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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,

Community Spotlight: "Pokemon" Style MMOs

Posted by MikeB Saturday October 29 2011 at 4:44PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Why no Pokemon-Esque MMOs" by robert4818. Like most of our spotlights, this one is fairly straightforward:

Seriously, I have to wonder why nobody has taken the Pokemon concept, and actually made it into an MMO.

First, before anyone jumps into it, let me say that we do not need the same stylistic graphics approach that we see with the official Pokemon.  I'm talking about the CONCEPT of Pokemon.

So, lets get this concept out of your head:

No Pikachu

And for the time being we can replace it with this:

FF11 Ifrit

 

If you like the Pokemon games as is, then ignore that last part.  Point is that the "pokemon" themselves are unimportant to the idea.

 

The core of the idea is as follows:

Capture monsters.

Train Monsters. (Level monsters)

Compete with Monsters. (Pve, PVP, etc.)

 

Design a world around this concept, and possibly use the monsters for more than simply fighting.  And you have an MMO ready to go.

What's the MMORPG.com have to say about this idea? Read on to find out!

Dvalon thinks its a great idea:

It's got legs, for sure, just needs a good developer, if they made it as you say yourself but matured up the art and pokemon designs a bit to make them less of a cartoon then it would deff get people playing it.

I'm bearly 35 and I love pokemon kinda grew up watching it with the kids and playing it on my DS, its a good concept no its a brilliant concept and if people just got over their hangups on it they would realize its a stunning game.

Where it would really shine is the combat, there are a number of things they could do, like.....

1. super smash bro's style combat or street fighter style, throw out your pokeball and then you control you pokemon as you try and kick the other guys ass.

2. use the DS style of turn based combat

3. standard mmo style, when you throw the ball, you take control of the pokemon and fight the enemy pokemon like your mind controlling it so normal mmo combat.

To be honest any one of these combat options would be really cool, and the game would essentially be a full PVP game after all its all about getting those pokemon and collecting those badges so you can take on other players.

StormwindX suggests something similar, based on the Shin Megami Tensei series:

http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/game/368

Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE seems to be somewhat similar in concept to what the OP suggested, as in... convince demons to join you, train them, summon whichever one suits your present needs, do battle with them. 

Yeah, yeah, it's a Korean game based on a Japanese universe (Which is amazing, by the way. SMT has, along with Final Fantasy, historically helped define the way console RPGs work. If you've never heard of Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne and Digital Devil Saga, you should, as they're easily two of the best RPGs of the last decade), but still... 'capture' demons, train them, summon them, use them. Kinda like Pokémon in hell.

precious328 doesn't feel a Pokemon MMO would reach a broad enough audience:

Pokemon fans, the ones that have grown up, are around 21 years old.

The Pokemon series, IMO, isn't broad enough to become a MMO.

EXAMPLE:

Star Wars has been around for years. It has fans both young and old. Pokemon, however, doesn't really have that many "older fans. It's too kiddy.

So, I've actually mentioned something like this in previous spotlights. I'm not actually a huge fan of the Pokemon series itself, having only played some of the earlier games, but the appeal as an MMO is pretty clear to me. The concept is pretty much tailor made for a massively multiplayer game. A huge world to explore, capture monsters, train them, fight other monsters with your own, fight each other at gyms or other tournaments, etc. Heck, you can even fit crafting in there. Players could craft consumables and even upgrades for creatures. As the first poster I quoted mentioned, the concept has "legs" to be sure!

Now, I wouldn't expect Nintendo to get into the game by doing their own Pokemon MMO, they just aren't really savvy on creating robust online experiences, but there is definitely room for an original IP to come in and run with it.

What are your thoughts on a Pokemon-style MMO? Share 'em in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: Playing MMOs 10 Years from Now?

Posted by MikeB Saturday October 22 2011 at 8:15PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Will you still be playing MMOs in 10 years time?" by Tutu2. Straightforward as many of these often are, Tutu2 simply wants to know if the MMORPG.com community sees themselves playing games in the MMO genre 10 years from now:

Do you think you will? Or do you think life commitments will get in the way eventually? Do you already have kids and can play alot of MMOs?  I sometimes think how can people possibly play MMOs with babies or young children, it seems negectful. 

Will the MMORPG.com community be playing MMOs 10 years from now? Read on to find out!

Kappadonna definitely plans on sticking around:

I've been playing MMOs since the launch of UO in 97, or even back in 94/95 with Gemstone/Dragonrealms if you want to count MUDs, and I'm still playing. 

Now that isn't to say I enjoy most of what I play - I don't. MMOs have declined in the past 5 years or so but I credit that to a genre which became stagnant with ideas and cluttered with clones not to mention that a lot of developers/publishers backed out due to WoW's dominance. 

However, we finally have some new life coming in with some major developed MMOs on the way (finally!). I think a few of them will be good but I'm really not going to love this genre until we get some more large scale, well funded sandbox MMOs that take ideas from the more virtual MMO model rather than the theme park ones. 

I'll always play them until I'm old most likely. But the genre develops/changes slowly, with changes taking years to mold and shape the genre, so I'd say the truely good MMOs are still years and years off and we won't really see anything truely revolutionary until technology catches up with our ideas. 

I mean imagine a gigantic open world that's far too large in scope for human developers to physically shape all of it - where basic AI helps create mobs, land structures, weather patterns, and so forth. Be interesting ... but decades off.

On the other hand Kabaal isn't sure he's even got two years left playing these games:

Unless the genre has a drastic shake up i doubt i'll be playing them in 2 years never mind 10. Been playing them for around 7 years and for the past few years i find myself barely playing them for a month or 3 instead of the year to a few years i did before. I'm just bored of the playing the same old same old games and the ones that try to be different being failures for the most part.

fenistil still plans on playing MMOs 10 years from now despite not having as much time to do so, as long as he has some subscription-based options:

Don't have so much leisure time as I had in school/university anymore. Have to work to earn my living,etc - I still play games just I play them less. I still contrary to some people I met - I enjoy challanging, time-consuming games. Less time mean It just take more days/weeks/months to get something in game / finish game. 

Fine with me - I was not racing in games before don't feel like I have to do now.

Will I play mmorpg's in 10 years?  Don't know what type of mmorpg's will be 'served' to players in future. More importantly is though - Will there be a PURE p2p game in 10 years I will be able to play and this game will be interesting?

If yes then I propably will play it. 

If all games will have cash shops, rmt, rmah ,etc - then I won't play since I don't agree with having those things in games I play.

I've been working here just over two years now and I'm still confident this genre has its best years ahead of it, so I would definitely say yes. I started playing MMOs because I was looking to replicate my much-loved MUD experiences in a 3D environment. This effort was more or less fruitless, though I managed to get pretty close with Star Wars Galaxies and The Matrix Online.

I've since made peace with the fact MMOs just aren't like MUDs anymore, but I'm hopeful that World of Darkness brings some of those heavy RP / community based elements back to the forefront. I don't necessarily mind the recent trend towards themepark games and Free-to-Play, but I do hope the genre eventually realizes its potential to create more world-like games. The realist in me knows this is a hard sell for AAA developers these days, however. 

Blizzcon Mists of Pandaria Panel Live Blog

Posted by SBFord Friday October 21 2011 at 3:16PM
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All Classes: Spell book cleaned up. Rotations improved. Automatically learn spells in the field. New spells. Specs more developed.

Druids: Now with four specs! Feral (DPS melee), Guardian (bear tanking), some overlap between the two. All druids still go cat or bear.

Shaman: Buff totems GONE. Totems as utility. Earthgrab Totem, Repulsion totem, Bulwark totem added.

Warlocks: Unique resource for every spec. Affliction - soul shards. Demonology - demonic fury resource. Destruction - infernal embers

Wands become main-hand weapons.

Rogue and warrior can throw weapons.

Relics GONE!

No ranged slot for other characters.

Hunter melee weapon GONE!

Ranged weapons: Hunter minimum range is GONE!

Three new EPIC raids.

2 new enemy races

Raid finder

World raid bosses

Classic dungeons will receive a Heroic update. New raids. 9 new dungeons, 6 on Pandaria.

Pet Battle:

Pet battles both PvE and PvP. Turn based battles. Simple combat system.

Pet Abilities UI:

Pet Journal UI Mock Up:

ACCOUNT WIDE PETS!!!

Pets will be tradeable. Level it up and then throw it on the AH to sell to someone else.

Lots of pets will appear only at certain times, seasons, etc. Pet Journal will allow you to manage pets.

Pet Battle System: Collect, level and fight with your pets. Accessible to everyone from a low level. Will work with almost every pet that there is right now as well as the new pets coming with the expansion. Customize your pets including naming them, individual abilities, etc.

Challenge Mode Dungeons: complete in a certain amount of time.

Queue and go. No role requirements. Earn valor points.

PvE Scenario map. No player collision.

PvE Battlegrounds to come

PvE Scenarios: Short instances for a few players. Holy trinity not necessary.

Greatly changed Talent system. Talents 2.0:

  • Class Abilities
  • Spec Ability
  • Talent Abilities
  • Choose spec and spec ability at level 10
  • Get additional specs later

Monk Races:

  • Chi energy for jab and roll
  • Jab generates light/dark force for finishing moves
  • NO AUTO ATTACK

Monk:

  • Hit a lot with hands/feet
  • Leather armor class

Monk:

  • Brewmaster - Tank
  • Mistweaver - Healer
  • Windwalker - Melee DPS
  • Not a hero class - starts at level 1
  • Martial arts based
  • Unique Monk-only animations
  • Monks are NOT Pandaren only!

Dungeons will have a physical presence in the world.

LOL....Pandarian enemy. :)

Pandarians are neutral and will not choose a faction until level 10.

The Wandering Isle is the start zone for folks rolling a Pandarian.

An auction house will be on Pandaria continent to stop players from having to travel back and forth.

Players should be able to make progress no matter how they choose to level. Geek out with more interesting character builds than ever before.

Objective also to get people back into the world, new things to do.

Objective also to get people back into the world.

Prime objective: New game play with fun parts of the past.

This is the spot to find out more about the just-announced World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria expansion revealed during the Blizzcon 2011 WoW panel. Keep your eyes peeled!

Blizzcon Opening Ceremony LIVE STARTS NOW!

Posted by SBFord Friday October 21 2011 at 10:02AM
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Level 90 cap increase.

MISTS OF PANDARIA

Pet battle system.

Panda-looking creatures.

Very Asian-themed, this new land.

MONK CLASS!!!

Very Asian-themed, this new land.

MONK CLASS!!!

Behold the future!

The real enemy, the true villain of the franchise is going to be war itself.

 

Preview for next WoW expansion coming in a minute or two.

 

Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm cinematic.

 

Blizzard DOTA!

 

Diablo III cinematic next!

 

 

 

He

 

Senior VP Chris Metzen on stage

 

Video retrospective on 15 years of Diablo.

 

Diablo III IS FREE TO WOW SUBSCRIBERS!!!!!

 

 

Diablo III!!!!! Box art

COLLECTOR

 

Diablo III!!!!! Box art

COLLECTOR

 

Morhaime encourages folks to grab the Blizzcon app on iTunes or the Droid Marketplace for the latest updates straight out of the convention.

 

$2.7 million dollars donated to Japan for tsunami relief and to Make a Wish. AWESOME!

 

Rogues getting a Legendary in 4.3.

Every WoW player in the world is playing the same version of the game.

 

v4.3 Hour of Twilight - Biggest content update for the Cataclysm expansion. Epic raid content for WoW.

 

Morhaime walks onstage.

 

Starting with a retrospective of the last 20 years: Warcraft, Diablo, Starcraft, WoW, Starcraft II!

 

Ready to roll in just about 1-2 minutes! 45 minutes for the opening ceremonies!

 

Starcraft II Tournament bracket revealed:

 

 

Fifteen minutes to tee time. What do you expect to hear about?

 

Big news when the opening ceremonies start in 15 minutes!

 

Pre-show is starting, folks are packing it in, no doubt anxious for word of the WoW expansion, Starcraft II next episode and the Diablo III release date!

10:41 The Diablo 3 team will be talking about all things Auction House later today.

10:38 Right after the Opening Ceremonies: TWO World of Warcraft panels featuring the team in the image below and probably giving more information on the anticipated expansion:

10:37 Mike Morhaime to hit the main stage with new trailers for the BIG 3 and BIG announcements!

10:35 Big announcements for WoW, new expansion perhaps? Heart of the Swarm news? Diablo III release date perhaps? Let's hope so!

10:34 26,000 fans attending the convention!

10:25 Let's play "Find Bill Murphy"? Is he in this picture? LOL...don't think so!

This will be the site of the official Blizzcon 2011 Live Blog straight from Anaheim, California. We'll be reporting on the opening ceremony scheduled to begin at 11:00 PST on Friday, October 21st.

Community Spotlight: Fantasy MMOs Getting Old?

Posted by MikeB Saturday October 15 2011 at 6:58PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Are Fantasy mmo's Becoming Old?" by Razeekster. Like many of our Spotlights, this one's pretty straightforward, Razeekster simply feels fantasy MMOs are getting tired and stale:

Don't get me wrong I love me some dragon's, but they all seem to be the same thing.

'You're the hero of a world infested with the evil overlord Magorth, who killed the king and the whole royal family, letting out loose a thosand years of war. Magorth summoned thousands of demons and the people trembled as he rode on his dragon Gorgath, wasting the land in hellish fires. Finally, a brave knight defeated Magorth and sealed him in the demons worlds.... A thousand years later Magorth has escaped his imprisonment and seeks vengance on the world that exiled him to the demon world. You alone, hero, are the only hope for a dying world. Fight to save us. Fight for glory. Fight for peace. Fight for mankind.'

Keeping in mind I just made up everything above, either,

1)Means I'm a really great writer!

2)The fantasy mmorpg theme has been used so much that people can just guess how the 'newest and most awesomest mmorpg' is going to turn out to be like.

I think I'll pick option two (if you say option one though, I'd be flattered).

Nothing really new is happening, and it's as  if developers of mmorpg's are afraid of trying anything new and have sadly become stagnant.

It's become so bad for me that I actually find myself ashamed as I type into Google 'mmorpgs with flying mounts,' because otherwise I won't play them.

The reason being is because if I'm going to to play an mmorpg that has the same theme as 100's of other mmorpgs out there, why not play it flying on a kickass mount?

Yes, my shame knows no bounds.

Does the MMORPG.com community agree? Let's find out!

Arglebargle feels that the story and/or setting of these MMOs is actually at the root of the issue:

Far too many Fantasy backgrounds are written with little depth and consistancy.    If it's a dumb story, or a poorly thought out setting, I know I am much less inclined to invest in the game/book/movie.   Sadly, most games don't put enough consideration into the writing of the  set and setting.

Also, everyone and their uncle thinks they are a good writer.  So every programmer, marketeer, gofer, etc, in the business feels free to write up their 'masterpiece'.    Since this problem exists even at the pro level, it is sure to happen in the companies that make games.

If you continually run in to  re-used old tropes, without proper world building, it's going to suffer.  As will many of us.

TheCrow2k feels its simply a matter of an oversaturated market:

I personally am over the fantasy genre for both MMO and CRPG's generally. This is the main reason I have no interest in playing GW2 despite the games actual design and systems being of interest.

I think its over saturation in the market on both accounts, I am really looking forward to some sci-fi. I know the 40k MMO is coming (and with only 2 factions and being a WoW clone it will most likely fail hard) but I am surprised no one has done a 40k CRPG game yet. They could do an inquisition game which would give a lot of scope for building a party of characters of various races and a story that could encompass a number of planets & encounters with xeno races.

VoIgore clearly hearts the fantasy sub-genre:

Absoluteley no.

Out of every setting i can think of (there aren't that many to start with), baseline fantasy is the one i can connect with the easiest. Sci-Fi not so much (getting too stale for me after a while) and whatever asian setting not at all.

Fantasy (elves, orcs, trolls, dawrfs..) never gets old for me. I've got a TON of audiobooks set in medieval fantasy, both high and low. Many times i thought what an awesome mmorpg this or that book could make.

So for me fantasy is not getting old, but it has to be presented the right way. It's not the setting getting old, but games fail to represent it in an interesting way.

Like TheCrow2k, I feel it's simply a matter of over-saturation. Similar to the massive amount of WWII FPS games that came out after Saving Private Ryan, the MMO genre has been saturated with fantasy stuff of varying quality for many, many years now. The reason this is pretty simple, and goes back to what VoIgore was saying: fantasy is easy to connect to for many people. Heck, Star Wars is my favorite IP and it is honestly more 'space fantasy' than it is science fiction.

I don't think fantasy is getting 'old' per se, I just think developers will be much harder pressed to stand out with their new MMOs if they decide to go with the fantasy genre. You reallly need to be doing something interesting with your theme/setting in order to stand out in today's crop. Guild Wars 2 is a perfect example of an upcoming fantasy MMO that has gamers extremely excited and that's in part due to the fact the Guild Wars IP is extremely rich and detailed with a unique art direction to boot.

If you're banking on just going with the typical elves, dwarves, and humans set against a generic high-fantasy backdrop, yeah, you're going to run into some issues. That sort of stuff is definitely a bit old to me. :)

Community Spotlight: YOUR Endgame?

Posted by MikeB Saturday October 8 2011 at 4:49PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "What Would You Do With End Game?" by Dauntis. In the thread, Dauntis expresses his frustration over the constant complaining of MMO endgame (or lack thereof) and wonders what the MMORPG.com community would do if they could have their own endgame design:

I hear people constantly bitching and moaning about end game content. (Because most people forget the journey to end game and focus on it too much, imho). Well what would you do to make end game better?

So, what does the MMORPG.community have to say? Read on to find out!

Fadedbomb feels the key is having a non-linear game to start with:

I'd first create a NON-Linear game, because LINEAR games eventually have an END to their path. Then the developers have tack MORE on to the end of them.

My end game, would be a Galactic War with dynamically shifting territories based on PLAYER actions, with a Player Economy. Meaning, the "End Game" would be what ever the PLAYERS breath life into with DYNAMIC mechanics that my company/Dev team would create. 

A DYNAMIC Player controlled "End Game" is one that almost can never end as long as the Developers are SLIGHTLY breathing life into more mechanics!

Zylaxx's perfect endgame would be an amalgamation of systems found in some of his other favorite games:

1. World PvP in the DAoC mode with more then 2 factions, although I think the GW2 WvWvW mode may be better.

2. Meaningful Alternate Advancement.  A system that uses XP earned to advance skills in a non linear dynamic fashion similar to how Asherons Call does it, although I would make it a soft cap and not a hard cap so an experianced player that has played for years will have a slight advantage over newbies but not enough where it would be unbalanced.

3. A dynamic loot system similar to Asherons Call and Diablo.

4. Monthly content updates with new quests and dungeons and a storyline that players can follow.

just2duh wants a system where your character gets old/retires forcing the player to restart:

 I'd make it so you'd eventually have to start over :P

  By having your character dying of old age/retiring, and your next will be a descendant of it with some bonus traits/stats/skills (depending on which class they were, sort of like a reborn system with some either predetermand or selected things carrying over to the next), and just have it keep progressing from there for infinity (probably need a limit to how many times it can be done without needing to replace some things).

 Or something like an alternate deminsion/world with increased difficulty/loot where your characters carry over (think Diablo with it's regular playthrough, then Hell difficulty etc, with it's harder mobs and better loot while keeping the same characters and gear you had).

 Personally I would like to see a hybrid of both of those things mashed together, imo that would be 100x better than raid/pvp grind with the occasional new content.

Personally, my endgame would revolve around PvP.  PvP tends to perpetuate itself if it's done really well. And since it doesn't depend primarily on content designed by the developers, which is notoriously consumed by voracious MMO players at a ridiculous rate, it has the most potential to be long-lasting.

My favorite 'endgame' was the flawed campaign system of Warhammer Online. While the implementation wasn't perfect, and the lack of three factions was a real problem, the concept was amazing. A PvP campaign that extends from the start of your progression through the end culminating in the sacking of your enemy's capital city? Awesome. Unfortunately, players whined about the ramifications of losing their capital (losing access to dungeons and other areas of their capital) and so the system was continuously dumbed down until it was almost invalidated outright. Perhaps with the right community and better implementation this sort of design could really thrive. Here's hoping.

Community Spotlight: Are 'Companions' to be Commonplace?

Posted by MikeB Saturday October 1 2011 at 2:56PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Will we see more 'Companions' in MMOs?" by Elikal. In the thread, Elikal notes that many MMOs establish trends with their standout features and he ponders if companions, such as those found in Star Wars: The Old Republic, will become more commonplace going forward:

MMOs often cause new trends, like the "?" for Quest givers from WOW or the Public Quests from WAR. Other trends vanish entirely, like Entertainers from SWG or 3 factions from DAoC.

So I wonder, when TOR brings in the Companions, will that become a new trend?

The companion is different from a mere pet in many ways. A pet class is built around a pet. Like the WOW hunter, where the pet keeps the aggro. A Companion is someting altogether different, since every TOR character will be able to stand alone, but the Companion makes questing easier and in some group quests instead of 4 players you can use 2 players and 2 companions.

You see, one of the biggest issues of MMOs these days is: people solo too much. The result: many quests are solo quests, people are alone, and the developers can't add too many group demanding quests, because people will complain about that. A solution would be the companion, because then you can add group quests again, people CAN group meanigful, but also die hard soloists have a chance.

Of course it also adds the element of *personal* story, which may or may not become another new trend to MMOs, in contrast to the generic "fetch X of Y" quests.

Finally, it also sort of disperses the feeling of aloneness, some MMO gamers these days complain, myself included. Companions have been a much loved part in single player RPGs, from the earliest speaking companions, Iolo, Shamino & Dupre in Ultima to DA's Morrgian and Alister or Bastila and HK-47 In KOTOR.

Let's find out what the community thinks! Read on!

empyros hopes that companions will not become commonplace:

I sincerely hope that this will not be the case. 

Companions, no matter how well done, are ultimately NPCs. MMOs are typically played for long periods of time - years in some cases. The "magic" of an NPC wears off in such a time span. Not only will companions eventually feel fake and thus detract from the immersion of the world, but companion upkeep by the devs will be an expensive endeavour. 

A companion just cannot recreate the fun a player can have with new friends. And really, that's what MMOs are about aren't they? Meeting new people in a  new world and exploring it and sicovering it together?

The reason why MMOs are "lonely" these days is because of how they're made - with emphasis solely on end game and gear. If the devs gave a reason for the community to be interactive with each other and tight knit, there wouldn't be all the angst regarding lonely solo players. 

And even if there is angst, as I stated -- nothing can replicate a human friend. 

Especially in MMOs. I *loved* Alistair in DA:O... but to have him stand by my side dumbly as an NPC saying the same things over and over again for over three months would get so damn old.

Mithandolir doesn't really mind if companions are in most MMOs as long as there is a solid selection of MMOs that don't feature them:

As long as there remains a few mmorpgs without companions, then I am happy and don't care where the rest of the industry moves towards. I can't stand the concept of companions in mmorpgs, unless they are extremely superficial and are there strictly as hirelings or henchmen to aid on a tough quest or something... and have no storylines associated with them, no artifical emotions or romances, etc...

But I realize that I am in the minority on this, and therefore voted "yes". I do believe the industry is moving in this direction and will likely continue to. I think it's a great thing for those who enjoy that sort of thing, and am happy to see the industry broaden to accompany all types of gamers. 

I just hope there are at least a few studios out there who will leave out the companions... leave out the voice acting and the cutscenes, etc... because there are still a handful of us old timers out here who would much rather play a game the old fashion way, with other like minded people.

To each, his own.

Vlad_Tepes likes companions, and hopes they appear in more games:

I hope so. And I hope they are more a part of my toon's story like SWTOR is doing, and not just npc's following me. Don't get me wrong, I prefer to group with friends, guildmates, etc. But I play at very odd hours when said friends are not online. So yes, given the option, I'd rather have companions to travel with than some player that just wants to blow through the content in a week to show how hardcore or elite he/she is. I do group with strangers, and enjoy it sometimes, but more often than not I end up with some impatient, rude, player that cares only about himself and his next shinny drop. 

So bring on the companions, and give them depth, because a lot of the mmo community has none.

I'm fairly indifferent on the existence of companions, however, what I don't want to see is the approach BioWare is taking as far as how they factor into the player's power envelope when it comes to combat. In Star Wars: The Old Republic, your companion is 40% of your damage output. That means if you dismiss him and just want to run around on your own, you'll be taking a 40% damage hit and the content is obviously tuned for this, so you'll have a hard time playing truly solo. If I'm playing a Smuggler, I don't mind running around with my Chewbacca-like Wookiee companion all the time. But if im playing a Sith Warrior, why do I need Vette around to take care of business?

Basically, I'd like to see companions stick around in the genre, but I don't want them to be as powerful if it means I can't really do stuff on my own without them.