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The Rules of MMORPG Fail

Posted by Ozzallos Tuesday November 1 2011 at 4:03PM
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The MMO has been around for a while now and has had its share of success and failures. Possibly the most annoying aspect of covering the MMO genre is that the failures continue to fail for the same reasons. Even though hindsight is supposedly 20-20, these developers can't seem to graps the obvious so here's a simple guide for the intellectually deficient amongst them.

Rules of MMORPG Fail

1) Your RPG fails.
We'll start with the simple stuff first because the genius brain trust out there can't seem to quite grasp the concept of the ROLE PLAYING GAME. No, idiot, this term is not reserved for your first person shooter, nor should you tack it onto your Real time strategy in a sad attempt to capture a larger market segment then your sad title deserves. Sure, you could argue that they are taking on a "role" and therefore your game is "roleplaying"  ...And in the process, piss on the nearly three decades worth of actual role playing games better than your own. Take my word for it, this descriptive doesn't apply to your title so stop diluting our tried and true genre with your crap or we'll visit your office in the middle of the night and rape your keyboard.

2) Your MMO fails.
Massive? Please. Set the way back machine to shut the fuck up, because apparently your definition of massive is 90's multiplayer Quake over a 64kbps modem. Hey, yeah, Unreal called. It's calling itself an MMO now too. And Counterstrike. And OMFG, your battleground can contain 32-64 people? REALLY? That's like, revolutionary! ...On a console five years ago. Look, people, We know you  desperately need the market share, but massive- literally and figuratively -you ain't; nor are you fooling anybody. Or maybe it's just an attempt to massively overcompensate? In either case this failure ties into failure number one when a developer attempts to float a clearly unmassive game (Yeah, Nexon, that's right) by its players.

3) Your world fails.
Your world doesn't just fail, it utterly fails. Seriously, nothing says incompetence like that flat piece of plywood you call a world, let alone subdividing said excuse for a world into isolated areas like so many self contained kitty litter boxes. By the way, you know what's in a kitty box, don't you? Crap. Specifically the crap you're attempting to pass off as an MMORPG. What, did your polygon budget for the week run out just creating houses that you can't actually walk into? Oh wait! You can enter those... Through another instanced portal. Hell, people; your environment doesn't even have a light source. That's called a "sun" for those just joining us, not some disembodied source of illumination. Do you know how much fail it takes to forget the sun? About as much as it takes to fuck up that sorry excuse for a minimally detailed environment you expect us to run around in.

4) Your Plot fails.
Here's a clue for all you lobotomized morons out there failing at MMORPGs world wide: People generally don't play role playing games just to walk hours on end from point A to B and kill five salamanders to earn XP. Certainly, experience indicates progression, but seriously, are you that stupid enough to think that players log on to your game just to accumulate an arbitrary expression of advancement? Gamers play RPGs to- now follow me here, because this one's tricky -Role Play. WTF?! No, seriously. Intrinsic in the very meaning of role playing is the fact that an environment conducive to that goal is required (see failure #3) and likewise, an overarching story. Why are these people even running around your MMO? It's sure as hell not get XP. If you treat your RPG like a great piece of fiction, they will come. That means plot, adventure, heroes and villains. If you don't invest in a story, all you've created is a slower, eye gougingly boring 3rd person shooter. In other words, we hope that when you go to Hell for making this game, it looks a lot like your pathetic excuse for an mmo.

5) Your Auto Pilot fails.
We already know you put the absolute minimum of effort into your world lore, but to completely devalue it takes skill... And a Quest Auto Pilot. Above all else, the addition of a quest autopilot that automatically walks you to your quest goal makes it quite evident that you as an MMORPG designer are lazy and need to get off your ass. Does the quest objective description really need to be so obscure that goddamn CSI Miami has to be called in just to decipher where the hell the objective is? I mean, is adding basic navigational instructions like "South of here under the giant tree stump" too much to ask? More importantly, the addition of an autopilot all but encourages me to simply click past what is more than likely a useless wall of text and minimize your game while the my character is routed to its destination in the background, since I've got got more important stuff to do IRL. In fact, that's what I'm doing right now. Plot? What plot? I just skipped over that obvious attempt to sugar coat your badly constructed grinding content so I could get to the more interesting parts faster.

6) Your Gender-Locked classes fail.
Really, what gave  you the bright idea that limiting user choice was a good idea? Especially here? Let's see, I'm taking a guess at... Yeah, laziness. Somehow I'm thinking that not everybody wants to be feminized into spandex clad female rogue or frilly dress priestess. And apparently your little gender skewed world doesn't include strong female tanking classes since those somehow all became guys. I mean, is neutering yourself to have less users becoming habit forming or something, because I'm pretty sure their are guys who just want to be guys and guys who don't want to stare at the ass of another guy while grinding. Likewise, some women just want to kick ass and take names... Or quite possibly want to avoid the fallout associated with being a female in an anonymous hormonally driven teenage male world. Laziness is really the only one I can think of here, folks. Or maybe just a marketing stereotype asshattery.

7) Your manufacturing scheme fails.
If you could manufacture fail, your MMO would be a brand name known in every household like some 'as seen on TV' appliance. Occasionally people like to take a break from grinding fifty bat spiders to collect ten bat wings to be turned into Joe the guard for an arbitrary number or token piece of gear. Normally that outlet takes on the form of some sort of side profession in which players can create food, gear and other stuff. Too bad the difference between their stuff and yours is built on a foundation of suck. Your items are built on top of previously manufactured items which are in turn built upon yet other items, each with their own intrinsic chance to fail along the way. Failing usually means you loose most of the components involved, forcing you to start over again with a piece of fabric tied to a turd. And why can I normally get drops that are better than anything I can produce at the same level? Really? That level three wild boar just burped up a sword of +3 pwn and I'm still limited to making these rusted pieces of shit at the same level? Come on. The new trend lately is to have your pets do the manufacturing, which we all know is just another excuse to screw gamers over at the free to play altar. Thanks, but I can sacrifice small NPC pets in the privacy of my own home without paying you to do it for me.

8) Your NPCS fail.
There is a land where zombies walk the very earth... A land where brainless automatons occupy villages once thriving with life. A land where where communication is all but impossible between your player base and the inhabitants. A land-- Let's just cut to the chase. They're your NPCs, jackass. Its night time and these people apparently never sleep since they can be found twenty four hours a day, seven days a week standing in front of their house; rain, snow or shine. If they do move- and that's a BIG if -it's usually along some very abbreviated racetrack without much in the way of real pathing. And hey, how about those monsters? Like how human and beast NPCs seem to coexist in perfect harmony until your player arrives on scene. Apparently the they have a deal worked out with wildlife to kill player and only the player on sight because, you know, that's the way things work in real life. Simply put, your NPCs are mindless robots with maybe a sentence or two worth of interaction before they become little more than discarded scenery... Just like we'll all be discarding your franchise.

9) Your Character Delete fails.
Who here has just spent the last half hour perfecting every detail of their character appearance, only to roll it up and find out that it just doesn't look the same in the real game? That's not a crime. It happens. What is a crime is goring to delete and reroll that character, only to find out that it won't be really be deleted for the next seven days. Even worse, it'll be tying up your very identity, forcing you to have a ready list of backup names. And hey, it's it fun to continually roll up names like 'TestXII' and fill up character slots just to avoid this failure. It's good to know that your company thinks so little of player intelligence that they simply can't type in a key to confirm the deletion and maybe recover the character on the back side if it becomes absolutely necessary. But that would be too much work for a lazy company like yours, wouldn't it? Wouldn't want to get in the way of those paid character slot profits!

10) Your Combat fails.
As if your MMO wasn't already one huge bucket of suck you just had to go spread the icing on the cake of fail. Cardboard NPCs. Houses you can't walk into. Hell, a world without the sun. Its tough to improve upon perfection, but you found a way. Autopathing wasn't enough to completely divorce the gamer from the MMO experience, so you took it a step further. Why should your users actually have to interact with anything during combat? Just let them click on an enemy NPC so the game can walk them over, set the parking break and automatically smack the hell out of it until random numbers fall off it! Why bother the player to actually play the game when you can automate everything, including the battles! GENIUS! Now I can minimize your game during travel and battles! About the only thing that would make this better would be to program in auto farming features at the cash sho-- Oh, wait. They've done that? But seriously, guys; Auto combat simply removes another aspect of player interaction and that translates to one less reason to play your MMO. How you ever thought this was a good idea was beyond me, but my suggestion would be to take whoever thought of it out back and club him to death with a rusty Mosin Nagant.


Malakhon writes:

Is there a particular MMO you are trying to target here?

Tue Nov 01 2011 9:18PM Report
Ozzallos writes:

Actually, no. These fails run rampant through the industry. You can turn your head and trip over them, frankly.

Tue Nov 01 2011 9:20PM Report
rlhegira writes:

Completely agree with you on all the points. All of them seem to be major issuses in the MMO scence except maybe 9, I have not had problems with it.

           The major ones for me though are 3,8, and 10. It is hard to take the world serious when your have rooted NPCs that never do anything in a world that seems like a polywood moive back drop and combat that has less thought than a 3 peice board puzzle.

Tue Nov 01 2011 9:54PM Report
xKingdomx writes:

While I agree with most of the things you say, you actually offered no resolution of any kind, this in the end just seems like a rant (which is still fine, but just saying)

1) Your RPG fails

I think you are just simply forcing your definiton of RPG onto others, there is no definitive meaning of what RPG can be, just a concept to be consider and used.

2) & 3)

While I agree with your complaint, there isn't much anyone can do about it. With current server technology, I think it can hold about 200-250 people in one area without crashing the server but will experience servere lag. MMO server aren't like a website server or even video streaming site, where it can hold massive amount of people at one time. 3D games contains much much more calculations than just accessing files, and most core calculations are done at the server side to prevent hacking variable. The amount of MMOG data transfer is almost 100 times the normal server hosting for websites and videos. Imagine 25000 people using one website at the same time.

As for the sun and no sun argument, lighting is usually the heaviest on the GPU, all designers know this, and are taught to cheat your way through it, unless you are doing a HD quality rendering of animations. What most artist will do is the idea of fake lighting, or prebaked shadows, to reduce the amount of calculation needed. Global Lighting (Sun included) the the heaviest of all lighting, the amount of shadows and reflections generate from these lighting. So unless you have the highest of the highest quality of gaming desktop, the sun is probably not a good idea.



I absoultely agree, while I will have no problem seeing this is in one of two games, since everyones taste is different, but when you see these feature dominating the market (maybe except for gender locking, all western MMO doesn't have it I think?) You know a problem is up


10) Combat is a touchy issue

While I would like to see action combat in MMOG, active dodging and blocking can be fun, but I think traditional combat will still be predominant in the market, due to server issues and hacking/aimbot. I think GW2 or MOBA style games have evolved the traditional combat a little, giving it some pacing to it and positional based combat. I would like to see MOBA style combat in a persisent MMO game. Hell even if the tower defence system in a persisent MMO would be kinda fun to see.


Lastly, I think MMO needs to move out of the RPG territory and give it some space, while FPS and Acton Combat dominates the single player market, but at least it is a 50/50 shared market, giving it variety in experience.

MMO market has been one and only RPG for the last probably 10 years with one or two exceptions. I would probably safely guess the 95% of MMOG out there are advertised as MMORPG. It is like a communist country, everything is controlled by one single ideal, making the market extremely staggered and simply not fun to play, everything is aimed to be the same product (while not everyone succeeds, but they certainly both want to be the same thing)

Tue Nov 01 2011 11:05PM Report
Ozzallos writes:

" actually offered no resolution of any kind. this in the end just seems like a rant."

It's implied that if this is a list of fail, *don't do it*. That's your resolution. If the problem is 2d NPCs with one line of dialogue, what do you suppose the solution to that is? If your problem is in flat, lifeless environments, it doesn't take a step by step list to tell you what you should be fixing.

You're right, it is a rant. But it's not without easily inferred solutions.

Wed Nov 02 2011 12:52AM Report
Inktomi writes:

This: "If you treat your RPG like a great piece of fiction, they will come. "

That: "Wouldn't want to get in the way of those paid character slot profits!"

This: "That level three wild boar just burped up a sword of +3 pwn and I'm still limited to making these rusted pieces of shit at the same level?"

And that: "Simply put, your NPCs are mindless robots with maybe a sentence or two worth of interaction before they become little more than discarded scenery... Just like we'll all be discarding your franchise."

+1 for sarcasm

+1 for truth

+10 for taking them to the toolshed in a tasteful way.

Grand Total: +12

Keep em coming. Your saying what I've felt for long time now.

Wed Nov 02 2011 4:43AM Report
bakagami writes:

What really sucks is that almost every MMORPG has at least one of these problems.  the one about the men & beasts living in harmony till you show up is VERY common.  I've always said that it's like they all belong to a club that the player was not invited to.  great article,  they should hire you

Wed Nov 02 2011 9:37AM Report
bakagami writes:

@rlhegira yeah, #9 is rare.  I've ran across it in obscure F2P Japanese grindfests mostly, none of which I played for very long so I can't even give you an example.  you dont see it in the triple "A's"

Wed Nov 02 2011 9:46AM Report
ChrisReitz writes:

someone has to much time on their hands....

Wed Nov 02 2011 4:12PM Report
Inktomi writes:

@ChrisReitx Do you read books?

Wed Nov 02 2011 7:14PM Report
Dedthom writes:

LOL, no talent Ben Croshaw wannabe.

Sat Nov 05 2011 11:42AM Report
greywolf2002 writes:

Snif, you touched my fucking heart, man. I´ve never read a bigger amount of truth on any other article about gaming.

It´s all true, from the first to the last. All these stupid cheap companies with their stupid cheap "MMOs" are totally killing the genre.

Hey, but people out there is equally stupid and pay them for it, so nothing is gonna change at all.

Wellcome everybody to the Shitty Korean MMO Age.

+1000 man, +1000.

Sat Nov 05 2011 3:07PM Report
paroxysm writes:

I've often asked myself when playing an MMORPG, where is the RPG?  Games are going out of their way just to remove the elements of an actual RPG in them.  At least games called MMOFPS aren't selling you snake oil.  They just keep watering down the games until everyone is the exact same and removing choice in the name of balance.  But, they still couldn't find balance on flat ground.  They fight against what they should embrace.

Sun Nov 06 2011 12:33AM Report
MurlockDance writes:

Lol, this was an enjoyable read. I agree with much on the list except I have not had the character delete problem.

When I think of the games I used to play tabletop, or even some of the best single/small multiplayer cRPGs, overall the MMORPG scene is very disappointing. The most revolutionary games happened at the beginning of graphical MMOs... UO and EQ1. It is so very, very sad that the industry really hasn't improved on the world design and story-telling aspect of those early MMOs.

If someone would design and write a real Forgotten Realms MMO, that would be absolutely amazing! Politics, different expansive countries, fascinating NPCs and stories... wow... just wow. And players should eventually be able to make their own stories too and the game company should use money from subs or whatever to hire DMs to do stories too that everyone can participate in if they want to.

Why is it that people got it back in the 80s and 90s when things were so technologically limited but now that we have the tech it has gone to hell? If I could, I would write and design a game that would have a fully rich world and storyline. Grrr...

Sun Nov 06 2011 5:25AM Report writes:
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