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MMO WK

Behind this mysterious title I'm hiding some hard work that might be published someday ;) The purpose of this blog is to share thoughts with you who love/hate MMO.

Author: Deewe

Time to get rid of LEVELS!

Posted by Deewe Sunday October 26 2008 at 2:06PM
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So the new big title, read SWTOR, will have levels.

Not that I'm surprized even a bit disappointed. Altough I do understrand the choice Bioware did to level down the learning curve and to lower the difficulty to balance the game.

Sadly I don't have more experience of non level based MMO than SWG.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the pros and cons of levels.

In the end they really lack the feeling of character customization and ownership.

I read Bioware would answer to the later with storyline. I am afraid it isn't enough.
It is an interesting feature, but when people will realize their (hero?) story is quite the same as most of all others [insert class name here] they will be disappointed. Moreover when they'll find the supposedly choices would limit the character story.

At first I thought, in SWG, the ability to choose your skills was really the only part that made it interesting vs levels. Then I found out a few embedded layers.

The first one is there where no mandatory templates to join a hunting group. As long as you could hold a weapon you would be welcomed. I also liked how 20++ grouped, noobs, players could still kill a dark jedi... after many cloning and aggro management.

The second one that's often forgotten was switching skills. Usually in a MMO you have to delete and redo either all your skills or your character. SWG had this really smart feature: you delete a skill only when you needed skill points. So going from Master BH to master Cook you would slowly loose your uber combat skills. Yes it's some kind of grinding, still where much difference between your toon and a fresh new one.

The third one is zone limitations. Contrary to level based MMOs in SWG you could venture to anywhere in the world, provided you knew how to mange aggro or being grouped with the right people. There where very few places where you would be 1-2 shots killed because of  "levels" differences

The fourth one is equipement. There where much less feeling of having items only for a few levels then switching them for higher ones. Was it a bad thing? I don`t think so. The crafting system made it so players could keep looking for better crafted items. (Note that I'm against decay, explanations will come in another blog)

Thoughts?

(PvP?) Time to get rid of ROOT skill

Posted by Deewe Monday October 20 2008 at 11:08AM
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I still remember in SWG the issues it brought as players were able to keep characters knocked down.


Even I don't understand how designers keep implementing the root feature in MMOs.


I have been playing WAR lately and well, in PvP you really feel like someone's taking away your keyboard.


I ask this question: where's the fun? It's like beating a dead horse.


It would work in slow paced combat but now 90% of the time the root = death.


Unless the root has a huge draw back on its user I don't see it as an interesting mechanism.


Maybe the solution is to keep it for PVE only.
 

 

 

Time for less time

Posted by Deewe Friday October 17 2008 at 8:26PM
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As a gamer I went from very hardcore to semi-casual gamer.
I guess we all do, more or less. Families, kids and work put a huge constraint on play time. We all age and so time becomes more precious.

Moving to new games, we experienced the loss of time invested in virtual characters.

But for the younger players, (no offense intended), we aren't looking anymore for achievements in game but for FUN. Something to take us away from the reality and melt with others.

I understand the constraints designers have to solve but I think, the more it goes the more players will be looking for games they can play casually and still aim for top end content in a matter of decent time play.

With the MMO industry looking forward the console masses, I bet casual play will be the standard. Not only the learning curve will have to be shorter but also the time sinks.

Though, there will always be unhappy zergs rushing through content.

I think mixing casual gameplay with hardcore lead to big challenges and issues.

Maybe it's time to separate games in two makets as it's done for PVP and PVE oriented MMO.

Don't you think the market is ready, population wise, to have casual MMO in wich you don't have to invest insane amounts of time to enjoy "end content"?

Time to email the patch notes?

Posted by Deewe Thursday October 16 2008 at 7:28AM
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The more it goes the more players switches games faster.

Not that they don't want to play their "old" MMO anymore. They want to see new virtual worlds, experience new content, or wait till games get "fixed".

Some of us subscribe to the publisher's newsletter. Though there is barely one letter a month and lately patches tend to be delivered faster than ever.

Another issue is, the complete list of the patch notes are sometimes only accessible to subscribed players. You have to do your homework and search for them on players topics.

I remember a few times when I accidentally found patch notes of a game I didn't play anymore... to finally pull my credit card and log back in.

Don't you think It would be interesting if you could subscribe to get the full patch notes delivered to your mail box?

Time to get rid of time sink

Posted by Deewe Tuesday October 14 2008 at 4:54PM
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Welcome to [insert MMO name] enjoy your stay and keep paying us redoing the same content.


ENOUGH with it!


Not that we need an instant "I win/level" button.


Although things went too far. Take the jump and have a look at www.wowdetox.com , depressing isn't it? If I were working for some MMO studios I would be ashamed.


Let us do a small review on major time sinks:

  1. Levelling
  2. Traveling
  3. Crafting
  4. Getting mounts, objects, bonuses, titles...
  5. Others?

In leveling, either Xp, honor, skills, the time sink comes with the repetition of the tasks.


Travelling is another story. Visiting the world is nice but when you need XX minutes just moving your character around to join your friends or go from place A to B, for the Nth time, it gets boring.

Crafting now, supposedly you need to do the same, (or quite so), items again and again so you can level and do new ones.

The new flavor of the day is titles, achievements (LotRo, SWG, WAR... and soon WoW).
I wonder what will be the next one.


So I'm asking the following questions:

  • Did the developers forgot the true goal of a game, having FUN? 
  • Don't they have other ways to keep players entertained? 

 

I am sorry but I don't bite at the statement that it would cost too much to have enough content.

Socialization is part of the answer as is players/GM events or sandbox tool. But the main key is diversity.


Be able to do something else that you did yesterday, for example crafting instead of fighting.
How about furnishing, shopping clothes/items, organizing events with in game tools, customizing your gear, playing casino or mini games, racing with friends? And if nothing else, chatting with your virtual friends online and offline?
 

Time to bypass the Intro movie and adverts?

Posted by Deewe Saturday October 11 2008 at 8:47AM
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I do understand the publishers that want to advertise their hard work.

When it's the xxx time you see the splash screens and videos I say please let us get rid of that crap!

Instead of making us smile/happy it's annoying us if not worse...

I still remember a game, which I had much fun to play, but after 3 years I could not stand anymore the ads vids not even the music running in the background while loading the game.

I agree we can hit ESC a few time to go faster. So I ask this very question :

Mr Marketing why aren't you letting us to bypass all this once for all? Is it so much to ask? It's not like we don't know who made the game, who published it and who's taking our $$$ each month.

So you have new vids, ads or whaterver, just reset our flag.

For now I'm looking forward my WAR next tome unlock : Waaagh! XXX intro display, you earn the ability to bypass the loading ads & vids.

Am I the only one?

 

Time for an experience ON/OFF toggle?

Posted by Deewe Wednesday October 8 2008 at 2:56PM
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I have been toying with this concept for some time now.

For now in level based MMOs, 99% of them, players are obliged to follow the designer(s) where they want them to be.

You can't keep playing in the same zone, dungeon or battleground and feel challenged. Either you'll be overkill or worse turned into a chicken!

I think it would be interesting to be able to have characters sitting at certain levels for the following reasons:

  1. You can keep playing in the area you like
  2. Multiple alts at multiple level means you'll always have a character at the needed level to help/group with your friends
  3. You can enjoy new, lower, content without re-grinding a new character
  4. It can help socialization and RP.

I know most of the persons opposed to this argue about exploiting or griefing issues.

I agree some will have maxed characters with top end equipment and it could be an issue with PvP, much less with PvE. Well this is already the case without the toggle. The only difference is more people will have access to it so it might even create a better balance in the long term.

Time for a social MMO?

Posted by Deewe Tuesday October 7 2008 at 11:33AM
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I still wonder where we got lost in the grand MMO scheme.

When I see the latest MMOs I'm asking myself: how can they name this an MMO when it's more or less a single player game with some grouping features.

Maybe it's because MMO = recurring monthly fees.

I thought socialization was the core of an MMO. Don't get me wrong I don't mean Role Playing. I mean interacting with others people in chat and & actions.

Even if I have lot of interest in "sandbox" concept I don't think it's mandatory to promote socialization.

Geez did I just say that? Promoting socialization!

In that I want to name Ralph Koster for his work on SWG social part. He was right on track and he delivered a game in which players had to interact with each others. I agree he went a bit too far. As for some players, shuttle, med centers and cantina's wait time where too long.

So, I think the market is more than ready for a decent MMO that promotes socialization. In fact, from my past experience, socialization is what keeps players subscribing when they ran through the whole content of an MMO.

Even I'm pretty sure if an MMO was able to answer most players’ needs in terms of socialization it could be huge, even bigger than FaceBook. Why? Because you share a common interest and you have all the tools to not only communicate but do things together.
 

Time to be able to speak with THE other faction?

Posted by Deewe Sunday October 5 2008 at 9:40AM
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So once upon a time a designer had the idea to forbid player to speak to each others, provided they are enemies.


I do agree it's a nice concept to prevent harassment but well isn't it a bit too much?


Did you never wanted to congratulate the other team for winning or maybe harangue them :)


What I propose it let's keep factions separated as they are, but let players be able to speak to each others on a voluntary basis.


For example create neutral grounds taverns accessible to all characters where everyone can chat to anyone.


Let's take scenarios or battlegrounds: after a struggle you could check send me to the tavern option, warping you there. If anybody becomes too annoying you could right click on his name and squelch him/her for the duration of his stay in the inn.


And how about you could post adds like 'insert team name' challenge other teams in 'scenario name". There could be a prize like players putting a participation fee and well non participant could bet on the outcome.

Time for a casual MMO?

Posted by Deewe Friday October 3 2008 at 4:36PM
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Let me start with a well know fact: “grind” is present in every MMO.


Some would say it’s a needed mechanism to keep players busy as no studio has the wish/power to create enough content. Personally I see it as a cheap way to avoid players burning content too fast.
 

Anyway what would be the definition of enough? I think there is no decent way to prevent hardcore gamers from completing a game too fast. So why bother? There will always be unhappy people. Let them play as fast as they want and well move to new horizons.
 

Thanks Blizzard for bringing a whole new population to MMO, we now see more and more families and friends playing.
 

There are millions of persons hooked by MMO and many more that could be, but something’s amiss.
 

When I read posts on http://www.wowdetox.com/ I have the feeling it went wrong. And I am very sad some people are wasting their life devolving too much time in games that were supposed to be FUN and so bring happiness.
 

So I ask the question why does players have to “earn” the right to activate a skill, use a transportation system, craft an object? In a way aren’t we reproducting real life? Why not making a (virtual) world in which you can do thing from scratch (or nearly), where everyone’s equal or sort of. Well a FUN environment? The difference would come from how each players use their time not how long they grinded.
 

In few words, remove or at least reduce drastically the grind. Let players enjoy the game without having to spend countless hours to access to specific parts.


As a final note I don’t bite at the concept that it would make games uninteresting nor challenging. There are many ways to reply to these concerns without the nasty grind.
 

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