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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 Sunday February 8 2009 at 11:50PM
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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.

Hashashin writes:

 

I don't think any one could have said it any better. Reading your mmo history we had about the same experience (only I never stuck with wow but reather continued with L2 on a private server)

 

And YeS you are right all the new mmos and even the old ones are getting bubble wrapped so kids don't scratch their knees.

Even L2 with all the HC drama/glory it once held is not what it once was.

Salute to you and the old ways.

 

 

Mon Feb 09 2009 3:01AM Report
Umbral writes:

"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." Well, you forgot to say, a couple of years in the past players in L2  who were not doing this quest, the class changing quests or PVPing were killing 10000 times the same creature or just boting for hours and hours and hours to catch some levels while sleeping to someday experience sieges, see some times nostalgia can numb our memories and impressions... 

Just a side not, in the beginning L2 only had a small amount of quests (by small I mean less than 15), the PVE was very, very simple, searching for locations were a nice experience, but in the end you just cant say L2 was hard PVE and adventuring wise, the huge amount of people botting in L2 just make hours of grind or loose money/item ingame not exacly something to cry for as most players would get it back  while sleeping.

This kind of argument about past games, from UO to L2 were so incredible and immersive and today´s games are crap always fall in the same mistake, the nostalgic illusory memory.

 

Mon Feb 09 2009 5:30AM Report
fansede writes:

 Your blog brings up interesting points. If you have been there playing one of the first MMOs, Ultima Online, then you are part of the generation where MMOs brought new and exciting emotions to the gaming experience. 

After a decade or so of MMOs , you are, in essence a MMO veteran that is long in the tooth. :)

I think the next generation of gamers, more or less enjoy console gaming. These games are more immersive, visually appealing, and more solo friendly. As a result, the transition into MMO worlds are less appealing because the desginer has to figure out not how to entertain the one player avatar, but thousands. Is this the causal gamer all companies want to court?

WoW will be Emperor of MMOs for a long time because its casual style. easier to get in and play, but time consuming to Master. A formula many investors want to fund for future games

 

 

Mon Feb 09 2009 7:20AM Report
sfraden writes:

Theres a few facts about MMO's that your overlooking...

1. MMO's are a BUSINESS, like any other business.  The company is out to make money, not to provide you with the perfect game because they care about gaming.  Thus, like any business, they will cater to the crowd that pays them the most money.

2. Idealistic games fail.  These are games made by 'gamers' that spout the same stuff you do. 

Look at the numbers, games that have some of what you want are not doing well, and many have completely shut down.  Some ar victims to just poor concepts (Auto-Assault & Earth & Beyond) Others just lack fun (Tabula Rasa) Only WoW has the vast subscribers.  WHy? WoW is a 100% carebear game, it was pratically written by whiners.  This is what most people want, an easy to play click here game that requires no tactics, strategy or even thinking in general.  In short, WoW is made for idiots.  The issue is that these idiots have fat wallets and pay for it, while idealists like yourself dont.

The number of folks that think like you do (And I am one of them as I agree with you completely)  are a mere handful when compared to the people that are carebears.  Business goes to the money...

 

Mon Feb 09 2009 7:48AM Report
Kiskara writes:

"Just a side not, in the beginning L2 only had a small amount of quests (by small I mean less than 15), the PVE was very, very simple, searching for locations were a nice experience, but in the end you just cant say L2 was hard PVE and adventuring wise, the huge amount of people botting in L2 just make hours of grind or loose money/item ingame not exacly something to cry for as most players would get it back while sleeping."

 

You forget all the times in L2 those "simple" PvE moments were usually shattered by either some griefer that delighted in going after people as they went about their day, or someone training a nearby boss. I know in the Dark Elf side of things, both were pretty common; lowbies would scarcely take a step out of the town before a red name peeked over the horizon.

 

And you say there was no adventuring? Just the mere fact that you had to walk everywhere made every quest a new experience. You never knew how far a monster could aggro you until you saw the sparks from getting hit. And heaven forbid you had to pass near an area out of your level range - you prayed that nothing spawned as you crept about. You were never sure what to be leery of more: the mobs, or the PKers. If you were fortunate enough to land yourself in a clan, most had a group within dedicated solely to hunting down PKers. Nothing was more satisfying than see a name called out in global and then seeing a swarm of clan mates track the bugger down to (hopefully) get your lost items back.

Sure, there were bots (what game doesn' thave them?), but they were few and far between in the early days.

 

 

 

Yes, the blog is a nice bit of nostalgia. But that doesn't make the initial statement any less true. MMOs, as of late, have become kinder and gentler. Its almost to the point where you don't even need other players, there's a damn near infinite number of quests you can take to get your leveling done. The days of absolutely needing to party are numbered.

Mon Feb 09 2009 7:52AM Report
confusedgoat writes:

 I'm not going to deny I'm probably biased about the "good old days" of MMOs. I probably have deluded myself into thinking they have something thats missing. When these games were out though, MMOs were an untapped industry. WoW opened the flood gates and now people are wanting more. I'm trying to say (though admittedly it is overloaded with nostalgia as people have stated) that by going back to basics and looking at where MMOs came from, they might be able to put some life back into the MMO industry.

Games at the minute are coming out thick and fast, but they don't offer a different experience, and I think that is where the industry is lacking. Developers should be looking at games such as WoW, taking away some worth while lessons, while introducing (or in my argument bringing back) something different.

New combat systems and areas to explore, new classes or quest types, they're all good ideas but they do nothing to change the feeling the player gets while playing the game, they simply change the techniques to play it. 

Thankyou for the constructive feedback and I do apologise for the nostalgia, it simply can't be helped, I've been looking for something new ever since I got bored of WoW, and the glory days of old are what's missing from the industry at present. Didn't really expect much, simply a way to pass the time at 4am or some equally daft hour.

Mon Feb 09 2009 9:45AM Report
Giddian writes:

I'm a firm believer that things change for a reason. We may think we are in the Majority about the way a Games should be, but we are not. Businesses go were the money is. There is no money in the old way of gaming. A dyeing breed. Let’s be honest, if we were the Majority, they would be making the games with a PvP base in mind instead of PvE with a little PvP to try to make others happy. It's hard to see it and some will argue and Flame it. My dad complains about the Good old days too. Doesn’t mean that’s what the people want today. It's all about the money people.

Mon Feb 09 2009 10:24AM Report
Norden writes:

"WoW opened the flood gates and now people are wanting more."

Or rather "more of the same." Which in many ways is less.

Anyway, I sure I have seen similar blogs many times by now, although it was a good read, thank you.  And now go out there and ge EvE, you have no idea what you're missing.

 

Mon Feb 09 2009 10:31AM Report
jeddak writes:

As an mmo'r from the early days of Ultima online I have to say that mmo's have been catering to carebears (hate that turn as well) since at least the time when UO gave in and created a safe world for most of it's players. UO had a perfect setup for pvp vs nonpvp so it was more pk's (player killers) vs players just trying to collect resources or whatever type of business they we're into. And with complete looting of the dead dieing was a serious matter for most. I miss those early days of UO but I was a complete carebear from the beginning and I used to get really annoyed at the killings.

But it made the game real. Everything you did was with avoiding death and we used to comment, "If only the pk's we're gone this would be a good game.". Man did my friends and I have it wrong. Well the majority of players agreed with us though and Origin changed the game and the game prospered. You could still pvp on the original world but it turned into a wasteland for the hardcore pvp'rs and most of the action took part in only a few key places making the rest of the world empty.

Since then I have pvp'd in many games especially if the game isn't just about pvp. Currently I have been playing Lord fo the rings online for 19 months. I left a game for it when I found out you could start from the beginning with an evil class (spider) and you didn't have to level on the "good" side which is very well done btw. I love the pvmp (monster play) and the class differences between good and evil are dramatic but most pvp vets consider it watered down pvp. I personally love it but Turbine was caught by surprise by the great interest in playing the mp side exclusively as it was orginally concieved as a side-game for bored players to gain destiny points.

Turbine has tried to add flavor and balance to the pvp but have failed pretty badly swinging the balance of power greatly from patch to patch. Many have left the game cussing it's pvp but I remain. Right now it's a slaughter with the heroes pounding us with their new weapons and skills from the recent expansion and in a few weeks book 7 will come along and once again try to 'adjust' t hings. But overall it's the most fun I've had in pvp long term since the dark age of camelot (and I hated the nonpvp part of the game) only in this case the pve side is very polished and fun if not repetitive (and not for me).

Any wayI thought I would add my perspective to your discussion. I hope it was on topic enough. Thanks.   Mummylord Rank 7 Weaver Brandwine server LoTr.

Mon Feb 09 2009 1:12PM Report
mystic_ben writes:

no one seems to have mentioned that WOW does cater somewhat for the carebear's bane. I'll label myself a carebear for argument's sake (I rarely enjoy pvp), but when I first started out on WOW it was on a PVP server to be with friends. I stopped levelling my first toon in the mid 20s due to the frustration of being camped by PKers repeatedly while I was trying to quest.

And wasn't there a game that was all about PVP that died?

Was it Hellgate that had a 'hard' mode where death was permanent?

If you're really missing the pvp- then why are you refusing to play EVE? Sounds like it has the 'excitement' you're looking for.

IMO, unless you've played EVERY MMO (and no, I haven't either) I don't think you can accurately judge the industry in its entirety with any authority.

Just my 2 inf. =P

Mon Feb 09 2009 3:39PM Report
Umbral writes:

You forget all the times in L2 those "simple" PvE moments were usually shattered by either some griefer that delighted in going after people as they went about their day, or someone training a nearby boss. I know in the Dark Elf side of things, both were pretty common; lowbies would scarcely take a step out of the town before a red name peeked over the horizon.

 

And you say there was no adventuring? Just the mere fact that you had to walk everywhere made every quest (when we are talking about 10 quests from level 1 to 50 this isnt much)a new experience. You never knew how far a monster could aggro you until you saw the sparks from getting hit. And heaven forbid you had to pass near an area out of your level range - you prayed that nothing spawned as you crept about. You were never sure what to be leery of more: the mobs, or the PKers. If you were fortunate enough to land yourself in a clan, most had a group within dedicated solely to hunting down PKers. Nothing was more satisfying than see a name called out in global and then seeing a swarm of clan mates track the bugger down to (hopefully) get your lost items back.

Sure, there were bots (what game doesn' thave them?), but they were few and far between in the early days.

Just to be clear, Im not bashing L2 as the game was and is important to MMO history, but this adventure you talk about, games like Everquest 2 have the same aspect, you need to look (without eq2 map) for quest locations, plus you also have Heritage quests that are harder and longer than most quests in any game.

C1 and C2 pve were almost all soloable, PK was a risk (that you can have in a EQ2 pvp server and some korean games aswell), but if your karma was low, you probably would not drop anything, but PVE was simple enough, the thrill you had related to aggro was probably there because L2 was a new experience for you.

Every game has bots, and usually these bots are gold farmers, in L2 in early days and even today, most players use bot to level, you may say it is not truth, but anyone who played C1 and C2 and even today, know this is real, when most players go a large part of the leveling process botting, well, I say it again, it is when there is something wrong.

Just the fact you can level only through botting is a clear indication PVE in L2 is simple and in most cases easy (excluding dungeons), beside, the map was open enough to hunt without the risk of PKs.

...but why are we talking about L2 as a past game, Lineage 2 still there and still strong, there are a couple of changes, but the core still almost the same.

 

Mon Feb 09 2009 4:20PM Report
confusedgoat writes:

 @ Mystic ben - I dig swords not ships. In honesty it is pretty much everything I look for in a game, but because it's ships in space I can't bring myself to like it. Tragic really :(

Mon Feb 09 2009 4:58PM Report
Kiskara writes:

@Umbral

 

I only used L2 since that was the game you seemed to focus on in your examples. No real other reason. And it wasn't my first MMO - not that it has much to do with anything. And it wasn't just the mob aggro that made PvE so interesting, it was knowing that there was a good chance that a PKer was skulking around waiting for you to get even slightly overwhelmed and then finished you off. (You say you didn't have that issue, then you're a lucky soul - or stuck to a less populated server). And there wasn't the "safety" of going to a PvE server. You wanted to play, you took your chances like the rest of the community. Made things cutthroat; PvE-only servers don't really offer that experience, so the game often goes stale, IMHO.

 

 

Bots. All MMO's have them. At this point in the industry's lifespane, it's almost ridiculous to complain about it. It's almost as banal as long updates, and inevitable mass nerfings. And I know that WoW suffers easily as many bots as L2 did in its hey-dey. And I played L2 from CB up until..about a year ago. So, I saw the botting; but it was hardly a great plague, like you seem to be implying. Not to mention one of the joys ov PcP servers came into play: killing the bots and taking their item(s).

Mon Feb 09 2009 8:25PM Report
Umbral writes:

@Kiskara

I used L2 as example because this blog post is related to L2 aswell.

I think you didnt understand what I say about botting in L2, I didnt say it was a plague in that game, what I said was, if most players DONT play the leveling process, just BOT the leveling process it mean (in my opinon) the leveling process is flawed, you just cant deny  a lot of real players in L2 were and are botting for leveling, you dont see this in many MMOs because in other games people enjoy the voyage aswell not only the endgame...

Botting issue is not a ridiculous argument as you seems to belive, the amount of L2 players that left the official game to play in private servers because the leveling was faster and they didnt need to use bot were huge... I dont know if you know this, but it was easy to use bot in the official server and just walk away than in privete servers, even NCsoft knew players (not gold sellers) would bot through the leveling process, dont come here and say "ooh botting was never big in L2, never a issue it was just like in every mmo" because it is a simple lie... today leveling in L2 is easier, so this issue is not so big anymore, but it still there.

If you know how to avoid PK, yes, Lineage 2 PvE and leveling is very, very, very easy, only timing consuming, today L2 has better content, dungeons and encounters, but you cant say it was a hard game PvE wise in C1-C2-C3 comparing with EQ2, Vanguard, GW, AoC etc 

As I said, Im not here bashing L2, but at the time the game was released botting for leveling, simple pve, small (very small) amount of quests and pure and simple grind was common, I just disagree with the OP, past games like L2 and even UO were not exacly more challenging and better in every aspect if you compare to newer games... ofcourse, forgeting about the nostalgic feeling.

Just a side note, L2 has some fantastic details aswell.

 

Mon Feb 09 2009 9:34PM Report
Kridina writes:

I started in the online world with the good ole MUDs, lol...Then EQ came out...I've been hooked ever since in the industry.

The thing is...I'm usually lumped into the carebear category. I want to make one thing clear, though..sure..I like it when people 'make nice'..cause who WANTS to lose their crap, XP, or just find they wasted time etc? That does not mean I don't want a challenge.

To me, the problem with some of these games is not only the changes made in the end. Because..you still have the same 'grieferes' as before. Making it 'easier' to level etc did not make them go away, it actually just made it easier for them to grief. So, maybe that epic feel is gone for you, but the '12-year olds' are still there. Perhaps that can be your challenge?

And the latest Eve expansion coming out (Worm holes!) looks to be quite epic, by the way...

Oh..and not all 12-year olds are 'bad'. Then again, not all of us adults are so 'good', eh?

 

Tue Feb 10 2009 5:33AM Report
pdq2004 writes:

After 9 MMO years online, still only two categories of players:

1. Carebears, (whiners)

2. CareLESSbears, (whiners about whiners)

Lmao.

Tue Feb 10 2009 6:45AM Report

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