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How to look cool and get the chicks while playing MMO's

Rants, wild speculation, unfounded theories and general poor quality humor.

Author: MacScarfe

MMO's the last great bastion of Communism

Posted by MacScarfe Friday August 28 2009 at 11:08AM
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Okay so a title so full of hyberbol it's almost beyond belief, but really there seems to be a set of unwritten laws and expectations for western hemisphere players of todays MMO's.

1) The level playing field.

No i get it, i really do. Trust me i've always joked when people or paperwork asks me about religion i answer 'devout socialist', i was brought up such and it has formed many of my opinions on how life should be.

And yes in life i see how everyone should have an equal chance to attain their goals and dreams, irregardless of their financial or environmental upbringing, but that's not how life is though is it, lets be honest.

Point of Order: I do not suggest, infer or even dream that ALL current MMO's should conform to my way thinking, neither do i think it should apply to ALL future MMO's.

You see i think (and can i get a stress on the I) what the MMO industry needs is variety, variety and innovation, variety innovation and realistic financial goals, no one expected the spanish inquestion ..... oh wait sorry went off track there.

There is a place for games, in the industry, for games aimed at a niche market. MMO's are afterall above and beyond everything else buisnesses, so games willing to reward players for spending stupid amounts of cash are inevitable.

Now here is where the howling banshees will decend upon me, their point of view is simple you open the door, even the slightest crack, and all of the tradional MMO's will fall to this evil. And yes there are a number of companies who i guess would love to take as much money out of your pockets as quickly as possible. I for one would like to know who these companies are so that i can avoid them because if there only aim is to facilitate your economic downfall then their games are probably gonna suck and suck big time.

But doom and gloom is not the invitable conclusion of letting the money grabbers grab money, because players will vote with their feet/subscriptions and plenty of companies, if not the vast majority, will see how they cam make more than enough money from the tradional MMO model.

2) All playstyles must be accomidated

Okay, show of hands, who has played a PvE centric games and hasn't seen a large thread on the games forums entitled something like "This game will fail without full loot, open world PVP!!!11!!!!"

It seems to me, and probably only me, that one of the main barrier to creativity in the MMO industry is this insane belief that a game must try and accomidate everybodies playstyle. This idea is backup up by the many many posts we all see day in and day out on virtually every games forums calling for radical changes to the basic game design so that a specific playstyle can be included.

It seems to have become a mantra that most game devs recite everyday, and most game devs fail to successfully acomidate in there product. This simple model of get as many subs as possible, irregardless of how long they start subbed, rules the roost mainly because of the WoW factor.

Point of Order: I do not hate WoW, i have never played it, i never will as it holds no interest for me. It's a prefectly good game that appeals to a vast number of players, and i have no opionion on the caliber of human beings that play WoW.

The WoW factor being CEO's and/or the money men saying if Blizzard can do it, then so are we and second place is for losers.

It's a dream i know but i would love it if just one company ceo would decend onto his/her forums and post the following in one of those irritating thread "Thanks for your support for our product, but clearly this game isn't for you and were not about to change it for your benefit, it would be greatefully appreciated that at the end of your current subscription cycle that you cancel and take your buisness to some other game that you will enjoy more than ours." Or words to that effect.

3) All content should be accessable to all players

Again i can see how this seems logical you've bought the game and you've paid the sub fees and you've built your character up to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, so why shouldn't you be able to access all the games content?

Gimmie a sec here, i just need to finish bludgeoining my head against a brick wall..

Secondly, and you'll need to read carefully cause this point is real small ... Why not?

There i said it and i'll do it again, Why not? Why should the instance with the super duper weapon/armor/bunny rabbit reward at the end be soloable? Why should the soloist have access to everything? Don't get me wrong i spend a lot of time playing solo in a lot of games, but since when did that give me the divine right to access everything.

And what would be wrong with an instance which couldn't be grouped? And what about that gear hidden in non-consesual PvP zones that the purist PvE player complains about because they get ganked trying to get it, why not? I'm sure you can come up with a million other examples of this but really can anyone explain Why Not?

Okay lets get the financial argument out of the way with 2 real quick points. 1) (The knucklehead answer) Okay dude show me where on the box it says you'll have complete access to everything ingame? 2) (The pragmatist approach) A standard game designed for the solo player is often advertised as having x amount of hours gameplay, so lets do the maths one PS3 game $60 for 20 hours of gameplay, one PC MMO game box price $40 plus $15 per month for .... how many hours have you played this game? Do the math please.


Okay so it was rant, did you expect anything less? But come on, this approach to MMO's is killing the genre, it needs variety, innovation and WoW being reclassified as a movie or something so that companies and players don't continually draw stupid and irrelavent comparisons to it for every game released or envisioned. It needs a differnet approach to game design and these three rules seem to me to combine together to make an unescapable philospohy which is stifling the industry.

P.S. I'll edit for spelling, grammer and reality later when i give a damn.

Why the h8te?

Posted by MacScarfe Sunday August 16 2009 at 12:30PM
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For my own personal edification AND the fact this mega rant/post was not specific to the game sub-forum i inflicted it upon AND it just took up too much space, i decided to make it into a blog.

Someone asked the following on the forum

"lol... But seriously, why does every game HAVE to cater to the PvP crowd these days? WoW tacked it on and did well, CO may tack it on as well and do well also... Not everyone prefers the sports car so why not let some people drive SUV's?"

this was my reply ......... sorry

Games don't have to cater to PvP these days, the market has grown such that niche games can be very successful, assuming the development company behind them are realistic in their aims and profits forecast. But they have to be aware that it's not a case of just cutting out one ingedient from the cookie cutter MMO formula, but that need to add a new ingedient to compensate for it's loss.

However the real problem is the way MMO's are developed and the way the companies deal with their fans.

Consider how the average computer game is developed vs how the average mmo is developed. At first the process seems very similar, but upon closer inspection the process is quite different. The main differences are time, public interaction and expected value.

MMO take a seriously long amount of time to develop, stupidly long amounts of time and i GUESS this seriously worries developers. With designing a standard game you can go in with a clear game design, which is either forward thinking and cutting edge OR a collection of the current in vogue gaming trends. You get the idea, you build it and you release it all in a short time in comparrison to an MMO. With MMO's you can go in with a clear design in mind but then time goes to work and you lose some or all of it. What is revoluntionary or even just standards in the world of MMO's can in a 4 to 5 year development cycle become very old news. The fact that MMO inovation races along at the pace of a tortoise is immaterial to a company who has invested vast amounts of money into the game and the fear that they will lose all their money by releasing not only a dog of a game but worse an old fashioned dog of a game can grow very large in their minds.

So how does the company protect it's money? Typically they make the design as broadly appealing as possible (hence 50 million WOW clones) AND they go with a flexible design process and involve the customers in it as soon as possible. No this isn't the only reason to involve the public in the development cycle, but i'm focusing on what i see are as the problems.

The joke goes ..... what do you call a horse designed by a committee .... A Camel! The MM of MMO's is quite the problem in so much that the player's testing the game HAVE to be able to communicate with one another because that is a basic function of an MMO. Unlike a single player game when you CAN send a 100 different copies to playertesters and get back individual results. Yes the companies will probably run a forum for those single player game testers to communicate .... but it dosn't HAVE to. But MMO's can't do that. Now put a 1000 playtesters in a forum and you'll get 1001 different reasons why the game sucks and 3001 ways to make it better. But what is worse once a player has given his/her opinion you cannot ignore them or else the company quickly gets a bad rep. You can't listen to all of them because a) it would take so many staff members to sort through and address them and b) you'd get a camel. So you end up ignoring those you can, and addressing those you can't avoid and hopefully it won't corrupt the base game design.

Now all those opinions wouldn't be half as bad if it wasn't for the expected value of a game. No no not the accets of the company, the wages paid, the money wrung from investers or any of that side of game development which we as players really couldn't care less about. I'm talking about the expected value of the game to us as players. Lets be honest typically if we play an MMO for a year we have bought a standard game 4 or 5 times over. Now thankfully the players are intelligent enough to realise they can't expect 4 or 5 standrad games worth of game play but they do expect more of the game that a standard game.

Normal non-MMO games are typically FnF (Fire and Forget) affairs, you pay your money once, you play the game, you love it or hate it and soon after you put it on a shelf to gather dust. MMO's are FnR (Fire and Regret) you pay your money, you play the game, you love it or hate it, you pay some more money, you beging to regret what you cannot do in the game, you pay some more money, you hate it more ... you stop paying the money.

Now players aren't daft (despite the overwhelming number of posts on an overwhelming number of forums) and realise this is what happens and they don't like it, BUT the expectation is that eventually that find a game that will be their BFF (i wonder how many more pointless acronyms i can get into this?) and that they never have to play another game and that the MMO will satisfy there gamer and soical needs forever.

So what we have is a clear game design which attracts large amount of interest from players whose expectations havn't been met elsewhere but who see this game as having a realistic chance of fulfilling those needs. However over the long development process, the design can be corrupted by people who's expectations for the game are not the same as yours. So that for many people the game play experience and their expectations grow further apart as the game develops.

Now with a standard game you get excited as the rumor mill gets going, you read the previews and drool, you read the reviews and decide to buy the game in a near frenzy of excitment and 2 months later you start the process all over again with the next game.

With MMO's the excitment is building and building and building for years, you can have an active part in the games development and when you start to feel the pangs of dissapointment as the game dosn't go the way you feel it should you cling to the belief that if you just shout loud enough you can change the entire thing for the better [/MAIN POINT] and some of these people firmly hold the belief that they know best and will do or say anything which gives their point validity and when that fails they will simply destroy other peoples views in whatever way they can [/MAIN POINT]

One last anaology for the road, look at it like this. You have had a not-so-secret crush on someone and eventually you get the nerve up to ask them out. They laugh at you, your crushed and then the bitterness starts.

Finally the disclaimer, this is all presented as my OPINION and not as FACT so i will not be linking websites to substanciate my claims. Also this 'model' dosn't apply to all game players, in fact i think if you look closely at the gamer community you may find 1 or even 2 people, in the over 100 million+ that play video games, who don't conform to this generalisation, however that dosn't detract from it's validity in any way, shape or form. And lastly i MAY have said things in such as way as the intent was humorous and while i fully accept that my sense of humor and yours are incompatible, also hope that you will do the same and not bitch like a suck pig about some minor aspect of my RANT.