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Whats wrong with devs these days!?

Thoughts on what might help increase the quality of modern mmos.

Author: Starbear

Abandon ship! Why MMOs arn't as good as they could be.

Posted by Starbear Wednesday November 12 2008 at 4:12PM
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Now I'm sure you've heard at least one of the many blogs out there about how everyone is copying WoW and how WoW sucks and why can't developers be more origonal in their designs. Well I'll try to avoid rehashing those blogs for you and bring a whole new concept to mind.

For a while now people have constantly analized WoW in an attempt to try and figure out why it works and how it is that the game has continued to dominate the market even when it has clearly aged. The answer in my opinion is not about origonal design or groundbreaking concepts but rather respect. I'm not a WoW fan, I stoped playing it over a year ago and have no intention of returning but what I have noticed is that the devs at Blizzard have a strong interest in the players, when someone complains they take it seriously and since its launch classes and mechanics have been rebalanced over and over untill what most players might see as perfection.

So how does WoW do it... what makes them so great? Well to answer that I'll take you to another MMO one which I've recently gone back to, EVE Online. Recently EVE has been getting a ton of press due to their latest free expantion and upcoming WiS (Walk in Stations). Their lead designer Torfi Frans Olafsson brings up a wonderful point, how many MMO devs build a game and then leave it stationing only a few devs to update it. EVE on the other hand has never had more developers working on it as it has now and the game is five years old (this is a rough quote). It seems to me that this is the key to EVE and WoWs success over the many would be dominators in the MMO market.

The key to success in the MMO market it seems is to never stop developing a game, but rather to exponentialy let it grow. Once launched devs should continue to invest their earnings back into the game, when EVE launched I never expected it to do as well as it has now and I personaly can't see a time where EVE will not be a leading MMO. Many would say the same thing about WoW, it seems unstopable and though many people give it a lot of flak it still stands strong with a massive ammount of players who are dedicated to it, why? Because the devs at CCP and Blizzard respect their players, they understand that player and developer form a symbiotic relationship, the devs give new content and the players give money. If the devs stop the players stop and so an MMO should be treated as an ever growing ecosystem and not a quick toss it out and pull in the money stunt.

Games which have always had dedicated developers have lasted the longest and weathered the ever changing markets of gaming. Games like UO, Everquest, EVE and WoW have stood strong while others have failed and fallen into oblivion so after watching the MMO market since Dark Ages (the old 2D Nexon game) it is clear that the best security a developer can buy is continued expantion of their game. I have seen in the past how games will start off strong and after launch the devs all move on to new projects while a small team struggles to keep up with the demands of a community and it is clear that that system of being dosn't work.

Mistmouse writes:

I agree!

Wed Nov 12 2008 5:00PM Report
Pludd writes:

My expectations of a decent mmo are much higher than if I had never played a persistent world game.  I honestly used to enjoy the discovery of new ideas.  Everything has been done and can only be rehashed.  Mmos are now out of  fashion.

Wed Nov 12 2008 5:03PM Report
Starbear writes:

I have to agree with you on some level Pludd, I plan on posting more thoughts on where the future of MMOs may go, as always its only my opinion haha but I do think your right in general MMOs are coming to a point where they will need to evolve into something "more" all life must do that, and in a way MMOs are "alive" in their own right.

Wed Nov 12 2008 5:50PM Report
Kordesh writes:

 Blizzard listens to its players still? No, sorry, that ended LONG ago. They listen to people whine on their message board in WoW and make whatever changes and then revert them later, all in the hopes of pleasing everyone even if it pisses everyone else off and then flip flopping it back to keep everyone subscribed, but they don't give a damn about the players. I'm sure the players are asking to be milked dry in every way possible. I'm sure they wanted to pay three times for SC2, have Diablo 3 "monitized" wanted WoTLK to require BC, and for the table top game to come in lovely $15 a pop blind boxes that will garuntee useless duplicates. I'm sure they really care about the customer, and not their wallet. 

Wed Nov 12 2008 5:54PM Report
Uruktos writes:

WoW is a marketing success. Simple fact is, WoW was World of Something else rather than Warcraft, it wouldn't be as popular as it is now.

Listening players are always bad, players don't know what they want. They don't even know if they like something unless you take it away. Feedback from players are always dodgy and it never ever should be the ultimate medium for developing games.

EVE's success comes with continues development, they only listen "he who whines the most" and make changes to their own liking. This has caused losing much of its playerbase (only to be replaced by a new one). If EVE developers were really good analyisist of what players like, they would have sitting on a million subscribers now, instead of dodgy 250k+.

Wed Nov 12 2008 6:12PM Report
Uruktos writes:

*if* WoW was World of Something else

EVE's success comes with *continuous* development.

(I sukc at splelling)

Wed Nov 12 2008 6:15PM Report
rcandeias writes:

I used to play WoW , found it to an excellent game but once you reach max level I find it lacking a little ummph!! as there should be more things to do, since you can not go any further up in rank. That is why I no longer play.

 

http://www.nameless-games.com

Wed Nov 12 2008 7:20PM Report
zymurgeist writes:

"For a while now people have constantly analized WoW "

Freudian slip much?

Adding new content is good but you need to both have a compelling core experience and expand on it. LotRO for example constantly adds new content but hasn't really expanded game play and the subscriptions show it. EVE and WoW aren't afraid to try new things and both integrate new ideas and discard what doesn't work. In mmos if you're standing still you're losing ground.

Wed Nov 12 2008 8:02PM Report
rounner writes:

LOTRO cant add proper pvp, which sort of hamstrings it from being more things to more people. Vanguard, while it had fundamental graphics engine issues, has managed to address them and is now on the right track. I suppose I am saying each game has its own hurdles to evolving, and some are genetic dead ends :)

Thu Nov 13 2008 12:34AM Report
craynlon writes:

i agree that its a must that devs stay and continue to evolve the game
i disagree with the impression that most games dont

ddo brings module after module of great improvements
lineage2 has a record of bringing on a big update almost on time every 6 month for 4+ years now

aoc and war are a bit to young to see if they can do the same/ have the breath and financial backing to keep a good dev force on the game but i dont see it as something unusual that makes eve or wow stick out from the crowd.

if anything i have the deepest respect for eve doing it on a relative small subscription base (compared to wow)

wow on the other hand could probably do a hell lot more with the money they bring in yet they are in a market position where they even can charge for an expansion (many subscription based games offer 4 free)

Thu Nov 13 2008 3:15AM Report
Vistaakah writes:

You could of simply stated instead of " Abandon ship! Why MMOs arn't as good as they could be.",  " Oh just another MMO". Since early era MMO's like EQ, DAOC, MMO's have really been turned into easy mode, non challenging games that anybody can play in an hour. Nothing in the core design has changed meaning they ARE ALL THE SAME.

None of the modern day fantasy MMO"s released in the past 2 years are worth the 50 dollars we paid for just to play an easier mode game of once successful games. When WOW was released it reached a group of people basically first expereincing the internet. People like myself which are many had been there and done that. This is alot of people. As many or more as the noobs that got there feet wet in a game that basically handfed them entertainment.

I honestly think that unless sombody does something amazing and different that my interest in MMO's is over. I play these games to be entertained and challenged. Reward for those that work hard and no reward for those who don't.. I'm done with grind and level games and i think my next interest will be a fantasy based MMO where you start at max level because there are no levels. This game will be based on content and fun instead of the time sink of grind and level that is oh so very old. I can't stomach to level in any game now.

Thu Nov 13 2008 4:44AM Report
Moodah writes:

EVE is the only truly unique game on the market, counting the big ones, rest of it is just culmination of the EQ model developed over the years, which WoW is the leader of the crowd by far. Everything else developed after wow had it's unique twist on things, but was in essence the same thing with different wrap and that is what people are getting tired of.

MMOs nowadays are developed for the sole reason of making money instead of providing fun in exchange for money, if you know what I mean, and that is why all of them just go and join the same pile under WOW.

Players on the other hand have less and less tolerance and more and more "been there done that" feelings and after they try a new title and see that it is nothing fundamentaly different from the game they have been playing for years (i.e. WOW), and have established guilds and characters and social networks there, they just go back to the previous game and dump the new title.

All entertainment industries work somewhat similar, but they at least try to provide an unique expirience. Imagine watching an awesome movie that givves you thrills ... Lord of the rings for example. In a month you go and watch another movie called "Lord of the necklaces" ... Hobbits are called Mobbits, Gandalf is called Rondalf but essentially the movie is the copy of the previous one. Then in a month you go and watch "Lord of the ear rings" and so on and so on ....

that is exactly the way MMO companies produce games and they seriously expect people to keep swallowing it, however the tolerance grows lower and lower and nowadays you see alot of people dumping games in a couple of weeks, as soon as they establish enough things that remind them of their perevious expirience.

Thu Nov 13 2008 5:48AM Report
Evasia writes:

Whats wrong with you?

 Your arguement is flawed you advertise wow.

Eve have no competion name we one other mmorpg that's sandbox hardcore free for all pvp in space settings?

None , so logical it have some succes in a nich market 250k subs.

WoW already had millions of fans was already rich and just copyed allmost entire game from everquest asherons call1&2 and some other older games.

It could run on almost every pc it was very easy and casual.

Sure it help expantions and enough developers but some had every month new content and still failed.

Many reasons why mmo's have succes or fail, only small part is expansions and new content every month.

Thu Nov 13 2008 7:54AM Report
Deewe writes:

@zymurgeist: I'm sorry but LotRo is one of the few games that dares to introduice new game play: housing, barber, social clothing, achievements and all that for free.

OP: what you forget is most of the time devs don't move to new projects. Some do but the team is usually split up between maintaining the game and working on addons/new content.

Thu Nov 13 2008 7:59AM Report
Sain34 writes:

The sad fact is that people don't want "new and inovative" every time a game tries to puch that edge of what is considered safe and normal the game fails misrably.

Thu Nov 13 2008 9:24AM Report
nondogg13 writes:

the reason wow and eve worked is alot of devs constantly changing the balance of a game(perfectionist) and thinking of new ideas. lol i thought thats the reason swg failed. maybe wow dominates because its an easy grind and its a social mmo and most gamers are retarded and in need of friends.

Thu Nov 13 2008 10:10AM Report
Moodah writes:

Sain34 maybe we could argue that every game that tried to push for "new and innovative" lately either did it half-assed, or changed their minds somewhere along the way and reverted to the simplification of the original idea in order to draw in the crowds - which they do temporarily perhaps, but then the players realise they are not really playing anything that much different and they revert to their previous game.

Good example is AOCs combat system. First version of the combat system has combos firing off with the combination of dirrectional keys like in combat games. It had some problems but it was still deep in beta and those problems could be worked out, instead they chose to dumb down the entire thing and include the opening move (a button on the skill bar like every other MMO has) and then make you push a sequence of keys to execute the combo. Instead of having a combat game, they ended up having guitar hero whack-a-mole system. In the end it was too non-reactive for the action crowd and too much button pushing for the rpg crowd.

Instead of going for an innovative feature that would serve a certain type of players, somewhere arround the half of the development they decided to scrap it and try appealing to everyone. Thats one of the things CCP does good. They don't try to serve everyone instead they are building a game for a certain type of SF fans who are incredibly loyal and slowly growing in numbers as the game gets bigger. Many people don't like eve and that is perfectly ok, as EVE is not built for everyone's taste, that is why to those that it has an appeal, it has that much more flavour.

LOTRO does the same ... I think they realised they have aquired a long-term community that feels best in their game and they are not going to gamble on doing anything shocking just in order to temporarily bring in more numbers. They are going to continue developing their game, add more things and will see the number slowly rise over time. Those numbers in result will however be extremely loyal.

Thu Nov 13 2008 10:45AM Report
Starbear writes:

One thing I'd like to add about the ideas I've brought up is: Its not enough for a dev team to just update the content in a game, the reason I chose WoW and EVE as examples when so many others out there do similar things is because  both games have added to the core of their gameplay. WoW has added Battle Grounds, Flying Mounts, and many other gamplay elements that just wern't there at launch. The same goes for EVE in which new forms of gameplay have been added in, new ships were added that greatly changed the feild of play and at launch the game didn't even have agents. The major point is that these two games have pushed on with high or growing populations because they themselves are constantly evolve and add the themselves, and this is because the devs of those games truely understand where their money comes from... players.

Thu Nov 13 2008 4:25PM Report
yigael writes:

One thing that has also helped WOW stay in business IMHO, is the huge followers that the previous installations of the warcraft universe earned it. I still remeber the old days of the original warcraft, but personally, WoW hasnt shown the appeal to me to become a subscriber.

Thu Nov 13 2008 5:30PM Report
Nightbringe1 writes:

While I will agree that continued and investment in and developement of an MMO are critical to a games long term success it is not in and of itself what makes an MMO "Good"

My opinion on why there are so few "Good" MMO's is that what the market perceives as "Good" was forever altered my WoW. That game made content easy and easily accessible, it made the game readily accessible to even the most casual player and in doing so created an enormous influx of new players in the genere that set that as the new standard.

In my opinion, the truely "Good" games in the future will be the ones that refuse to generalize their content in an attempt to attract the mass market, but instead concentrate on their particular niche and do it well. Eve is this kind of game. Compared to pre-WoW numbers it is of a respectable size. They stick to their guns and continue to build their world in its own style. They are not trying to steal WoW's customer base.

On a side note, just because WoW has 10 million + subscribers does not mean a game needs anywhere nears those numbers to be profitable. A game with 250,000 players can be profitable and maintain a develepment team just as easily. In fact, 250,000 is far closer to the average once you exclude WoW and a few of the really big asian games.

Thu Nov 13 2008 6:26PM Report
Vistaakah writes:

@Starbear: When WOW was released it only had a couple things that other games didnt have. It had a

Thu Nov 13 2008 6:32PM Report
dolanite writes:

 When I ask people I know who continue to play WoW when they don't enjoy it, why they keep it up, they usually tell me one of two things: "I've spent too long at it to just give up" or more commonly "Everyone I know plays WoW. When I play other games I have to start over."

In essence I feel this is more relevant to WoW's continued success than any other factor, simply that everyone is already playing it, so it's the best game to play if you want to play with lots of people.

Thu Nov 13 2008 7:57PM Report
UnSub writes:

Did I miss a whole run of fly-by-night MMOs that set up shop, took player money then disappeared into the night? I can think of some that failed / closed with huge debts behind them, but that is hardly the issue with them not wanting to expand, it was that they didn't have the money to do so.

Also, if Blizzard actually reinvested its earnings into WoW, it would have a lot more than it currently does and expansions out twice a year, at least. Blizzard is using WoW as a cash cow that funds other projects. Nothing wrong with that, but don't pretend they are really driving that expansion forward.

As for CCP - I can't think of a MMO studio, outside of McQuaid era EQ, that has had a more antagonistic relationship with its players. So much so that they set up that Stellar Council to deal with the player issues and present them with the summaries that they can skim through.

The truth of this is that sometimes the devs who create the game aren't the best ones to run it (EQ2) and sometimes the devs who might want to stick around can't (pretty much any ailing MMO sold to SOE). Long-term dev dedication can help, but it's hardly a guarantee of success.

Fri Nov 14 2008 1:32AM Report
Neosai writes:

Actually FFXI is a better example in terms update.  However, that game is an acquired taste, and too challenging for most people in terms of PvE.

Now, to your points.  Well, I'd think if a game isn't fun, no matter how many developers stayed on board after it is released, it will still sux.

Players don't even know what they want anyways.  They keep saying lets do something new, lets remove this, lets remove that, and some want some much freedom that even the sandbox will find those players irritating.  Admin power anyone?

Most players have one or two good ideas and think that will revolutionize the inudstry.  However, you ask those players to design a MMORPG (I mean ONLY design), they will end up with either a really bad MMORPG, or a copy of others.  It is plain and simple, players believe we can do better than the current game developers, but can't even balance our own check books much less balance a game.  (This is not even taking in production time and cost into consideration)

Fri Nov 14 2008 3:31AM Report
FE|Tachyon writes:

My 2 Copper.

Why MMO's Arn't what they COULD be....

MMO's today are so busy trying to make this linar path of fun and exciting content for you to play in.  Instead of Creating a Robust world of content for you to discover.  What happened to the UO type world?  Go out find stuff, do anything be anything.  Why do we have to pick such linar paths?  Why Do I have to be a healer to heal?  Why Do I have to do the same quest lines as everyone else?   There isn't enough brain power to just create a world in conflict with enough fun stuff to do?  Why can't there be more skill level games instead of player levels?  The more I use my Magic the better I should get right?  Thats how things work don't they?  Sheesh,  its not hard ..

Fri Nov 14 2008 11:11AM Report
Ataaka writes:

Blizzard did everything right, when it comes to WoW.

1. They launched and improved a high-quality graphics engine that completely massages with the mechanics of the game.

Gameplay is smoother than any emerging MMO.

2. They borrowed ideas from past and emerging MMOGs, and made the improvements that the original devs didnt dare to make.

e.g. ( Instead of riding a mount from town to town, you own the mount.)

3. They appeal to the largest age groups (8-80).

My nephew, who is only 12 now, enjoys running his dailys.

4. They created a world where one can choose to pick flowers for a year, or level to cap in only three months.

People are still noted for their crafting skills, and for some, they only level up to increase the ability to craft better.

Many are noted for their ability to raise four versions of the same class.

5. Blizzard re-invested unto itself, that is the most obvious thing... as one poster already noted.

You cannot expect everyone to 'love the game' at launch. Blizzard has created a new standard in MMOs that others fail to meet.

6. There is nothing better than the real world -a place where graphics are second to none.

In order to run the graphics that most people envision, you would need to chain five computers together just to create an avatar. I would take WoW-ish graphics & mechanics over games that have great concepts, but causes my body to jerk and move around as I play.

 

Fri Nov 14 2008 12:02PM Report
Ataaka writes:

BTW, WoW and EvE are not in the same class.

WoW gains and loses the 'dodgy 250k' subs of EvE, every month.

WoW is midevial fantasy. EvE is Sci-Fi fantasy.

WoW isn't 100% Quest/Mission oriented. EvE relies on Missions.

WoW has a highly developed social system. EvE is 'barren chat', at best.

I could go on... But I won't.

I played both games. Each has it's unique set of problems, but I feel like I'm always advancing in WoW. In, EvE, I don't think training skills is much fun at all. Considering it would take 2-5 years of training to reach a respectable level of survival, I'd rather pick flowers in WoW, and master alchemy is six months.

 

 

Fri Nov 14 2008 12:12PM Report
fgauer writes:

I really don't play games or watch movies based around something 'I want'. I play games or watch movies (or any other form of diversion for that matter) for the entertainment value they provide.

Entertainment may consist of something new and exciting, leisure socializing, provacative, anything other than something 'I want'...

WoW seems to be entertaining to a lot of people. I even find it amusing and engaging for periods of time. I also found Warhammer to be entertaining and fun etc...

I don't think I need much more than that, from any kind of entertainment, including MMO's...

Fri Nov 14 2008 12:42PM Report
Moodah writes:

Atakka I strongly disagree with you. While I acknowledge that EVE is a niche game and is not made with the goal to appeal to everyone, and thus I understand people that just don't like that type of thing, your claims are just plain false.

Eve is everything BUT missions. Missions are just an flavour addon but the main part of EVE revolves outside the missions.

Your second claim is also just plain false. You don't need 2 - 5 years of training skills to reach a respectable level of survival. You just need to pick what you want to be good at and focus in training it and in a month or two you can be competitive with the older players.

Imagine it like this - You can drive a car, bike, bicycle, truck and a bus. Each one of those takes 1 month to be good at, so someone that has been playing for 5 months can be good at all 5, however if you pick to race cars with him, you only need 1 month to leatn the car. You don't need to know how to drive a bicycle, truck, bus and a bike if you want to race cars. That is the way things in EVE work and that is why you couldn't be more wrong.

As I said, I understand that it is not everyone;s cup of tea and that you just did not like it and theres nothing wrong with that, however it ticks me off when people make claims about things they know nothing about.

Fri Nov 14 2008 1:59PM Report

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