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Gaming Extravaganza!

Glimpse, Reviews, Impressions and previews of the highest quality possible. My goal is to share information and open discussion with the gamers.

Author: Ponico

Evolution of Regression? - MMO games and their future.

Posted by Ponico Sunday February 10 2008 at 3:07PM
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In order to see where I'm going, let's take a quick dive in the history of cinema...

17th century ... Magic Lanterns becomes a new form of entertainment.

1827 ... First picture ever taken using a glass plate.

1832 ... The Phenakistoscope appears and for the first time, we can see a very brief animation. (aka a horse running)

1834 ... The Zoetrope is invented

1839 ... first modern technique of photography is invented.

---- ok let's skip a few dates here... :)

1894 ... The cinema Era truly begins.


Basically, from that point on, Cinema never really stopped to evolve. At first, the evolution was a jump from 16 frames per second to 24... later on, color, linear editing to none linear editing, sound... From westerns to dramas, to dramas to musicals, to musicals to Sci-fi and fantasy worlds that were made to look realistic for their time. Each time, we thought cinema couldn't go further, a movie like Star Wars, The matrix, Lord of the Ring, Blade Runner, Le violon Rouge, Run Lola Run, 300 and The Godfather came out. Each  of them pushing the limit one step higher and breaking new rules. Why did I say The Godfather and Le Violon rouge? Because these movies brought a new dimension of film making that wasn't only based on special effects but more on style and cinematography as a core.

Cinema has also influenced the lives of many and today, we all have a little movie theme in us. I remember back in the 90s when The Crow came out, I said to my girlfriend; "Check it out honey, you're a now witnessing the birth of a new Era of goths and one day, long trench coats with killer boots will become a standard in everything."  1999; The Matrix comes out and let's just say it was quite an interesting year. The first thing that came in mind was, The Crow is part of everyone's culture.

Alright, so let's compare this to gaming.

From Pong to Pac-Man, from Pac-man to Donkey Kong, Kong to Mario, they were all a small step on a smaller scale. Obviously, it took cinema almost 2 centuries to become what it is today while gaming, it only took around 40 years.

Slowly, video games made an important evolution in technology thanks to companies such as ID software incredible Doom engine that eventually mutated into the amazing Quake engine. Meanwhile, you had the Unreal engine coming in hard and offering a completely different set of tools for your imagination. Like in Cinema, all these new tools offered more options and freedom for your imagination. When I look at final fantasy 1, then FF7 and today's FF13, the word evolution comes in mind.


So let's open this discussion and take a look at the MMO industry.


The first MMOs were MUDS. Simple features, lots of people and good gameplay. MUDs eventually evolved to games like Neverwinter Nights. Not quite an MMO but a huge step beyond in the early 90s. Then one day, Ultima Online came out and everything changed. A new vision, unlimited freedom and alot of unique features. Not too long after, a game known as Mankind came out and I while not that popular in America, it still had around 50K subscribers. What made MK so unique is that the gameworld itself had over 9 billion planets all on one mega server. (MMORTS)

Everquest later came with some incredible lore, roleplay elements and a whole new level of complexity. Meanwhile, DAOC arrived and brought in a whole new element of gameplay known as RVR. Each of these games had a very unique feature that no other games could have. SWG had the sandbox, ENB had a true player driven storyline, EQ had the raids, DAOC the RVR and the list goes on. The tools to make these games became better and easier to use, eventually the powerful Unreal technology was even able to make MMOs such as RF.

Just when we thought that the next generation was going to be even more amazing, we started to see some toned down MMOs with less features, linear gameplay, less class, less freedom, virtually no long term community. The graphics, the sound are better but the core gameplay?

I compare World of Warcraft with runescape and I wonder at times. How come runescape which is really a low grade production has at least 5 times the amount of features?

Runescape:

Terrible Graphics
Terrible Sound
Incredible crafting system
Farming!
Played owned houses
Fun PVP
interesting dungeons and zones
lots of quests
skill based game that allows everyone to play how they want too. Some people are just cooks.
Alot of players considering the game.
A player driven economie
sandbox gameplay

World of Warcraft

Beautiful arts
Good sound
Solid quests and dungeons
Crafting is a joke
No player houses
no farming
PVP is fun
no player driven economie
no sandbox gameplay
lots of quests
well designed dungeons (except MC)
Linear gameplay


Now I could have choose any other games to compared Runescape with... (Which is sad!)


Where are we going? Are all MMOs taking this step backwards? INstead of pushing the limits and making a sandbox with some good storyline and a true persistent world, they are all making new clones out of each other. Is it because of the money? Is it because of WOW itself or the lack of imagination?

Am I wrong to think that we are now regressing instead of moving forward?


Then again, is it just me and a few others that are too nostalgic to open our eyes? I don't consider myself a game designer but I sure have a lot of ideas to make an MMO unique and I bet I'm not the only one. Then again, maybe it's not the designers and it's simply that people prefer simplicity?

What do you think?

 

 

Munkyman1 writes:

I have to agree. WoW is both a blessing and a curse to the MMO genre. Blessing in that it brought alot of money to the game design, and showed investors that there is cold hard cash to be made through this form of entertainment.  The bad, no one seems to think it is safe to move beyond the WoW scheme, unfortunately if i wanted to play another game like WoW i would just play...WoW they did what they did first and they do it better than all the other copycats since.  I would like to think that developers will see that if they want a piece of the pie they need what WoW doesnt offer, they need to look back at the things that work. Another thing is variation.  Why not have a sandbox/skill and a quest/class or whatever mix you like.  I think a part of the issue is that game creators are artists at heart and not business people.  They have a vision, but like an artist they want to conform it to thier ideal...which isnt what people want.  They may like the vision, but as a business thinker would realise, this vision needs to fit what people using the service want. Why dont they poll, ask, interview, and sample gather data on what is missing and needed, rather then make some rediculously expensive vision they have in their head that while it makes them happy and they are fullfilled, does nothing for the player or the creators wallet for that matter.

Sun Feb 10 2008 3:29PM Report
Immortus writes:

You didnt even mention Asheron's Call. You fail.

For the rest, I agree, MMO's seem to be so badly watered down these days. I had high hopes for the genre, but lately its been the smae old cookie cutter crap after another. Its a terrible thing to witness. MMO evolution = at a stand still, or worse, going backwards.

Sun Feb 10 2008 4:30PM Report
Ponico writes:

Very sorry! I did miss the incredible Asheron's call... I agree, AC was also an amazing breakthrough in the MMO industry. Thanks

 

Ponico

Sun Feb 10 2008 5:26PM Report
so2404 writes:

i think its a mix of nostalgia and backward-ism. games have stepped back but main aspect have moved leaps and bounds. the sandbox will return soon enough and we will start too see unique game play with great art and design.

With bestheda and bioware making mmo's both sandbox company's you can expect their console philosophy to appear in there mmo genre as well. but to player (not uo/eq early day players) quest and pvp and art/graphics (one without the other isn't complete, like halo has graphics, but gow and bio shock have both)were more important .

 I expect sandbox to swing back, look at earthrise for example new  game probably out in  2years or so along with like i mentioned before Bethesda and bioware things are looking up

 

Sun Feb 10 2008 5:37PM Report
Munkyman1 writes:

Yeah, im praying for a new and good sandbox game, i miss that style so bad.  Guess ill stay in retirement till something good comes along.

Sun Feb 10 2008 5:56PM Report
Ponico writes:

So2404,

You're right about that, let's hope that Bestheda and Bioware brings out something fresh to us. One thing I can say is that, once you're at the bottom of the barrel, the only way out is up. I just hope that are at the bottom now.

Sun Feb 10 2008 9:11PM Report
Munkyman1 writes:

Well if you guys want, i have a goat and a brazier....im all set for a burnt offering....

Sun Feb 10 2008 9:25PM Report
KingCam writes:

You have a valid point, but how many big developers have even tried to make an MMO? I'm not an expert but I'd say Blizzard for WOW, and Ubisoft for Shadowbane (was a kickass game I'd say, but needs an overhaul now), etc... there is still a lot of developers that might dabble in MMO's and who knows what may happen in the future... I think that somebody needs to make a next gen game that includes all of the good features of games past, instead of just focusing on PvP or PvE, or just graphics... If a developer would just go ahead and make a very hard game to play with a shit tonne of features and things to do instead of simplicity, it would catch on eventually, and it would fix are current problem of crap games... what it comes down to is the idea of instant gratification... on the players part and the developers part...

Sun Feb 10 2008 11:06PM Report
Ponico writes:

Very true kingcam :)

 

My next blog will discuss about this. I'm trying to open some interesting discussions while giving the freedom of everyone to express their own thoughts. Instead of writing a long post, I try to do some research and use a bit of fun knowledge to bring out the best. It's the reason I started with a brief history overview of the Cinema Industry. I did my university studies in that field so it was simply fun to bring in some interesting facts. :)

 

Hope to see more and more people jumping in the discussions, it's a lot of fun and much more friendly so far!

 

Ponico

 

Mon Feb 11 2008 12:19AM Report
Evilsam writes:

I firmly believe one of the biggest   problem s is money.Our games aren't a nich any more.there are mega corporations trying to squeeze the most dollars without real reguard to quality.thier looking to make something for the younger people that's fast and easy without the need for a lot of thinking or "hard" work.

 With the extreme success of World of Warcraft most are trying to jump on the bandwagon.This imo has cost us some games  that could have been really great.SWG ,EQ2 to name two Not trying to detract from any,just using examples of a couple,one that was ruined and the other that could,and probablywould have been better.

 I think most of you will get my point.

Hopefuly we will see some break away and come out with a game that we as players can feel at home in..Where we make a difference .

 

Mon Feb 11 2008 4:43AM Report
iZakaroN writes:

Great post. I think thats the sad reality. My hope was Vanguard but his fault start give him almost not chance. Many times I have tried to explain what I do not like in current MMO, and now I only have to send this post!!!

Tue Feb 12 2008 7:59AM Report
Ponico writes:

Thanks Iz ":)

Tue Feb 12 2008 10:29AM Report
edmonal writes:

We live in a semi-capitalistic society, and our commerce is driven by the dollar. Even those who wish to do their own thing are often forced to compromise for money. Sorry Evilsam it's not going to change.

 

As for sandbox games; I tried SWG pre-Cu and didn't care for it. It was a buggy game, with some really odd mechanics. Now I have played Morrowind and thought that was great fun, so I'd probably play a sandbox game if it had the quality of that release. I've found in some of the sandbox games that it's an excuse not to have any content that's dev driven and this is a mistake. Player generated content is good, but it needs to supplemented with a coherent set of content from the game devs.

 

To be honest at this point in my life I probably don't have the time to commit to a sandbox game. I can't play everyday for 6 hours and all weekend. I can't even do this for a non-MMO either.

 

Wed Feb 13 2008 2:10PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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