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Level 0 Perspective

She cuts me into a thousand beautiful pieces.

Author: DopSillypant

Incorporating Genres Into MMOs

Posted by DopSillypant Monday April 20 2009 at 5:03PM
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MUD, MOG, MMOG, MMORPG, MMORTS, MMOFPS, PWNS? (Don’t ask, really, don’t.)


This post is not game specific, so here's another cute picture.


Genre-mixing, for lack of a better term, is the incorporation of other game genres into MMORPGs. Some games adopt all aspects of the second genre, some adopt a little. The path of a current MMO studio is a treacherous one; If they stick too close to the original formula, they get coined “uninspired” or “another WoW clone”. If they stray too far into another genre, they risk scaring away the close-minded or introducing a difficult learning curve. When it comes to MMO customers, some (or a lot) of us are arrogant enough to believe that we hold the secret to making America’s Next Top MMO. Admittingly… I’m one of them, oh if only those goofy developers would listen!

Most of the current NA/EU genre-mixing MMOs have only assimilated a small portion of another genre, and it’s reflected in the studios’ and publishers’ hesitance in using new and fancy acronyms. Better to deliver a seemingly traditional MMORPG with unique new “features” than to be a MMOFPS that fails to deliver…right? For the companies? Maybe. For the bored MMO veterans? Absolutely not.

Luckily for us, WoW. It’s no surprise to anyone that has kept up with MMOs, developers are getting bolder and more venturous when it comes to crossing over into other genres. The explosive success of WoW has advanced this movement in two conflicting ways; By expanding the MMO audience and awareness, niche genre-mixed MMOs have a much larger exposure rate to potential customers, and with WoW’s firmly rooted claws in the market, new games are forced to innovate by genre-mixing or otherwise, to distinguish themselves as an interesting alternative.

There are many, many disgruntled MMO veterans, impatiently waiting for an unique, revolutionary "Perfect Game" to blow WoW away. Realize however, that WoW is only an extremely good iteration of the traditional MMORPG genre, dabbling in other genres as features are added over the years.  If MMORPG is classical music, Blizzard is Bach, he didn't invent classical music, he excelled at it.  When another game takes over the top subscription spot, it will most likely be a better iteration of the same genre. Millions of people don’t change tastes overnight, it takes years, sometimes decades.  In the mean time, look for studios that are willing to mix genres, that are willing to take risks and push the boundaries, give them your support and money and let them know their endeavors are appreciated.

Cynthe writes:

Beautiful post! Very much agree with the sentiment. While I read a lot about people's ire with the genre these days I can't help but be excited at what the next ten years will bring us in online gaming. Imo we are only starting to see this really take off, I'm just worried that unfortunately the state of the US economy may hurt prospective projects.

Mon Apr 20 2009 5:42PM Report
MadnessRealm writes:

Actually, most players have seen and played pretty much everything. WoW is one big name but let's not forget UO, Runescape, (Dofus though more popular in EU) and a couple more. Even though one may not like these games, they are still part of the classic that built up the MMO industry that we have today.

Most players that used to play these are looking for similar experience but with a higher quality while the MMO industry seems to focus more on releasing WoW clones. And while bigs names comes out, smaller companies that actually try to inovate fail, hidden in the shadows of major titles. In the end, it gives the MMO industry the image that "inovation" will fail and that they should stick to the basic. Which is completly false :s

At least that's what I can understand judging from all the wins and fail in the industry (excluding few games such as EVE )

Mon Apr 20 2009 6:33PM Report
Cynthe writes:

One thing I noticed that was clear from the most recent failures, games that shut down or did poorly after release, did so because of lack of content in some areas, lack of promised and/or hyped features performance issues and general lack of game stability.

Not because of the innovations, those innovations where probably their only saving grace, and in some cases it just wasn't enough. People don't have the patience to wait out bugs and content anymore, that's the biggest crime against gaming to me.


Mon Apr 20 2009 6:45PM Report
DopSillypant writes:

About recent failures... well, I'll say "disappointments" because failure to me means they've shut down :P

Recent disappointments...

One major issue with software contracts is "expectation control".  Sales people and analysts are taught to carefully control the expectations of the customer, who usually have no software development background or experience.  If the sales promises or "hypes" up the product way beyond that of the actual capabilities of his team, the end result is a very, very unhappy customer.

Although we gamers don't sign contracts for studios to make games for us, this is even more important for MMO marketing,  Since the companies are trying to keep the customers satisfied far beyond the initial sales stage.  If you look at some of the developer interviews and presentations...  they don't exercise good expectation control.

Mon Apr 20 2009 7:58PM Report
dknight784 writes:

I love your blog for the "cute" pics..OH! and of course your blog posts lol

Mon Apr 20 2009 9:36PM Report writes:
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