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Worst. Blog. Ever.

Where MMORPGs are deconstructed, analyzed, probed, ridiculed, and then reconstructed. If there's time.

Author: Sornin

Every MMORPG does something right...(Part 2)

Posted by Sornin Thursday January 31 2008 at 1:32AM
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All right, here I am to continue my brief overview of things the MMORPGs I have played did right. As before, I will not cover all of the things, etc., etc.


Ah, Shadowbane, how full of potential you were! I felt this game actually did a plethora of great things, but was unfortunately held back by a plethora of bad things - let's ignore those.

The RTS aspect of the game was its crowning jewel, and this encompasses the entire aspect of city building, city sieges, and hired NPCs.

For those that never played SB (you can play now for free, by the way), its main focus was the building of guild-run cities and the conquest of other guild-run cities. Basically, a guild would plant a Tree of Life, and then build a city around that, similar to a RTS game. You could put up castle walls, hire guards and trainers, build houses, and even hire craftsman. These craftsmen, at least when I stopped playing, were actually where some ofthe best equipment came from, which made things rather interesting. Even more interesting was that you could run a merchant city of craftsman and set prices on the gear they made, which would be purchased by other players. You would, of course, reap the profits. The same went for the NPC trainers, as advanced ones could train players further than trainers found in major, static cities could.

Few things are as fun as owning your own city in an MMORPG, and destroying the cities of others by laying siege to them, I must say.

I would have to say another great aspect was the traits and disciplines system. I will not go into a great amount of detail, but I will say that traits allowed a lot of stat and proficiency customization, and disciplines basically allowed you to add entirely new skillsets, and with some disciplines it was almost like playing another class entirely. You could take a Dwarf Warrior, for example, and then add the Commander discipline, and suddenly you had some nice group and siege abilities at your disposal.

All in all, SB had a pretty fun and unique customization system that made creating and building characters a lot of fun.

Star Wars Galaxies

Sorry, I actually never played this game. Science-fiction MMORPGs are not my thing, so I steered clear, even though I did, of course, enjoy the movies. I have heard that the freedom of the pre-NGE version of the game was amazing, and that crafting and such was quite deep, but that is just hearsay on my part.

EverQuest II

EQ2 is an interesting game, in that it got massively better after launch due to massive game updates, and while I do not play it anymore and have not in a while, I feel it should be doing better than it is.

Though I am loath to do it again, I have to once again say that EQ2, like its predecessor, really nailed atmosphere well. Granted, they took a few shortcuts (justified by the lore they conjured up) and nixed each race having a city, but the cities they did create were simply amazing. They had the right moods, they felt quite alive due to NPC interactions and movement, and they had a lot to see and do. I found the world beyond the cities to be excellent, as well, though not as amazing as the original EQ. They seemed to have run dry on inspiration, but even still were able to produce a large, interesting world.

Oh, and I simply must mention the oodles of voice acting as it relates to atmosphere. Though, like most people, I grew tired of it due to listening to every spoken word taking ten times longer than just reading text, the quality of the voice acting given the scope of the project was really quite good. This is a feature that probably looked great on paper, but despite being executed well was not worth it as players simply will not put up with it for long. Still, it was definitely impressive and, until I got tired of waiting for the NPCs to shut up, engrossing.

The other aspect I will mention is probably a contentious one - the encounter system. Now, many people felt it dumbed the game down, and perhaps it did, but I thought it was rather novel and brought something new to the genre.

For those who never played, every enemy in the game was part of an encounter, if not the whole thing. Then, each enemy was rated via a colour, which showed the level of it relative to your level, and a series of arrows that showed how tough of an enemy it was for its colour - down arrows meant it was weak for its colour, up arrows meant it was strong. It sounds confusing, and was to an extent, but it made sense after you got used to it. Basically, a 'yellow' enemy that had 3 down arrows would be very simple solo, whereas another 'yellow' enemy with 3 up arrows would be very hard solo - arrows meant more than colour.

Anyway, the real beauty of the system was that a single-enemy encounter might might have the enemy marked as a yellow with 1 up arrow, but a multiple-enemy encounter, consisting of the same enemy type, might have each enemy in it marked as yellow with 3 down arrows. Now, both encounters would give around the same experience, but the multiple-enemy one would have you fighting a lot of weak enemies. Basically, the latter encounter was balanced and planned with fighting them all at once in mind, and indeed they were linked and would invariably all attack at once.

Why was this cool? Simple - fighting one enemy at a time is boring! It does not feel heroic enough. After all, in the movies, the hero usually mows down waves after wave of peons, and only duels one-on-one with the main villain. This encounter system allowed the designers to let the player fight a horde of weaker enemies for the same reward as fighting one stronger enemy. This also made AoE abilities and spells more useful and less suicidal.

In a genre typically filled with single pulls, this was refreshing. More enemies, to me, make things more hectic, more exciting, and ultimately more fun. I do not know why more MMORPGs do not take a cue from this and allow more massive battles, even for the solo player.

Well, I find myself out of steam once again. I'll probably wrap things up in the next entry when I tackle the rest of the current MMORPGs I have played. I realize now that I forgot to discuss Anarchy Online, but I did not play it enough to comment much on it, anyway. At any rate, I have already skipped at least a dozen other MMORPGs I at least dabbled in, and I'd be here forever if I mentioned everything, which is why I am sticking to the major releases.

Every MMORPG does something right...

Posted by Sornin Wednesday January 30 2008 at 12:57AM
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...but not every MMORPG does enough right.

However, in this entry, I am going to be positive and only focus on things that MMORPGs did well, because too often we lose sight of this and simply slam an entire game outright. Each release sees something added to the genre, or refined, and these are the things I wish to celebrate today.

So, the following will be a discussion of things I felt were strong aspects about some of the MMORPGs I have played. The list will not be comprehensive, as I will only point out one or two things per game, makes no claims about which game did what first, and will be highly subjective, but with that in mind, let's begin!

Ultima Online

I did not play UO for very long, nor did I advance very far, but in my short time all those years ago, I must say I marvelled at how it truly was a world, not just a game environment. MMORPGs that have come since then may claim to be "living, breathing worlds" or some other marketing junk, but UO actually delivered here. You truly were thrust into the world and basically told to play however you wanted and do whatever you wanted.

You could set foot in the game and, before even killing a single enemy, go out and chop down some trees, craft some shields, and go sell them. You could buy a house, or open a shop, and virtually never engage in combat at all, and still have a load of fun. Of course, you could take a more sinister route and be a feared brigand who murders at will and develops an infamous reputation.

Basically, UO was more than an MMORPG, it was more of an virtual world, and it is this freedom that I feel was its greatest asset.


I played EQ for a long time, and the difficulty I have is choosing only a couple things to praise, since it did so much for the MMORPG genre and set so many standards that still govern how MMORPGs basically function today.

The first thing I must say it excelled at was atmosphere. The feel of all of the different areas in Norrath was superb, and the themes throughout could definitely be identified and appreciated. Each race's city was exactly what it should be, from the Wood Elves' treetop capital of Kelethin to the Gnomes' mechanical capital of Ak'Anon. Even the dungeons and zones nailed the ambiance they were looking for, and often took my breath away.

Verant did not cut any corners when it came to producing a truly captivating world, and little touches were everywhere and tied in with the story of the game itself. I do not think any MMORPG since has been as deep when it comes to this aspect, nor as polished, and I doubt any ever will be again.

The second thing of special note was class definition and group roles. For the most part, each class played distinctly, was fun, and had a special role in a group. Also, group dynamics were really solidified here, and presented to a lot of people for the first time. The concept of bringing a group composed of different classes together to achieve something bigger than an individual could alone was not new, but EQ really perfected it and made it accessible and enjoyable. Every MMORPG since has taken cues from EQ in this regard, without changing the formula very much at all. If anything, any minor changes have been to water things down rather than advance them.

Asheron's Call

AC was an MMORPG I merely dabbled in, as I played it and EQ concurrently and heavily favoured the latter. Still, AC had a lot of good things going for it.

The first, and to me the most important, were the very regular, very large content updates that came along with just a regular subscription. Turbine really raised the bar when it came to expanding the world and increasing the quality of the game without relying on expansions alone. I fondly remember looking forward to each update, which would often add to the plot via story arcs and quests, and seldom disappointed.

Secondly, the uniqueness of AC's advancement system was also wonderful because it was so open. The ability to spend experience as you earned it on various attributes made your effort immediately rewarded, which I think is a great "carrot". Furthermore, the very deep, and very complex spell and spell research system was interesting. You actually felt proud when you discovered a new spell, and the fact that the lesser-used ones were more powerful since the game tracked use was pretty cool. Ultimately, it was all a bit confusing to some, but I appreciated the effort and depth, all the same.

Dark Age of Camelot

DAoC is an easy game to do - Realm versus Realm combat! Finally, an MMORPG came around that offered a real purpose to PvP, and made it very much about a communal effort and about community pride, both key ingredients in longevity and participation.

Even the smallest person could feel they were part of something, and the rush of conquering an enemy and taking their relics was great. Even the sting of defeat was good, too, because you felt something was at stake. You did not want the enemy to beat you because you developed a deep sense of pride, something other games lack. The ongoing conflict provided limitless content and thus kept things exciting, which is a good game model because static content gets consumed, but endless conflict does not.

Anyway, I am going to stop for now, as I am rather tired and need to be up early tomorrow. However, I do intend to continue this as I am not nearly done.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to share what they liked best about these games I have mentioned, or want to comment on anything else, feel free.

"Polish" - The embodiment of evil examined

Posted by Sornin Monday January 21 2008 at 1:37PM
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Polish. How many times do you see that word when you browse MMORPG sites, from forums to news articles? I am willing to bet many of us see it dozens of times each and every day, possibly without even giving it much thought.

After all, it is the true buzzword of the MMORPG industry these days, spewed forth from the mouths of editors and developers alike. It is not "balance" nor "innovation" anymore - no, those were the buzzwords of days gone by. These days it is all about "polish", but why? And where did this word come from? And what the hell does it really mean?

In this entry I am going to try to cut through the mystery of this word to try to figure all of this out. This is probably going to be a lengthy one as I tend to ramble, but hey, you are here on your own free will and can leave any time you wish.

Whoops, there went half of the readers. Ah well, let's continue, shall we?

Now, I am not going to pretend I launched a thorough investigation on the history of the word as pertaining to MMORPGs, but based upon my own observations, polish was not mentioned much in the days before World of Warcraft. I do not recall developers talking about putting polish on their game back in 2001, for example, as though it were a shoe or a bowling ball. Back then, I remember them speaking more of balance and features. You know, things that were at least somewhat concrete and gave a little bit more insight into what was going on.

Fast forward to today, and almost every single article I read regarding the development of an MMORPG, regardless of the source, mentions polish.

"We are going to use this time to polish our game."

"The release date has been pushed back to allow for more polish."

"The developers hope to release a polished product."

And so on and so forth. Fans even cling to this word, forgiving everything a developer does, especially delays, because the developer throws the magical word out there. Fans go ballistic, shouting things like, "I am so happy they are taking their time to add polish and ensure the game launches ready!"

I always chuckle when I hear about polish being "added", as though it were an ingredient in an MMORPG recipe:

"Combine 2 parts graphics, 1 part balance, and 2 parts content in a large bowl. Whisk them together until something takes form. Add in a dash of polish and and pinch of hype, and bake for three years."

Well, I already wandered off... back to polish!

I have a hunch the word's origins can be traced to the slew of half-baked MMORPGs that have released in the wake of WoW, hoping to cash in big like Blizzard and crew did. Previous to this phenomenon, MMORPGs were a niche genre, but that is no longer really the case. Sure, it is still definitely geekier to play EverQuest II than it is to play Halo 3 or some other mainstream shooter, but it is an accepted, widely known genre now, not just reserved for crazy die-hards obsessed with MUDs and d20 games.

My point is that at the onset of the current MMORPG genre, which I think truly started with EverQuest in 1999 (some may argue Ultima Online, or even Meridian 59, but the point is largely moot), fans were simply happy to have these vast, new worlds to play in. It is not like we had much choice, anyway; it was either play the very few quality MMORPGs that existed, or play none.

On a related note, there was no way to draw comparisons for the purpose of putting expectations in context. Imagine if there was only one television show in the world; it would, by default, be the best, no matter how good it actually was. And so it was with a game like EverQuest - it was really the only show going, next to Ultima Online, with any hope of widespread appeal.

So, we did not fault any of the MMORPGs for much. They were terribly difficult to learn, compared to today, and brutal when it came to punishing players for mistakes. If quests did not work, the game lagged, or the servers crashed, people just dealt with it as the norm. If any of you played EverQuest when it started in 1999, like I did, you will probably fondly remember it as one of the best, if not the best, MMORPG experience of your life. But, if you scrutinize it knowing what we know now, it really had a lot of issues and, had other MMORPGs existed that were at all like it, it would have been criticized a lot more than it was. It got a free ticket and, in my opinion, probably deserved it, to be honest - it did more for the genre than Blizzard could ever hope to do.

But I digress.

When WoW hit the gaming world, it did a lot of things right - we all know what they were, so let's leave it at that. As a result, this was one of the first MMORPGs that held together very well, was both fun and simple to get into, but could still be challenging enough to hold one's interest.

The bar was raised, just like that. No longer could MMORPGs pass by virtue of being unique, they had to also work, in all aspects. Thus, "polish" became an umbrella term for all that Blizzard did. Therein, I am afraid, lies the problem.

Developers now just hurl this word about as if it means anything tangible, or at least worthwhile. We all understand that games are designed to be good and to work, so why must we be told over and over that they are being "polished"?

I think part of it is to reassure us that they are trying to avoid the post-WoW blunders of trying to capitalize on a suddenly very lucrative market. Fans want to hear this sort of marketing talk, and that is really all it is - it speaks nothing of actual game design. It is like an artist saying his picture will be pretty - it mentions nothing of the art itself, only how the public will receive it. Public relations, pure and simple.

But, nowadays the word has become sinister. Downright evil, actually. It is now an excuse for everything, and something we hear about instead of useful information. Funcom's announcement today regarding Age of Conan's delay to May 20th mentioned "polish" four times - four! I find this to be hilarious, and a perfect example of what I am talking about. Gaute Godager's even more recent explanation included the word three times, as well, bringing the total to seven mentions from Funcom in one day.

So, polish is the reason the game is being delayed. That is not exactly helpful, nor comforting. In fact, it only raises suspicion. If a developer cannot frankly tell its audience what needs to be improved, fixed, or added, and simply says the game needs polish, we should question what is being hidden. No, this is not about conspiracy theories, but rather about being given the truth instead of a whitewashed story. Polish is not a valid reason for anything, as it itself is not anything. Polish is the culmination of everything, but is not something you can actually find in a game. Features, content, and all of that are actual things that we can discuss in detail.

Realistically, when a developer says they are adding polish, I suggest reading it as, "We are still implementing major features and game systems, and fixing critical bugs and gameplay issues." This, in my opinion, is what they are actually doing, but they do it under the guise of polish. Look at any recent game that has discussed polish leading up to release - Vanguard and Age of Conan are the best examples and biggest offenders - and read when they started talking about polish, the last step in game development, and when they delayed, announced feature changes (usually cuts), and finally actually released.

You will notice that they talk of being on the polish stage long before the game is even close to completion. Both of the aforementioned games cut classes, changed major game systems, and announced massive delays long after claiming to be just casually polishing their offerings. Does this not seem right? It sure does not seem right to me.

So, to anyone who read this far (congratulations), I hope you will not fall for this buzzword any longer. Developers do not owe us anything, but when they talk to us and hype their game they have chosen to be accountable, and we should hold them to that. When they feed us "polish" as their answer to everything, we should not let it slide. At the very least, let's stop praising them for it. Saying this word does not deserve fanboy fanaticism (see Age of Conan forums for what I am talking about), it deserves cause for concern and a call for real answers and information.

Oh, and you reviewers and editors, please stop centring your articles around the concept of polish - it is useless. I do not need to hear about relative levels of polish that usually reference WoW - I need to hear about what the game is like, and how it plays. Comments like "The game is lacking polish but should have it added in the coming months" are about as useful as a poopy-flavoured lollipop. What is rgood about the game? Why? What is wrong with the game? Why? How could it be fixed? Do some actual reviewing and some real journalism instead of churning out the same garbage that developers feed us.

Anyway, that about does it for me. Reading over this massive entry, I must say I noticed I got angrier as I wrote. I suppose marketing and fluff buzzwords associated with it have always raised my ire.

You must be this buff to enter

Posted by Sornin Wednesday January 9 2008 at 2:32PM
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I am sure almost every kid, at some point in their lives, has heard these dreaded words: "You must be this tall to ride the ride."

So, there the kid is, one inch short of the 4'6" necessary to ride the roller coaster, cursing the fact that he is growing so slowly and bitter that he is going to spend the rest of the day on the damn wave swinger (some lame swing ride at a theme park I live near - don't ask).

The reason I mention this is that MMORPGs are really not all that different from carnival rides, except that their requirements for certain things are even more arbitrary. Barring children from rides they may be hurled from at 100+ feet makes a lot more sense than setting a precise level at which you are recognized as capable of riding a horse.

And so we come to the point of all of this, which is MMORPGs that block players from accessing features based on their level.

Now, bear in mind that I am talking about features, not content. A feature is something abstract, like player mounts, while content is something concrete, like how many mounts there are and what they look like. It is about an idea versus implementation.

At any rate, it makes sense, in a level-based MMORPG, to limit the content one can access based on one's level. That is the whole point of levels - to gauge what content you should be accessing. A new character should probably stay away from demonic gods in favour of something a little more mundane.

However, it does not make a lot of sense, from a player's perspective, to limit features based on one's level, especially features it makes no sense for.

When one buys an MMORPG, the box usually advertises things like:

  • Player housing - own and decorate your own home!
  • Player mounts - choose from horses, wolves, elephants, gnomes, etc.!
  • Guild keeps - dominate your own piece of the world!
  • Sieges - conquer your enemies and destroy their keeps!
  • Epic raids - slay mythical beasts and claim their ancient treasures!


And the list goes on, and on, and on.

So, you buy the MMORPG and fire it up (after installing patches for four hours) and start looking for these awesome features.

Player housing? Sorry, you need to be at least level 20 and lay down 10 gold pieces.

Player mounts? Sorry, you need to be at least level 40 and lay down 100 gold pieces.

Guild keeps? Sorry, you need to belong to an uber guild and come up with a jillion gold pieces.

Sieges? Sorry, you need to be at max level and belong to another uber guild who hates one with a keep.

Epic raids? Sorry, you need to be at max level and belong to a raiding guild.

So, what features do you get? Well, you can do menial quests (see my previous blog entry) to earn the experience to get you to the max level, which will take a few months, and you can gather resources and/or craft to try to make some money.

Suddenly, the feature-rich MMORPG has become rather lacklustre. You are now a delivery boy and a tradesman, a far cry from a hero who sits atop a mighty warhorse and slays dragons when not drinking the blood of his enemies.

MMORPG developers need to understand that the barrier of entry to the real game they create is not healthy. See, they do it for mostly one reason - to keep you chasing the carrot. If you want a mount but cannot get one, they figure you will pay them for a few months while you acquire the necessary levels and funds to get one. And, once you do that, you may want to raid, so you will pay them longer while you become "raid ready".

Now, I am all for having to work (in a gaming sense) for the best stuff in an MMORPG, as without work such things are meaningless. Anyone who has ever cheated in a game or played on an (ahem) illegal, modified server that gives out gear like candy can probably attest to the fact that without effort there is no sense of achievement.

But, there is still no reason players cannot have access to most game features very early, but in limited forms. Not only will this make them more excited and more willing to keep playing, it will better acclimate them for end-game content. We all know what happens when a player who has never raided reaches max level and starts to raid - they are a newbie all over again. This does not have to happen.

Let's look at mounts. Why can't a level 5 player quest a slow mount? It does not have to have much of a speed increase, or even one at all, but I bet that player would think it is awesome to get to ride a horse around, with the knowledge that the next one will be faster and look cooler. This is how features should be handed out - slowly, from the beginning, instead of all at once at the end. The carrot is still there, as the player knows his next mount will make him go 20% faster instead of 10% faster, and will have barding instead of nothing, but in the meantime he has something that is cool and thus is not left feeling like a total newbie who is being left out of the real game.

The same basic idea can work for all systems. With housing, let players own shacks that are no more than four walls, a roof, and a bed when they are newbies, but let them advance later to more majestic residences. I have to commend EverQuest II here, as players get an apartment from the beginning (I would prefer a freestanding house, but the point remains) and can upgrade it as they gather the means to do so.

Create raids that are not as hard nor complex as the 40-player monstrosities that one is smacked in the face with at max level, and place them in lower levels. Help players learn their role in raids and communication early. Do no weak dragons or demons exist? I am sure there is one gimped dragon the rest made fun of who can be the target of some mid-level adventurers.

In essence, stop coming up with amazing features but only letting some players taste them. When you go to the trouble of making something awesome you should want as many of your players as possible to get to see it, not only the buffest, or richest, or most skilled. These players should have the best of those features, but not sole ownership of them. The status quo is left intact, but more people are happy.

There is a reason players these days (I sound like an old man) rush to the max level, and that is because they are rushing to access all of the features. Sure, some of it is competition, but a lot of it is simply wanting to do all of the fun stuff one cannot do as a newbie.

So, game developers (I understand none are reading, humour me), stop blocking new players from having fun, please. Not only does it harm us, but it harms you, as players are more likely to enjoy themselves when they have cool things to do rather than cool things to read about doing in another fifty levels.

Mission: Trivial

Posted by Sornin Tuesday January 8 2008 at 7:44PM
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"Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to save me a few copper pieces on postage and deliver this message."

And so the hero, message in hand, sets off on what is sure to be a fascinating adventure worthy of his status.

Or not.

Well, that is the motivation for this entry, which is about quests in most modern MMORPGs, such as the (in)famous World of Warcraft, with a specific emphasis on the scope, motivation, and proliferation of them.

MMORPGs have fallen into a nasty habit when it comes to what they call "quests"; specifically, there are three problems:

  1. Quests are typically too short and do not interact well with the lore and/or plot of the world
  2. Quests are typically too menial and do not make the player feel like a hero
  3. Quests are too numerous and become notes in a "to-do" list

Really, most quests in MMORPGs are actually what I would call "tasks", as "quest" indicates the deed you are doing is epic and heroic, while "task" indicates what most really are - small, insignificant deeds created for structured player advancement.

Let us first examine the first point I mentioned, which has to deal with the scope of quests. My introduction, which referenced a "delivery" or "FedEx" quest, is a good example of what is wrong in this aspect. How does this quest immerse me in the game and make me feel like I am doing something useful that will have an impact? It does not.

A good quest will have a heroic scope, which involves doing something that is actually heroic. It should reference the lore and plot of the game in some way by involving you in it, and it should not take all of five minutes to complete. Our feeling of achievement is usually directly related to the time we invest in something. It is very difficult to feel good about handing off a piece of mail for some minor experience and a small reward.

The second aspect is also demonstrated well by my example. Why should a hero take the place of the postal system in a game world? Why doesn't a commoner deliver the message? I am a hero, so give me something befitting my stature. Make me use my abilities and intelligence to help you, not just run off to a marked spot on a map. Menial tasks do not result in fun nor a sense of accomplishment.

The final aspect is something you can see if you walk into any new area in Lord of the Rings Online or World of Warcraft - there are too many quests!

Yes, I realize this sounds crazy, as I am complaining there is too much content, but it is not that simple. See, there is too much trivial content and not enough good content. Trivial quests like, "Go kill ten mutated rats" are things that just clutter up quest logs and turn the game into a grocery checklist.

"Follow quest icons to quest givers, obtain quests, run out and do all ten quests in one hour, run back to the quest givers and reap the rewards."

This is barely more interesting than not having any quests and instead grinding on monsters that just give more experience and drop better loot, which are what quest rewards are - a chunk of experience and some loot.

Now, I am not advocating having no quests, but rather fewer quests that are more engaging, more epic, and more immersive, with excellent rewards. Instead of an area having twenty quests that take four hours to do, total, and give 50 gold, total, and 40,000 experience, total, why not have only five quests that have the same totals but have some real scale? They can have a real purpose, interact with the lore, and have multiple parts that lead you along to a good reward and some real satisfaction. The multiple parts aspect is important as I realize people who can only play for thirty minutes want to be able to complete something, which is why long quests should be broken down when possible.

I do realize there is a place for minor quests, or tasks, but not at the expense of real quests. It is perfectly fine to have a few simple quests spread about, especially early on, that help you explore an area, but that is just about all we get now. Heck, it is even fine to incorporate tasks as part of a larger quest, but usually the task is all we get - it leads nowhere.

Anyway, I hope that future MMORPGs understand that quantity is not everything and that a smaller amount of quality quests can take just as long and yet be more engrossing and more satisfying. An MMORPG that can make a player feel his actions are important and vital to the story of the game, even if they really do nothing that literally changes the game, will be an MMORPG that players will flock to.