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Reflections on MMO's

This is just a minor reflection on MMO's in general

Author: Ciano

When are we going to get MMO's that don't suck?

Posted by Ciano Monday January 12 2009 at 5:23PM
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This is my first post and I don't have long to write it but essentially I'm going to cram my main gripe about MMO's in to a 20 minute write up.

 

When are we going to get MMO's that don't suck?

Essentially I am asking this because for the past 5 years I have seen clone after clone of the same horribly designed mmo's. These MMO's usually clone the ideas of previous mmo's but fail to include the features that made those MMO's good. For example, Warhammer was a good idea for an MMO. I'm not trashing it because I think it has excellent lore and a wonderful tool for exploring that lore as you play IE "Tome of Knowledge". Unfortunately Warhammer Online fails to deliver on the pvp aspect of RvR. Many of the open RvR areas are poorly designed and the Keeps that you take over and often clones of each other. The primary feature of Warhammer Online is RvR but instead of developing a unique realm vs realm they seemed to have took Warcraft's shoddy pvp system and built on it instead of developing somthing truly unique.

Here is another example involving Warhammer and Warcraft. Right after Warhammer Online released, Blizzard had an inspiration from the Muse and suddenly Warcraft had a Tome of Achievement...... Lets me see here. Warhammer Online does an innovative Tome of Knowedge that is the sum of all your experiance in Warhammer Online. This tome is very well thought out and quite innovative with tons of lore. Suddenly Warcraft has a tome of achievements that is shoddily done and exists as simply a poorly done record of achievements and titles for the Gerbils and treadmill sadists to work on. It contains little to no in game lore and really exists only for bragging rights.

Do you see my problem here? MMO's always copy a unique feature of a previous game and then gut it down to it's most basic elements.

 

I remember when MMO's were first coming out and games were truly unique. Call me biased but I am a big fan of Ultima Online before EA took it over and began copying things from Everquest and newer games coming out. Ultima Online in it's most basic form was a truly innovative game. Richard Garriott strove for a true sandbox game where the developers built the world and the players created the story. You can interact with any object, craft dozens of usable items, kill other players at will, adventure in dungeons, fight wars between guilds, or run around thieving from people and hope you escaped. The tools were in the hands of the players and all was well. All was well until Richard Garriot and Origin abandoned Ultima Online to the corporate dictators at EA. Suddenly Ultima Online began to change and adapt things for newer games. Suddenly you had all kinds of special abilities, special weapons, new races, extreme distortions of lore that never had anything to do with the Ultima Series. Interestingly enough, many of these changes came about as games such as Everquest, Dark Age of Camolot, and Asheron's call became popular. The greedy managers in charge of EA and Ultima Online realized that games that relied of human's obsessive natural tendency to grind and achieve required much less affort to maintain players than a game that relied on community involvement and live content. Thus began the age of adding grindable content. Skill scrolls, Stat Scrolls, Special weapons.

 

My point is, EA took the Gerbil wheel feature of non-sandbox games like Everquest and introduced them into a Sandbox game that didn't need it. It threw all of Richard Garriot's and his fellow designer's work and careful balance horrible out of whack. The result is that a game that was essentually very good, was destroyed for a dedicated player base and is now a horrible pervesion of it's former self. Almost every former Ultima Online player I have met, has remarked that they left the game as a result of the introduction of all the Age of Shadows and special items, and other such nonsense. The popularity of Free shards containing the original ruleset is a testiment to how much the pre 2003 Ultima Online was.

 

All these seem like rambling but essentially it boils down to one fundamental truth as I see it. Games are no longer innovative and that is result we are the consumers and gamers are constantly disappointed by half finished trash we are always getting. Games are relying on obsessive compulsive treadmill climbers to stray afloat instead of fleshing out truly unique features that enhance a game and make it FUN! Why can't we rely on fun to maintain a playerbase instead of treadmill? I'd rather spend a few hours relaxing to mine some ore and fashion some armor or go out to open area and pvp with people than spend my time running the same instance for the 50th time in order to get my final peice of +20 boots of uberness so I can show off my armor and die happy.

You can all disagree with me and state your opinions. I am open minded. Nobody can deny the trend of MMO failures recently though.

mrprogguy writes:

Well, if it were as easy as just saying it, the game(s) would exist already.  Unfortunately, it's not that easy.

Seems to me that what you want to do is get out of the MMO thing and go do something else.  Read a book.  Fly a kite.  Learn to cook.  Take up the mandolin.  Cut your own hair. 

Just anything but MMOs--because you seem pretty fed up.

Mon Jan 12 2009 5:44PM Report
ghstwolf writes:

When? As soon as the gamer population at large stops buying half finished reincarnations of the same old game.

Grinding based games are good from a developer's perspective.  Running an instance over and over again is good, that means they need to make fewer instances.  Gear grind is perfect, because it removes the player from their progression.  Which is great because relying on players to get better is bad.  While we're on the subject of players, counting on them for "content" is bad too.  Now your relying on the community to keep everyone interested and giving up that sort of control is once again bad.

Mon Jan 12 2009 5:53PM Report
Quizzical writes:

If you don't like clones, then why are you playing WAR?!  Go play A Tale in the Desert.  That's not a clone of anything.

Maybe then you'll come back singing the praises of clone games. 

Mon Jan 12 2009 5:57PM Report
mrcalhou writes:

I've been playing Magic the gathering online, thats massively multiplayer enough for me, and I can roleplay as a sliver overlord too.

Mon Jan 12 2009 6:23PM Report
dcostello writes:

 I'm not saying that Darkfall and Mortal Online are going to be the games that break this trend of debacles, but I think they will only help.  I think that the sales for these games will indicate a population that is eager for better quality mmos.  As a result the big corporations will slowly get out from under their piles of money long enough to create better games, then they will return to their money lairs and hibernate.  It's a cycle.  For every good game there are plenty of mistakes within the game and plenty of mistakingly horrible clones to tag along...

Mon Jan 12 2009 8:00PM Report
sfraden writes:

The equasion is simple: Create a game for the lowest common denominator and you will have the most customers.  MOST people want :

..An easy to play game ...Simplistic graphics that will work on about any video card...the ability to feel elite...caters to pointless collecting...embraces grinding and levels for uber gear...

And thus, you have World of Warcraft.

Seriously tho, companies are only out there to make money, and if the game you wanted was ever created, it would fail because the masses can not handle it.

Mon Jan 12 2009 8:31PM Report
Ciano writes:

I am not saying that you can't clone features. What I am saying is that MMO's are cloning only a small fracture of a popular feature. If you are going to clone somthing then clone it and be done with it. They keep cloning and cross breeding parts of a successful feature into thier product and essentially end up with junk that is neither innovative nor is fleshed out enough to fully represent what made the feature good in the first place.

Either design somthing new from the ground up or clone a feature in it's entirely. Changing directions in mid stream always angers both sides of an arguement and pleases none of them.

Mon Jan 12 2009 8:53PM Report
vreid writes:

 Basically, some company/team needs to take the cocepts of EVE (everything can be build by players; no classes, just an endless amount of skills) and build an RPG on top of that.

Tue Jan 13 2009 12:52AM Report
ElRenmazuo writes:

When mmos have single player games style gameplay.  Not turned based or time based auto attack crap.

Tue Jan 13 2009 4:00AM Report
Timacek writes:

freedom and complexity, let people find their virtual me by giving them a variety of sandbox tools and they will find themselfs. Like EBANK in eve online for example. They created a real bank within a game and with its tools. amazing example.

Tue Jan 13 2009 4:50AM Report
lilleas writes:

I understand how you see that every MMO clones every other one, but have you ever glanced at the suggestions forums for these games? Blizzard for example listens to their players and implements, within reason, what the players want. Also, the games are fun. its not always about doing the same things over and over but the people you do those things with and the social interaction and satisfaction you get out of it. Believe it or not they listen to their players and if something doesn't work they scrap it. War followed on the MMO wagon with familiar concepts and mechanics because they work. Achievements were put into the Xbox live system and may have existed previously so althought the concept is not new and unique, it works.

Tue Jan 13 2009 11:17AM Report
geekorama writes:

Two Words: Asheron's Call

This game was the best MMORPG in my opinion, innovative, new and definitely fun. I hope the bump up the graphics and remake it. I'd play for sure. No other MMORPG has come close to giving me the same feelings of excitement and addiction as Asheron's Call.

 

Tue Jan 13 2009 12:21PM Report
Ciano writes:

Could you perhaps state some reasons for that opinion? I played Asheron's call and from what I could tell it wasn't really that different from Everquest. I wasn't really impressed with it like I was when I first played The Realm, Meridian 59, or Ultima Online. Those were all unique 1st Class games of the time in my opinion.

Tue Jan 13 2009 12:42PM Report
Sinent writes:

 

well you know my opinion everquest pre sol expansion was awsome as far as folks grouping up and slaying things and even hanging out i9n taverns for no other reason then just to bs and talk about things to go kill , now adays there is no real grouping games because they all have to cater to solo playstyles or risk being avoided.

Tue Jan 13 2009 5:51PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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