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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Why Do MMORPGs All Use Massive Time Sinks?

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  Jimmy_Scythe

Novice Member

Joined: 12/31/04
Posts: 3602

 
OP  2/15/11 1:12:01 PM#1

It doesn't really make any sense. I realize that F2P games use the grind as 'stick' in order to get players to buy stuff from the cash shop, but aren't there more immediate ways that you can "encourage" your player base to buy that crap. If the goal is to get people to pay for junk, time seems like a horrible way to do it since there will always be people that are willing to waste their lives rather than pay for anything.

The same question applies to subscription games. When your players spend huge amounts of time playing your game, the bandwidth costs eat up your revenue. The less time people play per session, the more money you make because you aren't spending as much on bandwidth. Rather than demanding players sit on their asses for 20+ hours a week, why not just use that sub money for monthly content expansions. You could still do one major box expansion every year just to get a spike in returning players.

I just don't see endless grinding and tedious OCD gameplay as a win-win situation for developers, publishers or gamers. There are more effective ways to keep people paying those subs and buying those items.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2if5GYXOGyo

  Reklaw

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/07/06
Posts: 6168

The adult I am takes care of most things real life. However my inner-child is a GAMER!!

2/15/11 1:59:44 PM#2

This would have been a great topic would you actually come up with idea's to lose those massive time sinks you speak of.

Myself don't see these massive time sinks you speak of due to how I play MMORPG's and know quite well there is more time to be put into a MMORPG or RPG then your common FPS or Singleplayer game. Shame many people seem to want the action fast and want it now (commonly speaking of course)

I feel it's kinda lost and everything needs to be handed fast and quikly cause many people seem to think they are in this time race to cap lvl and then it bothers them that it might take them a little longer.

Myself don't really care if I might make cap lvl in 6 months or a year aslong I feel the game is fun to play. I actually find it strange all those speed levelers comming into a genre of RPG may it be MMORPG or just the regular RPG they always seem to  have the same complaint which is "it takes to long"

I also feel that if a game has a negative towards how I want to play I simply choose not to play it. I also think if people would have done the same this genre would evolve more into virtual world where people understand they do not need to cap lvl asap, but the problem lies not with these games but with the mass demand to make this genre into something else. And for the record and proof is all around us is developers and gamestudio actually listen to the majority, else this genre would have evolved allot different then it did/does.

  Disdena

Novice Member

Joined: 3/05/10
Posts: 1098

2/15/11 2:37:32 PM#3
Originally posted by Jimmy_Scythe

It doesn't really make any sense. I realize that F2P games use the grind as 'stick' in order to get players to buy stuff from the cash shop, but aren't there more immediate ways that you can "encourage" your player base to buy that crap. If the goal is to get people to pay for junk, time seems like a horrible way to do it since there will always be people that are willing to waste their lives rather than pay for anything.

The same question applies to subscription games. When your players spend huge amounts of time playing your game, the bandwidth costs eat up your revenue. The less time people play per session, the more money you make because you aren't spending as much on bandwidth. Rather than demanding players sit on their asses for 20+ hours a week, why not just use that sub money for monthly content expansions. You could still do one major box expansion every year just to get a spike in returning players.

I just don't see endless grinding and tedious OCD gameplay as a win-win situation for developers, publishers or gamers. There are more effective ways to keep people paying those subs and buying those items.

It's because "endless grinding and tedious OCD gameplay" are part of the whole package.

Your complaint is similar to someone complaining about dungeon crawls in a Final Fantasy game. "I hate how they pad this game with these endless random encounters! All I want to do is run around towns talking to NPCs and watching cutscenes!" While across the room, someone else playing the same game is complaining about having to wander all over town trying to advance the dumb plot so he can get to the next dungeon. "I hate how they pad this game with these long conversations! All I want to do is get to the next part of the game to fight new enemies and get stronger!" Each person sees the other side's source of enjoyment as nothing but a nuisance. But the game is built that way because the majority of people fall in the middle, and enjoy experiencing both of these things alternately in the same game.

There are games in which there is absolutely nothing else to do except grind — I don't play Farmville but I've heard that it would decently fit that description. There are games in which there is absolutely nothing else to do except socialize, explore, and dick around. Mainstream MMOs include both sides because that's what the majority is entertained by. If you actually would be 100% enthralled by a game with no grindy time sinks, you are in the minority.

  Loktofeit

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12401

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ArcheAge, and Combat Arms

2/15/11 2:48:51 PM#4

I normally read these threads and question why anyone would slog through the mire of faction grinds, games with downtime, repetitive raiding, constant forced pauses between battles, and all these other time sinks...

... and then something important usually registers with me.

  • Not any particular revelation about other playstyles.
  • Not any deep insight into the psychological tricks used in  compulsive or addictive game design
  • Not any momentous epiphany about progression, achievement or reward mechanisms

 

...but the sound of the Miner II's on my Hulk, slowly stripping asteroids of their minerals.

I usually then Tab over to the game, move some minerals around to make some room, retarget a mining laser or two, and then go back to the forum, reminded that somewhere is a guy fighting his 1,000th Enraged Horkabork Petunian in order to reach the first rank of his four rank climb to be able to finally get his Adamantium Pauldrons of Glowing Badassery.... and not only is he enjoying his game as much as I am, but he also thinks I'm as batshit crazy as i think he is. In the end, while I'm proudly flying my new Dramiel out in Old Man Star this weekend, somewhere out there is some dude beaming proudly with a Chrysler Building on each shoulder.

People love their time sinks.

"And wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica. Wikipedia is very reliable. You would be hard pressed to find a more reliable source for these kinds of things." -fivoroth

  Aganazer

Novice Member

Joined: 11/20/08
Posts: 1328

2/15/11 3:29:19 PM#5
Originally posted by Loktofeit

I normally read these threads and question why anyone would slog through the mire of faction grinds, games with downtime, repetitive raiding, constant forced pauses between battles, and all these other time sinks...

... and then something important usually registers with me.

  • Not any particular revelation about other playstyles.
  • Not any deep insight into the psychological tricks used in  compulsive or addictive game design
  • Not any momentous epiphany about progression, achievement or reward mechanisms

 

...but the sound of the Miner II's on my Hulk, slowly stripping asteroids of their minerals.

I usually then Tab over to the game, move some minerals around to make some room, retarget a mining laser or two, and then go back to the forum, reminded that somewhere is a guy fighting his 1,000th Enraged Horkabork Petunian in order to reach the first rank of his four rank climb to be able to finally get his Adamantium Pauldrons of Glowing Badassery.... and not only is he enjoying his game as much as I am, but he also thinks I'm as batshit crazy as i think he is. In the end, while I'm proudly flying my new Dramiel out in Old Man Star this weekend, somewhere out there is some dude beaming proudly with a Chrysler Building on each shoulder.

People love their time sinks.

Ohhhh grats on a Dramiel. The closest I ever got to one is my Republic Fleet Firetail which I just ended up using as an overpriced shuttle. :P

I can think of two reasons for grinding away at some timesink.

One, in EVE its just relaxing and doesn't demand anything of the player so you can tab out, chat with friends, watch TV, etc. By the time you're ready for more demanding gameplay you have made some progress with your character for very little effort.

Two, you simply enjoy the core gameplay so it doesn't matter what you are doing. This one applies well to Vindictus since it has such an engaging and enjoyable combat system.

 

These time sinks are important. If you didn't have any reason to play for more than an hour a day then you would have a hard time justifying paying money for a subscription or a cash shop item. Why spend money on something you don't play very much?

Creating engaging content that can keep you occupied all the time in a MMOG without grindy time sinks is beyond the scope of what a developer can provide. It will be cool once player generated content can eliminate the need for time sinks, but that day just isn't here yet.

  EndDream

Novice Member

Joined: 12/07/05
Posts: 1170

2/15/11 3:37:33 PM#6

High quality single player games, such as Gears of War 2 take 100 people years to create an 8 hour campaign. MMO's can't work this way because they want people to keep playing. I'm not saying there isnt a solution, I believe sandbox features where players create content or have more engaging repeatable content (such as PvP). But even with big budgets theres only so much content you can fit in a 300+ hours time period.

Remember Old School Ultima Online

  User Deleted
2/15/11 3:37:58 PM#7

Every game is a timesink, it's just others make it fun to play through by having various challenges and roadblocks to overcome, good story writing, and lots of varied content to explore/play through.

MMO's as of late have done away with any sort of challenge when it comes to leveling, the story writing has always been sub-par and/or ignored by most players, and content is not varied enough to not realize your doing the same thing over and over again.

  Ihmotepp

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 10/28/08
Posts: 14557

2/15/11 3:42:44 PM#8
Originally posted by Jimmy_Scythe Rather than demanding players sit on their asses for 20+ hours a week, why not just use that sub money for monthly content expansions.

 

I do believe you have it backwards. The players demand enough content to sit on their butts for 20+ hours a week.

They are going to play for 20 hours, no matter how fast you allow them to do the content. However, there is a limit to how slowly you can allow them to go through the content, because of the frustration level.

If they can do the content in 10 hours, they will moan that the game sucks and doesn't have enough content. They will quit, and go to a game with more grind.

You have to give them content that is grindy enough it will take them 20 hours to complete, but not so grindy they will quit in frustration.

Anything else is just going to lose you money as a developer.

  Jimmy_Scythe

Novice Member

Joined: 12/31/04
Posts: 3602

 
OP  2/15/11 3:44:51 PM#9

I think I need to clarify the difference between a time sink and actual gameplay. A time sink requires almost no involvement from the player. At all. Or it requires zero effort from the player. Killing ten rats in an MMO takes zero skill or serious decision making in most MMOs while the random encounters at the beginning of the first Phantasy Star games are all painfully difficult battles to the death. The amount by which the player is actively engaged and entertained by the game is the key here.

Mining in Eve really isn't all that different from playing Farmville on Facebook. Sure, you have a sense of progression, but you aren't really playing the game. You're just clicking your button every 30 minutes to two hours. This kind of slow, deliberate play can work in browser-based 4X games where your decisions carry  more weight than your own progression, but not so much in something like an MMORPG.

Think of it this way: I can play through any given Rogue-like in about eight straight hours (if I'm REALLY lucky and play perfectly). Rogue-likes aren't padded with time sinks, they're just hard as holy hell. Yet because I have to make multiple attempts (you have to reroll a fresh character when you die in a roguelike) the game can actually take a lot longer. The game itself keeps me playing and coming back for more without gating the content according to some arbitrary time investment.

My questions still stand. Why use time sinks to get people to pay a subscription when monthly content updates could do the same thing? And why use grind as punishment for not buying from the cash shop when there are other means of getting people to buy virtual items (i.e. vanity and novelty)?

Time sinks are just bad business all the way around.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2if5GYXOGyo

  severius

Hard Core Member

Joined: 8/10/04
Posts: 1528

2/15/11 3:51:42 PM#10

Time sinks are the heart and soul of the mmo business.  Without them they would be half-assed single player games with 1/3of the content in a traditional isometric rpg and worse than bugs you get the distinct pleasure of playing alongside the communities of both xbox live and battle.net. :P


  User Deleted
2/15/11 3:59:57 PM#11

i would pay 100€ per hour to get play  old RP games with those people back then,I do understand your point when you watch this "mmo this mmo that RP is crap" circus.

 

  Ihmotepp

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 10/28/08
Posts: 14557

2/15/11 4:01:38 PM#12
Originally posted by severius

Time sinks are the heart and soul of the mmo business.  Without them they would be half-assed single player games with 1/3of the content in a traditional isometric rpg and worse than bugs you get the distinct pleasure of playing alongside the communities of both xbox live and battle.net. :P

 

Agree. It's all about the goldilocks zone.

 

This MMO is to easy.

This MMO is to grindy.

This MMO is just right!

  jpnole

Advanced Member

Joined: 2/13/10
Posts: 1654

2/15/11 4:01:44 PM#13

To keep you subbed longer. Like many have said before, mmos are a human "Skinner Box". Our brains can't resist once hooked.

  Jimmy_Scythe

Novice Member

Joined: 12/31/04
Posts: 3602

 
OP  2/15/11 4:09:47 PM#14
Originally posted by severius

Time sinks are the heart and soul of the mmo business.  Without them they would be half-assed single player games with 1/3of the content in a traditional isometric rpg and worse than bugs you get the distinct pleasure of playing alongside the communities of both xbox live and battle.net. :P

Took you a whole hour to think that one up huh?

I don't think I've ever played an MMORPG that wasn't a "half-assed single player game." For all intents and purposes, UO and Everquest were basically standard RPGs with the story ripped out and replaced by a mob of complete assholes. The design never really rose above the "let's all beat the living shit out of random mobs together" mentality. UO had the groundwork for something more, but never quite achieved it. Seriously, the only difference between most MMORPGs and Diablo is the number of people you can group with. Well... that and the fact that Diablo was more fun.

If the whole point of these games is to just get into a giant mob and steamroll accross the landscape, why not just cut out all the extra, unimportant shit? Why do I have to specifically identify everything in my pack? Why not just have an Identify skill that automatically identifies stuff as I find it? Why do I have to specifically place my health and Mana pots in my hotbar? Why not just have a hotkey or hotbar slot set aside for them? Why do I have to collect ten Gimp harnesses from three different kinds of gimps that only drop harness one out of ten times? And when I do the Kill X missions, why do I have to kill 25 of something that I've already killed hundreds of? Why do we even have heal over time in a world where there are instant healing spells and potions? And why does every damn monster respawn in the same damn place? Even the bosses.

I get the whole playing with others toward a common goal bit. I even get the character progression bit. What I don't get is the introduction of grind when it 1) adds nothing to the game and 2) actually works against the business model that these games opporate under.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2if5GYXOGyo

  SuperXero89

Advanced Member

Joined: 8/16/09
Posts: 2610

2/15/11 4:16:41 PM#15

You can have and we actually do have MMORPGs that have a relatively minor grind involved, but there has to be some sort of a grind in order to keep people paying those monthly fees.

  Maar

Novice Member

Joined: 12/23/05
Posts: 12

2/15/11 4:24:48 PM#16
Originally posted by SuperXero89

You can have and we actually do have MMORPGs that have a relatively minor grind involved, but there has to be some sort of a grind in order to keep people paying those monthly fees.

say's the herd ..........

 

baaaaa

 

Take away the leveling give us content , give gm's tools to create exiting events instead of dedicating 1,000's of hours development and Gm monitoring to leveling .

 

Its the future .

 

Dynamic content that changes constantly , instead of exp goals and time sink levels . 

  slim26

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/15/07
Posts: 666

2/15/11 4:25:27 PM#17

WTF... is MMORPG coming to an end? because alot of people not understanding what mmorpg are about in these days. MMORPG suppose to be a time sink, if you got the time.

I really do feel that MMORPG will soon be no more for many many reasons like beta testing, comparing, wanting, demanding, new people that are new to MMORPG and don't understand them so they want to make changes to please them, new players come in and make demands over the older players that are use to what they enjoy "nerfing" and many many more.

All of this open beta testing to the community needs to stop! beta testing need to stay with the game company, all we need is game news and wait for release!! I have did many beta testing and they all leads to bs agruments on what needs to be ingame or not, public beta testing breaks the game and the community.

  Maar

Novice Member

Joined: 12/23/05
Posts: 12

2/15/11 4:37:22 PM#18
Originally posted by slim26

WTF... is MMORPG coming to an end? because alot of people not understanding what mmorpg are about in these days. MMORPG suppose to be a time sink, if you got the time.

I really do feel that MMORPG will soon be no more for many many reasons like beta testing, comparing, wanting, demanding, new people that are new to MMORPG and don't understand them so they want to make changes to please them, new players come in and make demands over the older players that are use to what they enjoy "nerfing" and many many more.

All of this open beta testing to the community needs to stop! beta testing need to stay with the game company, all we need is game news and wait for release!! I have did many beta testing and they all leads to bs agruments on what needs to be ingame or not, public beta testing breaks the game and the community.

Friend I think you will find that many many of the people advocating/wanting this are very old MMO gamers back from UO times and have stuck with the genre through many years . 

The MMO genre needs to evolve it has been around since the late 90's almost 15 years , many of these post are made by people who have been around the genre longer tham most game developers have been in buisness . Theres a reason that there are very few mmos that break in to the AAA market and thats because the genre is stale and lazy . 

Saying that Leveling is the only thing that keeps people playing is correct , what we are saying is thats bull shit and shouldnt be / needs to change . what should be keeping people playing is the chance to experiance something exiting and different with or without there friends . in a world that evolvs with dynamic events and experiances .

Right now i could log in most mmo's out there and have vitrualy the exact same experiance that 1000,s have had before me running around the quest treadmill .

  Disdena

Novice Member

Joined: 3/05/10
Posts: 1098

2/15/11 5:12:38 PM#19
Originally posted by Jimmy_Scythe

Think of it this way: I can play through any given Rogue-like in about eight straight hours (if I'm REALLY lucky and play perfectly). Rogue-likes aren't padded with time sinks, they're just hard as holy hell. Yet because I have to make multiple attempts (you have to reroll a fresh character when you die in a roguelike) the game can actually take a lot longer. The game itself keeps me playing and coming back for more without gating the content according to some arbitrary time investment.

I'll admit, that is a particularly apt comparison. I wasn't expecting a defense like that. I am a big fan of NetHack, even if I've never been within a country mile of the end of the game.

The only observation I have is that Rogue-likes have what some might call Fake Difficulty. There are things that you can't possibly know how to do right until you've done them wrong and suffered for it, and many many deaths are due to a single unlucky event. Skill at the game equates to knowing (through experience and/or FAQ-reading) how to avoid getting randomly screwed and minimize the impact when it does inevitably happen. While this is undeniably fun for some, there seems to be a lot more people who dislike the idea of losing even though they did nothing wrong. In that respect, Rogue-likes don't appeal to them.

While repeating simple actions with zero chance of failure can be seen as an undesirable extreme, performing complex actions with a high chance of randomly failing can be seen as the opposite extreme.

  Lerxst

Advanced Member

Joined: 7/26/04
Posts: 489

2/15/11 5:26:05 PM#20
Originally posted by Jimmy_Scythe

It doesn't really make any sense. I realize that F2P games use the grind as 'stick' in order to get players to buy stuff from the cash shop, but aren't there more immediate ways that you can "encourage" your player base to buy that crap. If the goal is to get people to pay for junk, time seems like a horrible way to do it since there will always be people that are willing to waste their lives rather than pay for anything.

The same question applies to subscription games. When your players spend huge amounts of time playing your game, the bandwidth costs eat up your revenue. The less time people play per session, the more money you make because you aren't spending as much on bandwidth. Rather than demanding players sit on their asses for 20+ hours a week, why not just use that sub money for monthly content expansions. You could still do one major box expansion every year just to get a spike in returning players.

I just don't see endless grinding and tedious OCD gameplay as a win-win situation for developers, publishers or gamers. There are more effective ways to keep people paying those subs and buying those items.

Why not just give up the MMO genre and stick with the old FPS games.  They're the only games that have what you're describing.  Most of them don't even require a subsrtiption to play.

 

MMO's were meant to be grind-fests since they first came out.  Even MUDs required repeatedly using skills in order to improve them.

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