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Reader Comments (136)

Posted: Jan 17th 2012 4:38PM Critical Mass said

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I just want to make one point in case somebody on the internets does not understand this already:

Criticism is not being negative.

I can be negative and provide criticism at the same time though.

Posted: Jan 17th 2012 4:38PM Beltyra said

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Jef,
You're an MMO reviewer/critic, not a Sandbox or Sci-Fi MMO reviewer. Roger Ebert still gives a well thought out and balanced review to Twilight as he does Moneyball. Do you think he enjoys watching all the romantic comedies when he prefers serious foreign art films? Do you think he gives Family cartoons bad reviews because the characters don't have the depth of a Spielberg film?

Get over yourself and remember your a part of A) a news site, and B) an MMO review/commentary site. Judge something on it's content and how it plays to the genre or sub-genre, not on how YOU want something to cater to YOUR tastes.

Posted: Jan 17th 2012 4:58PM Lethality said

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@Beltyra Seems like you missed the name and charter of this column...
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 5:09PM Buhallin said

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@Lethality The problem with Jef is that he doesn't limit his bias to just the opinion articles. It permeates everything he writes, whether opinion, news, or otherwise.
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 9:31PM (Unverified) said

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@Buhallin

Guys, I'm going to jump in here real quick and say something about Jef. We've worked together for over two years now, and while he and I come from very different schools of thought on MMOs, I think the world of him. He may prefer sandboxes, but I've seen him time and again try just about every theme park that comes down the line to give it a chance. He goes into these discussions with his eyes wide open to things that he may not prefer, but experiences anyway, and I admire his integrity because of that.
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 10:47PM Daeths said

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@Buhallin The problem with your comparison is that dozens of top notch movies come out every year while 3 big AAA releases for MMOs in a year is an anomaly. With a movie its an hour and a half and you only have to talk about it the once, perhaps twice if its huge. For an MMO its a multitude of hours invested and its one of the few things you can talk bout for months. Hell even the most professional movie reviewer will give thumbs down and critique even the best work. Why expect an MMO review to be all positive and with out the bias of like/dislike inherent to any review or rating?
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Posted: Jan 18th 2012 12:57AM theBeast said

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@Beltyra In case you missed the very first paragraph/disclaimer:

"Disclaimer: The Soapbox column is entirely the opinion of this week's writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Massively as a whole. If you're afraid of opinions other than your own, you might want to skip this column."
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 4:40PM shmegger said

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Could not read once sad cats appeared.
Sad cats > Article.

Posted: Jan 17th 2012 4:55PM Valkenr said

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If anything, the bulk of my negativity has shifted towards BioWare.

For 1 they have Mythic in their offices now, there is no reason every good idea from warhammer shoudn't be in TOR. I'm talking about: Public Questing(automatically resetting infinity repeatable with no reward degradation) 3 PvP scenarios per 10 levels, and a objective driven PvP lake on every planet.

Secondly, the story line. My consular was named "Barsen'thor" a title given to only two jedis in the past. An event like this does not belong in an MMO, at most you should get the equivalent of a metal of Honor. The TOR storyling does not belong in an MMO and does not make sense in an MMO environment. When I see the line "the only living Barsen'thor" I grit my teeth, because i know for a fact there are over a million others running around with the same title. BioWare could have spent a little more time thinking like an MMO developer and not like a single player RPG studio, and made the story make sense in a massive world, where more than one of your class exists. This is basically a 4 player online game, that was given a few changes and moved to game servers instead of P2P transfers.

Thirdly, this genera that TOR shoots towards houses the largest number of griefers of any group, and absolutely no effort was made to prevent this, there should have been level scaling in every pvp environment, Warhammer had almost the right idea, but CoH had a better one, when you PvP in a certain level zone you are either buffed up or down to the level of the zone, and any abilities/skills you obtained after that level are not available to you. This is 100% possible in TOR, even scaling stats, i would tell you how, but bioware isn't paying me.

When I look at TOR I don't see a multi-hundred-million dollar development game 5 years in the making. I see a lot of twiddling thumbs and a scramble to get everything done when the graph of projected box sales was about to intersect with the cost of development.
With all the fuss about guilds and how important they felt they where, the guild system should have been completely fleshed out with banks, advancement systems, capital ships, and such at launch.

Good idea though adding cut content into the "first content update"

Posted: Jan 17th 2012 6:47PM hereafter said

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@Valkenr

The problem with making a story in an MMO that recognizes the MMO-ness of the world (i.e. make sure no one's ever "the one" hero) is that the story ends up feeling more throwaway and non-epic. BioWare's stated goal was for you to be the hero of your own story, so they chose to do that and we have to rely on the suspension of disbelief to accept it.

Clearly, your ability to suspend your disbelief down't extend to TOR's storytelling. That's a shame, but it doesn't mean they've failed. Pesonally, it doesn't bug me that everyone who plays a Trooper is Havoc Squad. It doesn't matter that the other Consulars have the same master. It doesn't matter because that's their story. They're making their own choices. It doesn't affect me and I don't want my story to feel smaller or less important just because millions of others are playing. That's the wrong way to do it, regardless of your preferences.

To be honest, it's like when my friends and I played the Mass Effect games. We were all Shepard saving the galaxy from the bad guys and we had fun comparing what things we did differently. It's like that in TOR. Yeah all the Jedi Knights are playing the Jedi Knight story, but we're doing it differently and the similarities don't matter. A title is just a title and fudging the lore a little for the sake of a better story is worth it.
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 4:56PM Thorqemada said

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Who is saying that MMOs be limited by todays technology?
In the past there be incredible deep games, whole virtual worlds.
Go to GoG.com and buy the Ultima 7 complete edition:
http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/ultima_7_complete
What you get is a game with rich and free gameplay that runs on a DOS-Computer and has in overall size 28 MB (yeah, 28 MEGABYTE).
In this 28 Megabyte it has a dynamic virtual worlds simulation with NPC having a character and individual goals and necessities.
It has a crafting, you can even learn from lookaing at NPC how to.
It has exploring, dungeon crawling, sailing, discovering etc.
A Machin that was a 386er with 33 MHz and 2 MB of RAM would run this!

Today we have I5 or PII with 4 Cores at +3GHz with 4 GB Ram and HD-Space in the TERABYTE range.
The games we get be bigger than ever.
But the mechanics have degraded and be replaced by Eyecandy.
The Challenge has degraded from climbing Mountains and Hills to stepping on a escalator.
The Playtime has shrinked from 100s of hours to 50, 20, even 10 hours to finish a game.

When you now look at the recent MMO releases, at the releases a few years ago, its obvious that developers have forgotten how to make complete games that offer diversive gameplay using the mmo as background world - anything has become a stage instead.
The games sometimes not even have a full featureset!

The hope is, that like Bethesday with Skyrim a MMO developer has the balls to do it right again.
Now that all Steakhouses have become Asia-Drive-Inns some could argue it would be a good idea to get into the market for Steaks again!
(But keep in mind we dont eat shit bcs you write Steak on it)

Now imagine, its possible to have Asia-Drive-Inns and Steakhouses together in the same wolrd - why then can a MMO have not content that appeals different styles of gameplay when the Assets only need to be planned right from the start for that?

Its only the Developers that lack the fantasy and foresight to do so !

Its the moneygiver that weights the initial investment wrong against the long term roi !

Its the players that accepts shit for steak bcs they were told its no longer possible to serve real meat !

Posted: Jan 17th 2012 4:57PM thade said

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This is a misinterpretation of what I said, but that's the Internet for you. It's like some massive and well-obfuscated version of a telephone game. People are saying "He said he wants to marry Donald Trump!" and I totally started out saying "Potato." (Hyperbole.)

I definitely think that constructive criticism is good for the genre. I also think that constructive criticism has - for some - given way to extremist punditry. I do not think extremist punditry is good for the genre.

It's hard to support a game you like, purely because it's so easy to slam a game that you don't like...so we have some bloggers now (I won't say many, but there are some vocal ones) who commit a vast amount of their air time to a corrosive slander campaign against whatever-the-currently-hot-game is. It's a tired mechanic and one I'd like to see us grow out of.

I loved blogging during the pre-Warhammer Online era and I wonder if I can blame that for the issues we've seen. All of that hype...all of that pomp and circumstance...and they failed to deliver. The blog-o-sphere has taken a dark turn since, from my perspective, and I decided to call us all out on it. I was even guilty myself. I'm surprised nobody dug through my own backlog of articles and bullet-listed all of my own extremely negative comments.

I am not an exception to this trend, though I might like to be. I do see it as a trend, though, and I'd like to see it stop.

TL;DR. Criticism good. Excessive slander bad.

Posted: Jan 17th 2012 6:56PM hereafter said

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@thade

I agree. It seems like gaming forums in general have gotten a lot more negative and it sort of feeds into itself and creates these groupthink hate campaigns. There's a new kind of solidarity in shared distaste, but it can get really toxic and snobbish. I'm probably in no place to elaborate on it, I just know I've felt it too.
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 6:56PM JVJunior said

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@thade

While I agree with with you that extremist punditry, as you put it, does not help the genre, a lot of this negativity stems from apportioning the term incorrectly - something your blog piece is equally guilty of.

It's an argument I have seen used by fans of SW:TOR to counter claims of "WoW clone" - That the game has to play this way because it's an MMORPG. Nonsense. The genre is only bound by the meaning of the words the acronym is made up of; Massively, Multi-player, Online, Role, Playing, Game. In other words, there needs to be lots of players, online, playing a game that has elements of whatever is considered to be RPG mechanics, most commonly story and stat based progression.

MMO does not mean Tank/Healer/Dps grouping mechanics, it does not mean dice roll RNG based combat, it does not mean "talk to guy with symbol over his head, kill bad guy, return to guy, rinse and repeat.", it does not mean enemies are not allowed to move from there allocated plot of game space ( static mobs), it does not mean end game raiding, grind, never-ending gear progression, battlegrounds...well, you get the picture.

The arguments and negativity that appear to be surrounding this particular "genre" really isn't; it is attacking a very particular type of game - the WoW-a-like, and when these games stick so rigidly to this formula, a formula that has been played to death for nearly a decade, it's no real surprise that they get slammed for doing so.
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 4:57PM Laren said

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"Back in my day..."

blah

blah

blah

Being constantly negative about MMOs is sad, short sighted, childish, and borderline trolling for page clicks.

Your readers pick up on it, and spread the crap around. Then the community goes straight to hell. You need look no further then the comments surrounding the last swtor post.

Posted: Jan 17th 2012 7:14PM Celtar said

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@Laren

Guess you missed the point of the article. Also I can't agree with you that putting your head in the sand basically and ignoring the problem will make it go away.

Also is it some sort of rule that you all that are blind fanatics for SWTOR can have attitudes but no one else can? Because I mean seriously, you all make me want to cancel my subscription just based on your ongoing rage issues with anything Jef writes.
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 10:18PM (Unverified) said

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@Celtar

Give it a rest. Reahard has such a ridiculous hate-on for The Old Republic that it's not even mildly difficult to spot. He despises it. Any praise is always couched in 'but...' statements.

Whatever. It's his soapbox, he can say whatever he wants about it. People can disagree or agree with him. My only issue is that it gets really old reading about how despicable TOR is, week after week, article after article, with almost no respite but for when the editors obviously tell him to lay off for a while.

Laren mentioned nothing beyond the fact that Reahard is overwhelmingly negative about TOR. All the time too. He tries to write that it's about improvement and constructive criticism, but many of his arguments aren't even close to that. It's just blind swinging at the genre, the game itself, Bioware, etc.

Like I said, it's his soapbox, but Laren was pointing out that people notice it and are tending to repeat it in comments. I'd add that Jef's opinions are just that, by the way. Yeah, his precious baby Galaxies was shut down. Big god-damned deal. That game had just as many issues as The Old Republic, if not more. To wander around hacking on one game and implicitly giving the other as pass simply because it was what you liked is the very definition of bias.
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 5:02PM (Unverified) said

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Imagine for a moment, if you will, that we had the technology to create virtual worlds. In these worlds, we could explore and interact with the fantastic environments. Well that's just a video game, ain't it? Some are more interactive and enjoyable that others.

But imagine if we could also engage with other people and that this world existed whether or not we shut our computer down? That we could effect the world in real time, change it, have meaningful interactions with others as if the virtual world really existed?

How would we take full advantage of this technology? Would the design encourage us to run around alone most of the time like a regular video game? Would we have no discernible impact on the virtual world (at least in single player video games our impact is quite noticeable)? Would crafting, housing, kinships/guilds, etc feel modular and under-developed? Would most of our cooperation with others be based solely on necessity of completing a dungeon? Would the game mechanics be constantly in our face, sticking out like bones in a decaying zombie? Or would it perhaps be more fluid, natural, and coherent as a virtual world?

Part of the negativism is yearning for the medium to take full advantage of its potential! This doesn't mean sandbox games should prevail or that video games with online multi-player potential aren't fun. My game of choice is LOTRO and play solo 99%+ of the time. Part of that is choice but a big part of that is the nature of the game. I've yet to get into a sandbox game because of the learning curve (which is why sandboxes are not ideal to take the industry by storm).

I do think the ideal game will be a hybrid of sandbox and themepark. It can't force players to rely on each other - but should offer palpable advantages for doing so. The game has to be less about stats and more about environments and interactivity. The game has to be sufficiently straightforward, simple, and fun in order to get players hooked on their first session. New players must be made a desirable for game purposes so that older players are motivated to show them the ropes. There do need to be clear goals for players to work toward as there are in themepark games - at least for awhile.

"End game" needs to be redefined from grind grind grind. It needs to be what happens after you've learned the ropes and gotten to appreciate the function of clear goals supplied to you.

Granted, my whole argument is predicated on the belief that most players don't enjoy perpetual grinding, that they want a more interactive world, that real-time interaction with others in a virtual environment offers more than emoting and occasional raiding. And again, I'm not saying the current MMO landscape doesn't offer entertainment or variety. But there is a lot of untapped potential in the market. With each AAA release, that potential seems to be ignored.

To a great extent I'm echoing/expounding a lot of what Jef wrote, like: "Currently, though, there seems to be an overwhelming amount of favoritism toward one particular playstyle. Granted, it's the larger market share, so I have no issue with that. What I do find funny is the notion that folks are somehow obligated to put on a happy face and refrain from voicing opinions unless they're positive."

So maybe the question is why mmo bloggers are so out of step with so many players? ;) But I suspect it's because they, like me, don't believe players only want that type of game (the arrogance!). It's the type of playstyle that has been done best. It's the type of playstyle adopted for every major IP licensed game. There is a lack of risk-taking and innovation for the sake of trying to ensure profitability.

Also, many good points as usual, Space Cobra!

Posted: Jan 17th 2012 5:11PM molotovzav said

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Unless FFXIV can get its crap together at 2.0 release, I probably will be in the "definitely doesn't like mmos" category . Its hard for me to find innovation in a game that just copied wow (swtor for the clueless), and other than that f2p mmos are the same cash shop crap of who cares. I just wanted an mmo with updated graphics that understood some of its users were older and liked everquest and FFXI, but I guess not, its all effin WOW, and utter crap, with people saying things like "if the game has no pvp its not an mmo" its a sad world.

Posted: Jan 18th 2012 1:02AM theBeast said

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@molotovzav if FFXIV doesn't make you want to punch a baby, I don't know what will.
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