This article reposted from my new blog home at
The World of Warcraft spin machine is in full force this week. During Blizzcon, GamesIndustry.biz interviewed Blizzard's COO Paul Sams who declared that players were already returning to World of Warcraft after WAR's release.
In the interview he gloats and brags and claims that Blizzard's expansions for WoW come out so slow due to massive content additions and how complex they are. I really don't buy that at all. While they do polish the hell out of their products, I think that the real reason for the delays are that they try to watch the market and copy or include everything that makes another game popular. It just makes me curious how as time went on Blizzard announced things like achievement systems and added in game calendars. Whatever. It still does not mask the problem that WoW is a PVE raid oriented game with high end content that 60% of its playerbase will not be able to experience due to time constraints.
I look at something like Mines of Moria and think that Turbine may be doing us more favors with Legendary Weapons and small 3 man dungeons than any other MMO out there right now. I remember when Lost Dungeons of Norrath came out. Or even the mission generator in Anarchy Online. No one has made an effort to copy this or give us this kind of content. I loved LDON because you would go to a camp and spawn a mission and it would be random (as random as technology allowed back then) and then it was a great romp through a dungeon for some good gear. The camps would be full of people and everyone KNEW WHERE TO GO. Dungeons weren't hidden in a cave somewhere with a swirly entrance. Some nights I would tank 5-6 dungeons in a row and have a blast. If you wanted a different flavor you would go to Faydark and Q up for the vampire dungeons, or Ro and Q up for the Orc dungeon in the desert. Of course it being EQ1, LDON's relied heavily on tank, healer, crowd control. In the effort of MMO's today to be so solo friendly, they have shot any chance at this type of content in the foot.
In Anarchy Online we had a mission generator that you could scale for XP or money. You just zone in and you get your own little dungeon...errr..base to explore and shoot stuff.
What are the issues with generated content we see? People ignore the outside lands, or if it is single player content no one would ever see anyone. I think EQ2 ran into this issue with some of their mini expansion packs you could buy for 5 bucks or whatever the price was. Tabula Rasa had this issue even though the instances scaled, which was pure awesomeness. However no one in Tabula Rasa grouped or talked. End result: Garriott shoots himself into space and his "dream game" dies a horrible death.
Warhammer is running into this with Scenarios. Are all these instancing ideas killing MMO communities? Do we need to drop this mechanic and force people into the open and make them work together? It would be hard I know. You can't have 80 vs 80 Nordenwatch, you have to control the amount of players and make sure it ends. Everquest 1 never had this problem because it was PVE not PVP oriented. Unless you get rid of the scenario idea and make your world one massive open RVR, you will always be limited by technology and by player populations. Warhammer Online has come the closest to fixing this with Public Quests. We have a system where you can kinda "raid" outdoors in content that is pushed along by people participating and advancing it to the next stage. If there are not enough people, it simply sits at Stage 1 and gets ignored. If ther are enough people, it pushes to Stage 3 or 4 and a "raid" boss appears. Brilliant actually. What if more games incorporated this type of content EVERYWHERE. I personally love it. BUT...it is not a dungeon, and it is not PVP. Of course dungeons in EQ1 were wide open, and we saw spawn campers, loot whores and botters everywhere, which is why WoW went with instancing and OMG THE CYCLE IS ENDLESS.
I don't know why I am clamoring over all this lately. I just wanted to see more people involved in the content of MMO's but minus the grouping holy trinity or the need for a set amount of players. Any way you look at it, I would not want to be the designer that would have to try and hash that out for a new MMO. Maybe Darren over at Common Sense Gamer had it right and we should all just play Oblivion.
Ok, that is the last of "thoughtful Hudson" you all get this week. I am out of here for a Brooks and Dunn concert tonight. Don't ask...just don't ask.