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The staff of gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: Tutorials

Posted by MikeB Sunday January 27 2013 at 1:33PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight we focus on the thread, "Who's idea was it to have tutorials for mmorpgs?!?" by bcbully.

Please get rid of tutorials.

I think they do more harm than good for first impressions. After trying a new beta still under NDA, I just had to stop and say "man this sucks." Now I wasn't talking about the game it's self, because that felt good, real good, but the tutorial made me exit game.

Give me a clear concise help center/guide/maual then let me figure it out. Stop this bad tutorial nonsense.


Read on for some highlights from the discussion!

VirgoThree offers a comprehensive take on the topic:

Tutorials are fine, and to be honest should be there the more complex your game is. Most of us on this site have progressed with this genre through the early days. So all of the incremental advancements and features throughout the years come natural to us.

However, throw a total newbie to MMO's or even a newbie to gaming in with out a tutorial and the out come is likely a brief period of frustration.

Think of it this way. A lot of console gamers grew up with NES games. All you had was a d-pad, A, B, select, and start buttons. That's it! Games were very straight forward and intuitive (at least good ones) so you didn't really need a tutorial. If you had questions, you could look at the manual.

These same console gamers have adapted and grew up with the console industry. When the SNES came out, we now had X,Y,L,R buttons added to the controller. This was an incremental change, and we adapted.

Now comes N64. We have an Analog stick, Z button, and acouple others! Again we adapted with it, because it was an incremental change.

Now fast forward to the current gen, and we have Dual Analogs, d-pad, Four face buttons, 4 Shoulder buttons (2 on each side), and the dual analogs are buttons too! Again we adapted because this was still incremental. However, throw a new gamer into a modern console game, and they will need time to figure out what the hell is going on. Some will learn quickly, others will take more time and that is where tutorials come into play.

With all that said, i think the idea of forced tutorials need to go the way of the dodo. The market obviously has many seasoned gamers, but at the same time new gamers as well. The older gamers should not be forced to relearn how to aim for the 1000th time, or that a quest is a thing you do to get loot and exp. So in short I say keep tutorials, but do not force them upon us.

Biskop doesn't mind optional pop up tutorials, but hates being forced into full blown tutorials:

Optional pop-up tutorials are fine, at least if the game is complex and non-intuitive at first (like EVE and AoW, two games with a vast quality difference between their respective tutorials btw).

Personally I hate tutorials and prefer figuring things out on my own (one of the things I liked about MO was that it just dropped you into the world and let you find your own way), but I know that I'm in the minority here and that tutorials help bring new people in.

Zzad believes strongly in the use of tutorials:

I believe Tutorials are very well needed for A LOT of players.

they serve as introduction to the game and...

they usually give you some kind of reward for doing them anyway!

Usually u can skip them after the first run....or even b4

Some MMORPGS really need a Tutorial....

I disagree srry OP.

Personally, I don't mind the optional tutorial, but I think developers have been going around the implementation of tutorials in MMOs all wrong. For those of who are veterans of MMOs, we are likely to skip any tutorials offered (or be annoyed by the unskippable ones and not learn anything new in the process). Newbies, on the other hand, obviously benefit from the tutorial, if they are bothering to pay attention.

I think developers should perhaps spend the time creating a sort of 'intelligent tutorial' that only provides you with help based on how you're playing the game. Load into the world for the first time and find yourself standing around doing nothing for 30s because you don't realize WASD are your movement keys? Present the information to the player. If the player seems to know all the MMO basics and starts moving around and opening up key UI panels quickly, the game could detect he's got a basic familiarity with MMOs and only present tips on systems that may be specific to the game.

Is this a worthwhile investment of development time? Perhaps, perhaps not. I feel the first hour or so of the MMO experience can often make or break it for a new or even veteran player. This means putting the time into creating a starting experience that is less annoying for the vet and intuitively informative to the newbie at the same time may be worth the additional effort.

What do you think? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: What Commonly Accepted MMO Concepts Bug You?

Posted by MikeB Sunday January 20 2013 at 1:28PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "What Commonly Accepted MMO Concepts Bug You?" by allendale5.

For some time now, there have been general concepts that we as the masses of players have accepted without much thought.  And while it is completely necessary to suspend disbelief to a degree in order to play in our little fantasy worlds, there still are a some quite nagging parts of the games that just, frankly, don't jive.  

I'll start this list of my personal pet peeves, but I ask all of you in the MMO community to please add your own.  This is not a bashing session of particular games, but rather an opportunity to voice our opinions to each other and to the developers in hopes of eliciting future improvements.

1) NPC's that stand in the same spot for all of eternity

2) Mobs that are so crowded together that it loses all semblance of reality - even that of the theme-parked suspended disbelief realty.

3) Zones that cannot be traversed without weaving through mindless mobs 

4) Quest objectives that are right next to the quest giver.  For the love of God, he could do it himself.

5) Class specific weapons and gear.  As if a human mage could not pick up a sword if she had to.

Read on for the community's thoughts!

Raiding and soloing top Kyleran's list:

That raiding is the "end game" for MMORPG's

That there even is a concept such as end game.

That MMO's should be mostly soloable because socialiazation takes too much time and not worth the time

Jemcrystal isn't a fan of spawning:

Spawning.  Very unrealistic.  I think we should have mobs that have to mate and breed in dens players cannot infiltrate; farms to raise them and reintroduce them if they've been killed off.  Obviously I don't like quests that say kill 10 bunnies.  Skinning is fine but mobs dropping armor and coins is ridiculous.  Where was that bunny hiding that chain mail?  Chests in caves, at the end of instances, in random places, buried underground (for game that digs things up from underground see Mabinogi) sounds good to get items and coins instead of dropping off mobs.  Make sure their are plenty.  Quests that solve mysteries simple, moderate, and complex instead of go here deliver this pie to npc Johnny.

Player characters need yet ever more real animations.  Being able to sit in a chair (WoW) or lay on a bed (Runes of Magic) is not enough.  

Game makers need to build their games on low end PC's or create a game station in the shape of a computer that they sell with their game.  No one should be left out of gaming because they did not have enough money to buy the best and latest hardware.  

AlBQuirky offers an exhaustive list of his own:

01) Cash Shops. Nothing brings me back into the real world like a cash shop.

02) A group of monsters standing around. One gets shot at. Only that ONE comes after the attacker.

03) Tanks that "taunt" monsters into attacking them when they don't even speak the same language.

04) Dragons that lower themselves into being a mount for some tiny player character they could eat whole in one bite.

05) As some have mentioned before, animals that drop gear. A coin or two I can see them swallowing, but plate mail and greatswords?

06) Monsters that use weapons and armor that you do not get to loot when they die. They just... vanish...

07) Crafting systems where you cannot break down items, especially those you have crafted, into raw materials.

08) Action combat. Everyone's a black belt in jujitsu, it seems. Or highly acrobatic in their armor.

09) Being able to run, full speed, for endless hours in full gear with multiple backpacks loaded with kilotons worth of loot.

10) Sneaking in full sunlight with no cover or shadows nearby.

11) Time does not matter. You get a quest to save someone's kidnapped daughter. Three weeks later you decide to clear the quest and go save her. There she is, all fine and dandy. Monsters are the same in an area day or night.

12) Seasons don't happen. You can harvest food anytime of the year. Zones don't change with the seasons.

13) Instanced dungeons.

I better stop. I could go on :)

Archaic antisocial mechanics such as having to be concerned about others stealing your quest NPCs, resource nodes, and the like. MMOs are all about being social. I shouldn't be worried that a new player in my quest area is going to make it harder for me to complete a quest. Instead, the game should emphasize cooperation amongst other players. Guild Wars 2 took the right approach in this regard and I'd like to see other MMOs follow suit.

Community Spotlight: Enjoy Grouping?

Posted by MikeB Sunday January 13 2013 at 9:29PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "Do you enjoy grouping up?" by Enerzeal. A simple enough thread, Enerzeal polls the community on their stance on grouping in MMOs:

This is a very simple thread, and at the same time one that will no doubt baffle me. The question is simple, do you like to group up, or do you prefer to stick to yourself in an MMO? 

Sub question - Do you get involved with guilds beyond guild benefits, when I say benefits I mean EXP increasees, drop rate bonuses etc, not the bonuses of having a group of raiders/people you know and can play with well.

SwampRob enjoys grouping, but with one caveat:

I like grouping up only if it's entirely optional.   By that I mean not just content.   If there are tangible benefits to my character's power for being in a guild, then I consider that mandatory.

"You can't attempt this task unless you have at least X friends with you..." is my most hated statement in MMOs.

If I group up because the game demands it, them I'm resentful the entire time I'm in that group.   That's bound to make me more irritable and less welcoming of others.

I can determine my willingness to even attempt a new game with two questions:

1.  Is PvP optional?   If not, I'm gone.

2.  Is there forced grouping?   If yes, I'm gone.

Czanrei is a bit old school (and proud!):

Call me traditional, but I enjoy grouping because its an MMO, not a single-player video game. I cannot stand the direction modern devs are going with making soloing optional and even going so far to allow players to join multiple guilds. 

greenreen clearly falls into the solo camp:

Not really.

There are enough reasons that I could make a 14+ page PDF on it.

As you notice, I'm on a forum instead of being in a chatroom talking about it. Distinct proof that I want to come and go as I please and not be forced to interact or entertain during silence when I can do other things like have this video on in the background and my code up that I can switch back and forth from.

I'm a social creature, so yes, I thoroughly enjoy grouping. Oftentimes when I play an MMO (or any game really) my favorite thing to do is to share the experience with others. If there's potential for all this cool stuff to happen in these games, what's the point without anyone to share it with? Generally, this means I play with friends nowadays. At the same time, I do thoroughly enjoy meeting new people in MMOs and going on adventures with them.

Unfortunately, grouping in most contemporary MMOs often only happens when all parties involved have some sort of selfish motivation to do so. The game is forcing you to do it to get through X Y or Z, for example. When I first played Star Wars Galaxies, there were a whole host of things I could do solo if I felt like it. But if I wanted to go on some truly epic adventures, say, to Ft. Tusken, I'd have to join a party,. The difference is that doing Ft. Tusken itself was entirely optional, so everyone there was really just there for the fun of it and potential for gobs of experience. When the game naturally encourages (but doesn't force) players to group, I find the potential for a positive group experience to be much greater.

How do you feel about grouping up in MMOs? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: Console MMOs

Posted by MikeB Sunday January 6 2013 at 9:55PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "I kinda want a console MMO. Am I the only one?" by blognorg.

I'm actually looking forward to FFXIV for that reason. Part of me really wants an MMO that I can just kick back with a controller and play. Yeah, I know all the advantages of a mouse and keyboard, but I don't think too much would have to be sacrificed for a game which fully supports a controller. GW2 is pretty close to that, with the prompt for talking to NPCs and picking stuff up when you get near them, not to mention the tab-targeting. There would still be the issue of typing, but there are some options for that. Native voice in games is something that is getting talked about more and more, or there could just be a more intuitive interface for typing on a controller. Steam did something to that effect with its Big Picture mode. I'm not saying that all games should adapt for a controller; I'm just saying that I think I could really get into one that's designed with a controller in mind. Anyone else feel the same?

Read on for some highlights from the community's responses!

KhinRunite confirms that blognorg isn't alone:

You're not alone. I don't always want to be in front of my monitor when playing games. I actually prefer the bigger screen while I'm on the couch. AT first I tried using wireless keyboard and mouse, but it's still not enough. I wanted a gamepad.

DCUO has native gamepad support, thankfully. I enjoyed it for a brief time and found playing MMO very possible, with the only limitation being difficult to chat with. Thankfully I have my wireless keyboard.

Using XPadder, you can map your keyboard towards your gamepad. As long as it makes sense in the design of a game, it will work wonders. I already have Mass Effect and Guild Wars 2 on this setup. Together with Steam's Big Picture mode I don't feel the need to buy a console anymore. That is until "The Last of Us" and "Beyond: Two Souls" come out. :P

itbewilly raises some interesting points:

DCUO is on PS3 also.

I think most people deny the potential in a Console MMO because they know if a company makes a decent attempt it could open a flood gate to other devs going that route. This whole idea that "console gaming is why pc games are easy now" is a joke. 

I've said since it closed down if Everquest Online Adventures was ever upgraded to todays tech it would easily pull the same or more numbers then some of the top sub based MMO's out right now for pc. It was popular enough and lasted over 10 years and it was on the old ass Playstation 2. Imagine that type of game on a console like xbox or ps3 with pontentially millions of monthly users. It was still my favorite MMO ever and the experiences i had in EQOA havent been topped by any other game since. The first time you had to run a significant ammount of time to get to the next town. First time i played a game where it was as fun socially as it was game play wise. You could spend hours just crafting and chatting in Freeport.

The only negative to console mmo's are the life span of consoles. If they made consoles backwards compatible it wouldnt be an issue but i think at least in Sony's case you could no longer player older ps2/ps1 games on ps3's. At least last i tried i couldnt.

There is a shit ton of money to be made in the console market. Just look how much Call of Duty and Battlefield series pull on map packs alone. I have been waiting for a decent mmo for years. The FF Online for ps2 was good also but it never grabbed me like EQOA and to be honest i only bought it for the HDD it came with that was supposed to be a big deal for ps2 that was never even used really.

I think it's safe to say gordiflu isn't a fan of the idea:

Consoles have been hindering and slowing down technology progress in computer games already for a few years. They are also partially responsible for many computer games getting dumber, easier and shorter. Specially shorter.

MMOs have also been getting dumber easier and shorter as an indirect result of this mindset change in gamers and developers. Console MMOs will only accelerate the process, with newer MMOs beeing limited by console's inferior hardware.

I actually wish all console gaming failed big time, so we could have superior PC games. Unfortunately I am aware this won't happen. Beta was superior to VHS. Minidisk was superior to CD. You get the idea, don't you.

The console audience is simply different from the PC audience and you're not likely to be able to create or support as complex an experience on consoles as you'd be able to on PC. Itbewilly raised probably one of the most important points, and that is the fact console lifespans could potentially limit the lifespan of the MMOs in question. Sure, FFXI is now on the XBOX 360, but who's to say this would be the norm?

Mostly, I'm just not much of a console fan anymore. Odds are if it's a good experience on the console I can get an even better experience on the PC.

What do you think? Share your thoughts with us below!