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Future of MMOs

Basically outlining things I see as needed in next gen mmos.

Author: axlezero

MMO Community

Posted by axlezero Sunday January 25 2009 at 4:12AM
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I recently made a blog about failed mmo's and after more thought, I think it goes beyond the game being finished.  Don't get me wrong, that plays a big part of it, when full guilds join a game, but leave shortly after because there is on raid content ready to go etc.  However I think the biggest thing that makes an MMO suffer, and I say this knowing full well how successful WoW is even though its community is horrible.

WoW's success I think has to do with the amount of people playing and small communities within, such as the guilds.  WoW also has that easy factor so people don't really need groups, so can ignore the bulk of the community.  I believe a big chunk of these players are waiting for something more, but games fail to deliver the product and so the community suffers and then word of mouth kills the game, making it hard to get back on its feet.

Some might call me a hard core player for saying this, but I want the EQ days back, with the forced grouping and community hotspots where you funneled to, so you could get a group to level.  Slow down leveling so you get to know your fellow player while grouping and get the game back to basics.

MMO in my opinion is all about the community, when that suffers the game suffers.  I remember my first week in EQ, I got so frustrated I almost gave up several times, till people actually stopped and took the time to help me.  I wasn't whining in ooc, I wasn't yelling in /shout, I wasn't cursing, sending tells to random people.  I just had alot of dang corpses everywhere that were rotting every 30 mins, and so they stopped, taught me the basics, gave me some gear, followed me around for a few minutes and explained things while I got my feet on the ground.  That more then anything made me a die hard MMO player.   Keep in mind this was before there were guides out the wazoo and 50 sites dedicated to a game.

I stopped buying platform games, and have played alot of MMO's over the years, and slowly but surely, that in game community and willing to help has dwindled. 

Why forced grouping?  Slower xp? 

We, and by that I mean me as well, blow through content so fast, that most games its almost pointless putting in any extra content at lower levels, and sometimes I still wonder why they do.  If you can hit max level in 2 weeks, why would you bother putting in alot of lower level content?  Slower XP allows you to actually explore the game, or at least move about to other places out of boredom if nothing else.

Grouping in EQ was really one of the only ways to level, even the so called solo classes grouped because it was just hard to get by on your own.  The benefits were this:
1)  Grouping was better and faster xp.  You leveled much quicker and dungeons even had bonus xp.

2)  Grouping made you know your character and play it to the best of your ability, because impressions were everything. 

3)  Newbies were taught things to help, and if you were being an ass people didn't group with you, so the community kind of regulated it self.  Be respectful or get blackballed is how it usually went.

4)  Group sessions were usually on going, as one person left they brougnt in another person.  So you could spend hours with some one and actually get to know people.

In eq I actually felt like i was part of something, people knew me and looked for me to group, even outside of the guild.  These days, I play these games, but rarely meet anyone outside the guild, and yes that might be part of my doing, but part of it is whats the point.  I can get to max level without anyone else's help fairly easy, with a guildie even better.  However I don't feel that same connection with the community on the whole that I did in eq.

To this day, I still help newbies because of my experience in eq, I teach them tricks, give them gear and money, and sometimes (rarely) I get a thank you from them.  Most of the time I think they are calling me a sucker behind my back, but it doesn't stop me from potentially shaping some one else's first experience in an mmo.

MMOs need to break it down again and find out how to build their communities again, to keep a large base of players continually interested.  Also having devs that don't know what they are talking about isn't good either, when your playerbase is telling you something is wrong and dev says no its not.  Chances are the players know what the hell they are talking about, after they play it everyday and know what changes fairly quickly.

Personally, I almost think that MMOs should consult a sociologist to study in game behaviour of gamers and and patterns that draw people.  So they can give advice on the things that can strengthen the community AND the game itself.

Quizzical writes:

It's not forced grouping that I object to.  It's being required to get a group and  also being unable to get a group.  That combination is pretty lethal for a game.  A lot of games will say, you have to group for this or that, but have no means in place to ensure that you can readily get a group when you want to.  If I'm going to be on for an hour and spend the first 20 minutes trying to find a group and then ten more waiting for everyone to get to the same place, that's pretty game-breaking.  If a game is not going to make grouping possible in practice, then it's better to dispense with forced grouping entirely.

As far as slower leveling, no, that's horrible.  It's far more fun to play through a given set of content once each on several different characters than to spend the same amount of time grinding mobs on only one character.  The latter also leads to an obscene amount of grinding for people who wish to play alts.

Sun Jan 25 2009 9:35AM Report
axlezero writes:

Its not hard to get groups when you actually get to know people, by grouping.  Most people get groups of people together fairly easy, its more of the non social people that problems grouping.  I rarely had trouble getting a group in EQ, the only times I did have a problem was during off peak hours, even still a 3 man group was all that was needed for most content, you just benefitted more from more people in group.

Slower leveling isn't horrible, you say grind, but thats because a game is uninteresting.  You carry the same mentality that the current wow gamer does, I want to level as fast as I can, and I want to do it solo if I can.  The problem with your scenario is that people won't play each given set of content, they will play what they know.  A few rare people will branch out to new stuff, but most won't because they'll do what they know because they can advance faster.

EQ by far had a better class of player and I believe it was directly related to forced grouping.  As I said I don't expect many to agree with me, but I reiterate the points above, you were forced to be part of a community and had to act accordingly to do so.  Being an ass, not playing your class, and lots of other things would get you basically blackballed from groups.  It self regulated itself, and that made for a FAR better community then games like WoW.

As far as the grind went, sure there was some, but there is grinds in every mmo, the difference is on your outlook.  I am not much of a crafter, I think thats a grind and a half, but some people enjoy it and don't view it as such, more power to them.  I don't find grouping and leveling with a good group of people as a grind, I rather enjoy it.  

However I respect your opinions, however far apart our stances on it.  I just want to see the community put back into MMO's, and I'm not saying it can't be done with faster content, I have just failed to see it thus far.

Sun Jan 25 2009 1:17PM Report
objeff writes:

Great topic!

I have to agree, I am personally all for a slower paced game with a focus on the community.

In EQ I had a list of friends that I would go through to see what they were up to that night... Yes it took 20+ minutes to find the group and another 10 - 20 to get there and get everyone else together. However, the point of me playing the game wasn't for the levels, gear, quests... it was for the experience. I enjoyed looking for the perfect group and putting our skills to the test. This lead me to seek out people that I trusted, created a friends list, and grouped with those 20 or 30 people plus guildies. Having trusted friends always lead to meeting new people that your friends trusted.. With the more recent games I find only 2 or 3 people on my friends list from grouping experiences and a lack of people to do anything with. (Outside of the guild)

I also think having very defined class's lead to most peoples frustration when trying to find a group which pulled companies away from pre-defined classes. There's nothing like spending 20 - 30 minutes getting a group together and end up without a healer and the group is a no go because of it.. Ugh! This forced people to; 1. becoming friends with their local Cleric. :) or 2. become very good at begging

Granted, MMO's were a new thing when EQ started and it was more of a 'community' aspect where a few thousand of people got together to share a common interest and, for lack of better words, an alternate social life. The MMO worlds were not 'predefined' by predecessors and had no expectations of what the game should offer as far as features. (IE raiding, advancement points, PvP, etc) I personally think that MMO's now have expectations to meet from the player base creating a 'cookie cutter' game.

I think with these expectations it draws attention from the developers and the players away from the community and puts the focus on the expected features and new latest and greatest gadgets and gizmo's.
I also think the older games drew a lot more of their inspiration from pen and paper games where the focus was on getting together with friends and putting your character to a challenge.

This sounds like I don't like MMO's but I love them -- they are the only games that I play because there is a social aspect to them.

Sun Jan 25 2009 7:18PM Report
qombi writes:

I will not repeat everything said here but I agree whole heartedly. Give me forced grouping and longer leveling. With forced grouping it is usually easy to find a group because everyone has to. So everyone is looking.

They should add in CoH mechanics with a mentor system  as well. One thing that hurts a forced grouping game, is when lower levels become less populated. The mentoring system would help this without damaging anything that I can think of ... unlike SOEs current mercenaries .. ugh.

Well doesn't matter anyway ..EQ has been dead since Luclin for me.

Sun Jan 25 2009 8:50PM Report writes:
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