Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Role Playing (Games)

Piercing the Veil On Bioware's MMOG 88

Posted by Zonk
from the about-time dept.
Ziff Davis' newly rebranded computer-games magazines, Games for Windows, is showing off some of its new content on the 1up hub site. They've got a fantastic interview with James Ohlen, the creative director at Bioware Austin, Rich Vogel, and Gordon Walton, co-studio directors. For the first time, they reveal some new details on Bioware's upcoming Massively Multiplayer Online Game. They don't talk about the game's setting, unsurprisingly, but they do go into some depth on the thinking behind their game. From the article: "GFW: One of the big problems with MMO gameplay is repeating the same content, or same instance if you're specifically talking about WoW, over and over again ... JO: That's something we don't want to encourage. We want to encourage players to continue to make progress in their story, to do new quests, consume new content, constantly move forward. The grind is not attractive in any way. Going and killing the same dragon over and over again is not something I want to do. There are lots of different ways to encourage players to move forward. Simply putting more weight on storytelling experience points is a good way to do that."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Piercing the Veil On Bioware's MMOG

Comments Filter:
  • by Control Group (105494) * on Monday November 27, 2006 @06:50PM (#17008642) Homepage
    Simply putting more weight on storytelling experience points is a good way to do that

    Not really. Or rather, it may be "good" in the sense that it's better than other ways, but not "good" in the sense that it actually accomplishes what the designers intended it to.

    I was a wiz (admin, sort of) on a MOO back in the day. It was MUD-like in that it had a coded stats/skills system, including combat (both player-vs-player and player-vs-aHaB). It was MOO/MUSH like in that it emphasized actual role play, rather than dungeon crawling. In some ways, it was about the best setup one could hope for: there was a significant cultural value put on role playing.

    This didn't stop players from sparring up stats and twinking their way through the game. It didn't stop "the grind." When people complained about what was going on, various technical means were put in place to try and curtail repetitive stat building and encourage role play. None of them succeeded to any great extent.

    Or rather, they succeeded fantastically well for the players that availed themselves of the new systems - but those are the players who would have been role playing anyway.

    After going through three different stat/skill systems on that game, with each change meant to discourage the grind and encourage role play, and none being terribly effective, I came to the conclusion that if you build it, they will not necessarily come. The very existence of a stats/skills system, I believe, means that there will be people who just try to game it as fast as they can, to up their numbers. And if the stats/skills system means anything at all within the game, those players will have an advantage over players who don't want to spend the time doing that.

    Hell, you see the same thing in small groups of table-top RPGers. There's often (almost always, IME) one guy at the table, even in a good group, whose sole focus is levelling up. In that sort of small community setting, with constant one-on-one interaction between the GM and the players, and when the GM is pretty much god (I don't care how many dice you have in sneak, you cannot sneak across the football field in broad daylight. Fine, roll your dice...oh, sorry, you failed. He saw you and you died), this can be dealt with. None of those factors obtain in an online game: you have many people (a "Massive" amount, one might say), there isn't enough staff to have constant interaction with a real person, and the staff that does exist has to follow a specific set of rules, lest there be widespread player bitching and general dissatisfaction.

    I spent a good lot of time working up a stat/skill system that, I believe, would have helped alleviate the problem (partially by recognizing that people will grind, and incorporating that into the system). I stopped before even trying to push for its implementation for two reasons: first, because I ended up realizing that it probably wouldn't work as well as I hoped. And second, because most of the players I bounced it off of didn't like it - they wanted the grind.

    *shrug*

    I wish BioWare and their future player base the best of luck. I really hope it works out for them. But I really don't think it will.
    • You could stop the grind (and to a certain extent farming) but I'm certain that the 10% of super hard-core players would revolt ...

      Suppose you added the states of Tired and Exhausted to the XP and Honor gain systems in World of Warcraft which limited the XP/Honor a person would gain performing an activity and (in the case of Exhausted) act like Rez sickness when fighting that type of opponent; in essence producing a per/day fight limit on a player like the type that used to exist in games like Lord. If the
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Reason58 (775044)
        This idea is exactly how WoW was originally planned. Once players got wind of this there was so much outcry that Blizzard changed the system to one of positive reinforcement with an experience bonus for not playing as much, as opposed to a penalty for playing too much.
        • Do you know whether the outrage was from the more hardcore players or from the average masses?
          • by Reason58 (775044)
            Obviously there is no way to quantify how much of the outcry was from your "hardcore players" and how much was from the "average masses" as you put them. Regardless, Blizzard is a business and saw enough of a demand that they felt it was in their best interest to make the change.

            FYI, the entire reason World of Warcraft is so insanely successful is because they do not pander to the hardcore minority. From its simplified gameplay to the fastest leveling time of any MMO ever released, WoW is the most casua
            • FYI, the entire reason World of Warcraft is so insanely successful is because they do not pander to the hardcore minority. From its simplified gameplay to the fastest leveling time of any MMO ever released, WoW is the most casual-friendly MMO ever released.

              True enough ... WoW was far less punishing than DAoC or Everquest ...

              But (as a guess) anyone who was paying close enough attention to WoW before its release to know this would probably be pretty hard-core.
              • by Reason58 (775044)

                But (as a guess) anyone who was paying close enough attention to WoW before its release to know this would probably be pretty hard-core.

                You are damn right I would fall into the "hardcore" category. ;) I have played practically every major MMO to be released in America, and I would gladly play a game that found the magical solution to zero grind while preserving long-term playability. Being realistic, however, I think we are more likely to transmute iron to gold first.

                • by rkanodia (211354)
                  Being realistic, however, I think we are more likely to transmute iron to gold first.

                  12h 45m on my cooldown to be precise, but how much are you willing to pay? Normally I save my transmute for arcanite.
        • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday November 27, 2006 @08:05PM (#17009634)
          Not quite true. What happened was that initially, Blizzard set the rested to 100% exp, and had a "tired" state, in which people would only gain 50% of the exp gained in the normal state. Massive outcry followed from what were indeed hardcore players. "No fair - people who play less are almost as high level as me with no life!" What did Blizzard do? It renamed the normal state to rested, and the tired state to normal. It also said that the rested state would gain twice as much experience as as the normal state. In essence, they changed two words in their system. The entire underlying system stayed absolutely the same. What happened next? There was peace. Amazing what a mere two words can do to the perception of fairness of hardcore grinders. Personally, I find WoW to be quite the grind as well - but at least you get enough exp from quests to make questing a better value than straight-up monster grinding. Other than that, I find it a fairly average RPG.
          • by afidel (530433)
            I don't find XP to be a problem in WoW, quite the opposite. With a measured investment of time you can get several characters to level cap in a year. The problem to me was the major investment of time required to make any progress once level cap was reached. Blizzard basically gave into the hardcore players and required many, many trips through 40 person dungeons in order to get better gear requiring on average hundreds of hours to get a full armor suit which would allow you to tackle the next dungeon where
          • by bnenning (58349)
            What did Blizzard do? It renamed the normal state to rested, and the tired state to normal. It also said that the rested state would gain twice as much experience as as the normal state. In essence, they changed two words in their system.

            That's impressive. Perfect example of a framing effect [wikipedia.org].
          • by subsoniq (652203)
            Personally, I find WoW to be quite the grind as well - but at least you get enough exp from quests to make questing a better value than straight-up monster grinding. Other than that, I find it a fairly average RPG.

            I'm in the closed Burning Crusade beta (currently level 66 Druid) and blizz has definitely toned down the ability to grind mobs for levelling. I get anywhere from 9,000 to 13,000 XP from a single completed quest (the little ones where you walk 3 feet and talk to another guy even give about 2,0
    • by vertinox (846076)
      The very existence of a stats/skills system, I believe, means that there will be people who just try to game it as fast as they can, to up their numbers.

      I'm waiting for the day for the MMORPG that doesn't show the player his skill/stats.
      • by Wylfing (144940)

        I'm waiting for the day for the MMORPG that doesn't show the player his skill/stats.

        Well, in a sense, this has been done. I have been directly or indirectly involved with MUDs that kept such things out of view. It still makes little difference. There is always, always a segment of the player base that will be stat-hunters -- they'll find some yardstick and a way grind up their performance on that yardstick.

      • by robosmurf (33876) *
        If the skills or stats exist and have an effect on the game, then hiding them doesn't help.

        The hardcore players will just conduct experiments within the game to determine what the stats and mechanics are. This just means that the hardcore players have even more of an advantage.

        For example, some of the game mechanics of Final Fantasy XI are rather complicated and depend on stats that are not directly visible in the game. However, people have done sufficient testing that most of the effects are fairly well un
      • by MBGMorden (803437)
        And you won't be waiting long before it (or the company pushing it rather) goes out of business. A HUGE proportion of players, even the casual ones, play the game to up their stats. They might joke and socialize with friends, but guess what: they're usually talking about their in-game stats. Take that away and many, many people would leave a game.

    • There's nothing wrong with grinding, providing you can make bread or a cake with it at the end.

      Which is my way of saying that repetition has a value, but only so long as that repetition serves the purpose of creating progressively more interesting things. I turned away from WoW a while back because there is no creative gain to the timesink. In other words, I am not improved as a person in any appreciable way. Grinding in that context made my character better, but it failed to make me better...and that

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dircha (893383)
      It is possible to control the rate of advancement of players. This usually amounts to daily or weekly experience caps. I think a curve-based cap, where one is capped in power relative to other players might be workable. But these systems tend to be arbitrary and unfair. Who's to say the person who is most advanced isn't also a great player who happens to have a lot of freetime?

      However, bigger issues in my mind are "twinking" and farming, particularly "boss-farming". These activities can ruin the atmosphere
    • I have played a few mmorpg's. I only stuck with WoW for a couple months. I enjoyed City of Heroes for several months, largely because I'm a bit of a comic geek, but eventually I got tired of the grind.

      What I did enjoy quite a lot was Guild Wars, largely due to the strong story, and the cinematic cut scenes, but I haven't played either of the 2 follow up games yet (bough factions, but haven't played it so much).

      Maybe there's the right game out there for me somewhere, and I'm happy to hear people's sug

      • by rvw14 (733613)
        I would also add that the time sink in Guildwars is much less. As a 30 something gamer with a family, I can't put in 6 hours a night to grind or even complete a mission. The henchmen system where you can take a NPC instead of a real person eliminates the need to try and get a group together. I can group with one or two other real people, with the rest henchman, and complete most missions in thirty min. to an hour.
    • by drsquare (530038)
      Your problem is that you were trying to tell your players how to play the game. This sort of arrogance is what kills games, and they're replaced by games that let the players play how they want.

      If you want people to roleplay but they want to advance their characters, trying to force them to roleplay is like Canute trying to turn back the tide.

      Remember, people play games to do what they want, not what the designers want. This is the first lesson of game design.
      • Exactly. And what players want is the grind.

        Which is my point, and is pretty much precisely what I said. The community may want (or say they want) role play and minimal grinding, but players want grinding. Which is why this new MMORPG is not, IMHO, going to succeed in doing away with it.

        And I fail to see how it's "arrogance" to try and design a system according to what everyone on the message boards is saying they want. The problem lies in not recognizing that what they say they want isn't actually what the
        • by drsquare (530038)
          Have you considered that the community on the messageboard don't actually represent the wishes of your playerbase?
          • Judging by the number of unique accounts that posted to the message boards as a percentage of the total accounts active, the message boards represented more than a two-thirds majority of the player base. The general - though not universal - consensus on the message boards was that "more RP" was desirable, as compared to stat building.

            It is, of course, possible that it was simply the loudest voices that held out for RP; I'm unaware of anyone doing statistical analysis on the content of the message boards. Bu
            • by drsquare (530038)
              Maybe not arrogance, but a mistake. You don't judge people's wants by what they say, but what they do.
  • Article Summary (Score:4, Informative)

    by Flame0001 (818040) <Flame0001@gmail.com> on Monday November 27, 2006 @07:01PM (#17008796)
    Article summary: Our game will be good. WoW was good, but ours will be better.
  • Necessary Evil (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Reason58 (775044)

    The grind is not attractive in any way. Going and killing the same dragon over and over again is not something I want to do. There are lots of different ways to encourage players to move forward. Simply putting more weight on storytelling experience points is a good way to do that.

    As much gamers complain about "the grind", you can't have a successful MMO without one grind or another. It is unrealistic to expect developers to design, implement, test, and release fresh new content at anywhere near the rate that players can and will consume it. That means you need to have players repeating the same actions ad nauseam to progress, otherwise they will reach the "top" and have nothing left to do. Bored players quit the game, and that will hardly bring the business any money, now will

    • Re:Ultima Online? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by vertinox (846076) on Monday November 27, 2006 @07:35PM (#17009274)
      As much gamers complain about "the grind", you can't have a successful MMO without one grind or another.

      I take it you never played Ultima Online back in the 1998-2000 era?

      Sure, you would find yourself doing repetitive tasks like chopping wood, mining, crafting, or killing certain creatures, but in general it wasn't a very kill something rinse and repeat type of game.

      Mostly because of the player interaction and virtual economy. That and it wasn't that hard to become a 7xGM (what you would call a level 60 character that is maxed out) with maybe 3-4 months worth of casual play. I'd dare say you could get to be 7xGM in 2 if you macroed and played hard core.

      Being such a big fan of UO kept me from being able to get into any other MMOGs since I did not like the grind and level systems.

      Take away the leveling and XP and replace it with a skill system and I think you have a good game.
      • wow... I remember UO. I also remember trying to get 100 in smithing and mining so that I could make money... I quit that after a few weeks because the game began to seem a bit too much like work. So then I tried my hand at some PvP, but got my ass handed to me because I wasn't pimped out... so I tried building my skills so that I could actually do some of the fun stuff... but I quit that after a few weeks because the game began to seem a bit too much like work.

        There's a pattern there, but I'll be damned if

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nasarius (593729)
        I know more than a few people who have played a lot of MMORPGs and still think that UO was the best...myself included. What happened to player housing? Clothing? Skill-based systems? The holiday gifts (Guild Wars does this very well)? Player-owned NPC vendors? And a thousand other things that fostered a great social environment. Almost every MMORPG released, especially WoW, has been little more than "EverQuest Improved". People obviously loved being able to own and decorate a house/castle. The only problem
        • by BoberFett (127537)
          SWG attempted it, but failed miserably. They had some of the concepts such as player run cities, a deep crafting system and player run stores and malls. Unfortunately they also included a grind which started as a skill grind, then became the jedi grind. They also had a severe lack of content. They got the sandbox built, but didn't give people enough toys to keep them playing there.
    • by Reason58 (775044)
      It is funny you mention that. I played every Ultima, and was a huge fan of the series. I got in on the early beta tests for UO as soon as I heard about it and played ravenously for many years after release.

      While that is one of the few MMOs to abandon the legacy D&D level grind, it still had just as much a grind in the form of skills.
    • by Mathonwy (160184)
      I completely disagree. Grinds are NOT mandatory for MMOs.

      The problem is, as people have stated, that there needs to be a stream of content for players to explore, that is generated at least as fast as players consume it. And people are right, that expecting the devs to generate that, that fast, is a losing proposition.

      That doesn't mean that grinds are mandatory though. Grinds are just a means for the devs to say "here's a repetative action that you can undertake, that we can easily offer minor variants o
  • You know, I've never played a MMO game, and I doubt I ever will. I just can't see the reason to pay for doing the same thing every month. Sure, I've done my fair bit of RPG'ing back in the day, but I was more for the story than the experience points. Even when I was DM'ing I would make them work for experience points in the context of the story rather than the typical Diablo throw-a-bunch-of-crap-out-for-the-player-to-slaug h ter thing. Granted, sometimes it is fun, but when leveling up becomes a chore,
  • by sgant (178166) on Monday November 27, 2006 @07:30PM (#17009210) Homepage Journal
    When playing EQ or EQ2 or World of Warcraft...you get quests. But these quests do NOTHING to change the world around you. You're doing the exact same quests that everyone else is doing and the talk on the channels is like "did anyone do the "Orc Chief" quest yet? I still need two more hammers before I'm done". That's not really RPG is it?

    What about dynamic quest generations? Think about this. You start out, you make your character. And that's it. You don't go up to the "quest giving NPC" to get your first quest. You just start out with basic equipment and that's it. Along your travels, perhaps the very first NPC you meet, or perhaps not, THEY may come up to YOU and say something like "my little boy hasn't come home in almost 3 days! I'm really worried about him, he was playing down by the Cave that's just South of here, can you please help?" And WHAM you have a quest. You're ONLY quest by the way. No stacking of quests.

    Now, YOU are the only one with that quest. No one else has the "little boy lost quest". You move out and perhaps see another player along the road or off to the side and you ask him if he can help you out...there-by sharing your quest with him. The cave itself can be an instanced cave that is generated for you and in there the quest gets longer and longer and longer, talking to different NPC's that continue on with the generated story, generating more to the story. Perhaps the boy WAS in the the cave, you find a Troll in there that you think ate him...but no, the Troll is really a nice guy that actually saw the little boy being taken away through the caves by a group of soldiers to another area beyond the cave. WHAM, you have more to follow. This quest can go on and on and on and actually span the world as you move through it! And only you and your party have this quest. At any point you can choose to bow out and let the other player or players you've picked up along the way continue it and you go along your merry way. Perhaps to pick back up with it days later with a group STILL on the SAME quest that started with you. Or you go somewhere else.

    I know, a story generation engine would have to be built and tested beyond belief. But couldn't something like this actually work? So you feel that you're really part of the world? Sure, there can be quests that are static that everyone of a certain class has to complete. Like a Fighter's quest...more like a "test" to gain rank. That can always be the same because it's the standard test that all fighters must go through. But for a living, breathing world, wouldn't a dynamic quest/story system be much more immersive?

    Is something like this do-able? Otherwise, the world never really changes. Maybe big, server wide changes can happen due to a first-time quest like opening a gate to a new expansion or something. But little things that change the world here and there are non-existent. In MMORPG's now, that guy that lost his hammer at the beginning of the Horde newbie area in WoW is ALWAYS lost. You create a new character, BAM he's got a lost hammer in the exact same spot that you go and fetch for him. 3 or 4 people are also there to pick up that same hammer...even though there is only one there, they all pick up a hammer and deliver it to the guy...but the hammer is still lost and the next person now goes to find it. Nothing changes. It's all the same. Wouldn't it be better if a player were to have killed an NPC and now someone has to track down that player?

    Or worse, "quests" are given by the same people over and over with the "collect twelve beetle eyes" kind of thing. Or just "kill 10 wild dogs". Doesn't anyone else find this boring? How about a farmer wants you to kill this pack of dogs that's been killing his sheep. You don't know how many there are, but you go out, find the dogs (track them perhaps?) kill them and see that one has a collar on it with a name. These are not wild dogs you find out, but they actually belong to someone. You tell this to the farmer and he tells you that it's a notorious Thief that lives nearby that's
    • It's an interesting idea, and definitely more immersive than anything out there right now.

      I certainly *would* prefer to see more story-oriented questing. My favourite quests in WoW are the quest-chains -- and I think that many story fans agree. One-shot "kill 10 of these" is a way to add content where really there is none. Especially since if you wait 5 minutes, everything will be back.

      Unfortunately dynamic content often breaks down to:

      Help, "player name"! My "relation" has been "state of distress" for
    • by Evardsson (959228)

      I don't know, I'm sure this is impossible to do.

      Not impossible, immensely time-consuming and possibly very, very costly from a development standpoint, but not impossible. In fact, if you start with a system that has an entire "world" filled with NPCs, objects, locations, etc and allow the state of those to change based on user-interaction you could do something like this. That would require a well-built database design to store all of that in the back end.

      Now that you have the db, let's add some tables

    • by ampathee (682788)
      You're asking for an algorithm that automatically generates interesting, unique stories (quests), along with all the associated level design, appropriate monsters and rewards. You're asking for an intelligent, creative, nay *artistic* computer program.

      AI is nowhere near that advanced yet, I'm afraid. It's CG cookie-cutter quests, or human programmers.
    • by Doug-W (165055)
      And then you log out, never to play that character again.

      Now the placement of that NPC that the world designer spent time on was wasted, the dialog written for it by the quest designer will never be seen by another person. Was there another reason to go into the cave? World art time wasted. Now multiply this by enough quests needed to keep every person playing active at all times and also to enable all the twinks who start a quest but never finish it or people who quit the game to have THEIR quests and s
      • Nah, you just keep track of who has done that quest and when they've done it. Make all kinds of farms and all kinds of caves. If you've never done the lost farm boy quest before, or if you haven't done it in a long time (you'd have to repeat it eventually otherwise you would eventually have players with no quests to do), then you might get it when you talk to the next farmer you see. Also there would have to be a life cycle to the farmer character. If you rescue the farm boy, maybe he will eventually grow u
    • by Dr. Spork (142693)
      Wow, I can't fault you for lack of ambition! However, the quests you describe as "generated" sound better than many of the quests in published games. This means that the generating system would somehow have to be better than human beings. Well, it would make an interesting Turing test...

      What would be necessary for your system to work would be detailed world-simulation. By this I mean that there would be a world of NPCs who lead interesting lives, with or without PCs looking in. All their activities and i

      • I can't remember which recent RPG or some type of MMO that it was had an NPC AI kinda like this - and they saw instances of 2 farmers (obviously with a set task of farming), and only 1 with a pitchfork (whatever farm tool the NPC required). It ended up one of the farmers killed the other for the tool...

        Ok, I got off my arse and looked in Wikipedia - it was Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion's originally slated NPC AI engine " Radiant AI [wikipedia.org]".

        One character was given a rake and the goal "rake leaves"; another was given

      • You don't need to go into too much detail when there are no human players around. You would probably update the farmer's state once every couple of hours. And just keep things simple. ie, if (drought) then farmer->gold -= 10. Then when a player shows up in the area you decide if the farmer is in the field tending the crops or wandering around distraught over his son being lost.
    • Nice. Then I'm in real world AND in the virtual world unemployed because the quests are too limited for ten-thousands of players. And twinking would be also not possible because a quest would be stuck if the twink is abandoned but not deleted.
    • What about dynamic quest generations? Think about this. You start out, you make your character. And that's it. You don't go up to the "quest giving NPC" to get your first quest. You just start out with basic equipment and that's it. Along your travels, perhaps the very first NPC you meet, or perhaps not, THEY may come up to YOU and say something like "my little boy hasn't come home in almost 3 days! I'm really worried about him, he was playing down by the Cave that's just South of here, can you please help?
    • And WHAM you have a quest.
      Could you please kick it up a notch for me?
    • I have been toying with this idea for some time: player-added content. Effectively turning player characters into quest givers, or simply allowing subscribers to create NPC's. Obviously the quest objective, description, and reward would need to be reviewed by a GM to keep it balanced (unless there was a formula that could regulate pay and xp automatically, but this wouldn't work for truly unique quest ideas), but at least then there would many, many ideas, and too many quests to repeat the same ones over an
    • by Gr8Apes (679165)
      A long time ago, myself and a couple of immorts on a mud considered, and actually designed, quite a bit of this system. We stopped because at the time, our system couldn't handle the additional load. Nowadays, that's no longer a problem.

      Dynamic content isn't as hard to create for a MMOG as you think, it merely requires some minor attention to detail and a proper concept of story. My major issue with MMOGs is the grind, especially the EQ kind, along with the forced grouping beyond about level 30, unless you
  • Feh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Renraku (518261) on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:49PM (#17011166) Homepage
    There's no easy way to do this.

    World of Warcraft is the best yet. Its a mix of quests and grinding. You can grind if you want, or quest if you want. Grinding gets you loot, more money, etc. Questing is a little slower, but full of content and things to read, see, do, etc.

    Instance running over and over is kind of dumb in my opinion, but with the game based around equipment so much..it leaves people little choice.

    People that dedicate more time to the game should be more powerful than people that play less. A better idea, for WoW, is to make world drops truly drop off of anything in the game. For example, that Glowing Brighwood Staff might drop off of a level 20 enemy and make you rich, or give you a nice staff to look forward to.

    The problem is that the best equipment is ONLY accessible to people that put hours and hours and hours and hours of play into the game. Its impossible to get most of the stuff if you aren't in an excellent guild. They could fix this by leaving the current loot tables, but giving more common enemies chances to drop rare equipment. For example if all level 60 creatures had a slight chance of dropping some rare dragon drop. Granted the chance may be pretty low...
    • by sholden (12227)
      Yes increase the average power level, what could possibly go wrong...
    • by leathered (780018)
      World of Warcraft is the best yet. Its a mix of quests and grinding.

      No different to the countless other Everquest clones then.

      Don't get me wrong, WoW is a good game, but its success has been a result of taking the best ideas from other MMOs. Is WoW innovative? Not at all. Call it the McDonalds of games if you will, it's good enough to satisfy the masses but excels at nothing.
      • Excels at nothing? That's a bit harsh.

        I've played 5 MMOs and I've never played one that made it so easy to play (interface-wise). A granny could play WoW, but not in a way that makes it dreadful to hardcore gamers. Also, in a world where some programs' interfaces make absolutely no sense, I think WoW takes the cake on improving and polishing the best ideas from other MMOs into the "total package". Innovative? Not entirely - but none of them are, all that much (they're all just multiplayer 'Eye of the Behol
    • I played WoW casually for about 5 months, and have just a little comment about questing vs grinding.

      Basically WoW had a few basic ways to play. You could kill mobs, you could do quests, you could do instances, or you could pvp. The problem with every single one of those is they are all grinds (pvp may have or may be changing soon from what I have heard). Instances aren't necessarily grinds unless you're 60 and raiding, but some earlier ones can be farmed as well.

      Basically you can chose to grind mobs, gr
  • Maybe they can get an MMORPG right since there's no ending to screw up (like they did with NWN2 and KOTOR2).
    • by Dr. Jest (10116)
      Neither of those games were made by Bioware. I think you want to level blame at Obsidian, who also crippled the NWN engine by ripping out all the cross-platform bits.
    • Maybe they can get an MMORPG right since there's no ending to screw up (like they did with NWN2 and KOTOR2).

      Both endings were not up to what they should have been thanks to publisher constraints placed on Obsidian Entertainment. The first was Lucasarts (surprise surprise) wanting it out the door on Xbox to catch the Christmas '04 period in the US. In the case of NWN2, it was purely due to the fact Atari was in a very precarious financial position and needed the injection of cash they knew NWN2 was going t

    • by Aeonite (263338)
      Well, I guess that's more reason for them to get it right. :)
  • It's developed by Simutronics (makers of Gemstone, DragonRealms). First of all, realize that this company has nearly 20 years of experience in MUDs.

    They've been developing this engine for use in their game, Hero's Journey. One of the key things about Simutronics games is their army of GMs, constantly creating content that's tacked onto the world. Maps, quests, items, etc etc. They've worked hard to make their toolset easy for GMs to use to make new content, and add it to the world - seamlessly, with no patc
    • Not sure if this is too late to make an impact but I agree with you very much regarding a death system, but most gamers don't want to waste their time investing in a character that eventually dies. I personally would love to keep rolling out new combinations of skills/etc (provided there was an interesting way to do so) but that doesn't fly with gamers, which makes it a questionable business decision. :(
      • And while this article is really old, I just noticed your reply - The point in this different sort of death system is to change the paradigm of building a single character into building a whole legacy of characters. Maybe give characters a hovel when they start their character, and eventually through building their legacy, can have a palace... who knows.
  • I found Guild Wars to be full of a lot of story driven game play. The only problem is since I have to go into an instance to play any part of the action or story, I fealt I might as well be playing a single player game that had better graphics and not all the quirks of online game. If I am going to play across the network, I want to see others all the time.
  • The only way to eliminate Grind is to eliminate the concept of "leveling". Leveling up works in pen and paper RPGs where a live GM creates new content customized to the players. But the pale immitation of that (grinding) in MMORPGs is inadequate and quickly becomes un-fun.

    Shooter multiplayer games are fun with little or no plot, and no character development beyond acquiring different items and maybe picking a character class at the start. The basic actions possible to the player are mostly available from
    • by *weasel (174362)
      Exactly.

      Levelling is the core problem of quite a few of massmog ills.
      mudflation. grinding. powerlevelling. twinking. etc.
      the solutions themselves make problems and make the whole thing even less approachable.
      Take powerlevelling. You stop it by penalizing or restricting level disparities in groups. Which basically means you cut people off from playing the game together, and stratify the playerbase. It creates a barrier for entry. A roadblock that makes it hard for friends to hook one another or keep in t
  • ..to removing grinding is ultimately more unique content, and the removal of randomized rewards.

    The second is farily simple, if the boss always drops the item, you've no need to come back and kill him again next week, and the week after, and the week after that. No reason at all to grind now.

    The first part of that is the hard part. How do you keep up with player's demand for content without arbitrarily slowing them down. You could make the content very very difficult so that players progress very slowly, bu

Swap read error. You lose your mind.

Working...