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

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

Shiny New Non-MMOs, my L4D2 addiction and More.

Posted by Stradden Friday November 20 2009 at 11:28AM
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This has been an exciting month or so in the world of video games, with the launch of a number of a number of new and exciting titles that have had people buzzing with excitement and lining up out the doors of electronics stores at midnight.

Unfortunately, none of them are MMOs. It’s not as though it hasn’t been our genre in the spotlight before. Crowds reliably line up and forums at and elsewhere light up for any expansion to Blizzard’s World of Warcraft and I expect they will again when Cataclysm has its day in the sun. Buzz for MMOs was also huge last summer with the launches of the two highly anticipated titles, Age of Conan and Warhammer Online.

These days though, it’s hard for upcoming MMOs like Jumpgate Evolution Star Trek Online or even Star Wars: The Old Republic, let alone popular and exciting pre-existing titles, to grab the spotlight the way that maybe they should be.

There are three companies I blame for this: Infinity Ward, Bioware and Valve have been hogging the spotlight these days. Damn them for crafting new and exciting gaming experiences outside of the MMO genre and damn them for making me choose where to spend what little money I’ve been able to set aside for video games this far before Christmas.

In the end, for anyone who might be sitting at home wondering which of the three mega-hit games I decided to pick up from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Dragon Age: Origins or Left 4 Dead 2, I went with the latter. I really had no choice; it’s like an addiction now.

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I’ve had an undead monkey on my back ever since the first game in the series launched last year and I can even tell you why. It’s the co-operative nature of the game. Sure, I could sit here and talk about how Valve has managed to weave an interesting and immersive story into a game with no text boxes and very few cut scenes. I could also rave about how great the visuals are and how this second game has captured the gore of the genre in ways that the first never could, but I won’t talk about those things. Instead, it’s the co-op.

Honestly, I wish all online games were designed in such a way as to encourage co-operative play, even within random pickup groups, on such a level. Players are so dependent on one another for survival (and, of course ultimate victory), that while there is plenty of opportunity for players to stealth loot and look out for themselves first, it rarely, if ever happens outside of the very occasional griefer. Can you say that about your current MMO? Can you say it about your favourite shooter?

The overall, I suppose the word is friendliness, that comes along with this game is a) refreshing and b) ironic given the graphic and extreme violence that the gameplay implies.

I am also impressed with the fact that as far as sequels go, Valve got the formula right. When you play L4D2, they took all of the conventions and mechanics of the original game, improved a number of them, mixed in a few new elements and created a gameplay experience that was familiar enough to fan of the original game that it was easy to jump right into, but different enough that there’s a bit of a learning curve and you don’t feel like you’re playing something that should have been made available as DLC to the original game.

Still, while my attention may have been diverted briefly by the shiny new games from other genres, I’m just about ready to turn my attention back to waiting to see what the new batch of MMOs might hold.

Alienovrlord writes:

I agree that other online games (esp. MMORPGs) could take some important lessons from Valve's Left 4 Dead 1 & 2 when it comes to truly *co-operative* gameplay.  

I can't remember playing any other FPS or MMORPG where working as a group is encouraged so well in so many ways.   Most games have griefer game mechanics in them and just force players to group, rather than making it more fun to actually group.

MMORPGs naturally tend to be behind the curve in game mechanics, but the cooperative mechanics from L4D would only be a help for the MMORPG genre.


Fri Nov 20 2009 12:30PM Report
IronChu writes:


I agree completely. This is something I mentioned in my last article as far as PvP. There's no reason an MMO can't be built with the same game modes as an online shooter, and there's no reason cooperative play can't be more than just doing missions to hard for one person.

I think it's time MMOs stop looking to other MMOs so much as far as what to do in terms of mechanics and innovation, and start looking at other genres to see what's possible. When you keep looking at what's're only going to make more of the same.

Fri Nov 20 2009 12:43PM Report
Babylon9000 writes:

Good article.


I chose Dragon Age and it rocks. I'll have to check out Left  For dead 2. I nevere played the first but it sounds good in your article.

Fri Nov 20 2009 1:01PM Report
maltos writes:

I own all 3 as of recently, only games I have bought all year really. All are really good, however l4d2 was the best choice IMO so I agree with your choice. In addition the co-op player of most games like shooters and MMOs are lost, those genres do need more focused co-op player. l4d series does it to a T.

Fri Nov 20 2009 2:05PM Report
Torak writes:

I'm playing ARMA 2 coop.

Of course I'm also playing Dragon Age like everyone else.

I was thinking about re-subbing to an MMO but after all these years, I'm really not into the "kill 10 rats" boring gameplay anymore.

I hope MMO's have some sort of renaissance soon. They are dieing a horrific death. Even the kids MMO's like Wizard 101 and Freerealms have more depth / versitility of play then todays average MMO.

Fri Nov 20 2009 2:23PM Report
Death1942 writes:

i picked all 3 because i work hard :P


They are all brilliant games and i often find myself taking a much needed break from MMO's to play them.

Fri Nov 20 2009 4:16PM Report
Thenarius writes:

Yeah, but you can already see the effects of it: ragequits everywhere.
In L4D2 there are just 4 people, you can invite your buddies and have fun. Hell not even VS/Scavenge modes need that many people.
I doubt that level of difficulty would work in a MMO since it's played by so many people. If people sometimes ragequit in Normal difficulty, imagine trying to do Realism on Normal+ with PUGs.

Sat Nov 21 2009 6:32AM Report
nate1980 writes:

@ Thenarius

I've said this once, and I'll say it again. Some people should not be playing games. If companies worried less about pleasing those people, and more about pleasing the people who do enjoy challenge, gamers everywhere would be happier. Sure, there'd be less of us, but at least we'd have something worthy of playing.

I bought Dragon Age, and it was a hard and fustrating game. Then I bought Risen, which I'm close to beating, and it too was a hard and fustrating game. Both had me returning for more, because while I sometimes wanted to quit due to the difficulty, I was actually satisfied when advancing through the game.

A game isn't worth playing when "it's so easy a caveman can do it."

Sat Nov 21 2009 9:19AM Report
MMO_Doubter writes:

The editors on this site should not be promoting non-MMO games.

Sat Nov 21 2009 9:58AM Report
neonwire writes:

I went for Dragon Age and I'm absolutely loving it because its everything that MMOs are not. It looks and sounds fantastic, has a great and involving storyline, brilliant character design and interaction, your decisions effect the storyline and its extremely immersive. MMOs are none of these things. Oh and Dragon Age doesnt have thousands of random idiots running around at high speed spamming a chat channel with "25 Mage LFG Dragon Whacking Quest PST". Yep this game has highlighted for me why MMOs suck. MMO fans can keep their big open boring gameworlds with its static lifeless npcs and billions of dull text files. I prefer to play real games.

Also My housemate has CoD: Modern Warfare and he's totally hooked on it. I watched him playing it and I can see why.

MMOs really need to improve drasticly. It might help if they stop focusing on quantity instead of quality. Yes they are bigger and they take longer to reach the end......but they're F'ing boring. They should also stop relying on boring text files as their sorry excuse for entertainment because its really lame and extemely lazy. They dont even have basic multiple choice options in their quests.

Sat Nov 21 2009 10:32AM Report
Torak writes:


If you had choice, you might have to think. I mean in an MMO you dont even need to read the quest.


Yeah thats a bit harsh but sometimes a dose of the truth opens eyes and brings much needed improvements.

MMOs still have a lot of potential but after over 10 years, thats all they still have...potential.

Every new release comes and goes faster then the last and STILL devs keep doing the same thing. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. We have been here for 5 or 6 years... everyone keeps trying to make the perfect EQ with the appeal of WoW. It ain't gonna happen, so they need to stop trying.

Oh, I also have borderlands and it is fantastic. I really don't know what to play anymore. ARMA 2 for contemporary modern sandbox simulation, Dragon Age for fantasy RPG and Borderlands for Sci-Fi shooting/RPG.

Good thing I'm home with all my kids with H1N1 for the next few days lol

Sad thing is I have a free 2 weeks with AoC to claim and I'm like meh even though it does probably one of the best jobs at capturing an RPG of most new MMO's. I had a free copy of AION and was able to stomach about 15 levels of it before I was ready to unimstall. So glad I didn't pay for it.

Sun Nov 22 2009 4:40AM Report
Yoottos'Horg writes:

I believe MMO's are appealing to younger, less "worldly" players. The problem with those of us who have been playing MMOs for some time is we've seen it all done before. Every time a new MMO comes out with the same mechanics we simply get bored with it.

These stand alone games are appealing, to me at least, because they offer something new.

Aaaaannnnndddd I just lost total and complete motivation to keep writing. So suffice to say that I agree with everything in the original article and the post by Torak.

Sun Nov 22 2009 7:42AM Report
Aetius73 writes:

Played Ultimat Online back in the day. Moved on to Everquest, SWG etc, but over time became really bored with MMOs. At the age of 32 I downloaded the first version of America's Army and dived into the FPS world. With few exceptions (I gave PTBS and Darkfall a go) I have been playing non MMOs ever since. I have come to love the COD, Battlefield, and lately LFD (I still haven't picked up LFD2 yet but I will eventually). It is a liberating feeling being able to live or die by your own skill, or the skill of your teamates and not just by who has the least amount of life and can therefore play all day. Nothing like owning people half your age. :P

Sun Nov 22 2009 10:43AM Report
Mopar63 writes:

I think sxome of the contents here have shown a serious issue that MMOs must face. The big competition for WoW is not other MMOs but rather great RPGs. Play Dragon Age for a few days and WoW, LOTRO, EVE and every other RPG feels lifeless.

Now I am a hard core MMOer, I have a life time account with EVE and play DDO every week with my firend in a set group game time. However EVE has fallen to the way side and DDO seems boring to me after a couple of weeks of DAO.

I am interested in seeing what Bioware can do with Star Wars. While it might like the pure MMO feel so many are complaining about Bioware is known for the depth of their RPGs. With this in mind we might see RPG added to the end of MMO once again.



Sun Nov 22 2009 12:35PM Report
Nesrie writes:

You left out Borderlands and a few of the console titles that got a fair amount of coverage. As an MMO fan, I am thankful there isn't an over abundance of hype being spread all over the internet about upcoming tMMO's considering most the time the companies don't actually deliver what they claim they are going to deliver anyway.

Sun Nov 22 2009 4:04PM Report
Scot writes:

LFD proves how dependant any sort of grouping in a online game is dependant on gameplay style. You don’t get people saying they can’t find a group or would prefer to play solo in such games. It’s the tools of these sorts of games and that design philosophy we need in MMORPG’s.

Mon Nov 23 2009 4:12AM Report
rais83 writes:

Another one that really deserves more attention is Killing Floor.  It takes the mechanics of L4D and blends in level-able perks, not unlike BF2 and takes survival/coop to a not new, but VERY interesting and more realistic level.  It's most certainly worth the $20 on steam.

Mon Nov 23 2009 9:13AM Report
Torak writes:


I like the quote in the overview

"you can never have too many good zombie games…”. And the rest is down to YOU!"

So true. I would love to see a Zombie MMO based on something like this or L4D. I mean come on MMO devs, just look at what is overwhelmingly popular in some of these FPS and add a persistant world and a rule set. No brainer and I'm not talking like they did with WAR or that other thing, Crimecraft.

I'm talking about a dark world of bloody, isolated chat need not apply.

Mon Nov 23 2009 12:47PM Report
dougmysticey writes:

There were actually more games that game out in the catagory of awesome games. From the three listed I have yet to get Call of Duty 4, Modern Warfare 2 but  I also have Borderlands and Torchlight which I am enjoying.

I have finished Dragon Age: Origins as the noble and WOW what a good game that is if you enjoy playing through a good story line with some great epic moments, excellent voice acting, and strong characters.

Borderlands and Torchlight are the opposite, light on story but solid, fun gameplay. Borderlands is another enjoyable co-op game too like L4D2.

And don't forget the console...Brutal Legend is great from what I have seen reviews. Dante's Inferno looks fantastic and there are some hot games coming for the PS3 as well.

MMORPGs may be in for a world of hurt if they do not recapture us from the "at the moment" stronger single player and co-op titles.

Have high hopes for DCO and Star Trek but we shall see.No new MMO is really capturing my attention. Well, maybe APB a little.

Mon Nov 23 2009 9:54PM Report
Babylon9000 writes:

 F2P games are just a way for the publishers to reach deeper into our pockets. In my experience with them, and I have tried a lot; I also find that story depth is lacking compared to the P2P games.

Thu Dec 31 2009 9:00PM Report
Plageron writes:

I dont agree with alot of the fanboys posting.  I have played alot of free to play and pay to play games.  I find alot of the pay to play games to be substabdard and alot of the free to play ones as well.  However i find it a huyge crime that there seams to be more pay to play games that are really bad.  As the article says the pay to play games sort of have standard...WRONG!!   Most of them coming out make the excuse that they are still designing...shovel out bad stuff and then claim they are working on better things...lets look at WOW or AEON or Tabula Rasa or how about Auto-Assault...or Star Wars Galaxies...all of these games are actualy very sub standard.

The onyl group who has tried to make any changes is WOW and they still have not even atempted to fix the problems they still have.. Yah the charcater balance is so badly skewed and then there is the fact that the actual in game encounters are broken for leveling as well.  You are told at the beginning that there is anice color coded system to what you can fight and win...but as you level you find even the grey enemies of the lowest level beat you into submission.  Whats worse is their system of making you spend the ingame money...they tack on things like armor degradation or penanlties ontop of penalties...these games all are terrible.

I am not saying all free to play games are better.  But i have found more free to play games that have superior graphics and gameplay mechanics that make those games pathetic that i listed.

Like Jade Dynasty or Flyff for example or even Cabal.

I still actualy do play a pay to play game called city of heroes.

Becasue it does offer alot of things...and the best thing is that the games i enjoy all seam to get new patches and events and new stuff every so many months..

Lets compare to the fan boy game WOW...when was the last time it had a non-paid expansion that offered some good stuff.....oh yah thats right 3 months ago when they put pets you can buy online that do nothing.

Sorry give me Jade Dynasty where i can buy or capture a pet...evaolve it....change its skills...and use it to help fight things...and actualy make it alot better.

Yes there are many people who spend tons of money in free to play games and at times it does feel like the Mr. Suitcase fromthe Magic the Gather card game has come to visit....but in actual experience...these people who do this most fo the time have no concept of simple things....once you play and find out for yourself what to do...the cash payers of the extreme tend to constantly ask people stupid things and constantly need everything handed to you progress the silliest thing si that i find i can take advantage of those same i easily can extort things they might pay cash for for someothing that took me less then 10 minutes to aquire.

As to why people are playing F2P games more and more.

It should be obvious becasue as gamers they have realised the pay to play groups are taking advantage of players and shoveling them horse droppings and telling them they have a great game.

I still cringe when i saw that in AEON the fact you can only fly for 60 seconds or took damage from jumping was considered a feature.

Also as everyone has noticed the entire gold selling groups inthose you really think its hard to stop those people?

As a as a network engineer....i for one know for a fact its no problem to ban the persons ID for their machine.

Heck if you do any networking or for that matter do any type of bittorent usage then you already are privy to see the IDs of people cnanot change those...people wish they could...those IDS where put in for a reason so those people could be monitored and in bad situations like spamming gold...banned.

Look at microsoft now...with their xbox live...they are banning alot of idiot for doing alot of illegal stuff.....whats funny is the idiots who post my brother or sister did it or how about they simply used their hacked stuff again and cant understand why they where banned.

Yeah so as you can see i am bitter with some groups.....

And as i have played alot...i found really good developer groups and games...

So far i have never seen better service then City of Heroes or better content for free....i have only seen something almost as close with jade dynasty.

I mean how many games do you get to play witht he developers or many games actualy have these people talk to you...remeber you....and actualy do nice things for many give you 24 hour support?   Again look at WOW...everyone likes to compare that piece of junk to everything else....they dont give you didly for what you pay for...and the certainly dont care what you think either.

City of Heroes or Jade Dynasty.....on the other hand...better watch out...becasue if you say lots of stupid stuff they will make in game rewards for it.

Fri Jan 01 2010 1:54PM Report writes:
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