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Bubble Bursting On the MMO Market? 162

An anonymous reader writes "An article at Ten Ton Hammer has an interesting take on the current state of the MMO genre; not too doom-and-gloomy, but it makes some good points. Ultimately, it's about how games that foster community the most will stay strong."
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Bubble Bursting On the MMO Market?

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  • Kinda doubt that, given that the MMO with the worst community is going strongest at the moment. There seems to be no interest in a globally decent community, as long as you can carve out your own decent environment, as in a guild, and ignore the rest.
    • by Jartan ( 219704 )

      WoW may have a horrible community but it is at least a community and the game fosters it.

      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

        WoW is a mix of many communities. Pub community is mainly the people that don't fit anywhere else - the bottom of the pile.

        I raided competitively for 3 years. During this time our guild had countless real-life meets, one couple that got married (in spite of originally living on opposite sides of EU), one guildie employed several others in his business and so on.

        It all depends on what comminuty within WoW you get in. If you're terrible, you'll stay with the pubs (people you meet in public chat, like trade).

        • I don't think the public community is the bottom of the pile necessarily. When I was there I joined several guilds but they were all strange and weird and I left soon after. The whole attitude of "join a guild and then you can ignore everyone outside our clique" was just wrong to me. A huge number of insular groups does not make a good community as a whole. I like pick up groups but they just don't work in WoW. So they game I'm in now (lotro) is much better and PUGs are fun to do and no one ever tells

          • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

            You're missing the point by a mile and then some. When you join those "random guilds", they're essentially same people you meet in general chats - they don't know each other, there's no real community spirit. You're still essentially one of the nameless mass that everyone despises.

            No one says you have to "ignore everyone outside your guild" when you get in the good one and get to stay after they check you out and find out that you're a decent person and a player. On the contrary, it opens a LOT of doors for

            • The problem is that so many of these guilds change over time. But over time that casual guild changes and often the leader hits level cap and says "hey I wanna start raiding". Then he leaves or drama ensues or he "converts" the guild into a raiding guild, stuff like that. Or the guild leader leaves the game and drama ensues over the remaining officers about what to do, they split and form competing guilds, etc.

              The problem with so many players in WoW was the attitude you had: that if you weren't prepared

              • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

                And the level you're talking about, the pub level is indeed horrible. Because everyone is like you, after their own fun, wanting someone else to hold their hand. And not caring about others. And so you get that cesspool.

                The reason WoW has a huge following of people that keep their subs up for years is because there's a lot of people who take other people in WoW, and by extension WoW itself much more seriously. And it is that community that thrives, not the pub one.

                And like in real life, such communities can

                • It takes no time at all to get a trial done in a "decent guild" if your definition of "decent" does not include being raid ready. The problem here is that you're trying to associate good guilds with endgamer oriented guilds (ie, raiding, gearing up, or at least running instances very often and getting members ready for instances). What if you just want to hang out and only occasionally run some instances? Or worse, you want to run an instance without being handheld through it (ie, you want players your o

                  • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

                    1. Raid ready guilds are mostly shit. They're the slap-together pugs that don't know each other, and have been up for barely a few weeks/months at best. I could get a spot without trial in really shitty gear (and in fact got invites to several when I was playing on completely shitty geared alts who weren't in main guild - because a person who knows how to play in shitty gear can not only carry his weight almost as well as well geared shitty player, but can also actually help with more advanced things in the

                    • by murdocj ( 543661 )

                      This thread really sums up the two approaches to the game... either "you are looking for a relaxed social environment to have fun in" or "you are looking for a strong team to progress thru the content".

                      I'm in the "relaxed" category. I go along with the idea that I already have a daytime job, I don't need to interview for a WoW job as well. This crystallized for me when I was in a guild raid a while back and the raid leader commented that we were "behind schedule". Screw it, this is a GAME. At work I can

                    • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

                      It's worth noting that if you want to be social, you can. There are many guilds and communities that are aimed toward people who just want someone with similar interests.

                      The problem lies in people who want to best of both worlds with cons of none. They want to keep the easygoing "I answer to no one" attitude typical in social gaming, but still get into good groups. And reality is, you can't get both - you have to pick one.

                      This aspect of the game probably feeds more drama in WoW then anything else, including

      • WoW? Going the strongest? You mean the MMO that just lost 600,000 subscribers? That WoW?
        When a subscription service of any kind loses 600k subscribers it is considered dwindling in interest.
        "I play WoW and there are lots of people who still play" is not evidence that your choice of MMO is 'going the strongest'.
        EVE Online has showed steady growth since it was released. Every single other RPG has had a large spike of player interest followed by a brutal decline. WoW got great press and so its initial interest

        • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

          Yes, that WoW. To other MMO's, 600k is majority of their subscriber base.

          To WoW, it's about 5%. Seasonal fluctuation.

    • But that's the whole point with WoW. Most WoW players never go anywhere near the cess-pit of the official forums. They simply log in and play with a bunch of friends - either people they met in game or, in a great many cases, people they know in real life.

      This is why WoW was successful - when it launched, it got a kind of "watercooler momentum" that I've never seen for any other game. The only comparator from the gaming world was the launch of the Wii. I remember the office I was working in when WoW launche

      • True, that probably is why it works. It just see the contrast to other games with much less broad appeal, where you can actually get a decent pug without people acting like total assholes. But that's the price you pay for the large market share, I guess...
    • Wow is going strong and has a horrible community, But man the rift community sucks balls so bad, it is hostile and uncooperative, if anything I would say it consists mainly of all the worst aspects of the wow community. After reaching max level in Rift and getting completely bored with its lack of innovation and content I dumped it, The funniest part of the article is him praising trion for there content.
    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      Kinda doubt that, given that the MMO with the worst community is going strongest at the moment

      Isn't that consistent with a bubble? When quality is not correlated with success, there's usually something wrong with the economics of the situation.

      • Maybe - but quality is not necessary for success - for example, you can always substitute convenience for quality. See the fast food industry. WoW is kinda the highly processed food of the MMO industry.
      • by murdocj ( 543661 )

        Well, in the case of WoW, quality is correlated with success. I went from Everquest, and then briefly Everquest 2, to WoW. The difference was night and day. EQ was so riddled with bugs that you just got used to the idea that the boats didn't work, that you fell thru the world, that professions were bugged, etc. And you also got used to the idea that "playing" meant yelling for an hour to get a group, then once you finally found a decent group, finding a "camp" to sit in, then sitting there as long as yo

        • I followed pretty much the exact same progression, played EQ for a few years (Kunark had just shipped), then moved to EQ2 then to WoW.

          EQ2 could have been great and was actually a reasonable bug-free launch. But the game still suffered from trying to be hard-mode like EQ1 while being more accessible. The biggest issues with EQ2 was that it was a *tiny* world compared to EQ1, and there were zone lines everywhere. The gryphon flights in the Commonlands and the lowbie area outside of Qeynos were just horri
          • by murdocj ( 543661 )

            Yeah, Blizzard just knows how to do things right. It was the same for me. The other thing that killed EQ for me was that I had an SOE Station Account, and I wanted to downgrade to just EQ, and customer service said that I couldn't downgrade, but I should just cancel my account, use up the rest of the month, and resubscribe next month. That was a big mistake on SOE's part.. telling your customers to go away is never a good idea.

    • by brkello ( 642429 )

      No, the Eve community is quite small.

  • A definite maybe (Score:5, Informative)

    by hat_eater ( 1376623 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @04:44AM (#36317278)
    What a disappointment. It's little more than a fluff piece promoting Rift.
  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwaterNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday June 02, 2011 @04:47AM (#36317286) Homepage

    Pretty much the whole article is about how cool Rift is, how smart he is, and how cool Rift is. Other than being an unabashed Rift fanboy - the author's qualifications are what?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by iamhassi ( 659463 )
      and this part threw me for a loop:
      " In the later part of the 90's I was working in a high stress industry that required long hours and a good part of my soul, but it paid really well. As friends of mine started to migrate away to new internet start up firms in droves, I was tempted to follow them for the promises of a better work environment and fat stacks of quick cash. Luckily, I had a fiancee..."

      Um, how old is this guy? A 30 yr old would be in his teens in the later part of the 90s, not exactly fian
      • >>Um, how old is this guy? A 30 yr old would be in his teens in the later part of the 90s, not exactly fiancee age with friends joining internet firms.

        The internet bubble was circa 1999ish, which could put him at 18 years old at the time (assuming you read his age literally at 30). Plenty of companies were hiring anyone they could at the time that knew how to make a webpage or code. I had plenty of friends at the time that dropped out of college to work for companies like mp3.com. Paper millionaires f

        • "But if he is 38, that doesn't make him magically too old to tell what all the teens are doing..... "

          Yes, it does. Unless he's a researcher studying teens, 38 years old makes you too old to tell what teenagers are doing. His teenage kids should have written the article, they would have better insight into what teenagers think of MMORPGs.
          • I've seen what teenagers are doing today. Moreover at 33 I am still young enough to remember what I did when I was a teenager.

            Conclusion: Teenagers know jack.

            You want the pulse of pop culture? Find out what the 25-year-old musicians are composing, what the 30-year-old authors are writing, and what the 35-year-old directors are filming.

            If you want to know what teenagers are into, just find out what the 50-year-old advertisement industry executives are churning out.

          • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

            Agreed. When I was in college in the early 2000s, my cousins (aged 13-18) were playing entirely different games than I was. I wasn't very aware of free MMOs, yet all of them could give me a list of ten popular ones, along with the pros and cons of each. They had never heard of iD software, let alone the games they make (Quake, Doom, etc).

      • Rubbish (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwaterNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday June 02, 2011 @06:02AM (#36317560) Homepage

        Don't get me wrong, 38 isn't too old to be playing MMORPGs

        Being just shy of 48 myself and an active MMORPG player, I should hope not.

        Perhaps the MMORPG bubble is bursting for almost 40-somethings like himself, the article would be more believable if it came from a 20-something with some actual numbers showing a decline in players

        And why would a 20-something be more believeable than a 30- or 40- something?

        • by murdocj ( 543661 )

          Being 56 myself and a guild leader in WoW I also hope I'm not too old to play. That would be sad :(

        • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
          Certainly not, I'm 43 and am actively involved in an alliance in EVE Online and make 250 million ISK a day.
          • by paitre ( 32242 )

            I can haz ISKies?

            I generally make about 50mil a day, mostly through PI. If I actually tried, I could make a ton more. Heh. People who complain about making ISK in EVE are clueless - you don't have to live in Null or grind missions to make that kind of dough, either.

          • by lazarus ( 2879 )
            And how much of that as a direct or indirect result of the use of macros? There are 15,000 users on-line all the time in Eve. Moments after DT they are back. They're bots. And CCP can't afford to get rid of them.

            Swear to me that neither you nor your corp benefit by macros. You can't. Even if your corp has a strict policy about it (which is probably doesn't) you can't say for sure that some of your members are cheating, nor can you say that outside organizations that you rely on for resources aren't

            • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

              And how much of that as a direct or indirect result of the use of macros? Absolutely none. I do use multiple accounts, and I do use multiple monitors and PC's. But I do not use bots.

              • Absolutely none. I do use multiple accounts, and I do use multiple monitors and PC's. But I do not use bots.

                As much fun as it was to be my own little mini mission-running or mining fleet with (3) accounts, after a while it got to be too much.

                And yet... I want to login and play again.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by slackbheep ( 1420367 )
          Gamer in my mid twenties weighing in here to point out that if anything I'm more interested in what the beards have to say than another of my so called peers :P
          Lets put it this way, when was the last time you were looking for the guy with the LEAST experience for advice?
      • almost 40-somethings like himself, the article would be more believable if it came from a 20-something

        Because a 20 year old has learned all the math and other stuff needed to precisely describe the "bubble" phenomenon?

        OTOH taking the concept MMO (or its variations MORGs etc) I guess there will be a hugh increase of them. And they will merge with TV and 3D and home theatre technology.

        Consider in 10 years to sit in your living room watching the super bowl. All your friends and your remote family will be proj

  • Skinner Boxes (Score:5, Informative)

    by zwei2stein ( 782480 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @05:26AM (#36317418) Homepage

    People are getting disgusted with MMOs, it is inherently amoral business.

    Eventually, player realizes what excatly is being done to him:
    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/extra-credits/2487-The-Skinner-Box [escapistmagazine.com]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operant_conditioning_chamber [wikipedia.org]
    http://www.cracked.com/article_18461_5-creepy-ways-video-games-are-trying-to-get-you-addicted.html [cracked.com]

    Once you realize that, everything about MMO stops being fun, every reward is spolied because you know it is conditioning to keep you playing to get further rewards. Then you get slightly pissed at authors for abusing skinery-boxy mechanics of human psychology. And you quit for good.

    Changing MMO does not help: it is just differently colored lever you have to press to get pelets. Nothing devs can do can help past this point except abandoning notion of chaining player to game.

    • by syousef ( 465911 )

      It's more than just that. Eventually the MMO or any other game for that matter gets dumped and you're left with nothing that you can still use for your efforts.

      For example take a look at one of the longest running non-MMO series - Microsoft Flight SImulator. One day there was a financial crsis and a change of management and the next thing you know the whole series has been dumped. So all the time 3rd party developers and enthusiasts spent creating content is all for nothing. (Not to mention each version bro

    • People are getting disgusted with MMOs, it is inherently amoral business.

      [[Citation Needed]]

      Once you realize that, everything about MMO stops being fun, every reward is spolied because you know it is conditioning to keep you playing to get further rewards.

      True for you maybe. But the whole world isn't you.

    • So, what you're saying is they've discovered how to make something addictive, and once you read about this technique, it's no longer fun?

      But then surely everything that you enjoy in life is a bit less fun, just because you know how it works?

      • The thing is that skinner box techniques are known for bringing an emotionally void kind of addiction.. not the kind of fun that most people want out of a game.

      • Actually, the stuff they do to make games addictive make the game less fun, at least according to player surveys most thing players wish would change about the MMOs they play are the things that game companies do to make the games addictive.

        So yeah, they make the game into shit by trying to keep people playing. Humans being as fucked up as we are, this actually turns out to be good business strategy.

    • Re:Skinner Boxes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @07:24AM (#36318028) Journal

      By that same standard, just about ANY entertainment is equally immoral. Go read a book - whups, the author MIGHT be telling you that story merely to hook you and get you to read his next book!

      Seriously, you're 'discovering' the relationship between media, consumer, and producer that's existed since advertising was invented, but reached its zenith with free-broadcast TV: the programs are bait, to get your eyeballs on the screen, and your attention is being sold to the advertisers, the real customers in the transaction. When you say "there are too many commercials", that just means the bait is too small for the hook, and the fish are swimming away.

      So for MMOs, they continue to entertain you with a carefully-metered trickle of rewards to keep you entertained? So what? If you're paying to be entertained, isn't that the point? I can drop $15 on a month of an MMO, and have hundreds of hours of fun, or I can spend $15 on a theater movie (and get 90 minutes of entertainment, and perhaps a pop or popcorn), or I can spend $15 on a pro sports ticket and get maybe 15 minutes of a game. Which is the best entertainment value?

      For all the people complaining about being conditioned as a faux-excuse for their excessive gameplay: grow up, and either enjoy your hobby unashamedly, or (if you feel your focus on it is too excessive) just change your friggin' behavior.

      • by Machtyn ( 759119 )

        By that same standard, just about ANY entertainment is equally immoral. Go read a book - whups, the author MIGHT be telling you that story merely to hook you and get you to read his next book!

        What! That's not possible!

        Excuse me, I've got to go finish this [Harry Potter | Twilight | Goosebumps | The Chronicles of Narnia | The Lord of the Rings | ... ] series

        (For the record, I have not read some of those on that list and likely won't ever.)

        • That's okay. I'm still working my way through Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series [wikimedia.org] myself. But saying you'll never be able to get to those others... isn't that a bit hysterical? Sure, you may only be on the seventh book of the series, but the author died, there is light at the end of the tunnel!

          • by Machtyn ( 759119 )
            It's not that I can't get to some of those books, it's that I don't ever want to lay eyes on those books. According to my wife, Twilight book 1 was full of OMG, HE'S SO DANG CUTE! I COULD JUST, like, MELT! (why is he so quiet and rude to everyone?) OMG HE'S TO, like, DIE FOR! No, thanks. Goosebumps appears to be for the 8-13 year old crowd. I can handle teen-fic (Harry Potter), but Goosebumps seems a little too young for me.
      • Distinction is whether you are being sold distinctive "entertainment unit" or continous stream as well as in array of avaiable manipulation techniques.

        TV (good job catching who "customers" and what "product" is) has much weaker tools to keep you hooked to stream. Games offer proper, personalised, feedback loop that no other entertainment can. Developers are aware of this, explotiting it. That makes it amoral because it is not exactly victimless.

        Point is that you start paying for being entertained, but end u

      • by Hatta ( 162192 )

        There's more to entertainment than just filling bars.

        • Maybe for you.
          Maybe progress quest is fun, for me.

          The point I find so interesting is - why do you CARE what I find fun?

          Why do so many people get so literally angry about MMO's being like a Skinner Box.
          I know it is one, I'm paying my money to be entertained, I'm entertained, I get what I want for my $. Why do you care?

    • You are right ofcourse, I think calling the concept amoral is a little harsh tho. MMO running companies run the whole moral spectrum like everyone else.

    • Certainly, the gaming industry is not immune to the march of 'progress'. But neither is any other. Advertising continues to become more effective as new techniques emerge that allow them to be more targeted and tantalizing. So, too, do games that want to charge you by the month instead of a lump sum up front become better at luring their players back for just one more numerical increase. And there are certainly a host of creepy psychological factors at work, being taken into account when designing new g

      • Any gaming model that involves continually fleecing the player for whatever they can bear is amoral at best and if you stop to think about consequences of actions, clearly immoral. Remember when you bought a game, and then you played it, and maybe you modded it? You know, before you bought a game, and then bought it again, and again? And now, you buy the game, and then you pay for it monthly! At least a few games are now starting to catch on to the idea that a lot of us feel that's a ripoff. Charge us once

        • Any gaming model that involves continually fleecing the player for whatever they can bear is amoral at best and if you stop to think about consequences of actions, clearly immoral.

          I'm not sure it's quite as black and white as that. I have an "addictive personality" and often focus on one or two activities at the expense of others. In the past this was drinking, smoking and other destructive habits. Happily I've managed to fill some of the void left from quitting the nastier addictions with games (amongst other things), although I don't play MMOs nor do I feel compelled to subscribe to any of them. However, I am happy to spend £10-£30 on games and enjoy the entertainment I

          • I agree that it's better to be addicted to something less harmful, but what about something that helps you break the cycle of addiction and be a complete person instead? They're taking advantage of you, plain and simple. Where I come from, apparently a lost land of some sort, we call taking advantage of someone's weakness "wrong" whether it's legal or not.

            • by MogNuts ( 97512 )

              If you have an addictive personality, you can't break the cycle of addiction and be a complete person. You only replace one vice for something else, eliminate multiple ones and eventually it concentrates on one or two, or at certain points it gets less severe for a while (but returns) due to unconscious actions--like getting so fed up, going cold turkey, and of course coming back to it, but maybe less severe.

              Perfect examples. You bit your nails. You say you want to stop. So you stop. Then instead you find w

              • If you have an addictive personality, you can't break the cycle of addiction and be a complete person.

                If you believe you're going to be a failure, you probably are. I don't know if that's causation or correlation, but otherwise, I'm not interested in your lack of self-confidence rubbing off on me. If people can't change then why not kill everyone different from you? I guess I'm still an optimist at heart. I still live here in the real world, though.

                • by MogNuts ( 97512 )

                  I have firsthand experience with friends who have it and truly make an effort.

                  Plus, it's the view presented by psychologists and psychiatrists the world over. Go read some psychology trade magazines sometime.

                  So in short: you're dead wrong.

                  Optimism is great. But you must have optimism tempered with reality. Being optimistic and attempting to cure your addictive personality will result in some sort of an improvement, depending on how much effort you give. But there is no cure, and certainly nothing no more th

        • by murdocj ( 543661 )

          So the big $15 a month makes it immoral? In other words, the same cost as going to a movie once a month and buying coke & popcorn? If that's what gets you going, what are you going to do when your credit card company hits you for 20% interest because you were a day late paying? Or your company's CEO gets a $10 million dollar golden parachute as your company tanks and you lose your job? On the grand scale of things, whether you pay $15 for perhaps 100 hours of entertainment is pretty tiny. You could

        • So what your example tells me is that game publishers CLEARLY saw that after a game was released, more consumer activity ensued via amateur mods and that their fans were hungry for more. What they have done is monetize that with professionally made product instead of amateur hour.I dont see this as amoral more so as filling a need. I may not like it, but its not immoral.
    • To be fair, this is virtually true of every game. Somewhere there's a work/reward process at work. Its just a lot more obvious with MMOs. Even before the age of "achievements" (what a cynical term) we had level bosses and other things that made you think you were accomplishing something.

      My problem with MMOs is how horribly stupid and dumbed down they are. Its the same old D&D/MUD mechanisms. Its so safe and balanced and kid-friendly. Everything is pretty much on a rail. Maybe EVE and others are differen

    • I think you're being pretty harsh. What I loved about WoW was exploring the world and the sites, monsters, bosses, etc. and the tactics for playing in the battlefield instances. It wasn't until hitting the higher levels that I got the sensation of repetitive reward conditioning. Not that there aren't some individual quests like that as well.

    • by brkello ( 642429 )

      Project much?

  • What good points exactly were these? The article was essentially just an advertisement for Rift, or at the most, a writer who likes Rift. I don't have a problem with authors who want to write about how cool they think a game is, but don't lure me there by deliberately mis-representing the article, it had little to NOTHING to say about the idea of an MMO Bubble.
    • All I knew about Rift is that on my game's forums the few annoying jerks kept saying how the game sucked and that they were going to the Rift when it opened because it was cool. No features listed, just that current game sucked and new game was going to shut everyone else down. This has been repeated over and over again; it was SW:TOR, then Conan, then War, then back to SW:TOR, then Rift, etc.

      MMOs have changed, but some communities dislike the change. In particular the types who loved multi hour raids se

  • KOL is an excellent example of this - they've fostered a great community interaction and have weekly back and forth with the player base over current development. They've done everything else 'wrong' but they succeed (so far) anyway. Highly recommended.
  • by Petersko ( 564140 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @01:03PM (#36322044)
    My ticket with Trion Worlds about RIFT:

    Me: "I installed the trial and played for a session, but did not get a chance to return to the game until last night. I connected, only to find there was a wait to log in to the server. It was only 50 deep, but it was so slow that by the time I had connected I had to leave. If I could have the trial extended for another week I would appreciate it. I have not made a decision to date on whether or not to subscribe."

    Them: "Thank you for contacting us regarding RIFT. I'm sorry to hear you're experiencing this issue, I realize it's frustrating and I'm happy to assist you in this matter. I have inquired with our tier 3 support team, unfortunately we can not add 7 more days to your free trial. But I have been authorized to offer you 7 extra free days added to your account if you purchase RIFT. So if you purchase RIFT from (link removed) If you have any additional questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to let us know. Thank you for your continued support of Trion Worlds and for playing RIFT.

    Me: "I'm sorry to hear that. The extension was requested not because I care about 7 free days, but because I hadn't decided whether or not to subscribe. 7 days is worth about $4 and is not significant to me. Perhaps I chose a bad week for the trial, but I simply lacked the time. I'll pass on the offer. You may close the ticket."

    Shortsighted pinheads.
    • by brkello ( 642429 )

      Sounds like you were the shortsighted one. Why get a trial when you won't have a chance to play it? Why be angry about them following the terms of the agreement? You sound like a spoiled child.

  • by Caerdwyn ( 829058 ) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @02:10PM (#36322806) Journal

    Bill Cosby had a comment some time ago that's applicable. He was talking about his bafflement about why people would want to do cocaine.

    (Bill's friend) "Because cocaine intensifies your personality."

    (Bill) "Yeah, but what if you're an asshole?"

    "Community" is fine, as long as its members are basically decent people. Communities are self-reinforcing; the dominant traits become more and more ensconced as those traits are rewarded and the opposites are pushed out. However, because there are no real consequences that follow you for NOT being a decent person, and because even if you finally get booted out of a game because the customer service people finally come to the DUH! realization that jerks cause others to unsubscribe, you can just pick up your jerkiness and go to another game to ruin another bunch of people's good times. "Community" is not just a martini-pickled marketing flack's buzzword; it defines whether you stay in a game after you've used up the leveling content. IMHO, because there are no consequences for being an asshole, and because so many MMO operators are afraid/don't give a damn/are too lazy to enforce their Codes of Conduct, there is zero incentive to not be a total asshat. And because of that self-reinforcement, many "communities" are little more than unsupervised schoolyards.

    Jerks cost money. They consume GM time and salary, they cause unsubscriptions, they can even trigger lawsuits and criminal complaints. But when some VC hack on the Board of Directors spews "a griefer's money is just as green", you know what the people in the game will be like. Yes, I've heard people at that seniority actually SAY that, at Game Developer Conferences and even in communication about game policies from producer to the fans... why the hell do people like that have jobs? I wouldn't blame a community manager in such a game from becoming an alcoholic, wanting to do something about it but having a know-nothing with a title rendering you into an impotent object of mockery.

    Come for the game, leave because of the people. Enjoy your playpen, Darkfall players/administators (and games like DF with similar jerk-dominated playerbases). When the lights in the server room are turned off, they will have only themselves to blame. They won't, of course. One of the defining characteristics of an asshole is a refusal to recognize or take responsibility for the consequences of what they've done.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.