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Star Wars: The Old MMO Problem

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dragonthc 1st August 2012, 16:10 Quote
This is a really good article and reiterates everything I've been saying for the past ten years about MMOGS. I'm glad you finally caught on.
Phalanx 1st August 2012, 16:15 Quote
Star Wars Galaxies was the best for me. Sandbox design, player-led cities, do what you like, when you like, how you like. The economy was totally player-driven; there was roleplaying, combat in non-combat areas, raids on cities, political overthrows, the lot.

I miss it. :(
Hovis 1st August 2012, 16:15 Quote
I've heard SWTOR is actually a passable single player game, so I may have a look at it now. What put me off it, and why I never picked it up, wasn't the game itself but the price tag. To get it on Origin it was a hell of a lot for a very long time, with a subscription on top of that, just can't see that happening. Besides when you know the destiny of an MMO is to go F2P, why ever buy it? Saved myself the moolah and hope to enjoy the game.

As to future MMOs, well my hopes lie with Planetside 2. I think the days of the fetch-quest based online crack house are done, the future is (as the past was) masses of players all piled onto the biggest possible server shooting each others faces off.
Harlequin 1st August 2012, 16:17 Quote
18 months and it dies - they`ll do what they did with earth and beyond
rollo 1st August 2012, 16:54 Quote
world of warcraft has held players in mmos for the best part of 9 years now, Every mmo that comes out is hailed as the next wow killer by the general world gamers and they all return to wow a few months later slating the game that they were playing.

Blizzard created the best mmo in a long time when world of warcraft was released 9 years later theres still very few mmos that have tried something different than what world of warcraft did 9 years ago. Thats the critical problem people want something different to world of warcraft not the same game in space or in a different universe.

Content is king for an mmo and most recent released mmos have lacked it in a big way, whilst blizzard has a 9 years worth of content and a highly active community on most servers.

Guild wars 2 will be the next thing stated as the next greated mmo on the planet ect ect 12 months later it will be down to 200-300k players and people will be readying themselves for the next one.

The never ending cycle great for publishers not so great for us, Personally i wont be buying another mmo game ive done my time in them and they just dont hold my intrest anymore.
dolphie 1st August 2012, 16:54 Quote
SWG (and the original EverQuest) were true MMO's but we have never seen games like that again. WoW came along with it's noobtastic approach to everything, got 10+ million players, and so every MMO ever since then has followed their design and completely ignored all the other possibilities.

To me the key to these games is not so much trapping the players, but providing addictive grinds. The grinds are essential because it's cheap and easy copy and past content. You can TRY to minimise the grinding and provide really good hand crafted content, (like SWTOR), but problem with that is that people have a great time and enjoy it but then complete it all in a month or two. In a subscription based game, that's a major problem. To keep people playing for many months or even years, then there needs to be serious grind content, and yet while managing to somehow entertain too. As much as some of us hate various things about WoW, you gotta admit... their design people are godlike geniuses. It has just the right amount of grind that they can keep people playing forever, but it's got just enough carrot in there that people don't get fed up of it. Add that to low system requirements and steady build up of content over years and it's no mystery why it was such a massive success.

The designs of SWTOR (and Rift etc..) is pretty baffling to me. I can only assume that as expensive as they are to make, they must still somehow make a profit. It might seem like a failure but if more than a million people bought it and then paid a subscription cost for several months, then perhaps that is enough to at least recoup the costs and then make some profit. Either that, or these companies must just be deluded morons.

Imo the key to the future of the genre, is for people to pay far more attention to Eve. From what I can gather, it's the ONLY mmo to have ever grown constantly. All the others have either flopped and burned big time, or are WoW, which grew and peaked but has declined a bit in the last year or so. Eve started small and grew and grew and just keeps growing. Their design is brilliant because it's grind based so keeps people playing for years, but it has more social interaction and more depth to it than just providing a million "Kill 10 Wolves" quests. I think future MMORPG's need to be clever and try to mirror that. They need some traditional grind but with some PVP and sandbox elements too. Guild Wars 2 seems like an ok attempt, but I'm not convinced their World vs World was a good enough attempt to really pull it off.
Mrmelon98 1st August 2012, 17:09 Quote
It looked good when it came out, but i didn't buy it. Now i can play for freee!!!!
Harlequin 1st August 2012, 17:38 Quote
Quote:
I remember classic WoW.

I remember because there was not much to do at 60, Blizzard drew out the leveling process by filling it full of tedious “busy work” that was designed to be time consuming but without the advantage of being more fun or interesting or even having better rewards. They did this by doing things like sending you running (literally) all the way across the world to talk to someone, only to have them send you back again. To further this goal, travel was intentionally made slower than hell. You didn’t get your first mount until level 40 and even then it was the slow one. People think it’s “too easy” that we get our mounts earlier and cheaper now? Well, I’ll counter that my gaming experience was not enhanced, nor did I become a better player, from the “challenge” of running the full length of Azeroth on foot.

I remember having to sit at the computer through long taxi trips because you had to reboard the bat at every flight stop, which was aggravated by long, inefficient travel paths that often circled back on themselves or took long detours.

I remember if you talked a friend into joining the game to play with you, well, you better make a new toon to play with him because it’s going to be months and months before he catches up with your main… if he doesn’t get burnt out trying to do so and quit before then. And boy, you better hope you like that class you’re leveling as much as you did when you made it, because if you have any semblance of a life, it’s unlikely you’ll have the time or energy to reroll after you’ve hit the level cap.

I remember doing long quest chains or completing arduous journeys only to be rewarded with a [white] item or something absurd like a +spirit 2h axe. Some slots, like trinkets and necklaces, were just very hard to find in general. I began raiding, as a rogue, with the +dodge Alterac Valley pvp trinket and the damage absorption one from Araj the Summoner because little out there was better.

I remember the amount of crap you had to carry back then. Everyone’s bag space was filled up by reagents, specialty tools and class-unique items, not to mention materials needed for professions. Of course, many common items only stacked in tiny quantities, if at all. Many of your bag slots were also permanent inhabited by other crucial items like keys. Forget even carrying fun items like pets or more than one mount. And professions? I remember items that gave you bonus to +skinning but were not skinning knives, so you had to carry both, and mining picks that you could not mine with. I remember when you had to keep every level of enchanting rod. Of course, you probably never used those low-level enchants anyway because the profession UI didn’t used to have a search feature to find them even if you wanted to.

I remember missing entire dungeons leveling up, or else having to wait until everything was grey or green so three of us could underman the place, because it was next to impossible to find groups with the laughable LFG chat. Additionally, if you weren’t part of the first pack of people to hit 60, it was really hard to even find people to do “end game” dungeons as well; after so many 45 minute Baron runs, attunement chains, fire resist farming, or just from running them a million times because there wasn’t much else to do, everyone would rather eat glass than visit those places again to help you.

And I remember when running a single dungeon a full evening’s commitment, and even then you often didn’t finish. I remember that it took a significant portion of time to traverse the map to get to their locations because summoning stones didn’t exist, and once there you could expect to spend four or five hours inside, much of that time spent being lost or mindlessly killing (or rekilling after they respawned) packs of trash. Worse yet, we had to run some of them (like BRD) many, many times to get the gear and attunements we needed before we could even think about doing cooler things.

I remember the ungodly long run back to Blackrock Mountain after a wipe. Ask yourself, is it challenging to waste a quarter of your raid time because the run back after a wipe takes ten minutes, or is maybe just frustrating for no good reason? Blackrock wasn’t the only offender; I remember dozens of other places where the nearest graveyard, flightpath, inn or mailbox was obnoxiously far away for no apparent reason. You spent more time being inconvenienced by little things than actually playing the parts of the game that were fun.

I remember raiding was the only way to better yourself at 60, and unless you found a (large!) guild to do that with, it was farming twilight’s hammer in Silithus or grinding undead in Eastern Plaguelands to do, and that was pretty much it. Practically every epic in the game was only available through devoted raiding. There were no crafted or reputation based ones that a dedicated person could work towards on their own with effort. If you didn’t have time to raid or know enough people, you might as well just cancel your subscription once you hit 60. There were few solo activities, no dailies, no achievements, no titles, no cool rewards to unlock.

And for every person I hear pine for classic raiding, I remember a dozen people who swore if they ever saw lava again it would be too soon. People frequently described Molten Core with the same adjectives they might use to talk about a kick to the groin. I remember raids being a logistical nightmare to wrangle 40 people, although this was partly made easier by the fact that half of them only had to be “warm bodies” and there wasn’t really any need to contribute more than that. Difficulty was often related to abhorrent resistance gear checks, aggro problems from white damage, or the aforementioned logistic struggles, rather than impressive and challenging strategies requiring teamwork and skilled execution.

I remember armor pieces, including class sets, being itemised as if they let a monkey pull random stats out of a hat. Holy paladin wearing agility or a warrior with spirit? Of course. You wore armor with stats that were useless to you, because that’s all there was. Dungeon sets had +armor bonuses, whether you were a tank or a healer or a mage, and nothing was oriented towards a particular spec or playstyle or role.

I remember most classes only had one spec they could play on for PvE and many of those being just one trick ponies. If you were a shaman, you were resto and it was just because your raid needed you to drop mana tide for the real healers. Rogues were combat, warriors were tanks, and druids could do a wide variety of things poorly. Shadow priest? Ret paladin? You’re joking, right? Of course, the revelation that the class you picked may be laughably bad would often only be discovered after you’ve already invested months of work into getting it to the level cap. Surprise!

I remember when talent trees were littered with stupid talents like rogue’s (original) throwing specialization or parry for hunters, or were totally schizophrenic like shaman’s enhancement tree where you would take absurd talents to improve your shield block because it was, ironically, a prerequisite to the tier that taught you to use two handed weapons. Even if a particular talent tree had avoided containing useless talents, there was no guarantee it would be a balanced and playable spec choice.

I remember when there were no mage tables, soulwells, or summoning portals, and we brought those classes so they could spend the first thirty minutes of our raid just making water and cookies or summoning people one by one.

I remember when HoTs didn’t stack and only one person in the raid could use them. I remember when they increased the boss debuff limit from 8 to 16, but people had to be careful what they put on the boss lest it push off something more important. I remember being a rogue who used sharpening stones instead of poisons for that reason. I remember five minute paladin blessings. I remember when hunters couldn’t trap in combat and feign death killed them if they did it for too long. I remember when group buffs and max rank spells could only be learned from raid-drop books.

I remember before Guild banks and linked auction houses. I remember nicknames like “Lagrimmar” and being nearly incapable of playing in those cities on even the newest machine due to the horrible crowding and resulting server latency.

I remember being so poor at 60 because there were no dailies to balance out my gold loss from raiding repair bills. I had no epic horse because the only way to get one was to spend my precious little time in-game grinding mob after mob after mob for coins or playing ebay on the auction house just to get enough money to buy it.

I remember waiting hours and hours to get a single battleground match – if I was lucky enough to get one at all; I also remember sometimes logging off after hours of playing and never seeing the match pop.

I remember each faction arguing – justifiably — that the other had an edge in PvE and/or PvP because they didn’t even have access to the same classes, buffs and abilities, including staple buffs like Kings, Might and Wisdom.

I remember when you had to install addons to get many things that are base functionality now, like more than one action bar, auto-loot, scrolling combat text, and all the other great addon features that WoW took and made standard, including snazzier things like voice chat, threat management, instance maps, and gear-set management. I remember the original chat window and auction house interface. I remember before you could shift-click links of quests and items into chat and before you could track quests on the side of your screen. I remember the time before target-of-target. I remember when they added the “dressing room” and the ability to buyback things you’d accidentally sold.

That’s not to say classic WoW wasn’t fun. It very much was and we wouldn’t have stuck around if it wasn’t. By pointing out the negatives, I’m not denying all the positives, too: The communities were smaller and more tight-knit. End game wasn’t so much of a gear-grind. Getting a level felt like an achievement, and not just one minus on the “needed until 80” race, and hitting the cap was something to be really proud of. Epics really were epic. The point is that as time passes, we remember these nice things we may have lost, but often overlooked how much really, really positive stuff we have gained, and all the great refinement on gameplay and the many additional features that have really enhanced our gaming experience.
fdbh96 1st August 2012, 18:43 Quote
Well I don't know about other MMOs but the only one I have tried is WoW, and the graphics were horrible. That and the fact that I was 5 minutes in and I already had to kill 10 of something then go kill another 10: extremely boring to me anyway :(
asura 1st August 2012, 19:02 Quote
That was quite a wall of text, but a very well written one, and I really quite enjoyed it.

Once-upon-a-time I dabbled in WoW, but when Lazaroth and his wonderful set of Discord mods went, so did I. There were (and probably still are) so many things that the game (and other games) implements, but doesn't utilise and there were a lot of 3rd party add-ons that took advantage of this in greater or lesser extents.

Left without a convenient way to access these behind the scenes goings on (.lua in WoW?) as a non-programmer, I first stopped enjoying and then gave up the game, it just wasn't fun any more. I had gone as far as I could without leaving a guild that I socially enjoyed (we were a fairly mad bunch) to one that required a set number of hours per week and for any serious raids a time-table booked up a month in advance! But the infinite possibilities in customisation and tweaking kept me enthralled, till they to faded and disappeared.
Hustler 1st August 2012, 19:28 Quote
Perhaps the problem is the fundamental design flaw with this type of game...

They're boring.
Hovis 1st August 2012, 19:34 Quote
World of Warcraft is basically world war one for a generation of nerds. A generation lost, or forever twisted, by something much bigger and more horrible than they could have expected. The game remains without any shadow of a doubt the single most cynical exercise ever attempted in games development. Addictive, frustrating, entirely pointless, endlessly trying to get you to chase that next level, that next quest, that next whatever it is. On and on. Incrementally increasing stats that don't matter in a world full of millions of people who are themselves incrementally increasing their stats that don't matter.

The gamers that WoW claimed are a broken, scarred breed. They don't see it, bless them they really don't, but you only have to talk to a hardcore WoW fan for a short amount of time to see the mess it's made of them. Husks. Angry, compulsive, hopelessly addicted, joyless shells of gamers. I know guys who have 'played' that game for thousands of hours. Like machines. Like the battery pods from the Matrix. It's horrifying, like some sort of Kafka-esque nightmare.

With any luck we will never see WoW's like again.
Fizzban 1st August 2012, 19:45 Quote
They stated quite clearly before launch that their subscription model would come with a 'twist'. We all agonized over it on the swtor forum as to what that twist would be. 7 months from launch we now see.

EA aren't stupid. They had LotR and Warhammer to go on (at least). They knew subscription based mmos were dieing and that p2p games were flourishing. Look at the number of them and look at the quantity a single company puts out. It works. But they also knew subbers would quit..so what to do?

They have made TOR both a sub and a free game in 1 single move. Perhaps it will work, I don't know. If it does they will have a healthy income from the core players subbing, and then the freeloaders buying stuff in the cash-shop. Only time will tell.

It is too early to write the game off simply because of this announcement. As a subber I am dismayed at this choice, but that does not mean it won't work. It is a gamble, a frikkin expensive gamble, but one that 'could' pay off.
fdbh96 1st August 2012, 20:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hovis
World of Warcraft is basically world war one for a generation of nerds. A generation lost, or forever twisted, by something much bigger and more horrible than they could have expected. The game remains without any shadow of a doubt the single most cynical exercise ever attempted in games development. Addictive, frustrating, entirely pointless, endlessly trying to get you to chase that next level, that next quest, that next whatever it is. On and on. Incrementally increasing stats that don't matter in a world full of millions of people who are themselves incrementally increasing their stats that don't matter.

The gamers that WoW claimed are a broken, scarred breed. They don't see it, bless them they really don't, but you only have to talk to a hardcore WoW fan for a short amount of time to see the mess it's made of them. Husks. Angry, compulsive, hopelessly addicted, joyless shells of gamers. I know guys who have 'played' that game for thousands of hours. Like machines. Like the battery pods from the Matrix. It's horrifying, like some sort of Kafka-esque nightmare.

With any luck we will never see WoW's like again.

Not a WoW fanboy then ;)
Kiytan 1st August 2012, 21:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hovis
.On and on. Incrementally increasing stats that don't matter in a world full of millions of people who are themselves incrementally increasing their stats that don't matter.

So basically the high-score table in any game?
Elton 1st August 2012, 22:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hovis
World of Warcraft is basically world war one for a generation of nerds. A generation lost, or forever twisted, by something much bigger and more horrible than they could have expected. The game remains without any shadow of a doubt the single most cynical exercise ever attempted in games development. Addictive, frustrating, entirely pointless, endlessly trying to get you to chase that next level, that next quest, that next whatever it is. On and on. Incrementally increasing stats that don't matter in a world full of millions of people who are themselves incrementally increasing their stats that don't matter.

The gamers that WoW claimed are a broken, scarred breed. They don't see it, bless them they really don't, but you only have to talk to a hardcore WoW fan for a short amount of time to see the mess it's made of them. Husks. Angry, compulsive, hopelessly addicted, joyless shells of gamers. I know guys who have 'played' that game for thousands of hours. Like machines. Like the battery pods from the Matrix. It's horrifying, like some sort of Kafka-esque nightmare.

With any luck we will never see WoW's like again.

Well written if a bit dreary. Still Well written. Seems like you're subtly comparing WOW to alcoholism.
Hovis 1st August 2012, 22:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiytan
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hovis
.On and on. Incrementally increasing stats that don't matter in a world full of millions of people who are themselves incrementally increasing their stats that don't matter.

So basically the high-score table in any game?

No. Because a high score table is a public display of skill. Nobody will ever see your stats in WoW and nobody will ever care.
jimmyjj 1st August 2012, 22:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harlequin
Quote:
I remember classic WoW.(snip).

Ah man, I remember all of that and even though it is all true, my god I do remember it fondly!

The original Warlock Epic Mount quest was ridiculous, but it was such an achievement I smiled for a week.
DriftCarl 2nd August 2012, 00:12 Quote
I think the problem is that the market for that type of MMO is not big enough for multiple big players.
All the people that enjoy the WoW mode with quests and bosses are playing WoW.
All the people that got bored of that type of game left, and its these people that try new MMO's, realize its pretty much the same as WoW, and leave again.
I personally am looking forward to a new MMO called The Repopulation, it seems pretty damn good with nations(super guilds) fighting eachother, and building your own cities. The crafting is better than anything since SWG and the skills and missions/engagements look brilliant.
It is made on the same engine as SWTOR, be it a much improved version, SWTOR was made with an early heavily customised version of the Hero Engine. The Repopulation is being made on one with 3 more years of improvements.

So yeah check that out if you want to get excited about a new MMO that is truely different to anything else coming out in the next year.
Bonedoctor 2nd August 2012, 02:10 Quote
What you guys are talking about is a well recognised psych phenomenon call operant conditioning, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operant_conditioning_chamber for more details
MjFrosty 2nd August 2012, 09:42 Quote
My flat mate is now addicted to WoW, has been for several months. I think it's terrible, I'm not sure what it is that's so attractive about it to the otherwise casual gamer. They're obviously doing something right.
Stonewall78 2nd August 2012, 21:06 Quote
Well now I know why I am enjoying EVE so much. It is like a breath of fresh air after playing SWTOR. I didn't even hit level cap as everything seems boring other then the dialog that I usually ended up speeding through as it got drawn out running back and forth all the time. I still think in my many many years of MMO's the most fun I had was in Asheron's Call. They had new content every month, no classes, spendable exp (instant gratification), GM controlled events and as much lore to read as you pleased. That game with a graphics overhaul would still be a hell of a lot of fun.
GravitySmacked 2nd August 2012, 21:44 Quote
I really enjoyed leveling 2 characters up to mid 40's in SWTOR but the monthly fee put me off carrying on playing.

It's a good MMO, well polished, but I couldn't devote the time to play it with that fee nagging at me. Too many other games out there at the moment. I will definitely go back and finish the class stories of my 2 characters once there is no monthly fee.

As for Eve I bloody loved that game; I played it constantly for the first 2 years after launch and it's one of my favourite games of all time. The player made political system and economy is just astounding; I made a small fortune trading :)

I love the way CCP just let things happen, a perfect sandbox and a game with real consequences when you die. No other game has had my heart pound so much in PVP.

I had to force myself to stop playing it when my first child came a long as I couldn't devote the time and that game really does need you to devote some.

I still get pangs to play it now and every now and again I try to dip back in but it doesn't grab me the same. It's all about finding a good corp and for a player that hasn't played for a long time it's not easy to find a good one, or that's my experience anyway.
salesman 2nd August 2012, 22:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phalanx
Star Wars Galaxies was the best for me. Sandbox design, player-led cities, do what you like, when you like, how you like. The economy was totally player-driven; there was roleplaying, combat in non-combat areas, raids on cities, political overthrows, the lot.

I miss it. :(

Every time I play swtor I think of swg, and how much I miss it.
Riffler 3rd August 2012, 20:28 Quote
WOW is the Facebook of MMOs. No one joins the second biggest social network, and no one plays the second biggest MMO. You play the MMO your friends play, and that's probably WOW. If you don't have friends who play MMOs, you play the one with enough players to ensure you can find a group or engage in PVP, and that's WOW.

WOW isn't the best MMO out there. I'm not sure it ever was. It achieved a critical mass of players through marketing, and it's retained it through a combination of inertia and dumbing down. The MMOs that have threatened WOW have all been better than WOW was at the same stage of its development, but players had too much invested in WOW to stay with those games.

There are never quite enough WOW players moving to another game at the same time to make that game sustainable, so they all go back to WOW. As in so many avenues, you get the MMO you deserve, and unfortunately it's WOW.

Except for me - I play Eve.
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