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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: MMO Development Needs Change

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126 posts found

Elite Member

Joined: 6/17/11
Posts: 8339

7/13/13 12:48:43 PM#81

There problem is that even if you follow all the suggestion involving players earlier on and having a 2 year beta - you could still end up with a very mediocre game that will not do well in the market, so in the end you are not any better off than the traditional model.

I think that the reality is sinking in for many Dev studios - 5 year game projects are simply not worth it, it is a lot less risky to develop smaller games that take 2 year max from inception to launch - cheaper to make, shorter Dev cycle, much less financial risk, and since you could make more smaller games, higher chance of one of them doing really well.

I think many game Dev studios will focus on smaller games instead and simply drop out of major AAA titles, Funcom has already made this decision, more major Dev studios will follow.





Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/22/10
Posts: 1

7/13/13 12:48:55 PM#82
For the main points in this article to become reality, I feel teleportation, interplanetary-travel, and harnessing antimatter technology would all come first. Why am I stating this? Because greed has overtaken the MMO genre and the people that control it and until the publishers release that and let the developers run free, along with the legal teams off their backs as well, future MMOs in general are screwed.

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect.


Novice Member

Joined: 1/10/12
Posts: 47

7/13/13 1:05:30 PM#83
Id prefer to play a game that suprises me, with inovative gameplay. Awesome graphics isnt awesome gameplay, just a polished pig. Meh, the good days are over, there wont be a new WoW, EQ or UO. The market has faded into oblivion.
  User Deleted
7/13/13 1:16:05 PM#84
I definitely agree with his statements. From a perspective of economics, I think we're seeing the trough of the marginal profits curve. All of the firms that can rush in do so, and have sucked up not only the remaining profits but are reducing the marginal demand as well. This macroeconomic phenomenon is impact the microeconomics of making the game. The diminishing demand requires more effort to win over - to do so raises the costs of making the game. Then from the investment perspective, companies want short term success - they want return. It's a vicious cycle. Thankfully, some of the studios/games are closing and those resources can be reallocated to better ventures. His statements drive home the point that we need less MMOs.

Advanced Member

Joined: 9/27/12
Posts: 332

Why is it said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions? Is there a shortage of bad ones?

7/13/13 2:44:59 PM#85

Ok this is sad and funny at the same time. we call on Devs to listen to us as players, we want the Devs to cater to our every whim, we think we know what it takes for developers to come up with content, we want everything now!..


any of that look familiar in this thread?


Developers have a few problems in developing games. I am not a developer, however I have followed game companies creating games for over 30 years.  I have watched hundreds of games come and go. I have seen the "revolutionary" games that succeeded also whither.

prior to the Graphical evolution in PC games that was started by Chris Roberts in the late 90's ther was the good ol single player rpgs on consoles, the side scroll games like mario, the RTS games like Command and Conquer(old school) and Final Fantasy the over head RPGs.. all in their glorious pixels. what 8 bit?maybe 16 bit ... then we saw 32 bit.. we thought it was amazing. then 64 bit... even better! Looks so real... and so we have evolved and now Developers can offer amazing realistic images and characters in up to 10 million polygons per facet (Star Citizen)... and yet players want more.

As Jatar stated earlier in the thread ... they went Kickstarter for Citadel of Sorcery and players whined that it didnt have the cutting edge graphics when in the video in very large captions it clearly stated "Pre Alpha graphics"

Yet the players whined. Me? I am a 1k Founder with CoS and am hoping it will not only succeed but show players that they need patience and knowledge of design before they judge anything.


It take months of effort for a team of developers and lead designers and concept artists to create even the smallest image in a game. I saw a comment above that states that Rift comes up with new instances with new models every few weeks/months. Rift also has a very large team working on these things long before they plan what they are going to do with said models.


Hundreds if not thousands of models and parts are designed before most of it ever has a use.  many get used in future content, the rest is either slated for a different project or archived. As a game is developed even more people become involved in the process... If you use the publisher models there proofing teams, talent teams, Advertising teams, hell alot of teams... and the costs rise.


If you go the route Star Citizen ran and talked to the players gave the players a voice in the development and ... so far.. cut out the publisher the players obviously respond. The players see the process, they listen to the devs and they get an understanding of how a game is developed.  Those of us who followed Star Citizen from the kickstarter to now know what it takes and we continue to support it. as of this morning the crowd funding of Star Citizen exceeded 14.3 Million Dollars.


Yes the traditional model needs to change I think everyone here can agree that more often than not Games get hamstrung by the publisher for profit. EA was voted worst publisher two years running for this. It doesnt take a genius to do the research and see the problems with the traditional system.


More and more developers have a back ground in gaming themselves. They have seen the writing on the wall.. Star Citizen and Citadel of Sorcery both have teams that were fed up with the status quo. They took steps to change it and those steps I for one Believe are necessary for the growth of PC gaming. They took different routes in the process and designs but they are both revolutionary games and more players should support them.


Played: UO, LotR, WoW, SWG, DDO, AoC, EVE, Warhammer, TF2, EQ2, SWTOR, TSW, CSS, KF, L4D, AoW, WoT

Playing: The Secret World until Citadel of Sorcery goes into Alpha testing.

Tired of: Linear quest games, dailies, and dumbed down games

Anticipating:Citadel of Sorcery


Novice Member

Joined: 2/03/13
Posts: 166

7/13/13 2:56:42 PM#86

This idea would require a “co-development” where the game is shared early to a large group of players for the last 50% of development time. Developers would also share features before they were completed. Sharing these prototype early would ensure that developers could make changes without incurring great cost.


If only it was that simple. Personally I would rather trust the vision of a developer than many individuals arguing interminably about game features. I'm presuming here that the framework you speak of has already determined whether the game is sandbox vs themepark vs etc.

I sometimes make spelling and grammar errors but I don't pretend it's because I'm using a phone


Novice Member

Joined: 1/24/12
Posts: 15

7/13/13 4:20:50 PM#87

I agree that player involvement earlier in a game's development would greatly benefit all involved, however I think this is nothing more than a pipe dream.


First off, the game developers and programmers are slaves to the number crunchers in the back room holding the purse strings and demanding certain timetables be met to satisfy investors.  I think many have seen games pushed out to retail that shouldn't even have been in open beta yet.  It was different in the beginning when it was the developers/programmers who actually were investing their money into the game because the whole genre was considered too risky by investors.  Then they had total control of the product.


As soon as they showed they could make significant money with the games, investors, some of which wouldn't know an MMO if it smacked them on the side of the head, entered the mix.  Now with the price of making games so high, it's all but impossible for devs/programmers to be in total control, so it's always a battle between them and the number crunchers.  It's the real world we're talking about so we all know who ultimately wins those battles.  (For those that need a hint:  the devs don't win too often)


That leads to the whole open beta issue.  It has become little more than a promotion period for the game and server stress tests than actually testing to see if content works.  Few, if any, problems with content found in open betas now get corrected prior to the game going live.  Frankly with most games lately it wouldn't surprise me if the game was already boxed and ready to ship to retail outlets before open beta even starts.  Beta needs to go back to it's intent of fixing game problems instead of a promo period, which in most cases now, is paid for.  Go ahead and keep a promo period if you want, but call it what it really is, a server stress test, and go back to have a meaningful beta where you have lots of players finding bugs and flaws so they can be corrected before you ship the boxes out the door.


Another problem I see is that the majority of players now have the patience of a gnat, or worse.  You really can't change that one at all.  The younger generation, that grew up having the technology, wants things yesterday.  (See problem above with investors as a large chunk of them come from this base) They weren't around during the days of paper rpgs where you actually had to keep track of your health with a pencil, and god forbid, do the math without a calculator. 


Sure, most of the crowd wants the latest graphics as well.  WoW seems to survive without the best in that department.  The whole genre seems to be going downhill sacrificing true content to pretty looks.  Games seem to be 'dumbing' themselves down to concentrate more on looks.  Whatever happened to wanting a brain behind the pretty packaging? 


I've played 8 MMOs during the past 2 years and I can't see playing any of the games out there long term any more.  There doesn't seem much point when you can max level and see all the content in a week, or maybe two. Sure there's the people interaction part of MMOs vs the old single player rpg, but when MMOs, like WoW, go to cross-realm and other such platforms, they limit that as well.  Nothing like standing next to a bunch of other players that you can talk to, but if you want other interactions like trading, crafting, etc, with them, you're out of luck.  Heck, you can talk to your friends on Vent while playing single player rpgs and there's not much difference.


Novice Member

Joined: 4/27/05
Posts: 186

7/13/13 7:25:21 PM#88

Much better article Mark.  If I remember correctly you said in the comments of your last article that you would leave out the advert and probably still get crap for it.  Well I personally say its much better and well done.  Thanks for it.


Now on to the contents of the topic.  I would have to say game development needs to change as well.  The amount of money and time being spent and lost is just not sustainable.  One suggestion I would have for developers, would be work with your fans.  Listen to them, they most likely will care about the product more then you.  I know some companies say legal issues or they want to control PR, or competition might get to see your product.  But honestly look how your products are doing in general do you really feel those would be your major issues?  Just build your games with your customers, listen to them, and embrace them.  I personally think it will create better products and have a higher chance of success.  So what I'm suggesting is beta the whole process, let all information flow and gauge reactions of the community from that.


Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/07
Posts: 56

7/13/13 7:45:55 PM#89

So, I kept my part of the bargain and left Firefall out of this one.  As predicted, I was still attacked regardless of the content of my article. Can we leave personal attacks out of this? I'm just trying to have an open discussion about how to improve our hobby.

If you feel slighted by Firefall or by myself, please post it to the Firefall forums. It doesn't belong here. Otherwise I might as well go back to saying "Firefall" every article since it hardly seems to make a difference.


Follow me on <a href="">Twitter: @Grummz</a>


Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/25/07
Posts: 711

7/13/13 9:01:12 PM#90
Originally posted by Cukshaik

Who is we Mark? Use I, not we, when you are the only person typing. I don't think of a beta as a "nearly finished" product, merely as a nearly ready for release product. MMOs are never "nearly finished" until their server(s) population drops.

You claim "we" need more innovation and less-risk. This will not happen. What game companies consider risky is the money they spent vs the money they will see in return. The all mighty dollar will win every time.

What game developers need to do is their own thing. MMOs have become too much of a copy cat gaming scene. Game X has this, and if Games Y and Z do not, they will fail. Developers are afraid of going back to their roots of game making. A lot of other things have taken a step back into the past. Music, fashion, cars to name a few. Get back to making games that challenge people, not just pretty looking games.

Until game developers grow balls and are willing to do something they believe in rather than something that has been done ten times already, but this time with vanilla (flavor), MMOs are going to continue down this path.

So go back to the initial market type of person?  I agree going back to roots of MMOs will help them out.  Give them an atmosphere, not just a lounge area.  But are people going to stay.  I remember being around for 10 minute shuttle rides.  I remember the joy of them dropping to 5.  I remember when people were happy when they went to 1minute.  I think 5 was good.

The problem is the only interaction between people is when something needs to be completed.  No talking required just go attack, heal, or tank.  Nuff said.  This reminds me greatly of the TSW anniversary event going on right now, the community effort for this is awesome.  The game functionality though doesn't give time for the players to rejoice or speak while doing combat though thus no community atmosphere is built.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/31/10
Posts: 163

7/14/13 2:12:54 AM#91
It's ridiculous to think Star Wars cost so much.  Maybe they should just hire Koreans.  Theyre obviously more productive and cost-effective, when you consider what they are capable of producing, even if you disagree with certain elements of their games from art-direction to features, they seem much more competent.

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/28/07
Posts: 599

Need longer quote limits.

7/14/13 6:48:09 AM#92
Another thing that needs to change in MMO Development is the developers listening to the vocal minority when it comes to the balancing of class dynamics. I have been playing MMORPG's since 2001 and it is always the same thing the pvpers cry that every class but theirs is too op. Then the Developers spend the next 2 - 3 patches trying to balance out PvP Damage which causes the PvE damage to get hosed. If it is not that then you have people whine and complain that something is too easy or too hard which is another 2 - 3 patches to balance out dungeons instead of adding in content. This cycle of players telling the developers how to do their jobs is starting to make MMORPG's from a fun time away from the real world to a dull task that makes watching paint dry seem like more fun.

"Possibly we humans can exist without actually having to fight. But many of us have chosen to fight. For what reason? To protect something? Protect what? Ourselves? The future? If we kill people to protect ourselves and this future, then what sort of future is it, and what will we have become? There is no future for those who have died. And what of those who did the killing? Is happiness to be found in a future that is grasped with blood stained hands? Is that the truth?"


Jade Dynasty Correspondent

Joined: 6/22/09
Posts: 98

7/14/13 8:00:18 AM#93
They also were in "beta" in one form or another for nearly 2 years. I don't think anyone is going to put Firefall as the standard for good beta though I would acknowledge that the game is better now. Frankly I think console MMO's are the wave of the future. PC Gamers are too quick to jump ship innovation or not. Console gamers aren't nearly as jaded and less likely to whine about features if the quality is there. Plus console gamers already run with alot of multiplayer features, its not a big stretch to make it more MMO-like.

Novice Member

Joined: 8/29/08
Posts: 302

7/14/13 8:11:16 AM#94

Mark, a well thought out piece, but I would argue we need a new model more than we need new development methods. MMOs today are scared to truly break the mold and try something really new. The companies are scared to make a game that has true depth to it and require time, patients and developing skills to advance.

Computer Gaming and MMO play especially today is more like a grade school soccer game. It does not matter if you play, if you play well, if you win or what you do, if you show up you get a prize. No longer do you have to work for it, no longer does the accomplishment have meaning.

Using the fantasy example; When you get that first +1 sword there should be a sense of accomplishment, even of wonder. It should be a weapon to last you a bit and when you make the next advancement it should hold the same sense of effort the first one did. Today however that first magic weapon is usually in your inventory without you doing anything but making the character and often replaced within minutes of game play, there is no accomplishment or work for the reward.





Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/07/08
Posts: 39

7/14/13 8:15:02 AM#95
This co-development is another word for good old fashioned "feedback loops" that are fundamental to Project Management tenets taught in college. I've been saying this since SWG was in its 2nd year and with every MMO since. Kids in their hubris and ivory towers continue to disappoint in one MMO after another MMO's development.

I now think that after 15 years of playing MMO's, the last TOR, it looks like I'm giving up on them and ever believing we'll get a true MMO universe that we haven't seen since early SWG. I think I'm done. 15 years is enough time to waste on bad design and dev teams who don't know Project Management and Marketing fundamentals - but think they know everything (until the moment they realize they failed).

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/07/08
Posts: 39

7/14/13 8:23:44 AM#96
Originally posted by akiira69
Another thing that needs to change in MMO Development is the developers listening to the vocal minority when it comes to the balancing of class dynamics. I have been playing MMORPG's since 2001 and it is always the same thing the pvpers cry that every class but theirs is too op. Then the Developers spend the next 2 - 3 patches trying to balance out PvP Damage which causes the PvE damage to get hosed. If it is not that then you have people whine and complain that something is too easy or too hard which is another 2 - 3 patches to balance out dungeons instead of adding in content. This cycle of players telling the developers how to do their jobs is starting to make MMORPG's from a fun time away from the real world to a dull task that makes watching paint dry seem like more fun.

Very true, also.  The dev mouse wheel on "balance" also shows dev's lack of unifying Vision for a project as far as Project Management fundamentals are absent from green leaders, and they quickly lose their way.


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Joined: 11/07/08
Posts: 39

7/14/13 8:32:03 AM#97

Final note.  It's too late in the process to get to alpha or beta before engaging feedback loops.  The core gameplay dimensions (everything from travel and crafting to items and content) needs to be fully described and vetted with player communities on paper before code is written.  A strong marketing group needs to use their survey and focus group and community skills to engage the community at various stages from paper to beta stages...

Beta is WAY too late.


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Joined: 6/01/04
Posts: 1138

7/14/13 10:32:41 AM#98

The problem with MMORPG's isn't the feedback.  It's that developers over the years have given into a convenience creep of listening to players.  


Imagine your trying to make a happy healthy kid.  Not to call gamers or MMO's kids.  If you were just taking notes on what makes the kids happy from the kids you'd be making the kid unhealthy.  He's going to want junk and candy, no school, and play video games all day.   So in many ways we've changed the game to be easily digested at the cost of the point of MMO which is interactions with other players.  


Community destruction catering to the masses, high developmental cost, lack of general gaming publishers/developers taking risk have made games all feel the same.  Now they can no longer support themselves on subscriptions because of lack of risk taking creativity and lack of solid communities to have destroyed retention.  


To counter this situation they've turned to free to play models which essentially allows games to exist that likely shouldn't survive.  That leads too to many MMORPG's.  It also allows the model of cheap MMO's that don't have to even support the masses just the whale players who will prop up a failed game.  Make a familiar game to get in people easily, make cash shops to prop it up, make it free so people will play and comeback when bored at no cost.


Imagine if you had designed a Planetside like game to only have 32 vs. 32  matches in instances and basically and the rest of the world was a large mass instanced lobby to show off your stuff.  You could ask what was the point of making the game a MMO when essentially it's multiplayer game forced online.  This is how I feel about most MMO's that I rather play a single player game like Skyrim that I'm going to be the story than generic quest grinds that don't change anything and I have no reason to care about what's going on.


I would like to see more sandbox elements.  Player city building, open world house ownership, players making a difference in the world.   


More community quest and problems.  There's a world wide plague that to cure in game lore needs to be read and players need to cooperate or massive crafting obstacles that open up new content or areas when solved.  


Worlds that are more explorable.  Like developers are all from Bioware and like sending us down the dirt path instead of giving us places to explore.


More down time and player interdependence.  Down time gives us time to regroup mentally and do other things than quest/mob grind non stop.  How about crafting needing more than one person or needed.


I'd like to see less dependance on power platform levels.  It's stupid that suddenly giant boss creature 100 feet tall shooting you with a megabeam that leaves craters only tickles you because your 20 levels over its head but random same level orcs axe can hurt you. Content is burned through and area designs are wasted after the first months.  Levels as a sign as advancement is much better than magic power platforms making you suddenly untouchable.  


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Joined: 7/26/04
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7/14/13 11:09:05 AM#99

All fine and nice. The article fails to mention of wanton disregard of player feedback also. The 3 mo beta means by this point the game is done, nowadays. Any bugs found need to be gamebreakers to get attention.

 Devs have taken the attitude this is the game , this is how it'll be released, we'll get to fixing things after. The premise being the game runs and that's all we're concerned about, the rest is fixable. That was the old days and the old way of thinking , when staffs were smaller , populations more patient and with less competition. What they don't understand is that they don't have the luxury of that kind of thinking anymore. I've Alpha and Beta tested enough games to that schedules are tight and sometimes they can't get to stuff. I also saw devs ignore posts about exploits that ruin games and chase away players for the same reason.

  It seems devs don't learn that when given a project that the business types expect results in a contracted time frame. Unfortunately the artistic types seem only to preform when under the gun to do so. Age old problem for which there seems no cure. So in this environment it seems it'll take a lot of pain before the money people realize things need to change.


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Joined: 10/10/03
Posts: 5736

7/14/13 12:12:31 PM#100

"MMOs have become the riskiest and least likely to succeed game genre in existence." - Try telling this to the crowd who seem to think the MMO genre is doing better than ever.

"The rise in development costs can be attributed to many things, but next-gen graphics are definitely a large part of the cost." - This is at the heart of the problem, your MMO either looks bad at launch, or has little content down the line. Looking good at launch is the option they have chosen to ensure early sales, be they box or in the cash shop.

"Rising costs and time, and pushing beta into shorter windows, poses several problems. First, it becomes too risky to innovate. You need to stick to “what works” when budgets are that high." - This is why we see so little innovation in the MMO genre. The greatest steps forward have been combining MMO's with another genre like MMOFPS, solid innovation in the MMO genre is a rare find.

We have been posting these points for ages, industry insiders agree, but still many posters go on about how everything in the MMO industry is going great. Even with P2P MMO's going to the wall, everything is fine. You really need to have your head in the sand not have great concerns about this.

I wonder if any of our posters with rosy coloured spectacles will post here? Thought not.

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