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The Space Between

Gaming and Life, Rants and Raves, now with 30% more loot!

Author: TesterNGS

Down with Fluff!

Posted by TesterNGS Friday December 21 2007 at 4:22PM
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Down With Fluff!

Fluff: noun - Superfluous features in a MMORPG that have no direct impact on the core of the game.
I am tired of fluff being more important than core game play. It makes me sad to see developers add more fluff to their game than changes that have real substance. Gamers are being treated like kids at a carnival who are interested only in the loudest, brightest, most colorful rides. Game developers go for the popular additions instead of more meaningful, more impactful, longer term improvements.
When I was beta testing Tabula Rasa, I sent one of the developers a message asking if more abilities would get added to each class. I thought it would be a great way to add depth and variety to the game considering that each class has only a few unique abilities and that there are 5-, 10-, and 15-level gaps between the acquisition of new skills and powers. They told me there were no plans to add abilities. Instead of improving the CORE of the game (characters and combat), Destination Games and NCSoft decided that holiday events were more important. I canceled my subscription to TR out of boredom before my included month was over.
In their defense, DG and NCSoft did add meaningful things like an auction house and new instances. I just think that something CORE to the game, something that would make an impact at ALL levels of play, should take precedence over just about everything else.
You might say that it is more important to fill out the game's feature list before focusing on more long-term improvements. In TR's case, the developers are (hopefully) giving the game all the expected features before moving on to making the core of the game more diverse and entertaining. I want to believe this, I really do, but then I think of City of Heroes.
I have never played a more misguided game than City of Heroes. Cryptic had this gem in their hands - the only superhero MMORPG on the market - and they buried it under a mountain of worthless fluff. The game is years past release and there are CORE improvements that countless beta testers and players have made solid cases for, yet Cryptic was more interested in adding costume pieces, underutilized features (Arena, SG bases), and heaps of recycled door missions. City of Heroes, for me, is thoroughly bland, repetitive, and boring because the developers decided to ignore core game play.
I would LOVE to be enticed to go back and play CoH - I have characters there I really like. But there is no way I am paying $15/month so I can grind missions that take place in recycled environments, fight clumps of blindingly stupid NPCs, and play an endgame that consists of typical "the-same-but-with-more-hitpoints" style content. No amount of costume pieces, new power sets, and UI improvements make the CORE of the game any better.
MMORPGs are more and more being released without commonly-expected features, probably in an attempt to release early, then impress subscribers with "free" updates. In reality, all those updates do are add features that should have been included at release. The result is a continual game of catch up, where fluff additions are tacked on while the core game is ignored.

mrguy123 writes:

Sorry, but I disagree with you. The "fluff" of City of Heroes is what makes it so unique and appealing. And to say the game hasn't improved its core? It's had 11 sucessful issues and all of them were for a core gameplay improvement with costume pieces, etc. as a bonus in the issue. From the beginning up to now we already got a ton of new zones, new archetypes, new powersets, new storylines, pvp, villains, interactive missions, an auction house, an inventing system, deeper storylines(Rikti), and just now, time travel. How is all of that fluff. Oh, and also you said that new powersets in CoH is fluff, which completely contradicts your TR statement. You said you asked for new abilities to add to the core gameplay. Powersets are new abilities. Makes no sense.

Sat Dec 22 2007 12:42AM Report
Rimmon writes:

I agree completely ,the "Fluff Factor" is a big part of why I ended the subscriptions to the only mmorpg games that I have completely enjoyed: UO and DAoC.  3D? really and TOA (a few good changes came, but not many) Catacombs (wtf) and a Labyrinth?  Why not just improve on what you have, which by the way was totally successful, instead of adding needless bells and whistles.  I don't know the whole marketing sceme and scenario but to me its that you might draw in some new players with the "Fluff" and increase your player base temporarily but odds are the new draws will not be long term players and all that ends up happening is the core player base is ran off.

Sat Dec 22 2007 1:53AM Report
rscott6666 writes:

You see fluff, i see an attempt to make the game less one dimensional.
I'd rather the game branch out.  Combat is overdone.  Its a dead horse.
Theres a million combat games out there.  Lets see something different  for a change.

Sat Dec 22 2007 9:18AM Report
vajuras writes:

This was a good article coming from someone that has level 50s in CoH I know that game is fluffy up the wahzoo. Just endless grind for time rich people (maybe all mmorpg is just that tho hence why i dont really play'em anymore).

TR is simply shallow. Like CoH, I gots nothng to look forward to. I bet it will be a long grind from newbie to cap. like the noobish CoH devs TR expects us to be excited about 'level ups' that dont even include a new power. whack yo. silly MMO devs no wonder they all suffer declining quarterly performance (CoH,TR)

Sat Dec 22 2007 9:57AM Report
soulwynd writes:

I don't spend all my time in an online game grinding. I also talk and make use of any silly fluff they have. And in the case of CoH, it's a grindfest. There's no real fluff besides the costume and it's what makes that game very unique.

I'd like to see development of any game core as well as the fluffs. Even better yet, having the fluffs have actual impact in the game.

Sat Dec 22 2007 10:05AM Report
Estrus writes:

Fluff is good.  Fluff is fun.  It's the serious stick-up-the-ass games that we need less of.

Sat Dec 22 2007 3:20PM Report
Tamon writes: I think MMORPGs nowadays are severely lacking in the RP aspect. Every ability in recent games is either healing, damage dealing, stat bonus/penalty or stealth. All combat related. Fluff lets players individualize their characters more. That being said, I also don't like seeing Christmas or Halloween being injected into these games since it destroys the immersion and lore for me. Sat Feb 28 2009 7:50AM Report writes:
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