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BadSpock's Logical Conclusions.

My random thoughts about MMORPGs. A bit of critique, suggestion, debate, and insanity. Enjoy.

Author: BadSpock

Why the hardcore gamer has ruined MMOs

Posted by BadSpock Wednesday June 17 2009 at 11:11AM
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This is cut together from a few posts I made... enjoy. *very long read sorry*

-Summary (for lazy people)-

But the main point here is, this "hardcore" mentality of grinding and forced group content to seperate the player population into different "classes" of players, brought about by the EQ design of raiding and group-only content as the "end-game", coupled with the notion that players have to grind through meaningless content to get to the "good stuff" has ruined the MMORPG genre.

It's all about forcing players in certain directions instead of giving them options and encouraging them to try new things.

The min/max mentality brought to MMOs by power-gamers and the "hardcore" has created the very raid-centric, forced-grouping, item-focused inflationary stat level-based games that so many self-proclaimed "hardcore" gamers complain about.

Everquest killed the MMO a long time ago adding levels and grinding levels to a persistent online world.

I hated Everquest, with a passion, I thought it was boring and stupid and the graphics were lame so I always went back to UO.

SWG pre-CU was just a huge grind. What they did wrong, what UO did right, was that in UO you could "grind" to a high enough level in your skills/stats to enjoy 90% of the game in a matter of hours. SWG you had to spend weeks and months of grinding to get enough skill points in your combat professions to survive hunting anywhere other then the starting planets.

Instead of just open world like UO they had open world + grind... or simply put lack of driven content with a grind. Fail.

Come on, "grind out 10-12 professions in order to unlock Jedi slot" what a  joke. I quit right when the Holocron grind started. THAT is lazy developers. No content, just grind grind grind and we'll give you a treat! BS.

This "hardcore" grinding mentality, what many here refer to as somehow challenging or more difficult has ruined MMOs.

At first, WoW was able to fool me into thinking I wasn't just grinding levels because they had all these cool quests and instanced dungeons. They had content, real content. Driven content with a grind that was hidden, that was masked behind actual stuff to do.

Now though, years later, I see the quest grind for what it is, a convenient way to hide the fact that we are just grinding levels in order to get to the "good stuff" at end game.

They have gotten better though. Using more advanced technology like their "phasing" system and vehicular stuff (like riding giants) they were able to make the level grind through Northrend in WotLK a lot more fun and interesting and varied...

But again it's still just clever disguises to make us forget we are simply filling up a bar until we level, so we can fill up the bar again in order to get to the "good stuff" of end-game content.

Skill based games are no different. Instead of filling up a experience bar you have to grind to raise your skills up.

Now we see games like TOR talking about using story very heavily to disguise the level grind. And I think they are going to pull it off. I've played through Mass Effect maybe 5 times total including once for the "majority of content" achievement which was ridiculous...

If TOR really does have the content equivilant of KOTOR 3-10 then I'm sure I'll enjoy the game for a good long while... but I'm just not interesting in being a Bounty Hunter or Republic Soldier so I am stil hesitant, curious to see what MMO type stuff they have in game and what the "end game" is once you finish the story arc for your chosen class. Reroll? PvP? Dunno about those options...

I'd play TOR if it was offline and single player just cause Bioware is making it, it's Star Wars, it's KOTOR, and it's story driven. But as a MMO? Not sure about this one.

And then there is FF XIV which interests me greatly. They have said "no traditional experience point system" but what does that mean? They have said character progression and story are the key elements of the game, and that weapons matter greatly and have hinted that group play and formations are important... but I need more details.

Champions Online, Star Trek... there are some big name games from big name companies with big budgets that are trying to break the WoW mold and give us the next generation of MMOs....

but only time will tell.

Now what if you made the rewards for group play, be it small group or large raids, equal in terms of power and stats to what could be achieved through solo play?

What would happen?

Would people would only solo and avoid the group stuff because it is more challenging?

I don't think so.

People would form guilds and groups and raids and go tackle the challenging group content because they wanted to.

What it comes down to is that by placing the "best" stuff in group/raid encounters, the developers are forcing us to play in groups and raids. We don't have a choice. We do it, or we don't get to experience the best stuff in the game.

But take that away and people in an online game will still group up and be social and do things together with their friends and guilds because they want to, even if it only gives them rewards comparable to other game play styles. 

This was true in UO and it'd hold true to games today. I just don't think many EQ bred MMO players would be able to understand this at first.

Players will generally find the best/most efficient way to get the best possible rewards the fastest. So if all gear is equal but it's easier to get/takes less time to get in a group then people will do it in a group. This is true.

But people who will not or cannot group should be entitled to the same rewards if they put forth the same level of commitment and dedication.

This is the basic reason why Blizzard introduced the Heroic badge rewards. So people who couldn't do the really big group stuff could still get the same level of rewards, it'd just take them a little longer to do so.

And what happens? People start calling them "wellfare epics" when in fact it's actually easier and faster to get the gear through the group/raid stuff then it is to "grind" the smaller group stuff.

But Blizzard messed up it up. They had it right in TBC when they'd introduce a new level of raid content, they'd introduce a new tier of badge rewards of similar power but all the raids/dungeons still used the same badges. The small group player could still keep up.

The same in Arenas to an extent, you could get the gear faster, with less work by doing Arenas. A few matches a day, done. Wellfare epics. It was actually harder work to grind the battlegrounds for the honor gear.

But what happened? The elitist players, the ones in the big raiding guilds that grew up playing Everquest and the ego-centric power-gamer mentality complained that other, lesser players could get the same shiny pixels as they could... even though the "casuals" had to put in a lot more time and effort to do it.

You can't argue that point, I've seen a player get new shiny epics in nearly every slot, upgrades from greens and blues by getting power leveled through a raid by their guild mates. It'd take weeks of dedicated play (if not longer) to get the same quality of gear through crafting, heroic dungeons, and badge turn ins.

So Blizzard actually listened to the "hardcore" whiners for WotLK. They made the badges on different tiers. This way the "casual noobs" could never get the same level of shiny pixels as they could by doing raids. They succeeded in shutting out any casual player who wasn't in their little raiding clubs from getting the best rewards. Their e-peens were safe.

I can say this because I was in a big raiding guild. I was in the top tier, the elite club of raiders on my server that had all the best and most shiny rewards. And I got drunk on the feeling of power and superiority and I'd look down on other players. I'm ashamed to admit it.

My main toon is named Kaedin, an Undead Warrior on the Dalaran server. Look her up. I don't play anymore, got burned out on Ulduar but I thought I'd throw this in so no one thought I was just a "casual noob whining I couldn't have the best stuff" because I did have all the best.

Vertical progression through linear gameplay encourages this top-down power-gamer mentality has ruined MMOs.

What we need is a game where progression is horizontal or flat. Where people who want to solo can solo up to the pinnacle of game play. Where small group players can play in small groups up to the pinnacle. Where large raid groups can do their large raids. All the rewards are equal, there is no fastest or best way to do things. It's all a matter of choice and the availability of social interactions you choose to participate in.

Imagine a WOW where long, solo quest chains and difficult crafting recipes held the same level of rewards as 5 person dungeons and heroics/badge turn in, and these both held the same level of reward as large group raids.

Would people still raid and do group stuff or would everyone solo? Why do the more challenging content if you can get the same rewards by playing solo?

Throw in an achievement system that does nothing for your character but add meaningless points and bragging rights, like WOW has (which is a good thing) and people will have all the motivation they need to continue to raid and do group stuff instead of just soloing.


Because it's there... because they want to. Because they can.

New content is new content. Content is content. People do stuff because it is there to do.

Walking around you discover a dungeon with monsters you cannot defeat on your own. What do you do? Either avoid it and continue soloing, or call your friends over and tackle it together. Even if you knew before hand that you wouldn't get any better rewards by doing the dungeon versus soloing, there are a very large percentage of MMO players who would do the dungeon anyway because it is there.

Throw in an achievement system that says "I've completed this dungeon" and even if you get no reward for doing so, people will flock together and do it.

Don't believe me? 

It's all about psychological conditioning. By making the group stuff have the best rewards the MMO devs have conditioned us to want to do the group stuff so we can get the best rewards. It was the true genius of WOWs design that you graduated from solo to small group play via questing into dungeons, then graduated from small group dungeons to large group raids (and later heroics and different raid tiers) and thus they effectively removed a lot of the desire to group and be social in an online space and instead force fed it to us as a requirement.

This is why MMO communities have suffered so greatly. People only group because the content forces them too. How many people have guilds with a small niche of people they actually like and the rest there to simply fill up the space to make a full raid? As long as they are do their job well, doesn't matter if you like them or are friends with them or not.

Forced grouping creates communities where you only group to accomplish an objective, not because you want to.

Take that away and people will group and form communities and be social because they want to. Let the solo players play solo. Just because you don't have to group doesn't mean guilds will fall apart and no one will ever play together.

I've rattled on for long enough....

But the main point here is, this "hardcore" mentality of grinding and forced group content to seperate the player population into different "classes" of players, brought about by the EQ design of raiding and group-only content as the "end-game", coupled with the notion that players have to grind through meaningless content to get to the "good stuff" has ruined the MMORPG genre.

It's all about forcing players in certain directions instead of giving them options and encouraging them to try new things.

The min/max mentality brought to MMOs by power-gamers and the "hardcore" has created the very raid-centric, forced-grouping, item-focused inflationary stat level-based systems that so many self-proclaimed "hardcore" gamers complain about.

BadSpock writes:

Ultima Online (after the Trammel/Felucca split) was the ultimate sandbox / casual MMO and to this date, the only true Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game I have ever played.

Wed Jun 17 2009 11:33AM Report
BadSpock writes:

What if you created a level free grind free UO style game that featured a very lengthy and thought out story with tons of quests and such...

That was completely optional for your characters progression?

Wed Jun 17 2009 11:39AM Report
Talmien writes:

I have to disagree a bit with some of your view points here.


Skill Levels, Items, and levels in general are all used to measure a character's, as well as a NPC's, power. The fact that people feel their character must always be at the highest possible power setting they can get all the time is their fault. I'm actually not that way. I've enjoyed leveling up many many different characters in WoW because I love all the content at the beginning, middle, and end of the game.


Level is also used as a Tool to measure progress. Competition amongst gamers has been around long before MMOs. Remember always trying to get the High Score in a acrade game? Thats essentially what levels are, you playing alot, getting better, downing hard encounters, grinding away to get that high score. So at the end of the day you can show off your hard work to everyone else.


If you were to remove levels, gear, skill from MMOs then they'd just be empty shells. There'd be no reason to play. Maybe you'd try to fill that void with something else, but I challenge you to come up with something fun that wouldn't turn into a "grind" (something that takes a significant amount of time to accomplish) or a competition between players.

Wed Jun 17 2009 1:13PM Report
BadSpock writes:

While I do understand that Talmien and I do know that levels and gear and such have been a staple of the RPG genre for quite some time, back to pen and paper RPGs and MUDs and such...

They are not neccessary. UO if anything proved you could do without a lot of those conventions if you gave players enough reason to play without them - fun.

It's like Grand Theft Auto. I never played through the story parts all too much, but it was a lot of fun to just wander around stealing stuff and killing stuff and doing ridiculous things.

And how popular are the GTA games?

But (and as I've said in other posts here) just wandering around can get boring too after a while, like it did for me in GTA games or open-ended RPGs like the Morrowind/Oblivion series..

So in order to keep them fresh you have to involve another element: Multiplayer.

Multiplayer brings competition as well as camaraderie.

Wed Jun 17 2009 2:16PM Report
Death1942 writes:

sorry dude but too much UO fanboyism for me.  SWG and UO were awesome skill based games and each had their own unique style when it came to skills and i enjoyed both.


As for hardcore killing MMO' they did not.  Casuals killed MMO's.   As soon as WoW became a huge hit Developers realised they could earn more money off an easier to make casual oriented game than they could making a challenging and complex game for the hardcore players.

You are right for the early part of MMO's.  The hardcore population had sway back then and it did indeed impact on the genre (whether that was negative impact or not is really up to personal opinion) but they no longer represent enough of the comminity.

Wed Jun 17 2009 4:24PM Report
Zadocx writes:

Your story is a quest to the perfect game, where you can play solo where you want, explore the land you run in (hey why did i go here in the first place, problebe a quest), is a quest, what gives the most fun gives you direction, what hurts most gives you direction, a mmo is the same iff you think about it it hurts because you loze to progress(nothing is easy)..sounds double but true to me.

Wed Jun 17 2009 6:03PM Report
Zadocx writes:

what i should had sayd, its all about question..:(, iff you know the answer...well you are ...GOD...

Wed Jun 17 2009 6:08PM Report
Cernunnos33 writes:

Hard Core gammers are the reason MMO games even exist! If you want a game you can blow through with minimal effort and go anywhere/do anything the first day, then the MMO is not your flavor of game. I have played games that encourage grouping and games like WOW where you can solo all the way to the level cap. I have grown tired of WOW and similar games quickly but i have spent years playing the ones that present more of a challenge. It is true that the more hardcore games need to allow for more solo content for players with less time to play and that they need to find a way to offer more value to casual players but making the games too simple will only hurt their player base and cost them money in the long run.

Thu Jun 18 2009 1:58AM Report
Andromedan writes:

Nice read, and personally I think you're right. What I've learned from my years of mmo playing, is that they know exactly how to capture the ego (to make a long story short), and thats the main falling pit. Many aspects of the current mmo concept prevoke obsessive and compulsive behaviour. The defense that people put up towards similar arguments is more about defending themselves. Unfortunately there's no way around this, and its seen every aspect of life. If you speak truth, you get smashed by the ones that try to numb themselves.

But yeah, nice article... 

Thu Jun 18 2009 10:13AM Report
BadSpock writes:

Thank you Andromedan you understand what I was saying.

And I agree with you.

WoW was quite hardcore when it first came out. The "hardcore" raider/PvP players have done just as much to ruin that game, and the entire MMO genre with it, as the casual players ever have.

Anyone who argues "simple" versus "complex" must be confused or so "simple" themselves to realize that nothing in a game is really all that complex... it's all just a question of accessibility and tedium, not complexity.

Before there was ONLY the "hardcore" players. There were no casual players in the same sense that we define "casual" players today. MMOs were a lot smaller back then and it was a niche genre for nerds and D&D geeks.

Just like anything that was niche and small that becomes super big and popular, the original fans are always disgruntled towards the new comers.

But the "old guys" have been running the show with their EQ copies and raid-centric, item/level models for far too long.

We are finally getting some new, fresh blood making these games and moving away from the EQ model.

Besides, "hardcore" and "casual" are not game types, they are play styles. You can be a "hardcore" Solitaire players just as easily as you can be a "Casual" EVE player.

Some games just cater more to one play style over another. The really successful games, like WOW, are so successful because they have elements that cater to both.

One day, some developer will realize this and not force people into following a set path to raiding or PvP at end game, they'll do away with the whole bloody concept of end-game and give us a game that is enjoyable from the start for any play style, and continues to offer enough for everyone.

Yet, every game doesn't have to be perfect nor big budget and huge. Niche games are ok. Everything doesn't need to be a "WOW killer" or whatever other nonsense people write on these boards.

They just need to start making good games again. That's all I want.

Thu Jun 18 2009 12:49PM Report
Arulin writes:

One question to you heerobya, is everything you post here one sided. I've heard "David Duke" Style comments on how "Hardcore gamers" and "complex games"  suck ..... Seems to me you a flamer/jock who misses the days of push-button-see-blood gaming, try Halo.... RPGs, especially for "pen & paper" folks like myself are hardcore and complex, mmos should be as such as well as some made for the lightwieght gamers like yourself.


This is my personal view from here on and I'll keep it short and sweet. Frankly, I'd be surprised if you could make it out of level one under myself being a "Game Master", so please, if you would take the crap to the toliet and stop flooding my e-mail with this flame trash.... Write a review on something more productive then flaming.

Fri Jun 19 2009 9:06AM Report
BadSpock writes:

What an idiot. I'm sorry Arulin, you completely missed the point.

It flew so far over your head you didn't even realize you were staring right at it, it was just soo far out of your reach.

Fri Jun 19 2009 10:24AM Report
Arulin writes:

Oh I got your point, one sided flaming. Without hardcore gamers , mmos would not have taken off as they have. I read your post, you sound like Rush Limbaugh of gaming; and again with with the calling others stupid who call you out for being such a flamer. Hint Rush Limbaugh use to say the same exact thing to those who called him out. Finally found someone in the gaming world that I can label "Rush Limbaugh". You know he once said govorment building shouldn't be handicap accessible; I wonder if you would say that games shouldn't be written so that they are not reconfigurable or easier for handicap players?


MMOs suffer from two points,  first of all , it not hardcore gamers or complex puzzles, crafting, etc. MMOs suffer from flamers and bad half baked development (broken skills, clipping into graphics, and copy cats). Without all the hardcore gamers & casual gamers, the industry would fall. Frankly all I been hearing is "Becuase of hardcore gamers , that's why we have to party to get the best stuff" & "I don't like craftying becuase I have to acturally work for my gear.", if the developers canter to group play, it the responsibly of the developers.


Play a game as the developers programmed it or leave it. Know how I know "Rush Limbaugh" Heerobya, I been programming MUDs , appications, and been in the role of Game Master for years in everything from pen & paper to building my own stuff, I take responsibly for what I write and decide. So if you want to call me stupid, that's fine, you want to flame, that's your right; but I will not stand by and let you "Rush Limbaugh" gaming industry  as you have and use gamers as your personal escape goats in your half baked opinion, demonifying whatever the players, and furthermore attempt "putting down good devempment ideas that push the industry foward" in order to make yourself look high and mighty , the real Rush Limbaugh would most likely be proud of you Heerobya.

Fri Jun 19 2009 5:49PM Report
carhothion writes:

I'll agree that a level free system would be nice, where if I wanted to improve a skill, I didn't just kill stuff till I leveled, I worked on that skill until I got better at it. Similar to what we see in Bethesda's game mechanics.

By the way, calling someone an idiot never helps them to see your point.

Fri Jun 19 2009 6:12PM Report
BadSpock writes:

Are you on drugs Aurlin?

Seriously calm down. Don't get so worked up, too much caffeine.

Casual gamers have hurt YOUR idea of what a MMORPG is, I can understand your viewpoint. However the "casual gamer" has expanded the MMORPG market from a few hundred thousand to millions and millions worldwide.

It's the adherance of the "old school hardcore" MMO players that were around "back in the day" (like me BTW) to outdated ideas of time investment = reward and raid-centric linear game play that have driven the MMO industry away from its more humble beginnings to the massive cluster F it is today.

But at the same time the genre as it the best place it's ever been in. So many titles to choose from and so many in development, it couldn't be a better time to be a MMO gamer.

Finally we are seeing games being created by developers that haven't been indoctrinated by the EQ mentality of time (grind) = reward and that is somehow fun. Finally we see some games moving away from linear leveling systems and grind gameplay and involving more elements of story, social progression, horizontal advancement etc. etc.

Without hardcore MMO gamers, the genre wouldn't exist. But without casual gamers, we'd still be in the 250-500k range of maximum subscribers to any game.

We'd see fewer big budget titles, fewer developers, and fewer investment opportunities for development studios so all we'd have is the segmented niche games and the overall quality and polish and production value of MMO titles wouldn't be anywhere near what it is today.

Some would think that was a good thing, personally I'm a fan of choices and options and giving gamers enough options they can find what suits them best.

But aparently my opinion isn't valid and I am not allowed to give it without being compared to right wing zealot mouth pieces. I'm sorry master.

Why such a grudge against me? 


Mon Jun 22 2009 10:04AM Report
Arulin writes:

Your writting before I slammed a "Rush Limbuagh" stamp on your username, was sounding like a repubican talk show host. When you are writting, try writting objectivelly. You'll find more support that way, maybe even my own. When you start flaming, I pull out my silos and start nuking. I am not on drugs by the way, just very passionate about programming and gaming. If you want to call me master, that's fine, I don't care...I been called worse....But try to not slam any one group against the wall save you have actural proof it is true. Do that and you'll have not to worry of me.

Fri Jun 26 2009 2:30PM Report
BadSpock writes:

Same to you buddy. You are only pissy cause I disagree with you.

Sounds more right wing and like a Republic talk show host (i.e. fox news) then anything I have said.

My blog is my opinion, objective or not. Maybe you should read some of the "popular" blogs like Paragus or whatever, totally objective there... HAHAH yeah right.

you were the one who got offended personally. Grow up.

Fri Jun 26 2009 2:38PM Report
Arulin writes:

Seems I piss in your cup even when I am giving you lessons in arugmentive writting. Guess you are pissed at the world. Seems I'm not the only one who thinks you are a news reporter for O'Reily. 

Fri Jun 26 2009 2:57PM Report
BadSpock writes:

You really are quite sad.

Let me break this down for you nice and simply... as I have no reason why you have "targeted" me and all my blog posts.

I don't care. No one else does either.

My blog = my opinion.

I don't spend days researching and refining my post to meet some academic standard, if I did, 99% of people on this site wouldn't read it.

I don't try to write to make people happy and leave me good comments and kudos. Leave that to Paragus.

Get over your damn self, and stop wasting my time.

I don't need your lessons, nor do I appreciate your mockery.

Only thing I am pissed at is YOU for comparing me to that trash at Fox and right wing mouth pieces. You know nothign about me.

SO SHUT THE FUCK UP or i'm just going to delete everything you ever right on my blog posts.


Fri Jun 26 2009 3:02PM Report writes:
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