View Full Forums : Interesting phenomena


B_Delacroix
04-27-2004, 08:28 AM
I used to work in the game industry. I'd do it again if I had the opportunity (and it paid at least as well as my current job AND my current job was being phased out).

I am also oddly interested in the psychology of groups. More like fascinated in what motivates groups and other large organizations. Anyway, as such I read articles about MMOGS like Bartle's theories of player types and some others I've posted on this board about economies and what keeps a MMOG going.

I also monitor message boards of other MMOGs out there. I have come across an interesting phenomena that I can't seem to figure out the cause of but its existance may help those who still enjoy EQ but feel like its emptying out.

It seems that, across the board, no one is happy with any of the MMOGs they play anymore. They always want more or something different than what the MMOG they are playing is offering. When major changes come along with some good things in it, they complain about the few things that weren't changed this time around. Some complain about loot, some complain about content, some complain about who is making up the quests, some complain about the complaining.

Its really strangely fascinating. As if everyone since christmas has been sticken with a mass Unhappiness spell.

Note: I placed this in this forum as it may be construed as a negative post or may become one. Isn't there a law in the cyber world about any thread that becomes sufficiently long will eventually invoke Nazi's or some such?

Ladred
04-27-2004, 09:10 AM
I agree completly with your post. What really chaps my hind side is the 'i'm quitting' testimonial posts. We've all heard them, and the majority of them are the same. They usually encompass someone's displeasure of certain aspects of the game, where in that person attempts to take as many people as they can on their way out. I just once would like some of these testimonials to lighten up somewhere in the post and focus on what you enjoyed in the game, usually it far outwieghs what you found nagging, intimidating, irritating or down right unfair. Till this day I've yet to see a real purpose in these threads in general communities, I understandt he farewell posts in guild forums, but general communities holds no merit other than letting off steam. Most of them turn out to be pissing and moaning threads in the end, which no one wants to read, in my opinion. I think someone should come up with an "I'm quitting this MMO because..." excuse generator, so we can go ahead and read through them all and will be able to skip over them in the future. :grin:

harvey the dog
04-27-2004, 09:24 AM
when UO came out, it turned out that the masses were a buncha turds. rampant kill stealing and general thuggery ran off a lot of people. then, EQ came out, and for a while, it was AWSOME. everything that anyone ever wanted from an MMO. but then, sony bought out V and we have all seen what happened in EQ since then.

i remember when i first heard that Lucas was going to do Star Wars Galaxies and was about as excited as i had ever been for a game to come out...till i found out that sony was gonna develop the game. that was it for me. no SWG for me.

Most of the complaints I see out there are usually over PVP issues though...Eve-Online being a great example of a game that coulda been awsome, but developers gave the public too much credit. They never expected that griefers were going to ruin first the market, then the PVP aspect of the game. And though its gotten better for Eve, they never really reached critical mass, though the numbers are getting better there.

And then you have games like Asheron's Call and Anarchy Online, where developers just dropped the ball from the get go. In both cases these games have gotten significantly better since release, but they really lost a lot of their potential player base from those first days that they mishandled.

So I think that people are just cynics in general when it comes to MMOs. Either they got burned by developers who switched the rules on them after they had grown to love the game, or they got burned by the hype surrounding the game before release.

At this point, the only developer that has anything like an MMO out there that has been widely successful has been Blizzard with their Diablo and BattleNet service, and we all know that Diablo isn't really much of an MMO...but with WOW, we have a chance at a good game with developers that have proved to be consistent, and passionate about putting out a GOOD game. One thing I have noticed, while poking around on the WOW boards is that developers are actually LISTENING to their testers. Even this stink about the rest idea has been reconsidered and it looks like they might introduce a scaled format, rather than the "8 hours of rest or nothing" that they originally introduced.

Also, you need to keep in mind that the vocal MINORITY are the ones that post. A lot of time, the people that are enjoying the game, which is most of them, don't even bother with the message boards. Heck, I don't post on any MMO related message boards except this one, and I quit EQ. Just haven't found a new home yet.

Firemynd
04-27-2004, 09:41 AM
Some complain about loot, some complain about content, some complain about who is making up the quests, some complain about the complaining.

Okay let's see if we have this straight.

Baptisimo isn't complaining about others complaining; he's merely creating a whole new topic here just to say how "strangely fascinating" it is that people complain. He then proceeds to summarily characterize the trend as "unhappiness" thereby invalidating any claim he might have made to being an impartial observer.

He also fails to explore any reasons why complaining about game issues might not be as much about unhappiness as it is reflective of how passionate the players are, traditionally indicative of a game's staying power in its market.

And Ladred comes along to complain about complaining, effectively placing himself squarely within one of Baptisimo's four main catagories of complainers.

Classic.

Oh wait let's call it.. strangely fascinating. )

~Firemynd

harvey the dog
04-27-2004, 09:45 AM
i can't wait till i get home from work this evening and get to read the 3-5 pages of comments that this thread is going to generate.

oh, and Ladred, if all these posts "chaps my hind side" why do you read them?

Ladred
04-27-2004, 10:27 AM
I'm not complaining about all pissing and moaning. I zeroed in on the I'm quitting testimonials. Primarily those that use a community forum as a pulpit to spread dissension of an industry product.

To Mr. The Dog, why do I read them, because I have blind faith in the poster that the time invested in actually writing the post is enough to warrant me to read it. I've read all of these aforementioned testimonials and they all sound the same:

those that use a community forum as a pulpit to spread dissension of an industry product.

B_Delacroix
04-27-2004, 10:41 AM
/sigh
I had hoped to generate some intellectual stimulation. Instead, its started a fire.

Discussing the fact that people are passionate is completely within the confines of this venue. Please, go ahead and expound on your theory.

In fact, I think that ties into the vocal minority thing. The very reason I read and post is because I am passionate about the games. I think there are other reasons, however.

My point is I used to see a variety of discussions, lately it seems to me that ALL MMOG boards are filling up with a great deal of complaining and a lot less discussion or debate of the games themselves. That is what is interesting to me, that this isn't just happening in EQ, Its universal to the MMOG boards right now.

Stormhaven
04-27-2004, 10:57 AM
What about the phenomenon that most of the people who actually <i>do quit</i> (not "pseudo-quit" where you come back in a few weeks), find life a lot more enjoyable? Absence makes the heart grow fonder? :)

Firemynd
04-27-2004, 10:57 AM
those that use a community forum as a pulpit to spread dissension of an industry product.

Are you kidding? If I was a game producer in said industry, I'd PAY for feedback from a player willing to tell me specifically why my game isn't meeting his needs to such an extent that he cancelling his subscription. If said player is further willing to initiate a discussion and elicit feedback from other players in a forum largely dedicated to my game, I'd have most of the benefits of a product focus group, without most of the drawbacks -including cost.

I don't think "spreading dissension of an industry product" is likely to happen on a fan site, especially not to the degree that it'd affect game subscriptions. If the person's goal was to encourage others to quit, he would accomplish it much more effectively by posting in a forum less biased towards favoring the game.

The only injured party, if there is one, is the fan site's administrator -- who is paying for the bandwidth. But I don't think many community admins would deny a longtime member the bit of space it takes to say his goodbyes, reasons stated or not.

~Firemynd

B_Delacroix
04-27-2004, 11:03 AM
I would agree, an outgoing interview would do wonders to help developers who really wanted to "fix" their games.

I suspect there are internal political reasons it isn't done. The gaming industry has many levels of people involved, its design by committee each person with their own agendas. It is another fascinating thing to watch.

Chubbexul Demonsbane
04-27-2004, 11:12 AM
I Think the point the Author is trying to make is; Every MMOG has it problems including this one, and I tend to agree with this statement, As i have played many different MMORPG's in the past. So lets stop complaining and fine the passion that we all once had as a Newbie in this game. 62nd Druid of Tunare. Chubbexul

Iilane SalAlur
04-27-2004, 11:46 AM
I am one of those who are writing those "I'm quitting" posts. Mind you I have not fully left EQ. I am in the "packing up" before finally leaving phase. I'm saying goodbye to friends I have left, distributing my items to friends and strangers and generally generally tying up a few loose ends before logging out for the final time.

For me, this is a time of uncertainty. I'm suddenly finding myself with a lot more free time and having almost nothing left to do. The house is clean, bills are paid, gone shopping several times, re-reading a lot of books, watched many movies, posted on many forums. Most unsettling.

There isn't an "agenda" to get more people to leave everquest on my part. Whoever thinks that has read too many conspiracy novels :p The reason is pure boredom as much as hoping to find "temporary companionship". Someone who also happens to be in my shoes.

Having said all this, I do believe that there is a silent majority that is generally reflected by the vocal minority. I believe that the vocal minority reflects the mood of the majority.

Also, I wonder if anyone noticed a pattern - count the number of posts made during the first month after each expansion is released. There were more PoP threads than LDoN threads than GoD threads. Its little clues like this scattered everywhere that hints to the health of each expansion.

Aerokella
04-27-2004, 12:14 PM
I haven't logged in in over a month. At first I just didn't have time, was working 10-12 hrs a day. Still working alot, but not as much, but I just can't bring myself to log in. I think I'm just completely burnt out on it. That may change, but who know's. Even if I did log in tomorrow, I'm sure there are so many changes, I would be completely lost. My old guild is trying to get me to make a new char and play with them, which sounds like fun, but the picked a time when I'm at work, so.............. =(

Who knows, maybe I'll log in one day and think, "wow, I've really missed this", but for some reason, I don't see that happening.

Radlore
04-27-2004, 12:32 PM
They always want more or something different than what the MMOG they are playing is offering.

I think this has to be a large part of why alot of people become discontented.

When I started playing I only had a handful of spells/abilities available to my class, so I knew I had alot of the game to discover in that respect. The world seemed large and unknown. Mobs were new and fun to discover, and you would only hear rumors of terrible dragons.

Each expansion tries to reintroduce those things that keep us playing, but I think people begin to get bored when what appears to be new at first turns out to be replication of what has always been there.

These days you can expect to be looking forward to getting the same spells and abilities that only extend the potency of what you can already do, and that is offset by the fact that new mobs (perhaps using an old model even:p) become equally more powerful because they hit harder etc. So when the real imagination of creating new content fails, the game can start to feel stale rather fast.

Most of us enjoy going back to old content and seeing how much more powerful our characters have become, in some ways, the old content changes more for us than the new...

Maybe some people have just started getting bored with old ideas repackaged within the game?

I'm not saying they get it all wrong - theres plenty I still enjoy in the game, but then many people are past my stage.

Ndainye
04-27-2004, 03:24 PM
This thread kinda crosses into a thread I was reading on another site. The conversation was about how we missed Lum the Mad (old rantsite) and how there never has been a site that took it's place. All of it got me to thinking in a round about way about how conversations between players and developers have deteriated over the years. The reason why LTM was such a popular site wasn't just that Lum has a way with writing and has the balls to tell it how it is but that the developers of UO not just listened to what he and his community said but replied to them in a personal way.

These days the developers aren't allowed to take a personal approach to the players. When a dev does step out of the protected boundries of annominity (those unknown names they use in place of their real aliases) to post as a dev it's all in company speak. SWG came close with the communication between developer and player when Raph was in charge and would lead message board discussions about issues and what do you as the player think. But even that belief that they knew how to do it was dashed when I found out that some of the developers on SWG don't have permission to post on the message boards due to their supposed inability to communicate with the correct voice.

I do truely believe in my naive way that the game developers do still give a good gosh dang what the players feel and think about their game, the problem is however that once a development team latches on to a big name publishing company the developers no longer have the control over their own projects. Not only do they no longer have the say as to what may need to be done but they don't have the permissions to communicate to the playerbase openly.

Stormhaven
04-27-2004, 03:28 PM
I had lots of fun playing with my "family guild" when I first started out in EQ (pre-Kunark). Both Naggy and Vox were these far away, amazing encounters, that we had absolutely no chance of seeing. Heck, we thought Guk was leet. Unfortunately, not all of my friends were in my "family guild" - some were in "high level" guilds (we didn't even call them "uber" back then) and from them I got the "fever" of what else the game had to offer.

Through Kunark, a few more "high end" gear items became available to the masses and I kept up pretty well. Farming items in the Frontier Mountains helped me keep my cash reserves pretty high so that I could afford upgrades that I could not camp. Because I actually enjoyed soloing from time to time, I got to level 60 pretty quickly. By this time, my guild started collapsing because a server split was offered to Cazic - some wanted to stay, some wanted to go. We were also having internal problems because we would constantly lose high end players to the "uber guilds" because we had nothing to offer them. A level 60 raid was nothing we could ever achieve because we would always have the 60's deguilding when they got bored with our level 45 raids. So my guild went away, and I went tagless.

Enter Velious and my entrance into the uber realm. I got to go to places like NToV, Sleepers, raids against Yelinak, the Dain and Tormax.

In an attempt to cut a story short, even though I was sacrificing eight hour chunks of time to raiding, I could never go back to family style guilding. When I hung out with friends in non-endgame guilds, I helped out in "epic raids," but could never get the same sense of excitement that the big "I'm killing a dragon with 50 people" exercises would get me.

So my problem is that the big raiding guild experience has made me very intolerant of leveling - it's tedious and incredibly boring for me. I'm wondering if I'll have the patience to go from level 1 to level anything in any new MMORPGs.

Tiane
04-27-2004, 04:34 PM
So my problem is that the big raiding guild experience has made me very intolerant of leveling - it's tedious and incredibly boring for me. I'm wondering if I'll have the patience to go from level 1 to level anything in any new MMORPGs.

Ditto.

I have found that I'm much more critical of "the grind" in these games now, and look at it very skeptically. When I tried out FFXI, which everyone was gushing over, it really disappointed me... the grind was there in full force, even moreso than EQ. And I've been there and done that.

My AO account is still active, so now and then for a change I log in and play that. It's nice, the grind is a lot less intense... at least for my lowbies (my highest is a level 70-odd fixer (out of 220)) It's still there, but the world is very big and the incredible annoyances that the GoD devs seem to love are basically nonexistant, I can log in and xp or mission for a half hour and log out, having accomplished some meaningful character advancement. Plus, I'm exploring Shadowlands and it's just amazingly beautiful graphic-wise... puts GoD to shame.

Point is, and I think that the MMOG industry recognizes this, that the days of people sacrificing 8-hour blocks of time to repeating one thing endlessly are gone. There's too many other better and more fun choices for how to spend one's time. Given the choice between grinding out a level in 8 hours and gaining no measurable increase in player power or logging out and playing a quick and intense game of Tony Hawke (or whatever), which would you choose? The short term fun of the quick fix is FAR more effective, because as the MMOG playerbase has learned, the long term investment in a character simply does not pay off with an equivalent.

I think that's simply a fault of the entire MMOG idea... at least in its current incarnation. The idea that "Everyone cant be a hero." In a sense, this is valid, you cant have thousands of people per world/server going out and soloing the most powerful creatures of the land.

Or can you? Seems to me that's just a failure of the imagination (and technology, perhaps) on the part of the industry. You dont want a city filled ONLY with heroes... but you can have a city where every PLAYER is a full blown hero, and you compensate by filling it with literally tens of thousands of artificially intelligent NPC peons. They could react to PC's on the fly with self generated stories (heck offload that to the client, why not...), quests, conversations, whatever.

When I think of what an MMOG should be, I think back to the days of playing Ultima IV and V (2 of the best games... well... ever), where my toon was The Hero, but the world was BIG, and there were a lot of characters, many of which would join me on my quests, and I could change the world with them. The MMOG version would be what they'd hoped for UO... the same thing only with many heroes. But you'd need a giant world with many evils to fight and many sidekicks to meet... then you run into other problems, such as community building and social networks which may not form if the player population is too sparse...

It's a seesaw... go too far one way and you lose the things which make for a healthy social system, which is the primary reason people play these things for long periods of time. I'm not sure there is a solution that will ever actually work. As I have long said, EQ can only happen to you Once. Once we've all tasted what MMOG's actually are, and the audience is indeed finite, I suspect the fad will pass.

Stewwy
04-27-2004, 04:49 PM
Wow. Those are some amazing insights Tiane. I must say that is one of hte best posts I have read on any subject on these boards. Well thought out. Informative. Intelligent. Insightful (sp).

I agree. I will only do EQ once. No matter how pretty or how great the game play repeating the grind has ZERO appeal to me.

Panamah
04-27-2004, 05:42 PM
I'm not complaining about all pissing and moaning. I zeroed in on the I'm quitting testimonials. Primarily those that use a community forum as a pulpit to spread dissension of an industry product.

To Mr. The Dog, why do I read them, because I have blind faith in the poster that the time invested in actually writing the post is enough to warrant me to read it. I've read all of these aforementioned testimonials and they all sound the same:

Do you actually imagine they work to spread dissension? Do you read those and say to yourself, "Wow! This guy is really unhappy, perhaps I'm not having fun either... hmmm, maybe I should stop playing too!" Baaaaaaaa!

They're a way for people to blow off steam over the things in the game they didn't like. I'd imagine that folks hope that SOE will read it and respond. Which is highly unlikely, but then we all are/were playing a "fantasy" role-playing game so perhaps that is part of the fantasy.

But in reality, I think maybe people are just playing these games too long and too much to continue to get joy out of them for 5 years playing 40 hours a week. Maybe that's just expecting a little too much. After playing that long even things you once took pleasure from become boring and you're now really indulging a habit more than a pleasant pasttime.

I am speaking from my own experience. After a lot of years it just wasn't as much fun anymore. I could give you lots of things that bugged me, but perhaps the reason they bugged me was I just wore out the magic. Its like wearing off the teflon coating on a favorite old pan. It's no good anymore, you just gotta throw it away.

Aidon
04-27-2004, 05:54 PM
I'm not complaining about all pissing and moaning. I zeroed in on the I'm quitting testimonials. Primarily those that use a community forum as a pulpit to spread dissension of an industry product.

To Mr. The Dog, why do I read them, because I have blind faith in the poster that the time invested in actually writing the post is enough to warrant me to read it. I've read all of these aforementioned testimonials and they all sound the same:

Ahem. I use a community forum as a pulpit to spread dissension of an industry product just about every time I post regarding EQ on here.

Hell most of my posting "Career" has been standing on pulpit spreading dissension of an industry product.

It serves its purpose.

Flintwick
04-27-2004, 07:34 PM
Most of them turn out to be pissing and moaning threads in the end, which no one wants to read, in my opinion. I think someone should come up with an "I'm quitting this MMO because..." excuse generator, so we can go ahead and read through them all and will be able to skip over them in the future. :grin:

Naw, it's just drama queens wanting to draw attention to the fact that they are leaving. They want the "sniffle, sniffle, we'll miss you" attention. :boohoo:

Shadowfrost
04-28-2004, 06:19 AM
There's two schools of thought on the "grind" thing.

One school of thought has it that "grinding" is a kind of boring preliminary to the actual game. People who subscribe to this want to take part in an "end game" where everyone's on an equal footing in terms of level, and the difference between two characters would be just class and choice of equipment. This school of thought wants the "grind" to be as short as possible and looks for ways to shortcircuit it.

The other school of thought generally doesn't use the word "grinding". People who subscribe to this view want to take part in small-group activity which preferably develops their character in several ways - be it level, AA's (in EQ), loot, factioning, or quests. Generally this group shies away from the "end game" and uses words like "zerg guilds" and "no-life ubers" to describe the people who choose to participate.

Both points of view have validity.

Large benefits from grouping purely for experience does have negative effects on the game, particularly where:
* It is repetitive and dull
* It is unduly rewarding of extremely long play sessions
* It serves to separate those people who do it a lot from their friends who don't (where a low level character and a high level character receive less or no benefit from playing together)

Large benefits from end game raiding has negative effects on the game, particularly where:
* It is repetitive and dull (cf. burnout and guild healer populations in particular)
* It is unduly rewarding of extremely long play sessions (yay for five-hour raids)
* It serves to separate those people who do it a lot from their friends who don't (particularly by means of flags or exclusive zone access)

On the other hand, grouping for experience has to have reasonable levels of reward for those who participate, or they will grow dissatisfied; while "end game" raiding has to have reasonable levels of reward for the same reason.

Players compare themselves against other people and seek to advance further or faster. The only question is, via which route.

Personally I'm of the view that there has to be a "grind" of some sort. In any MMORG which is sufficiently deep and complex to hold player attention, people will need to learn their classes and develop their skills in stages. A new player with a high level character would be faced with a bewildering array of powers and options which they didn't understand and hadn't tested.

I'm also of the view that there has to be an "end game" of some sort. In any MMORG there has to be an end to the levelling track somewhere, and as the game matures, the playerbase will tend to congregate at about that level.

I have to say that I wouldn't buy another MMORG which had an end game requiring or rewarding such huge forces as those used by EQ raid guilds.

B_Delacroix
04-28-2004, 08:09 AM
So my problem is that the big raiding guild experience has made me very intolerant of leveling - it's tedious and incredibly boring for me. I'm wondering if I'll have the patience to go from level 1 to level anything in any new MMORPGs.


This happened to me, as well. Can't stand the grind. Horizons, however, isn't a grind to me so I'm happy with it for now. I can "grind" without it feeling like a grind. I can do some meaningful character development even if I only have 30 minutes or an hour.

There are some discussions about MMOGs and MUDs that I've read. Particularly Bartle, Raph and Jessica Mulligan. Another interesting tangent of the MMOG pheneomena is it has lead me to read more about goup psychology and social networks. So, while it is just a game, it has expanded my horizon even if just a slight bit.

There was mention of company speak. I worked in the gaming industry. It is prominent in all the companies, at least in the major ones. You can get sued if you say the wrong thing so its easier to just say nothing. Even internal documents had to be approved. (Try to get an EA tech support person to say "problem".) The reasons are understandable even if they are annoying on a personal level.

Ladred
04-28-2004, 08:35 AM
Anyuzer.com (http://www.anyuzer.com) has a nice front page write up on the topic of grind, and a few other good write ups. I'll CC the specific one on grind, it has to primarily do with the City of Heroes beta.

...Which brings us back to the primary, possible, problem with City of Heroes.

Why?

Why the hell are you running out doing stuff? Why are you completing missions? Why, why, why?

That question I have yet to answer, but all hope is not lost. You see, it IS fun. It’s fun like Diablo is fun. Since D&D came about in the 70s, we’ve known that people enjoying character advancement. We enjoy seeing our characters and powers grow. I don’t know why, we just do. So on the basest level, the motivation to play is simply to level. Which means, yes, it basically IS one massive grind. Everything you do is essentially to help you level which allows you to try out nifty new super powers like flying, etc.

On one level, I think this isn’t bad because it’s returned to some basics that a lot of other MMOGs can take a lesson from. LEVELING SHOULD BE FUN. And not just a little fun, it should be something that you really look forward to. Look forward to it even to the point of catassing if the game requires it (this is one thing, love it or hate it, EQ was king of).

Games like Horizons and the such have suffered severely for this by assuming that leveling was just ‘another mechanic’ as opposed to saying: “what can we do to make people orgasm every time they level up?” And when you cripple such a fundamental mechanic, you’ve essentially killed your entire game, no matter how well the other things might be designed.

People need a core advancement scheme, very, very badly and it needs to be something they look forward to. City of Heroes has done this, and done it right. That said, it leads me to my next point.

You can’t simply offer a treadmill.

Star Wars Galaxies suffered this problem, and suffers it to this day. You need the core advancement scheme to act as a motivation, but then you want to layer more motivating factors on top of the core game. Star Wars Galaxies has a very appealing grind. That’s the charm of the skill system offered. There is simply so many proverbial ‘carrots in front of the donkeys nose’, that basically the motivation for playing is simply to level up and get to play with whatever leveling up in a certain skill rewards you with.

Problem here was, why do anything but level then? And as soon as you have players who do nothing but level for a week or two, you run into people questioning why they are stilly playing. They wonder what happened to the fun. They wonder things like why they should explore, etc.

It’s not that Star Wars Galaxies didn’t think of this either, they offered the sight seeing places for characters to travel to and check out (like Jabbas Palace, etc). Sadly, what they didn’t do is analyze that motivational layer to see whether it was really ‘fun’. And it wasn’t.

Because of this, people quickly felt the game imploded on itself, and had little to offer except a grind. Player vs Player certainly helped retain some players, and the social interdependency required in the game, as well as the popular license and the ‘enjoyable’ core advancement scheme have kept the remainder of the players.

SWG did not reach its potential though, and it didn’t because it didn’t properly offer the layers needed to provide ‘fun’ for the players doing more than just leveling up. Which is why, players since beta have been calling for more ‘hand designed content’. The problem here is that it’s more than just hand designed content. SWG had hand designed content. It just wasn’t fun. I never checked everything out. I saw a few sights, thought it was lame and went back to grinding my skills up outside of Tatooine.

You see, you need something deeper that is going to reward players with playing every aspect of your game. Exploration needs to be an advancement scheme, but more importantly, it needs to be a layer that while is independent in one respect, also ties into the core advancement scheme. So it needs to be able to be done at any given time, but it needs to in some way benefit the underlying strength of the game.

This is where City of Heroes suffers and suffers badly. The game is so transparent, so linear, so shallow that, much like SWG, where this is simpler and more ‘fun’ (bash the bad guy! Bash him!), it still quickly loses its luster as you start being plagued by wondering ‘why’?

Motivation in an MMOG is a tricky and complex subject, one I plan to personally dive into at some point in time here. For now the best I can do is simplify it though so I don’t mix this up with five more pages of a thick design ramble.

City of Heroes does not have the appropriate recipe for engaging advancement that will inspire long time player retention. Can it in the future? Possibly. Does it now? No. Every quest you take, every enemy you kill, every level you get has no purpose but to provide the exact same experience you had during the tutorial.

Diablo without loot. It’s a bash ‘em up game, where the best part is simply leveling up and bashing more. Exploring has no real allure because you know for a fact there is nothing hiding in a special cranny or crevice. Quests have no real allure because you know the reward is not going to be special. And in turn, the gathering of power has no real allure because power in itself is not special. ...

Radlore
04-28-2004, 08:42 AM
Originally posted by Tiane
Or can you? Seems to me that's just a failure of the imagination (and technology, perhaps) on the part of the industry. You dont want a city filled ONLY with heroes... but you can have a city where every PLAYER is a full blown hero, and you compensate by filling it with literally tens of thousands of artificially intelligent NPC peons. They could react to PC's on the fly with self generated stories (heck offload that to the client, why not...), quests, conversations, whatever.

I agree. At least for those like me that prefer PvE and co-operative play. NPC scripting, and imparticular mob combat AI, in EQ has seen little improvement and is badly outdated. The same goes for what you (Tiane) said about having a dynamic environment - something you could accuse EQ of lacking.

Originally posted by Tiane
When I think of what an MMOG should be, I think back to the days of playing Ultima IV and V (2 of the best games... well... ever), where my toon was The Hero, but the world was BIG, and there were a lot of characters, many of which would join me on my quests, and I could change the world with them. The MMOG version would be what they'd hoped for UO... the same thing only with many heroes. But you'd need a giant world with many evils to fight and many sidekicks to meet... then you run into other problems, such as community building and social networks which may not form if the player population is too sparse...]

It's exactly these sorts of problems that I'd like to see the next generation mmog tackling.

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Tiane
Once we've all tasted what MMOG's actually are, and the audience is indeed finite, I suspect the fad will pass.

Probably for those that quit to do something entirley different. For others, gaming is their hobby and they don't intend to give up all together, but they will move from one game to another. And there are always people new to the mmog scene. I think mmogs are here to stay.

Originally posted by Shadowfrost
Players compare themselves against other people and seek to advance further or faster. The only question is, via which route.


Certainly alot do. Although I'm not convinced that's necessary in a successfull mmog. In City of Heroes there are numerous branches for progression within the same character type - so you can still say 'look what I can do!' without necessarily being higher level. In mmogs with all the emphasis on cooperative play I think alot of people can get just as much satisfaction from defeating parts of the game as from being more powerful than someone else. Although a little bit of this probably does no harm.

It's hard to conceive of a game where you don't advance more by putting more time into it (I think there is one where you continue training even when offline). So grinding may well be an optional 'means to an end' for some. As long as it is optional in the game (i.e. allow proportional rewards for quests, following storyline etc) then... why not. Fact is some people don't mind grinding, it's about providing options.

Getting people to play a new mmog and keeping them playing aren't entirley the same thing. At the very least you need a highly extensible design, that is, the ability to seamlessly add to the game without ruining whats there - a way to keep it interesting. Content should be able to change over time without having to discover new continents (not that that is a bad thing but it's a finite solution that doesn't address your 'relationship' with original content). But are software houses prepared to put the groundwork in to create a highly dynamic, extensible mmog - as opposed to easier solutions that bring in the cash more quickly. The amount of resources needed to create a mmog to rival Everquest, let alone beat it, must be staggering.

B_Delacroix
04-28-2004, 10:16 AM
I think the answer is niche markets. Don't try to compete with Everquest, try to find a niche audience it doesn't fill and expand on that.

Paldor
04-28-2004, 03:02 PM

Fanra
05-01-2004, 04:55 AM
I had lots of fun playing with my "family guild" when I first started out in EQ (pre-Kunark).
To me, this says most of it.

I was a lot more tolerant of the problems of the game and had a lot more fun when I was with my smaller "family guild".

Problems with the game and my dealing with them could be shared with my guild. If I had trouble and made mistakes, my guild would be understanding. Logging on was for having a good time with my friends, getting any loot would just be a nice bonus.

It was also easier to get some nice loot without needing a huge raid. Or major flagging.

When PoP came out, players were forced to join larger guilds if they wished to advance in the game.

Larger, more complex raids create more problems and less fun. Nerfing of quick grouping and soloing made it more of a grind. Creation of more hard to acquire spells, gear and AAs made a player feel less worthy unless he devoted massive amounts of time to get these items. It also has made the game far more complex.

Basically, the game became more work and less fun. SOE shut down the few avenues of feedback there were. Ideas to make the game more fun have been ignored.

I know it is stupid, but I have never forgiven SOE for destroying wolf form for no reason whatsoever. I find it fun being a wolf and they destroyed it for nothing.

Fyyr Lu'Storm
05-01-2004, 05:28 AM
"When PoP came out, players were forced to join larger guilds if they wished to advance in the game."

I would like to talk to some of those people, when this thing is all over. And find out if that was their intention.

I mean, it seemed so obvious to all of us players at the time. That that was going to be the result.

Why would they intentionally destroy dozens(or more), long standing guilds with the set up?

If not intentionally, why could they not foresee it happening?

/shrug

Jinjre
05-01-2004, 11:26 AM
I think maybe people are just playing these games too long and too much to continue to get joy out of them for 5 years playing 40 hours a week. Maybe that's just expecting a little too much. After playing that long even things you once took pleasure from become boring and you're now really indulging a habit more than a pleasant pasttime.


I've known marriages to which this statement applied. The people changed, but didn't change their expectations of each other, eventually got bored and things fell apart.

Not much different for EQ. After 5 years, my expectations of a game where I could go anywhere I wanted, even if it meant dying horrible deaths, were no longer being met. I changed my expectations to fit the situation "well, now I pay for a game that I can only play half of". The same half. Over and over and over. yipee. Time to move on.

Panamah
05-01-2004, 01:00 PM
I think the dynamic might be, when PoP first came out there were no raid limits, right? I think the raid setup came out after pop, if I recall correctly. The best geared guilds were taking on PoP right away with their regular rosters. But then the not as well geared came along and wanted to progress, so they needed numbers to make up for it.

Combine that with the fact that you had so much flagging, competition over rare flag mobs and such, you couldn't afford to lose an encounter so people stacked the odds in their favor by having large raids. Probably things there SOE didn't anticipate, if I were to guess.

SOE retaliated by only handing out a limited number of flags and by limiting certain raid numbers, but the genii was out of the bottle in PoP. Since then, they've exercised iron control over the numbers you can take on raids.

I am looking forward to playing games where this raiding nonsense takes a back burner to exploring, grouping, soloing, and pretty much everything else. Hope that will be WoW!

Aquila Swiftspirit
05-06-2004, 12:50 PM
I think it's going to be hard for any game to match the initial fascination EQ had for me, or to build on that.

When a friend gave me the Kunark game box, I had a lot of doubts. But I logged on, and met up with another friend who also played. He showed me around a little bit. I had started in Kelethin, and just going to Steamfont was HUGE scary adventure. Remember how amazing the graphics were? It was my first multi-player on-line game, and I remember how amazed I was that there were OTHER people playing, and that I could talk to them. One person showed me where to find the guild, and how to do the basic turn in the paper thing. It was a HUGE big world and WAY cool to chat with other people about their adventures.

I remember the first time I ran up the beach in the Oasis, and was running big circles because I thought all the crocs would kill me. I remember the first time someone cast levitation on me, and I could FLOAT!

I played in that small way for a long time. It took a long time to gain a level, but boy, when I did, I felt I'd accomplished something! I could watch my skills go up, and I could hit a little better, whatever.

While that part of the game was still way fun for me, I met some folks who started showing me how to raid; I remember going to Mistmoore to get the Paladin piece, and it being SO fun! The teamwork part was just GREAT!

I don't think I got really bored by leveling til late in Velious, during a period (pre-CH) when I just couldn't seem to get groups and solo'd way too much. Once I quit soloing (during PoP) and could get groups (PoP, LDoN, even GoD), then I wasn't grinding so much as having fun again and getting experience on the side. (Luclin was pretty much a non-expansion for me, since my old computer really couldn't handle it, and I didn't get a new one til PoP came out.)

It's hard for me to imagine that a new game is going to have that instant fascination of moving around in a virtual world, or that the teamwork thing is going to be so new and fun. And the BEST was killing dragons. EQ needs more HUGE scary dragons and other nasty wonderful fantastic boss mobs to really meet the fantasy stuff.

I mean, heck, I can go outside and pull weeds, but it's not fulfilling that fantasy thing. And I can do a work project with a colleague, but again, while I appreciate the teamwork, it's not fantastic in the same way.

How's a new game going to have the same sense of wonder and fascination using the same basic graphic tools (look, a picture on a screen with an interface)? Maybe when there's more of a fully virtual reality system? (Even then, if the system depends on me physically jumping around even a little, I'm going to get tired WAY faster than my toon ever did running across the Karanas!)

quinalla
05-07-2004, 10:03 AM
It seems that, across the board, no one is happy with any of the MMOGs they play anymore. They always want more or something different than what the MMOG they are playing is offering. When major changes come along with some good things in it, they complain about the few things that weren't changed this time around. Some complain about loot, some complain about content, some complain about who is making up the quests, some complain about the complaining.
It is interesting, I agree, but can at least be partially explained by a few things. First, people have a love/hate relationship with complaining. They are unhappy when they are complaining and yet there is something gratifying about complaining with others who share the same experience. Second, most things cycle, message boards tend to go through cycles of more negative to less negative to more depending on who is posting and how they feel at the time. Also, I think people tend to focus more on those that agree with them and tend to dismiss those that don't, sometimes consciously and somethings not. For example if I hate chocolate, I will notice all these other people that hate chocolate. If I am asked along with a chocolate lover what percentage of people like chocolate, I may come back with 75% while my companion may say 95%. It is hard to be objective, especially about something you care about, as I hope most of us already know. Also, folks tend to post more when they are unhappy than happy. However, what folks are complaining about does tell us something, there is a big difference between people that are frustrated and bored with the game in general and people complaining about a heal spell being underpowered.

I don't think this explains all of it. The peculiar thing with MMOs is that they don't have a real ending. Sure, most of us set goals, but even when you reach those goals, you haven't "won" the game. Because you never win, there is no obvious point when the game is done for you. This combined with how social MMOs are and how much time we all put into our characters is a strong force that compels many to stay even when they might normally quit another kind of game. Because of this, people who would have quit or have already won another game are still around complaining about the things they don't like and are more negative than the most negative people we might hear from on other games.

Also, IMO there are still a lot of people playing EQ who are ready to be done, but haven't found a suitable MMO to move to, so they keep playing because it is still better than nothing. I know I was one of the latter until I cancelled my account. Also, I know at least me and my friends have been doubly frustrated because we are anticipating WoW and/or EQ2, but we can't play them yet. And I know I have been getting more angry everytime I try an MMO that not only does not have what I want, but are also buggy and unbalanced, I imagine some others feel the same way. Just some of my thoughts about it.

Kellory
05-10-2004, 05:40 AM
Also, IMO there are still a lot of people playing EQ who are ready to be done, but haven't found a suitable MMO to move to, so they keep playing because it is still better than nothing. I know I was one of the latter until I cancelled my account. Also, I know at least me and my friends have been doubly frustrated because we are anticipating WoW and/or EQ2, but we can't play them yet. And I know I have been getting more angry everytime I try an MMO that not only does not have what I want, but are also buggy and unbalanced, I imagine some others feel the same way. Just some of my thoughts about it.

I think thats what Bap was getting at really. But there still is the underlying question of why. I mean, EQ was just as buggy and unbalanced to start with. I mean, hell clerics were the bastard stepchild of healing and if enchanters had a use at launch I dont recall what it was. Heck, even the servers were worse than AO's launch. It took months for Karana to stabalize.

But I do think the market is largely saturated here in the US. While there are lots of newcomers, I dont think its in the numbers we saw back in 2000. MMO's are no longer the new thing really, and people are more discriminating.

5 years ago MMO's were brand new. Even the old MUDders were in awe of playing a first person MMO. UO paved the groundwork, but EQ really built upon it all. But over the last 5 years literally hundreds of thousands of people have played EQ and UO and while most found it fun for a time, in the end each found things lacking. So each new MMO at launch needs to overcome that. Instead of starting out with new players who know little about MMO's, they now are starting out with players who have played other games and are judging the new ones based upon those experiences, both good and bad. And each person has their own ideas.

To date, I think the major failing of most MMO's is that they havent tried to be different and unique. Each has tried to be the Anti-Everquest and they have designed games built around the issues and complaints that players have had. Except that in my opinion they dont understand the cause behind those complaints and issues, so in the end they just end up building EQ all over again and it fails.

Today, a developer has to face the fact that he is facing not 150,000 new players who are MMO virgins at launch, but rather upwards of 1million battle hardened and tested and cynical MMO players who are all looking for that "perfect" game and is more than willing to trash anything they dont like. I want social interaction, others want high end content. I want grouping and dont mind downtime, others abhore it with a passion. How do you accomodate both? In reality you probably cant. You can claim you can, you can attempt to, but so far all attempts have failed really. And of course everyone has their own ideas of how they could build the perfect game.

Time has just moved on. Personally I think MMO's have pretty much hit their peak. Its all going to be downhill from here until someone comes up with a new breakthrough. Perhaps VR or maybe some way of incorporating things like Battletalk and actually allowing you to speak to your guildmates and the like instead of typing.

I'm holding out for VR myself. Lineage 2 female elves in VR... Mmmmmm...

Tiane
05-10-2004, 07:12 AM
As a side note, I must say I have to re-evaluate some of my MMORPG thoughts, now that I've been playing City of Heroes for a few days.

That game is something new. It's not as, shall we say, as "obviously complex" as EQ is... EQ has stats and armour and weapons and inventory and keys and food and tradeskills, etc... CoH is different... in a way it's like a big persistant Quake server. But your character does grow, and there are subtle ways you can change her as she does, via power choices and enhancements... it's a deceptively simple system. CoH has also done what I'm sure most other MMOG devs have thought impossible... made it so EVERYONE can have a completely different and unique look and style. It's truly an amazing sight to behold, standing around in Atlas Park with 50+ other heroes running around, with no lag, and they all look different. It's like nothing I've ever seen in any game ever before (including things like Tribes2 which has a fantastic engine for that sort of thing.)

Point being... CoH is on the surface much less demanding than EQ and it's ilk are. Like everyone else, I'm not sure of the longevity of it. But the game is just *damned fun*, and has restored some of my faith in the entire MMOG genre. You can play, have fun quickly, and log out, and have accomplished something. The game is not perfect, but it's amazingly polished for only just having been released... far better than any other release games I've played (UO, EQ, AO, AC, DAOC, FFXI... yeah I tried em all cept SWG...) If you are looking for something different, I highly recommend giving CoH a try, you'll be surprised. It's not a replacement for EQ or WoW or those types... but it's different and makes for a nice change of pace, while still keeping all the best (imho) parts of an MMORPG.

Radlore
05-10-2004, 09:07 AM
I'm having a blast with CoH too. Little or no downtime; unique characters; lots of character progression (even within one 'class' there are paths you must choose and they seem well balanced). One of the nicest features is the ability a lvl 10+ char has to make a lower level char his sidekick, which means as long as they are nearby they are effectivly fighting at 1 level lower than the mentor - handy for grouping with friends. Like Tiane, not sure on the longevity but it's great fun atm :thumbup:

Jinjre
05-10-2004, 09:42 AM
I have also taken up CoH. I describe it as Diablo meets EQ. It is fairly simple to figure out, you can log in and have fun while waiting 45 minutes for the first coat of paint to dry (or laundry to be done, or whatever) and log back out. The variety in characters is amazing. There is no loot to bicker over, no need to wait an hour to find a group, and the variety in appearances is pretty amazing. So far the only thing I'd like to see implemented is a /who supergroup all (like a /who guild all) and a /who playername all.

Since I quit playing EQ due to time constraints and drama, it's nice to have a game where time is much less an issue, and you can go solo if you want with no need to worry about drama, as there simply isn't much to bicker over.

B_Delacroix
05-10-2004, 10:48 AM
Seems to be a growing trend in games like this. More geared toward being able to play in small chunks.

I wonder how much of the dramalessness is just due to its newness. Anyway, I am glad people are able to still have fun in their hobby of MMOGs. I know I have.

Jinjre
05-10-2004, 12:20 PM
I think a big part of the lack of drama is that there is no loot. None. Imagine if there was no loot in EQ. Nothing to bicker about. No "soandso got a bp that should have gone to me". No "how come these people get the good stuff and I don't?". None of that. I'd guess, at least in my experience in game, that probably 80% of the drama was loot based in some form (no one will help me with my epic, I put more effort into helping the guild, no one will run a raid for me to go get xyz loots, I help people get stuff but no one helps me etcetcetc).

I'm sure drama will happen. There are big boss people who are random spawns, and I'm sure eventually there will be uber Supergroups, just as there are uberguilds. I'm sure KS'ing happens (although xp is done differently), but not for loot. I'm sure that many of the problems that arise anytime you get a wide demographic of people all crammed into a small area with limited resources is going to occur eventually.

But for now, I'm enjoying my little Supergroup and I'm enjoying being able to play in small chunks of time, when RL presents me with such opportunity. *shrug*

B_Delacroix
05-10-2004, 01:36 PM
Horizons is similar. Its silly to fight over the loot that does drop. None of it is necessary to continue in the game and you can pretty much gather any of it yourself in larger quantities from mines or forests.

There was a bit of drama that occured when plots of land were relenquished to the empire from accounts that are no longer active. Still, it has no effect on the game if you have a plot or not so again it was easy to resist the drama. Some rare drops have caused some KSing, but xp is handled differently and they were after the "drops" anyway. Since the mobs dropping the item are plentiful, usually people just move on the the next one. So, all in all, the game I'm playing has been very drama resistant. As you say, loot was one of the root causes of so much of it. Imagined slights are another thing.

Panamah
05-10-2004, 02:23 PM
I think its due to how long and how much time people play these games. In any other game, you expect to play it a couple months, warts and all, then set it aside. In MMOG's your expectations of fun are high because of your large time and monetary commitment to the game.

Kulothar
05-11-2004, 03:06 PM
Thorn slasher in CoH.. guess my druid roots since I have thorns and regen. Just got teleport mob last night and it is funny.. I can target a mob and summon it to me. Dang I wish I could do that in EQ. It solves the nasty runner problem I had since they can run but I just zap them back. hehehe.