If there was ever a MMO like Fallout 3, Morrowind or Oblivion (GTA and RDR too, but I haven't played those two)...I would never leave the house again lol. Okay maybe I would, but you get my point :P This will be a long post.
Here is the link to the thread this was a response to:
Excuse the rambling rant...my mind is scattered today, I'm on pain killers...and tired as heck...
So anyway...to the blog. May be a bit confusing if you haven't read at least some of that topic in the forums.
Sure Fallout 3/Oblivion/Morrowind aren't TRUE sandbox games. They are more of a hybrid. But, with player made mods (as mentioned) you can easily turn then into sandbox games. I built a pretty large settlement in FO3 with mods. But this is what I imagine would do really good in a MMO. A hybrid MMO, like Fallout 3 or Oblivion. I actually prefer Oblivion a bit more than FO3, but both are awesome. But the point is, I'll be talking about Oblivion a bit more.
In Oblivion, you are really free to do whatever. But before I get to that, I'm going to get to the actual meat of why these games last so long on the PC version. Console versions of these from what I've seen have a lot less life expectancy, but don't quote me on that. Thats just what I've personally seen with friends, their friends, family, etc. I've racked up 100s and 100s (more like thousands) of hours in Oblivion. 100s and 100s in Fallout 3, and unknown amount in Morrowind. Way more than I have any MMO (WoW, EVE and Asheron's Call being my longest played MMOs).
AC for 2-3 years
WoW 4 or so years
EVE for about a year, and I still play EVE.
But, why does Oblivion, Fallout 3 and Morrowind last so long? Because I can download mods, I can download texture packs to improve the graphics, I can change the very game itself. Take Nehrim in Oblivion, a Total Conversion. Its like Oblivion, but at the same time a whole new experience. But lets talk about the mods that change the actual game. Oscuro's Oblivion Overhaul, a game changer that imo really really improves vanilla Oblivion. My favorite mod ever (outside Nehrim)...Mart's Mutant Mod (Fallout 3), Mart's Monster Mod (Oblivion)...why? Because it adds SO much new monsters and everything. MMM adds tons of stuff to FO3 and Oblivion.
Then real time settler (FO3), an awesome mod that lets you build stuff...pretty self explanatory
My point? I can talk about mods all day...but the point I'm getting to...I can't change a MMO to fit my needs or wants. I can't upgrade the graphics with player made mods, I can't download mods that add new monsters to the game word. I can't change ANYTHING with a MMO. I can suggest to the devs to change something, but with 1000s or millions of people, I have a better chance at winning the lottery than single handedly getting something changed in a MMO. Now a large group of people can make a change, which is what a MMO is about...large groups of people...but my change might anger 10s of thousands if not more. The closest I can do that, is with EVE and Ultima Online and SWG before it got destroyed. And those aren't really the same, but they are (or were in SWG case), my favorite MMOs ever. In EVE, I can build on planets (do note, I haven't tried this feature yet, took a break from EVE)...in UO I could build my own house and do whatever. In SWG, well...I hate talking about SWG because it was so awesome, and so much freedom that I always get upset it got destroyed.
But mods I just don't see working for a MMO. I mean, they could very well work, players make changes/additions, developers look over it, and decide to or not to implement it...it would have to be different than in Oblivion or Fallout 3. The closest I can think of that would work universally would be graphics enhancers...but many MMO ban anything that changes graphics. Like, if I want a nudity mod (and yeah yeah yeah, call me a perv...but...)...if Blizzard knew I used one, boom...BAN STICK. Not like nudity mods are any good with WoW, doesn't work at all. In fact, its really disturbing to use for WoW, and no I've never used one for WoW, but I did look at screenshots. But that isn't really my point. Now take Fallout 3, it makes perfect sense to have a nudity mod...just take a freakin look at the setting. Would a MMO company allow it though, even if it fit the game universe? Even if it was totally optional and up to the player? Probably not. The MMO developers hate anything that changes something for the player. They BAN STICK you in seconds as soon as they see you changed something. Even if it affects NO ONE around you, except yourself. Yes, I'm looking at you Blizzard. But to summarise the mod experience, if it wasn't for player made mods in FO3 and Oblivion, I would have LONG ago stopped.
And that is what sucks about most MMO companies. Which brings me out of modding talk. They allow no freedom to the player. A player gets banned for having any sort of texture or graphics mod, nudity or not. Not like there are actually mods that upgrade graphics to a MMO (that would be a lot of work), but I know there are minor things that don't involve nudity, and player(s) get banned for those too. On top of that, take Blizzard...a group of people took a raid boss into Stormwind...everyone had fun, but a bunch of whiny kids complained...the group of people that took the raid boss (most fun thing I ever got to experience in WoW)...were all BANNED! For it. Also, remember how you could jump on top of buildings and climb mountains and stuff? Blizzard nerfed that too. No freedom to the player.
Take EVE though. UO too, and vanilla SWG...but my memory is a bit rusty on the last two. In EVE, I can scam someone (definitely banned in a certain other MMO), I can grief someone (banned in a certain other MMO)...or I can go the "nice" and "carebear" I guess is a word I could use for that, approach...but the point is, CCP are one of the very few companies that allow FREEDOM in a MMO. Now, there are exploits not meant to be used, like that one corperation that took advantage of an exploit in wormhole space, I can understand fixing that...there always needs to be a point to freedom, otherwise it turns to Anarchy. Nothing can be truly free. But certain other MMOs just take the freedom away from you, and give you a dictatorship. Find something fun? Like climbing onto buildings? Oh, lets "fix" that. Raid boss into a city, which is uber awesome. Griefing, lets ban them all. Well, at least I have a CHOICE not to give them my money.
So to summarize this whole thing, that turned into a random rant...
The problem with MMO companies is they do not allow FREEDOM to do what you want (at least to a point). Themepark MMOs are the biggest culprit in this. Most sandbox games I've played allow a lot of freedom (like in EVE). But the problem with sandbox MMOs...they need some guidance to the player. Fallout 3 and Oblivion allow great freedom to do whatever (especially with mods), but I also get a choice to do quests and follow a story. Heck, in Oblivion I only finished the story once in about 20 hours in...all other 100s if not 1000s of hours were exploring the world, downloading quest packs, downloading NEW lands to play in. I only touched the main story once, all other times I played it more or less like a sandbox game (that has quests).
Now, Fallen Earth I believe tried to do something similar. It had a free roam world, a lot of sandbox elements, but a lot themepark elements too. The problem? The game was TOO themepark like. And I hated having to grind AP from quests (and yes, you had to if you wanted to PvP with the big boys), I love quests, but if it feels FORCED, then I hate it. Not to talk about the horrible economy in FE, where every single thing could be bought from vendors...that was the deal breaker for me.
Fallout 3, Oblivion, even WoW really...the quests never felt forced on you. At least it didn't feel like that to me. I had the choice to do them or not. In WoW, I didn't really have a choice, but it never felt forced...if that makes sense.
So, my question is....what can MMO developers do, to copy the genre (be that free roam, or sandbox, or whatever you want to call it)...of Morrowind, Red Dead Redemption, Oblivion, Fallout 3...if a MMO comes out that is like any of them, in my opinion, it would be a HUGE hit. That is, if it actually comes out with good quality, a good release (WoW had an awesome release, the main problem with WoW was, they did not expect so many people to buy it, it was polished though and wasn't rushed out of the door to release because of lack of funding. No MMO company I know of (lol SOE) takes Blizzards "release when its ready" approach, and that is a big mistake many make, and why most fail). Well, LOTRO had a great release from what I remember...but I don't know much about Turbine's past releases.
Anyway, thats it from this rambling rant...