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Blogging: The art of Procrastination

The wonderful thing about blogging is you can do it whenever you want, about whatever topic you feel like. The perfect way to vent apart from smashing a hole in your door, which lets be honest is only satisfying if you break your hand in the process.

Author: confusedgoat

Is catering for "Carebears" the future of MMOs?

Posted by confusedgoat Monday February 9 2009 at 12:50AM
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 I'll start off by apologising to anyone who is offended by the term "Carebear". It's simply a term 99% of the MMO population can relate to and  understand immediately. I don't care how you like to play your game, each to their own.

 

Next, I'll say I've never played EVE. I know it's out ther and I know its not a forgiving game, but it's one of a dying breed.

 

I'm not a regular blogger by any means, I like to think that every now and again though I create a post that actually adresses genuine concerns rather than the usual horse piss class complaints you see posted every 10 minutes. I'm 21 and I've been involved with MMOs since UO. My first serious MMO was Ragnarok Online, I moved on after that and played around with a couple of others before dossing about on private RO servers until eventually signing up and subbing for it. Guilt got the best of me. I got a shiney new rig a few months before L2 open beta came out which I also got hooked on for a bit until WoW came out. I stuck with WoW for about a year or two, sacked it off half way through TBC expansion. Since then nothing has really filled the void. AoC was great until the grind and endgame if you ignore the stupid balance issues and stability problems. WAR was fun for a bit but I invested in it in order to participate in wars, not queue for small scale scenarios...I'm getting side tracked. You don't need my history on MMOs, I'd just like to make it clear I have a vast portfolio of experience when it comes to playing them.

 

WoW will always be my favourite MMO. Although I've quit, I've had more laughs and cheers in that game than any other. But I will also hate what WoW has done to the gaming industry for a long long time. Before WoW, there was drama, tension, suspense. Fighting a mob was scary because even in the best case losing scenario, death meant losing XP. Worst case scenario, you dropped your gear to watch someone come and pillage it while you wait desperately for a res to reclaim it. In-game villains were genuine bad ass mother fuckers. They had a big ass red name to flaunt to the masses, and they were usually hard as nails with an entourage of wannabes backing them up. When they fell, they fell hard. They weren't some lippy little 15 year old trolling a forum for attention. They were dick head 15 year olds pillaging the weak to make their games a misery. Heroes were heroes, they weren't a tank that could hammer sunder faster than the average man (I was an MT, don't try to BS me tanks, you know pre-TBC that was the top and bottom of it) walking round in flashy shoulder pads. They were hard ass buggers with the skills to back it up. They'd hunt down the hard ass evil doers and their fights were genuinely huge, not a petty duel outside IF.

 

What I'm trying to get at is a lot of the "epic" has been taken out of MMOs. Heroes aren't heroic any more, they're people you see once in a blue moon when they come back to a city to repair. The rest of the time they stay logged outside an instance, or inside said instance. Villains aren't villanous, they're just people you have beef with because they troll forums, they dont actually cause any grief. You get corpse campers yes, but ultimately logging off for 5/10 mins to have the shit that's been turtleheading for the last hour gets rid of them and no damage is done, whereas in games like L2 they could pillage you of your gear if you were unlucky enough to drop it. Quests, even the quests have lost value. In older MMOs quests were few and far between, because they were quests, adventures, long and arduous (sp?) journeys. You got a genuine reward out of it like class advancement or a pet or skill. Admittedly this isn't for everyone, my friend quit L2 because he ran round the world map for 4 hours for the wolf pet quest. He got back and had to answer some questions based on what he had learned on his quest. He presumed if he failed he could just restart that part (WoW syndrome). He failed and was not best pleased to find out he had to start from scratch. It might sound "lame" but it meant people actually paid attention to quests. They didn't have answers and locations spoonfed to them via retries and marked maps. People try to convince me they're to get rid of the grind. If you look at half the quest chains you do, it's kill X monsters followed by kill X amount of these harder monsters followed by kill the leader of the monsters. That is grind. I never cared about grinding, so long as it was somewhere scenic and stunning. There was a real sense of adventure with some grinds because you didn't have a quest highlighted in red telling you the place was a death trap. You simply tip toed into dungeons cautiously and ran like hell if something seemed a bit too much, making a mental note to return in a few levels so you could possibly see the next level down in it. I think the one MMO I thought the quests were entertaining in was LotRO, though this may primarily be because while everyone else was out hunting X monsters in their start zone, I was delivering post and pies and saving sheep. Death isn't scary, when you fought in older MMOs you fought your ass off. In the L2 seiges (not sure if this is different now) you suffered an XP loss for dying. You were a pawn in an epic scale battle, and you were risking possibly a days worht of XP for one life in a huge seige, genuinely putting yourself and your gear on the line for your guild. What happens in MMOs now? At least WoW had repair bills, as pitiful as they were, some modern MMOs are scrapping even that.

 

They may have been harsh, but old school MMOs created drama. Genuine drama, not forum battles. We're talking the KoS-until-they-drop-loot drama. We're talking people willing to risk XP and gear just so they can have the pride of killing an enemy. Duels were tense and wars were epic.

 

I guess the point of this is to say "all good things in moderation". WoW (pre-TBC) was a great game for me, no other MMO has given me as much laughter. But it's changed the industry for the worse in my opinion. You can't blame game companies for taking from WoW, it has 11million subs now or something daft like that. My issue is that MMO designers are looking for something to top WoW, but all they're doing is feeding us with more of the carebear loving games. If designers really want to be innovative, they should go back to the roots. WoW opened a floodgate for MMO users and they're all looking for something new and different. I say put the epic back in MMOs, put the drama and tears back in, put the genuine passion and emotion back in to MMOs.

 

Bring back death penalties so people fear death.

Bring back karma systems so villains and heroes thrive.

Have fewer quests with less clues and directions, so they actually feel like quests.

Bring back the feeling of exploration, dungeons that aren't instanced, beautiful settings and the odd rare sighting of that scary ass huge mob.

Bring back expensive equipment/supplies so you genuinely work for your reward.

 

I know for a fact this isn't everyones cup of tea, I know some people can't think of anything worse. The problem with MMOs today though, is that everyone wants to bring out something new and while the ideas and concepts WoW started were innovative and new for MMOs, they weren't new for the majority of MMO players. WoW made MMOs a global money making phenomenon, and a huge chunk of MMO players today will have been introduced to the genre through WoW. 

 

To many, the ways of old, will be a very very new experience.