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Reader Comments (46)

Posted: Mar 23rd 2012 4:09PM watchawatch said

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Odd. No mention of The Secret World in this article? It tells you from the onset that you are not a hero. You are a cog in a machine. The entire game and storyline is structured around this idea.

Posted: Mar 23rd 2012 4:16PM Lenn said

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Jef, don't take this the wrong way, but your ever increasing bitterness towards the genre really makes me wonder whether you still enjoy MMOs. And if not, why write for a website devoted to them?

Posted: Mar 23rd 2012 4:30PM Borick said

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@Lenn What MMOs have become doesn't define what MMOs were or will be.

Currently the big money MMOs have gone the entertainment route rather than the simulation route. It's as if Hollywood wants to recover their old cinema cash cow by co-opting MMO gaming.

That's not going to happen.
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Posted: Mar 23rd 2012 4:41PM jimr9999us said

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@Lenn

I didn't take Jef's criticism as bitterness, rather a challenge to the industry to stop their tape loop and re-examine what makes rpg's rewarding for the player.

Mmorpg's have gotten so derivative every new release becomes more like satire.
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Posted: Mar 23rd 2012 4:46PM Tom in VA said

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@Lenn

Kind of what I was thinking, Lenn.

When I read Lord of the Rings or play through SWTOR, it's because I want to enter into the story and "play it through" -- a good movie or book (or video game) draws you in, makes you care, and allows you to play a (vicarious) part in the story. I am not bothered IN THE LEAST that thousands of other readers have made that same journey. More power to them.
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Posted: Mar 23rd 2012 5:20PM Jef Reahard said

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@Lenn

No offense taken, and I'm basically in agreement with everyone who beat me to a reply. Fwiw I still enjoy MMOs (even some themeparks on occasion), but I do think it's a shameful waste that so many of them have become nothing more than an average video game with recurring revenue. MMOs are better than that imo.

Single-player story and progression grinds are amply provided for elsewhere, and I just don't understand why people are determined to reduce this genre down to those elements.
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Posted: Mar 23rd 2012 6:05PM Lenn said

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@Jef Reahard I think you're overestimating the number of people who would prefer being Uncle Owen to Luke Skywalker. There are quite a few vocal sandbox prophets here, including you, but the fact that the few sandbox games that are out cannot exactly be considered highly succesful in terms of player numbers sends the message to developers that people *want* to be the hero, if not The Hero, or at least have a hero's journey, rather than being some humble moisture farmer.

It seems to be a simple matter of supply and demand. You could argue that the demand has been created by the suppliers, rather than the consumers, but even then my argument holds water.
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Posted: Mar 23rd 2012 6:51PM Jef Reahard said

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@Lenn

Oh no, you're totally right about how many people prefer which type of game. I don't dispute that at all.

All I'm saying is that the people who prefer the linear dev-story progression stuff already had the whole of gaming as their oyster. MMORPGs were for the people who liked virtual worlds, non-linear gameplay, and making their own fun, and it's a shame that that's fallen by the wayside because that's what made MMOs unique.
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Posted: Mar 23rd 2012 7:03PM Saker said

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@Borick Well said!
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Posted: Mar 23rd 2012 10:13PM Mikx said

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@Lenn The problem for sandboxes though, is they are often so generic, and that's not entirely the fault of unpopularity or meager development resources.

Story can offer personality, but only if the story isn't itself generic, and that's another reason why devs go for story driven drivel. But it is the wrong way to go, particularly for MMOs. You can break the generic bonds by letting the individual players respond to events, and let the players decide what to do, and thereby let the players control the puppetstrings instead of the devs. GW2 does this to a certain extent. And then there is storybricks, which seems to let players act the way they want and then the system responds to the stimuli.
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Posted: Mar 23rd 2012 10:53PM AltarofScience said

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@Jef Reahard
I think its ironic that when people argue for an MMO that is actually the way MMOs were envisioned its those people that hate MMOs and not the people flooding the genre begging to get more coop lobby features. I think that many people like the idea of MMOs but they don't actually want to play them. Sort of like all the people who think it would be so great to know French but don't actually want to learn it.
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Posted: Mar 24th 2012 12:04PM (Unverified) said

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@Lenn

I rather think the bitterness comes from the fact that the 'hero model' mmo is relatively new to the genre. We were given a glimpse of what virtual worlds could be very early on in the emergence of the mmos, only to see it smothered by the everyone-wins affairs, which, to be honest, I find painfully patronising.

I'm not six years old anymore, I don't need a pat on the back and a reward for doing the simplest things, yet this is exactly what you get in almost any modern mmo.
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Posted: Mar 24th 2012 12:47PM Celtar said

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@Lenn

Guess that makes many of us bitter then Lenn. I agreed with Jef's points made in the article. Maybe we are a bit bitter, but honestly that does not change the facts that Jef made.

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Posted: Mar 24th 2012 12:49PM Celtar said

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@jimr9999us

Plus one Jimr9999us, exactly. Get off the tape loop! :)

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Posted: Mar 26th 2012 1:47AM henbot said

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@Tom in VA

That's exactly what many of us want from a large IP based MMO/MMORPG.

Immersion.

None of this appears in the current market (or ever will) due to shareholder precedence and greed.
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Posted: Mar 26th 2012 1:24PM (Unverified) said

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@Jef Reahard

I would love a true open world sandbox MMO, but I really hate PvP and it always seems that sandbox = FFA PvP.

If a game could be a sandbox with limited or controlled PvP I would play it, but it seems like all the sandbox games that have been released in the past few years have more of a focus on PvP instead of community or world building.
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Posted: Mar 28th 2012 1:57PM Djinn said

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@(Unverified)

I agree. I want to play in a "realistic" world, but I want my "realism" to be fun. Being griefed /= fun. And frankly it's not realistic either. There is no society where people can run around killing each other willy nilly. And if we're talking war, that is organized and has factions, not just "some guy" coming through the neighborhood ganking people.
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Posted: Mar 23rd 2012 4:20PM BigAndShiny said

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People like being the hero. They don't want to have to be one of the top 20 players on the server to become one, and this genre would never get anywhere if that was the case. Sure its great if you have an amazing imagination and build a personality and 500 stories ingame with your amazing RP guild, but for everyone else, they log on for a few hours now and then and want to be a hero. They want to save the world.

You are advocating making most people not be heroes. Let them be the chefs, the dishwashers, the traders of the universe. Maybe thats what you want, but for the rest of us, we have normal everyday lives. The reason millions play games is because every day, they explore new worlds, meet interesting characters (written by people who actually studied how to write stories, not just decided to write fanfic in their spare time) and save the universe.

I play games to have fun. So lets not scrap developer made stories. Howabout we make all MMOs B2P, and just play them until we finish the story, then come back when they bring out expansions/dlc? NO grind, no boring endgame.

Posted: Mar 23rd 2012 4:23PM BigAndShiny said

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@BigAndShiny

I want to add that the best 'stories' I've taken from other MMOs are ones with other people, about endgame wipes, or world events, or joking around on ventrilo. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't forget the genre. Its called mmoRPG. Role Playing Game.

And the role most people want to play is that of a hero. period.
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Posted: Mar 23rd 2012 5:10PM (Unverified) said

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@BigAndShiny
And yet, often times, the most popular characters in stories tend to be -not- the main character. Side characters, one-offs even, often build massive fandom for having done something right, even if it wasn't "epic". MMOs drive everyone to be the exact same hero, doing the exact same quests, and if the writing goes that way making the exact same mistakes. To be fair, TOR gives you eight storyline options as opposed to the usual two (one per faction), but that doesn't change the fact that, if you want to be a light-side bounty hunter, you're going to be the same one as every other.

It's great to want to be the hero, but as Jef mentioned, standard video and PC games are just as good (better in a lot of ways) compared to MMOs. Playing a single player game or some cooperative games online without an entire playerbase mimicking everything you're doing around you (and vice versa) serves the heroism illusion much better.

And it's not as if competitive games like online shooters aren't races to be at the top of the leaderboard. People like that, like knowing where they rank and trying to move up.

Finally, that "Uncle Owen" joke in the article really doesn't hold up. Of course no one wants to be Owen. But what about Darth Maul? Dead in one movie, but really popular. What about numerous members of the jedi council? Boring, mundane characters aren't the only option for not getting to be THE hero. And saving a nub from aggroing everybears is often just as satisfying (and less stressful) as taking down that raid dragon that threatens all life in the nation... until next week, anyway.
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