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[Dev Journal] General: Have MMOs Become Too Easy?

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe CitadelPosts: 23,001MMORPG.COM Staff Epic

One of the debates that rages in the MMO-space these days is whether or not MMOs have become to simplistic. In an exclusive developer blog, Red 5's Mark Kern discusses the subject from his very unique perspective. See what he's got to say before heading to the comments to leave your thoughts.

It all started with the drive to make MMOs, which in the EQ and Ultima days were a niche and hard core game, more accessible. Accessibility was the mantra when I was leading the World of Warcraft team. We labored over the user interface for the game, going through many iterations, to find one that would be easy and intuitive for players new to the genre. We created a massive number of quests to lead the player through the world, making sure that they never had to think about what to do next. 

Read more of Mark Kern's Have MMOs Become Too Easy?




  • XarkoXarko Posts: 654Member Uncommon
    Not necessarily easy, but they became SIMPLE.
  • deamiandeamian Sandy, UTPosts: 66Member Uncommon
    Time is valuable, lately everything is centered around that concept. I want another game like Everquest that steals away my entire evening to get progress, not a game that I progress through the whole game in one evening.
  • sindursindur sELBUPosts: 12Member Uncommon
    Play Darkfall Unholy Wars, its a game where you dont get hand held, you have to figure things out on your own or ask other people who is playing how to improve you skills.
  • david361107david361107 chattanooga, TNPosts: 279Member Uncommon

    I've been talking about his ever sense WOW went easy mode. Back in VWOW things were not so easy and there were millions playing it then. It wasn't until Cat when everything got stupid easy that the subs started to drop off, was this the reason? who knows, blizzard maybe.




  • Kuro1nKuro1n GothenburgPosts: 775Member Uncommon
    Simple and easy, everyone gets everything served on silver platters. Games should be challenging and what is the meaning of having the epic weapon if everyone else also has the epic weapon? MMORPGs became too much of games and too little of worlds, every company is trying to make a balanced game with esportz for all the cool kids because that is what is popular these days. I'm not bitter at all.
  • xAPOCxxAPOCx Vineland, NJPosts: 869Member
    Originally posted by Xarko
    Not necessarily easy, but they became SIMPLE.

    I dont see the difference


  • Kuro1nKuro1n GothenburgPosts: 775Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by xAPOCx
    Originally posted by Xarko
    Not necessarily easy, but they became SIMPLE.

    I dont see the difference

    Noncomplex vs hard. Complex might be more related to knowledge while hard means it takes skill to play properly etc... (well thats how I read it anyway).

  • xAPOCxxAPOCx Vineland, NJPosts: 869Member

    Have MMOs Become Too Easy?



    Short answer is yes.


  • wordizwordiz Eugene, ORPosts: 464Member
  • xAPOCxxAPOCx Vineland, NJPosts: 869Member
    Originally posted by Kuro1n
    Originally posted by xAPOCx
    Originally posted by Xarko
    Not necessarily easy, but they became SIMPLE.

    I dont see the difference

    Noncomplex vs hard. Complex might be more related to knowledge while hard means it takes skill to play properly etc... (well thats how I read it anyway).

    lol still dont see the difference. Easy and Simple are one in the same when talking about game play relating to MMOs. For me it is anyway. Not going to get all philosophical on these 2 words. No reason for it. Easy and Simple are the 2 words i would use if i were asked to rate the level of difficulty in understanding this topic.


    "Have MMOs Become too Easy?"


    A Easy, Simple answer to that is YES!


  • TimEisenTimEisen Columnist Posts: 2,811Member Rare
    Game difficulty is a reflection of what the developer thinks of us the players. I am sad to think of what the MMO devs think of fans of this once proud genre. We have fallen so far.
    I used to role-play a Warrior Priest now I role-play a writer.
    "Basically if a Ninja Turtle used it, or close to it, I like it."
  • me0nme0n londonPosts: 1Member Uncommon

    Yes and no. EQ was (is) very special, it's the only mmo that has literally had me on the edge of my seat. It also had a bucket load of sitting around waiting though. Serious hours upon hours of waiting, and grind groups where you barely think.

    EQ did a lot of stuff right though. As you mentioned in the article, dying in the noob zones was something that happened lots and that was great. It also had mobs that would follow you across a zone, and the way the zones were laid out this invariably meant you weren't invis and would aggro other mobs, and this added to the excitement. On that, there were "trains to zone" where some poor sucker would have dragged half the zone to a zone exit, escape, leaving a bucket load of angry mobs wandering back to their starting points, usually eating players they found on the way.


    I like what WoW has,  in the structured missions that lead you through, I'd just like to see the gameplay changed to make it more exciting, make everything less safe. I liked going to one of the non combat zones in EQ to chill, but in any zone with mobs, you were always at risk.

    When is WoW 2 coming btw? It must be due.

  • st3v3b0st3v3b0 Gainesville, FLPosts: 155Member Uncommon
    Absolutely.  They've become more time consuming with less complexity and fun.
  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,950Member Rare
  • KezzadrixKezzadrix Toronto, ONPosts: 90Member

    damn, I fell for it.  I believed this was an article regarding one of the biggest problems plaguing current MMOs but it was really a clever way of misleading me into an advertisement for Firefall. 

    It's too bad that in most cases it's not up to developers on what is done.  Easy games that are accessible to all types/ages of gamers bring in the most players and their money so that's what we end up with.  I am glad however that some developers are starting to take notice of this problem, even if it has taken a really long time.

  • SavageHorizonSavageHorizon ParisPosts: 3,089Member Rare

    Nope OP, if you choose to play these simple mmo's that do the thinking for you ie GW2-NWN-RIFT and soon to be TESO.

    Play Age Of Wushu, Vanguard, WurmOnline the list goes on.

  • mCalvertmCalvert Tallahassee, FLPosts: 1,283Member
    Duh, of course they they have. Excepting the sandbox games.
  • CymdaiCymdai Raleigh, NCPosts: 1,038Member Uncommon

    The short answer: Yes, absolutely.

    A brief explanation (as I'm at work): There's no "checkpoints" anymore, because player skill isn't a factor. When I say checkpoints, I mean a point in the game where your ability as an individual/group need to be tested. That does NOT mean what every modern MMO acts like it means: a blatant gut-check on your gear. Gear, in fact, should have nearly nothing to do with it. Rather, it should be a tooth-and-nail fight that requires a lot of skill, and a little luck. You should be able to lose to more than "Whoops, I pulled 3 mobs instead of 2!"

    The only game that had anything like this in recent memory was FFXI. The Genkai quests were brutal, but in order to keep leveling, you had to complete them; 4 times! Then, if you wanted to keep leveling to the level cap, you had to defeat Maat; a vicious, 1 v 1 mirror match of your class vs. a substantially stronger foe. It was mind-numbing, but when you did FINALLY beat Maat, it was like "That... was amazing." It ensured you understood your class and it's limitations to the fullest.

    More importantly, pain-staking difficulty builds community. When you create prbolems that people can't solve by themselves, guess what they do? They interact. You can see this even in the most casual MMO's out there. "Hey, I need to kill this boss... help me out?" "Sure." You see it happen all the time. The problem is, once said boss is dead, there's absolutely no reason to continue grouping, so people don't. That relative ease for the 98% of the game conditions the solo mentality, whereas if it was 98% challenging content, group play would be more beneficial.

    Waiting for something fresh to arrive on the MMO scene...

  • BattlerockBattlerock Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,393Member Common
    It's different for everyone.

    I will use Wrath of the Lich King as my example. I was introduced to the lich king in the awesome cinematic wow put out. I bought the my goal was to defeat him. While leveling and gaining new skills, I will admit defeating him wasnt always on my mind. Once I level capped started raiding and finally defeated him. I quit the game. Now I logged in time to time but it was never the same. All the wind had been taken from my sails and I had no drive because my goal had been accomplished. Now in the age of easy mode, I dont even bother with a goal like defeating a raid boss. It's not rewarding enough. I guess you say the Lich King is getting the last laugh.
  • RusqueRusque Las Vegas, NVPosts: 2,666Member Rare

    So number 1, this is an advertisement for Firefall. Real clever.

    But number 2, and an important point that might have been made had this not been a blatant advertisement is that while WoW attracted new players and "ruined" the industry it did two very very good things.

    Firstly, it brought more people! One good thing about newbies is that many of them stay in the genre AND many of them have preferences of their own and their tastes adapt over time. So while, yes, you might have many people who do want an easy time, you will also have an influx of new people who are now interested in MMO's and want a deeper experience.

    Even if just 1 million players who have played WoW have grown as gamers over time and want something more, that's amount to infuse the industry with considering how miniscule it used to be.

    And secondly, the success, backlash, more success, and the slow but inevitable decline of WoW has led to much introspection within the industry. This is good and very important. Without a major fall, you can't have a true renaissance! I'm fairly confident that the next 5-10 years are going to bring some of the best MMO's we've seen. And this is only possible because gamers and developers alike are living and debating in a post-WoW industry. Even Blizzard themselves are observing the fluctuation of WoW, people's desires and new directions.

    So while WoW may have brought some amount of ruin, from those ashes we will see this industry reinvigorated.

  • ShadanwolfShadanwolf Posts: 2,245Member Uncommon

    Simple and easy.

    There is an art to making a game that is not a grind  yet a challenge.

    Far too many game directors don't understand their target customer base.They don't understand their depth of gaming  experience.They take the easy /safe road to game development.

    Then they wonder why the large server populations they initially attracted drop so precipitously. 

  • CamoebCamoeb Goshen, CTPosts: 53Member Uncommon
    I agree with alot of with what's stated in this article. I haven't found an MMO that can keep me interested in it since EQ2. I really hope that EQNext will be different and actually provide a worthwhile game. It would be nice for an MMO to take more than a month to get to the cap and have the experience be enjoyable again like it was back in EQ1. Having enough content throughout the low and mid levels so that you can have multiple play throughs with different characters that are equally as enjoyable.
  • elyssariaelyssaria LinghemPosts: 41Member Uncommon

    YES - They have become way to simple and easy!

    Because it's to easy in most mmo rpgs then they plow through content in an amazing pace, which ends up with all content being done and lack of new things to do. = People quit.

    However making the games easy is one thing but also speeding up how fast you level up and thus reach max lvl along with making games easier = recipe to total disaster. 

    It's easy to think of a slow lvl pace as of a grind, however it doesn't have to be so... if it takes long time to lvls isn't a problem as long you have alot of stuff to do and get small incentives during the lvling (ie mini lvls inside the lvl which gives you ie points or something to make minor tweaks to your character). Another thing can be a system with no lvls but only skills which lvl up during use... so as long you have fun stuff to do then the lvl up time will be of less importance.

    So yes again the current trend of easy games and fast lvl ups needs to be changed,


  • znaiikaznaiika denver, PAPosts: 203Member

    Yes, MMO's became too easy and too simple at the same time.

    Where did you see player stand still casting spells and survive? it is now in these days, it should be different, if you don't move you die, you have to aim to hit, not even soft aiming, XP reward should be of a quest, dungeon and public events, XP pool should be realy large and should take several hours to fill, skill improvements should be of doing several other things like, combat, crafting, mining and so on.

    PVP and PVE should be on two different servers, each should have own rulles and skills, to avoid nerfing.


    And yes, smart AI, similar to Rage AI.

  • LionShardLionShard MaarduPosts: 18Member Uncommon
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