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Reader Comments (38)

Posted: Mar 6th 2012 12:16PM StClair said

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oooh, nice burn at the end.

On topic - in case it needs pointing out, the currently successful/popular trend and/or bandwagon (you identified two, F2P and WoW-like) also should not necessarily be treated as sacred cows. People, and especially big risk-averse companies, may not want to deviate far from this formula, but that doesn't make it the OTW either.

Posted: Mar 6th 2012 3:17PM JuliusSeizure said

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@StClair

'oooh, nice burn at the end.'

But, but, I like indie comics and creator owned stuff! And webcomics! (Ignoring the twenty billion Penny Arcade clones.)
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Posted: Mar 6th 2012 5:36PM Space Cobra said

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@StClair

Meh, not so much "burn".

Things change in comics, too. Actually, the whole "nu52" was stated to draw in "new readers" and it has, although some of us think that will die down, too. I've decided, as someone who liked the "old stuff" that these comics were not being marketed directly to me anymore and just dropped them. Saved money, too!

And don't think it's not wanting "change" because there was a nice generational vibe going on at DC before Geoff Jones wanted to bring back all his old favorites and make everyone young, including sidekicks.
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Posted: Mar 6th 2012 12:29PM (Unverified) said

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See, I don't see a current state of diversity. I see a lot of underfunded creative ideas that may not be blockbusters but could be enjoyed but a great number of people with "niche" taste and a whole lot of the stick-with-what-sells mentality that permeates other media such as movies.

I don't think there's one true way. And that's why the current trends in MMO gaming make me so sad, because according to the maga corps that bought up MMO developers like candy a few years ago there is only one true way, the way that makes the most money.

MMOs are a complicated, time consuming and captital demanding enough genre that most indie developers flounder to put out a product that's even finished much less polished. Until niche games can bring the cost down, keep the talent from being bought out by Activision/EA/Etc and put out a finished, polished, working game there will be only One True Way, the way that lines the most pockets the fastest.

Posted: Mar 6th 2012 12:32PM Greyhame said

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I think some of it is just that people have a hard time understanding that what you find interesting or think would be good/was good in the past is not universally true. This tends to build upon itself in communities where people tend to share the same opinion.

As for what style of MMO will make the best, themeparks sell, and generally sell well. This does not mean that they are the only form that can exist, but you are a lot less likely to get a larger company to want to take a huge risk and invest a lot of money in something that may or may not work. Some people say that if you make a game too much like a another one, why would people want to play the other one? There are different reasons why this is false for some (a new setting is enough for people to like the new one despite it's similarities, the differences are enough that people don't feel they are the same, people just like the style) and true for others (they don't like the gameplay style, the new setting is not for them, they still enjoy the first one). This is why you have both Call of Duty and the Battlefield games. The games are not hugely different, but different enough that some people prefer one over the other. And both games do well. Teh rest of the video game market is full of examples like that.

And then you have games that do well with a completely different playstyle but never capture the audience that the others ones can due to it not being everyone's cup of tea. EVE Online is an example of this in that it plays nothing like the current market leader, but it's done well enough for itself in the niche it has. These games will always exist in some fashion, but will probably never capture the larger studio attention.

Posted: Mar 6th 2012 12:34PM AstralEcho said

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The problem for me isn't that the genre isn't innovating anymore. It is! The problem is that these innovations are often moving the genre away from anything that feels "massively multiplayer". Whether or not we can define massively multiplayer is another topic altogether, but I feel that the term brings with it some expectations. After all, nearly every game would be an MMO if the only requirement we have anymore is that there are potentially thousands, if not millions, of other people to run a mission or dungeon or PvP match with. What does the genre become at that point, if not just a new way of saying "video game" in an age where so many games connect to the internet and draw from so many other users?

The innovations being made are pushing the genre away from persistent communities, from true virtual spaces with their own economies and atmospheres, and turning it into a glorified single-player experience. Sure, the option to group is there, but these days it has become such an afterthought that it practically discourages grouping. Why go through the hassle, right? The answer to that seems to be having the game make the group for you, and I don't necessarily have anything against the concept of a dungeon finder, but the way games like WoW have implemented it have completely negated the sense of community and world. If all I cared about was dungeon-crawling and instanced PvP, I'd play a game specifically designed for that without a monthly fee. Guild Wars comes to mind.

For me, it isn't that the genre isn't innovating, it's that despite these innovations the genre is becoming less and less "massively multiplayer".

Posted: Mar 6th 2012 1:18PM Rialle said

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@AstralEcho

Exactly this. MMO developers are largely pushing players into phasing, instancing, and doing other things which make MMOs feel like single player / small group games at times.

The largest two reasons I play RIFT over other theme parks is that:

(1) It hasn't succumbed to the F2P race to the bottom. Hopefully it won't.
(2) it actually makes an attempt to keep the non-instanced world relevant at cap outside of dailies and gathering mats. This is something most PvE-centric games stopped doing a long time ago.

Now, I will readily admit that for many players they really just want to be able to log in, queue up for an instance, mindlessly spam the AOE button without saying anything, get their tokens and log out.

At the same time, those of us who like open worlds, exploration, and like the game world to actually feel occupied and alive have been left out in favor of what is frankly best described as console-style game play.
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Posted: Mar 6th 2012 3:27PM (Unverified) said

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@Rialle
To label F2P as "Pay to win" is unfair and completely out of proportion. Most of the F2P games I've tried haven't ever been Pay to Win. And the ones that do sell weapons or armor on their cash stores, the weapons are deliberately weaker than what you can get in the game proper if you put more time into it.

STO did F2P right, everything in the game can be attained with time put in, even cash shop items. DCO also did it more or less correctly, the items on the cash shop are desirable(expansions or content packs) and/or cosmetic. Even the lower-tier games like my dirty little secret Vindictus do it right, there's nothing on the shop that makes the game easy or insta-win.

You need to climb down off of your mountain and see the world through new eyes.
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Posted: Mar 6th 2012 4:27PM Praylude said

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@(Unverified)

His point (possibly) and my point (definitely) lies in the base statement that all players should provide an equal fee to access identical content.

There is no healthy place in this genre for replacing skill and time with real life dollars. Period.

You don't play chess and give one player the chance to pay for another queen, or even for different color pawns. All players should be on the same level and be defined only by the time spent, and skill/knowledge gained.
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Posted: Mar 6th 2012 5:08PM Rialle said

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@(Unverified)

I didn't personally utilize the phrase "Pay to Win." I said F2P was a race to the bottom, and for the most part I personally believe it is. We'll see where the MMO and greater game industry is in general in five years to know if I'm right.

Some F2P titles most certainly are pay to win in nature. And many more are basically "pay to lessen otherwise tedious grind" which can amount to the same thing in some MMOs. Some stick to cosmetic items only, but these seem fewer and farther between.
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Posted: Mar 7th 2012 8:23AM Patrick Mackey said

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@(Unverified)
STO is pretty pay2win. You can get cash shop stuff from dilithium sales, so you're never truly excluded from it, but the cash shop stuff is the best in the game, period.
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Posted: Mar 7th 2012 10:09AM Vic Fontaine said

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@Patrick Mackey
And it takes forever to get that dilithium.
And let's not forget Jem Hadar ships that, as one of you so eloquently put it, "turned the game into a ferengi casino".
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Posted: Mar 6th 2012 12:35PM Neiloch said

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People tend to forget you are going to remember good memories more than bad ones. so when they look back at that old MMO they played for years they are more likely to see it in a positive light rather than an objective one. They even sometimes betray themselves by saying 'suchandsuch' game was one of the best designed games yet they themselves aren't even playing it anymore when it's still running and getting development.

Something else people seem to do is 'throw the baby out with the bath water', meaning a game could have really good features but it also has glaring flaws that drag it down, and people will condemn all features of the game for this. Drawing correlations instead of seeking the specific causes.

Posted: Mar 6th 2012 12:51PM Ref Minor said

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@Neiloch
To be fair many games have changed beyond all recognition, they are running but only share the name with earlier versions. Eg SWG NGE or Trammel UO.
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Posted: Mar 6th 2012 1:50PM Praylude said

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@Neiloch

The versions of the games that people often reference cannot be returned to since they are either changed radically (UO, EQ), dead (shadowbane) or lacking the population or development resources to positively continue (daoc).

Saying, "why aren't you playing that if it's so good" ignores the basic fact that often times they no longer contain the elements that made them magic.
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Posted: Mar 6th 2012 3:14PM BaneBergan said

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@Praylude

"The versions of the games that people often reference cannot be returned to since they are either changed radically (UO, EQ), dead (shadowbane) or lacking the population or development resources to positively continue (daoc).

Saying, 'why aren't you playing that if it's so good' ignores the basic fact that often times they no longer contain the elements that made them magic."

This is 100% accurate. Thank you for summing it up so perfectly.

I recently had a ton of hate mail about my SWToR review (and the fact I still believe EQ from release until around PoP was easily the best MMO experience I have ever had). I was accused of having "rose colored glasses". So many of these emails arrived that I questioned my own clarity... but going back to SoE's post-Serpent Spine EQ is like playing a totally different game.

I actually did the vile, evil thing of looking at private servers to play EverQuest the way it was back when I think it was at it's peak. This allowed me to see the good with the bad, compare my memories to the reality, and know beyond any shadow of a doubt the accuracy of my recollections.

...and I certainly do not suffer from "rose colored glasses". I recalled all the things I disliked, the annoyances and the issues, I had not forgotten any of them. My memory did not fail me, I was not delusional. OLD EQ is still to this day just as great as I remember it... but MODERN EQ is just as wretched as I remember it, too.

I just wish private servers were not illegal, as I refuse to invest any real time into something that is questionable at best and outright wrong at worst.
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Posted: Mar 6th 2012 3:58PM Borick said

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@Praylude Also, some of us still have those experiences. I still play text-based MU*s, for instance.

I don't know what MMOs should be or can be, but I can identify an unhealthy environment and in spite of the wide variety of indie titles and small startups the genre has a handful of giant companies wrenching things about more for their financial interests than for love of the genre.

Wars in video game space are nothing new, but the scale of it this time seems unprecedented in my experience. Where once we might have a bad game or two and the market would adjust, now the industry seems bent on forcing its vision upon us.

It'll pass, but I don't think it's all nostalgia to point out that current MMOs aren't providing for a diversity of expectations.
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Posted: Mar 6th 2012 12:48PM Ref Minor said

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A little contradictory, you talk of evolution and then seem to want everything to stay WoW like and F2P, evolution requires constant change and failure in order to find out what is best, that's what we are not seeing now, the constant innovation and failure, we just see tired attempts to ape success.

Posted: Mar 6th 2012 1:22PM Praylude said

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There is nothing wrong was people preferring that hobbies stick with the elements that they feel made them good. I'd rather my favorite band keep putting out the kind of music that they are iconic for rather than mix it up with some absurd sitar experiment.

That said, this article seems highly contradictory to me. You begin by arguing against repetition of elements, move on to use WoW as example of something supporting innovation when all it did was stymie the innovation of the mmo genre for a good 10 years.

Then you move on to use FTP as another example of innovation. Really? Nickle and diming the consumer while establishing real life money as an acceptable replacement for time and skill is innovation? There is nothing innovative about this practice in regards to gameplay, it is simply a more insidious way to increase the bottom-line at the expense of the concept of level playing fields.

Your problem with "one true way" seems to assume that there are no inherent foundations of game-play worth sticking to. I disagree.

Concepts like equitable opportunities (flat fee rather than variable FTP schemes), gameplay over finance (designing gameplay elements for the game, rather than how well they support or clash with a payment model) and a rejection of simple carrot and stick reward treadmill stimulation are all foundations that I believe have a "one true way" worth standing up for.

Posted: Mar 6th 2012 1:57PM Neiloch said

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The basics of everquest are still the same. Not too long ago I made a new character on there and it was almost exactly the same as the first time I played it more than 10 years ago. And its abysmal by today's standards. I'm sick of people confusing 'challenge' with 'ease of use' Saying things like faster travel or lack of a corpse run are dumbing down or 'easy mode' as if long travel times and Cr's were hard in the first place and not just a huge waste of play time. The last thing the 'good ol' days' were is 'good.'
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