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General Discussion

General Discussion 

News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: Up to 90% of MMO Real Estate is Wasted

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169 posts found

Elite Member

Joined: 1/17/08
Posts: 887

7/05/13 2:58:40 PM#41

Guild Wars 2 spits on this article with an 50mph loogie.    Sorry, but somewhat true.


Thanks to things like world bosses,  down-scaling, and Living Story, the other zones throughout the game are being visited more and more frequently by long-time players just as much as the new players.  Arena Net have really found a great way to make constant use of the content they've already created, beyond having new content to supplement the older as well.


Oh, and I forgot to mention the Guild Missions.  Bounties and Treks are a given to having players go into different zones, and also Rushes and Challenges too (that's if you don't get the Crab Toss challenge 3 weeks running, GAH!).       And the last bit to mention is World Exploration through achievements and  the Legendary requirements.


I honestly think that more games to incorporate down-scaling levels combined with up-scaling loot that would encourage players to go back to old content.   They also need to have periodic scavenger hunts in the older zones that will also bait older players back into those zones.


Not to tip my hat to WoW (used to be good, not any more), but when they added the Sunday fishing tournament, that was a big hit for people to go into those zones they usually never trek to.


Advanced Member

Joined: 9/21/10
Posts: 677

7/05/13 3:27:16 PM#42
My first mmo didn't have a tutorial or a starter instance.  It was just welcome to the world try not to die instantly.

Playing: Smite, Marvel Heroes
Played: Nexus:Kingdom of the Winds, Everquest, DAoC, Everquest 2, WoW, Matrix Online, Vangaurd, SWG, DDO, EVE, Fallen Earth, LoTRo, CoX, Champions Online, WAR, Darkfall, Mortal Online, Guild Wars, Rift, Tera, Aion, AoC, Gods and Heroes, DCUO, FF14, TSW, SWTOR, GW2, Wildstar, ESO, ArcheAge
Waiting On: Nothing. Mmorpg's are dead.


Novice Member

Joined: 3/28/13
Posts: 70

7/05/13 3:39:53 PM#43
I still remember the entire startzone of the Orcs, Undead, Tauren, Trolls (same as Orcs) and Blood elf in WoW. I stopped playing wow aprox 3 years ago. The last time I was in the Orc, Undead and Tauren zone was when the game was offically released. It helps having a near perfect memory.

the steel shines red with enemy blood. It sings of victory, granted by the gods. And as they return bleeding but proud, the horizon burns and the song is ringing LOUD!


Novice Member

Joined: 12/23/11
Posts: 301

7/05/13 3:49:17 PM#44
GW2 doesn't have this problem. Another reason why it's an outstanding game.

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/31/12
Posts: 666

7/05/13 4:06:03 PM#45

Mark Kern says all the right things, but unfortunately I don't think his vision is being translated from paper to Firefall right now.


I don't think the game is ready for public consumption. It will be brutalized for having small areas and using copious amounts of time gating to try to prevent players from realizing how tiny things are.


The game world looks beautiful and well thought out, but the game play and execution is way to unfinished to present publicly.


It's pretty clear whatever it is they're doing they are WAY behind schedule if they're hell bent on open beta at this point. I think they need Open Beta to make more money so they can afford to expand. That's unfortunate.






Elite Member

Joined: 3/15/06
Posts: 844

7/05/13 4:10:21 PM#46

Maybe you should try hiring industry professionals you meet instead of cutting off all communication with them the instant you find out they aren't currently employed in the games industry.


Maybe you would have found that those people already have ideas to take your flip-flopping unfocused game into a direction that isn't following current game trends, but leads them.


You're talking about reusing zones when most people that have tried your beta don't want to be in your zones even the first time. You've gone from a quest focused themepark to a PvE sandbox without any reason to play in it, to a PvP focused sandbox, to an eSports focused PvP client.


None of these are attracting attention.


You had Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day pimp your game and even they came away with the impression that the game has too steep of a learning curve and no depth payoff when you finally climb it... and you were right there helping them!


Maybe some industry professionals aren't currently employed because their ideas aren't the same regurgitated pablum the industry keeps trying to serve to its customers... sure wouldn't have hurt to talk to them given your current trials.


meh, opportunities missed.




'Sandbox MMO' is a PTSD trigger word for anyone who has the experience to know that anonymous players invariably use a 'sandbox' in the same manner a housecat does.

When your head is stuck in the sand, your ass becomes the only recognizable part of you.

No game is more fun than the one you can't play, and no game is more boring than the one you've become familiar with.

How to become a millionaire:
Start with a billion dollars and make an MMO.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/20/08
Posts: 144

- A coyote.- There aren't any coyotes in England.

7/05/13 4:28:06 PM#47

What an excellent post. I totally agree with the point that to create a realistic world in terms of a viewing perspective a landscape has to exist that in theory means that parts of it will never be trod upon. I think that land that is largely redundant should well be considered for usage and I can certainly see Blizzard in particular being able to go 'nuts' with housing, farming, guild mansions / forts, race tracks, a Goblin run amusement park, a 'Las Vegas' (The Meadows) gambling emporium .... poker tables etc and a space station that would catapult your character into the new Titan / Warcraft 2 experience ... options are endless.

The reason I am harping on about WOW's land in particular is that everybody can see it all of the time because there are no loading screens to areas ... which means that the Barrens has to be up for grabs as much as Loch Modan, Silverpine Forest and Westfall because they 'really' exist.

I think I will have to create a 'Bugsy' style character and have a look at the Vegas thing.... 


Advanced Member

Joined: 8/11/08
Posts: 1687

All it takes for evil to succeed is for the good to stand by and do nothing

7/05/13 5:05:28 PM#48
Originally posted by Battlerock
So how big is the firefall world lets compare it to azeroth?

Not sure how big azeroth is tbh(not a wow player) but you could easily fit the entire firefall world into tatooine of swg, one mission in sto and so one.  So likely one zone of wow will be bigger than the firefall world.  To compensate what they've done here is fill it with lots of scenery so you can't go in a straight line and recently(this current miracle patch I believe) they seem to have decided to slow down the character movement aswell.


Novice Member

Joined: 4/21/13
Posts: 4

7/05/13 5:10:35 PM#49

Many games already use a multi-channel or instance base for zones now. Never winter has at any given time 15 different channels in high populated zones. This also help with lag issues when you have 5000 players all standing around the auction house.

Why can't we continue that into the game play. I level my character through zone A from 1-10, Zone B 10-20 and maybe from 30-40 I go back to zone A but a different channel of that zone where quests and mobs are based on that level range. This way you can build an MMO with 8 zones and get the job done and there is no need for 20 zones.  I dont mind spending a lot of time in one zone as long as the content in the zone evolves. Maybe at level 4 when I was in zone A the trees weren't quite grown yet but when I went back at level 30 time had passes and now things have changes and the landscape has matured.

SO much can be done to make MMO's better, I just thing it's going to take that one company with enough courage to go out on a limb and do it. If it works others will follow. Game are a huge investment and companies are going to milk what works until it doesn't anymore.


Novice Member

Joined: 8/15/04
Posts: 355

7/05/13 5:20:13 PM#50
Articles like this remind me of FFXI, where most of the zones are used by at least two or three different levels of players. Oddly enough, it didn't even require dynamic setting or anything that fancy; it just took effort in deciding where and how to place mobs, roads, entrances and exits, and the other elements of the zones so that people of different levels could effectively share the same space. Not that there is anything wrong with using the dynamic setup, but often times simpler solutions are available and simply overlooked.

Novice Member

Joined: 6/23/06
Posts: 11

7/05/13 5:25:35 PM#51

Mark Kern wrote: "Each zone is geared towards a level range, and once you are past that level range, you almost never need to adventure in those zones again."


That's a troublesome wording. People should WANT to visit zones, not NEED to or forced by some arbitrary dynamic/random daily quest. What I fear will happen is that a player needs a large amount of X material. FireFall's "dynamic open world encounters" means that today X is most abundant in Zone 3, so I go to Zone 3. Tomorrow X is most easily obtained in Zone 4 so I go to Zone 4. And so on.


Another problem with dynamic open world encounters is that they are abusable. Even a simplistic encounter as a Thumper in FireFall is abusable, because of players abusing the slightest terrain imperfection over and over again, making the encounter trivial and boring.


MMO players will always follow the path of least resistance, and there's a very real risk that you'll end up with 90% wasted real estate, because the players are concentrating in one area that yeilds the best result. Similar to what happened in XP valley.


Novice Member

Joined: 12/06/06
Posts: 53

7/05/13 5:45:35 PM#52
Old School EQ (Pre 2002) did accomplish this. You had to go all over the world to complete quests. Your Epic quest for example made you go all over the place to complete the quest. It wasn't just the high end group & raid zones. It would be nice to see a game that returns to that concept and makes the world seem populated & life-like again.

Novice Member

Joined: 3/24/11
Posts: 14

It's good to be the king.

7/05/13 5:48:46 PM#53
With Gw2 I like the whole down-leveling thing in lower zones. I have already been everywhere and still prefer to mess around in the earlier zones because they have a lot of fun little events that are just funny and not as serious as the "late game content". One of my favorite events is when an asura is trying to make a type of "love potion" out of harpy pheremones, but it turns out he got it wrong and he gets kidnapped by a harpy matriarch who was attracted by him. The entire thing is just silly and honestly one of the most entertaining things in the game. There are quite a few gems like this in the game and most people just skip them over because "they need to get that next piece of gear" or "level up my 4th toon to 80". In Gw2 I just like to stop and smell the roses once in a while, the game is beautiful, enjoy it instead of trying to find useless "end game content"

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/12/09
Posts: 40

7/05/13 5:50:54 PM#54

"Everything has to be placed by hand: mountains, roads, caves, dungeons, valleys, trees, rocks, points of interest, themed/unique monsters and even grass! I would argue that zone creation is about 70% or so of an MMO’s total cost to develop including features, programming, art and world design. That means, on a 100M budget (typical for a mid to top end MMO these days), and a 20 zone game, you are spending about 3.5 million dollars a zone."


I wonder if he know about voxels and procedural generation ... with some develoopment those techs could DRAMATICALLY decrease amount of work needed to create REALLY HUGE mmo worlds.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 4/03/12
Posts: 5695

7/05/13 6:01:25 PM#55

If the game is fun for 2 months, then you move on, who cares? When Devs can get it right again and build a game that makes players want to keep coming back, then we can discuss wasted real estate.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/04/11
Posts: 2034

7/05/13 6:15:35 PM#56
Originally posted by Battlerock
So how big is the firefall world lets compare it to azeroth?

The question should be: So how much of Firefall is useable/interesting to endgame characters compared to Azeroth?

Survivor of the great MMORPG Famine of 2011


Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/04/11
Posts: 2034

7/05/13 6:17:03 PM#57
Can we get one of these articles discussing the stupid cartoony art style preferred for MMOs?

Survivor of the great MMORPG Famine of 2011


Advanced Member

Joined: 3/25/07
Posts: 1531

7/05/13 6:21:17 PM#58

simple answer, eliminate zones altogether, if Asheron's Call could build a seemless world in 1999, how can it not be done today.  Each area (not zone) could contain mobs from level 1-500, as zones became more desolate, the higher level mobs would migrate in and become more previlant in that area.  Doesnt really seem all that hard.


  User Deleted
7/05/13 6:21:25 PM#59

The reason that so many mmo's fail, is because about 80% of all video games fail to turn a profit, regardless of genre. I realize that seems like an outrageous and hyperbolic statement to some of you, but feel free to go look at the industry statistics yourself.


So, if it seems like 8 out of 10 mmo's are failures, that's just par for the course. It has nothing to do with games being made easier lately, or games not using their virtual real estate thoroughly, or whatever. The video game industry has been this way for the entirety of the 21st century, it's nothing new. Most games simply will not succeed, mmo's are no exception.


I could start a new genre tomorrow, with the best game devs in the world making the games, companies investing billions, and eventually most of them would be commercial failures.


Novice Member

Joined: 4/07/04
Posts: 3726

7/05/13 6:32:31 PM#60

Guildwars 2 took some very important steps in the right direction with level scaling to allow most of the world to remain viable content once you reach the level cap.

However, they stopped short of the potential of the system they pioneered in a way that makes you want to shake the current developers until they show some signs of intelligence and comprehension.

The problem with GW2 is that level scaling is not aggressive enough, which means that lower level zones are much easier than higher level ones, even if the gap is exponentially more narrow than in a traditional MMO.

If scaling really made low level zones almost as challenging as high level zones, they could then make them almost as rewarding to play in. This was the stated goal while the game was in development. Sometime around Fall of 2011, a year before release, they were saying that scaling would allow you to earn XP and level appropriate loot almost as efficiently in low level zones as in high level zones as a level 80 character.

If they had carried through with this, the entire world would be equally playable and equally rewarding even with a level cap character. They had the solution to the problem highlighted in this article with in grasp and they  blew it. I still can comprehend why, I guess some of the developers were just too afraid to fully embrace the new paradigm that GW2 proposed, but only partially brought to reality.

Want to know more about GW2 and why there is so much buzz? Start here: Guild Wars 2 Mass Info for the Uninitiated

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