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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Why do developers spend huge resources creating worlds, and then seek to remove players from them as quickly as possible?

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53 posts found
  PioneerStew

Elite Member

Joined: 9/24/11
Posts: 642

 
OP  8/31/14 10:03:36 AM#1

Vast resources go into developing an mmo world for players to level through, but a month after release these worlds are normally almost entirely empty.  Most modern mmo's seem to be designed to remove players from the world and put them swiftly into the next zone or a hub town.  

For me the fault lies mainly with: -

  • Mechanics such as dungeon finder and ubiquitous fast travel and a swift rate of levelling via linear questing which result in hub-towns.  
  • Game design that makes each zone feel like a series of tasks to be ticked off a list, rather than a world to explore and become immersed in.  
  • Level (or level-range) specific zones.  Why can't a single zone cater to many different levels?  Or at least have a few quests in them that would draw higher level players back to the starter areas?  And if a game were designed in this manner, why would we need distinct, walled-in zones at all in place of an open world?   
  • Levels. themselves.  Without traditional levels (although alternative advancement would be required such as skills, trading, crafting, building, achievements, aesthetic items etc etc) the entire map could be used by all of the players all of the time.  
Personally, I would love to see a game that was less about leading the player along a linear path in the mythic search for xp, and more about having a world to explore and become immersed in.   
  Albatroes

Elite Member

Joined: 6/29/14
Posts: 302

8/31/14 10:11:36 AM#2
Obviously, you haven't played Guild Wars 2, since it encompasses most of what you talked about. Aside from that, you don't really see the flaws in what you request. If you re-read what you posted, you might understand why certain features like dungeon finders and the like were implemented in the first place.
  AzurePrower

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/18/07
Posts: 1535

Ahh yes, "Hypers." The people who praise and hate every MMORPG... We've dismissed that claim.

8/31/14 10:15:49 AM#3
Originally posted by Albatroes
Obviously, you haven't played Guild Wars 2, since it encompasses most of what you talked about. Aside from that, you don't really see the flaws in what you request. If you re-read what you posted, you might understand why certain features like dungeon finders and the like were implemented in the first place.

Guild Wars 2 is as immersive as the first zone portal you hit. Let's also not forget instant travel way points.

 

All of which leaving you to admire their various loading screens.

  PioneerStew

Elite Member

Joined: 9/24/11
Posts: 642

 
OP  8/31/14 10:23:19 AM#4
Originally posted by Albatroes
Obviously, you haven't played Guild Wars 2, since it encompasses most of what you talked about. Aside from that, you don't really see the flaws in what you request. If you re-read what you posted, you might understand why certain features like dungeon finders and the like were implemented in the first place.

No Guild Wars 2 does not.  

What does the second half of your post have to do with anything?  We all know why dungeon finder was introduced, but that is utterly irrelevant to my point that it is part of the reason for people sitting in hubs rather than going out into the world.  

 

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13386

8/31/14 11:12:40 AM#5
Originally posted by PioneerStew
  • Mechanics such as dungeon finder and ubiquitous fast travel and a swift rate of levelling via linear questing which result in hub-towns.  
  • Game design that makes each zone feel like a series of tasks to be ticked off a list, rather than a world to explore and become immersed in.  
  • Level (or level-range) specific zones.  Why can't a single zone cater to many different levels?  Or at least have a few quests in them that would draw higher level players back to the starter areas?  And if a game were designed in this manner, why would we need distinct, walled-in zones at all in place of an open world?   
  • Levels. themselves.  Without traditional levels (although alternative advancement would be required such as skills, trading, crafting, building, achievements, aesthetic items etc etc) the entire map could be used by all of the players all of the time.  

On your first point, games that require grouping without making it practical to get groups tend to completely fail.  Twelve years ago, the market was more tolerant of this because there weren't good alternatives, but not today.  Either a game is going to have to have very fast travel to enable grouping, or else it's going to have to be an almost purely soloing game.  Even if you choose the latter to avoid the former, a game in which you spend 2/3 of your time running long distances without paying attention is not a fun game.

On the second point, small game worlds don't allow exploration in a world with wikis, unless the playerbase is too small to create a comprehensive wiki.  Exploration should not be reduced to meaning "a really inefficient way to learn what's on the wiki".  A successful game is going to need to either have an enormous game world--which requires either making it either procedurally generated or mostly barren--or else to not have exploration as a meaningful activity.

The third and fourth tie together.  If a game is going to be mostly about combat and advancement makes you vastly stronger at combat, then a given zone can't be simultaneously appropriate to both high and low level players, or whatever other sort of advancement replaces traditional levels.  This does leave several alternatives:  a game that isn't mostly about combat (e.g., A Tale in the Desert or Uncharted Waters Online), a game where you don't get stronger at combat by playing (e.g., Puzzle Pirates), or zones that cater to particular level ranges.  I'm sympathetic to your point and would like to see more of the first two options, but I think that's a niche view.

  PioneerStew

Elite Member

Joined: 9/24/11
Posts: 642

 
OP  8/31/14 11:32:09 AM#6
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by PioneerStew
  • Mechanics such as dungeon finder and ubiquitous fast travel and a swift rate of levelling via linear questing which result in hub-towns.  
  • Game design that makes each zone feel like a series of tasks to be ticked off a list, rather than a world to explore and become immersed in.  
  • Level (or level-range) specific zones.  Why can't a single zone cater to many different levels?  Or at least have a few quests in them that would draw higher level players back to the starter areas?  And if a game were designed in this manner, why would we need distinct, walled-in zones at all in place of an open world?   
  • Levels. themselves.  Without traditional levels (although alternative advancement would be required such as skills, trading, crafting, building, achievements, aesthetic items etc etc) the entire map could be used by all of the players all of the time.  

On your first point, games that require grouping without making it practical to get groups tend to completely fail.  Twelve years ago, the market was more tolerant of this because there weren't good alternatives, but not today.  Either a game is going to have to have very fast travel to enable grouping, or else it's going to have to be an almost purely soloing game.  Even if you choose the latter to avoid the former, a game in which you spend 2/3 of your time running long distances without paying attention is not a fun game.

I don't think it necessarily needs to be a vast world to enable exploring.  I'll go to the example of Skyrim which is a relatively small world but open and containing many 'hidden' nooks and crannies or areas of interest which give the sense of exploration.  Maybe exploration was the wrong word because I am not expecting to jump on a ship and sail a vast ocean in the hope of discovering a new land mass, I just don't want to have these small, walled in zones filled with tasks that remove any sense of danger, of the unknown and for me are immersion breaking.  

I am not against fast travel and dungeon finder per se, I just think they are overused.  I dislike having teleports every 100 yards, but a drop ship or similar between different areas (which give sense of travelling over a continuous world) can work well.    

On the second point, small game worlds don't allow exploration in a world with wikis, unless the playerbase is too small to create a comprehensive wiki.  Exploration should not be reduced to meaning "a really inefficient way to learn what's on the wiki".  A successful game is going to need to either have an enormous game world--which requires either making it either procedurally generated or mostly barren--or else to not have exploration as a meaningful activity.

As above.  

The third and fourth tie together.  If a game is going to be mostly about combat and advancement makes you vastly stronger at combat, then a given zone can't be simultaneously appropriate to both high and low level players, or whatever other sort of advancement replaces traditional levels.  This does leave several alternatives:  a game that isn't mostly about combat (e.g., A Tale in the Desert or Uncharted Waters Online), a game where you don't get stronger at combat by playing (e.g., Puzzle Pirates), or zones that cater to particular level ranges.  I'm sympathetic to your point and would like to see more of the first two options, but I think that's a niche view.

By zones catering for different levels I do not mean a blunt instrument like an arbitrary level change to suit the area you are in.  I mean (as an example) that if you have a 1-10 zone, why can you not have a level 20 quest in it and a level 50 dungeon (or a deeper level to a dungeon that caters for higher level players).  Simple mechanics such as this would bring higher players back to lower zones, would appeal to that sense of nostalgia you get when you return to earlier zones, would allow newer players to see higher levels in action and would result in a world that felt more populated and useful.  

It is one of my issues with expansions, they always create more land mass which spreads the population more thinly or renders the vanilla game largely redundant.  I would like to see expansions that make some use of the original map by introducing new quests there for higher level players.   

 

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 19709

8/31/14 1:32:04 PM#7
Originally posted by PioneerStew

Vast resources go into developing an mmo world for players to level through, but a month after release these worlds are normally almost entirely empty.  Most modern mmo's seem to be designed to remove players from the world and put them swiftly into the next zone or a hub town.  

Says who?

Lots of MMOs ditch the open world, and focus on the other stuff you discussed. Games like Marvel Heroes, LoL, WoT, ....

I suppose WoW is like that because of legacy reasons. Blizz mistakenly thought that, when they first created wow, that the open world is very important, and later found that LFR/LFD, instanced content is what is popular.

 

  cerulean2012

Elite Member

Joined: 4/12/12
Posts: 254

8/31/14 1:39:23 PM#8
Originally posted by PioneerStew

Vast resources go into developing an mmo world for players to level through, but a month after release these worlds are normally almost entirely empty.  Most modern mmo's seem to be designed to remove players from the world and put them swiftly into the next zone or a hub town.  

.....  

You ask why, because that is what sells.  Now days people want to fell more powerful when playing and leveling allows that.  Also people want to get through zones fast and get to max level fast so games are designed with this in mind. 

To make a game that gos against these things is making a niche game that will only sell a small amount of copies.  Harder for companies to make money that way so the other way sells more thus more is made.

  Horusra

Elite Member

Joined: 6/26/05
Posts: 2204

8/31/14 1:48:07 PM#9
Cookies/easter eggs/hidden nooks last about 1 week in a game before the internet has a map of the area. If the game does not release with a guide (separate charge ofcourse)
  Alders

Elite Member

Joined: 1/28/10
Posts: 1695

I cannot fiddle but I can make a great state of a small city.

8/31/14 2:01:27 PM#10
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by PioneerStew

Vast resources go into developing an mmo world for players to level through, but a month after release these worlds are normally almost entirely empty.  Most modern mmo's seem to be designed to remove players from the world and put them swiftly into the next zone or a hub town.  

Says who?

Lots of MMOs ditch the open world, and focus on the other stuff you discussed. Games like Marvel Heroes, LoL, WoT, ....

I suppose WoW is like that because of legacy reasons. Blizz mistakenly thought that, when they first created wow, that the open world is very important, and later found that LFR/LFD, instanced content is what is popular.

 

 

Tired of saying this but leave that MOBA garbage out of my fucking MMO's.  Thanks.

The reason LFR/LFD is so popular is because there's no reason to go out into the world.  This is a fundamental flaw with instances.  While they're great for allowing every player to see the content without having to compete for it, it also makes the world obsolete.

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12224

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Project Gorgon, and Combat Arms

8/31/14 2:41:20 PM#11
+1 Quizzical's and cerulean's posts

"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

  Bladestrom

Elite Member

Joined: 4/04/11
Posts: 3328

8/31/14 2:58:53 PM#12
Originally posted by PioneerStew

Vast resources go into developing an mmo world for players to level through, but a month after release these worlds are normally almost entirely empty.  Most modern mmo's seem to be designed to remove players from the world and put them swiftly into the next zone or a hub town.  

For me the fault lies mainly with: -

  • Mechanics such as dungeon finder and ubiquitous fast travel and a swift rate of levelling via linear questing which result in hub-towns.  
  • //totally agree, fast travel is a world breaking feature - but the world has to have value for the max level player.
  • Game design that makes each zone feel like a series of tasks to be ticked off a list, rather than a world to explore and become immersed in.  
  • Level (or level-range) specific zones.  Why can't a single zone cater to many different levels?  Or at least have a few quests in them that would draw higher level players back to the starter areas?  And if a game were designed in this manner, why would we need distinct, walled-in zones at all in place of an open world? 
  • //DownScaling the player, and upscale the rewards, provide dynamic events (dailies are hell on earth)  Job done.
  • Levels. themselves.  Without traditional levels (although alternative advancement would be required such as skills, trading, crafting, building, achievements, aesthetic items etc etc) the entire map could be used by all of the players all of the time.  
  • //many enjoy levelling, its a traditional experience, but the key is that at some point you need to stop associating levels with an ever increasing power level which is simply pointless.
Personally, I would love to see a game that was less about leading the player along a linear path in the mythic search for xp, and more about having a world to explore and become immersed in.   

 I also think GW2 has the perfect model, I regularly wander the open world and I am downscaled so it is fun to visit level 1-15 queensdale for e.g to see some of the old events, while i do this im collecting loot which feeds into my gradual progress towards legendaries which is fun as I am not obsessed or worried about optimal looting etc, I do it for pleasure.  Leveling also continues at max level, but you get resource instead as a reward for dinging. 

GW2 should however get rid of the Portals to open up the worlds more (probably a price to pay for the gorgeous graphics and supporting 32 bit systems, which is a shame)

 

rpg/mmorg history: Dun Darach>Bloodwych>Bards Tale 1-3>Eye of the beholder > Might and Magic 2,3,5 > FFVII> Baldur's Gate 1, 2 > Planescape Torment >Morrowind > WOW (1000 hrs on main mage)> oblivion > LOTR (480 Hunter) > Rift (230 hours mage) > Guild Wars (1900hrs elementalist) Vanguard. > GW2(900 elementalist), Wildstar

Now playing GW2, AOW 3

  Vesavius

Old School

Joined: 3/08/04
Posts: 7189

Players come for the game, but they stay for the people- Most Devs have forgotten this.

8/31/14 3:13:02 PM#13
Originally posted by PioneerStew

Vast resources go into developing an mmo world for players to level through, but a month after release these worlds are normally almost entirely empty.  

 

It's the classic disconnect between what the makers want to create and what they see as the broad commercial market wanting.

 

It's a bit of a result of an ongoing idealogical war between artists and accountants tbh.

  Vesavius

Old School

Joined: 3/08/04
Posts: 7189

Players come for the game, but they stay for the people- Most Devs have forgotten this.

8/31/14 3:15:52 PM#14
Originally posted by Alders
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by PioneerStew

Tired of saying this but leave that MOBA garbage out of my fucking MMO's.  Thanks.

 

I personally would say that MOBAs are the direct cause of the fall of the MMORPG.

 

They, and their community cultures,  have been a cancer in this genre since the day they reared their ugly little head.

  Alders

Elite Member

Joined: 1/28/10
Posts: 1695

I cannot fiddle but I can make a great state of a small city.

8/31/14 3:24:02 PM#15
Originally posted by Vesavius
Originally posted by Alders
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by PioneerStew

Tired of saying this but leave that MOBA garbage out of my fucking MMO's.  Thanks.

 

I personally would say that MOBAs are the direct cause of the fall of the MMORPG.

 

They, and their community cultures,  have been a cancer in this genre since the day they reared their ugly little head.

 

I keep reiterating this and will continue to until MMO's re rid of this cancer.  I couldn't agree more.

The playerbase no longer has any patience to see anything through anymore.  If they can't accomplish something in 15-30 min, they abandon it and move on to something else.  This is why it's so damn difficult to put together pick up groups that lasts.

I have no problem with those that want to log in and get a quick game of something in before wife/family aggro.  That's what those other genres are made for.  MMO's are not for that.

  Gruug

Elite Member

Joined: 4/03/08
Posts: 1181

The more you know, the more you know you don't know.

8/31/14 3:24:04 PM#16
Originally posted by PioneerStew

Vast resources go into developing an mmo world for players to level through, but a month after release these worlds are normally almost entirely empty.  Most modern mmo's seem to be designed to remove players from the world and put them swiftly into the next zone or a hub town.  

For me the fault lies mainly with: -

  • Mechanics such as dungeon finder and ubiquitous fast travel and a swift rate of levelling via linear questing which result in hub-towns.  
  • Game design that makes each zone feel like a series of tasks to be ticked off a list, rather than a world to explore and become immersed in.  
  • Level (or level-range) specific zones.  Why can't a single zone cater to many different levels?  Or at least have a few quests in them that would draw higher level players back to the starter areas?  And if a game were designed in this manner, why would we need distinct, walled-in zones at all in place of an open world?   
  • Levels. themselves.  Without traditional levels (although alternative advancement would be required such as skills, trading, crafting, building, achievements, aesthetic items etc etc) the entire map could be used by all of the players all of the time.  
Personally, I would love to see a game that was less about leading the player along a linear path in the mythic search for xp, and more about having a world to explore and become immersed in.   

 

One thing that would make the use of ALL zones for levels happen would be if developers would start leveling up quest objectives based upon the average number in and level of the group. So, in area were you are seeing level one players they would say attack a group of orcs that would be at there level one. But if you had a group of say all level 20's come in and do the same sort of quest against the same orcs, the orcs would then level up to level 20. This would make questing or fighing in these areas with all levels more meaningful and make them less like ghost areas once most players have left in your more traditional mmo.

As far as levels themselves, I would really like to get away from that mechanic. At least hide it so that it doesn't feel so much like "leveling" and more like just progressing and learning better skills as you play.

Let's party like it is 1863!

  Joeyjojoshabadu

Hard Core Member

Joined: 5/21/14
Posts: 97

8/31/14 4:47:46 PM#17
Originally posted by Vesavius
Originally posted by PioneerStew

Vast resources go into developing an mmo world for players to level through, but a month after release these worlds are normally almost entirely empty.  

 

It's the classic disconnect between what the makers want to create and what they see as the broad commercial market wanting.

 

It's a bit of a result of an ongoing idealogical war between artists and accountants tbh.

I think this is correct. They see WOW sub numbers being vastly higher than any other mmo and they get tunnel vision. SWTOR, ESO, WS are classic examples of this. ESO is particularly frustrating to me in this regard because the SP games were renowned for their open world nature.

  Aeander

Elite Member

Joined: 7/15/11
Posts: 297

8/31/14 5:38:14 PM#18
Originally posted by AzurePrower
Originally posted by Albatroes
Obviously, you haven't played Guild Wars 2, since it encompasses most of what you talked about. Aside from that, you don't really see the flaws in what you request. If you re-read what you posted, you might understand why certain features like dungeon finders and the like were implemented in the first place.

Guild Wars 2 is as immersive as the first zone portal you hit. Let's also not forget instant travel way points.

 

All of which leaving you to admire their various loading screens.

 

Honestly, zone portals aren't that bad. They drastically improve server performance at a very minor cost. One can often expect to spend so much time in a zone (one or more hours), that said portal ceases to matter. Hell, anything over 30 minutes in a zone makes the portal irrelevant.

 

Waypointing, on the other hand, is a bigger issue that COULD effect immersion. There is a war between convenience and longevity that may be highly difficult to compromise on. Is it actually different from flying or mounts? Not really. All of these increase convenience at the cost of exploration. 

  Aeander

Elite Member

Joined: 7/15/11
Posts: 297

8/31/14 5:50:20 PM#19
Originally posted by PioneerStew

Vast resources go into developing an mmo world for players to level through, but a month after release these worlds are normally almost entirely empty.  Most modern mmo's seem to be designed to remove players from the world and put them swiftly into the next zone or a hub town.  

For me the fault lies mainly with: -

  • Mechanics such as dungeon finder and ubiquitous fast travel and a swift rate of levelling via linear questing which result in hub-towns.  
  • Game design that makes each zone feel like a series of tasks to be ticked off a list, rather than a world to explore and become immersed in.  
  • Level (or level-range) specific zones.  Why can't a single zone cater to many different levels?  Or at least have a few quests in them that would draw higher level players back to the starter areas?  And if a game were designed in this manner, why would we need distinct, walled-in zones at all in place of an open world?   
  • Levels. themselves.  Without traditional levels (although alternative advancement would be required such as skills, trading, crafting, building, achievements, aesthetic items etc etc) the entire map could be used by all of the players all of the time.  
Personally, I would love to see a game that was less about leading the player along a linear path in the mythic search for xp, and more about having a world to explore and become immersed in.   

 

Points three and four are the most telling.

 

Levels are a staple to the RPG genre, but they are also a form of cancer to the MMO world. They make content irrelevant, add structure where it does not belong, and encourage themepark design. 

 

Guild Wars 2's downscaling system was a step in the right direction. It helps keep all content relevant retroactively for all high level players. It still needs a lot of work, however. The issue with the current iteration of downscaling is that it doesn't effectively take gear into account. Thus content is still too easy (but not absurdly so) for a high level character. At the same time, they need to work on equalizing rewards, so that there is incentive to explore previous content based on player choice.

 

So, for the MMO genre, we've really got three options here:

 

1) A no-level system. Difficulty remains more or less consistent throughout the world. Ideal difficulty throughout the world (save for pvp zones) would be content that is best played by groups of 2-10 players. Progression through finding new skills, skins, and gear. For this system to work, content needs to lean towards the difficult end of the scale, rather than the easy end.

 

2) Downscaling - tweaked to near-perfection. Levels still exist, but they only matter for advancing to new zones, increasing the range of playable content. All content is a retroactive sandbox at max level. This system needs a lot of work, but would likely cause the fewest issues, while being the most flexible and comfortable system for players.

 

3) "The Destiny System" - Each zone offers a mix of low level and higher level content meshed together in a way that is relatively seamless. Generally speaking, lower level content will be pretty obvious, but there is still a high room for error and confusion on the part of lower level players. It could create a very interesting, organic world, but it can also be jarring for the aforementioned reason. It would probably be the most implausible of the three, though it could be downright fascinating if combined with downscaling.

 

 

  rojoArcueid

Elite Member

Joined: 8/13/09
Posts: 5539

"It is double pleasure to deceive the deceiver". - Niccolo Machiavelli

8/31/14 5:56:04 PM#20
Originally posted by AzurePrower
Originally posted by Albatroes
Obviously, you haven't played Guild Wars 2, since it encompasses most of what you talked about. Aside from that, you don't really see the flaws in what you request. If you re-read what you posted, you might understand why certain features like dungeon finders and the like were implemented in the first place.

Guild Wars 2 is as immersive as the first zone portal you hit. Let's also not forget instant travel way points.

 

All of which leaving you to admire their various loading screens.

nothing wrong with the portals. I agree with the waypoints. But if the portals break your immersion you shouldnt be playing video games. We are not in the NES era anymore, we have loading screens now.

 

Nobody has ever complained about WoW´s loading screen while traveling from continent to continent when they could have allowed the zepelin or boat in real time instead..... immersion breaker? nah, just desire to qq

 

EDIT: not sure if its fixed but Swtor did have really bad loading screens. Like 3 loading screens to go from A to B inside the same zone, etc. One LS per map is totally fine.

My endgame begins with character creation and ends with a new mmorpg

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