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On Reaction-Based Massively Multiplayer Gaming 82

Thanks to GamerDad for its editorial discussing why massively multiplayer games that require player dexterity are so much more intriguing. The author explains that "...the reason I don't play a lot of the conventional massive player games is because there's no skill involved in them", and goes on to detail: "In most of the MMORPGs, battles have almost predetermined conclusions based on the level and abilities of those player avatars involved in the fight and the creatures they're fighting against." He concludes by recommending his current skill-based MMOG of choice: "That's where PlanetSide has struck a chord with me. It takes the player interaction I enjoy in these games and combines it with a skill-based game." Do players want "the ability to use their brains and their hands to succeed" in MMORPGs, not just progress based on the "amount of time they played the game"?
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On Reaction-Based Massively Multiplayer Gaming

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  • Makes sense (Score:4, Insightful)

    by oOMeggieOo ( 614205 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @12:52PM (#8422951)
    It makes sense that people who don't have as much time on their hands like to play games based on skill. But then, there are those who will always prefer the games tha you play them for hour after hour after hour, since they have nothing better to do with their time. That's kind of my opinion on some card games. I hate games based solely on luck and chance. And ones that are purely strategy, well, they're all right. But the games that combine luck with strategy...those are the best. Games just need to have a nice balance if they want to be appealing to more than one type of gamer.
    • Re:Makes sense (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bellings ( 137948 )
      Would you care to name a cardgame based on luck and chance? Unless you're playing a game geared towards five year olds, nearly all cardgames are games of skill.
      • All right, all right. A little harsh, but I get your point. Most gambling cardgames are based on luck, such as blackjack and those sorts, but there still takes a bit of skill to play them. The first game that comes to mind when I think of one based solely on luck and chance is War, but, if any game is geared toward five year olds, it's War. I always lose that game, though :D
      • Re:Makes sense (Score:3, Interesting)

        by (trb001) ( 224998 )
        Uh, nearly every card game is based on luck. Poker being the classic example that ISN'T based on luck, but it still is. You can be the world poker champion playing against a newbie and still lose because your cards weren't good enough to beat his and he never folds. Poker is based on luck because:

        1) You don't know what cards you're going to get
        2) You don't know what cards your opponent is going to get
        3) You don't know how your opponent is going to play his/her hand

        Does skill make a difference? Yes, of
        • The object of poker isn't to get the highest hand. That's just luck.

          The object of poker is to make the most money. That's entirely skill.

          Your chances of playing 20 hands and never having a higher hand than your hypothetical "newbie who never folds" are one in a million (actually, 1 in 2^20). Figuring out which hand is your winning hand, and figuring out how to make the other guy bet on his losing hand, involves skill, skill, skill, and skill.
    • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SphericalCrusher ( 739397 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @05:09PM (#8424361) Journal
      Yeah, it varies for MMORPGs of what the game style depends on. At some times, it just depends on luck, while others depends on how much time you put into your character, how you chose to level them up, and your knowledge of how to use which spells at the right time.

      "...the reason I don't play a lot of the conventional massive player games is because there's no skill involved in them"

      I don't agree with that at all. Even though most of the time in the MMORPG world is spent inducing your time into the time of your character, you still cannot do that without proper knowledge of how to level up your character. Oh sure, you can just randomly pick each spec of where to add your skill points to, but would that be a good idea? Of course not. And besides, later on, you're going to get killed a lot because of the lack of skills that you have.

      Oh sure, most MMORPGs rely on how much time is spent playing them... but what you do with that time makes you a better player. Take for example: Say me and Billy (random person) create an EverQuest character at the same time. I have played the game a year before Billy and Billy just got it. So we both make our characters, and we're both at level 10 now. I have a druid and he has a Paladin. He has about 500 more HP than I do... but in a dual, I win. How is that possible? Knowledge!

      Knowing how to use your character efficiently and which spells do what is what makes you actually "good" at MMORPGs. Also, knowing where to train to level up, find rare items, etc is essential to the hardcore MMORPG player. With those facts said, you should be able to see how an MMORPG requires skill -- skill of knowledge!
    • I'm surprised (or maybe I just read at too high a threshold) that no one's mentioned Phantasy Star Online. Available in various versions for the DC, PC, Xbox and GC, it's a sort of massively-multiplayer online game. You can only play in 1-4 person teams, but you can team with anyone across the country/world. (and you have a list of guild cards that you can give out to people you meet, so that you can easily meet with them again if they're cool.)

      You have characters that level up and spells that do different
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 29, 2004 @12:52PM (#8422956)
    ... I played it and found out the game was tedious, the patches terrible, the player base filled with morons, bugs and exploits aplenty, very high monthly fee and the released game felt like a beta.

    To add insult to injury, they come out with their first paid expansion while endlessly balancing and rebalancing the game, forcing people to pony up more money for a beta.

    No freaking thanks.
    • That's just one person's opinion. Frankly, considering the incriedble complexity of having literally a hundred or so player in a REAL-TIME, first-person shooter, Planetside is remarkablly free of bugs. Obviously,some people have more crashes and bugs than other, just like any game. But by and large Planetside is an extremely stable game, and the patches work just fine. It absolutely does NOT "feel like a beta"; that's just absurd.

      Compared to any other MMO game, Planetside does suffer from some of the s
  • Sony Station? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by viware ( 680138 )
    I remember a game I used to play on Sony Station, which looks like it was the predecessor to this game. I can't remember its name...
    It used to be free, and when they started charging for it I got out of there (and so did a lot of other people). It certainly wasn't worth paying for, and this game doesn't look like its worth $12/month. Thats steep! I can buy Neverwinter Nights and only pay one fee, equivalent to half a year with this game. Sick.
    • Re:Sony Station? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Neppy ( 673459 )
      I believe the game you are referring to is Infantry. I remember playing it when it was free as well, and it was quite fun. Cosmic Rift and Tanarus were also free at the time and it made a nice collection of aged but playable games. However they started charging for a station pass or something of the like, and that was pretty much the end for me, and I'd assume the end for most of the community around those games.
    • It is Infrantry you ar thinking of and the community is still going strong (infact it is bigger than it ever was). Also the cost is $7/month not $12. This may not seem like much of a difference but I think it's resonably priced if it is a game you play often. You can also play free as a Guest for 30 minutes at a time I believe to try It out but you cant save stats, money or xp.

      Also, they often have in game events and are developing an RPG stlye zone where you really have to work your way up to high leve

  • by KDan ( 90353 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @01:11PM (#8423056) Homepage
    It's not just what you do, it's in what order, with what timing, etc. Eg, on Arctic [slashdot.org], a thief or two could take down a seriously stronger fighter type by constantly fleeing as soon as they were engaged, then sneaking back in and backstabbing... that took dexterity and quickness of mind to type all the commands (or aliases) fast enough... but there also the fighter type, if he was quick-minded enough, could easily have bashed the thief and screwed him completely... Each class has its own strong points that you have to learn to exploit. That could be considered player skill/dexterity.

    • Actually Daniel, having had this happen to me on Arctic before, bash is a bad idea. If you're a warrior and some thief decides to play this little running game with you the best thing you can do is kick. It engages him without knocking you to the ground plus it'll do a bit of damage. Thieves generally suck without stab plus this is also allows you to duel wield. Generally speaking warrior weapons hit harder. So see there is even more strategy :)

  • Planetside Sucks (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @01:17PM (#8423089) Homepage Journal
    I agree wholeheartedly about all the stupid MMOs that require no skill whatsoever. I have been saying it for years. Who the hell is stupid enough to pay for a program where you click on a picture, it dissapears and then a number goes up. Rinse and Repeat. Oh yeah, it's a chat room too.

    Of course, planetside, while much better than games like Everquest and Asheron's call, is still crap. Why? Planetside has two large armies that are fighting against each other for land and power. But neither side ever wins. Neither side ever can win. The game is in permanent stalemate. Without goals or purpose the fps game is meaningless. It's just a ton of people running around fragging each other. Because there are no goals or victory condition the game is pointless.

    This is why I have found solace in Puzzle Pirates. It's completely skill based, puzzle game skill. Not only that, but there are clear goals. Getting lots of poe to get shops to get poe to get boats to get rum to get canonballs to destroy the boats of other crews. The economics are extremely complex and if managed improperly crews and flags can go bankrupt inside a week.

    The thing that makes puzzle pirates so awesome is that there is a "7th puzzle" the social puzzle. Stinky fanboys can't succeed at puzzle pirates no matter how good their puzzling skills. Crews are closely knit social groups, and if you have no social skill none of the larger flags/crews will take you in. There are plenty of nice normal people who are good at the puzzles that nobody has any reason to let you in if you're an asshole. I set up a teamspeak server for our flag and now I talk in real time to my pirate friends every night I decide to play. The pirate theme is awesome too.

    Oh yeah, puzzle pirates is cheaper than just about every other MMO there is. And there's a free trial too.
    • Re:Planetside Sucks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Swanktastic ( 109747 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @03:01PM (#8423661)
      At the risk of sounding redundant, every single point you made is true. I played Planetside for 3 months, then quit b/c I had gotten everything out of the game there was to get out of it. As a Tribes 2 fan, I loved cooperating in PS with a team to take bases-- small squad vs squad firefights using combined tactics (air/ground/infantry)... Unfortunately, the game boiled down to massive "zergs" involving just about everyone who was on the server at the same time. The majority of experience points were allocated based on how many defenders/attackers were killed during the assault/defense of a base, so players could accumulate more XP in massive battles than they ever would skulking around as an assasin way behind lines or participating in 15 on 15 battles. After a while, the only thing players cared about was "where is the zerg going." As soon as it seemed you might lose a battle, players would head somewhere else-- no point in staying around to play and not get experience! Not sure if they changed this, but it turned me off- even though i loved the gameplay.

      I just started in with Puzzle Pirates this week after they advertised on Penny-Arcade and love it... Since I joined, I can't say whether it has long term staying power for me or not, but I will say that the quality of the players' personalities is far above what Planetside was... I have a feeling that puzzling just doesn't have the appeal to the l33tspeak crowd the way PS did...
    • by Schiraman ( 452529 ) on Monday March 01, 2004 @08:18AM (#8427976)
      Actually Planetside has three competing factions, not two, which makes things considerably more interesting since no matter how well you think you're doing there's always room to be suddenly thwarted by a second front being opened up at the rear of your territory...

      Personally the fact that you don't ever win the war doesn't bother me - it wouldn't be much of a MMOG if you could win now would it? Nobody ever wins at Everquest or any other MMOG so I don't see a problem here and at least in Planetside you can win or loose each individual battle.

      Frankly I don't find Quake 3 or Unreal Tournament any more meaningful simply because after a certain number of frags the game is over. In Planetside the global balance of power shifts constantly and knowing that you and your squadmates can make a big difference to that makes the game a lot of fun.
    • Until I tried Puzzle Pirates, I would have told you that I'd never pony up for the hardware and monthly fees of a MMPOG. (I'm currently running a p250ish on dialup)

      After a few days of trial, I've already subscribed to PP, and I'm loving it. And it will only get better as blockades and trades and even more puzzles are added.

  • by superpulpsicle ( 533373 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @01:20PM (#8423101)
    It's a fact that RPG is solely based on leveling up and slapping on the right equipment on your characters. You don't need fast reflex or quick hand-eye coordination. All you need is patience and be motivated to keep playing.

    I know I'll get modded down big time for this... but the only major reason why RPG is still an existing genre is because they are the only genre that can guarantee 80+hrs of original gameplay.

    I have a number of relatives and friends that can play RPGs all day long. None of them can handle a fps for example, they simply get destroyed. Vice versa I have never seen anyone who mastered a fps... and can't handle an RPG. I don't call it a coincidence.
    • www.puzzlepirates.com skill based puzzles.
    • Are you on crack? That's saying that people who drive in NASCAR can't hop an SUV and go 60 MPH on the highway and 30 downtown. I play Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic for a few hours, then hop into Unreal Tournament 2004 and stay in the middle of the pack (I could go higher if I play 24/7), then hop into Natural Selection and stay at the top of the pack, then go play NWN for another few hours. Maybe your arguement would have credence if you said people who play FPS games can't fire a gun in real life
    • by Murphy's Paradox ( 585454 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @01:47PM (#8423263)
      I can play RPGs with the best of them, I even program for a MUD called Unwritten Legends after being a player for a few years. I've played at least a month or two in all the big name MMORPGs out there.

      In addition, I love FPS games as well. Max Payne 2 took, uhm, 10-15 hours for me to beat. I've been playing UT2k4 online near nightly and can frag with the best of them.

      Oh, and incase you have some odd idea about game genres being seperated even further, I enjoy myself Civ3 and Warcraft3 and other RTS games.

      I would be a proof by example that there is no set division between genres and skills. RPGs exist because people get bored with fragging others in the same level with the same weapons over and over again. No, the current genre is not really Role Playing, it's more an interactive storyline. MUDs allow more RPing, but either way... they appeal to people who want to gain something for their time and skill.

      If I play UT2k4 for 5 hours, I get nothing tangible, and only maybe a little bit better at it. If I play City of Heroes for 5 hours, I get tangible proof of my play, as well as have a good time. If I go with NWN, I get to experience a story with my accomplishments.

      Of course, if you just want to frag, thats cool... I get that way too, but don't think that it's mutually exclusive to other genres.

    • by Gridpoet ( 634171 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @03:23PM (#8423777)
      i've played nearly every MMORPG on the market and i can tell you that RPG's are more than just "brain dead" games. In everquest me and a friend of mine would routinley kill mobs that other people couldnt kill 4 levels higher than us. RPG's are as much about thought out strategy as any other games, just on a slower time scale. Games like EVE-online are a perfect example...skill levels are VERY important, but this weekend i(only been playing for 1 month) was in a Tournimant inside my corperation in-game and was able to almost kill a veteran player who has played for 8-9 months and has almost all his combat skills maxed, just by using strategy.
    • And I have played a game that neither RPG gamers (even the hardcore s.w.a.t. style groups) nor FPS hardcore players can be good at with the inherent skills required in each to be effective.

      Allegiance (www.alleg.net) is a game where you cannot win unless you work together, and matches can go on for hours if two teams with 2 good commanders constantly play for the team. This is a game where teamwork is required to win, but single handed plays can tip the balance in the favor of one team.

      I have played with R
    • It's true that most console RPGs and some computer RPGs require little more than hard leveling. There are other RPGs, though, especially on the PC, that require some actual thought to play. Fallout and Planescape: Torment are a couple of good examples.

    • Games shouldn't be solely about comparing relative skill wankerdom. They are games. They are meant for fun and enjoyment. Different people enjoy different things. If I want a challenge and apply skill, I am an engineer for 12 hours of my day. If I want to be able to sit back, relax and get pulled into a story in my free time, I play an RPG. And even in MMORPGs, I tend to derive great enjoyment from running around and exploring. I don't *care* if FPS players are more "skilled" as gamers, because gamin
    • Not true. RPGs involve leveling up because, as you play the game and your characters experiences more and more of the game world, it's a natural tendency that he/she would improve in his/her skills. It's like any other experience you would have in real life...if you practiced baseball as much as your character practices magic or fighting or stealing, you'd become more proficient at it. The fact that your character 'levels' is most games device to inform you you have improved. Getting drafted by a team i
  • hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by truffle ( 37924 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @01:45PM (#8423251) Homepage

    I was pretty much set to say MMOs can't be skill based, but reading the article, I can see some room for it.

    Specifically in a traditional dungeon based MMO I'd propose something to the extent of each player can choose to be in active mode, or passive mode. The key being giving players choice.

    Players in active mode would essentially gain the opportunity to be 10-20% more effective, but would run the risk of being 10-20% less effective, based on how well they interacted with a skill based interface.

    Players in passive mode would be baseline.

    This would present a really nice mix. It wouldn't alienate the passive players. It would give the skilled players a chance to be better through application of skill. PVP could require the active mode (no passive PVPing). High level encounters would demand people be in active mode, to better their chance of defeating the difficult encounters.

    It's a neat idea, I'd like to see something like that. It would require a lot of interface work though to make it intuitive.
  • Just what we need (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ageoffri ( 723674 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @01:57PM (#8423328)
    the dumbing down of RPG's like has happened in the strategy world. Real Time Strategy games have overall dumbed down the level of games so as to increase the market share of them. Even calling Everquest a RPG is a stretch but at least it isn't a twitch game where very little thought is needed in order to do well. RPG's are about long term choices you make and involve many, many hours of advancement and choices. Even the 24 hours or so to beat Knights of the Old Republic is a quick RPG.
  • Asheron's Call (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tsm_sf ( 545316 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @02:13PM (#8423417) Journal
    One of the reasons this 4 year old game is still popular is that the combat system rewards (but doesn't necessarily require) manual skill.

    Actually, AC seems to have the best in-game physics (you can actually dodge missiles) and landscape (you can run to pretty much any part of the world you can see, and you can see far from the top of a mountain). Too bad about the graphics...
  • Hmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jermyjerm ( 705338 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @02:20PM (#8423462) Homepage
    "In most of the MMORPGs, battles have almost predetermined conclusions based on the level and abilities of those player avatars involved in the fight and the creatures they're fighting against."

    Ok, he has an understanding of MMORPG game mechanics, but how is that insightful?

    I, too, would enjoy a more action-oriented online experience. No matter how beautiful the game world, there's something about standing in a group huddling around a monster until it falls over that just lacks excitement. I couldn't play Everquest or Asheron's Call for more than a week because of their static battle systems, and although Final Fantasy XI looks amazing, I fear that I'll quickly grow tired of it as well. On the other hand, Ultima Online, which despite its problems had a more active attack system, held my attention for more than a year. I don't know why the writer lumps it in with AC or EQ, because its attack system is more active-- while your character would auto-attack if hit, its battle system was much closer to that of Diablo.

    I agree that MMORPGs appeal to a huge audience because they're not skill based, but I wonder if the lack of action MMOGs has to do with latency and synching the actions of a large number of players. I'm sure the reasons are much more complex than this "pc gamers are reflex challenged" argument presented in the article.

    There isn't much difference between a game in which one mouse click corresponds to one attack, or one where you hit a button and watch your character swing (or cast) for a while. You're still hitting an attack button at regular intervals, but in the first case you are required to develop a bit of strategy when playing. A game that let you not only attack, but parry, dodge, turn and run, etc, would be a great step up.

    I've also heard enough about PlanetSide to keep me from thinking it's a any kind of solution to the problem of dull online games. Unless I'm wrong, the forthcoming Lineage 2 will be action oriented, so that's one to look at. I don't think MMORPGs need to be "twitch" in the FPS sense, but they do need to be more engaging.
    • I completely agree about huddling in a group around a giant creature.

      As graphics and AI get better and better, I want to see really thrilling battles. The day I pay my money for a MMORPG is the day that we go to take on a giant ogre and the battle reminds me of the fight against the Cave Troll in Fellowship of the Ring.

      Imagine, for a moment, five members of your party, against one monster that actually reqires skill, reflexes and quick thinking to defeat. I'd have a lot more respect for a level 20 fighter
      • If you think Everquest doesn't require reflexes, you've never played a crowd control character class... nothing like having the puller show up with 4 mobs and the only thing keeping your group from wiping is how fast and accurately you can target and mesmerize.

        Lots of mobs in EQ also require strategy to defeat. Usually simply running up to it and hacking results in group death.

        It may look very simple, but the differences between a new player, an average player (such as myself), a skilled player, and an e
    • by L7_ ( 645377 )
      Without trying to sound like an overzealous fanboy, you don't want to look at Lineage 2. If you've been following games lately, you will know there was an asian game called 'Game Myth' that had an open beta last year. The only problem is that you had to understand korean or whatever to sign up, login and interact with the game.

      Anyways, they are doign an english port called Risk Your Life [gamemyth.com.my] that is going into beta real soon.

      If you never played the original Game Myth, I would look around for some reviews an
  • I disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DeadboltX ( 751907 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @02:32PM (#8423513)
    From the average quake players perspective I can see how one might think a game like everquest or daoc requires no "skill", but you are wrong. Your personal definition of skill is skewed if you think that hand-eye coordination is the only kind of skill there is. The cleric has to watch the health of all the people in his group, then heal them accordingly, it is not always a slow process where you have plenty of time to react, sometimes it is a split second to react and most of the people playing mmorpgs would not react fast enough.. that is the difference between a "good" player and a average joe. If there was no room for a "good" player vs a bad one then I would agree that mmorpgs take no skill. But if someone can go beyond average, and even beyond good to where they are renowned as the best cleric on the server, then how can you possibly say there is no skill involved? This is not even taking into concideration the strategy needed to take a large raid force into an area and clear it out, anyone who had done a fear raid back in the day knows what I am talking about. Only very coordinated groups could "break" and hold fear.
  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by d3kk ( 644538 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @02:34PM (#8423526) Journal
    It bothers me to see these types of articles. People like this guy critique Everquest and other similar games for having no skill involved in gameplay. Sure, during the first ten or fifteen levels you're still learning the basics, and as a result, the combat isn't incredibly engaging, but once you're fighting monsters who actually pose a challenge, there's plenty of strategical decisions that need to be made. I remember my guild fighting the Avatar of War (I think, It's been awhile) in Everquest back when there was still a level 60 cap, and being in awe at the amount of planning and strategy that was used to defeat it. Tanks needed to be switched in and out of battle, the group of clerics needed to have a specific strategy set before hand to avoid gaining too much aggro and being killed, and other classes had their specific duties as well.

    While I haven't played Planeside, from what I've heard, it sounds terrible. I'd much rather have to come up with a strategy for 60 people to kill an "unkillable" monster, than run around by myself fragging people. While the low-level game of Everquest might not necessarily involve much skill, it's completely ignorant to say that's the case for the entire game. There's no question what we did was more involving than shooting someone in the head over and over in an FPS.

  • Neocron (Score:3, Informative)

    by skinfitz ( 564041 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @03:26PM (#8423793) Journal
    Neocron [neocron.com] is very dexterity and skill based - especially the Player vs Player aspect.
  • Two basic points.

    1) At high enough levels of complexity, MUDs and MMORPGs alike DO involve skill. Most typically, what people are asking for isn't skill, but specifically "twitch" skill.

    2) You can go back 30 years and NEVER find a single twitch-skill based online persistent game that was as popular or more popular than the prevailing RPGs of the time. The basic reason is that people don't like to play in leagues where they cannot compete. RPG mechanics are essentially handicapping mechanics for people who
  • MAngband (Score:2, Interesting)

    by djdanlib ( 732853 )
    You could try MAngband [mangband.org] if you want to play an online dungeon hack and slash game that tests your reflexes. Fight the forces of Morgoth in realtime... in ASCII form! Available in source code and binary form for just about all platforms.

    Well, seriously, Angband (a roguelike) is fun as heck when you're playing it in realtime, and that giant grey P is blazing across your screen. There's a certain element of "Quick! Get me my red coat... and my brown pants!" to running away from large packs of hounds/demons/sum
  • No skill?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @03:56PM (#8423966)
    The submitter is deceiving himself if he thinks the average MMOG doesn't require skill. They not only require rudimentary skills to be able to succeed at a basic level - something I have found after spending a few months away from EverQuest and returning to find that my skills have waned.... but they also require a high proficiency in order to succeed at many of the more complex encounters.

    Planning out a strategy, managing and coordinating dozens of other people to put that strategy into effect, and properly participating in one's role within that larger strategy all require skill (and, judging from the behavior of a lot of people who play MMOGs, this level of skill is nontrivial). Having a great deal of skill can indeed make up for a lack of levels/advancement/gear, even in MMORPGs. And this doesn't even touch on the somewhat more subversive skills that people can make use of, like taking advantage of an in-game market economy or using social engineering to achieve one's goals.

  • by djdanlib ( 732853 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @04:01PM (#8423990) Homepage
    A big factor in my favorite skill-based games is the duration of your minimum session. The tedious leveling process of most games lengthens that minimum session from your average "I've got a couple minutes to kill" into the "Whoops, is that the sun coming up" timespan. This really narrows down the number of ADD/ADHD people (ahem) who would be interested.

    For example:
    * Super Smash Bros. Melee - five minutes, and a match is over. I've seen fifteen in rare circumstances. Skills make the butt-kicking your opponent deserves in a revenge match much easier.
    * Pacman, Galaga, Space Invaders, Breakout, etc - Classic, because you could just put a quarter in and play for a few minutes. No leveling, just gameplay. Skill could gain you some extra points or even more lives/whatever.
    * Mario Bros, Donkey Kong - Good for a few quick minutes of fun. Quick reversals and timing make you "good."
    * Outrun, Pole Position, etc - Drive for a few minutes, and it's done. Pure brain-numbing racing fun.
    * UT, Counterstrike, Q3A - Play a few minutes of fragging and go. Although, having a good 3D card can sometimes provide the illusion of skill due to higher responsiveness and vision quality.

    In summary:

    A critical element of games is the length you have to play them before you can safely get up and leave. These games are usually skill-based, since a few minutes can't possibly give you any fancy EXP-based advantages.
  • by Voltiare ( 750594 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @04:08PM (#8424034)
    Like *any* MMO, the real joy comes not really from the game, but the people you play with. A good group of people will always make a game that much more enjoable. The key to planetside is being in an "outfit"(re:guild), that suits your playstyle. There *are* outfits out there that focus heavily on teamwork and coordination on a scale that is quite litteraly not possible in any other MMO type. Of course, these kinds of outfits feel few and far between, but they are out there. And they sure make Planetside a blast to play. :)
  • Planetside (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MMaestro ( 585010 )
    "That's where PlanetSide has struck a chord with me. It takes the player interaction I enjoy in these games and combines it with a skill-based game."

    I wouldn't say Planetside combines player interaction and skill-based action too well at all. People group together in that game because most early weapons are nearly useless, sure you got a big ol assault rifle and you can tear apart a stealth guy, but do you really think a stealth guy is gonna let himself get caught out in the middle of nowhere with his clo

    • Re:Planetside (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Schiraman ( 452529 )

      The certificate system in Planetside means that characters of maximum level have no advantage over starting players other than the equipment they have, and starting players have access to the same equipment in theory just a smaller selection of it - they can have a big gun or some decent armour but the high-level character will have both. Compared to most MMOGs that's an amazing boost for starting players, try killing a level 20 character with a level 1 character in Everquest.

      People group togethe
  • by InfinityWpi ( 175421 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @04:43PM (#8424235)
    Granted, I only played for the free week that they offered at one point, so I never did a whole lot. But if I had the money, I would have subscribed (I just can't see paying $50 and then a per-month fee... just a per-month fee and I'd be there). Why? Because it had variety.

    One afternoon I'd be zooming along in my stealth ATV, single-handedly taking over enemy positions that were left undefended during a big battel elsewhere on the planet. The next night, I'd meet up with a squad that I randomly bumped into and joined so that we could do some scout-work in preperation for the next big fight. The day after, we'd all join up in a huge base fight and sweep through an entire continent.

    And it was fun! No AO/E&B "Okay, do the same thing over and over until you level" crap... the other side would constantly be doing new things, and so would we. Any game that can give me the joy or strafing the enemy base in a transport bomber before jumping out, -and- sniping the enemy from a distance, -and- playing anti-aircraft defense in a jumping mini-mech, -and- parking my stealth ATV next to an enemy sniper, getting off, putting my gun to his head, and shooting him three-four times, slowly, while he looked around trying to find my invisible ass, is a fun game.

    If I ever find myself in some money, I may just pick it and the expansion up and start playing again. Pity I'm so poor.
  • by FrenZon ( 65408 ) * on Sunday February 29, 2004 @04:47PM (#8424258) Homepage
    Even Planetside feels a bit plasticy when it comes to the whole 'dexterity' thing - because of the techniques it uses to counter lag, you never really avoid bullets, you just have to move into a position where you're not in another player's massive 'cone of fire'.

    I'd always thought that a MMORPG that gives a player captain-level control over a giant ship (naval, space, whatever) would be a nice middle ground between the first-person MMORPGs and the MMORTS games - the fact that the ship is so massive and has so much inertia can make up for the lag - then the action really boils down to short-term tactics, which is what most FPS games come down to in the end anyway.

    Anyway, thoughts like this are a dime a bzillion, so I'll just go shush now.

    • Anyway, thoughts like this are a dime a bzillion, so I'll just go shush now.
      Dime a dozen = 10/12 => very common.
      Dime a bzillon = 10/lots => very uncommon.

      So you're using the phrase incorrectly. Just clearing things up for future reference.

      • Well, I had always assumed that it was

        Dime a dozen = buy twelve thoughts for a dime, therefore one thought is worth 1/12th of a dime.

        Dime a X = each thought is worth a 1/X * a dime, therefore as X increases, the worthiness of the thought goes down. So where X = 1 bzillion, the thought is quite worthless and you're better off eating KFC.
  • by Pluvius ( 734915 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <3suivulp>> on Sunday February 29, 2004 @05:38PM (#8424527) Journal
    They say that skill is involved in high-level encounters. That's great and all, but what do you have to do to get to those high-level encounters in the first place? Hint: It has little to nothing to do with skill.

    Basically what I'm trying to say is that if getting to the point of the game where actual skill is involved requires months of treadmilling, that's not a good thing. It also means that skill is only required in the small percentage of people who play the game for hours at a time, which makes the whole thing moot.

  • Yeah. My friend wanted to teach me this stupid game which was turn based. I told him it took no skill and he should play Quake instead. I think his name was Kasperov or something.
    • If only I hadn't just wasted my Mod points, I'd totally be modding this Funny.
    • I know you're just being funny, but here's the hole in your analogy.

      If Chess was like a MMOG, you'd only get to use a pawn and your king the first time you played. Each time you won a game, you'd get to add a piece to your arsenal. Eventually you might have enough pieces to actually play a normal game of chess, but your opponent might just as easily have the board covered with queens at that point.

      So yes, there would be a little bit of skill involved. If I played really well against someone with a fe

  • by dupper ( 470576 ) <adamlouis@gmail.com> on Sunday February 29, 2004 @07:09PM (#8425006) Journal
    No, RPGs take very little skill. Even with these reaction systems, they still don't need anywhere near the reflexes and hand-eye coordination of FPSs. And that's a good thing.

    Now, ignoring the storyline, immersion, persistance, variety and other definite draws of the genre, there's a simple fact: most people suck at games. By definition, the majority of players suck, and usually lose in UT2K3 and BF42. I do, and I know many others who do. Even with hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours of FPS play under our belts, we still end up with 3 kills, 20 deaths on any given server. And I don't know about the rest of us losers, but playing with friends would make the situation much worse (I personally know a half-dozen highly-ranked CS players). And I still love these games, and continue to play them. They're fun, even when you're getting owned. But a man can only take so much 'PWNED OMGROFLWTFKEKEKEKEKE!!111!1!'.

    And that is why we need RPGs: a refuge for the unskilled gamer. Those with naturally shitty hand-eye coordination and slow-ass reflexes. I've noticed nobody brings this up, so either I suck a lot more than I'd previously thought, or people are just too embarrased to come out and say something. Well, I hereby call out the crappy gamers of the world, we who couldn't kill an Imp with a BFG, to rise up in defense of the great equalizer genre! Success in gaming shoudn't be based on who has the fastest reflexes any more than success in life should be based on who has the strongest biceps.

    • Just because a game does not require fast reflexes does not mean it does not require skill. Let me use an allegorical example of this to illustrate my point as opposed to the argument used by many already.

      Let's say we have two football players, one happens to be named Brett Farve and the other happens to be named Payton Manning. Granted they are both amazing athelete's but they are fundamentally different quaterbacks. Brett Farve plays with his gut, he doesn't bother pouring over game footage to learn t
  • by icebear.dk ( 182125 ) on Sunday February 29, 2004 @08:01PM (#8425280) Homepage
    Now I've noticed some people remarking about Planetside, having played it in Beta or after release. I've heard them ragging on PS (Planetside) and I am a mite tired of it.

    Now I've been playing PS since European release in late May and I can tell you this game is changing. The performance (FPS wise) is so much better now. The memory leaks and most bugs are gone. The features and tweaks come every month and in fact the game is doing just fine (as most of the Leet geeks have gone back to their CS or UT caves to play). Intentional griefers are far between and becoming rarer. Sure there are still problems, but no worse than any other MMOG.

    Planetside is in fact the first and only game to hold my interest for more than a few weeks and why? Because of the teamwork and teamplay. To really planetside is all about not going out thinking of kills, or being leet or getting loads of XP to increase your rank. PS is fun when you play with other people (Teamspeak is also quite useful here). I am apart of one of the top European Vanu Sovereignty Outfits (The Immortal Serial Killers aka ISK) and I have yet to find finer buddies in any game.

    Finally the reason I got into PS in the first place is exactly for almost the same reason as the author notes, the game manages to balance rewarding players spending alot of time in, but also allows the newest character to wack the leetest uber killer from one of the two other empires.

    -C328 with the Immortal Serial Killers on Werner (PS)
    • Thank god! I was starting to think I was the only person on Slashdot that actually plays PS. There are certainly a lot of people who want to slag the game off based on (apparently) very brief experiences with it or who slate it for flaws that all MMOGs have, but which PS suffers from less.

      It just goes to show that as much as gamers claim they want innovation in games they really don't - PS is a really bold new direction in MMOG gaming, it has elements of FPS and elements of RPG and it proves that a skill-b
      • Purple valor you say. Pffft :) you need to move over to the ISK ;)

        No really I haven't been seeing that many Purple Valor guys around lately, have your leaders changed or something.

        By the way if you see me ( C382 ) blowing up aircraft with my trusty Starfire give me a /tell m8.

        C382, Immortal Serial Killers, Werner
  • Skill in MMORPG (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SteroidG ( 609799 )
    The author's argument was that MMORPG doesn't require skill. I've got a story to tell him...

    Here's the story of one of my experences in UO (Pre-UO:Resistance), all the actions took place in about 1 minute:

    I was traveling from Britain to Cove on my horse. Suddenly 2 hidden red character (murders) jumpped in front of me, one paralyzed me with a spell, the other one start casting a explosion, energy bolt combo on me. At the same time, I started bandaging before I got any injury, blew up a trapped pouch

  • Okay, I know, PSO is not really massively multiplayer (only four players per game session), but it has lots of fun and action, and excellent graphics.
  • Sign the petition to bring PlanetSide to Linux:

    http://petitiononline.com/pslinux/petition.html [petitiononline.com]
  • If you want a skill-based MMORPG, try Puzzle Pirates [puzzlepirates.com]. Combat etc. are all resolved by participants solving puzzles, rather than clicking madly in an all-out twitch-fest.
  • I've heard planetside has some issues. I was very excited to play it, but have refrained because of what I've read. Things such as the "cone of fire" mean you cannot have head shots. Where is the skill with the "cone of fire"? I've also heard that its a numbers game of who has more XP. Now, Planetside is MOST CERTAINLY taking things in the right direction, but I think the next game that makes an attempt at this will do a lot better, just like EQ blew UO out of the water because they could fix some of t
    • Re:MMOFPS (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Schiraman ( 452529 )
      You're correct that PS doesn't have location-based damage but I think thats more down to concerns over lag-related and server-load issues than anything else. Although weapons have a 'cone of fire' this just means that some weapons are more accurate (have a tighter CoF) than others or that a crouching soldier who fires in bursts will have a tighter CoF than a running and jumping soldier who is firing full-auto. There's still a lot of skill involved, although some weapons require more skill than others.

      As fo
  • by Schiraman ( 452529 ) on Monday March 01, 2004 @09:18AM (#8428198)
    I'm a veteran Planetside player, its a game that has its flaws like any other but it has some amazing innovations in gameplay that could really move the MMOG genre along.

    1) Starting characters can compete with, or cooperate with, characters of any level without being useless. What an amazing idea! Imagine if 'newbies' in other MMOGs were useful right away! (and not just so you can PK them and take their gold). PS doesn't load high-level characters down with unbeatable bonuses, they have access to more of the game's equipment but a few solid hits will kill them just as dead, this means that characters of all levels are useful on the battlefield. Net result: levelling up is worthwhile but being low-level isn't depressing and dull.

    2) Both character level (time spent playing) and player skill have a part to play in success. Whether or not you think that selecting the right attack or casting the proper spell is skillful or not, hand-eye coordination can be added into the mix to make the game even more skill-based. In PS your character will have access to more toys as he levels up, making him overall more effective, but your skill is always key - from level 1 to level 20.

    It seems to me that there's no reason that these two key features couldn't be included in future MMORPGs... allowing a more interactive experience for characters of all classes and levels and allowing players who are new to the game, or have less time to spend on it, to enjoy the game alongside the more experienced or obsessive gamers. It also breaks down the divide between casual and hardcore players and lets them play side by side.

    For my money it seems that games like Anarchy Online or Starwars Galaxies are crying out to be played using a Planetside-like system and although it would need to be quite different for fantasy-themed games (all those melee weapons make FPS mechanics less useful) the core concepts of player skill and gameplay balance accross levels could still be included.
  • by spyrral ( 162842 ) on Monday March 01, 2004 @10:34AM (#8428592) Journal
    but not one that I respect. All the posts I've read imply that there is strategy and skill in playing your typical MMO, but they're actually talking about min/maxing. Min/maxing is the 'strategy' of gaining optimal value for your experience, knowing which skills to buy, what weapons to have, etc. The skill is knowing how the game functions and building the best possible character to match. The related skill is knowing how to 'game' the system. Figuring out how the AI works, managing the health and stats of your party, etc.

    There's a final skill to these guys that ties the other two together: Deluding yourself into thinking that anything else is going on.

    Perhaps the first person who figures out what it takes to kill the uber-monster and coordinates the players to do it is applying skill, but the ones who go with him? They might as well be AI party members.

    I want those MMORPG's to be more than they are, I really do. I'm an old school pen and paper player, and the idea of having those amazing worlds displayed on my screen in full 3d wonder makes my heart leap with joy. But the gameplay is everything I disliked about pen and paper honed to a razor sharp edge. Everyone is a munchkin, the game IS about the leveling, and everyone talks in a modern game specific slang (uber, agro, mog), occasionally peppered with the odd "hail".

    With Planetside, I feel like something new has been added to the table. The twitch component makes me feel like I'm doing something to earn my experience, regardless of the fact that the game itself is relatively shallow at this point.

    Here's hoping the next batch will take the best of both worlds and make something truly extraordinary.
  • "In most of the MMORPGs, battles have almost predetermined conclusions based on the level and abilities of those player avatars involved in the fight and the creatures they're fighting against."

    *Stares dumbfounded at the author of this editorial* For the past eight years I've been playing a mud called Arctic (http://mud.arctic.org/) and the fact of the matter is level/skills/spells make a difference in the outcome of the fight, there are elements that can tip the scales in other directions. Smart player
  • people.

    With that said.. I didn't like planetside that much. Honestly cause it gave me the experience, but nothing more, than i already got from playing Counterstrike for free.

    As for Dark Ages of Camelot or .. other type MMO's ... part of the allure of the game is the time sink that it is. Its like pokemon or tomagachi's .. or whatever other thing you can think of where you have this avatar that you want to create and advance.

    If i put in the time to advance my character I have pride knowing that it took
  • ""...the reason I don't play a lot of the conventional massive player games is because there's no skill involved in them"

    isn't thought a skill. I'd say a lot of MMO's have you put a lot of thought into the game. Well at least for the people who figure things out about the games first.

    Also, if he were to play DAOC .. he'd realize that realm vs. realm combat involves quite a bit of skill as well as the whole leveling train to get your character to the highest level. Sure if you try and fight somebody who

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard