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The Veridan Seer

An ongoing indepth review series, focusing on a single game over an extended period.

Author: Vesavius

Rebirth of a blog and the love of co-op social PvE gaming

Posted by Vesavius Friday August 28 2009 at 7:32PM
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 Well, here I am again, looking for another post to nail my flag to, like so many others.

The truth is that after the implosion of The Chronicles of Spellborn I really felt that i had had enough of the MMORPG industry for a while. Not the games themselves, but the industry. Yes Acclaim, amongst others, I am talking to you

Despite myself, I am still in love with this genre. I love classic fantasy, I love traditional PvE MMORPGs, and I love co-op social play.

I will be honest though.. I got sick of the Devs, I got sick of the forums and their bickering, and I got sick of the MMORPG culture in general. I was sick that we had ended up where we were... I was sick that so much potentiol had been wasted.

I just got the feeling that I was talking to games developers that were always three years behind the reality of demand, or were just confused by the fallacy of those same false, but loudly vocal, squeeky wheels on gaming forums. They didnt just seem to get what actually makes a good MMORPG. They obviously were, and are, listening to the wrong people, because what they are doing just isnt working.

You see, Devs have allowed the loudest minority of the forum posters to decide what their games were going to be, without any thought to the sheeple effect or the lazy zeitgiest thinking of these posters.

These though, without doubt, were the worst people to entrust the future of our hobby to. What happened to Devs knowing what they wanted and designing accordingly? Designing by commitee, let alone public commitee, obviously dosent work. We can see the results of this all around us in the state of the genre.

Why don't Devs learn to be true themselves?

The irony is that the Devs took this route to chase the golden eggs that WoW had shown were possible to grab, but without realising that by following that path of EZ mode PvP solo play that they were not in fact not harvesting eggs, but in reality killing the goose that laid them. 'Throwing out the baby with the bath water' was never so true a saying.

Something is broken, and listening to the general MMO public obviously isnt ever gonna fix it. Most of the people I read won't ever know what is good for them until they are given it. Sure, they think they do, they think their ideas would make the perfect game, but they simply don't. I make no apologies as to how this sounds.

The bottom line is that I am of the personal opinion that the MMO market 'that exists today' is pretty crap. I honestly think that something is missing and what we are being offered isnt what a LOT of people want. We only play it because thats all there is. I have simply had enough of this.

So, I hear you ask, why am I back? Why am I bothered?

Well, to be honest it's really only to try and call for some sanity, truth, and a clear signal amongst the hyperbole, trolls, fans, and shills. To maybe plant the seeds of rational thought that looks at the origins of this hobby and sees what once made it great.

There was once a time that me and my friends, in '90/ '91, sat in the pub and marvelled at the potentiol future of online RPGs and where they could take us. Needless to say, we have fallen somewhat short. I wonder what happened to those days of wonder and optimism.

Did we really have to end up where we are?

Well, I say no, no we didnt. But what do I, as a born again poster, stand for then? Well...

  • Community.
  • Challenge, including consequence for failure (DP).
  • Play to Achieve gaming- no 'F2P' pay to achieve bollox. Ever.
  • Player Creativity and player created content.
  • Shared public instancing only... never any private zones.
  • Non Linear gameplay with dynamic worlds.
  • Story and Lore.
  • Game controlled markets.

               --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As a first (again) post I am going to try to deal with the prevailing fashionable thinking that all modern MMORPGs MUST have PvP.

Why is this? Lets look at it by taking a peek at the game I measure all others by; classic EverQuest.

Classic EQ was built on socialisers, achievers, explorers... Not PvPers, and many still hold the game dear in their hearts. A lot still play till this day because of the social networks that have been formed. 

Sure, PvP servers existed, I played on Vallon myself, but they wernt the body of the game. After 10 years, people still talk about classic EQ and the play experience it gave. People still want it, and it's not just about nostalgia... A lot of people want what it offered, because they arnt being offered it in modern MMORPGs, and they miss it.

There is a huge section of gamers that don't want to deal with the grief and general culture that comes with PvP games and I have no idea where this myth has come from that all MMORPG players want PvP... I can't even think of many MMORPGs that do PvP well even... I don't get the attraction personally. I would rather play a FPS for my PvP and a MMORPG for PvE, but thats just me.

The only reason, IMO, that a challenging co-op non-linear PvE MMORPG isnt huge is simply probably because noone is actually making them beacuse of this lazy fasion led thinking of PvP being required in all games.

The market for PvE exists, it just isnt being catered for.

So, if PvE is so good, and the potentiol market so big, why did it fall in the face of the PvP enabled WoW?

Well, obviously, the competition was, at the time between EQ2 and WoW, and that would prove an important battle for the hobby for sure. If EQ2 won, PvE was the future, and if WoW won then PvP now had a defining hold on the genre. We all know which way it went and how the market has seen MMORPGs since then... A MMORPG without PvP cannot succeed right? WoW had it, and that was massive, so it must be the only way, right? 

Well, yes, a lot of people like PvP and there should be PvP games made, no doubt. But the only way? No.

The other truth is that a lot don't want PvP. A lot of people play WoW and never PvP, my sister and her small family guild included. My point isnt that people don't like PvP, because obviously a lot do. My point is asking is PvP in MMORPGs the only road to travel? Is PvP essential for a modern game to be competitive?

Of course, I say no, no it's not... A lot of people obviously also like PvE and that market, because of the false reality that PvP is responsible for WoW's success, isnt being served.

WoW was obviously a massive success for numerous reasons, besides the technical side of things.

These include; having a hugely popular IP, a refined gameplay blueprint based on what existing games had already been using, a dedicated existing fanbase that dwarfed EQs (and 99% of other games at that time), the massive growth in internet connectivity around the same time, SOE rushing their game to market and screwing up basic game design, general growing public awarness of the MMO market, and excellent timing (by luck or design) to pick up a lot of burned out refugees from other games that had been around for a while. These, amongst other factors, all played a part.

Then of course the sheeple effect kicked in and the snowball started.

To give the existance of PvP all the credit isnt really sensible. If it was then other PvP games would have been as big way before.... If PvP was the main driver of WoW's success why didnt other existing PvP games, which could equally run on old machines, ever get the subs? Why did EQ, powered by PvE gameplay, outsell so many PvP games in it's heyday? There was obviously other factors for WoW's very obvious success.

Yes, EQ2 and WoW had a showdown, and EQ2 lost for many reasons. The sad thing is that loss has falsely flavoured market perceptions about PvP since, but, please, bear in mind that perceptions are rarely the true reality.

Time for a new social Play to Achieve PvE group focused MMORPG?

Yes please.

Trucidation writes:

I'm with you on this.

PvP is popular because designers have hit a brick wall (largely of their own making) when it comes to designing PvE content. They just throw up their arms, surrender, and let players beat on each other - after all PvP forces people to provide their own entertainment.

That's not only the main reason I hate PvP, it's because it's so mindless. REAL PvP would have a POINT to it. You know, like defending a territory, or have ranks like in tournaments. Instead we have mindless open season on everyone. It was a practically forgone conclusion you'd have griefers running around nuking newbies because there's nothing stopping them or even worse nothing else for them to do. Atlantica Online is popular for a reason, at least from what I could see of the brief month i spent playing it - you PvP in the arena, where people are actually, you know, PREPARED to PvP. As opposed to some dick randomly ganking you just because he has a small epeen and you happened to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Or however you want to dress it up in pretty language. Open PvP is completely retarded and if people still can't accept that this is because they've been letting devs keep doing it because they keep playing those games then they deserve it.

The problem with PvE is that it requires a lot of EFFORT. Beyond teh shiney omfg bump mapped skin textures lololol that developers seem to be investing 99% of their capital in. That's fucking stupid. Nobody's going to win on graphics, ever. Sure, you'll attract some more eyeballs at the start, but then the playerbase will shrink rapidly as they discover that your new game is just another shiny turd masking an empty bag of fail. I don't know why the hell devs never seem to learn from the previous bajillions of games which failed before them.

As you say, it's long overdue for devs to step back and OWN UP to the fact that they've just been throwing players at each other to mask their own failings. I'm a programmer too, guess what. I know it's far easier to just let players attack each other - instant PvP, instant "content". It's a fucking scam, and it's funny how the retards defending open PvP try to justify it. Well, as long as you morons keep letting the devs get away with this shit, this is all you're going to get.

Ironically, I don't even dislike PvP when done properly. After all, I play plenty of LAN games, and those have an equal dose of coop and PvP. The difference is that LAN games are of course played with friends, plus they are fully-fleshed out games - not MMOs where most of the time all you have is just a combat engine (mostly buggy at that, lol) and nothing else (let's not kid ourselves and count the stupid fetchquests).

Sat Aug 29 2009 5:49AM Report
Hyanmen writes:

Have you missed the announcement of Final Fantasy XIV? That game will be what Everquest 2 should have been, mark my words. 

Square-Enix has the right idea, now all they have to do is to use that idea to create a successful game that does exactly what you described. I agree that the players don't know what they want, it's the developers job to make content what players want to play. That is SE's principle and it has worked decently enough so far. Many people hate it because of the "SE doesn't listen to us"-mindset, but in reality that is what keeps the players engaged in the game, instead of getting predictable content that they've seen over and over again since the start of the game. 

Sat Aug 29 2009 10:49AM Report
Vesavius writes:

Trucidation, I'm with you man. Everything you say is fair and right, but somehow this false reality of PvP being the only way to major financial success has grown up post WoW.

I think it's mainly a case of that actually... Mainstream devs have got their success confused... They should be looking at the games, but they can't see beyond their bank accounts. They are making MMORPGs to appeal to what they see as the largest markets, meaning the largest pay off, rather then games they want to themselves play. Instead of being 'artisically' successful they seem contented to aim to just be just financially successful, which isnt any way to build a quality MMORPG with longevity.

Noone, for example, at Verant expected EQ to become the huge (for then) success it did, they simply built the game they wanted to see, and it worked. This just isnt happening today with any major Dev now. The accounts call the shots over everything. Games designed by shareholders and spreadsheets leave no room for a major dev to explore the potentiol market for PvE MMORPGs.

There is a difference between profit, which is fair and good, and profiteering, which isnt and has led us into PvP ghetto of lazy thinking.

Sat Aug 29 2009 3:07PM Report
Vesavius writes:

Hyanmen, no I havent... I don't tend to look at FF games really for some reason, but I will now. Thanks for the heads up.

Sat Aug 29 2009 3:09PM Report
Tammzin writes:

Good reading V, I very much agree. I love mmorpgs but I hate pvp and honestly am tired of games that force me into it.

why cant one game stick to doing one thing well instead of trying to be everything to everyone?

like the saying goes, jack of all trades master of none right?

Sun Aug 30 2009 6:35AM Report
Vesavius writes:

Yep, gotta agree with that. Games that try and be all things to all men, usually because thats how they try to hit the widest demographic for the maximum return, seem to fall repeatedly on their arse. Games designed by accountants to benefit shareholders rarely work imo.

Far better to do one thing well I think... In this case PvE.

Sun Aug 30 2009 7:17PM Report
FireproofnTN writes:

You hit just what I like in my games. PvP for me is like bullies on the playground trying to see who is biggest and baddest. I wished more people should speak up that like this type of game play then maybe someone will see that there is a market for it and make a game of us. I just want to play, relax and enjoy hanging with my friends. Not have the stress of omg someone just killed me we got to hunt them down and make them pay.

Sat Jul 23 2011 7:39AM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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