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All Posts by Gudrunix

All Posts by Gudrunix

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146 posts found

Originally posted by Eronakis


What you propose sounds like an adventure game. or a lobby based game. And a lot of mmo gamers are sick of lobby games. They want a world. Not bad ideas for a lobby game but would take out the very nature of the MMORPG gameplay. It's point is to progress. Weather with its with level or skills you will always level something. It's the very nature of the game. 


I forgot to respond to this point - I actually don't like lobby games.  I really like open world, and I find the fact that coherent encounters have to be run in an instance is unfortunate.  I really like open world content, but I'm honest about the fact that a leveling system and an open world combine to trivialize a lot of content, as you can basically over-level otherwise challenging encounters.

My point was that you have to think seriously about a more complex progression than just kill-stuff-and-get-XP-and-level-up.  Having to complete instances is one way to do that.  But another is a very gear-dependent system that combines challenges, exploration, crafting, etc. - that is, something like the system that Terraria uses.  Terraria doesn't have an XP and leveling system, and effectively uses an open world, but it does have a clear progression, and there's a very real sense of achievement as you progress, not just "well, dinged level 44, on to level 45, I guess, say, I wonder if there's somewhere I can farm XP faster."

Originally posted by deniter


So yes, i'm in favor of getting rid of levels in MMORPGs; or at least drop the stat increase and let the gear determine your power. Anyone can grind pigs in Elwynn but getting a decent set of gear takes time and keeps you busy in a game.

I totally agree.  I really like open skill systems that have either minor or no stat boosts, where your power is a combination of your gear, your stat build, and your (real world) skill at playing the game.  The major downside is that content can be trivialized by letting players buy higher power gear, so you'd have to think about how you'd limit that while still maintaining a meaningful economy.
Originally posted by Eronakis

What was your first mmo? Have you ever considered that MMORPG's are not for you? Perhaps you may enjoy adventure games instead.

 

You will always level or progress in some way shape or form. When you don't do that then you have an adventure game, not an RPG or an mmorpg.

Actually, I started with pen and paper RPGs, then progressed to computer RPGs, to MMORPGs.

The earliest (pen-and-paper) RPGs were most certainly not about the grind - they were about getting together with friends and completing a difficult encounter.  You didn't sit around all day and kill yetis, you cleared a dungeon and congratulated yourself on the achievement (unless you had a sadistic DM, in which case you all died).  XP/levels were there to give some sense of long-term progression, and with the gear you picked up, to help prepare you for more challenging encounters.  But ultimately, it was about working with other players in prevailing over difficult challenges, and having good stories to tell in the process.

I think the earliest MMORPGs were designed to try and capture that, but instead, players just found it was easier to grind out XP solo by farming mobs, and to buy their gear at the auction house, than it was to form up groups with other players and take on lengthy encounters.  That resulted in marginal parts of the original RPG model - XP, gold, and leveling up - getting elevated far above what should have been the most important aspects - working with other players, overcoming big challenges, exploring the world and the lore.

I think that's what's fundamentally wrong with MMORPGs right now, and why the overall population is declining.  The focus on the grind has resulted in a certain number of innovations that have made the grind less grind-y, but in the process, both designers and players have forgotten that it was never about the grind in the first place - it was about the sense of achievement, which has almost completely been lost due to the repetitive and monotonous nature of the grind.

I should recognize that several people here have said that they're just fine with the grind - but, well, you're still here.  I'm speaking more to the interests of the milions of players who have clearly moved on from MMORPGs to other games, like MOBAs, RTSs, and computer CCGs.  The grind may be just what you want in an MMORPG, but it clearly isn't what a whole lot of other players want in their MMORPG, myself included, as it's been years since I've played an MMORPG.

For the people here who seem to think that MMORPGs are all about killing a bazillion boars until you ding 60, well, you've got a hundred games to choose from.  But if you have any interest in attracting new players, or getting back the players who have left, or hanging on to the players who are bored out of their minds and ready to head out the door, you'll have to start entirely rethinking the model of how the game works.

The (Boring, Repetitive) Race to 50(/60/80/100)

A new MMORPG has been released, and we are treated to the exact same spectacle we have seen in game release after game release:  players solo or in groups racing across the landscape, "farming" XP in the most efficient way possible, whether through defeating enemies and/or completing quests, so that they can hit max level and  start playing "the real game" (or hang around the forums and complain that they're "bored").

Frankly, it's all a bit silly, and it raises the simple question:  why do games still have the boring repetitive Level 1 through Level 50 (/60/70/80/2000) Experience Point-based grind?

I don't know anyone who has seriously declared that they like it, let alone love it.  I don't know any game designers that sit down and say, "what we'd really like in our MMO is for gamers to grind through 50(++) levels doing repetitive quests and defeating the same enemies over and over."  So why do they still design games this way, and why do players still tolerate it?

Why Do Players Prefer the "End Game" over Leveling Up?

There's a good question that's been asked, and is worth exploring:  why not make the whole game the "end game"?  The real question that that raises is this:  what is it about the end game that so many players find to be more satisfying than the XP/level grind?

The even more interesting thing is that some of the answers to that question may highlight features which, on their own, may be unpopular with players.  But features that are unpopular on their own may actually combine for a more satisfying experience overall.

Some of my thoughts on what makes the "end game" more satisfying, and which may have implications for making the leveling up experience more rewarding:

Lockouts.

I am becoming convinced that lockouts are the big secret for the longevity of the end-game.  If it weren't for the very restrictive lockouts on the most significant end-game instances, players would have exhausted its content within a few weeks, if not a few days, of new releases.  But the lockouts put a strict limit on the rate at which content is released, which keeps the players playing the game.

Try adding lockouts to single-player content - especially anything related to leveling up - and you will hear cries of bloody murder from players.  But there is no question that it would dramatically extend the longevity of the game.

Multiplayer-only Content.

I think this is the other big secret to the longevity of end-game content in general.  When you need multiple players to complete given content, that dramatically slows the pace at which it can be completed, and significantly increases the difficulty of it, due to the difficulty of lining up and coordinating multiple people.

Gear Checks.

Punitive gear checks are a very effective way of slowing advancement - and in fact, gear checks are the primary method of restricting advancement in Action RPGs.  The old roguelike games that preceded ARPGs had incredibly brutal gear checks, which meant that players spent a long time farming gear before they could advance; XP and level were secondary considerations when the real question was if you could avoid getting one-shotted ("The drolem breathes poison.  You die.")

Modern MMORPGs have trivialized gear for the XP/leveling up process by very generous gear drops from questing - very popular with players, but it means that the leveling grind is all about farming XP as fast as possible, because players are virtually guaranteed to get the gear they need in the process.

Crafting/Gathering Requirements.

This is somewhat less of a factor than it used to be, but in the past, gearing up for the end-game often required a lot of materials gathering for crafting and consumables, which was a major time sink (ahh . . . the good old days of BRD runs for Dark Iron Ore).  Again, this has been trivialized by easy gear for players leveling up, which minimizes the need for crafted gear or consumables.

Fixing the Leveling Up Process

So, what to do about the leveling up process?

My suggestion:  have leveling tied to end-game-type content, e.g., progression through difficult instances with significant gear requirements (preferably multi-player, although very difficult solo instances may work as well). Players would level up by completing significant achievements in end-game-type content, not just by grinding out a zillion boar kills.  Open world content would not be for grinding XP for levels, but for gearing up, gathering, crafting, and making friends.  And best of all, hitting max level would actually mean something again.

TL;DR:  If players find the "end game" to be more satisfying, then tie leveling up to an "end game"-like experience, and drop the XP/level grind.

You can move while attacking because it's popular with players.  That's the real answer, to be honest.  Players see it as a skill differentiator - better players hop around while in combat to make it more difficult to be hit, due to requirements on the target being in front of you and within range, etc.

That it's unrealistic, jarring, and frankly annoying are not a serious consideration.  Players love attacks and abilities that can be triggered while moving, and hate abilities that can only be triggered while standing still, so the former have become more popular and the latter more rare.

There is a better approach:  allow attacking while moving but attach penalties to it.  That would actually raise the skill cap:  players would have to make difficult decisions between weaker attacks while moving versus stronger attacks while sitting still, which of course would expose them to greater danger.  It would become a risk/reward trade-off.

Ideally, combat would have a stance system, with certain forms of standing still being stances and certain forms of motion being stances.  Players would have to choose between stances to balance their offensive output, defensive vulnerability, and positioning on the battlefield.

But then, of course, they wouldn't be able to hop around like rabbits and just mindlessly spam their one instant cast attack ability . . .

Complaints over "cartoony" graphics seem to be the theme of the week, so I thought it would be of interest to address the issue directly.

First off:  "cartoony" graphics are typically not that cartoony; a better word would be "stylized".  What people here call "cartoony" is nowhere near the level of stylization found in cartoons, or even in comic books; it's simply less realistic than, say, Hollywood movie CGI.

Second:  "realistic" graphics are usually nothing of the sort.  They often feature heavily stylized elements, such as exaggerated figures, massive armor and weapons, and ludicrously over-the-top explosions.  The reason they feel more "realistic" is simply because they are more detailed:  textures have more detail, there is a wider palette of colors, more sprites and special effects are used, etc.

Computer game companies now have the technology to make games as detailed as they would please; so why are they going for more stylized graphics?  The reasons, as I can see them, are these.

- The action is easier to follow with more stylized graphics.  This is particularly true the more objects there are on screen.  With more detailed graphics, it simply gets busy and cluttered any time you have more than two or three objects moving at once.  It's why FPSs continue to use detailed graphics (there are only a handful of moving objects on screen at once) while RTSs and MOBAs are almost all using more stylized graphics.  When textures and color palettes are simplified, it's easier to follow the action when there is a lot of movement on screen.

- It's easier to distinguish a game with a stylized look.  Games that feature higher levels of detail tend to look the same - once you've seen one modern era FPS, you've seen 'em all.  Likewise with the Korean grinders, whose graphic designers love the detail - they all look the same.  World of Warcraft, in contrast, is instantly recognizable due to its stylized graphics.  It's simply easier to market and build a brand for a  game if it has a distinctive look, and that's only possible if the graphics are stylized.

- Stylized graphics give more freedom to set tech specifications, which widens the potential customer base.  This is critically important for MMOs, which have a "network effect", where the appeal of the game goes up exponentially with the number of players playing it.

- Detailed graphics look good in posed shots, but in practice can look busy, particularly if there are a lot of objects on screen.  Too much detail is ugly.  (It's why very good filmmakers have tight control over the number of ojects in their shots, and the range of colors present as well.)  Again, that's something the FPSs and single-player RPGs can control, because all the encounters are tightly scripted and have a limited number of elements, but it can't be controlled in an MMORPG.

Bottom line:  I think stylized grahpics are here to stay.  Individual games may be more or less stylized - e.g., lightly stylized games like EverQuest Next, or heavily stylized games like Age of Empires Online - but I don't see MMORPGs going back to the heavily detailed graphics approach of yesteryear, for the reasons above.

I'm pessimistic.

It's a serious mismatch of what Civ players are interested in and what the game promises to deliver.  Civ players want to make high-level decisions for a civilization; this is a game where it appears that players will mostly be doing the low-level tasks.  In Civ, you order the pyramids built; in Civ Online, you're the serf carrying the stone blocks from the quarry to the top of the mound.  I don't see players tripping over themselves to sign up for that.

Also, MMO grand strategy games have a number of deep and persistent problems that nobody has been able to satisfactorily solve yet.  The most widespread problem is "that guy who lives in his mother's basement that has way more time than you", which inevitably results in the least socially adjusted individuals ending up on top of the online social order, just because they have more time than anyone else.  Along the same lines is "those guys who only talk to each other and not to anyone else and always band together and crush everyone else with no chance for diplomacy."  Fun!

While I'm on a pessimistic streak, a prediction:  this will be all warfare all the time.  Winning Civ has always been about warfare, and I don't see this as being any different.  (Oh sure, there are diplomatic or cultural victory conditions - but those are primarily there for when you're bored of crushing your enemies through warfare and just want a change of pace for a game or two, before you go back to crushing your enemies through warfare.)  They can add in vague penalties for declaring war all they want, it won't change the simple fact that the easiest way to get stuff is to find someone who has it and hitting him over the head.

Final pessimistic prediction:  cash shop.  Ask players of CivVille on Facebook if you think Firaxis has any aversion to pay-2-win.

Good question.

First, I would totally abandon the leveling system.  It fragments the player base, which is death for player interaction.  It also trivializes leveling up; since levels arerewarded from experience, character progression is just a matter of endlessly grinding experience points.  It's mind-numbingly boring, and one reason so many players are quietly exiting MMORPGs; they are tired of grinding levels.

I would use an open skill tree system, but not the typical experience-point based system.  First, skills would be unlocked either through finding a trainer, or by completing a special task that unlocks the skill.  That would allow for questing to be tied directly to progression, and would strongly encourage players to explore.

Second, I would tie progression in a given skill to actual use of that skill.  For combat skills, that would be using the combat skill against suitably difficult opponents.  The more a player uses a skill, the more advancement points they would get in that skill, which would allow it to be leveled up.  Players would get diminishing returns in advancement points for fighting the same opponents, though - but diminishing returns would be reset upon completion of quests, or changing to more difficult opponents.  Different types of skills would realize progression based on different types of activities; so combat skills would be improved through combat, crafting skills through crafting, etc.

Finally, I would add challenges that the player would have to complete in order to unlock significant portions of the skill tree.  A challenge would be a single-player encounter or instance that would significantly test the player - both a skill check and a gear check, to make sure the player is ready to move up to the next level.  The whole point of the challenge would be to ensure that players are genuinely skilled before moving to the next stage of character progression.

So, an example:  a starting mage would like to learn a new spell.  He first has to level up any prerequisite skills in his skill tree.  Then, he has to seek out a trainer who will train him in the new spell; but the trainer may have a quest that needs to be completed before the skill can be trained.  Once the skill is trained, it starts at a low level of effectiveness, but the more the mage uses it against various opponents or in various situations, the more he would be able to advance it in effectiveness.  Once he has advanced it as far as he can, he would have a special challenge to complete - like a short single-player encounter - that would test both his skill and his preparation.  Once the challenge is completed, additional skills would become available for training and progression.

Originally posted by Salio69
cant really saturate the genre with MOBAs, they arent really mmos. they are just small multiplayer games, the same like online chess, checkers, or poker. MOBAs just has a few more players in a match. the reason why mmo websites keep listing them on their sites is to get more users to their sites. MOBAs are saturating the MOBA market though. every other day is a new MOBA.

I agree, MMORPGs and MOBAs are effectively two separate genres.

In the long run, I think LoL will continue to dominate, with Dota2 holding a solid second place; LoL will be the "casual-friendly" (and hence larger) game, Dota2 the "hardcore" (and hence smaller) game.  I just don't think there's that much room for smaller players, other than maybe a FPS-MOBA hybrid, since some players prefer the first-person perspective.

With respect to the payment models, there's a huge difference between payment models, so I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt here, as we don't yet know the full details of the payment system they are planning on using.

The real problem - and I hope most people agree - is a system where you have to constantly dump money into the game to be competitive, and where the more money you dump, the more competitive you are.  That's a terrible system, and I don't think anybody here wants to see that.

But that's not what I'm seeing.  As far as I can tell, it's a one-time payment per chunk of content being unlocked.  But - again, as far as I can tell - everyone who's paid to unlock given content, say the Space Marine faction, is going to be on an equal footing, and won't need to keep dumping money into the game on an ongoing basis to be competitive.

How different is this from a system where you have to pay to unlock content - e.g., in World of Warcraft, where the free version is limited in the number of levels, and you have to pay separately to unlock levels 21-60 (vanilla), 61-70 (Burning Crusade), etc., etc.? (Not sure if I have the levels right, but that's the idea.)  I don't think anybody sees that as "P2W", because it's understood that once you pay to unlock the content, you have full access to it, and don't need to keep constantly dumping money into the game to be competitive (well, other than the monthly subscription, of course!).

Originally posted by achesoma
There is so much fail for this concept it's absurd. This developer truly doesn't understand the gamer mentality. Five Orks to kill one marine?!  Lol, yeah...that'll work out well. Free or not, no one wants to feel weak or gimped. 

Yes, that's the thinking in every other MMORPG up to this point:  everyone is the hero, the champion, the superhero.  Everyone wants to feel powerful, right?

The problem with that is that when everyone is powerful, no one is.  When everyone in the game has the 5000 DPS Sword of the Thousand Truths, no one is special or unique or powerful.

The way you make players feel powerful is by making a lot of players feel un-powerful.  I know that that's counter-intuitive, but that's how it works.

Making everyone powerful also leads to total absurdities that have a ruinous effect on lore and role-playing.  If a Snotling were an even match for a Space Marine, it wouldn't be Warhammer any more, it would just be a re-skinned World of Warcraft, where goblins wielding daggers are just as powerful as ancient elves in legendary magical armor because, well, the game designers didn't want to hurt the feelings of players who wanted to play goblins.  *Everyone* is special and *everyone* is super-powerful, which of course means that no one is.

One postscript:  I agree with other people here that they should add other "cannon fodder" roles for F2P players.  Guardsmen and Heretics would be great - and as weak as they are, I honestly think they would be fun to play.  But no Scouts, please - even the weakest Space Marine Scout is a whole lot more powerful than any Guardsman and most Orks.

I am cautiously optimistic.  Interestingly, the model they are proposing is actually very similar to what I had hoped they would do with the WH40k world; PvP centered, distinct classes, strategic objectives, orders and chains of command, etc., etc.

What I really like about what they are doing is putting the essence of the WH40k world ahead of the stock MMORPG model.  To the extent that the MMORPG model works with WH40k they are keeping it, but to the extent that it doesn't, they are dropping it.  That shows a real commitment to the world they are building, which I see as a very positive sign.

One of the most dramatic decisions along those lines is the decision that not all classes will be equal.  In the WH40k world, they aren't.  Space Marines are far more powerful than Orks, that's how the WH world works.  Instead of sticking to the standard MMORPG script (all classes must be perfectly equal!) they started with the WH40k world (Space Marines easily dominate Orks, at least in small numbers), and then tried to figure out how to make it work.

What I find to be astonishing, though, is the reactions here.  So many people on these forums claim to be looking for that breakout game that will give up the worn-out WoW model, yet the second a new game deviates from the formula, they complain bitterly.  Whether it's the PvP orientation, or a business model that's anything other than a subscription, or an innovative approach to class design, if it deviates from the formula, the complain long and loud.

If you don't start off the game as a level 1 damage-dealer or tank or healer with a 3 DPS sword (whoops, 3 DPS blaster!) and a quest to kill 10 giant rats (whoops, giant *space* rats!), they're not interested.  As if there aren't enough reskinned WoW clones out there already . . .

Would I rather play a game with a strong WH40k flavor - even if it means that there are challenges, like most of the content being PvP, classes not being balanced, etc. - than one that looks suspiciously like an outer-space themed WoW reskin?  Yes.  And I hope I'm not the only one.

Originally posted by evianwater

Its interesting you mention Polish, endgame, and to a lesser degree difficulty...as bonuses for WoW.

 

When WoW released, the difficulty was childish compared to other MMOs at the time, the endgame was nonexistant, and it was one of the worst launches as far as stability in history. It has had horrendous problems with hacking and account security.

 

The very things that made WoW succesfull (like the easy difficulty) are what MMOs are still trying right now, the problem is WoW capitalized first, built up the stable of content, and has coasted ever since. Other games with comparable content : Eq, Eq2, UO...are either out-dated, or lacking in one aspect. Eq2 for example is basically the same game as WoW, it released a month before WoW and had the first large-scale voice-overs. It however never had solid pvp.

That may be the popular thinking, but I would challenge it.  WoW was short on end-game content in the first few months, but the leveling up process was lengthy enough - and players were still taking their time learning the game - that it was a moot point for all but the most hard-core of guilds.  By the time the bulk of the player base started approaching the level cap, Blizzard had ironed out problems with the Molten Core and it was ready to go - and by the time the bulk of the player base started making its way through the Molten Core, Blizzard had follow-on raid instances being rolled out.

Your point about "difficulty" is debatable.  MMORPGs are not, as a rule "difficult", they just require a lot of time invested.  They really only get genuinely difficult in competitive PvP, or in a few of the end-game raids (particularly when run without proper preparation).  WoW certainly required less time invested than its competitors when it was released - but that's a relative thing, and I think anyone who's been around for a while will readily tell you that the time required to level up in WoW on release was far greater than for what is typical of more recent MMORPGs.

And end-game progression on WoW on release was very slow.  You could run the Molten Core as soon as you hit 60, but you'd get burned to a crisp if you weren't prepared.  Preparing for it was a tedious, lengthy process of running lesser dungeons to gear up - but even that was only just enough to get past the first few bosses.  Progressing all the way to the end required many, many runs of the first part of the instance.

And I think players liked it.  Yes, it was tedious, and yes, progression was slow by today's standards - but it didn't seem to discourage the player base any.  They stuck around for the Burning Crusade expansion, when the player base probably hit its peak.  The player base only really started to drop off after the game truly started slipping into "easy mode" with much faster leveling and more accessible end-game raiding.

The general conclusion that WoW succeeded because it was easier to play may in part be true (the controls and abilities were certainly more intuitive than many of its competitors, before or since), but not with respect to the time and commitment needed to progress in the game.  It was nearly as much of a commitment as its competitors upon release, and far more of a commitment than its competitors now - or even what the game itself has become since.

Good question, and I think there are two simple answers.

Content.  World of Warcraft has far more content than any other MMORPG ever released, beyond question.  It has a phenomenal amount and diversity of content, from traditional single-player question, to end-game raiding, player-versus-player, crafting, vanity collecting, exploring, holidays and special events, etc.

The reason WoW is king of content has to do with the way Blizzard builds their games.  For anyone who has done map design in Warcraft 3 or Starcraft 2, you would know that Blizzard builds an incredible set of tools to go with their games, that allows rich content to be built quickly.  Blizzard has been able to crank out an incredible quantity of content for WoW because they built the game on a solid code framework that allowed for rapid development of new content.  That, over seven years of development, means an unequaled amount of content.

Every time I hear about a new game advertising how much content it has, I just roll my eyes.  Say what you want about WoW, the sheer volume of content can't even be touched by its competitors.

Time Invested.  "I can't leave World of Warcraft, I've invested too much time into it already."  I frankly find this to be stupid, but it's very real.  In finance, it's called a "sunk cost" - you're never going to get back what you've already lost, so why keep investing in something if it isn't working for you?  But it's a real part of human psychology, and players will continue to play a time investment game like WoW even after the enjoyment of it is long gone.

But then there's the question:  how was Blizzard able to keep millions of players going for years, to the point that they're reluctant to leave because they're so invested in the game?  The answer:  yep, content.  Blizzard rolled out enough content to keep players busy until the expansions started coming on a regular basis, and that was enough to keep them around for good.  (Other games, in contrast, routinely roll out enough content for only a few months - and then wonder where all their subs leave so quickly.)

Implications?  Any game that wants to ask for a monthly subscription is going to need to have a tremendous amount of content - not just grind, but actual interesting things to do, that will keep players occupied for at least a year.  If they don't meet that threshold, they won't be able to hold subscriptions.

The alternative, of course, is to give the players tools to create their own content . . .

Originally posted by Kuinn
Sooooo, how much is there RPG elements in the zerg campaign? Will I possibly find it fun even if I dont like playing as zerg at all in multiplayer?

The RPG elements are a bit light in the campaign, certainly less than compared to Wings of Liberty.  Just not a whole lot of roleplaying you can squeeze out of squishy near-mindless things that do everything Kerrigan tells them to.

Still, it's entirely possible you will enjoy the campaign regardless.  The mission design has a lot of interesting and downright fun ideas incorporated.  It's a reasonably good introduction to Zerg, and to me at least it felt like they were trying to make Zerg as approachable as possible for new players who find the style to be strange and the units off-putting.  The style is still strange and the units off-putting, but you'll get the hang of the race and start enjoying it before too long. :)

The best reason to buy Starcraft 2 is the same as the reason to buy Warcraft 3:  the custom maps.  There are an incredible variety of custom maps, with so many different styles of play among them that even if you don't like the core game, you are virtually guaranteed to like one of the custom maps.

Also, I really need to give Blizzard credit on doing Starcraft 2 right.  They did virtually everything in their power to please the fan base and silence the complainers.  They included a lengthy single-player campaign so that people who hate multiplayer couldn't complain.  They included a tight and strategically deep multiplayer so that the people who hate single player couldn't complain.  They packaged it as a box with one price on it so the people who hate subscription fees couldn't complain.  They did not include a microtransaction store (yet!) so those who hate microtransactions couldn't complain.  They left the core gameplay of Starcraft effectively the same while expanding strategic options, so the "original game was fine" crowd couldn't complain.  And most important, they packaged it with literally the deepest mod editor ever to ship with a commercial game, so that even if players hated everything else, they could redesign the game the way they liked, so they couldn't complain.

 . . . And yet, some people still complain.  "The campaign got split into three parts" (despite, you know, each of those three parts being as long as what was included in previous games) and "it's Blizzard" are, apparently, enough to complain about a game and not buy it.

One critical point I would like to make:  the very first computer games were 25¢ to start a game and 25¢ to continue.  They were a shameless micro-transaction pay-for-power model.  Want another life?  Pay for it.

The reason game companies switched over to boxed games was because players didn't like getting nickeled-and-dimed (literally!).  Players wanted to pay one price and be able to play the game as much as they wanted.  Once boxed games came out, arcade games went into a nearly terminal decline which they have never recovered from.

Game companies now appear to think that they've hit the jackpot by rediscovering the quarter-eating-machine model.  They haven't.  A quick review of the biggest hits of the last few years show that by far the biggest hits - Guild Wars 2, Diablo 3, Starcraft 2, Terraria - have been boxed games.  Players still like and still favor the boxed game model, for the most part.  So-called free-to-play games are (with one significant exception) small players whose sales do not approach those of the boxed titles.

This is complicated, but only just a bit, by the presence of games that charge extra for vanity features.  This is classic economic pricing along the demand curve, though - game companies know that some players will pay more for what is effectively the same product, so they add some meaningless bells and whistles, and those who want to pay more will do so.  (Meanwhile, those who want to pay less will wait for it to hit the bargain bin.)  This is the "deluxe edition" pricing, only it's being done through DLC instead of as part of a packaged box.

The only thing that's really changed is that one company - Riot Games - has figured out that, for just the right kind of game, you can set the boxed price to $0 and make enough money to run the company on sales of vanity alone.  That's neither the boxed game model nor the quarter-eating-machine model, and it's doubtful as to how well that will work for types of games other than online battle arenas.

Where I see game companies going wrong is in believing that they can get away with charging players for the box, then tacking on a quarter-eating-machine to the game.  That isn't going to go over well with players, and hasn't been going over well.  The price for the game needs to be fixed - $60 or $0 - with the only additional costs being for meaningless vanity or for significant content expansions.  Anything else, and players are going to boycott, just like they left the old arcade games to gather dust.

With a lot of other people here, I too have given up on MMORPGs.  My main interest in this site is in the hope - possibly vain - that a new and dynamic genre rises from the MMO ruins.

At one point, I had a strong interest in MMOs, which came primarily from two factors:  deep immersion, and a sense of accomplishment.

Immersion versus Convenience

A lot of things have killed the immersion over the years - not least of all the unwillingness of MMORPG players to, you know, RP - but the most glaring in my eyes is the insidious onset of convenience.  The problem is, convenience kills immersion.  Instant travel is bad enough, but the real death of the open-world MMORPG has been the dungeon queue system.  Yes, it's convenient, it saves a lot of time.  A "YOU WIN, GAME OVER, CONGRATULATIONS!" screen with a screenshot of your character in T199 armor would save even more time.  But it would kill the game, and the sense of enjoyment and accomplishment that used to come from traveling to a distant location, taking on a challenge, and coming out victorious.

I realize no one wants to go back to twenty minute travel times to dungeons, myself included.  But I would really like to go back to when it actually made sense to spend time in the open game world.  (Can we at least go back to open game worlds?)  Developers need to figure out how to balance that - that is why, presumably, we pay them the big bucks.

Accomplishment and the Hampster Wheel

I used to find the sense of accomplishment in-game very satisfying.  And then came the expansion.  And the next one, and the next one.  And then I realized, all my accomplishments would mean next to nothing in a few months, and so I gave up trying.

The problem is, sooner or later gamers figure out that the conventional MMORPG model is a hampster wheel.  You just run around, and around, and around, and don't really go anywhere.  For a short time the illusion can be maintained, but inevitably, it wears off.

What players need is accomplishment based on something other than grinding out levels and/or dungeon raids.  That, I think, is why PvP arena games like League of Legends are taking off.  Competitive PvP isn't something you just grind out and gets replaced with the next expansion; it's a real accomplishment to go up on the rankings.  It's also why conventional RPGs haven't gone out of style; players love the real accomplishment of finishing a long and difficult story line.

MMORPGs may have a future.  But if so, it would involve . . .

Less Of:

  • Zoned content
  • Repetitive content
  • Level cap/max gear being raised/outdated every six to twelve months
  • Scripted encounters
  • Single-player content
and More Of:
  • Player interaction
  • Open world content
  • Events and other unrepeated content
  • Player actions impacting the world
  • Game expansion in terms of breadth (more classes, more skills, greater variety in gear, etc.) rather than just level cap +5, weapon DPS +10
  • Dynamic encounters
  • Multi-player content
Originally posted by madazz

I don't think the genre/industry is dead. I just think it is stale and we are all to lazy to throw it out and make a new loaf.

I agree.  It's not dead, it's just incredibly stale.  I haven't played an MMORPG in years.  What time I do have is mostly going to MMORTSs (AoEO, End of Nations beta).  I'd enjoy playing a real MMORPG, but only if they trashed the current model and started over.  No more cash shop, no more instanced everything, no more levels and classes, no more endless-grind-for-gear-so-you-can-more-effectively-grind-for-more-gear.  I would need to see a real reboot of the genre to be interested.

Originally posted by Icewhite

But a uniquely large population would logically equate to a uniquely large inertia as well.

I agree.  The inertia is both their biggest strength - they get solid monthly revenue - but also their biggest weakness - it will be difficult to do anything else.

Blizzard is still doing well by nearly any measure - any measure, that is, except long-term growth.  They have a solid game with a huge subscription base, but it is a steadily declining base.  The big news of the drop in subscriptions has shown what some people have long suspected:  that the boost from expansions is temporary and masks a long-term decline.

Blizzard will do fine for the next five or so years, although there likely will be more layoffs.  But beyond that, they have only one real option:  build another, better MMORPG.  But they can't do that, because the second they start work in earnest, subscriptions at WoW will tank.  Players remain invested in WoW because there is a wide-spread belief that it will be around forever (one thing that kills Blizzard's competition is the widespread belief - often confirmed - that its competitors won't be around for long, so there's no sense in investing time in them).  As soon as it becomes clear that Blizzard will be phasing out WoW, its subscriptions will fall off a cliff.  And as such, the executives are not going to seriously consider that option.

Blizzard is stuck.  They have a game that has been hugely successful, but no real way to even try to replace it without taking a huge chance and forgoing a huge amount of revenue.  And if the Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 designs have shown anything, it's that the current design staff are not interested in taking big chances; it's all about playing it safe.  All that points to a long-term decline for Blizzard and World of Warcraft in particular.

I do not think Blizzard is seriously considering a replacement to World of Warcraft, and the expansions have clearly failed to boost its long-term growth.  They are going to live or die on it, and based on the subscription numbers, sooner or later it will be the latter.

Well, memories are short in the world of computer gaming, but as it turns out, the speed of units and their rates of attack in End of Nations is fairly consistent with the RTSs of the past.  Go look at videos of the old Command and Conquer or Warcraft games, and you'll see unit movement and attack rates that are fairly close to what EoN has.

Why it may feel slow to us now is because Blizzard dramatically sped up the rate of movement and attack with Starcraft 2.  That has led to RTSs being much faster paced in general.

That, ironically, has not led to more micro - it's led to less.  SC2 is much less micro-intensive than WC3, which is probably the most micro-intensive RTS to date.  In SC2, you rarely see even professional players micro'ing their units, other than to avoid Banelings and to position Siege Tanks.  That's as opposed to WC3, where virtually every unit in the force would be carefully micro'ed for maximum effect.  Fewer units and a slower pace of the game leads to more micro, not less.

In other words, the slower pace of EoN should lead to more micro, not less.  You aren't just stimming your Marines and running them at the enemy; you need to pick targets and position your units just right.

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