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MMORPG.com Staff Blog

The staff of MMORPG.com gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

Author: staffblog

Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

The End of Dominus?

Posted by MikeB Monday April 30 2012 at 4:06PM
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It was announced today that the three-faction sci-fi sandbox MMO, Dominus, is ceasing development due to what appear to be funding issues. Dominus was of particular interest to our MMORPG.com community due to the aforementioned three-faction sandbox nature of the title. It's truly unfortunate for both PitchBlack Studios (the folks behind the game) as well as our community, who have been understandably itching for an awesome new sandbox game, that development has ceased.

There is a silver lining, however. Dominus' Facebook page is listing an e-mail address for would-be investors to get in touch with the team about the project, but there's another potential investment source that a number of our readers have mentioned: Kickstarter!

Why not? Crowdfunding seems to be all the rage these days. With all the recent seemingly unfundable projects becoming not only fully funded, but quickly overfunded due to Kickstarter, why not throw an MMO project into the mix?

I'm not privy to the sort of funding PitchBlack may need for their MMO, and I understand MMO projects are typically more expensive than their non-MMO counterparts, but who knows? I feel it would be a great way to really test interest in the project and give MMO players a chance to put their money where their mouth is.

Would you throw your money behind Dominus if PitchBlack were to Kickstart it? How do you feel about crowdfunding in general? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: User Generated Content: Yea or Nay?

Posted by MikeB Sunday April 29 2012 at 9:14PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread "User Generated Content in MMOs: Why not?" by //\\//\\oo simply puts the question of user generated content to the MMORPG.com community at large:

User generated content has influenced online gaming to the extreme. LoL, anyone? MOBA games, tower defense games, player creations permeate the gaming scene now more than ever.

Why can't the community generate its own content while having the devs implement their custom made maps/dungeons?

Imagine a game with limitless content due to the fact that it can be cheaply implemented by the devs and created by its own playerbase. There would never be a shortage of things to do, or places to explore.

In case it's not clear what I mean:

Users make maps with tool provided by devs

Devs implement maps, or sort through set and slightly modify for balance

Yay/nay?

So, user generated content: yea or nay? Read on to find out!

Johnie-Marz is all about the UGC, and even has some ideas on how to maintain quality control:

I have given this some thought. I believe if you create a dungeon you should get a certain percentage of the gold that the parties that go throught that dungeon receive. (Rewards handed out in a dungeon, would be based on strength of monsters, you couldn't make a dungeon with one goblin guarding a chest of a gazillion gold for instance)

After a party goes through the dungeon they have an opportunity to rate it. Dungeons that are not rated high enough after a specific piriod of time or if no players finishes the dungeon over a specific period of time, the dungeon is "Retired"

This way, the high rated dungeons that people actually enjoy will be kept, the bad ones will be "Retired" and it will give dungeon creators incentive to create fun well designed dungeons. (since they will be making a profit when players complete their dungeon)

DeaconX has a couple of great ideas:

No developer could ever create content faster than players can burn through it.

This is where player generated content comes and and I personally see it as a key ingredient in the future of MMORPG's.

The best way to do this?

There needs to be a TEST server.  This is generally where new features coming to the MMO are tested by members of the community who joined this specific server type on purpose - to help the developers/preview what's coming down the pipeline.

This same server can be used as a place where players can build their adventure given the appropriate tools, then allow the testing community to try them, rate them, give feedback etc.  When it reaches a certain level of approval, it goes to a final stage of testing by the developers who actually work on the game.  They either give it that final approval or send it back.

If it gets the final approval, the user generated adventure is pushed to the actual game.  If not, the player creating the adventure can work on it until it is.

What this does is it assures a level of quality while also ensuring a steady stream of new 'cream of the crop' adventures being pumped into the game.

It would be FAR easier for some of the paid developers working at the company to play through some player adventures than to create from scratch (of course, there would be more developer created content as well bringing in new features etc.)

Just how I would set it up :)

itgrowls isn't quite sold on UGC:

despite the votes this is a very bad idea. example: STO: it's been a VERY VERY long time and they only recently advanced the content. They relyed too much on the foundry to create new content which was subpar imo despite what people ranked them because they didn't allow for anyone to advance the gear or the currency to what they would consider end game gear for harder foundry missions and at the same time didn't put out a single new STF mission for the borg, and did the terrible job with the loot handling for these dungeons. There were who sets of people who would drop the entire group (obviously through an outside app) and rejoin the group in order to ensure they would be the only ones to get the loot at the end with the bosses. They should have taken Anet's stance on loot. currency to purchase new items should have been distributed for tier 1 for everyone involved in every dungeon.

So it is a terrible idea, they make it sound all fun and things but it just really makes the devs even more lazy because they can claim hey look people are rping in these things we don't have to do anything new for a whole 1 yr 6 mo and then at the end we can just break it so no one except the cheaters can get gear they need. 

I hate gear treadmills because of hacks like this one. It's another reason why i went casual a long time ago, because people cheat to get what they want and they never catch them in time or don't do anything about it to fix it because they don't care as long as the money flows in.

I'm a huge fan of user generated content. Sure, there's tons of crap people will make, but if you implement proper incentives to create solid content while also providing the tools for players to sort and maintain quality control then it shouldn't be hard to allow the cream to rise to the top. As a number of members mentioned, developers can never keep up with the rate that players consume content, so user generated content layered on top of the developers own content publish timeline is a great way to keep people playing and doing things.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Guild Wars 2: BWE Day One Thoughts

Posted by MikeB Saturday April 28 2012 at 1:30PM
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Day one of the Guild Wars 2 beta weekend event has now come and gone and I've got a couple of thoughts on my experiences. I'm not going to get into too much detail as you'll have a full preview probably sometime next week, but I did want to give some first impressions and other thoughts.

The most important thing (for me) to address is whether or not Guild Wars 2 passed the test I mentioned in our recent Beta Weekend Experience Expectations piece: does GW2 really just have things going on everywhere in place of quest content? Can you just run around and find things anywhere?

YES!

I spent most of my first day testing this out. Going anywhere and everywhere and seeing if I could find things to do. Literallly almost everywhere I went I'd find some sort of event or activity going on and I never once had to think about having to find a group for anything due to the awesome implicit grouping design. Participate in the fight with someone else? Get full XP. Get full loot. Provide area buffs? Everyone is affected, regardless of whether they are grouped or not.

I also want to talk about all the activity on our forums regarding performance and such. Guild Wars 2 is not optimized yet, so yes, you may be experiencing some really crappy performance. I have a ridiculous rig and getting above 40FPS in most instances is not very likely (Known Issues: SLI is non functional and the game is CPU bound at the moment). The latter bit is extremely important, it means you are not going to see an appreciable framerate difference in lowering your graphics settings if your CPU is the performance bottleneck. I'm sure some of you are getting way worse framerates, but the suggestions I've seen along the lines that ANET shouldn't launch in 2012 due to these issues are a bit much. That's, in part, what these weekends will help ANET improve.

No, you don't need to sit around filing bug reports. Just playing will give them tons of information and hopefully they will be able to improve performance significantly. I've been part of many beta tests in the past and I can tell you that these sort of things can change very quickly. Once the game is no longer CPU bound players should see some vastly improved performance (especially when dropping to lower settings, if necessary).

This also applies to complaints that X content is too hard/too easy. Numbers in a spreadsheet can be (and likely will be) tuned if they are over or undertuned at the moment. I can tell you that the story quests I've done definitely seem overtuned (too hard). But these are just numbers in some files somwehere, they can be adjusted.

Lag and other technical issues? Same thing. I realize you guys are super frustrated. I had my own friends say they wanted to switch servers because latency was unplayable at primetime last night. This sort of thing is to be expected. If you end up participating in the next couple of weekends and aren't seeing improvements from event to event, then sure, be concerned. Right now? I think it is all a bit premature.

What were your day one experiences like? Share 'em in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: Dailies

Posted by MikeB Saturday April 21 2012 at 7:15PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight we focus on the thread, "Dailies are the worst thing to happen to the genre" by tixylyix. In the thread, tixylix asserts that, well, dailies are the worst thing to happen to the MMO genre!

It's just lazy grind content that isn't fun and just ruins an end game. It's just "go get this repeatable quest" then "collect 50 or these or kill 50 of those" then you get a reward. I mean why not just tie that into stats like if you get 50 kills in a PVP battleground or have a dot kill someone after your died or something fun? You have games like TF2 that do fun things like these and then you have this whole loot/crafting system which is amazing. 

Instead in MMOs you do Dailies for gear and you have a broken worthless crafting system. Funny how an FPS does the whole character/gear progression better than any modern MMOs... tbh it's as much of an MMO as most "MMOs" are these days. All you have now is hubs that everyone stays in and just grinds small scale PVP in battlegrounds or "raids" which don't deserve the name as they're so small scale. Soon Left 4 Dead will have more people in a game than a Raid, if people get their way it'll be solo raids cause apparently everyone hates grouping.

Just get rid of Dailies and do something fun like TF2's drop and crafting system instead, in fact it's the perfect way to frigging fix SWTORs broken worthless crafting lol.

Is the MMORPG.com community on board with this message? Read on to find out!

Loktofeit feels dailies are a symptom of a much larger issue:

Dailies were a solution to the player desire to repeatedly farm a dungeon they enjoy.

The alternative would be to manage the game world's economy in such a manner that the rewards pulled from the dungeon don't start flooding the market and causing inflation. Most MMOs use BOP as a part of their approach to it. Some use loss and breakage (often through durability), and others allow the rewards to be refined down to base materials, which in turn supplies another subset of the server community - the crafters.

The root of it all is the static, lossless gear-based system. Epics and the One Best Item We All Need available only at the end of a spcifica dungeon is prolific in mainstream MMos. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds this crappy item system together. Dailies are a symptom and a poor solution for a much deeper issue.

arctarus notes that dailies are just part of the overall lazy endgame designs found today:

Most current genre end game is laziness, you still run the same instance over and over or pvp the same battle ground or wat zone over and over.

so dailies is a way where players can get some rewards if they.not.gona raid and yet the devs are able to make players play longer ....

whole end game have to change, but for themepark mmo I've no idea what to replace them with

Starpower suggests the need for dailies comes from the trend of rapid fast advancement to the endgame seen in many modern MMOs:

I played EQ for 4 years and DaoC for 3

Not once did I log on because of "community". I logged on because at the time, they were great games and there was always something to do. Levelling was a long process and so was reaching your personal goals. If anything is to blame, then it's the Mc'MMOs that insists endgame should be reached preferably yesterday, with its easy and fast advancement systems

Although I agree the community part has gone to hell, I strongly disagree with a correlation to 'dailies'. Not everybody plays MMOs to become buddy buddy with online players, like a little online family and we are quite able to keep our attention span focused on 1 game for long periods of time if the game is well made in all aspects

I personally can't stand dailies. If anything, they make me NOT want to log on. I'm pretty OCD about questing and progression and these games don't often just stick you with a small handful of dailies but a massive checklist of them for you to knock out. This kind of makes me go nuts when I get into the game and have to go and complete tons of dailies to feel like I'm making the most of my time.

What are your thoughts on dailies? Share 'em in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: Are Kill 10 X Quests Really That Bad?

Posted by MikeB Saturday April 14 2012 at 6:41PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight we'll be focusing on the thread "The 'Kill 10 (x)' Conundrum" by jdlamson75. We often lament the prevalence of "Kill 10 X" quests, but are they really that bad? And if they are, what would you rather see? jdlamson75 elaborates:

Perusing the MMORPG boards as I do, I see a lot of hate thrown at the "Kill 10 of (X)" (known as KTX from here on out) types of quests.  These are in just about every game that has a questing system, they've been around forever, and, just maybe, the MMO players are just plain TIRED of seeing them.

I, on the other hand, enjoy at least the occasional kill quest, as it lets me just go out and beat the snot of of a group of mobs in the same area, head back, and collect my rewards and experience.  As long as I have other types of quests thrown in there, I don't even mind having the majority of them equate to KTX.  I know I'm in the minority here, but hear (or read) me out.

Instead of KTX types of quests, some games have created other types of questline, such as "Cut down the mightiest tree in the forest wiiiiiith...a herring".  Now, this would be great in theory, as the cutting down of said tree could trigger something wonderful (or devastating) in the world.  BUT!  In this quest, first you have to find the mightiest tree, then you have to go find the particularly rigid herring suitable for cutting down a tree, then actually cut down the tree.  With a herring.

In this day of instant gratification in MMOs, how many of these quests will gamers really want to see?  In the example given above, there would be no quest reward for the first step of finding the tree, nor for obtaining the herring, so the whole instant gratification thing goes out the window.

How about puzzle-type quests?  Bopping along in the Flajamada Desert, whence suddenly I happen along a tomb!  The tomb is locked with a complex puzlle, one that is ever shifting and is never the same when clicked upon.  Knowing there's got to be some good booty inside (minds out of the gutter, folks - it's a TOMB - nothing but dead stuff in there), I attempt the puzzle.   I'm not very bright, so I fail it.  And die.  Then I come back, attempt it again, and fail again.  On my third attempt, I get it right.  Woohoo!  I get inside, only to find a treasure chest with a decent item and some stale food.

The puzzle quest could work, but again, the instant gratification isn't there if I can't solve the puzzle.  And there's nothing to fight.  MMOs are about getting new skills, new combat abilities, super duper weapons.  I could be wrong, but I don't think there's a Sword of Puzzle Ass-Kickery out there.  If there is, I've never seen one.

My question to the MMORPG.com crew is this: what would you rather have in place of the KTX quests?  Why?  I'm not putting up a poll, as that would limit the choices to those my feeble mind could produce.  Discuss away!

So how does the MMORPG.com community feel about these quests? Read on to find out!

Quixote doesn't find these types of quests problematic, instead citing their presentation as the root of the issue:

The problem is not that there are KTX quests in a game but that most of them, if not all, are presented in a very boring fashion: we first must go to a quest giver that tells us this story about his farm/village/car/keep/city/family/plan-to-conquer-the-world and that in order to solve the problem at hand we must KTX. So off we go and kill said Xs and we come back to the quest giver for our reward. And this is repeated over and over and over.

It is the introduction of the quest-hub that breaks immersion and makes you realize you are quest-grinding. It doesn't matter that developers try and hide this making a progression between different quest-hubs.

After taking a break from MMOs for a bit I was gladly surprised when playing Skyrim by one tiny little detail: I was out in the field and a wolf attacked me, I killed it and suddenly a woman walked to and thanked me for saving her, she told me where a cave filled with these horrid creatures was located and off she went. That is a great way of delivering a quest, I completed the quest before it was even given to me. It felt part of the world I was in.

The question is not what other types of quests we could create in a MMO, but how could we deliver the same type of quests in a different fashion.

Zekiah feels randomized quests may be a better choice:

Random is so much better. How about random quests that just have you turn in the item if you ever come across it?

It really is retarded when an NPC tells you to kill X number of mobs to get Y. How do they know how many to kill? And why don't they just go do it themselves? It's ridiculous.

Where's the creativity? Where's the imagination? And why are you putting up with the same canned crap over and over again?

We all should demand better.

Edeus offers an even more interesting alternative:

What about no quests at all, just villagers or whatever complaining about certain monsters.  You go out and kill said monsters and the more/faster you kill them, the more bonus xp you get at each kill.  The more bonus points you rack up is also correlated to item drop rates, so after killing for 15mins you could have a few nice pieces of armor as well. 

Once you have proven yourself to the villagers, the real quest begins, involving the kill of the evil bandit lord/whatever riding around the outer feild of the village...  Killing him unlocks a larger overworld quest. 

PS: make sure you know to also kill the rare monsters that spawn in the corners/caves, as they are haunting some little kid's dreams...

I don't mind 'Kill 10 X' quests as long as that's not all I see. I also hate when games have you kill X amount of a creature and then send you to do the exact same thing when you turn it in. I recall this happening in TERA where I had to kill four of some creature only to be given a quest to kill 5 more once I turned it in. Why not just have me kill 9? I'd also like it if these quests tracked what you killed prior to you even taking them. This was something I think was advertised for WAR, but I don't recall if it ever made it in. Did I just kill 10 bears before I took your quest to kill 10 bears? Great! Now I'm done! Nothing is more annoying than being told to kill X amount of monsters that I actually just spent time killing for fun or on the way to the quest giver.

Do you feel 'Kill 10 X' quests should be abolished? If so, what would you replace them with? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Guild Wars 2, Hype, and the Forum Circle of Life!

Posted by MikeB Friday April 13 2012 at 11:42AM
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I've always found the pushback against 'hype' interesting. You don't really see it as much in other entertainment mediums. If I go to a movie forum I don't think I'd find people wigging out over other people getting excited for some upcoming film (especially if it's within that film's subforum!). Even if that film is overhyped.

What may be different here is that these games take so long to develop and a lot of users here have been disappointed and waiting for something fulfilling to come out for probably going on years now. This means the notion that something they feel is overhyped and deficient becoming successful despite this makes their prospects of a new game coming out that is more in line with their preferences that much worse. After all, if a ''crappy' game does really well, we can expect to find many of its features and designs in future games.

I get that sort of apprehension, but honestly, people are excited again. So what? I think 2012 is going to be a great year for MMOs all around. Even if GW2 ends up overrated or overhyped I'm sure it will still be a solid game and the fact its generating excitement in this genre is a good thing. After the one-two punch of Conan and WAR in '08 it's been a pretty rough last couple of years for the genre. Now we've got all sorts of cool stuff on the horizon!

I can't speak for everyone, but part of my theory is that a lot of users who may not care about GW2 (or whatever game is currently trending) are seeing topics on it constantly on the active feed on the front page and may be annoyed so they come in to participate in the discussion and it sort of spirals out from there. We generally have 'trends' here at the site where regulars from all the other subforums are mostly talking about the same game for a couple of months at a time. A few months ago our stats leaned heavily on SWTOR, now GW2 dwarfs SWTOR discussion.  This will likely be the case up to and past the first couple of months of launch, and then we'll all be talking about something else, much to some other group of users' annoyance!

The Forum Circle of Life!

Community Spotlight: Why go back after a poor first impression?

Posted by MikeB Monday April 9 2012 at 5:47PM
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We're focusing on the thread, "Why go back to a mmorpg that gave a bad first impression?" in this week's Community Spotlight. The thread, started by user nomatics856, poses this question to the MMORPG.com community:

Why cant these mmorpgs get it right the first time? Why is it when I see all these advertizements of mmorpgs saying return look at all our improvements, look at all our changes. You been in development for 4 to 5 years, probably even earlier than that, you have waves after waves of closed beta testing, open beta testing, internal testing, etc. Then you still release a half assed product  and then you tell us well dont worry about the crap now, we have so much potential, you as a player voice your opinion on the half assed products flaws and you get free month fan boys telling you your a troll (half of which wont even be playing after the free month is up and its time to pay). Then they say, well you shouldnt blast its flaws because it has so much potential, potential that doesnt get realized until  months later and the games half dead.

Then here come the banners, here comes the advertizements, come join us now, give us your time and money and see all the improvements we made. No, we need companys that need to start delivering on products at release, no nothing has to be 100% perfect it never will, but the rate and the quality of products being released now can be immensily improved.

So, what did you all have to say? Read on to find out!

elocke gives us the first great response:

I have gone back and been completely blown away by changes made.  Lotro and AoC as well as EQ2 are 3 games that come to mind in this category for me.  MMORPGs aren't like any other kind of game.  They actually CAN change over time and I fully expect them too and is one of the main reasons I love this genre so much.

I'm hoping that in a year or 2 SWTOR and Rift blow me away.

Now, granted, they should still aim to blow me away at launch...but sometimes there are dev changes, company take overs, etc. that alter games before and after release.  A lot of situations to take into consideration.  

Last but not least, sometimes it's just ME.  Maybe my viewpoint has changed or what might have bored me before now I consider fun.  Much like certain things in life.  Of course, that goes the other way too, and I notice it in games like WoW where it was a blast 4 years ago and now...it doesn't grab me the same way at all.

For Kyleran, first impressions are critical:

I'm one of those people, once I try a game and move on, I'm pretty much done for good.  AOC, LotRO and Rift are good examples of titles that were a bit lackluster at launch for one reason or another, and even though reports came back about the titles continuing to improve in quality, I've just had no interest in revisiting them.

I guess because there are still so many titles I've never really had a chance to try, seems like a waste to go back and redo something I've already washed my hands of.

GTwander offers an interesting take on why he is willing to check back on these games:

Because I can understand the worth within the *core* of a game.

I did the MO beta test long ago, and liked it's very basis. Everything about it was buggy, and the community was the worst I have ever seen - EVER - but I occasionally do a free trial period here and there to see how it improves, and whether it's finally worth paying for. As is, I could if there was a way to chemically castrate it's playerbase. The game is nowhere as bad as it used to be, but most people won't see that... they go into a game with the sole purpose of finding it's faults. Like they are more invested in the idea of "why they shouldn't", compared to "why they should".

I for one am very forgiving about a game's technical faults, but a poor community is enough to make me stay away indefinitely. It's why I no longer play Eve (after playing on and off for years).

I also go back to Ryzom now and then, but it's hard to play with a nonexistant community as well.

~Again, people just WANT to hate on something to begin with. The DL is free, no barrier to entry, so why wouldn't they? It's much different, but a bit similar, to how nobody will pay for a game without trying it first - all the while trying to convince themselves that the cost for the full product isn't worth it, simply because they already got a taste, and spit ot out before any flavor can come through. So many people give up in the first 15 minutes... it's incredible.

Unless I was super hyped for a game and got burned hard at launch, I generally keep a completely open mind about this sort of thing. If I found the basic premise of the game intriguing, but was ultimately pushed away by a number of issues (small or large), I'm willing to check the game out again if the developer has sorted them out or added new things that pique my interest. It also helps if the developer lets me check the game out again for free, though this barrier to re-entry is becoming less of an issue now with the trend towards F2P. 

I just don't see the big deal. MMOs evolve, that is their nature, and also their strength. I know that for many the first impression is all a developer will get, but I've always been perplexed by this phenomenon. I played the original Witcher, which was an absolute mess, and I gave up on it. When CDProjekt deployed the Enhanced Edition version of the game I didn't scoff and ignore it. I re-installed the game and checked it out, only to end up having one of the best RPG experiences I can remember. If it requires something as simple as reinstalling the game, there really isn't any reason not to try it again if the updates sound compelling enough.

How about you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!