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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Why Did They Copy EQ and Where Did They Go Wrong.

16 posts found
  torabi1010

Apprentice Member

Joined: 4/05/07
Posts: 20

 
OP  1/17/13 6:56:24 PM#1

Friends, 

 

Not that long ago, but actually quite a while ago, there were two players in the MMO arena: Everquest and Ultima Online. The major publishers watched with charts and graphs as a new genre of gaming was born: The MMORPG. Ultima was sandbox, and Everquest was the ubiquitous themepark. This topic  has been stomped into the ground on this forum and elsewhere to the point of inducing nausea, but, bare with me because I think it is important to look at the systems developed in retrospect and come to understand why the formula worked so well, but is consistently falling short in delivering another blockbuster, a "WOW killer", or in more frank terms, a game that can make a nice profit for its company. 

There are some truths or constants that we have to establish before discussing this further:

 

1. Publishers and developers want  to make money.

2. Themepark is the king of MMO's because we voted with our dollars for it to be this way. 

3. Everquest was a themepark, but it was not compartmentalized (This is important)

4. Systems will be flawed. (Battlegrounds for example is a system for pvp) 

5. MMO's are the most fun when played with other people.... Right?

 

Number five should be a truth... 

 

Keeping these unsupported "truths" in mind, lets examine WHAT HAPPENED?? For full disclosure, I was an EQ nerd in the late 90's, and I had relative exposure to Ultima Online when I was first playing EQ, but I chose EQ. The first thing about EQ that made me think, " I really love MMO's" was the moment I first had the feeling of avatar. The feeling that my virtual character was a thing that I possessed, and I collected items to customize him and fill my space in this universe. I had never seen "Phat Lewts" in a game before. I never really felt in possession of my character in an online game. There were SO many item slots in EQ. Bracers, vambraces, earrings, etc. I was intrigued by this notion of customization and individualism within this world. 

This was the first pillar of MMO games. The character, The customization. The ability to create a character for each player that isn't just unique because of the number of item variences, but because it FEELS unique. This is key here. It felt unique for Everquest because it was new. Today, every MMO is made with character customization, but there is something missing isn't there? Characters start to look the same. Hell, the games start to look the same. The weapons and armor are compartmentalized to a point where you get these items based on unlock system. That is what any tiered system will be. An armor or weapon unlock system that allows all characters to upgrade their items based on a series of parameters, usually including level of avatar, level of item, or class-based distinctions. 

Everquest did that too right? Everquest was a loot frenzy. People would do ridiculous things like raid Plane of Fear for 48 hours straight. It was sad actually. So why did that system work so well for so long? There are several reasons, but its not always about quanitfying data is it? If you played the game you would know just as well as I do, the reason it worked in games like Everquest was because you felt unique when you got your items in EQ. There were less items, there was not an auction house, and you had to play with others to farm any type of gear. This meant that if I wanted the Executioner's Axe that every warrior had to have when they went to Guk, then I had to go explore the dungeon with people, I had to find a group at the entrance of the dungeon, I had to play my role in the correct way so my party would stay alive. I had to interact with the content and the way the content was experienced by other people. 

See, EQ wasn't about the systems. In fact, EQ had very few systems when compared to the modern MMO. Everyone knew what a train to zone was when playing EQ back in the day. Why did we know it? It wasn't because the game developers implemented a system. No, the players implemented a system within the boundaries of the game we were given to play. We created the systems. In fact, I would go as far as to say EQ had more sandbox-esque features than it is given credit. 

Everquest did not force us to do something in one way, it allowed the players to dynamically interact with the content that was available. Public dungeons, although seemingly minute, and I know every reason why instanced dungeons make more sense, but again, this isn't a matter of quanitfying available data. Public dungeons cause players to create systems for managing content, and then it forces guilds and players to create their own method of playing in these dungeons. The Elitists and Vagrants where the top guild on my server. I remember one time where they had taken our rotation in one of the Velious dungeons, so we had a couple of monks sabatoge one of their fights in order to teach them a lesson. This was the back and forth that the players created. Yes, EQ was combat oriented,and it has all the bells and whistles of a Themepark, but it did it with a sense of freedom for the character, and the ability to participate in the world. MMO players don't just want to participate in a PVP match, a raid, or creating armor. It isn't as simple as that, and the problem with developers today is that they miss this fact. WoW "copied" EQ's formula and had great success you say? Yes it did, but when WoW was gaining steam, how many other MMO's had that level of polish, animation, and tightness that WoW did? Not many, if any for that matter. 

But I digress. WoW went on to influence generations of developers and gamers alike, and I would argue that the problem isn't the themepark. It is in fact the uncanny ability of developers to forget about immersion and focus on systems. They forget that a sense of belonging within a game isn't based on just the items you get but how you get them, and what their place is in this virtual world. By placing all items on a tier system, you kill how unique that item is to the player that has it, but also to every other player of the game. 

If I asked someone today if they could sell items in a game without the use of an auction house, they would spit on me as if I offended their mother, and I am not saying we should take AH's out of our games, but consider this: When I didn't have an auction house, in EQ, I would have to go where people gather together to sell their products. If I couldn't get something, someone would message me and put me in touch with a guildie or somebody "they know" that is selling that item. I would interact. I created a dynamic, interactive game for myself. It was called trading with virtual items and virtual people. I didn't have to hear their voice, but I was able to haggle. So what is the point? THIS, this system of created a sense of belonging. A sense of individualism, and a sense of immersion. I was a part of this world. Look, I am not saying that these figurative and vague statements should be how games need to be designed, but if you were lucky enought o play EQ in 1999ish, you know the sense of wonder and immersion it provided. Ask yourself, what happened to that? Well, I think its because too many systems are implemented in MMO's. I walk around a world, filled with NPC's roaming back and forth...waiting to be slaughtered by the 12  / 12 for quest X. Y

My point is this: MMO's can NOT be compartmentalized. You can't inject immersion, a sense of place in the universe, a sense of adventure among real people if you are creating a system to manage everything for the player and then create a system to manage that system.  Systems are necessary, but if you place everything into a system, the game is considerably lessmultiplayer and not very massive. 

  FelixMajor

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/27/07
Posts: 546

1/17/13 7:23:38 PM#2

You said it plain an simple, systems don't work, not if you are trying to create a dynamic, breathing, dirty world.  Systems implemented into mmo's nowadays are there for one reason, to give the player a vision, or a want that is just out of arms reach  until they hit X of Y.  This worked great for when monthly sub games were booming, and the componies made their pennies worth.

 

What developers should be doing when they create mmo's is looking at it as a world to create.  They use parameters to guide the game and govern the game, but leave the actual systems, like you stated to the players.

 

Honestly, it is easy to see where it all hit the fan, automated systems specifically.  Systems like, you mentioned the auction halls and trading posts added to games, group finders, and I don't mean a post to find active groups, but automated group finders such as for example WoW's group finders.

 

People would disagree and say group finders and like systems are needed in games, why?  So you can get instant gratification?  What ever happened to exploring, earning, learning, gaining knowledge, using your brain and intelligence to solve problems and issues?

 

The systems need to be put into the players hands again, it makes the worlds feel unique when people have to collaborate in undefined ways and creative ways to accomplish things.  Hell man, what is the point of building a sand castle if you use a plastic mould?  People are imaginitive, developers are creative people and artistic people.  Why should everything be outlined, perdetermined, and boxed in to a set rule and standard placed by the developers?

 

I don't really have much else to say, mostly what I say about this stuff is my own wondering.  All I have seen over the years is greed from companies, industrialization of yet another media in our world.  Everyone trying to capitalize on gaming, diluting the really talented developers with poor excuses for art and video games.  Companies and developers trying so hard to be someone else, or something else instead of using their own creativity and imaginations to create their own workpiece.

 

I hope it changes only because gaming is a really unique way of telling stories, creating stories, adventuring, communicating and etc etc.  It's like every media in one, music, theatre, cinema, story telling, graphic novels, paintings, writings, song, dance, pretty much all of it.

 

I could go on forever but I'll go way off track.........op said it simply enough, leave the systems in the hands of the players, and allow them to create.

Originally posted by Arskaaa
"when players learned tacticks in dungeon/raids, its bread".

  darkkblack

Novice Member

Joined: 1/16/13
Posts: 37

1/17/13 7:35:19 PM#3

What do u guys think about Eve Online's way of keeping the game player focused and using voting by the players to change the game to the way the players want it. 

CSM = Counsil for Stellar Management “greatest good for the greater player base”

 

http://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/What_is_the_CSM

  Disdena

Novice Member

Joined: 3/05/10
Posts: 1098

1/17/13 7:57:55 PM#4
Originally posted by torabi1010

Characters start to look the same. Hell, the games start to look the same. The weapons and armor are compartmentalized to a point where you get these items based on unlock system. That is what any tiered system will be. An armor or weapon unlock system that allows all characters to upgrade their items based on a series of parameters, usually including level of avatar, level of item, or class-based distinctions. 

Looking at this paragraph, I'm having a very tough time figuring out what you think "compartmentalized" means. The context is unclear. Do you mean that choice of what equipment to get is too easy? Or that the choice is less interesting because you are too informed about all of the options? Or something else entirely?

  Goatgod76

Novice Member

Joined: 6/24/06
Posts: 1226

1/17/13 8:27:32 PM#5
Originally posted by torabi1010

Friends, 

 

Not that long ago, but actually quite a while ago, there were two players in the MMO arena: Everquest and Ultima Online. The major publishers watched with charts and graphs as a new genre of gaming was born: The MMORPG. Ultima was sandbox, and Everquest was the ubiquitous themepark. This topic  has been stomped into the ground on this forum and elsewhere to the point of inducing nausea, but, bare with me because I think it is important to look at the systems developed in retrospect and come to understand why the formula worked so well, but is consistently falling short in delivering another blockbuster, a "WOW killer", or in more frank terms, a game that can make a nice profit for its company. 

There are some truths or constants that we have to establish before discussing this further:

 

1. Publishers and developers want  to make money.

2. Themepark is the king of MMO's because we voted with our dollars for it to be this way. 

3. Everquest was a themepark, but it was not compartmentalized (This is important)

4. Systems will be flawed. (Battlegrounds for example is a system for pvp) 

5. MMO's are the most fun when played with other people.... Right?

 

Number five should be a truth... 

 

Keeping these unsupported "truths" in mind, lets examine WHAT HAPPENED?? For full disclosure, I was an EQ nerd in the late 90's, and I had relative exposure to Ultima Online when I was first playing EQ, but I chose EQ. The first thing about EQ that made me think, " I really love MMO's" was the moment I first had the feeling of avatar. The feeling that my virtual character was a thing that I possessed, and I collected items to customize him and fill my space in this universe. I had never seen "Phat Lewts" in a game before. I never really felt in possession of my character in an online game. There were SO many item slots in EQ. Bracers, vambraces, earrings, etc. I was intrigued by this notion of customization and individualism within this world. 

This was the first pillar of MMO games. The character, The customization. The ability to create a character for each player that isn't just unique because of the number of item variences, but because it FEELS unique. This is key here. It felt unique for Everquest because it was new. Today, every MMO is made with character customization, but there is something missing isn't there? Characters start to look the same. Hell, the games start to look the same. The weapons and armor are compartmentalized to a point where you get these items based on unlock system. That is what any tiered system will be. An armor or weapon unlock system that allows all characters to upgrade their items based on a series of parameters, usually including level of avatar, level of item, or class-based distinctions. 

Everquest did that too right? Everquest was a loot frenzy. People would do ridiculous things like raid Plane of Fear for 48 hours straight. It was sad actually. So why did that system work so well for so long? There are several reasons, but its not always about quanitfying data is it? If you played the game you would know just as well as I do, the reason it worked in games like Everquest was because you felt unique when you got your items in EQ. There were less items, there was not an auction house, and you had to play with others to farm any type of gear. This meant that if I wanted the Executioner's Axe that every warrior had to have when they went to Guk, then I had to go explore the dungeon with people, I had to find a group at the entrance of the dungeon, I had to play my role in the correct way so my party would stay alive. I had to interact with the content and the way the content was experienced by other people. 

See, EQ wasn't about the systems. In fact, EQ had very few systems when compared to the modern MMO. Everyone knew what a train to zone was when playing EQ back in the day. Why did we know it? It wasn't because the game developers implemented a system. No, the players implemented a system within the boundaries of the game we were given to play. We created the systems. In fact, I would go as far as to say EQ had more sandbox-esque features than it is given credit. 

Everquest did not force us to do something in one way, it allowed the players to dynamically interact with the content that was available. Public dungeons, although seemingly minute, and I know every reason why instanced dungeons make more sense, but again, this isn't a matter of quanitfying available data. Public dungeons cause players to create systems for managing content, and then it forces guilds and players to create their own method of playing in these dungeons. The Elitists and Vagrants where the top guild on my server. I remember one time where they had taken our rotation in one of the Velious dungeons, so we had a couple of monks sabatoge one of their fights in order to teach them a lesson. This was the back and forth that the players created. Yes, EQ was combat oriented,and it has all the bells and whistles of a Themepark, but it did it with a sense of freedom for the character, and the ability to participate in the world. MMO players don't just want to participate in a PVP match, a raid, or creating armor. It isn't as simple as that, and the problem with developers today is that they miss this fact. WoW "copied" EQ's formula and had great success you say? Yes it did, but when WoW was gaining steam, how many other MMO's had that level of polish, animation, and tightness that WoW did? Not many, if any for that matter. 

But I digress. WoW went on to influence generations of developers and gamers alike, and I would argue that the problem isn't the themepark. It is in fact the uncanny ability of developers to forget about immersion and focus on systems. They forget that a sense of belonging within a game isn't based on just the items you get but how you get them, and what their place is in this virtual world. By placing all items on a tier system, you kill how unique that item is to the player that has it, but also to every other player of the game. 

If I asked someone today if they could sell items in a game without the use of an auction house, they would spit on me as if I offended their mother, and I am not saying we should take AH's out of our games, but consider this: When I didn't have an auction house, in EQ, I would have to go where people gather together to sell their products. If I couldn't get something, someone would message me and put me in touch with a guildie or somebody "they know" that is selling that item. I would interact. I created a dynamic, interactive game for myself. It was called trading with virtual items and virtual people. I didn't have to hear their voice, but I was able to haggle. So what is the point? THIS, this system of created a sense of belonging. A sense of individualism, and a sense of immersion. I was a part of this world. Look, I am not saying that these figurative and vague statements should be how games need to be designed, but if you were lucky enought o play EQ in 1999ish, you know the sense of wonder and immersion it provided. Ask yourself, what happened to that? Well, I think its because too many systems are implemented in MMO's. I walk around a world, filled with NPC's roaming back and forth...waiting to be slaughtered by the 12  / 12 for quest X. Y

My point is this: MMO's can NOT be compartmentalized. You can't inject immersion, a sense of place in the universe, a sense of adventure among real people if you are creating a system to manage everything for the player and then create a system to manage that system.  Systems are necessary, but if you place everything into a system, the game is considerably lessmultiplayer and not very massive. 

+1 my friend. Nailed it.

I remember traveling to various dungeons I was interested in to see if there were players gathering and looking for groups for it...usually having to do so through dangerous areas, and often areas over my level range to get to them...which in itself was exciting and scary.

And yep...remember the various places (Prior to PoP expansion and the Bazaar being incorporated) players would gather the most and haggle or sell my own wares ("Selling a stack of bat wings for 10cp at T1!") such as the tunnels to the Desert of Ro. Although the Bazaar also had it's own unique appeal of players haggling and socializing as well.

Be nice to see some of that come back to some degree.

  Goatgod76

Novice Member

Joined: 6/24/06
Posts: 1226

1/17/13 8:29:40 PM#6
Originally posted by FelixMajor

 

People would disagree and say group finders and like systems are needed in games, why?  So you can get instant gratification?  What ever happened to exploring, earning, learning, gaining knowledge, using your brain and intelligence to solve problems and issues?

Uh oh...NOW you've done it. Hope you are wearing flame retardant clothing.

  Illius

Apprentice Member

Joined: 4/12/06
Posts: 3905

I intend to live forever -- So far so good!

1/17/13 9:41:24 PM#7
Originally posted by Goatgod76
Originally posted by FelixMajor

 

People would disagree and say group finders and like systems are needed in games, why?  So you can get instant gratification?  What ever happened to exploring, earning, learning, gaining knowledge, using your brain and intelligence to solve problems and issues?

Uh oh...NOW you've done it. Hope you are wearing flame retardant clothing.

Just in case...

No required quests! And if I decide I want to be an assassin-cartographer-dancer-pastry chef who lives only to stalk and kill interior decorators, then that's who I want to be, even if it takes me four years to max all the skills and everyone else thinks I'm freaking nuts. -Madimorga-

  Lonestryder

Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/02/07
Posts: 167

_______
4 4 4

1/17/13 9:47:54 PM#8
Originally posted by torabi1010

See, EQ wasn't about the systems. In fact, EQ had very few systems when compared to the modern MMO.

That pretty much sums it up and answers the question.

  ZombieKen

Novice Member

Joined: 3/30/10
Posts: 4410

Zombie - Dead but still moving.

1/17/13 9:52:04 PM#9

Gave it some thought, here is my concise (hopefully) response:

 

The more automated the systems, the more streamlined the game mechanics, the more mainstream a given game becomes.

 

Some devs want mainstream players so badly, that they're willing to trash their game to get them.

 

MSOTSG with PPE : Massively Single-player Online Task-driven Storyline Game with Purchasable Performance Enhancements *grin*

  Hrimnir

Advanced Member

Joined: 5/24/10
Posts: 1098

1/17/13 10:07:44 PM#10
EQ was about as far from a themepark as WOW is a sandbox.

"The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently."

- Friedrich Nietzsche

  DoomsDay01

Hard Core Member

Joined: 5/14/08
Posts: 786

1/17/13 10:11:34 PM#11
Exactly, How in the hell could you possibly ever call EQ a themepark game? It had very few quests in it originally and to even get a quest you had to figure out what you needed to say to the person to ever actually get the quest. yes, it may be a themepark type now, but it certainly was not back then.
  azzamasin

Elite Member

Joined: 6/06/12
Posts: 2732

We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality.

1/17/13 10:14:56 PM#12
IMO Everquest and all its brethern are the most idiotic form of gaming in the RPG formula.  At no point in any history of Fantasy Medium has "raiding" or large scale interactions meant anything.  From Books to Games and Movies to LARP'ing, the smaller the group composition is the more heroic the deed.  The "raid" is either non existent (Drizzt novels) or in the background (LotR).

If your idea of a Sandbox is open FFA Full Loot PvP, full crafted world with minimal support for anything combat then your sandbox ideas are bad! Sandbox means open world, non-linear gaming PERIOD!

  DoomsDay01

Hard Core Member

Joined: 5/14/08
Posts: 786

1/17/13 10:18:36 PM#13
Originally posted by azzamasin
IMO Everquest and all its brethern are the most idiotic form of gaming in the RPG formula.  At no point in any history of Fantasy Medium has "raiding" or large scale interactions meant anything.  From Books to Games and Movies to LARP'ing, the smaller the group composition is the more heroic the deed.  The "raid" is either non existent (Drizzt novels) or in the background (LotR).

Oh I agree with you 100%. I absolutely hate raiding. if you can not do it with a single group, it shouldnt be in the game, in my opinion. But If a game wants to have it, thats cool to, doesn't mean I have to do it. I just wish more mmo's would realize that raiding is not everything and try to make the entire game a single group game instead of completely changing it at max level.

  Mardukk

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/05/11
Posts: 1392

1/17/13 10:31:13 PM#14
Originally posted by XAPGames

Gave it some thought, here is my concise (hopefully) response:

 

The more automated the systems, the more streamlined the game mechanics, the more mainstream a given game becomes.

 

Some devs want mainstream players so badly, that they're willing to trash their game to get them.

 

Excellent response.  I keep trying to figure out why EQ seemed so different from most of the current themepark MMO's and I think I've finally figured it out.  I was free to make mistakes.  I could kill the guards of my own city and take massive faction hits and eventually not be allowed in.  I think they have streamlined current games to remove all freedom.  They should really consider treating MMO's players like adults as most of us are.

  Mardukk

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/05/11
Posts: 1392

1/17/13 10:36:32 PM#15
Originally posted by azzamasin
IMO Everquest and all its brethern are the most idiotic form of gaming in the RPG formula.  At no point in any history of Fantasy Medium has "raiding" or large scale interactions meant anything.  From Books to Games and Movies to LARP'ing, the smaller the group composition is the more heroic the deed.  The "raid" is either non existent (Drizzt novels) or in the background (LotR).

The beauty of EQ was that it was so difficult to reach max level and then have the time to raid it really never even occured to me that raiding was an option.  I enjoyed raiding in WoW, but raiding in EQ was truly for the crazy people that had infinite amounts of time on their hands....as such I never felt the requirement to raid.

 

The majority people that claim to hate raiding are obvioulsy people that were left out of a raid and had their feelings hurt.  Why the hell else would you care about raiding if your feelings weren't hurt?  As I posted above, I thought EQ raiders were so crazy that I didn't care what they did...I wasn't even really playing the same game as they were.

  DoomsDay01

Hard Core Member

Joined: 5/14/08
Posts: 786

1/17/13 10:59:02 PM#16
Originally posted by Mardukk
Originally posted by azzamasin
IMO Everquest and all its brethern are the most idiotic form of gaming in the RPG formula.  At no point in any history of Fantasy Medium has "raiding" or large scale interactions meant anything.  From Books to Games and Movies to LARP'ing, the smaller the group composition is the more heroic the deed.  The "raid" is either non existent (Drizzt novels) or in the background (LotR).

The beauty of EQ was that it was so difficult to reach max level and then have the time to raid it really never even occured to me that raiding was an option.  I enjoyed raiding in WoW, but raiding in EQ was truly for the crazy people that had infinite amounts of time on their hands....as such I never felt the requirement to raid.

 

The majority people that claim to hate raiding are obvioulsy people that were left out of a raid and had their feelings hurt.  Why the hell else would you care about raiding if your feelings weren't hurt?  As I posted above, I thought EQ raiders were so crazy that I didn't care what they did...I wasn't even really playing the same game as they were.

 

Really? So the only reason people may not like raiding is because they were left out of a raid? LOL! It couldn't have anything to do with the endless grind, or insane timesinks, or even not liking big huge groups, no sir, it has to be because they got left out of a raid. Yep, I guess you got all of us people that dont like raids figured out. Sigh....