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MMORPGs: The Good, The Bad, and the Just Plain Stupid.

There seems to always be something going on in the world of MMORPGs, whether it's news, developments, or player goings-on.

Author: brihtwulf

Star Trek Online: Why do people hate so much they will make up lies?

Posted by brihtwulf Saturday February 13 2010 at 9:09PM
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Many, MANY people have been watching Star Trek Online since it was first brought up to be developed by the now defunct studio Perpetual.  For a short time the IP was up in the air, then finally discovered to have been picked up by Cryptic Studios.  They made a deal to have the game released with a tight (compared to the typical 4-year development cycle) 2-year time frame.  Finally on Feb. 2, 2010, the game went live.  But even before launch, there were cries of "The sky is falling!" from the far corners of the MMORPG community.

The closed beta phase of the testing went forward in the typical fashion.  Many changes and updates were done, and a number of bugs and issues were reported by the testers.  The one thing a closed beta doesn't take into account is the stress on the game and its servers from the massive increase in users that comes when the game goes live.  But in what seems to be an increasingly popular decision these days, an "open beta" was held to give people the opportunity to get a "sneak preview" of the game's features and allow the developers to observe the effects of more players (including the fact that more players means more bugs coming to the surface).

It seems that the moment open beta started, so did the cries, moans, and roars of players.  Even so-called "professionals" from game sites and magazines who gave their "previews" seemed to join in the popular spiral of negativity that many seemed to embrace.  But why such blind hatred?  What made so many fume about THIS game in particular?

When any MMORPG has launched in the past, it has been accompanied by varying levels of bugs, crashes, unexpected downtimes, and other issues.  Even the beloved World of Warcraft was no exception to this, having crashes, missing content, and developing long queue lines just to get into the game.  For over a decade, it has (or so I thought) become understood that some bumps in the road early on are almost unavoidable because it is difficult to anticipate the effect of hundreds of thousands of players flooding into the game.  But Star Trek Online's occasional issues have people foaming at the mouth, even making up non-existant problems to persuade others to their cause.

For example, there have been many cries on the official STO forums of "constant downtimes" and "constant crashing".  The truth of the matter has shown this to be a complete exaggeration.  There have been only a few unscheduled downtimes since launch nearly 2 weeks ago.  Much like other MMORPG's, they have had some scheduled maintenance, which was posted on the forums in advance.  As for the crashes, most of the reports have been met with players in general not experiencing them, and several players seem angry even when the root of the problem is their PC not meeting the minimum requirements to run the game.  In reality, crashes are a rarity.

Even "professionals" are not above making up information to fit in with the mobs of nay-sayers.  MMOZine recently published a preview of STO, which was full of speculation and just plain misinformation.  The previewer said things like the combat boils down to turning in a circle until someone is dead, and that the space battles are quickly over because players are either extremely under or over-matched.  Anyone who has played the game for more than the tutorial would tell you otherwise. 

In a part of their segment, they claimed that exploration served little purpose other than to obtain aliens and boost stats of your bridge officers.  This mechanic doesn't even exist, and was completely made up.  When I wrote an email to their editor stating my notice of the made-up information, they rebutted by saying it was alright for the previewer to have falsified their description of the game because they qualified it with the word "seems".  So, does that mean that it's alright for media outlets to make up lies like, "It seems as if Sony likes to cook and eat babies"?  Qualifying blatant misinformation with the word "seems" or "boils down to" does not make it right.

For some reason people seem to have joined together in a popular fad of hating Cryptic Studios as if they had created a Frankenstein's monster which murdered their families.  They have been called failures, liars, thieves, and just plain EVIL...

I'm sorry if you pre-ordered the game from a digital retailer and didn't read the terms of service.  Maybe the next time you won't buy something you know nothing about and have never seen before.  Would you buy a car because you saw it in a commercial before it has even been made yet and before you had a chance to see it or read about its details?  Do you buy sushi from the back of a van in a dark alley?  Pre-ordering is used to entice buyers with bonuses, but only brick and mortar stores offer the ability to cancel your pre-order if you choose to back out.

I think people need to take a step back from their self-absorbed mentalities and over-blown egos, and remember that this is just a game.  It's been made so people will have fun with it, and in the hopes that people will continue to play it in the future.  It's not a scam, scheme, or some corporate devilry sent to bring on the apocalypse. 

Players don't want new or different games. The majority prefer boring repetition.

Posted by brihtwulf Sunday April 12 2009 at 2:14PM
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 Creativity and Innovation = Failure.

This year, yet another "mainstream" MMO has met its end.  I'm of course referring to Tabula Rasa.  This is just another in a list of unique titles that has either failed to get off the ground, or fell off the face of the Earth after only a brief run.  What is it that makes players shy away from these more unique games and their concepts?  You often hear the cry from forums about "innovation", "change", and the need for more variation to MMOs in general.  But when a game offers this, it's greeted with doubtful suspicion.

Tabula Rasa, the most recent "failure", offered a unique blend of Sci-Fi environment in a persistant world with a unique FPS-3rd Person blend of gameplay.  Players often shout for more Sci-Fi MMOs, but if this is to be the fate of the games who try, it's doubtful many developers will follow in their footsteps.  From the same developer you had Auto Assault.  This car-driving MMO brought a VERY unique game that blended Sci-Fi with a post-apocalyptic world and destructable environment.  Sadly, this game too survived for a very short time.

Before EVE Online there was Earth and Beyond.  This space combat and economic simulation MMO was developed by EA Games, but lasted only a few years (perhaps it was less than 3?).  The game was very similar to EVE, but was unable to garner the support of Sci-Fi or MMO fans.  But even the well-supported fantasy genre is not beyond the grip of failed innovation.  Turbine attemped to create a sequel to it's very popular Asheron's Call MMORPG, creating AC2.  It offered skill-based advancement, unique races, and some very nice graphics for its time.  But the unfamiliar skill system and unique gameplay proved too much for the average player, and the game was shut down.

Another example of difficulty succeeding with a unique game is Ryzom.  Despite the fact that it has recently resurfaced in the MMO world, it has undergone numerous problems including various owners and bankruptcies.  This game touts itself as being a "sandbox" game, where players can create their own unique characters based on skills and self-created abilities.  This kind of gameplay has been shouted for by many vocal players, but has never shown itself to be a successful model for a game.

Players are all too willing to stick to the tried-and-true foundations of the genre (and their sequels/clones).  Everquest, World of Warcraft, and similar games continue to be the defining games of the MMO universe (at least in the western world).  Why is it that despite the cry for unique games, players shun them for the "same old, same old"?  Perhaps people just "think" they want something unique, when in fact most players just aren't comfortable outside the box.

I for one hope that independant games (not corporately developed) can help pave the way and encourage players to delve deeper into more types of MMOs.  It's not that EQ2, LotRO, or even WoW are bad games.  It's just that they've been done, done again, and done once more in the ear, and it's time to move on...

Why do Asian MMOs keep popping up on a seemingly weekly basis?

Posted by brihtwulf Tuesday April 7 2009 at 5:43PM
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 Where is all this garbage coming from???

Every day I visit MMORPG.com for my MMO news and additional filler to my constant craving for all that is online computer gaming and RPGs.  I enjoy the up-to-date news and articles, the rumor mill, contests, and many other features present on the site.  As I said, I love MMOs in general.  I've played nearly every released MMORPG since 1999, and was a MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) addict prior to that.  But there is one thing I just can't take anymore...  The unrelenting flood of Asian grind-fest clone games that sickeningly penetrates our market.

I know there are some people who enjoy games with a more Asian style and design.  There are even people who will play the game because they adore everything Asian.  Then you have people that find a sort of comfort in the "grind" factor.  These people enjoy mindlessly plugging away at 10,000 floating eyeballs in a field for hours on end to attain their goal.  While I don't fit into this category, I can see that some do find enjoyment in it.  But how many games of this type need to exist to fill that need?  On this site alone, there are dozens of this Asian grind-style game clogging up the game list.  If I had my druthers, they would be wiped away as the worthless clutter they represent.

There are perhaps a couple games which deserve their place as legitimate members of the MMO genre, despite their thematically Asian nature.  I have to give credit mostly to games like Lineage 2, and perhaps even Archlord.  I consider these games set apart from my previously described garbage heaps because they have many more features, content, and overall depth.  So, before anyone decides do crucify me for my MMO-racist views, I don't hate ALL of them.

I believe that these games exist solely because they appeal mostly to immature kiddies who can't afford to pay for a real MMORPG, and couldn't convince mommy and daddy to use their credit card.  Then you have the kids who, while they can't pay for a subscription, can still occasionally weasel enough money out of their parents for the cash shop so they can buy their way to the top instead of earning it through gameplay or skill.  Lastly, you get the "adults" who don't have the maturity, patience, or ability to play a game and earn their way up the player ladder.  So they find it simpler to pay $100 and become the "uber elite dood" who can gank all the newbs he wants without having to actually accomplish anything.  Without said people, these games wouldn't be worthy of a $10 purchase price, let alone any sort of subscription or fees.

For new players, or those new to the genre, this becomes even more of an annoyance and hinderance to finding the right game.  Having to look through lists of hundreds of games can be frustrating and time-consuming.  Take into account that a multitude of them are this copycat 4-class, no customization, grind-heavy, gankfest and it can start to turn people away from the genre entirely.  These cheaply-produced copycat games only serve to lure people in with their claims of "free play", while really trying to milk the players out of as much quick money as possible up front.  Those games rarely offer updates, and have become infamous for their rock-bottom customer service.  It's more of a scam than a game.

My suggestions:

1.  REMOVE the games from sites like MMORPG.com and other mainstream MMO sites. ... OR ...

2.  Make it possible for users to customize their content with geographic filters.

... Because before long, there are going to be 1000+ of these filler games, and the REAL ones are going to get lost in the landfill.