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Always in Search of That Perfect MMORPG

Musings from a long time MMO fan on this wickedly potential genre that just keeps falling flat.

Author: Dhaeman

There's More to MMORPGs Than Orcs and Elves

Posted by Dhaeman Saturday July 31 2010 at 9:22PM
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The first graphical MMORPG was The Realm in 1995. Every MMO to follow would stick to a fantasy setting until 2001 when Anarchy Online released. As we jump forward 9 more years, the landscape hasn't changed much. MMORPG.com's list of games reveals that 63% (245 of 389) of all MMORPGs belong to the fantasy landscape. Why is this the case? The easy answer is the lack of demand, but it's not the complete answer.

During the world cup, I published an article about every soccer MMORPG, whether it be more action oriented or a more strategic web based style. Between feedback and research, it became pretty obvious that "soccer MMORPG" was not the term that usually came to mind for these games. Yet for the most part they fit the definition as well as an Everquest or Warcraft. If people want to play soccer they Google "soccer video game" or rely on games like FIFA and Winning 11 to sufficiently brand themselves. The problem is that these games were originally developed to be played live with a friend or against a computer. On the other hand, soccer MMORPGs were developed to be played with thousands across the internet with a healthy dose of addictive leveling-esque features. People that have taken to these games really enjoy them but for the average gamer MMORPG means World of Warcraft, orcs, and elves at best and is an unknown term at worst.

This means there is some sort of a disconnect between the right audience and the game itself.  Gamers need to realize that anything is possible to be elevated to MMO status. We live in a technologically advanced world where everybody is connected to everybody else on an almost constant basis. It's these connections that are the greatest evolutionary step in gaming. Eventually, I think everything will be able to be considered a "MMORPG". Games like Battlefield are offering persistent character development. I don't think persistent worlds is a long way off as clamoring for realism grows, especially in the FPS community.

It will be a matter of time before MMORPG loses it's current meaning and evolves into something greater. Gamers playing Call of Duty and World of Warcraft will have similar access to thousands of people and will offer experiences more similar than different. If you are interested in a quick look at something else then here is short list of high quality action MMORPGs. That term might be a misnomer today but in a few years I think it will be pretty standard for these games.

Do You Enjoy Questing?

Posted by Dhaeman Tuesday June 8 2010 at 8:45PM
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Ding! Level 5! Time to go hit up town #2. Oh hai there Mr. Mayor, I'd love to kill rodents and skallywags for you. I'll be sure to return to you as soon as I do so that you can teach me more about the ways of becoming a great warrior!

Questing in the current crop of MMORPGs is boring, lackluster, and after the initial WoW style questing excitement faded, no better than mob grinding. Everything revolves around delivery quests and killing mass mobs. The story behind the quest Mr. Mayor is telling me could be, "OMG, I totally want those nasty lizards to die. Please helps me. The 8 other people that live in my town call me bad names but I think we can be friends if you kill the lizards. Oh and I know karate so that's why I can give you experience points to becoming a mighty warrior. HI-YAH!" But like 98% of people I don't read it because it doesn't matter and it's not going to affect anything.

Developers, whether your game boasts 100 quests or 10,000 quests I could care less if they are the same static quests that 1 million other players are going to receive. I realize that it's easy to add content to a game and keep the players occupied with this method but it sucks. Whatever development time is added on to an MMO release would be better served by something that changes the face of the world, even if it's in a small manner. So yeah, I'm asking for dynamic questing. I'm asking for you to go back to something D&D did 35+ years ago. I'm asking for a GM to be a GM and not a glorified "help I'm stuck" or "wah I got PKed" guide.

Again, I don't know what the development cost is to create all the quests in a given AAA+ MMORPG. I do know it adds development time and I know you need to hire talent to code the quests and write their generic storylines. But why not create it on the fly? Open up your gameworld and hire professional GMs that can run events. I want to see mobs invade towns, precious treasure up for grabs, limited edition artifacts, and villains I actually WANT to destroy because they are pissing me off. You get to release the game earlier and start earnings your $15/ month that much faster.

Look, I know it's easy to get caught up in the absurd success of WoW, but if you want to be succesful then you need to do something different and do it well. I love PvE and PvP but for a PvE game to hook me I need some dynamic content. A game master who follows the role of his namesake is going to be the biggest selling point for me. I want to enjoy questing. I really do. But what's out there is not my idea of what questing is all about.