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Role Playing (Games)

John Smedley On the Future of MMOGs 193

RosethornKB writes "John Smedley, President of Sony Online Entertainment, wrote a letter about SOE's look to the future. In it, Smedley asks some questions about virtual children, skill based combat and player created content. posts a response to his questions. From the article: "What if you could have families in MMO's? Virtual Children... What if your characters could have children and pass on the family name...This is a very vague idea and I'm not sure if he words it that way on purpose or not. The concept of Virtual Children and passing on the family name isn't new. For example, upcoming Limitless Horizons MMO Mourning has had it in their design since the game first was announced. Their system is actually very interesting in theory."" has commentary on SOE's recent activities.
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John Smedley On the Future of MMOGs

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  • by Goronmon ( 652094 ) * on Saturday February 12, 2005 @03:45PM (#11653436)
    Its tough to know what the future of MMOGs hold when you consider how little the genre has changed since the Everquest days. I mean, really, look at the gameplay elements of the first 3d games, Everquest and Asheron's Call 1...the games coming out today play almost the same exact way. In fact, you could almost consider games today a step back, since in AC1 you could at least dodge projectiles and spells if you wanted to.

    I mean, yeah, sure, the games have gotten better, but mostly in terms of graphics. The core of these games is still about creating a character, running at mobs and hitting a bunch of icons on the interface to use different skills. Aside from the gameplay, the environment is still about the same. Quests are getting better, but they are still as simple as "Go here and kill this." with some little variation thrown in.

    Another pet peeve of mine is character creation where you have to choose your characters skill set before you even get to play the game. I wish a game was open-ended where you could dabble in different areas as you went on, before deciding what to actually stick to. I want game rules like PvP that are determined by in-game repurcussions, not by hard-coded limits by the developers.

    I guess I just see tons of this untapped potential for MMOGs that just isn't being realized. Everygame seems to tought its one big, new "feature" that is really just a mild improvement on what was done previously.
    • by Durinthal ( 791855 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @03:59PM (#11653533)
      Funny.. a lot of MUDs have been around for years that have the skill development after creation deal, not to mention the virtual family concept mentioned in the article. I'm honestly wondering why they're still so much more detailed than visual MMOs.
      • I'm guessing that last sentence was meant in jest, because it's pretty obvious to me: it only takes a semi-decent writer to make something happen in a MUD, whereas a visual MMO requires skilled modelers and animators. Also, guess which category of people is most likely to do their work on the cheap?
        • By that logic, the MMOs should be just as detailed, story/plotwise as the MUDs, since it'd be easy to find a "semi-decent writer" or twelve to work on a video game.

          The answer's obvious to me too, and it couldn't be further from your conclusion. The MMOG players don't want it. They might like it if it were to happen, to hear them tell it, but the current crop seems to be perfectly content to grind and craft and buy and sell goodies on ebay. If enough of them stopped playing (and paying) because of its lack,
    • Actually, Ultima Online was based around the exact kind of skill system you're talking about. You started with some starting skill points which you allocated, but everything else was up to you to develop. REALLY open ended, and one of the reasons I kept coming back to play it after EQ and everything was big, that and the trade skills.

    • by Jameth ( 664111 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:14PM (#11653623)
      You'd be right about them being largely unchanged if you started at EQ, which really isn't reasonable if you consider how successful UO was. It may be dead now (only 21 servers and an average of around 20,000 players on at a time, not including the free servers), but UO was huge in its day and really kicked off the MMOG market.

      So, Ultima Online had:

      PvP with in-game repurcussions that worked adequately (bounties, murder counts, reputation, etc...)

      Skills that were determined during gameplay (you have a percent score for each skill, you can start with three skills with a total of 100 points and none over fifty), raising in skill level just by using the skill, rather than by putting points towards it.

      Statistics (Str/Dex/Int) determined the same as skills.

      Skill and stat atrophy (it was fine once they let you control locking and so-such) so that you could not get infinitely good by mastering every skill, but rather had to find your own balance and maintain it. However, you could freely switch skill lines with only a little work.

      Whether for better or worse, MMOGs have changed a lot since the beginning.
    • I wish a game was open-ended where you could dabble in different areas as you went on, before deciding what to actually stick to. I want game rules like PvP that are determined by in-game repurcussions, not by hard-coded limits by the developers.

      I feel (see sig) obliged to point you in the direction of this [], which certainly fits that description.
    • by ajs ( 35943 ) <> on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:21PM (#11654139) Homepage Journal
      What the future holds for MMOGs is uncertain, as you say, but it certainly will not involve SOE unless they do something dramatic to demonstrate to the gamers of the world that they have changed.

      I played EverQuest for four years, and in that time it went from a fairly story-driven game with GMs who at least made an effort to incorporate players into the storyline to a pay-per-dungeon-crawl that had almsot no GMs and very little customer-focus (they changed this a bit just before I quit, but it was far too little, far too late).

      When EQ2 came out, almost everyone I knew was in one of two camps: the "I've never played EQ, so I don't need to start" camp and the "another SOE game?!" camp.

      For those who wish to learn from SOE's mistakes: yes, customers whine, cheat and otherwise behave poorly, but keep in mind that that ill behaved mass of complaints is your revenue stream, and treating them without a modicum of respect, and more importantly treating them GAME without a great deal of respect is the fastest, easiest way to lose your player base to the next game to come along.

      Hope this is helpful to those of you working on the next generaion of game.

      -Perlmonkey AKA Deepone
    • I'd have to at least partially disagree. Many of the aspects haven't changed since farther back.. to MUD days... However I think it IS an area which does have some current improvements (despite its slower growth).


      URU []: Myst's online game (fan site []) was very different for example a game, which focused on group interaction and problem solving. Saddly, it didn't make it past Beta but many new cutting edge models don't. Its user group was very different from 'typical' MMORPGs... Overall older and very loy

      • There are lots of games without combat that require skill to play. My comment was only about combat -- since that is what Smedley asks in his question. Right now, MMO's mostly use stats-based combat (meaning it compares the players stats against the mobs stats, then does a roll based on those stats and that determines damage, etc.). There's not a lot of true skill involved, since it is mainly dependant on your stats -- although there may be some strategy with special moves in certain MMO's that yield a h
    • I'll be interested in MMOGs as soon as they drop the notion that "progress" means making your character's number's higher. Unless I can advance in a non-quantitative manner, I don't really want to pay a monthly fee. That said, I want a game to come out that I want to play. I hope these games have a future.
  • If we could combine this article with the genetic engineering article.... that would be stuff that matters :-)
  • by bigtallmofo ( 695287 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @03:48PM (#11653468)
    I know we all have joked about "Evercrack", Everquest-Widows, etc... But at some point do these games become really harmful to the average person? I mean when you can start being able to have virtual families including virtual inheritance, we might be crossing the veritable rubicon of unhealthy gaming.

    I've never even considered playing an MMORPG because I know I would become addicted in about 3 seconds. Maybe that's just me.
    • The slide to creepy began with the introduction of gender in MMORPG. 98% pasty white males in real-life to a roughly 50-50 mix in the game world... well, you do the math.
    • by WankersRevenge ( 452399 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:49PM (#11654327)
      Nah ... mmorpgs are not harmful. games are not harmful. it's the GTA argument all over again.

      people are responsible for their own actions. When people sit down to play these games, they are making a choice. I agree that the designers construct these worlds for the purpose of treadmill running, but at the end of the day, its your choice to play them - each and everytime. (you being used in the general, as opposed to you personally).

      I'm guessing, if you interviewed the real hardcore addicts, you'd probably find the game being used in place of other things (ie, can't deal with the wife and kids or, can't deal with classes). As for the true addicts, I bet that if it wasn't the latest MMORPG, it'd just be something else like fantasy football. Just my thoughts.
    • "I mean when you can start being able to have virtual families including virtual inheritance, we might be crossing the veritable rubicon of unhealthy gaming."

      On the plus side, though, virtual inheritance would neatly solve the "diamond problem" (not being able to afford that virtual wedding ring).
  • by Realistic_Dragon ( 655151 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @03:51PM (#11653484) Homepage
    ...when she walks out and leaves you she takes the kids, half your gold and the pet dragon, just like in real life?
  • i give up on $ony (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mpower1 ( 858744 ) *
    after playing EQ for 4 years I have given up on any quality games from $ony. Their customer service does not exist and they do not listen to their players. It got to the point that it turned my off of all MMORPG's, good thing WoW came along.
    • I know that's why I play games:

      1. Customer Service
      2. Company's responsiveness to the players

      It's not for fun and entertainment value at all.
    • After getting your money for four years, Sony will probably care less - there are more people younger than you that will pay for these games.

      For that matter - do you really believe that WoW is that much better? Won't it just be more of the same but with a certain newness that will make you overlook the similarities?

  • bigger (Score:2, Informative)

    by alfrin ( 858861 )
    As MMOG get bigger so does the average person, more they want to explore the virtual world the less of they'll want to explore of the real world, Eventually they won't even want to venture past the dreaded kitchen..
  • by HBI ( 604924 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @03:58PM (#11653531) Journal
    Pretty much. I mean he admits it at the beginning. This stuff is not new, and if you want to know if a feature is going to work or not, one of thousands of text-based games has probably implemented it in the past.
    • I'd like to know why we haven't seen some kind of free/open 3d gui mud software come out yet. Enforcing low speeds and polygon limits can ensure that the requirements will not become excessive. A lot of people out there have the bandwidth for this kind of crap. It would be nice if everyone did themselves a favor and implemented a world portal system as well, which would make partitioning and scaling as easy as possible.

      A simple server that accepts user input (either geometry, commands (like scripts), or f

  • Magic in MMORPGs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dogun ( 7502 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:03PM (#11653564) Homepage
    Here's a quick one for you: How many of you out there choose mages as your first character EVERY SINGLE TIME? Probably a lot of you.

    You know what I'd like to see?
    A MMORPG with a magic system that wasn't geared toward combat, or ease of use. Something so incredibly complicated that you have no idea what's going on. For once, I'd like to see the PLAYER learn magical theory. And the magical theory to be entirely player researched, and incomplete.
    A magic system that lets YOU design spells, but all the knowledge you need to do so comes from experimental error. A magic system that KILLS you if you screw up badly enough.
    Obviously, that would be one of the greatest challenges ever to create, but I'll tell you right now, I'd quit my job if I had one and play that 24/7.
    Who's with me on that?
    • Re:Magic in MMORPGs (Score:3, Interesting)

      by yderf ( 764618 )
      I totally agree.

      I was diappointed in Evercrack because every magic class was the same within their class. Everyone knew exactly how a cleric should be played or how a wizard or enchanter should be played. There was no room for uniqueness.

      I played Gemstone, and even though it was a MUD it had a better general game design than any graphics game I've seen. It would be nice if they could make magic so customizable and unique that the programmers didn't know the limits or all the possibilities.
      • Ah, a gamer after my own heart.

        But yes, that's where the idea probably came from for me, too (Gemstone). After spending that much time in a RP heavy world, I really began to appreciate the difference between fighter and mage classes - fighters fight to gain levels. Shouldn't mages magic to gain levels?
    • Re:Magic in MMORPGs (Score:4, Interesting)

      by HeghmoH ( 13204 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:15PM (#11653634) Homepage Journal
      This exists already; it's called the internet, plus the programming language of your choice.

      A somewhat more structured framework would be interesting. Something like CoreWars, but updated for the modern day.
      • Implement Lingua::Romana::Perligata in an MMORPG, or something similar. Create your own mystical language for you RPG and then create a programming language that uses your mystical language's grammar. Then have the RPG world itself be an interpreter for this mystical language.

        Of course, you'd have to implement some sort of incentive for magicians keeping their programs secret. You wouldn't want Merlin spreading around his ultimate destructo spell, would you?
      • Well personally I've never killed myself in C...maybe I should switch to perl and have a look for a module on CPAN ;)
      • You're not far off from what I've thought about for a long time.

        But yes, in order to do this right, it comes down to doing something similar to a programming language. The trick is to make it needlessly complex enough that players may be forced to generate their own secondary grammars (analogy: instructions->higher level programming language) in order to make substantial sense of things. The neat thing about this is it requires both enginuity, familiarity, and allows players to build standards if the
    • Would be a nice thing to have.
    • I've thought the same exact thing for a long time. Asheron's Call was the first game to even attempt something like it, but it was ruined because inevitably, all the formulas got spread around on the internet.

      What I'D like to see personally is something involving a new peripheral gadget that might be gloves, or a wand or something that could sense movement, and could detect somatic components of spells so that you actually had to learn the movements for spells.

      Then magic isn't just down to "ok, put ingredi

      • Re:Magic in MMORPGs (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo ( 153816 )
        Any harry potter game worth playing would necessarily contain speech recognition and a wand controller. The wand would recognize gestures and the voice recognition system would require proper enounciation. You could get by without the wand by using joystick or mouse gestures but I think it would be a big mistake and cheap little accelerometers can do the job. Kids would just up and die over the chance to actually flick the wand, speak the name of the spell, and direct it appropriately, and for that matter I
        • I wonder if anybody has done work into such a peripheral device.

          But the voice recognition would be hard, because you have to accomodate for accents, and I think this game would have trouble with an American English vs British English accent.

        • You could get by without the wand by using joystick or mouse gestures but I think it would be a big mistake and cheap little accelerometers can do the job.

          Cheap accelerometers don't really exist.
          Cheaper: $10 USB webcam + two bright flourescent stickers on a pencil. Software can easily track the two points of unique color to calculate want orientation. And, bonus: it can display the user in an onscreen window, with appropriate magical sparks superimposed upon correct magic operation.
      • What I'D like to see personally is something involving a new peripheral gadget that might be gloves, or a wand or something that could sense movement, and could detect somatic components of spells so that you actually had to learn the movements for spells.

        Interesting idea. Unfortunately, anything like that can be too easily emulated in software by cheaters. This kind of thing was discussed on the Horizons board way back when (before they redesigned it into a pile of crap), with the proposal of having to s

    • by Jameth ( 664111 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:20PM (#11653675)
      The problem is that, if you can design the spells it will all just end up in a tutorial online.

      The better solution is to just make spells which are more complex to use, as many single player games have. Unfortunately, most complex usage spells require low latency because timing and so-such are often vital for them.

      I would personally prefer a magical system which incorporates magic into the world, rather than having it bolted onto the side at random. That is, usually they just say, "It's a world like ours, with magic," rather than making it a world which heavily uses magic. Why don't crafters use magic? Wouldn't fire spells help a blacksmith? Why don't warriors incorporate small spells into battle to give that extra little umph to a swing here and there? What about the city planners? How many of them, used magic to make a place that was truly efficient?

      And, remember, above all, that it is a game. Thus, making it fun is paramount. I think that a strongly interwoven magic system with many spells which can be used cleverly can be very fun. I don't think a system where you accidentally blow your head off because you're the only person not reading the mage's strategy guide is such a good idea.
      • by khallow ( 566160 )
        I think there's a good compromise between the two ends. Namely, create a programming based magic system (blurring yet more the distinction between magic and code :-) or perhaps something based on mathematical or perhaps philosophical grounds. But the average user would employ proven spells as distinct units. So there's room for your wild-eyed experimentalists and for the normal user who's not interested in ludicrously complex systems.

        This also allows room for spell combos that could work together in inter

        • Namely, create a programming based magic system (blurring yet more the distinction between magic and code :-)

          That sounds eerily like a magic system I came up with (and never wrote down) a couple of years ago. Basically, instead of coding for a computer system, the mage would be coding for a magical system--"programming reality", so to speak.

          I also remember adapting some physics principles to magic--using Magical Potential Energy and Magical Kinetic Energy (MPE and MKE for short) as a logical explanatio
          • I went down that road too. Toss me an email at dogun_droppaDOTgeoATyahooDOTcom. I'm curious how far your work got.

            But yes, I also agree that the real key for getting things right is 'conservation' of energy (sort of) - because without it, magic can too easily break game balance.
    • Re:Magic in MMORPGs (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lawpoop ( 604919 )
      I was just looking over core wars -- it's seems to be some kind of virus creation lab using fantasy terms as a metaphor. Imps, dwarves, etc. are 'warriors' that fight to control memory space.

      But I would like to see a magic system like the one you describe -- where it's more like a powerful programming language. My guess as to the best way to do this is to have the server host the virtual environment and give players some kind of API to affect qualities of the environment. Players would write their own pr

      • Ya know the funny thing is that back in the MU* days that's how we did magic... I wanted to create a spell so I'd code a message to be displayed and any other options needed to give it the effect I wanted... Now not every MU* gave you unlimited access to perform actions, but those that did tended to reward creativity more than anything modern does...
    • "Dragons Breath" on the Amiga had a spell system that allowed you to make your own spells, pretty much as you suggest. I never played the game myself, but my little brother was constantly brewing up new plagues and stuff. He got quite good at it, too.

    • Re:Magic in MMORPGs (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vadim_t ( 324782 )
      Morrowind had a system that let you design spells. Kind of.

      Choose duration, power, touch or ranged. The problem is that they didn't go far enough. There was no point in making a spell that burned, because making a spell that did 30 points in one blast, cost the same as one that did 15 per second during 2 seconds.

      There was the lack of effects too, I'd like to have been able to choose the effect to be used.

      I actually thought about how this should work. Came up with the following:

      Casting should begin with
    • I was actually impressed with the character balancing in World of Warcraft. Usually mages are overpowered and everyone likes them, but in WoW there are not many mages because they are so underpowered that they are very tough to play. Now if Blizzard could have just thrown in some kind of a story to keep me playing it may have held my interest for more than a couple of weeks. There is only so much level grinding and hacking and slashing I can do before I get very bored. But then, being over 30, I am not exac

    • Think kind of like Final Fantasy III (Jap VI). Sabin's blitz attacks had to be input on the controller. So, while you were playing Terra, you knew that, in order to learn Ultima, you had to get the Paladin shield and learn the spell, then you were bad ass.

      But in order to do bum rush, you had to do a full circle forward on the d-pad, and press x at the right moment.

      One didn't equate to the other. You could cast ultima without skill, but you had to practice your bum rush.

      Of course, this could easily be
      • I have no idea what you're driving at.

        I like the above poster's programming language analogy - I'm proposing a system similar to that but less straightforward. Indeed, behind the scenes, in order for the system to have the desired flexibility, it is very much the case that the system would need to be an interpreter for a scripting language of sorts, with a tendancy to 'crash' under certain conditions.

        That having been said, there's nothing wrong with macros. Part of the thing about a magic system like t
    • Sounds like someone else wishes for a game to use Mage: The Ascension's magic system.

      That would be so sweet.
      • Nope. Mage: The Ascension requires human intervention.

        I'm talking about something objective, in a video game without significant DM interaction. I'm not saying Mage: The Ascension isn't fun - it's just not what I'm looking at.

        Also, Mage: The Ascension doesn't force the player to theorize and retheorize about how a spell is constructed - working out spell grammars and then realizing they're not right.

        However, yes, the idea is for a magic system to be about that complete, and with similar, but slightly m
  • Personally... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by astebbin ( 836820 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:04PM (#11653567)
    ...I see two posible futures for the MMO(RP)G genre, each with distincively different results and social implications.

    #1: One company emerges from the fray victorious, and becomes the Microsoft-esque supergiant of massively multiplayer online games. It happened with EA and the NFL, and I think that it could happen again with RPGs through the means of the merging of Blizzard-SOE along with few patents in just the right places. Thisscenario would open itself up to more global connectivity, with Japanese gamers playing alongside their American friends and the US no longer hating the French since they've got all the best healers and spellcasters (what? it coudl happen...).

    #2: Gamers, fed up with big-name companies giving them lousy customer service and blase customer support, band together and create a variety of independent MMO(RP)Gs in a fashion similar to the Protestant Reformation breaking away from the Catholic Church and forming many splinter groups each with different and unique approaches to the same common issue. Already there's the assumption that if you like MMORPGS and live in Korea, you play Lineage II, and that if you live in the US you play EQ or WoW, and that if you live in Europe you play EQ and don't know what WoW is all about... this phenomenon could become even more regional in the days to come, with people in Virginia playing something different than those folks out on the West Coast and vice-versa... this scenario would lend itself more to isolationism and modular commnities with one area having nothing to do with the other, and each group of gamers living in their own seperate world.

    Just the thoughts of an ex-EQ addict who's been monitoring the industry... and to all of my friends still hooked on EQ, I say: "Camp out right now and go for a walk... the Planes of Power will still be there when you get back, but you may have missed a million opportunitees in the real world". As much as I love online gaming, it's still no substitue for real world experiences; However, it's still ok as long as you balance playtime with human-to-human facetime.
    • #1: One company emerges from the fray victorious, and becomes the Microsoft-esque supergiant of massively multiplayer online games. It happened with EA and the NFL, and I think that it could happen again with RPGs through the means of the merging of Blizzard-SOE along with few patents in just the right places.

      No offense but sports games are so much more simple and boring (from the programmers point of view) it is no miracle there is only one company left who wants to make them. Basically they only advance

    • Don't forget, MMORPGs are services, not products. Marginal costs of production, unlike software, are not zero. It's not necessarily a natural monopoly--the more players you have, the more load you have on servers. Of course, fixed costs aren't zero, and if some company ever manages to handle a growing player base properly, network effects will be important (you want to play on the server all your friends play on.) But not all important, because as games phase in popularity players are tempted to switch
  • by PocketPick ( 798123 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:05PM (#11653580)
    Are MMORPGs really an piece of entertainment software or a financial enterprise and glorified chatroom.

    When we trade characters in order to provide for our own financial well being in reality, or complain about having to 'go to work' and 'Grind EXP', is that game still a game? Virtual children? Virtual families? What happened to making games more fun, or more accessible?
  • by nate nice ( 672391 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:07PM (#11653583) Journal
    We seriously need more bandwidth in these games. And if throwing more bandwidth isn't likely anytime soon we will need to develop better algortihms and design better systems for ensuring players have low latecny when encountering large amount of other netoworked players.

    All too often when a player is near a large group of other players they are hit with a large lag spike making large scale PvP frustrating and frankly, not fun.

    It is this single issue I believe these games need to address before moving onto anything else really.

    We'll see how Blizzard tackles it with their battleround concept of making an instance out of a predetermined largescale PvP arena, but even if this works it needs to go further. We have to figure out how to make flash mobs of people interact like anything else without the high latency that is a characteristic of all these games.

    Fraom DaOC, Shadowbane, WoW and the few other I have played or observed, it seems this is the one consistant plague they all have.

    I offer no solutions as I haven't thought to hard on how to solve this problem and even if I did it's possible my ideas would be naive considering I don't have experiance designing or developing these types of systems. However, from a players viewpoint, I can assure you this is a problem.
    • All too often when a player is near a large group of other players they are hit with a large lag spike making large scale PvP frustrating and frankly, not fun.
      Simple solution: Dump PvP, spares you (as the gamemaster) lots of other problems as well.
    • If I were a game designer today, I would come at the problem from the opposite end: I'd make a system where the gameplay provokes smaller flash-mobs. That is, it would be directed towards groups of 8-12 players fighting 10-20 monsters at a time, but directed away from groups of under six or over fifteen ever even happening.

      People usually seek out the large groups in part because the game is designed to encourage them. This wouldn't be so extremely true if the game achieved its highest entertainment level a
    • It has got much less to do with bandwith available then it does with the processing power available on the server side. When a large group gathers in one area it drastically increases the server load. I think it has to do with the way the load balancing works. In AC1 I know it was because the load balancing was in vertical "strips" along the map. If there was more than the expected amount in one strip the whole strip could experience server-side lag. It really sucked when you were hunting on the same strip
  • That everyone says MMORPG players have no life? How is playing an MMORPG different from playing Counterstrike or any other game, or doing anything else for that matter? Also, it's not like $15 per month is very expensive. If you think it is, try going to a movie some time. Depending on how much you play (I admit I'm rather addicted to WoW) it's a pretty cheap method of entertainment. That being said, I only play it because I have nothing better to do with my time.
    • Re:Why is it? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by grumbel ( 592662 )
      ### That everyone says MMORPG players have no life?

      MMORPG players can of course have a life, the thing that MMORPGs however offer that other games doesn't, is an alternative life in a virtual world. In CounterStrike you play a few rounds, exit and are done, your character doesn't evolv and doesn't persist, it gets reset each and every game you play. The whole 'world' is made up of a few very small maps compared to the large ones that MMORPGs offer, so there is nothing to explore, no special events to happe
      • Re:Why is it? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by agraupe ( 769778 )
        Well, that being said, I think it's better to have an alternative life by playing World of Warcraft or Everquest, than it is to have it by smoking pot and drinking, for example.
  • What if you could have families in MMO's? Virtual Children... What if your characters could have children and pass on the family name...This is a very vague idea and I'm not sure if he words it that way on purpose or not. The concept of Virtual Children and passing on the family name isn't new

    I always thought it would be cool to have perma-death in MMO's but to be "Reborn" into another family. New players, or players who died would be "born into" a family of high level characters.
  • So would that make IGE branch into the Orphanarium business? Babies for sale?

    You want new spleen? Cheap prices! We're IGE, quickly destroying everything good about MMORPGS.
  • What if players could build fantastic dungeons that become part of the worlds we create with tools we give them? How would that work exactly?

    ... In all likelihood, if an MMO allowed this, it would be instanced content with limits. A player could create a dungeon or a section with tools provided and other players could enter and play through that content ...

    I think they're looking at the problem from the wrong direction. It's not, "What if players made dungeons like those that the game-makers made,"

  • Smedley (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dragoon412 ( 648209 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:42PM (#11653822)
    Who is Smedley trying to kid - the future of MMOs, at least in the short term, is to keep cloning EverQuest until it's no longer profitable or some independant does something better and gets the ball rolling in a different direction (my fingers are crossed for DDO [www.ddo]).

    Look at the big-name MMOs for the past 5 years or so: EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, Anarchy Online, Lineage, Lineage 2, Final Fantasy Online... every single one of them is, fundamentally, the same game. Sure, the Asian-market games tend to have a sadistic streak, but beyond that, they're all about grouping up, camping, pharming, looting, wash, rinse, repeat.

    Their combat systems are downright shallow. Their characters are less characters and more like animated spreadsheets. They're about spending hundreds or thousands of hours killing progressively larger bats, rats, and snakes to attain the privelage to spend more time killing even larger bats, rats, and snakes.

    There's no thought. Combat and gameplay is so mind-numbingly formulaic that there's nothing to get the adrenaline going, and there certainly isn't enough happening to engage the mind.

    Why can't we have a MMO with a combat system like Jedi Academy? Why, when mecha fans are some of the most hardcore gamers on the planet, has there not been a mech sim MMO?

    Like I said, I have high hopes for D&D Online, but I don't foresee MMOs radically changing any time soon. It's just going to be EverQuest: Again: And Again: And Yet Again. least until someone realizes that there's a huge group of people that aren't twitch gamers, but are bored half to death by the current incarnation of MMOs, and makes something that might actually entertain them.
    • Actually their has been a Mecha MMO... In fact two maybe even three now, though neither has relied much on stat building like most MMORPG's do...

      The first was hosted by Genie (a sort of ISP from before the net was big) hosted Battletech Online (I was big into that as a kid til I 'accidently' got an $80 monthly bill from them...

      FASA had a company working on a sequal in the late 90's to Battletech Online... I don't think they ever finished though...

      & MS just released Mechassault 2 with a MMO component
    • Part of the problem is that no matter what game designers try to do, players will always gravitate toward the path of greatest reward for least effort, even if "least effort" involves mind-numbing boredom.

      For an example, see SWG's original Jedi concept, where the process was designed to be incredibly difficult so that few would actually achieve it (i.e., zero reward, so zero reward-effort ratio). Even still, players were so intent upon opening their Jedi slots that they would grind professions they didn't
  • by Mitaphane ( 96828 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @04:47PM (#11653867) Homepage
    I've never really throughly played an MMORPG so take that it consideration before reading. It seems to me though that a big problem with Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games is that a lot people don't notice "Role Playing" part of it. Most MMORPGs I've seen are way too heavily focused on virtual combat. There's so much potential for a "virtual world" It's so sad that most of is spent in the endless cycle of "Kill more shit to get better stuff to kill more shit..." Of course hack-n'-slash dungeon crawling can be fun, but you can play Diablo II if you want that. MMORPGs should have a hack-n-slash element but it should have more...

    A merchant class in a game world should have very little to do with combat. He should be able to hire people to defend him. Moreover, his ability should be gained by knowing people(like a game with a sort of built in social networking mechainic) and things.

    A dancer/entertain class should play like rhythm games such as DDR.

    I could go on but you see my point...A world that has 80% of it's population wandering the lands killing various creatures is pretty boring if you ask me.

    Yes it would be very complex to create a game that played very different based on all different classes. Yes it would be hard to set a complete game world with all these classes interacting with one another. But for the $10-15/Month people pay for MMORPGs I don't think that's too much ask. Especially when someone can pay a flat $30-50 for a copy of Diablo II and get a similar experience on BattleNet. Then again, I don't have much first hand experience about MMORPGs. I just know what I see...
    • The best solution would be of MMORGS did not have any predefined roles at all, but allowed the players to develop their characters as they like. For example, there is no need to choose a fighter character or a merchant character: If I choose to master weaponry then I become a fighter; if I choose to have a treasury and buy/sell stuff, I am a merchant etc.

      Of course this means that games should be more sophisticated in terms of their interfaces and controls, in order to allow handling of objects in a proper
  • One thing I think would be interesting here is a game developing the concept that a character is expected to die eventually. No infinite respawn environments.

    One possible approach to use here is the idea of dynasty. Namely, that all the characters of a player are somehow in the same family or perhaps interpreted as having some common guardian or godling (the player in question). Here I'm thinking of crude internal viewpoint rational for why the player plays several characters and has any interest at all i

  • Already done (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jesrad ( 716567 ) on Saturday February 12, 2005 @05:10PM (#11654062) Journal
    Virtual families already exist in Second Life []. For example my character has a virtual mother, and one friend who married ingame has modified her character to look pregnant. Another friend who married and later divorced ingame has adopted another player as her son, etc... And there is a field in character profiles for your partner, be it husband or wife or whatever-you-call-it.
  • Some guy wrote a game based on the Torque engine called Blockland. You are a little Lego man, and the entire purpose of the game is to build Lego buildings. I honestly think that that could be a revolution in MMORPGs, if you even want to call it that. How about letting the players build from the ground up?

    The only description resembling a webpage that I've seen is on the Something Awful forums, but that site requires a subscription account. If you can access the thread publicly then I think it has a downlo
  • I'm playing World of Warcraft lately (lvl33 elven hunter), which is not that bad a way to spend gaming time, if you have some free time in your life to begin with. Fun stuff for the most part.

    But I wish there were even more creative (and epic) quests in the game. I want to be on some quest where I HAVE TO go to some holy fire pit or something, in just 1 place in the game world, in order to forge some insane weapon (with ingredients procured with difficulty already), I have to fight some big mothers on the
  • Doesnt grab me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jrushton ( 806560 )
    Ive never like MMOGs much, partly because I want casual gaming, where I can appear and dissapear from a game without suffering for it. CounterStrike would be a good example, you have the same capabilities as every other player in the game, regardless of whether you have player for an hour, or five days straight.

    I also don't like the idea of paying a subscription for my games. I want to buy the entire thing and have it right there in my hands. It's very unlikely that youll be able to play a MMOG in 25 years
  • GUI's for MUDS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrStrangeLug ( 799458 ) on Monday February 14, 2005 @09:41AM (#11666729)

    That's all most of the MMO's out there really are.

    I tried the SWG:JTL demo , and found the space combat rather fun, but didn't like the ground stuff at all. It would have been much better if the ground combat againts the mobs worked more like an FPS (ala Planetside).

    The real killer for a lot of MMO's , at least as far as I'm concerned, is the turn based combat.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson