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Posted: Mar 24th 2012 10:54AM Vorender said

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I don't play MMOs to be the hero. I play them to be and live in another world from time to time. MMO worlds have slowly deteriorated into themeparks which are completely void of the feeling that it's actually alive.

For me, MMORPGs should be 40% video game, and 60% simulation. It's just a shame most game developers don't feel the same way.

Posted: Mar 24th 2012 12:54PM Tom in VA said

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I think I get what you're saying, Jef, and I always enjoy your articles, but you sound a bit like someone lamenting the passing of ragtime as a musical genre. Things change, tastes in music change, tastes in MMOs change. I rather doubt there's a market for the type of game you really want or, if there is, it's apt to be a pretty small one. But if there is one, then that's great. I hope your idea takes off.

I'd say SWTOR's guided story focus was a huge step in the right direction for the MMO genre; you'd obviously disagree. I get that. But I'm also OK with any MMOs that might cater to your wants and desires in a game; I certainly wouldn't criticize you for wanting something different, just as I do not criticize people for playing PvP-oriented games or shooters. I don't like either of those types of games, but I don't sneer at the people who do or the developers who make them.

Where we differ, I'd say, is that you tend to diss -- whether you mean to or not -- the current games that (we) unwashed masses have gravitated towards and enjoy playing (SWTOR, if I'm guessing right, is probably at or near the top of your dislike list).

This is the point where you lose me -- not in your advocacy of a different kind of game (or perhaps rather your desire to return to something that's been lost), but in your apparent disdain for games that are currently popular and (by implication) the people that play them and enjoy them and the developers who produce them. That disdain radiates from virtually every line in your essay.

You'd be far more convincing and persuasive, imo, if you spent less time running down the games that are and more time describing and explaining the games that could be, the type of game you're really looking for.

I actually think your ideas and criticisms of the currents state of MMOs are intriguing and you write very well, but, frankly, I'm put off by all the snark.

Posted: Mar 24th 2012 5:26PM Jef Reahard said

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@Tom in VA

That's fair enough, and I appreciate you taking the time to post.

As to SWTOR, believe it or not there are things I like about the game. I didn't mention it by name in this piece because I've said enough on it before and frankly at this point that would just be a cheap way to get page hits, lol.

And the MMO story thing isn't confined to TOR anyway. TSW is doing it, GW2 is doing it, and I'm sure there will be others.

And tbh, I'm not opposed to mmo story, as long as it doesn't replace the rest of what makes an mmo an mmo. Imo, BioWare did that. The game just lacks a lot of basic mmo functionality, not to mention various mmo bells and whistles that aren't strictly necessary but would add to the experience. Clearly 2 million people are ok with that, but yeah it frustrates me a little bit because that tells developers, "sure, cut this feature, cut that feature, and ship this really watered down version of a virtual world because people will buy it anyway."

Maybe if it's successful enough it will get fleshed out over time. That would be great for everyone.

My feeling about the current implementations of mmo story (particularly BioWare's singular focus on it), is that it takes too much dev time and resources away from actual mmo/virtual world gameplay.

The BioWare panel I attended at GDC really brought this home, as Dickinson and Vogel spent the better part of an hour talking about how much stuff they had to cut in order to come in on time and under budget with their gargantuan story/cutscene-driven game.

And I love those type of games, don't get me wrong. Mass Effect 3 is currently taking up most of my free time, but I don't think that type of gameplay is appropriate to form the core of an MMORPG. It would certainly be nice to have in addition, though. I would've loved BioWare-style story quests in SWG or UO, for example, and that mechanic probably would've brought in additional people and made those games more successful. I hope to see some studio do that type of game, rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater and attempt to redefine what an MMORPG really is.
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Posted: Mar 25th 2012 2:40PM Mikx said

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@Jef Reahard "Mass Effect 3 is currently taking up most of my free time"

Well, that's an interesting denouement given the focus of the column and the giant controversy over ME3's story or lack of it/ambiguity, or at least lack of control over it.
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Posted: Mar 25th 2012 10:30PM RoninBlade said

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@Jef Reahard Why does it have to be either/or?

Isn't the MMO universe large enough to have both story-driven games and sandbox games?

SWTOR and EVE are examples of games that work extremely well in the areas in which they focus. With SWTOR, the focus is on story and the solo PvE experience. With EVE, the focus is on creating a sandbox where the players can do whatever they want, which is usually corporate PvP. They're both weak in the areas that they haven't focused upon -- PvP in SWTOR and PvE in EVE. Even solo PvP is almost completely untenable in EVE, as compared to Black Prophecy, where solo PvP is an entirely viable option.

The doesn't mean that one is good and the other is bad. It means that both are good for the type of players they attract.

I'd love to see more high-quality, player-driven, sandbox MMOs out there, but I'd also love to see more BioWare-style, high-quality, story-driven MMOs.
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Posted: Mar 24th 2012 5:30PM (Unverified) said

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Preaching to the choir, Jef.

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