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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: World Bosses: How Many Players are Enough?

Posted by MikeB Saturday December 31 2011 at 1:29PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Should World Boss mobs be killable by 10/25?" by pbowman. In the thread, pbowman comments on the silliness of having 10 or 25 people down some of MMOs most dangerous characters:

Hello, 

  I was just wondering what people think about World Mobs, such as Lich King or Deathwing being killed by 10 or 25 people.  These mobs broke the world, their the biggest and baddest thing around.  Thrall and Varian and all the rest couldn't take em, yet 10/25 people can take em down.

I remember in DAOC, in some dragon runs or epic armor runs we had almost 100 people.  We didn't ask to see their gear level or achievements, we banded together and fought the epic mobs.  Sometimes we wiped, but it was fun.  Same with relic raids or defending our relic, a call went out and people of all levels came to defend or go on raid.  It was fun, at least to me it was.

Personally, I think that world mobs should take the cooperation of the server.  Put out a call to the server, let anyone and everyone come to fight the creature that is trying to take over the world. 

This goes for any MMO, not just WoW, I just used them as an example.

This is just my opinion.

Thanks.

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

Torik feels the problem is actually the fact these characters are now part of the "raid grind":

The problem with these fights is not the requirement on the number of players but the fact that the fights are part of a raid grind.  They are meant to be repeated every week by a dedicated group of raiders and that sucks most of the 'epicness' out of them. 

If these fights were more casual affairs that only awarded achievements and/or titles they could require 100+ players.  Once a month someone on a server would try to organize a raid for those and people would come to the fight because it would be a rare social event.   They would be willing to put a lot of time and effort into it because it would be something special to remember.

If you make these fights regular repeatable events then the scale does not matter and it becomes the equivalent of a daily quest.  It's fun to do the first few tiems and then you just want to get it out of the way.  It's like having a Christmas parade every week.  After the first few, people will lose interest and mostly care about the traffic jams it causes.

Maplestone asserts the 10/25 dynamic is appropriate due to potential performance issues:

The problem with massive world bosses is that once you have a hundred people on screen at once, you start loosing players  with lower-end machines or cause the server hamsters to have heart attacks.

I've always enjoyed wandering across random out-of-level encounters and sizing up if I want to tackle them or answer a zone-wide alarm or world event.  However, I generally don't enjoy world bosses because it's sheer chaos and brings me into contact with all the powergamers, exploiters and hard-core rare-seekers who I generally try to avoid.

But in principle, I've always felt that a game should always have bosses that have never been defeated that sit there as mountains to climb.

Axehilt isn't even convinced 10 players are necessary:

No particular reason bosses need to even require 10 players.

The epicness of a fight doesn't come from massing a bunch of players, it comes from the presentation of the fight itself.

You need 4-6 players to get the feeling of team gameplay.  Additional players beyond that doesn't contribute much to the sensation of being part of a team, but definitely does increase the amount of hassle and tedium, and dilutes my personal contribution to the point of being pretty meaningless.

While I enjoy large-scale balanced-team PVP (Planetside), I really wouldn't mind if I never raided again in PVE-focused games (and I only play MMORPGs for PVE.)

I tend to agree with Axehilt's point-of-view. I'm really excited for those big 100+ player fights with super giant dragons in Guild Wars 2, for example, but I don't feel this is necessary to accomplish a sense of epicness. If these games are made to make us feel like the "hero" I don't think 10-25 heroes are entirely necessary to make a fight feel epic.

I also agree with the notion that sometimes when you've got more than a couple of players going at something you lose your sense of individual contribution to the fight. Without a DPS meter of some sort it can be pretty hard to tell how much of an impact you're having. With less players involved, every single player is likely to be responsible for a significant percentage of your group's chance of success in the encounter.

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

Community Spotlight: The Journey vs. Fast Travel

Posted by MikeB Saturday December 24 2011 at 2:00PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Forgotten features of a golden era: long travels" by Metentso. In the thread, Metentso laments the trend towards fast travel in contemporary MMOs as he explains what the long travel times in games of old added to the MMO experience:

Back then, human cities had humans. Elf cities had elfs. Dwarf cities had dwarfs, and so on.

Because traveling was hard.

It took time and it was risky, and it had consequences, like not being able to train (depending on faction alignment).

So if you were an Elf, an travelled to the human cities, you draw the attention of everybody, since it was strange for an Elf to travel from such a long distance. You were special and you had a tale to tell and people interested in it.

Add this to the long list of things we have lost, thanks to modern developers.

I know some of you hated long travels.

Do you agree with Metentso? Read on to find out what the community had to say!

Loktofeit asserts this has less to do with the choices made by "modern developers" and more to do with developers responding to what players want:

Do you really believe this is a 'modern developers' thing and not a convenience added because of a desire by the players to be able to group up with their friends?  Travel definitely has its place, specifically in some warfare-based MMOs, but in a game where the focus is getting together and PVEing with others, there's no reason to place undesirable obstacles in the way.

I think the EQ/WOW crowd forgets there are other styles of games out there, as UO, Asheron's Call, Tibia, Lineage 2, SWG, Puzzle Pirates, and Horizons offered fast travel to jump between key locations. All of those titles are from the nostalgic days of yore.

Clerigo is on board with Metentso:

Well, you can look to it the way you want, but im with the OP on this one.

World exploration is no more in current mmo designs. And long travels are part of this factor, so i suppose i agree on calling it a feature. Everything is spoon fed to players. The game design itself is made in order to lead the player across the world map. Theres no exploration, no hard tasking in discovering by yourself the world map, and even grouping with other people to quest level around the map is useless because you can solo the content.

So, and this is ofc my opinion, having to level from lvl A to lvl B and taking a long time to do so is bad for some players, but what i hate most is to reach cap level in a blitz, because game design allows it, and be at max level really quick so i can do end game content. Whats the fun in it? I like to explore the game, and most of the mmos i have fun are the ones that allow me to slowly quest level, allowing me to know the games lore, my avatar, places, etc etc.

So yeah i miss the long travelling around the world..."thanks to devs by removing it" "time sink"...?? Well i guess those players that already are at max lvl in SWTOR had plenty of fun..even if almost instant, but the ones still leveling are still enjoying it.

Robsolf feels there is a distinction between long travel times and a game's potential for exploration and journey:

I'm an explorer, too.  But I don't at all enjoy long travel times.  I enjoy big worlds with paths that go off in different directions; off the beaten path from the main questline.  Perhaps I'm taking your travel time comment too literally, but travel time is something ENTIRELY different from exploring.  Making somebody spend 20 minutes at a time going from town to town, IMO, actually DISCOURAGES exploring.  "I spend ENOUGH time just trying to get from point A to point B.  I don't have time for taking the road less traveled."

I've seen few MMO's where you didn't have to travel on foot to a place before you were able to quick travel back.  That's because exploring is about discovering new places, not running along the same road for the 40th time.  So, most games DO have both.  I could be wrong, but the OP seems to think this is unacceptable.

I think if you asked me around 7 years ago I would probably agree, but as I have less time now than I used to it's definitely a good thing that I can get around the world a lot quicker in newer games. Many have mentioned this allows friends to play with each other easier, and that is also completely true. It would really be hard to keep up with my friends if it was an ordeal just to get to them.

At the same time, I look back fondly at memories of traveling in Star Wars Galaxies pre-speeders (and even pre-mounts). Groups of players running through the desert together towards Ft. Tusken on Tatooine, it was good times. Everyone would talk along the way, and areas of the world that promised adventure were often out of the way, so this would help build anticipation as you went there. This is a far cry from the way things are today. People standing around in cities waiting for their dungeon queues to pop and complaining (I've been guilty of this myself) that the queue hasn't popped in less than five minutes. It really does take away from the sense of adventure when you've got all this cool stuff on demand and can run it over and over to your heart's content.

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

Did You Sign Up for PlanetSide 2 Beta?

Posted by MikeB Thursday December 22 2011 at 4:47PM
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I'm excited for PlanetSide 2, and I've never played the original PlanetSide. I wasn't really playing MMOs in the heyday of the original PlanetSide's activity, but from what I can tell it was clearly a game ahead of its time. When I first looked into the game I came upon this video by the guild Sturmgrenadier.

Wow!

I was really impressed with what the game was like and the possibilities for large scale coordinated conflict. As an absolutely obsessive Battlefield fan going all the way back to the original BF 1942, the notion of an MMO offering similar gameplay and even more possibilites simply gets me salivating, so I've been keeping a close eye on PlanetSide 2.

With that said, I was pretty excited to find out that beta signups for PlanetSide 2 began today. Unfortunately, being press, I probably wouldn't have much luck signing up!

Now now, I don't have to tell you that Sony Online Entertainment has had a tumultuous history with with the MMO gaming populace. I went through the NGE in Star Wars Galaxies and the pretty frustrating issues that plagued the game even prior to the NGE, but I really want to give SOE a chance with this game. It's just such a cool idea and I think the time is now right for a game like this to be out there, especially since it is so different from what is available on the market today.

Are you a former PlanetSide player? Are you excited and all signed up for PlanetSide 2 beta? Why? Why not?

Same goes for the rest of you PlanetSide newbies. Are you looking forward to this game? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: Questing Motivation

Posted by MikeB Saturday December 17 2011 at 1:36PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Questing - Where is my motivation?" by Creslin321. In the thread, Creslin321 wonders about some of the ridiculous quests found in many MMOS and why he should care to do them:

One thing I've noticed about all quest-based MMORPGs is that I really have no motivation to complete any quest beyond exp/loot.  The game makes no effort to personally involve you in any quest, and most of them feel like you're just helping some idiot with something he could have done himself.

For example:

"Help!  Rats have infested my cellar and ate all my candy!  Kill them!"

"Help!  My entire party got wiped out by bandits, but I'm sure you can kill them all by yourself and avenge us!"

"Help!  I need 10 bat feet for my soup but I'm far too lazy to get them myself!"

All of these examples are pretty typical, and I seriously don't care about any of them.

SPRPG quests on the other hand are usually MUCH more involving (good ones at least) because they try to personally connect you with your character so you WANT to do the quest.  Here is an example from a JRPG I recently played (made generic to avoid spoilers).

First, you are introduced to your characters female friend and are shown a cutscene of their blossoming romance, you also learn more about their history together during some normal adventuring.  You start to care about the characters at this point.  Later, your town gets attacked by huge mosnters and your female friend tragically murdered.

At this point, I actually cared about doing the quest, because I wanted to get revenge!  I didn't even care about exp or loot...and I think this is what quest-based MMORPGs are missing.  There's no effort to actually involve you with your character so you care about doing these quests...they just turn into chores.

Thoughts?

What does the MMORPG.com community have to say on the topic? Read on to find out!

Ecoces would eliminate these nonsensical quests entirely:

thats why if i was in charge of an MMORPG i would get rid of all these nonsensical quests. it always makes me laugh especially in a game like Rift and SWTOR that i have to do menial tasks that would really be below my character based on the story.

Rift - I am an ascended soul called back from death to fight the 7 dragons that are trying to invade Telara. but first i have to help burn old crops and plant new crops for some lazy farmer.

Starpower thinks you're in the wrong genre if you're looking for story in an MMO (I wholeheartedly disagree!):

MMOs to my knowledge has never had meaningful quest stories to follow that made you actually care. It has always been for the shiny.

Take EQ and the quest for the epic weapon back in its day. It was a long and hard quest line but immersion and story? None existant

Same goes for DaoC. Although the game did create a great atmosphere with the different realms, the quests didn't

Not a single MMO to this date has had any meaningful PvE content outside the hunt for loot and xp.

If you find yourself caring about immersion and getting lost in story over loot and levels, I'm afraid you are in the wrong genre.

If i have to be completely honest I never cared much about meaningful quests. When i started it was to fight alongside others having a meaningful and fun specialized role. Wheter it be healer, crowd controller, tank or other. A game that makes a group stick together for more than 45 mins it takes to clear an instance. EQ had that and so did DaoC and Vanguard

Sid_Vicious has some big ideas on the topic:

The main problem imo is that MMORPGs usually follow a story in some instance that others will repeat exactly so your story of meeting a girl who later gets killed by bandits or whatever wouldn't motivate you any more than those stupid menial quests if it was in an MMORPG because if it was than you would ask some guy where he got his cool piece of armor and he may reply 'oh its from some bandits that you kill for killing your girl which you start by talking to the girl at the tavern'. While following that guys advice because you have to have that piece of armor for PVP or something makes the quest the same ol menial task. Stories in MMORPGs are shared and not original enough.

What is more motivating to me is a non-instanced world without a scripted story that everyone has to do to unlock more content or get some special reward but instead game-changing quests that are huge and once they are completed than they are done forever and its over because nobody else will ever do that same quests again. This way everyone would become part of history more instead of following the rails of some themepark. Think of Darkfall for example and the dynamic events that they had with monsters gathering to attack cities or what not. I would like to see more stuff like that and more games with tools for the GMs to create quests for the players so that they can create a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This would be more motiving to play because if you miss out in something happening in the game than you missed it forever and will just have to catch the next unexpected thing the GMs come up for you.

They could have tools for players even to make their own menial quests for others to do things that they don't want to do. A crafter character could hire noobs to gather stuff for example. These quests and tasks could get more complex and more dynamic and interesting by having things like localized banking, FFA PVP with consequences, faction wars, etc.

I've always felt the way the OP does about MMO quests and I've been wanting more, which is why this is a great topic to discuss this week. Star Wars: The Old Republic deals with this issue of motivation in many ways, but also fails in this way as well. You'll often find sidequests that, while voiced, still make you go "Why do I care?" and I usually don't. However, there are so many more that you will feel compelled to do and really make you feel like your own character. I'm excited to see what Guild Wars 2 does on this front as well since the world will be affected by many major events. Though, to be honest, some of the first tasks I did in Guild Wars 2 when I sampled the game last year were fairly menial tasks such as helping a farmer with his watermelons and such. Hopefully these quests were just a means to get you acclimated to the game.

Great topic! Share your thoughts in the comments below!