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Concerns about War and the general state of MMO's

Posted by Lhex Monday April 14 2008 at 2:43PM
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Even thought I am very excited about War, I also have some concerns that I would like to share and see where the community stands in response to them.

First, DAOC recently incorporated cross-realm, which means you can play characters from each realm. Many DAOC vets, including myself, think this is another move that compares itself similar to "that other game". One reason is during a keep siege players can switch sides easily  known as "Keep flipping" resulting in a degradation of loyalty for your realm. It becomes more about the player's individual gain rather than his/her realm's status.

The reason I bring this up is because many times during a game's life it will become more and more watered down to cater to a player base that needs more and more for less and less to achieve any results. For example, both "that other game" and DAOC removed many prereqs to higher tiered content as the game grows older and specifically in DAOC level 50 players can create immediate lvl 20 characters and I forgot to mention both games have increased exp gain.

Its never more frustration after coming back to a game after a few years to see a whole set of prereqs gone and remember all those hours your wasted.

Furthermore, I think its relevant to convey how developers have grand and often times unrealistic ideas and as a release reaches closer the game's unique features begin to fall away. Resulting in a game more like the status quo.  And we should all know what game out there now is setting the status quo.

What disturbs me is the idea that WAR can easily fall into this pitfall of attrition. To compete with the juggernaut of "that other game" will the developers have to incorporate x-realming? Resulting in eliminating loyalty among your realm?  Some would say x-realm characters can no way ruin loyalty but many say it can. How about when things get to tough and your losing your keep just log on your "other main".

I believe there is no official word as of yet regarding x-realming but what worries me is the prospect of how the game must compete in a younger and much different mmo market than it was 10 years ago and eliminating player choices will probably turn those that play "that other game" away. Even though WAR wants to illustrate that they are different and don't care about such an issue I guarantee pressure to secure subscriptions is priority number one.  If the game does poorly, we can expect the game to change to be more like the big guy on the block, we see that happening with every current game on the market and even games in development.

Also, the idea of players from multiple servers joining in on the same instanced scenario also has been a point of contention among hardcore RvR purists and casuals.  Take for example, you join a scenario, you have no idea who you are playing with and you don't even care to remember any of the players name just because you will never see them again.  This completely eliminates the positive affect of what a strong community can bring to a game. How many times have you been playing in "that other game" and after leaving the group you had no idea who you just played with and you don't really care as long as you got your loot.

The devs of War talk about becoming renown within your realm, but how is this truly possible with this system? Luckily there is still open RvR.

This combined with the possibility of x-realming creates a simple picture of how the community and the lack of loyalty the game could have.

This is why I continue to pressure the devs and others to keep stricter and often a hardcore ruleset. Unfortunately, due to the mmo market being watered down and catered to the casual and often ADHD player, important aspects such as having a strong community is last on a dev teams to do list.

We are definately in the age of large Massively Online Single Player Role Playing Games.


elvenangel writes:

dude there is no possiblity of Realm crossing its disilked by Non hardcore and hardcore pvpers and even pvers plus it totally goes against the base game design of RvR.   They've pretty much stated this in previous chats or did you not bother to listen when you posted this sky is falling omg post in the War Forums eariler today.

It was never added into WoW to water down anything it was added due to the EXTREME Population imbalance between horde / alliance players that would cause people to wait 2 to 4 hours just to participate in a battleground.  They tried in multiple ways over two years to try and balance the population but Blizz could never find a solution and since their game was PvE centric Cross Realming was no big deal (even if players fought against it). 

 I can't speak for DAoC but as you keep mentioning 'that other game' I can only assume WoW. 

They know it and we know it Cross Realming destroys RvR communities.

Mon Apr 14 2008 3:56PM Report
JB47394 writes:

Lhex: "We are definately in the age of large Massively Online Single Player Role Playing Games."

This stems from the fact that all goals in MMOs are personal.  When a player logs in, they are thinking of their next personal goal and how to achieve it.  Kill 30 glims, find 8 torg scales, and so on.  By making those goals more difficult than any one player can handle, players interested in killing glims for their own benefit will group together.  That's the origin of communities born of hardcore rules.  EverQuest is a classic example of it.

But hardcore rules exclude casual players, and casual players are a significant revenue stream.  They are ideal for subscription services.  They also fill out a game world with people, helping to fulfill the sense it being massive.

To entertain both hardcore and casual players requires an end to the emphasis on personal goals.  Personal goals fracture a community, just as levels do (read my recent "Exceptional Rewards" blog article).  Everyone has their own little world that they operate in.  That's the very problem that you're talking about.

To solve this, games need to implement community goals instead of personal goals.  When you log into a game, you will know that everyone is tackling the defeat of Stronghold Morgik.  The fighters are fighting, the crafters are crafting, the mages are maging and everyone else is doing their bit in support of that community goal.  You now have a reason for interaction with everyone in the game, and everyone in the game shares your goals.

So I only offer this comment to observe that hardcore rules are not the only way to build community, and that hardcore rules exclude lots of people that you probably want in your game.  After all, if you're hardcore and there are no casuals, who are you going to impress with your skills?

Mon Apr 14 2008 3:58PM Report
BadSpock writes:

Do you not realize JB that EAMythic knows this?

Your personal goals will only get you so far in Warhammer Online. You need friends and support to conquer an enemy city, to hold a keep...

Throw in Guild rewards and Guild advancement, and the fact that everything even PvE adds to the RvR war effort, and the community goals are built into the game.

Only a cynic would say that these group goals are merely the biproduct of everyone pursuing their own goals and requiring cooperation with others to achieve them.

You try to sound prophetic, but you are mirroring everything the EAMythic devs themselves had said on multiple occasions about their game.

Have faith.

Sure, it's a game for both the hardcore and the casual. Sure, there are tons of personal goals like Statues in your likeness being erected in the Town Square for your achievements... but this cannot be done until your whole realm advances your home to a certain point.

Expecting that everyone will want to work together and like each other is niave and frankly stupid. Instead, you understand that people will work together if they must in order to achieve a personal objective...

But also understand that many actually like to work with others. Many will help others even for no intrinsic reward.

To make a successful MMO, you have to cater to all.

Saying that levels fracture a community is an obvious statement. Saying that personal goals fracture a community is a lie. Sure, self-absorption will have a negative effect on the community, but it's not 100% every time all the time. Personal goals can be the driving reason for someone to help their community.

Imagine that a great King rises into power because it has always been his personal goal to rule... but because he is a good and kind ruler the whole community prospers...

It's a cheesy Disney example, but I believe you try and define things too narrowly...

Personal goals keep us playing, community goals keep us involved. Both a neccessary components for a MMO that is both successful and long-lived.

I don't think EAMythic has ANY misconceptions about this, and I wouldn't worry at all about their commitment to good community.

Mon Apr 14 2008 4:43PM Report
vajuras writes:

This hardcore vs casual stuff that JB writes is not wholy true since EVE Online and other hardcore games have vastly more subs then other titles in their category. So bottom line its really all about the community that your title has attracted and what they want. And you can always provide different alternative servers so Hardcore vs Casual is not even worth mentioning especially in an article about WAR

Ultimatly I think Heeroboya wrote a good post

Mon Apr 14 2008 5:50PM Report
vajuras writes:

dammit I misread JB's post but I still agree with heerboya I think Mythic will cover community goals.

But I also like somee of JB's post about the crafters and such contributing to the community goals. I think everything is covered by the lore and intention but it is the implementation that we will have to wait and see

Will actually feel like we are contributing to overall RvR? I think so- at least to an extent.

Other titles have actually made it happen (like EVE) but it would be nice to see a Casual title like WAR also accomplish it for their fanbase

Mon Apr 14 2008 5:54PM Report
vajuras writes:

Btw in regards to EVE Online you have this feeling for the Alliance vs Alliance (community goals). Shadowbane had it on GvG level. Hopefully WAR will reproduce this in a big way for Casual gamers (RvR)

Mon Apr 14 2008 5:56PM Report
dethgar writes:

If they can't do it on one account, a lot of people will buy two and switch between them. There's not really anything about WAR that PvP-wise will be pure numbers meaning victory, thats more of "that other big game"'s mechanic.

Mon Apr 14 2008 8:29PM Report
JB47394 writes:

Remind me not to say anything negative about personal goals around heerobya.  Wow.

Mon Apr 14 2008 8:33PM Report
Tron420 writes:

Your complaints about DAOC are typical of any MMO at the end of its lifecycle. Don't assume that the problems in DAOC (or any older game) will propagate to the next one. That is the beauty of "next gen" games, they get to start over. The developers know whats up with this industry, "INNOVATE OR DIE."

Mon Apr 14 2008 10:09PM Report writes:
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