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In My Understanding

An old school gamer discusses the challenges facing the MMORPG community and it's leaders.

Author: jesad

The Curve - Hunger vs Picky Eating

Posted by jesad Thursday July 12 2007 at 2:03AM
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For the intent and purpose of this first post I will begin with a short play.  The characters in this play will be named...

"Hardcore" - A 40 year old man who has been playing MMO's since their inception.  He still has a box full of paper and pen "D&D" scenarios under the ping-pong table that now holds his computer and he hasn't seen the light of day since Tuesday when he called out of work.

"Newton" - A 20 year old college student who plays from his dorm room along with several other guys from his floor.  They have formed a very large guild and have been very successful in raiding the upper levels of a couple of games.

Our play begins when the two of them meet.

 

Hardcore - So you're a gamer...really?  So am I!  What game do you play?

Newton - Well, we used to play "World of Warcraft" but now we play "EQ2".

Hardcore - Yeah?  I've played EQ2!  How'd you like Nektulous Castle?  Was that place crazy or what?

Newton - We skipped that place man, it wasn't worth the effort.  Our entire guild is epic 2 though!

The End

Illustrated to make a point.  There is a huge curve that is growing daily between the MMO player of today and the MMO player of yesterday and it is becoming more and more difficult to program any game to fit it.  The MMO player of yesterday came from a background rich in fantasy, lore, and expectation.  They were an adventurous lot of people who had been lingering around outside of cyberspace dreaming and waiting for the day that they could all come together in a computer generated fantasy world and show their ability to be heroes and champions, people of great valor and wisdom or people of base and craven desire.  In any respect, everyone had an idea.  The idea was basically role-playing based and they were hungry to share it with the world.  By the time the "M.U.D." hit you could have fed a lot of them dog food and called it an MMO and they would have accepted it. 

No pictures, no graphics, just words on a screen and some random "DOS" based menus and the RPG community was playing it in droves.  This was the spirit of that age.  The age before there was anything.  I'll call it "The Age of the Hunger".  So of course when games like the graphical "Total Entertainment Networks - Dark Sun Online" came out there was a rush that could be felt at the prospect of a graphical representation of ones RPG character in a computer simulated environment where they could play simulaneously with complete strangers.  That is where it all began to decline however.

Since those old days of "Dark Sun", "Everquest", and even "Dark Ages of Camelot" many of the old paper and pencil gamers have moved on, got their fix and got on with their lives, or simply found that it was not their cup of tea and returned to their smokey apartments and basements for a weekly session of a much more social and friendly game of role-playing.  The community that would have once eaten anything placed in front of it has been replaced by an ever growing population of picky eaters.  New players who have come via word of mouth, personal exploration, and some still through much tamer and less complicated paper and pencil backgrounds are swiftly becoming the majority and following not the path of the most adventure but more so the path of least resistance.

Newton - Stats?  What the hell are stats?  My sword has the highest DPS on the server!

This is what programmers and developers are up against before any of the other layers of grief are added to the equation and they are challenged between the decision to teach and the decision to ignore it and keep making money.  The result, unrest.  No one is happy, at least not for very long.  The old schooler can't pay for a group that actually wants to role-play, challenge early or mid-game content, or act in concert with one another to achieve a set of goals.  Of those who have not banded together there are thousands of floaters walking the earth like Cain meaning little to the worlds they live in and getting little meaning from them.  Meanwhile the younger crowd has grown discomforted by the lack of fullfillment of their expectations from products that release with too many bugs, do not offer enough raid content, or are not pretty enough.  They are not at all happy with the table scraps that the old schoolers would have sopped up with a biscuit and they know just enough about what is going on to feel as though they can make demands.  Message boards are filled with gripes and groans from both perspectives with no visible end in site and games being programmed to suit both the basic level player and the advanced are failing to translate the language between the two and subsequently failing to impress or inspire either crowd.

Of course, some of the Newton's do come through, just as some of the Hardcores who have just grown weary of attempting to make the game anything other than a game have given in.  But the curve has grown to an extent now that people no longer want to talk to each other or deal with each other because of one sides inability to tolerate the other and this is equating to exactly the opposite of the purpose for having an MMO.

If communities and developers don't all strive to get on the same page both inside and outside of these games, the curve will continue to grow until the genre itself can no longer support it.  We all have to contribute to our own entertainment by looking deeper, and sometimes not so deeply at the way to enjoy these games.  Don't be so greedy old-schoolers, we have been around long enough that we should not have to eat the slop anymore, but in the meantime, take the time out to teach these kids the merits of cleaning their plates.  Developers, invest in us, recognize our factions and build accordingly.  There is no reason we all have to exist in the same place for you to get rich.  Diversify but at the same time unite those of kinship in a place that they can call their own.  Do it soon or we all will suffer the penalty of becoming nothing more than really slow FPS players.  That is, if we continue to play at all.  At least that is in my understanding of it all.

viza writes:

I look at a game, play it. If it's fun, I keep doing it. If not, I do something else. I have no expectations for the roleplaying component of a game. Sometimes the community on a server is into it, other times not so much.

I'm definitely a "Hardcore", but know that everyone's idea of fun is different. I take a "can't we all just get along" approach and am happy when I find a group of friendly people to play with, whether they are all Newtons or Hardcores. If the group is roleplaying, I go with the flow and try to add some flavor to the experience. If not, whatever, I play the game with them and discuss whatever while we do it. I could actually care less either way.

My main objective is to have fun playing the game whatever that means at the time to the others, I respect it and just go with it. Part of having fun with other people is compromise.

 

I'm pretty aware of what developers are up against with regards to players that are never satisfied with anything. It's a shame because most people would have fun if they play the game for what it is, instead of trying to get the developers to mold it to their personal vision and playstyle. No game is perfect.

I go at a game by learning it, and building my character within the confines of the rules laid out by the developers. To me that's what playing any game, from DDO to football is about. You do your best with what  you're given. You can't expect the devs to change the rules for you.

I think the worst thing is when developers listen to players that don't understand the game or try to get the devs to mold the game to their playstyle by calling for nerfs on other professions when they really aren't necessary. A lot of the time people ar e simply playing the wrong class. They have this vision of what they think the class should be and constantly pester the devs over it. The worst thing is the devs only hear from people that are unsatisfied with the game a lot of the time. Those that are happy are busy playing.

It's a very backwards feedback system. I'd much rather see in game polls on every proposed change the devs think they need to make because of all the complaining on forums. I bet they'd find that most of the people don't agree most of the time and the complainers are a very small part of the population. This is a constant source of  frustration for me in a lot of games I play.

By and large most games released these days are amazing accomplishments. It's too bad people can't enjoy them for what they are, which is, in most cases, a really fun amazing thing to engage in. Some people only see the bad things. Most of us are just having fun.

-Viz

Mon Jul 16 2007 5:04PM Report
jesad writes:

From your comments I see that we share the same playstyle and concepts about how the games should be played.  In game polls would definately be a much better idea but more importantly I would like to see more developers just stick with their vision and let the community adjust rather than, like raising bad children, give us so many options other than "it is what it is and for reasons that you will come to know later" that many of us feel like we have a RIGHT to complain.

Your kid wants to go outside today but you don't want them to because you are afraid that the kid up the street is going to get them into some kind of trouble, you don't explain that, you just tell them no.  Try explaining it to them and you get "But I won't get in trouble", or even worse "Dad!? I'm not stupid" which may or may not be true but once you have altered your stance and let them go whatever happens becomes your fault.

In this same way I feel like MMO developers have become the bad parents to a whole community of know it all children (myself included), and I, for one, would like to see that change.

Tue Jul 24 2007 2:17PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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