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Reader Comments (47)

Posted: Dec 7th 2011 8:16AM KvanCetre said

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I suppose I can see that. I quit Rift around level 30 and didn't have my typically strong desire to level.
I think one thing I would have liked would have been something more than a "go finish a rift" quest to gain access to more souls. But I suppose that defeats the whole purpose of the free and open soul swap system.

Posted: Dec 7th 2011 12:04PM hereafter said

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@KvanCetre

I think they even did away with that though, made it so you just had to purchase them.
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Posted: Dec 7th 2011 2:59PM DancingCow said

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@hereafter

Yeah you just buy them now. I think it's to prevent players needing to create a new character to try out new souls - save them running through the same tutorial content over and over and over. If I remember correctly, under the original system you were stuck with your original 2 for quite a while.

For coddling try Lineage 2. I downloaded it yesterday and I hit level 10 just running around doing the "go talk to the next guy" quests, and there's still more of them.
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Posted: Dec 7th 2011 5:07PM hereafter said

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@DancingCow

The system before was this thing where as soon as you got to Sanctum/Meridian you talked to a soul trainer, they gave you a quest where you had to do a rift, use an item you got from it, then defeat the soul that came out. Then you go back and get another. It really wasn't that much of a hassle.
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Posted: Dec 7th 2011 8:27AM Sephirah said

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I once found in a blog a list of entries about "fun".
Two of them:

1. If I have to do a lot of things that are not fun, to have fun at some later date, the net result is usually a deficit of fun over the total financial quarter.
2. If a thing is described as character building, it is generally as an apology for it not being fun.

Posted: Dec 7th 2011 9:05AM (Unverified) said

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@Sephirah this
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Posted: Dec 7th 2011 9:47AM Ergonomic Cat said

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@Sephirah Absolutely this. Running on foot is not fun. Having 2 attacks until level 20 is not fun. "The game starts at 50" means you care so little about my time that I have to spend it, as well as money, to earn the fun.

Rift prior to the changes sucked. You heard all this great stuff about flexibility, changing roles, trying out builds, and you sighed. Withholding a fundamental gameplay aspect simply to make you play more indicates your game needs more motivators to play.

There's a reason I've leveled 50+ characters in WoW, but only one over 50.
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Posted: Dec 7th 2011 12:13PM hereafter said

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@Sephirah

But there's more to MMOs than just fun, right? There's the sense of accomplishment and ownership as well.
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Posted: Dec 7th 2011 7:33PM DarkWalker said

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@hereafter

If I'm not having fun, I leave. Simple as that.

I can keep playing a game without any sense of accomplishment for a long time. The moment a MMO ceases to be fun, I leave, no matter what I "own" in the game or have accomplished.
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Posted: Dec 7th 2011 8:38AM Space Cobra said

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I think, as with most things, this is a balancing act.

You want to dangle a carrot out for players, but you don't want to keep dangling that carrot (or worse, keep showing a bigger carrot every time they feel satisfied and finally gotten something and rob their sense of accomplishment; my advise is just to go with a completely different carrot, possibly an orange or cake or pie slice. In other words, a different system or different unrelated reward).

I level very slowly (and I find myself soloing a bit too often unfortunately). In early WoW (even after Vanilla) is vexed me to have a mount out of my reach at Level 40 (I also tried alts). Furthermore, it vexed me that the mount was so expensive (at that time).

I think there is a value to giving, at the very least, the "starting basics" in a game fairly soon, but holding out some rewards is needed (like a speed boost to said mount or more mount choices).

Posted: Dec 7th 2011 8:39AM Space Cobra said

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@Space Cobra

(even *just* after Vanilla). I think the last time I really logged in was WotLK.
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Posted: Dec 7th 2011 8:49AM Celtar said

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Yes, game developers do now a days tend to give out too much at once and have reduced the merit concept of risk/reward. Which basically means that you the player don't tend to value what your earning in a game anymore.

It is one thing to design games that are made to be picked up and mastered in a couple hours, the fun factor pay off is much sooner. MMORPGs are supposed to be long play design games, but when you change the design perimeters into that of what is expected from other game genre games, then you ruin the true long term fun factor of what makes an mmorpg an mmorpg.

You also lose player retention as they now view an mmorpg as a sort of quick and temporary fun distraction. One that they quickly get bored of and then move on to the next. The game design philosophy that has become the norm since WoW is in my opinion hurting the mmorpg genre.

No thinking, no figuring it out, no risk, no required team work for various aspects of the game as you level up, equals a boring mmorpg game experience.

Posted: Dec 7th 2011 8:49AM Strangeland said

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It is a problem, driven by $$ like everything is. [and if you bear with the explaination I do propose a solution near the end]

The unique nature of the MMO development and customer environment (immediate feedback and constant patching) makes these types of things inevitable in and almost unique to MMO's vs other games. With RIFT it happened before the game even launched, with other MMO's it happened over time as the population grew and the devs reacted/responded.

A game can start out with a vision for a certain type or level of challenge (lets use our old standby, WOW, for convenience) with things like long quest chains to secure components for epic class mounts or gear, difficult faction grinds, or long quest chains to acquire amulets or "attunement" to unlock unique raid content. These are design decisions that many many people enjoy, they give you a reason to push harder, strive for accomplishment your article describes.

Then bring a few million (or even a few hundred thousand) players on board into a game environment that is heavily driven by regular "patching" ... and suddenly the distinctive game designs, patch by patch, and complaint by complaint, get patched out of the game. The $$$ that hundreds of thousands of players bring in is more important than then holding to the integrity of the original vision for the game. And so because the game is fluid (through weekly /monthly patching)... it flows invariably toward a soft, mushy compromise of original ideals into a - "the paying customer gets what they want, as easily as they want it" design philosophy.

A possible solution is to expand the number of server rule sets from just the standard PVP, PVE, and RP-PVE, into actual REAL rule set and feature differences. Again, using WOW, set up some severs that run on vanilla, 2.0 , 3.0 (for example), etc. rule sets and features with the bugs patched out. Let people play the game they originally bought and loved. Lots of people want rule sets kept in the game, like the way factions worked, and the attunement earning processes, etc. So let those that like those rule sets (or features) keep them, rather than patching everyone into the muddle mushy middle where everyone gets access to everything the instance they ding the required level. Or the talents and class are homogenized into indistinguishable bland copies of each other.

WOW might regain a million or two subs if they brought back BC or pre-BC features on a couple dozen servers. Bring back epic quest chains, attunement, class differentiation between factions and between each other, etc. Many people don't want to play the mushy middle, they want distinct challenges.



Posted: Dec 7th 2011 9:12AM CaffinatedOne said

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@Strangeland

I like the idea, but you're left with a server where there'll never be new content. The EQ progression servers seem to be a reasonable compromise where they only unlock the next expansion when players have hit certain milestones and a majority vote for it.
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Posted: Dec 7th 2011 3:56PM (Unverified) said

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@Strangeland

As appealling as your suggestion sounds, it's simply not feasible. What you seem to be suggesting is that these different servers have different versions of the game, and still receive bug fixes and updates. That's, frankly, insane from a development man-power standpoint.

Even if you're fine with the servers running older content not having content updates, the fact is, even most people who yearn for the old days will get bored without them, cutting down the number of players this special server would be implemented for.

Also, even without content updates, a company like Blizzard isn't going to let a server go without bug fixes, which still expands upon the dev team's work required.

The true heart of your suggestion seems to encourage developers to try to create special servers for all types of players and implement patches and bug fixes with server specific features over time, in effect, maintaining 2+ different games.

As much as your idea sounds awesome from a player perspective, you have to be realistic, it's absolutely crazy from a developer standpoint. We unfortunately don't live in a world where something gets done just because it would be really cool. We live in a world of cost/benefit analysis, and the cost of such a venture would far outweigh the benefit.

Remember that there are entire teams of people dedicated to keeping these behemoths running, and to add extra servers with wildly variant rulesets would require doubling manpower, and thus, costs.

That said, the one case where it may be possible is your example, WoW. WoW already has so many users and pulls in so much money, it might be possible for a dev team to have more success coming on and running a second ruleset for WoW than they might creating their own new MMO.

There are still 2 big problems with that. First, the dev team would have to be fine with the fact they are working on a hand me down project, not one of their own. Second, for Blizzard it would have to result in at least higher subscription retention, and ideally, increased subscriptions. They would need a way to measure how much income they can attribute to the new dev team's project, and how much of that revenue would be there anyway with just the normal game.

It's a wonderful idea from a design standpoint, you just have to find a way to make it work from a production and business standpoint, which is always the real obstacle in this industry.
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Posted: Dec 7th 2011 8:50AM MMOaddict said

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It goes both ways. Some games don't give enough at low levels to encourage you to play. Or they don't show you what you can get or strive for in a meaningful way. I had that issue with SWTOR. I didn't see any goals past my advanced class to strive for. Same with FFXIV,

One might argue in SWTOR's case, that mounts/vehicles is your next progression goal after you get your advanced class. But with how the 20-30 zone progression is given, one doesn't see much point in mounts at all considering how small the zones feel. Same applies to ships. It just seems pointless to do since you can't choose your ship or even decorate it. So I end up asking myself, what's the point? Story? I guess but even that is slowed down due to the massive amounts of redundant sidequests that every class has to share.

Anyway, the above is just an example of how goals need to be paced perfectly throughout a game. I like how FFXI handles goal setting. You always have something to strive for in all aspects of their game mechanics from getting to level 18 for you sub job, doing city quests for fame to get items you can sell or will actually use/need, to your chocobo liscence quest at 20, to making the trek to jueno at 20, to your advanced jobs at 30, making the trek to other areas in the rest of the game, unlocking teleports with supply runs, doing major quests to unlock your level cap, quests to get class armor, etc. Plus quests for major storyline with city missions. Sooo many goals, it never gets old.

Posted: Dec 7th 2011 8:58AM Dblade said

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@MMOaddict There was a lot of burnout in FFXI though. The game was actually harder pre-18 than it was post 18, so you had to slog through those levels, and then hit level 30, before you could actually do what you wanted to-be a beastmaster or dragoon, or ride a chocobo. FFXI made it much easier to level solo, so I think over time they recognized they couldn't keep being hardcore and expecting to retain people in the early game. Specially as low levels declined as early as TOAU.
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Posted: Dec 7th 2011 9:05AM MMOaddict said

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@Dblade

Well, I never said it was a perfect game, I too got burnt out once I passed the 50 mark as leveling then, this was before all the new xp bonuses from those zone books, was just all about sitting in a group grinding mobs for long hours. However, the goals the game set for you were numerous and deep and I personally felt well paced.
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Posted: Dec 7th 2011 8:55AM Dblade said

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When I played Aion, it was a good example of how not coddling doesn't work. I don't know if its different now, but you didn't ascend to daeva status till L10, and it takes a good few hours to get that high, longer than any other game I have played since FFXI. Theoretically it was supposed to make it meaningful, but I was just going through the motions by level 8, and was starting to get buyers remorse.

Sadly I should have bailed, because that was a preview of how tedious the rest of the game was. FFXI also was very bad about not coddling, and I remember losing 3/4 of the people I came to the game from EQOA with because they hated not being able to do things like have a decent mp pool or heal other players without resting every three seconds. If you survived valkurm you were hooked, but FFXI was notorious for a massive churn rate as people burned out early on.

Posted: Dec 7th 2011 9:07AM MMOaddict said

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@Dblade

Excellent example. Aion annoyed me to no end as well because of how long it took to level and I had no goal to strive for other than pvp at 25 in some strange zone called the Abyss. I had no mounts to go for, no noticeable class armor to check out in a reasonably early level to aim for, and basically no real reason to be playing the game, because the storyline was just horrible and the cutscenes, bleh.
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