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Throwing Out the Rulebook For MMOs 245

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-as-soon-as-i-collect-these-twenty-wolf-pelts dept.
MMORPG.com's Dana Massey asks about the possibility of throwing out the rulebook for MMOs, suggesting that the next blockbuster title in the genre will be one that ignores many of the features and conventions that have come to be standards over the years. Quoting: "Who said that MMOs require hot bars? Who proclaimed that it's not a proper MMO unless you have quests? Blizzard took a formula that almost all MMOs had been using for years and distilled it down to addictive perfection. Love or hate WoW, it's a polished, polished title. It's no coincidence that on hardcore MMO sites, like this one, WoW is not the most hyped or trafficked game around. It's not that it's bad, but veteran MMO players don't have the same love for it, simply because we've all seen some variation of it before. The WoW community has always been a bit apart from the larger MMO community. Based purely on the number of subscribers, WoW articles should statistically annihilate every other game on this site, but they don't. A huge percentage of people who truly love WoW, I've always believed, do not know or particularly care about this whole world of MMOs out there. They're WoW players and that's it."
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Throwing Out the Rulebook For MMOs

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  • No Love (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShakaUVM (157947) on Friday May 22, 2009 @04:25AM (#28050607) Homepage Journal

    "They're WoW players and that's it"?

    That's a laugh. I don't know anyone of the 20 or 30 people that play or have played WoW for thousands of hours that haven't tried out other MMORPGs - Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, EVE, a slew of free or freemium ones, etc. Some of them drifted away from WoW when it became clear blizzard really had no idea what it was doing with some of the classes (Spellcasting pushback wasn't balanced properly until about *three years* after WoW came out, for example), others drifted back when it became clear the problems with AoC and WAR were even worse than WoW's problems.

    Essentially, it's the "mostly harmless" MMORPG. No love for WoW, but it's there, it's a relatively okay method for wasting some time online, and it's relatively well polished.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by AnonChef (947738)
      Well you're on slashdot so your anecdotal sample is hardly typical of the world at large.

      My anecdotal sample goes the other way, of the 10 or so wow players I know only one has played another MMO besides wow (everquest).

    • Re:No Love (Score:5, Informative)

      by N1AK (864906) on Friday May 22, 2009 @04:55AM (#28050713) Homepage

      That's a laugh. I don't know anyone of the 20 or 30 people...

      You can't dismiss an arguement (with any credibility) just because the statistically insignificant group of people you know don't fit a hypothesis.

      But as we're going with personal examples, I know three groups of people in real life who play WoW. Not a single one of them has played a different MMO because they just aren't interested in gaming. WoW is a social and relaxation thing for them which they are fitting into an already busy life of working and/or looking after kids. This doesn't prove they are the norm, but I hope it at least shows that there are WoW players out there who really don't fit the /. view of typical gamers.

    • by Moraelin (679338) on Friday May 22, 2009 @04:56AM (#28050715) Journal

      That's what I wondered about too. Every time there was some [NEXT GAME] coming out soon, be it LOTRO, WAR, AOC, or even duds like D&D Online or Tabula Rasa or Vanguard, the guild chat was _full_ of disgruntled WoW players talking non-stop about how they're gonna move to it as soon as it launches and never look back. Then somehow they come back anyway.

      Even the idea that WoW should annihilate the other games otherwise, is stupid. WoW may well be what keeps those other duds alive in the first place.

      Last I've heard a statistic, the average player stayed on an MMO for 6 months. Sure, some stay for ever, but they're few. Some leave when the "free" month is over. But on the average, it was 6 months. Then they get bored and bugger off.

      I'm betting that a lot of the customers of those other games are recycled ex-WoW players. People spend their months on WoW, get bored of doing the same raid again, get ideas like "meh, I wonder if WAR/LOTRO/EQ2/Whatever is any better."

      Plus, look at the MMOG charts. Before WoW the western MMOs recycled the same pool of IIRC about a million players total. Each newcomer getting another 100,000 was visible in the others losing a total of 100,000. WoW increased that 10 times over night. And again, their players fall off and try other games too. (But actually keeping them, that's another problem.) In effect it increased the pool for a lot of "me too" MMOS from "whoever of those 500,000 EQ1 players gets bored and wanst to try something else" to "whoever of WoW's 10,000,000+ players gets bored and wants to try something else."

      For a lot of the incompetent designers and incompetent publishers (I'm looking at you, Sony), WoW has been a windfall, not their doom.

      At any rate, what I see there is the usual fanboy rationalization, except this time it's called an article.

      • by cgenman (325138)

        One of the points of the article, though, is that by copying WoW, you're just going to get people getting bored faster. WoW took a fun but flawed formula and more or less perfected it. If you want to compete with that (and the hundreds of millions of development dollars that beast is getting), you need to find a different formula. Otherwise you're game is going to be same old - same old, and not as polished.

        • Fair point, but as you probably remember they said the same about WoW. It was going to compete with the big elephant called EQ1, and EQ2 was announced soon too. Sony was _the_ name in MMOs, nobody had dethroned their game yet, and there was no reason to assume that the sequel will fare any worse. (Turns out that Sony fucked up anyway.) Blizzard was yet another company making a me-too MMO. They had yet to prove themselves in that arena. Surely they can't compete with Sony by just doing same old, right?

          Turns

    • Re:No Love (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Friday May 22, 2009 @05:21AM (#28050845)

      WoW is basically the least common denominator.

      It's like when you go out with your friends. Some don't like pizza, or you can't agree on a topping, some don't like sushi, some don't like Mexican food, but in some way all can agree that burgers are kinda allright, so you go to some burger bar. It's not really what anyone really wanted, but it's something everyone can kinda stomach.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by digibud (656277)
      I played WoW and that was it for MMO's. Now I'm a recovering WoW player. I know it will always be a struggle. I take it day by day. Living life without WoW. wow.
    • Re:No Love (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xest (935314) on Friday May 22, 2009 @05:47AM (#28050961)

      I think TFA is referring to people like me, who have played other MMOs and it's WoW that was the one that didn't interest me.

      Why? For exactly the stated reasons, it was just more of the same, after having played Dark Age of Camelot for 5 years. I wanted something that actually brought something new to the table than the same dull old method of questing.

      I played WAR a little longer than WoW but only by about a month, I found it to end up being largely the same.

      The best MMOs I've ever played were Ultima Online and Planetside followed by DAoC - DAoC only because I'd never played the likes of EQ so that style of MMO with levels, quests and such was at that point new to me.

      UO was very different in that you didn't have quests and you didn't have levels, you had 700 skill points and you'd choose what to fill them with, for example you might make a craftsman character with 100 points in tailoring, 100 points in woodwork, 100 in blacksmithing, 100 in tinkering, 100 in mining etc. but you could mix and match, you could make a warrior character that had 600 points spread across fighting skills then the last 100 split between 50 in magery and 50 in blacksmithing giving you just enough magic to use the teleport spell and just enough smithing to repair your armour for example. It also didn't have quests as such, you effectively made your own - you might decide to take a bunch of friends to the depths of the hardest dungeon to kill a big named demon, but you'd do it off your own back whenever you wanted. That demon might then drop some rare metal which could be used to barter with a blacksmith to make some decent armour or it might drop a treasure map so you could then go treasure hunting.

      Planetside was different because it was an MM FPS basically, so not a lot needs to be said there.

      The point is that, WoW, WAR, AoC, they're all following the same theme that DAoC and Everquest before them did and that's just boring now, most people who play an MMO stick with it for years but then leave only because they've been there, done that and got bored - creating games that are identical to those people are already bored of is not going to get you anywhere, this is why no one has succeeded in overthrowing WoW which got it's playerbase because previous identical MMOs such as DAoC failed miserably when it came to marketing, promotion etc. else they'd have likely caused the same thing to happen to WoW as WoW caused to happen to WAR - people wouldn't have bothered because it was just more of the same.

      The MMO market absolutely does need variation, and anyone whose played MMOs over a longer period than just WoW will realise that the WoW recipe is both not new, and not special.

      I believe if a UO style game was made today and given proper marketing it'd do immensly well simply because that style of MMO hasn't been done to any reasonable manner since UO itself - a game that's effectively a much freer open world, where people create their own quests, where people can walk up to a cliff face and mine where they want along the entire cliff face rather than at specific pre-defined points - UO simply wasn't ever as rigid.

      I think this is what TFA means when it says they're just WoW players and that's it - WoW did an amazing job of hype, marketing and so on to pull first time MMO players in and this is by far the majority of their playerbase - first time MMO players and it is these people they're referring to when they say they're just WoW players and that's it because they've yet to experience anything else and find out that there's much more possibilities out there when it comes to MMOs, but you can't blame them for having this view when no MMO in recent years has done anything other than just copy WoW either.

      • by Shadow of Ummon (1560149) on Friday May 22, 2009 @09:39AM (#28052851)

        The Ultima Online skill system and skill systems in general are another form of the class/level system. This idea did not spring Minerva-like from my mind, but I have forgotten where I first read the idea (perhaps Lum the Mad had something to say about it.)

        Look at UO as an example. Distinct classes with small variations emerged from the skill and mechanics balancing at a particular time. There were three major classes that I recall: the "Dex Monkey," the "Tank Mage," and the Thief/Archer. A player effectively leveled by advancing their skills and stats towards their perfect build for their objective class.

        However, the skill and stat system provided extreme flexibility. A player could take their "maxed out" character and completely change their stat and skill distributions. While initially it was huge chore to accomplish, the difficulty of this process was greatly reduced as the game matured.

        In some ways, class and level systems can have a similar flexibility: talent resets, skill resets, etc. The key distinction between the two is that in any class/level system that I have played, you could not fundamentally change the class of a character, just the level of variation provided within that class.

        Even in a game such as EVE Online, classes tend to emerge. They are perhaps the most nebulous classes out of any MMORPG that I have seen, yet characters tend to have skill concentrations associated with a particular purpose: hauler, carrier pilot, covert ops pilot, etc. The main distinction with EVE is that it lacks a zero-sum skill or leveling system. The only constraints on leveling are time and resources. However, the sheer complexity of the game lends itself to extremely blurred class distinctions (Would all the Marxists in the audience please sit down.)

        I could go on and on about Ultima Online, EVE, and MMORPGs in general, but I will end my monologue with a few parting thoughts.

        I think the two major things that drew me to EVE and Ultima Online were the consequence of death and something that I call the "grief economy." Basically in UO and EVE, death had very real consequences. In UO, anything you were carrying on your person was "lootable" after death. In EVE, you lost your ship and potentially some of your skill levels. Furthermore, in both games the victor of a player versus player confrontation stood to gain significant economic reward. A "grief economy" arises in both situations, and the balancing of that economy is paramount for the success of the game. Yet, it is precisely that economy and the incentives to do harm to others that prevents those games from gaining a large market share in todays MMORPG environment.

        My comments are not meant to pigeon-hole either game. I am just discussing some relevant aspects of each.

        • by Xest (935314)

          I think the key point is the level of flexibility in UO's skill system, the fact you could get down to 1/10th of a percentage point in a skill and it would still have some effect on your ability to do something or the availability of some skill/spell/whatever the fact that you could raise and drop skills at any time allowed for massive flexibility. The wide range of skills also allowed for flexibility.

          There were cookie cutter specs that people went for sure, but always seemed much less slow and more varied

    • Re:No Love (Score:4, Interesting)

      by vertinox (846076) on Friday May 22, 2009 @09:05AM (#28052275)

      That's a laugh. I don't know anyone of the 20 or 30 people that play or have played WoW for thousands of hours that haven't tried out other MMORPGs - Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, EVE, a slew of free or freemium ones, etc.

      Maybe because that is because you play WoW and don't encounter anyone who didn't come back.

      I'm on a very large guild on Warhammer Online (1000+ members) and the concensus is that we don't like WoW. I mean it was good, but it had flaws for what most of us wanted in an MMO and that is why we are sticking with War.

      There are many debates on vent about why say Conan failed or what Mythic could do better with Warhammer online, but not everyone wants to play that game for lots of different reasons. I think at least the WAR followers like the PvP and RvR which WoW has but pulls off rather poorly in some aspects in getting more than several hundred people onto the open battle field at the time.

      Anyways, its really from your personal perspective of who says what. If you play WoW, you probaly didn't like WAR and if you are currently playing WAR there are reasons you aren't playing WoW.

      On a side note... I've been reading some very interesting blogs about Darkfall Online [mmorpg.com] about the game politics and game mechanics. Perhaps when they release an North America server and iron out the bugs I'll take it for a spin.

    • by festers (106163)

      It's not that these people haven't tried other games *after* WoW, it's the fact that they never played any MMOs *before* WoW. There's a complete lack of historical perspective on the genre and an ignorance (through no fault of their own necessarily) about what's possible in an MMO. Features that have been in other games for years are somehow revolutionary when Blizzard does it, and glaring omissions are glossed over as no big deal.

  • Look, there's literally thousands of MMOs now. 100% of them suck.. 1% of them suck less than the others.

    Most all of them start with the "let's be different" mindset.. they quickly discover that there's a *reason* why things are the way they are.. much of that is technical, some of it is psychological (read: addictive) and the remainder is simply "what people are used to" and woe be to the man who tries to sell a product that people don't understand.

  • - they have females, real ones.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AnonChef (947738)
      Naaw.
      They are just like me. If i'm going to stare at my avatars behind running around for hours on end I want it to be as pretty as possible.
    • Maplestory has plenty of real girls too, it's a lot more cutesy and attractive than most (all?) MMOs

    • - they have females, real ones.

      Or so they tell you.

    • by edremy (36408)
      Interestingly, so does LOTRO. Two of my 3 guilds in WoW were female run, and my LOTRO kin is as well. (Or was- leadership rotates between a couple of players, some married.) This also highlights the way around the "WoW formula"- you can have virtually identical mechanics but differentiate based on story and lore. There are a lot of Tolkien nerds out there, so LOTRO has a stable (if not WoW-huge) playerbase, a lot of whom are female.

      At least from my experience, the female run guilds/kins work a *lot* b

    • True, and you can tell when you get on vent.

      Personally, I play a female character, but then so does my wife. Turns out our guild has a number of other RL women too, some of which play male characters. Women are still in the minority, but it's greater than my experience with EQ.

      WoW once you reach the top level seems, to me, to be largely a cross between a MMORPG and a chat room. It's comfortable, not too hard, pretty to look at, smooth, and friendly. And that's something that keeps people in the co
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @04:35AM (#28050639)

    The WoW community has always been a bit apart from the larger MMO community

    I don't think that word means what you think it means...

    • by Jartan (219704)

      WoW is big but it's not that big. If you wanted to restrict your viewpoint to the US then maybe you could claim the WoW population is bigger than the MMO community. If you include Europe at least though then that's no longer true. If you went and included Asia it'd be a joke to say WoW itself is larger than the entire MMO community.

  • Reasons, reasons (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Renraku (518261) on Friday May 22, 2009 @04:36AM (#28050651) Homepage

    Hotbars came about for a reason.

    Have any of you played Ultima Online that didn't specifically stress using a hotbar? It was difficult. There was a lot of macroing, a lot of memorization of keys, etc. Really took away from the immersion.

    With hotbars, you know where your favorite skills are. You can pretty much set the keyboard up as you like, in terms of your skills.

    Can we do better? Yes, but not with conventional keyboard/mouse/monitor devices.

    What about some of the other typical things found in most MMORPGs?

    Levels? Ultima Online did just fine without them. All it had was stats and skills, and you just needed to practice what you wanted to get better at. This was a good system, I think. Not for everyone though.

    Health/Mana/Etc? Warhammer Online did an excellent job with these. They all regenerated very quickly. In essence, you could technically fight forever as long as your health held out. Your mana with which to cast spells came back quickly enough to cast over and over, but not quickly enough to cast the best things over and over.

    Quests? Not everyone likes to grind enemies for a long time. However, not everyone likes to quest. Rappelz had a good idea. Lots and lots of traditional quests, and lots and lots of kill quests. This satisfied both types of player.

    One-player control? Sword of the New World, I believe, let you control multiple characters that you had created.

    Real-time play? Actually, a turn-based combat MMORPG would be nice. Think something along the lines of Final Fantasy Tactics during battle.

    Point is, there's lots of things you COULD change. But most of the things are there for reasons. World of Warcraft is the best at the moment because it learned from everyone elses' mistakes. It also learned from their successes. World of Warcraft is the MMORPG analogue to the Borg from Star Trek.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drik00 (526104)

      On the topic of the necessity of quests/questing in an MMO,

      I think an interesting example to look at was Star Wars: Galaxies... They tried an almost completely free sand-box style of play, and had arguably the best theme for an MMO ever, and it totally sucked. Once you'd visited all the places from the movies, and seen the characters, there was nothing to do. It was too much like real life. You could go into business for yourself, buy a house, get involved in community politics, and live out a life vicar

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        They tried an almost completely free sand-box style of play, and had arguably the best theme for an MMO ever, and it totally sucked.

        Mostly because they tried to dumb it down from that sandbox, in order to draw in new players, thus alienating their player base -- which is suicide for an MMO. They pretty much drove it into the fucking ground.

        From what I've read, the things they did wrong were:

        - They completely changed combat to be more twitch-based and less RPG-based, thus alienating any of its player base who don't like FPSes, including some disabled people.

        - They killed off whole classes and skills -- I believe over half

        • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday May 22, 2009 @06:26AM (#28051129)

          They made Jedi common. Really fucking common.

          That's the core problem of the game: You can't have one single class that everyone thinks is awesome and then expect people to play support characters. People play MMOs to be heros.

          Face it. Everyone wants to be a Jedi if he's "into" Star Wars. Would you want to play the MediBot, eh? Then why'd you expect anyone else to? Furthermore, Jedis would have to blow the socks off anyone else because, well, they are quite a bit overpowered in the SW universe.

          It's one of the reasons why I decided against playing the Star Wars MMO, there is no way to get this "balanced" and "fair" while at the same time staying true to the story.

          • by vertinox (846076)

            That's the core problem of the game: You can't have one single class that everyone thinks is awesome and then expect people to play support characters. People play MMOs to be heros.

            I'd argue that is a problem with the players and not the game. I think it turns out that if you play the "storm trooper" and follow organized guild leaders your experience will be a lot better in the long term.

            I play on a guild on Warhammer Online who leader is basically a dictator and screams obscenities like a marine drill sarg

            • You will notice that you get that mindset a lot in the "underdog" or "evil" side. I had the same experience in AO where Omni (the "evil corporation" side) usually had a lot more team oriented and goal focused people than the Clans (the "freedom fighters").

              As for leadership, a lot of people are quite willing to accept a leader, no matter how abusive, as long as he can create victories. That wasn't really what I mean, though. My comment was about people wanting to play something exceptional. Not the 8th storm

          • by Tom (822)

            Actually, it was one of the reasons why when trying the game out, I decided very quickly to think about all the other classes but the Jedi. Who wants to be a Jedi if every 12 year old fat kid in his slumhole is?

          • There were tons of SWG players who were completely content to play the game without ever becoming a Jedi. I know I was one of them, and throughout most of my time in the game I was a crafter of one sort or another.

            I admit many players were shallow and only wanted to play the uber-combat class *because it was uber* so they could win duels all the time etc, but don't paint all of the rest of us with the same brush.

            SWG was an incredible game design originally - IMHO far better and more ambitious than anything

          • They should have made the player be jedi apprentice (level 1) going through learning to be a real jedi (end game). And make each jedi different class have some advantage inconvenient like in KotoR (Some more oriented to force power like magics, some more oriented toward fight melee etc...).
          • Furthermore, Jedis would have to blow the socks off anyone else because, well, they are quite a bit overpowered in the SW universe.

            Jedi Masters, yes. Jedi, no.

            I played SWG for quite some time. I was basically a Bounty Hunter who made a living by utilizing my faction standings with certain NPC groups to cause them to fight each other (I had a repeatable quest in which I could assist a Nightsister Witch in fighting a Dark Jedi Master... leading to me being able to *loot* the Dark Jedi Master if I was able

        • by jandrese (485)
          The "Jedi are supposed to be rare" argument always seemed a bit strange to me. The game could expect what, half a million players at most? Of which maybe 50k would ever be online at the same time. Compared to the number of NPCs in the universe the players would be tiny.

          The trick to this would be to highly instance the game so you're not constantly running into Jedi everywhere you go. The downside is that makes it a somewhat single player experience, but that could be worked around with Jedi "hubs" (Co
      • I loved a huge sandbox world where I was able to become a crafter, create items and dominate the economy. It took a lot of thought and planning and a lot of effort in game to gain a top notch reputation as a crafter and adjust to the changing needs of the economy. I had a fantastic time learning how the system worked and how I could rise to the top in it. Along the way I established 2 guilds, taught a lot of people how to play the game, and built 2 player-created cities.

        It was such a shame they kept screwin

    • Actually, a turn-based combat MMORPG would be nice.

      You're looking for Atlantica Online [ndoorsgames.com]. It's f2p, too.

    • I don't think getting rid of things like quests or levels are a goal in itself. Replacing levels with skill systems would be interesting in that it makes for more customization, but is difficult to balance. Magic the Gathering has a fairly well-balanced PvP system with endless customization, so difficult != impossible.

      Quests are essentially scripted tutorials or interactive movies. They do have their place and are fairly easy to implement. Activities other than quests that people just do in current games r
  • MMO*** (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hine_uk (783556) on Friday May 22, 2009 @04:46AM (#28050677)

    The problem is that everytime a game is made with the first three letters above, the last three always seem to be RPG and this is always the problem. I am a gamer who spends a lot of time and money on gaming. I have a young family so going out socialising isnt a real possibility like it was 10 or even 5 years ago. I've tried WoW and i've tried Eve, whilst both seem initially interesting they fall foul (to me) in one key area - gameplay. In short there isnt really that much.

    All of these MMO(rpg's) seem to make their money and selling point around what's round the corner. You might have a Thorax or a +5 shield now, but in one more month you could have a Deimos and a +9 shield AND a new hammer! Its also this point that raises my next.

    Skill

    Alot of these MMO's have painted themselves into a corner with regard to creating a level playing field between established players and new players. You could have two players of equal skill squaring off but because one has been feeding his habit for a few months or even years longer they win in the random number generator fight that occurs.

    I am hoping that the new jumpgate game chages this a bit with its reliance on player piloting skill for combat if the read-ups are to be believed but in the meantime I rely on games like Left4Dead to provide my social gaming fix. The number of hours I have got in on it are absurd. Its a class based game, with a social setting - especially if you play vs mode and best of all you dont get your ass handed to you by someone Jonesing bad for a fix from a 3 year habit, getting the kill simply because the developer is giving them an I win button for their money.

    To me games are about skill with a little bit of luck and that is what alot of these MMO's with their endless levelling seem to forget, I have money and am willing to give it to a developer who can figure that out.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheLink (130905)
      I play Guild Wars. In Guild Wars (GW), human skill (and ping) does make a big difference, not so much how long you've played.

      The trouble is with GW, if you want access to all the game skills and items unlocked for PvP _immediately_, you have to pay:

      USD10 for PvP item unlock pack (this unlocks all item mods so you can make any item you want for your PvP characters that you can create and delete on demand).
      USD10 for Core Skill unlock pack - this unlocks all the skills common to all campaigns.
      USD10 for Prophec
      • Re:MMO*** (Score:4, Informative)

        by ruemere (1148095) on Friday May 22, 2009 @06:06AM (#28051051) Homepage

        Dude,

        you're approaching to this in the worst way possible.

        Firstly, all campaigns require 50 EUR (or less, if you buy with discount). Why buy unlock packs when you can have everything you need for slightly more (or less, with discounts) along with all campaign content?

        Secondly, to unlock 8 specific skills, you need, in the worst scenario, 10K points in Balthasar faction. This is an hour of enjoyable Jade Quarry play. You don't need to unlock all skills, merely those you wish to use.

        Thirdly, for guidance and support of community, there are two important sites to get your started (and save from some common mistakes):
        http://wiki.guildwars.com/ [guildwars.com]
        http://www.guildwarsguru.com/ [guildwarsguru.com]
        http://pvx.wikia.com/ [wikia.com]

        Regards,
        Ruemere

        • Dude. You miss the point totally. Please try to read and understand first.

          Just buying all campaigns doesn't mean you get all the skills _unlocked_. YOU CANNOT UNLOCKED SKILLS!

          You would still need to _grind_ to get the skills and items unlocked.

          Yes, you don't mind an HOUR of grinding using a less desirable skill bar in less desirable battle (you might not want to play Jade Quarry) to unlock some skills. You are clearly NOT the sort of player I'm talking about.

          Go try telling a counterstrike player that he has
          • by TheLink (130905)
            Agh... I meant you cannot _use_ unlocked skills. Even though you have bought all the campaigns, the skills are there, but you need to unlock them.

            Doh.
    • You could have two players of equal skill squaring off but because one has been feeding his habit for a few months or even years longer they win in the random number generator fight that occurs.

      First, there's no such thing as "equal" skill. Some people are good at one thing, some are good at another -- think rock paper scissors. People learn from each other, as they play.

      Second, in any decent MMO, skill can trump stats. Ideally, you strike a balance so that the +9 shield does really make a difference compared to the +5 shield, but a decent player with a +5 shield is still going to mop the floor with an unskilled person who has a +9 shield.

      To me games are about skill with a little bit of luck and that is what alot of these MMO's with their endless levelling seem to forget

      Well, there's more to it than just time. There's skill in t

      • by hine_uk (783556)

        Granted on the rock scissors paper comment, there is usually an achilllies heel type weakenss that a clever foe can exploit, but while skill CAN trump stats, the way these games are designed is so they dont. Think WoW or Eve and how often does a level 50 beat a level 70 or a tech I a tech II?

        With regard to playing the market that comes back to the time vs skill. I'm going to guess this is based around Eve because that has the deepest market I know. But again, to compete in any real terms with an experienced

    • Completely agree, it's the reason I don't really go in for RPGs as a rule, certainly not if you have to pay for them anyway. To get anywhere you need to spend a lot of time just questing or training up your character to keep up with the Joneses so to speak. I have enjoyed MUDing from time to time, because of good theme choices and the people that I'm playing with, but the gameplay itself usually is quite repetitive. MUDs could do with throwing out the rulebook too, most of the basics of stuff like combat se

    • I agree these games need more skill instead of just using your most powerful skills to do the most damage to every opponent every time. It should be possible to use even a weak skill, at precisely the right time, to take someone down.

      I was just thinking of something that might be interesting in MMORPGs regarding PVP, possibly. What about putting in some kind of (minor?) weakness into the characters? This can be randomized somewhat so not every wizard has the same fault, or not every warlock or swordsman

    • Alot of these MMO's have painted themselves into a corner with regard to creating a level playing field between established players and new players. You could have two players of equal skill squaring off but because one has been feeding his habit for a few months or even years longer they win in the random number generator fight that occurs.

      Sounds like you want to play Darkfall Online [darkfallonline.com]

      I've been reading this blog [mmorpg.com] and it seems that the game isn't like any other one I have seen so far.

      They say its based on play

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday May 22, 2009 @05:18AM (#28050829)

    At least if you want to "beat" WoW.

    Let's be sensible: You cannot create an MMO at the same "polished" level as WoW. No MMO, ever, will have the polished feel of an MMO that has been in existance for about 5 years. You can't afford that. To do that, basically what you'd have to do is create a MMO (insane dev costs), then have people play it for free for five years (even more insane dev costs), support those people at release level, and so on, all without a dime of revenue.

    Remember the release of WoW? Yes, it was a lot more finished than many MMOs at release (Blizzard actually does finish their games, most of the time), it still was the usual disaster. Servers not available for days. Quests broken and requiring GM intervention to complete. Balance off. The same you will encounter in any MMO, and usually they're even worse than at WoW release.

    Now you try to compete with WoW. If you use the same eazy-bake cookie mix that WoW used, why the heck should people go to your game? They already get that with WoW. Just better. More finished, more balanced, more polished and more reliably.

    If you want to compete, if you want to make a "WoW killer", you have to offer something different. You will have a very hard time to convince a die-hard WoW player to come to your game, to do that basically you have to offer them something WoW lacks. You can't just offer the same and think people will switch. Why should they? They'd have to start over at zero again while they already went through the treadmill of leveling in WoW and are now at the "juicy" part of endgame.

    You have to offer something different. Just making the next WoW isn't going to convince anyone.

    • by forgotten_my_nick (802929) on Friday May 22, 2009 @05:46AM (#28050953)

      "You cannot create an MMO at the same "polished" level as WoW"

      Sorry but your wrong. Apart from the other. There are a few MMOs out there that are very polished. Eve Online, City of Heroes are two recent ones. Older ones like for example Asherons Call would be on par (excepting graphics) of WoW.

      The issue isn't with being polished. There is a formula that makes a great game. For example take Neocron. I played it pre-dome of york. It was extremely buggy, crashed a lot , graphics were OK'ish, limited maps in relation to other MMOs. Yet it was a horribly addictive game. Playing it gave a rush. The fact the client was a buggy pile of poo is what kept others joining the game (was nightmare to install). Having the subscription raised is what pushed me out of the game.

      1. For a great MMO you need to satisfy all the Bartle food groups [wikipedia.org]. While at the same time ensuring they don't adversely impact each other.

      2. You have to give rewards that mean something (feel you accomplished something in game). Rewards without some level of work do not act as rewards.

      3. You have to give an investment to the player. In UO+AC for example this was housing. A bad example of housing is CoX for Supergroup bases.

      4. The players have to feel they actually impact the environment. Not have everything reset later. Eve Online does this very well. Likewise with WOW some maps controlled impact gameplay elsewhere. Best one I saw was Asherons call (a town was nuked based on some random players comments). Even the virus outbreak in WOW gave a feeling of the players impacting the environment.

      5. You have to build (controlled) conflict, so that communities form. Alliance v Horde, Eve corps.

      6. A level of customization. Most of long standing WOW players actually run with multiple plugins.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Opportunist (166417)

        None of the games you mentioned had the "polished" level at release. I wasn't there for the release of CoX (only heard it wasn't exactly pretty), but I've seen the train wreck that the release of EvE was. Actually, I dare say the only reason why those games still exist ist exactly because they are both unlike WoW. CoX at least a little, EvE very, very different.

        If they were cookie-cutter style, players would have turned away in disgust at the end of the trial month. For reference and proof, look at AoC, WH

      • > 1. For a great MMO you need to satisfy all the Bartle food groups. While at the same time ensuring they don't adversely impact each other.
        NO, you don't. You seem to forget that when UO introduced Trammal, 90%+ of the population said F.U. to Felucca.

        Killers != PvP (There is over-lap, but they are not the same.)

        > 3. You have to give an investment to the player. In UO+AC for example this was housing.
        Yup - it took a while to save up enough money for a house. It encouraged people to pool together, and

        • > "You seem to forget that when UO introduced Trammal, 90%+ of the population said F.U. to Felucca."

          You give children all the candy they can eat and they will eat themselves sick.

          UO pre-trammal wasn't that bad and the attacks were what brought people together. I still recall one server where 1 PK'er who had terrorized the population of a particular town actually brought the town together to help in protecting each other as well pooling resources. When that happened the attacks stopped because it stopped

    • by Andy_R (114137)

      You make a lot of interesting points, I'll be interested to see how Mechscape (the new game from the Runescape people) pans out. They have solved the funding issue by using some of their huge warchest to set up a dev team as big a runescape has, and they have a history of adding lots of new content on a regular basis, and they are doing remarkable things in-browser. Full screen accelerated graphics were added to runescape last year - it's not as pretty as WoW, but it's pretty enough, and it's simplicity all

  • Fantasy stories with quests and dragons are already popular for centuries, they're just very appealing. If so many MMORPGs have this concept, maybe it's because this concept is good. I don't know what "hardcore" RPG fans want, do they want weird extraterrestial storylines instead, or "no quests" so what are they going to do instead?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417)

      Grouping experience? That's what I'm looking for in an MMO. I don't want to play essentially a solo game up to levelmax so I can finally start grouping because it's required for endgame content (only to find out that neither me nor anyone else can sensibly play in a group because we never did).

      With older MMOs groups were basically a requirement to get anywhere. Anyone remember DAoC? No class (save the "new" ones that were introduced because people whined 'cause they couldn't get to level 50 without actually

      • by Duradin (1261418)

        It's just so distasteful that such proletarian ideals such as actually being able to play the game have made it into our games.

        We like being able to show off that we are so rich, so powerful, and so well connected that we can waste an hour or two a day doing absolutely nothing in the game other than demonstrating just how much cooler we are than all those people who only have an hour to play each night (and they actually want to accomplish something, what folly!).

    • by springbox (853816)
      I hate traditional "fantasy" scenarios. The only game where I actually enjoyed it a lot was in Oblivion. Usually it's just the same boring junk though, throw in a few elves and orcs and shit.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Friday May 22, 2009 @06:39AM (#28051189) Homepage Journal

    Hardcore players is nice speak for "assholes who complain if things don't go their way". Really, I have played about every "mmorpg" since bbs days, to include early graphical ones like Yserbius (if you could call that a mmorpg). Every game gets its "hardcore" people who are nothing more than those self righteous bastards in politics and the like who tell us how what we should enjoy and what we should do which of course none of which applies to them.

    They are hardcore players because they can never be satisfied. Change something in game, even if it does not affect them directly it becomes a major issue. If it makes the game easier for someone suddenly the whole game becomes carebear. If it reduces the ability of their current class to gank/be overpowered they scream nerf. That is the key, real hardcore players would not care about nerfs - it makes the game more challenging. Hence everytime I see them complain its because someone else might get a shiny that they think they only deserve.

    Why does WOW have so many hardcore naysayers? Simple, because these people can't all be number one when there is a sizable pool of great gaming talent to compete against. Hence the "hardcore" people crop up with every excuse and exception to explain why other people aren't as good as them and how its the games fault for not letting "the hardcore" people demonstrate their superiority.

    As for the article, I read "We cannot compete with WOW so here is our list of chosen excuses : read feature changes"

  • "Hot bars"? (Score:4, Funny)

    by argent (18001) <peterNO@SPAMslashdot.2006.taronga.com> on Friday May 22, 2009 @06:57AM (#28051279) Homepage Journal

    Who said that MMOs require hot bars?

    Because salad bars are wimpy?

  • This being my one and only game for about 4 years now....I have found the true formula to happiness, is 2 months on, 2 months off....this way i play until my hearts content for the 2 months, and then catch up on everything else for the 2 months afterwards.
    The important thing to remember is yes, this is not just another MMO, this is WoW, it actually has its own economy within the game. You have auction software that you can use to peruse through the AH, and resell what is undervalued, and not play any of the

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The important thing to remember is yes, this is not just another MMO, this is WoW, it actually has its own economy within the game. You have auction software that you can use to peruse through the AH, and resell what is undervalued, and not play any of the game, but make 1000s of gold just sitting at the AH.

      How real is the economy? Eve Online has a more or less functional economy, I remember reading a post about the availability of scout ships being changed to meet the amount of ore available in-game. I would spend some money to play a game like that (if I had time and a low-latency internet connection) even if I didn't intend to interact with other players often just to have a dynamic world that works on some actual rules.

    • Aging (Score:3, Interesting)

      by huckamania (533052)

      "blizzard is warming up to the fact that the game is aging"

      I'd like to see the characters age, ya know, peak and then decline. One of the reasons I won't play an MMORPG is that starting at the bottom and knowing you'll never catch the early/elite players is a drag. There are lots of WoWsers around the office and hearing them talk about leveling and which quests they've completed almost always makes me laugh a little. Where's the role playing if your character can never get old, never really die and ha

  • "Procedural Content Generation" is the future of MMOs. Like Diablo's random dungeon generation on steroids entire shards can be generated, each one unique. Allowing no cost transfer to other shards along with a fixed lifespan for a shard makes exploring the world and what weirdness emerges from the generation would make much of the grumbling in contemporary MMOs irrelivant.

    • Player made content is the future of MMOs. I envision a place where gamers are given powerful design and scripting tools to make their own self contained adventures. Characters wouldn't have "stats" or "levels" or "skills." They would just "visit" worlds created by other players. Some of these worlds would allow the characters to transform themselves (via magic, or space armor, depending on the creator's vision) into mighty warriors and engage in interesting battles. Other worlds would cast the character as

  • Well, yes of course.

    When you have a 500 lbs gorilla in the room, you don't wrestle with it. Anyone who's trying to do the same thing as WoW does, "just better" will have that experience - as so many already had. WoW is too big to be unlodged by something that does the same thing slightly better, or even considerably better. I dare to say, even a whole lot better.

    That's because you have a playerbase that has real-value investments in WoW. Playtime they paid for, and most of them lots of lots of it. To convin

  • In almost every MMO out there today, it starts with the core concepts from Dungeons and Dragons. You have hit points, which go up with levels, and are boosted by equipment. You have various stats and skills that will help kill things as well. This is really all derived from Dungeons and Dragons.

    Now, MUDflation is the term where new games MUST be bigger and better, so, more hit points are needed. The difficulty in killing things may be the same, but just because the numbers are bigger doesn't mean mu

    • by Zironic (1112127)

      I don't think there's much demand for games where you power up slowly.

      Fundamentally white wolf and D&D are the same system.

      You have X hit points, you do Y damage per attack and you have a number of attributes that affect the value of X and Y.

      The question is not really about using another system, the question is more about how much emphasis do you want to put on non combat attributes?

      WoW has close to zero emphasis on non combat attributes, everything you do in the game you do to become stronger in combat

  • You want to make something totally novel? Throw out the rulebook? Sounds like a bold, compelling plan. Everyone loves innovation, right? The problem is, when you defy conventions, you also throw out standards, and people get lost trying to understand your game. The Wii succeeded, not because it *defied* convention, but because it *embraced* convention. Nintendo turned household objects -- a TV remote, a bathroom scale, a skateboard -- into game controllers. Immature artists and engineers love to imagine t
  • A key failing for most MMOs is that the player generally has no ability to change the environment of the game. There's no contribution that you can make to WoW that will change the distribution of monsters, for example. No matter how many monsters you kill, there's always more of the same kind where that came from. I consider this much more serious a problem than the "level playing field", that is, the idea that new players should have access to all the content of a game and play it potentially just as wel
  • With WoW and a ton of also-rans, my prediction is that the next truly *HUGE* MMO (with millions of users) will break the rules in one very important (and henceforth largely unexplored way): it will be designed from the ground up to run on a CONSOLE. It truly amazes me that so many companies are out there right now designing yet-another-WoW-killer for the PC only (that's probably just going to fail epically and bankrupt their company) when they COULD be the first company to put a real modern MMO on a console

    • Because console controls are hugely inadequate for MMOs. In my MMO experience I would say on average that I have to access at LEAST 10 different skills/abilities/buttons in the blink of an eye.

      On my WoW characters I have the following buttons mapped just for actions like skills, etc (this doesn't include movement keys!):

      Keyboard 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, Q, E, F, Shift-Q, Shift-E, Shift-F, Z, C, Middle Mouse, Shift-Middle Mouse, Mouse 3, Mouse 4

      That's _19_ buttons that I can press at any given moment within the bl

  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:50AM (#28053859) Homepage Journal

    WoW didn't copy other MMOs. WoW copied Dungeons and Dragons, the same as every other role playing game, ever. They followed a trend twenty years in the making and nailed it so thoroughly that everything that follows will be derivative of WoW instead of DnD.

    What I hate about WoW is how no one stops to enjoy the scenery. Once you're in the Skinner box, all anyone cares about is pushing the button and getting the loot.

    I hate that the story, what little there is, has become as arbitrary and convoluted as Lost.

    I hate how player actions never actually effect the story. You only follow a script that forty, I mean, twenty-five other people have also followed in order to gain entry to the Skinner box.

    I hate how the economy rewards wasting time on pointless diversions such as daily quests, and resource and loot farming before that.

    I hate how the economy is based on inflation (daily quests) and sinks for inflation (tradeskill leveling, epic flying, trophy mounts), and not the production of actual value. The real economy is farming the Skinner box, now more than ever.

    I hate how the constant whining by the PvP basement dwellers causes Blizzard to keep changing how character mechanics work for "balance".

    I hate how Blizzard has removed nearly all forms of specialization, focusing on "the player not the class", thus commodifying players and putting an even greater focus on gear, macros, and meters.

    Do you know what the next big MMO will have? None of the above. WoW has played it out. You don't trade crack for a harder drug, you either quit or you fry your brain, so you're done either way. There is nothing fun about a homogeneous treadmill, especially one with an extremely awkward and complex user interface that requires add-ons to render it effective.

    The WoW-killer will have a simple user interface, with easy to learn but difficult to master player mechanics. The story and environment will change based on player actions, and player actions will not happen in an individual sandbox. Different "realms" will progress at different rates and in different directions, so there is incentive to progress the story and do so in the direction you want it to go. It will reward specialization, strategy, long term planning, and cooperation. It will punish ganking, out-of-band drama, and other behavior that attracts socially stunted basement dwellers, or, at least, give other players incentive to punish it. It will never have a quest to bring $npc $x $animal $organ.

  • Think Fallout 3 but in a MMO format.

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