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Role Playing (Games)

Beating WoW At Its Own Game 383

The BBC has up a short piece on the hopes of game developers and investors to 'beat World of Warcraft'. Representatives for the upcoming Age of Conan, recently-released Lord of the Rings Online, and Star Wars Galaxies all discuss what it's like competing in a post-WoW world. Funcom game director Gaute Godoger has a point when he says, "The industry so needs competition to World of Warcraft ... We need other strong games that can make people understand that there's more to it than WoW." The article discusses some of the features each of these games offer that differ from WoW, and theorizes a bit on where the MMOG genre will go next.
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Beating WoW At Its Own Game

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  • by Remus Shepherd ( 32833 ) <remus@panix.com> on Monday May 07, 2007 @11:14AM (#19021159) Homepage
    SWG was in the third generation of MMOGs. Everquest and 10six were the first generation of 3D MMOs. (There were dozens of 2D and text games that qualified as massively multiplayer before them, Ultima Online being the most well-known. Call them the zeroth generation.) The second wave included DAoC, AC, and AO. None of them hit it big, and some were laughingstocks like WWIIOnline. The third generation is when MMOGs really got rolling, with CoH, SWG, and Lineage. WoW is in the fourth generation, and has become the 800 pound gorilla of the internet.

    Incidentally, the second generation MMOG Anarchy Online was also made by Funcom, the people who are doing the Age of Conan. Considering what a buggy, frustrating and at times repellent mess AO was, I'd stay far away from Age of Conan. These are people with grand ideas and wonderful creativity, but they cannot code worth a damn.
  • by Avatar8 ( 748465 ) on Monday May 07, 2007 @11:47AM (#19021693)
    It all depends upon your definition of "grinding."

    IMO grinding means killing monsters for no reason except experience and money.

    "Farming" is killing monsters repeatedly until the item you want drops.

    "Kill counts" are the number of monsters you must kill in order to complete a quest. Some consider this grinding, but I do not since it has an end and a purpose.

    From what I heard (never played it) EQ required grinding just to reach the next level.

    I feel that WoW successfully did away with the senseless grinding. There is absolutely no reason for any character to ever have to grind by my definition. There are always more quests to do at your level; they may not be in your race's zones if you think that linearly, but they do exist. If you're trying to get a certain piece of gear (or getting gear to sell) then you'll be out killing specific mobs for quite some time and gaining money and XP to boot until you get that gear. Still, you have a purpose and there is an end point.

    I beta tested and bought LotRO (even though I posted here and elsewhere that I wouldn't: the idea of a pay once and never again fall back game for when I [rarely] don't feel like playing WoW was just too tempting). LotRO reminds me of Ultima IX: Ascension. It's a very linear story with lots of little branches. You are free to go and do whatever you wish, but the main story will not progress until you complete the chapter you're in. I have experienced only one instant where I felt grinding was necessary. I was about to complete a quest that would take me out of the current zone. I knew I hadn't defeated a certain boss, but I could not do it by myself or at my current level. I went and killed a few more monsters to get the last 15% of my level, went and killed that boss and then went to complete the zone quest. (I was rewarded as well since two excellent items dropped off that boss.)

    Still if I had looked for a fellowship or just accepted that I didn't finish a quest in that zone, I could have continued on my way without grinding. I have a few RL friends that simply weren't on at that time, so I doubt I'll ever have to grind like that again.

  • Re:Some suggestions (Score:5, Informative)

    by toleraen ( 831634 ) on Monday May 07, 2007 @11:59AM (#19021905)
    1 & 2 - Several MMOs have trials that you can play. Just off the top of my head I know that EQ1 and WoW have free trials, I'm sure there are others. I think I played EVE for some period for free as well.

    3 - If there actually were millions of Linux using MMOGers out there, they'd make a client. But there aren't (not trying to troll, just being realistic). Cedega/Wine has several MMOs running as a secondary option.

    4 - I don't remember ever playing any form of deathmatch(pvp?) in any MMOG. PvE is the focus of most MMOGs. PvP is usually a side game you can participate in if you choose.

    5 - Are you saying that warp drives and ansibles are somehow more realistic than a teleportation spell? There are plenty of Sci-Fi based MMOGs...SWG, AO, EVE, TMO, etc.

    6 - I think WoW is the only one to ever actually do it. Are there MMOs with tons of spyware all over?

    7 - I've played several MMOs on my crappy laptop with Intel Graphics, including WoW and EQ, among others.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Monday May 07, 2007 @12:15PM (#19022217) Journal

    The oldest first, Star Wars Galaxies. Yes its launch was bugged, yes bugs took for ever to fix and yes SOE changed the nature of the game, in my opinion ruining it, with the CU and the NGE. Yet it remains one of the most ambitious titles. Player controlled economy with all equipment obtained through crafting NOT looting, yes this could mean that a new player who wasn't socially capable enough to find existing players, had a hard time getting the money to buy the equipment. I personally have helped plenty of newbies to get their decent starter kit. SWG had a nice community. It also remains alone in allowing you to combine classes as you saw fit. Sure, this did lead to some people trying to spec out uber combat classes and to wich SOE made the fatal mistake of them upping the high level content to those specced out players. Yes the doc-buff was the death of grouping BUT it tried.

    A typical SWG quest, oh wait, nobody bothered with them because although some had nice writing the XP and loot sucked and so why bother, RPG for the story? Not in MMO land mate.

    Everquest 2 too tried. FULL SPEECH! Read that again and realize that in 2007 NOT ONE SINGLE MMORPG EXCEPT EVERQUEST 2 HAS SPOKEN TEXT FOR ITS QUEST GIVERS. 2000 called, they want their text bubbles back. It also tried a new crafting system and upped the stakes in the graphics department. It didn't work. EQ2 is a nice enough game but it is also evercamp squared. A typical EQ2 quest goes like this. Kill 20 X, turn in, Kill 20 X, turn in, Kill 20 X, turn in, Kill 20 X, turn in, Kill rare spawn that only spawn on days with no y.

    And then SOE changed the game again, the running animation now looks like an old fashioned slapstick and the death penalty was made so light it barely matters.

    Next, there is WoW. A little known MMORPG that is managing to hang on somehow. Blizzard is to MMORPG's what Microsoft is to desktops. It does nothing new, it copied everything it does from everyone else and still it absolutly dominates. Does it have less bugs? No, read the forums, did it have an untroubled launch? Like hell, does it have excellent customer service? Still read the forums.

    Its gameplay is a throwback to the orignal everquest with absolutly nothing new added. And yet. Something is right. (something is also wrong, but I am coming to that).

    EVERY single SOE game has an engine that is claimed to be future-proof wich is why your computer right now will choke on it. Apparently nobody at SOE realized that a future proof engine is of no use unless the game itself has a future.

    The WoW engine is NOT futureproof. Blizzard used an engine that computers of that day could run. Its relativly low power is hidden masterfully by their choice of art direction (hint to SOE, you need some) and it works. To a point. I am not alone in simply NOT like the graphics after prolonged exposure. It is worthy to note that of all the major MMORPG's in the west WoW is closest to the korean ones in the lack of being able to customize your avatars basic looks. Well I say avatar, WoW players tend to think of it as toons.

    WoW is Everquest Lite done decently. It says a lot about the MMORPG market that this is high praise indeed. What turns people off sooner or later is that WoW copied everything from everquest including evergrind and evercamp. These things I could have done without.

    A typical WoW quest goes like this. Loot item from X by killing it. Oops that one didn't have it, kill another, and another and another and another (repeat for several hours).

    Next, another SOE title. Ambitous, certainly, trying new things, absolutly. Bugged, oh hell yes. I am talking offcourse about no other game then Vanguard.

    More races then any other game and although a cynic might claim most are just color variations, they do have different starting areas/stories. More classes as well. An extra gameplay option in the form of diplomacy. A future proof engine (hint looks great, won't run) and lots of potential. And bugs. Lots of bugs. Basic stupid bugs that

  • Re:Some suggestions (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kleedrac2 ( 257408 ) <kleedrac AT hotmail DOT com> on Monday May 07, 2007 @12:23PM (#19022395) Homepage
    Wow ... you sound exactly like I did 2 years ago before playing WoW :) ...
    1. I think it's fairly obvious now that the retail box is to pay for the time and effort of developing the client and the monthly fees are to cover bandwith and server maintenance.
    2. Allowing you to sell your account leads to the sale of high level accounts which denies them money for having that same player buy the box new and level on his own.
    3. More than a few MMOs these days do have a Mac client. Plus if you're die-hard against Windows Cedega supports quite a number of MMOs as well.
    4. I've played a few MMOs and with the exception of Guild Wars none of them focused on PvP ... it was always an option.
    5. Yeah there's really not a whole lot they can do about that. Most RPGs in the non-computerized world are fantasy as well. Just the nature of the beast. That said look into Hellgate:London coming soon. :)
    6. Spyware? I assume you're referring to the WoW check for hacks? I wouldn't go so far as to call it spyware. Especially when it doesn't talk to Blizzard unless it finds something worth reporting. As for EULA's ... come on man ... what software doesn't have an EULA? Freakin' Linux has an EULA ... less restrictive yes ... but it's there.
    7. I played City of Heroes on my notebook with Intel video. WoW is currently playing on a 3-year-old machine. You can't crank the graphical settings but these games don't require "bleeding-edge" hardware.

    Hope this helps :)
  • Re:No first post (Score:2, Informative)

    by endianx ( 1006895 ) on Monday May 07, 2007 @04:59PM (#19027359)

    Really, if you think about it, alcoholism is one of the few diseases you can be yelled at for having. "Goddammit, Otto, you're an alcoholic!" "Goddammit, Otto, you have lupis!" One of those two just doesn't sound right.
    That was from comedian Mitch Hedberg. Give credit where credit is due.
  • by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {cornell.edu}> on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @09:01AM (#19035029) Homepage
    In my opinion, DAoC did pretty well, and continued to do so until some dumbass decided to replace the grandparent's "do Everquest, but make it fun", with just "do Everquest" when they added EQ-style "rare mob" camping in the Trials of Atlantis expansion. Things went downhill from there, almost immediately players started looking for somewhere else to go, but until WoW, didn't find anywhere else. Mythic didn't realize how angry their playerbase was with them until WoW was released and their subscriber base dropped by 30% or more in a matter of a month or two, and started continually going down from there. They finally started fixing ToA, but by then it was too late, their players had already lost faith in the company as one that was reactive rather than proactive. To this day, I don't think Mythic realizes just how badly they screwed up - Due to their highly unique RvR endgame (which resulted in some players actually coming back from WoW, albeit only briefly in most cases followed by a break from MMOGs in general), they had the ability to weather WoW if they'd been smart, but they spent nearly two years antagonizing their player base instead of keeping them happy.

    At this point, DAoC is dead with no way to revive the game, Mythic has one of two options:
    a) Keep the status quo. The hardcore addicts stay happy, but the game continues hemorraghing the more casual players (which are now considered addicts by any other game's standards) because they can't compete in RvR with the hardcores. Game eventually dies as its playerbase dwindles and it is impossible to recruit new blood. Mythic has gone a long way in making the grind to 50 enjoyable, but once you hit 50, a new player basically is going to get their ass kicked out in the Frontiers, with no good way to progress. If they join the zerg, they make no RPs. If they try to 8-man, the hardcores farm them and they not only get no RPs, but they make the hardcores even stronger.
    b) Overhaul RvR, or at least the rewards system. For a game whose developer vision has always been massive capture-and-hold warfare at keeps (and later towers with the NF overhaul), the rewards for keep warfare sure are shitty. If you want to gain RPs, you need to join a roaming 8-man group and avoid the massive keep battles (other than farming reinforcement groups). For a long time there were zero rewards for keep/tower taking and defending, eventually rewards were added but they were insignificant. (For example, spending 3 hours sieging a keep and successfully taking it is worth about as much as two player kills in an 8-man roaming group.) Mythic needs to drop the RP rewards for player kills and crank the keep/tower taking rewards WAY up. (Plus perhaps a 3-4x bonus for player kills made in defense of a strategic asset, to encourage people to defend keeps rather than let them go and retake them.) But such an overhaul that devalues 8-man roaming groups, while it will enable the game to attract and retain new blood, will also drive away their existing hardcore playerbase. In short, they need to somehow pull off something akin to NGE without destroying the game, but unlike SWG NGE, Mythic would be doing this to save a dying game, rather than try to overhaul a recently launched game that was still potentially growing.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.