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BadSpock's Logical Conclusions.

My random thoughts about MMORPGs. A bit of critique, suggestion, debate, and insanity. Enjoy.

Author: BadSpock

Forced Solo content? Please, these are MMORPGs

Posted by BadSpock Monday July 13 2009 at 1:15PM
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I see this kind of talk on these boards a lot about group versus solo content and how "solo games are killing grouping and community." 

Here are some good quotes-

"... good grouping games. Just enough downtime to let you discuss what to do next, chat, etc., while you regained hit points, mana, lost rez sickness, and could start fighting again.

Newer games lke CoH, have no downtime. It's fight, fight, fight, kill boss mob, done, kthxbye.

I like something with a bit slower pace." - Ihmotepp

"Yeah, and that's something that some people don't seem to get. Just because a game has some grouping it doesn't neccesarily mean that it's the type of grouping experience that will satisfy a group oriented player

I haven't played CoH but I played Guild Wars some and even though you can group with other players for some of the missions it's not a very enjoyable experience for the most part. It's generally just--RUN RUN RUN, KILL KILL KILL, done, the instance ends and hardly a word was exchanged between the members of the group. And in most cases there was hardly any sort of cooperative effort required so it felt more like soloing near other people than like grouping.

At this point in time, for me, the lack of good, friendly grouping is killing this genre more than anything else (for me I said). I may talk about the <Dream Game> from time to time. I may talk about sandboxy stuff. I may talk about improved AI. But putting aside dreams for the future, the thing that is making games RIGHT NOW completely unattractive to me is the lack of good grouping."

It's really depressing for me. I'm not trying to convert anyone because that can't be done. I'm just saying how it is for me."  - Neanderthal

"Amen brother. It's not about trying to make every game the same because you like it that way, it's about trying to find a game that you (we) like. All I want is a few group oriented games to choose from and ill be happy (one good one would be nice). All the other ones I could care less about and they can be as solo friendly as they want. To each his own." - whatamidoing


See this is what really get's me about guys like you... you wax so poetically about this and that but you do NOT understand, or even try to conceive that your issue is a 100% play style choice.

You could very easily, in a game such as World of Warcraft. Team up with a few friends, only play together through questing and running instanced dungeons to level your toons. You could vary your crafting professions to compliment each other and form your own little exchange economy.

If you find a group of like-minded players you could take your time and enjoy the journey while leveling 100% grouped up the entire time, helping each other in your defined group roles. Sure, lots/most of the quests would be quite simple if you approached them in a group 100% of the time, but in the end these are GAMES and they are designed for you, the player, to win.

It's like the PvP people who simply don't understand that in a truly "balanced" game you'd lose 50% of the time.

The only person who is "making" you rush to solo to the top as fast as possible is you. You are the power-gamer achiever type who can't slow down and smell the roses and make it a game about team-work and group fun. You can slow down the pulls in the dungeon and talk things over, either through a ventrillo or teamspeak or in the game. Hell use typing in the game instead of a chat client so it forces you to slow down and type a bit.

I could do EXACTLY what both you guys are describing in a game like World of Warcraft if I had a few friends that thought and felt the same way.

It's a choice. Sure you CAN solo-grind quests up to level 80 and skip all the group content. But it's a choice.

Don't you see that? There is NO such thing as FORCED SOLOing in a MMORPG. It doesn't exist.

There is no content in MMO I have ever played that doesn't let you group up with others if you want to.

"But it's not as efficient, I could do it much faster playing solo" well right there THAT is a choice YOU make to try and speed through the game and min/max power level.

Don't you see?

Yes, they have made solo play viable in modern MMOs but they have done nothing to discourage group play. It is YOU that is discouraging group play through your achiever, goal oriented, min/maxer hardcore power leveler mindset.

Don't you see?

How hard is it to offer different server types?

Posted by BadSpock Friday July 10 2009 at 2:13PM
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There are lots of posts on MMO forums about a game's features. Interestingly enough, to many the inclusion or exclusion of a single feature can be what they call a "deal breaker" or reason enough for that person to not want to play the game.

In essence if the player found 9/10 features appealing but that final 10th feature was so unbearable to them as to be a deal breaker, they wouldn't play.

Does anyone else see this as alienating a vast number of potential players? 

One of the biggest deal breakers I have seen posters mention is PvP.

It's either full FFA or it's a deal breaker. It's either consensual or a deal breaker. Full loot or a deal breaker.

So I ask the very obvious question:

Why not server types?

MMOs as far back as Ultima Online have offered choices. When they added Trammel, the PvP-free mirror of the world they also created the Siege Perilous shard, which had NO Trammel facet as well as additional "hardcore" features such as restrictions on the number of skill ups per time period and even offered "Red" healers to bring PK's back to life.

Look no further then the king of modern MMOs, World of Warcraft, and you see PvP servers versus normal servers, and also the role play equivalents.

One of the biggest games coming up soon in terms of hype and peak interest and especially forum activity is Aion.

This game is sold as a "PvPvE" game with elements of PvE and PvP mixed together to form the "end-game" of raids and RvR style conquest.

To many, the forced PvP the game system allows is a deal breaker. They want to peacefully level from 1 to 50 without engaging in PvP other then when they want to, and they want to participate in the large PvE raids and dungeon content without being forced to PvP the opposing faction.

You know what? 

Offer an alternative server rule set. The PvPvE system as the "normal" or intended way to play the game, and servers where all PvP is 100% consensual through a flagging system.

Let players decide what they want to do. I garauntee you that you will see plenty of interest in both.

Again, look at World of Warcraft server selection. Fairly even split between PvP and PvE servers (at least in NA) and both kinds of realms are very popular.

Why alienate a potentially huge segment of the population that would potentially play your game with a feature considered by many to be such a deal breaker? 

This isn't just true of Aion or World of Warcraft.

I ask, is it that hard to offer different server types? 

Obviously, there are some technical or systematic considerations to make. For instance in Lord of the Rings Online you really couldn't have open PvP because the entire focus of the Lord of the Rings intellectual property is good versus evil, the fellowship versus the evil of One Ring, the free peoples of Middle Earth versus Sauron and his forces. etc.

You couldn't have FFA PvP in WoW or WAR or Aion because they are games built upon the idea of factions that are at war. But also there are systematic considerations in terms of content. You can't make Orcs and Undead at war with each other because you'd be cutting off a large portion of PvE content to either side by doing so, etc.

So what do you think? 

If you could offer multiple server types to appeal to different kinds of players, and thus greatly increase your target audience and the draw of your game to these different demographics, wouldn't you? 

Death and YOU! How would you like to meet your end?

Posted by BadSpock Wednesday July 8 2009 at 10:34AM
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The way I see it -

There are really two schools of thought on the subject of Death Penalties in MMORPGs.

The first - Negative Reinforcement:

You punish people for doing things bad. Death penalties, XP loss, all kinds of the more "old school" type of systems MMOs used to quite frequently have.

The second school of thought - Positive Reinforcement:

You reward people for doing things good. Rewards for staying alive, bonuses for doing something really well or without making mistakes or dying, etc.


Interestingly enough, World of Warcraft is adding an element of Positive Reinforcement to their latest Raid in 3.2 The highest difficulty raid instance will have a "Tribute Run" where the game will keep track of how many times you wipe on the bosses leading up the end boss.

If you wipe a lot, the rewards you earn for killing the end boss, the tribute, will be less. If you never wipe on the first bosses, when you kill the end boss you gain much better loot from the tribute run.

It's rewarding the good versus punishing the bad.

Both really accomplish the same objective, make players care about dying and try to avoid it.

Other games like Chronicles of Spellborn have a Positive Reinforcement system. You don't lose anything when you die, but instead you gain bonuses the longer you stay alive.

Psychologically, the vast majority of humans respond to Positive Reinforcement much better then they do the negative side.

It's all about finding different ways to motivate people. One just does so in a fashion that doesn't punish you or make you feel as bad, but the rewards at the end for accomplishing something are just as sweet...

... if it's done right.