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Why They Say MMO X Looks Like WoW.....

Posted by vajuras Tuesday April 8 2008 at 3:59PM
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Just read a good blog here at http://www.mmorpg.com/blogs/FlyingSquid/042008/1468_The-illusive-fanboi-and-the-haters

I thought this author had great points and I'm glad he hit the point on haters that see almost every MMO as looking too similar to World of Warcraft. I'm kind of one of those haters but instead of voicing my opinions on games I don't care for I pretty much remain silent in respect of the gamers that really look forward to that title. Why discourage these players hell I wish I could become a noob again and be excited about every MMO under the Sun too.

But unfortunately that time has passed for many of us and we are recognizing bad "genes" being passed from MMO to MMO with minor deviation.

Anyway, from the perspective of a hardcore gamer that has hit Max Level in many MMOs they all share this in common:

1) Levels. Levels are useful to communicate how "veteran" a gamer is we all know. But what makes it all fall down for those of us that's been around the block too much is that its the EXACT SAME for every Linear MMO. You kill mobs, Level up, kill mobs, level up, and hit max cap. From Rappelz to City of Heroes to World of Warcraft to Tabula Rasa to Lord of The Rings Online its the same exact process. If I want to just craft- too bad I gotta kill some rats til I hit Level 50. Now I can make some really great equipment....

2) Classes. Warrior, Mage, Healer with little deviation. Even in City of Heroes our healers were Defenders, our Nukers were Blasters, and Warriors were Tankers. We even got rogues in City of Villains. Someone should sue. Almost every MMO relies on this tried-and-true sports gaming formula and rest assure the new upcoming linear MMOs will all have these uninspired roles as well.....

3) Items. I think really the only MMO that strayed from heavy itemization was Guild Wars. But wait- most mmorpg.com fans claim Guild Wars is -NOT- an MMO. So there goes that. In these grinders most items cannot be produced by players. Instead I have the honor of grouping with others and repeating content over and over to acquire rare items.

4) Static Worlds. Everything is so static about these MMORPGs you really cant change anything. I can help an NPC named Dave rescue his son and moments later I see Dave has lost his son again....

5) Pointless World PVP. Lack of victory conditions in the world itself really blows. There is no point in having PVP if you have no consequence, no reward.... Even in FPS we have *gasp* Time Limits, travel times, respawn penalties, and victory conditions.

6) Centralized Economy. When you have "localized economies" spread out over the world interesting new professions will emerge. Haulers, Traders, etc will all popup and this becomes a business in itself. But because these titles are so focused on sports gaming we lose that

7) Sports gaming. Not only are we all bound by developer-created roles because all of our challenges in PVE is known we optimize our team distributions to face them. That means certain Classes becoming bad choices for certain encounters because we've min/max'ed ourselves into a hole...

8) Battlegrounds. Battlegrounds wouldnt be so bad if players could switch to their alts easily. This way they can dynamically optimize their teams for PVP. But because the Developers suck so bad when it comes to PVP they disallow the ability for us to switch to our alts thus PUBs (pubbies) get steamrolled by any organized team that opimized their team composition (in WoW they are called Premades ironically). Now thanks to Blizz we will also see crap like Capture the Flag popping up in other MMOs too rather then see Developers challenge themselves to bring us *exciting* World PVP with Victory conditions. But instead, we will most likely pushed off into an Instance....

9) Aiming for the Low Denominator. And I dont mean just optimizing the game to run on low end machines either.... Newbies will be happy to see things like Classes but for veterans this is nothing new. We've seen the Warrior/Mage/Healer thing for many decades now. It is time to see more interesting new concepts to be played around with here. You would think it is logical many players would like to experiement with creating their own unique character in a virtual world....

10) Thousands of Quests. I wonder how can gamers expect quality quests when they demand thousands and thousands of them? Sooner or Later time constraints will probably demand many kill X type of quests to be generated. The nice thing about Quests it allows gamers to use other areas of their brains other then just combat. The bad- in their current form they tend to not encourage heavy grouping.

 

Anyway this is why many players gripe and moan on the forums that MMO X looks like World of Warcraft. Of course, some might argue this was established by Everquest 1 but I would argue EQ1 never ever got close to WoW's critical mass success. So that's why gamers say it looks like WoW instead of EQ1 or Diku-MUDs

Hexxeity writes:

That pretty well sums it up, except that in many cases comparing a game to WoW isn't necessarily an insult -- even if the person making the comparison thinks it is.

Tue Apr 08 2008 4:07PM Report
Death1942 writes:

i liked the section on economy.  i personally love the idea of making your own fortune through business deals and hard work.  i recently took to Wurm online where it is all possible,...except the economy is nearly dead.  the solution is easily found (in this case let the NPC merchants BUY products instead of ONLY selling stuff).  i love it when games break away from the standard economies but unfortunately they go a little too far.  they turn into player run economies...and lets be honest, Players would not know how to run an economy if they were given the friggen manual.  we all need some form of standard income (usually NPC merchants) but we also need some freedom (LOTRO's merchants have a standard price for EVERY type of farm product.  you sell the guy some Strawberries...thats 20c.  you sell the guy some super rare Berries of godly powers...thats 20c).

another point you raised that benefits from a type of economy that i want is the crafting.  if these economies exist then crafting not only becomes meaning-full but should be an alternate to your standard grinding.

Tue Apr 08 2008 4:19PM Report
vajuras writes:

Good post Hexxeity I wonder if you had a really good point there that would make a great read for others?

Death1942 has a good point sometimes sandboxy games go too far in many ways I agree with his post.

Tue Apr 08 2008 4:29PM Report
telebreth writes:

What makes an MMO an MMO?

The only thing different from an MMORPG vs an RPG when we break it all down is Massively Multiplayer Online. It is online and massive quantities of people can be in the same place at the same time as you.

I guess my point as "veterans" gripe whether hater or, disillusioned or ignorant is that all of these games are bound to certain mechanics that are commonly oblivious to most gamers.

Why does Sarah Swiftfoot always walk through Stranglethorn Vale in World of Warcraft? How come Dave always wants a player to rescue his same son? Because it is much less consuming data wise to make it one person asking one thing that multiple people can do than make 100 variations of the same quest at the same location which change every time a new player enters the zone.

Some of the expectations we are placing on game developers would require Terabytes to our hard drives and to be honest possibly increase the cost of not only development but retail price of a game this calibur to figures I would never want to pay for a game on a PC, Console or any device to be quite honest.

As a gamer, while I want tremendous amounts of content and tons of variation in my games I also understand the boundaries which our developers function and would never expect more. The really nice thing is when companies like Square-Enix, Blizzard and EA Mythic realize that as well and constantly find new innovative ways to stretch their bounds. That is why Blizzard had success and it will be why someone will eventually make a game that topples WOW. Execeeding the expectations or going above and beyond what we expect as gamers.

Tue Apr 08 2008 4:42PM Report
vajuras writes:

Telebreth I meant to write a blog on "Dynamic PVE" and will do perhaps sometime. I have no doubt Tatum and others are thinking along those lines.

Briefly I will explain how Software Agents work (NPCs as you might call them).

Client side- all you see is the replicated data like position, rotation, and visual information (textures). Server side is where the computation takes place- which something Game developers are already familiar with. Pathfinding and other decisions are always handled server-side. So, inserting more complex logic can be offloaded to another server on the cluster and their results can be piped to other servers on the network.

Now that many games are using Middleware like Havok and other solutions which were built in mind for distributed systems- such technology really isnt too far fetched

The real question though is why dont they do it? I think you nailed that in your post but I'm just clarifying that Agent technogies will never of course put more strain Client-side but rather- complicate matters server side.

However, since MMO architectures are already replicating data to clients they can of course send this data to other servers on their network as well. Think of Agents just like you- they are Server-sde Clients that make decisions based on their local views of the world

Tue Apr 08 2008 4:53PM Report
telebreth writes:

I appreciate the response. Clarifying much of what I said without technical lingo.

I was reading an article about new quest systems Mythic is using for Warhammer. How if you happen to be killing bears and find a guy who has the quest to kill 10 bears you dont have to kill 10 more because the server recognizes you already did that and he simply gives you the reward.

While stuff like this is convienient, and makes the gaming more enjoyable, I think a changing world would be fun...allow that guy to get mauled by the bears after you get your reward and a newly generated gentlemen waiting for the "next" hero. Having this kind of random generation would be awesome, though I could see it becoming tedious.

Tue Apr 08 2008 5:11PM Report
FlyingSquid writes:

Very good points vajuras, I enjoyed the read.  Just proves all haters are not bad, just tired of the same boring crap turned over and over.

Tue Apr 08 2008 5:38PM Report
vajuras writes:

Telebreth point was a good one though about increased load on developers to create Dynamic PVE. I suppose too as I think I've read Hex put it once- it might be a nightmare to test (I cant remem where I read Hex make this comment right now though)

I'd still love to see it though even it's just a sort of Dynamic Quest system...

Tue Apr 08 2008 5:59PM Report
vajuras writes:

"I was reading an article about new quest systems Mythic is using for Warhammer. How if you happen to be killing bears and find a guy who has the quest to kill 10 bears you dont have to kill 10 more because the server recognizes you already did that and he simply gives you the reward."

I didnt know that. Another good point for WAR they will have Public Quests. The most interesting for me is the ability to level up from PVP.

I'm sort of waiting on some sandbox games but we all know how that goes... So gotta keep an eye on the heavy hitters coming down the pipe.

Tue Apr 08 2008 8:34PM Report
Tatum writes:

You'd have to think that the only realistic solution to the "static quest" problem is player driven content.  To be honest, I can't imagine how much time/resources are spent creating all of those shitty, static quests that are entertaining for all of about 5 minutes..  Why not build a game with features that allow the players to create the content? 

I think SWG and some other MMO's have had the right idea, but no one has really put it all together and stuck with it.  Scratch that, from what I've heard, EVE seems to do a good job of this.

Anyway, this would have to be more of a dynamic or virtual world type of MMO with a player driven economy and limited resources.  Of course, many others have said these exact same things, so I'm only repeating what I agree with.  But, basically, you'd have an MMO thats centered around a FUNCTIONING economy, rather than a pointless level grind.

Tue Apr 08 2008 8:59PM Report
Nightbringe1 writes:

sOME

Tue Apr 08 2008 10:27PM Report
Nightbringe1 writes:

Some of the complaints are, unfortunantly a necessary evil. A big one is preset classes instead of allowing players to make their own class combinations. If players had free reign to cherrypick from all abilities in game, the very min / max scenario you complained about for pvp groups would be amplified

Another big one is localized economies, the vast majority of players will complain to no end if it takes them more than 10 minutes to cross the world (EVE being an exception) so developers give the players the rapid transportaion they are demanding. Sorry, no localized economy with readily available global transportation.

The static quests are another example. If player designed quests, complete with player designed rewards, were introduced, it would be only a matter of days before the entire balance of the game was skewed. Players would be exploiting the ability to write their own quests to profit in every imaginable fashion. The static quest system is very necessary, it ensures the new player has the same chance to explore the world and advance as the person that was there on day one.

As for the games targeting the lowest common denominator? Sadly that is society as a whole that is employing that tactic, not just game companies (watch public television, that is what all the reality TV are, entertainment designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator ) In MMO's this translates into rapid leveling, rapid transportation, no death penalties (with the assosciated lack of meaning for pvp)

Leveling and equipment are practically genere defining, you might be able to do away with them but would it really be a game most of us would want to play ? (skills is still a form of leveling, just broken into much smaller segments) I mean, once you get away from structured character growth odds are your playing a FPS or a RTS.

Is there room for new ideas and new ways of doing things? Most certainly, the unfortunate truth though is that aside from low budget nich games most of the market is going to follow what ever is currently popular. WoW borrowed a great deal from EQ, newer games borrow their playstyle from WoW, one day a new idea will hit it big and unseat WoW and that idea will be copied.

Personally I would love to see a game set in the Forgotten Realms with a harsh death penalty (old eq harsh), very restricted long range transportation, localized econimies, and the ability for the players interactions with the world to affect the boundries and relative stregnths of some of the more popular nations. Never happen, but I can dream.

Tue Apr 08 2008 10:54PM Report
telebreth writes:

Tatum- Tue Apr 08 2008 8:59PM

You'd have to think that the only realistic solution to the "static quest" problem is player driven content.  To be honest, I can't imagine how much time/resources are spent creating all of those shitty, static quests that are entertaining for all of about 5 minutes..  Why not build a game with features that allow the players to create the content?

 

An old MOD for WoW was the PlayerQuest MOD which shortly thereafter was banned. It allowed people to MAKE quests and offer rewards. If you had the MOD you could see the players offering quests and accept them into your Quest Log. For about the two months it was allowed we used it in guild to drive ranking in guild.

I have often thought that would make a players' in game experience MUCH more dynamic.

 

Nightbringe1- Tue Apr 08 2008 10:54PM

It was an enjoyment reading your post. I agree about wanting to see a game in the Forgotten Realms and agree with (OLD EQ) harsh death penalties. In fact, I have been "dying" to see a real death penalty in a game. Many people play the "Alt" Card when discussing MMO's and I think a great way to offset these arguments would be a system of rebirth or reincarnation but your player dies and the items they were carrying become buried away and are recoverable through quests generated in game. The longer the items are left in the world the greater stat boosts they receive and the idea of becoming artifacts so they are actually worth obtaining would be neat. Also, it would be amazing to incorporate with your reincarnated toon a way to remember your old self and when you have enough faction or "something" to create a statue dedicated to your old self. Any of these would be awesome to see, unfortunately I have heard of games similar to this concept that never even got through the early stages of development.

Tue Apr 08 2008 11:28PM Report
Kalmarth writes:

I get sick of the whole "its the same as WoW" debate, there were a hundred games that WoW begged and borrowed from before it became the big kid on the block, so WoW actully looks like a Ton of other games not vice versa.

Hell all of them borrowed from Tolken so I guess we should give the credit to where its due.

Wed Apr 09 2008 7:38AM Report
JB47394 writes:

Note that Tolkien borrowed heavily from existing literature and lore, so it never really stops.  People build on what has gone before.  That's just the way things work.

If players took the time that they spent bad-mouthing Blizzard and World of Warcraft and put it into furthering their education, we'd have a whole lot more people with PhDs running around.

Wed Apr 09 2008 9:36AM Report
grimfall writes:

 Newbies will be happy to see things like Classes but for veterans this is nothing new.

Wrong.  People have been playing AD&D for 30 years and aren't asking to get rid of classes.  Don't try to mask your personal preferences as 'veteran demand'.

Wed Apr 09 2008 10:02AM Report
JB47394 writes:

grimfall: "People have been playing AD&D for 30 years and aren't asking to get rid of classes"

That's because of the richness of experience that comes from having a human narrator manage all interactions.  When I played D&D 30 years ago, we didn't spend much time using our class abilities.  Most of what we did was using player abilities (solving puzzles, exploring, socializing) or general character abilities (dodging, running, jumping, pushing, lifting, etc).  Classes were just a way of giving a bit of flavor to a character.

In an MMO, classes have become a straightjacket that determines how a character processes monsters for their treasure.  I don't see a comparison between the two environments.

Wed Apr 09 2008 10:55AM Report
Tatum writes:

"That's because of the richness of experience that comes from having a human narrator manage all interactions.  When I played D&D 30 years ago, we didn't spend much time using our class abilities.  Most of what we did was using player abilities (solving puzzles, exploring, socializing) or general character abilities (dodging, running, jumping, pushing, lifting, etc).  Classes were just a way of giving a bit of flavor to a character."

Very true.  Those are the reasons why MMO's have failed to re-create the PnP experience.  They borrowed many elements from it, but missed the most important ones. 

And, to be honest, I never felt like the "game system" was the strong point of DnD.  Classes, xp, levels, weird game mechanics...nah.  The setting, lore, and depth were really what made DnD interesting.

I actually spent a lot of time playing the Star Wars (West End Games version) PnP game.  A big reason was because they had a great system.  It was an open skill system where players got skill points that they could use to raise which ever skills they wanted.  Lots of freedom, lots of possibilities.  Not to mention, the game mechanics were much more fluid and realistic, as compared to DnD.

Wed Apr 09 2008 11:38AM Report
vajuras writes:

"Wrong.  People have been playing AD&D for 30 years and aren't asking to get rid of classes.  Don't try to mask your personal preferences as 'veteran demand'."

The system used in D&D is leaps and bounds more complex then World of Warcraft. WoW doesn't use Feats, subclassing, prestige Classes, limited spells per day, sophisticated spellbook arrangement, and the vast complexity that even Neverwinter Nights offers

Also, dont forget about White Wolf / CCP pen and paper which is skill based like Scion and all their other original IP. There is also HERO and GURPS systems. Not everyone plays D&D exclusively....

Wed Apr 09 2008 11:46AM Report
vajuras writes:

"In an MMO, classes have become a straightjacket that determines how a character processes monsters for their treasure.  I don't see a comparison between the two environments."

 

JB I wonder why you and I clash so cause the stuff you write is pure beauty....

Wed Apr 09 2008 11:59AM Report
telebreth writes:

Kalmarth:

I get sick of the whole "its the same as WoW" debate, there were a hundred games that WoW begged and borrowed from before it became the big kid on the block, so WoW actully looks like a Ton of other games not vice versa.

Hell all of them borrowed from Tolken so I guess we should give the credit to where its due.

 

-So do you get upset when people talk about how "DOS died?" I mean come on, things change. When WOW was experiencing its "ComeUpings" thats when people spoke about what systems, graphics, etc. were borrowed from other games. TBH that is all old news now....same as WoW's days being numbered. For 5 years people knew something was coming to make DOS go the way of the buffalo. That time has come for WoW now....People are prophesying WoWs "End of Days" it isnt a matter of IF its a matter of when.

It is an interesting discussion even for some exactly how it will come about. If you do not wish to be a part of it there is nothing wrong with that. But dont knock it. Yes every game dating back to Ultima borrowed things from their competitors or predecessors. Hell, when I played Ultima 1-9 before online I knew I was experiencing a lot being borrowed from M.U.D.S. on the BB Systems I couldnt afford like Compuserve and AOL. When Ultima Online came out same thing. When Everquest came out same thing. But if you are going to pull who borrowed what from Tolkien......Everyone MUST bow to Gary and his cohert that brought us table top D&D because without them visualizing what Tolkien wrote about we would not have designs of what Orcs look like. In my opinion we cant blame Blizzard or SOE for borrowing...its been the Business Trend and Model for years before them and will continue long after they are gone.

  •  

Wed Apr 09 2008 12:27PM Report
JB47394 writes:

vajuras: "JB I wonder why you and I clash so"

Because we share dislikes without sharing likes.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend only so long as my enemy is alive.

Wed Apr 09 2008 2:09PM Report
ChaosTemplar writes:

All I want in an mmorpg, is more freedom, and more depth.  I don't need quests, give me a story line, and I will want to do my own quests of killing hard monsters terrorizing villagers, or rading towns to defend.  I don't have a problem with the classes, I just want the classes to be more open.  Current mmo's don't hold my interest because it feels like a grind.  I understand that it has to be a grind, but I look for a game that hides the grind by giving me something fun and interesting to do with friends in a group.

I want more control over my character, clicking a guy to attack, then clicking skills in order is no fun.  Fighting is supposed to be intense, and I don't feel any exhilaration from clicking my mouse once per fight (exaggeration).  I don't need to see more flashing lights, I just want more interaction with other things, the environment, people, etc.  As a spell caster, I would try to defend my position with defense wards, while ambushing an enemy host.  As a "rogue"  I would hide in trees and drop down on the last person so the rest don't know.

I blame my insane desires on my reading of fantasy literature.  It has made me long for an in-depth MMORPG that I cant even hope i will find.

Wed Apr 09 2008 4:50PM Report
vajuras writes:

Nightbringer-

"Some of the complaints are, unfortunantly a necessary evil. A big one is preset classes instead of allowing players to make their own class combinations. If players had free reign to cherrypick from all abilities in game, the very min / max scenario you complained about for pvp groups would be amplified"

No not really at all. In a skill-based RPG there is no grouping limits. So therefore you dont sit around and cherry pick who can come and who doesnt. We dont do that in EVE Online never. We bring everyone that WANTS to come. This is how its always been in skill-based mmorpgs for many years actually.

In  classic UO there was no grouping interfaces. A guy could walk up and you would just start grinding together (of course in classic UO there was no safe zones so yeah lets not discuss that plz I'm trying to focus on this point)

This is why I say Traditional EQ/WoW type MMOs are "Sports games". Skill-based RPGs are more akin to real life. There is no limit of 5 people that you can bring to a war in RL? The more the merrier....

"Another big one is localized economies, the vast majority of players will complain to no end if it takes them more than 10 minutes to cross the world (EVE being an exception) so developers give the players the rapid transportaion they are demanding. Sorry, no localized economy with readily available global transportation."

It works for EVE Online it can work for other games. Not all games need complex economies. But sandboxy games can benefit from it greatly. You want player created professions to popup in a sandbox. In a "sports MMO", you want all your activities "funneled". So the need for a complex economy might be less sustained. Of course those titles suffer poor economies where crafters cant craft the best items

 "The static quests are another example. If player designed quests, complete with player designed rewards, were introduced, it would be only a matter of days before the entire balance of the game was skewed."

I disagree. In City of Heroes players had all sorts of 100% player run events complete with prizes like Arena contest, fight nights, CTF (player made yo), and Costume contests. No exploits. Player run. It worked

Guild Wars have "Runners" that escourt you from point A to point B. Yeah maybe a player will scam you in this case but its awesome thinking of your own business and doing it. Think bout it- GW had instant teleportation. But the minor travel they did have produced many pplayer made professions the Devs no doubt never expected! It was beauty.....

"Leveling and equipment are practically genere defining, you might be able to do away with them but would it really be a game most of us would want to play ? (skills is still a form of leveling, just broken into much smaller segments) I mean, once you get away from structured character growth odds are your playing a FPS or a RTS."

Levels and Equipment can be envisioned much more creative then what we see now. FPS games have Levels yet that doesnt mean a high level can one-shot you in PVP no.... Levels are merely symbols of how you are- a measure of progress. Same with Equipment

On the other hand you can do creative things with both. They dont have to be the way we see them now. Guild Wars did something great- you can grind for uber armor but you merely look better. It works for them right?

Theres many other creative things you can do with both concepts. Levels and equipment really arent the problem its the way these devs keep dangling them as "Carrots"

Thu Apr 10 2008 1:23AM Report

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