to be easier so they can achieve everything in order to feel /cool/ no risk involved and no reason to be social.
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Posted: Sep 27th 2011 4:45PM fallwind said

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@Acidbaron I find raiding to be extremely social. I still talk to people from games I raided with from games I left over a year ago, some I consider good friends.

You get what you put in, if you run around alone then you will find yourself alone. Just last night I spent almost 3h just sitting and talking with people in one of the minor cities. If I had been "I MUST LEVEL!" than I would have been out, alone, in some quest somewhere rather than having a wonderful social event. Was I forced to sit there and talk? Not at all.

Why do people think that if something isn't the absolute best way to get from lvl 1 to cap as fast as possible that it either isn't fun, or even that it isn't in the game? If you enjoy something, do that :)
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Posted: Sep 27th 2011 4:22PM Sean D said

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Craig Morrison is right, but I think the issue is a little more complex than he makes it out to be. It takes far less time and effort to play through all of the content of a game than it does to create that content. It seemed fair when I read that game creators are still stuck on 'refining' old philosophies and methodologies. Veteran gamers are aching to see somthing new while creators are just now starting to feel like they're getting all they can out of the old systems.

In the interest of strengthening the relationships between veteran gamers and game creators, veteran gamers should exercise some patience and perhaps find other ways to delve deeper into their favorite games (blogging, for example). Likewise, the forces that empower (fund) game creation should allocate resources to developing new and dangerous ideas. Even if such efforts ultimately fail, something will have been learned and the genre will be better for it in the long run.

In my view, part of the problem is the unwillingness of either group to see long-term (the same problem we currently have with governments around the world). MMOs have incredible potential, not just for monetary gain, but to teach, to solve world problems, and more. Put in more epic terms, they (we) could be involved in ensuring the continued prosperity of humanity. However, game players are primarily interested in being entertained, not learning, and the powers that fund game creation are interested in providing that entertainment as long as it brings a measure of success and profit. Profit is an immediate concern that seems to carry more value than teaching or solving world problems. It may be impractical, but if at least some resources aren't given over to 'research and development' of new ideas, the genre will stagnate, which it seems to be doing to some degree. TOR is still using the decade old button-mashing combat and level-based progression mechanisms, for example. How much more refining can be done on such systems? We'll see...

Posted: Oct 1st 2011 11:01AM Poordevil said

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@Sean D

"MMOs have incredible potential, not just for monetary gain, but to teach, to solve world problems, and more. Put in more epic terms, they (we) could be involved in ensuring the continued prosperity of humanity. However, game players are primarily interested in being entertained, not learning, and the powers that fund game creation are interested in providing that entertainment as long as it brings a measure of success and profit."

I must admit the one and only reason I play any video game, MMO or otherwise is to be entertained. Solve the world's problems? Ensure the continued prosperity of humanity? Are you really serious about this, or just yanking our chain? Honestly, if a game was developed with this kind of vision and these goals in mind, it would be the last thing I would pick up and play! It sounds like some kind of political agenda simulator, pure hell to be in or play.
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Posted: Oct 1st 2011 1:05PM Sean D said

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@Poordevil

I hear what you're saying and I think most gamers get the same bad taste in their mouths when they think about games that do more than just entertain. I believe games and education can be combined in a way that's entertaining. Check out these websites:

http://www.hulu.com/watch/219284/tedtalks-jane-mcgonigal-gaming-can-make-a-better-world

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/05/science/05protein.html

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Posted: Oct 1st 2011 1:44PM Poordevil said

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@Sean D

Jane McGonigal, Very interesting presentation. Like your post on the subject, I am not sure if she is serious or putting us on. Could be either. Maybe she is playing both sides of the fence. If her ideas take off and flower ( unlikely imo ) she can take credit as a true visionary, an engaging speaker on the cutting edge of societal evolution. On the other hand, if she is demonstrated to be totally off the mark, and games never approach anything like she envisions ( most likely imo) she can claim, I was only fooling, it was all just a big joke.
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