MMOs, Recipe for Success

Zer0KZer0K TokyoMember UncommonPosts: 68
This is a topic that my friends and I have discussed at length over the years.
We're avid MMO players and between us we've logged quite a few hours across various MMOs since 2000.
Some of the games we've played:  Everquest, Ultima Online, Everquest 2, Star Wars Galaxies, World of Warcraft, Vanguard:Saga of Heroes, Guild Wars 2, Archeage, Black Desert, Elder Scrolls Online, Star Trek Online, Star Wars the Old Republic  ... ... ...
We've been at one time or another: hard-core, casual, solo and group players in various degrees and depending on real life circumstances.
We've been generally dissatisfied with the state of MMOs over the past 5+ years and we've come down to various points/ideas of what makes an MMO a success.

Now, I don't claim to be the end all expert of what makes an MMO great.  People will have their own opinions and will likely disagree with some of my points.  I just want to jot some of my thoughts down about what I think makes an MMO a success.

First, let me lay down some basic points I think define what makes a successful MMO:  (in no particular order)
An MMO must be/have:
1. IMMERSIVE (Makes the player feel they're in the game-world)
2. FAIR (Devoid of P2W and shoddy systems(buggy and full of exploits)for example)
3. EXPLORATION (Provide a high degree of the UNKNOWN, waiting to be discovered)
4. CONSEQUENCES (There must be a healthy risk vs. reward in the game)
5. COOPERATIVE (Provide content promoting community involvement)
6. PROGRESSION (Provide accomplishments and a sense of character progression)
7. STORY (A robust and deep story to be told)

To provide a bit more examples and explanation of my thoughts about the above points:

1.  Immersion


Anything that pulls you out of the game simply breaks immersion.  Immersion is important, as it allows the player to stay connected to the game-world in which they're playing in.  A BIG no no is loading screens.  The technology for a seamless game-world has been around at least for 10 years now with a 2007 title (Vanguard:Saga of Heros) having it, and now games like ArcheAge doing it quite well.

*Personally for me and my friends, we find it very difficult to get on board with a game when it has loading screens in our faces.

2.  Fair

Games like Archeage and Black Desert (to name a few) have elements of P2W.  This is especially a sour point when games have a PvP element.  It will also extend to Guild vs. Guild and impact what players can accomplish with greater ease to have advantage over others for the sake of how much real-world cash they throw at the game.

*To us, we feel this promotes poor and lazy game design in the form of mind-numbing grinds and a lack of quality Lore and PvE elements in the game.  Simply not a fair model as well.


Some game-makers simply have very poor QA which promotes a multitude of exploits.  As well the game design may make it easy for hacks.

*This is also a no no.

3.  Exploration

Too often game-makers simply 'give it up'.  It means, they have most of the game-world already mapped out and provided to the player in some way.  Of course, over time the game-world will be uncovered and people could easily look online for some map that provides information.  However, there are ways to prevent giving up too much information to the player.  A changing dynamic world is one way.  Multiple levels of details of a map.  Each player having their own map based on what they've uncovered, including how much detail they've uncovered.
The world needs to be dynamic enough to make a map become less useful over time due to the changing game-world.

Fast Travel = NO

*Fast travel just kills the experience and trivializes the game-world.  The world should not be some website browsing experience.  Forms of travel have to have more meaning than just some clicky somewhere that teleports you most anywhere.
Mounts are ok to a point, even flying mounts if there are systems in place to make it difficult to simply traverse vast distances with these.

*We want a game where there's just lots of area simply unexplored.  Is there a river or lake over that mountain range yonder?  How can we pass over that mountain range? (there are no roads or paths, maybe there's some caves?)  Wow, that's a large ocean, how far does it go?  I wonder if there are any islands out there?


4.  Consequences

Too many games have little risk vs. reward.  Death is meaningless.  Gear decay is there, but easily repairable, so it basically means nothing.
Without consequences, there is no real risk, and thus the reward is not very sweet at all.
Let's not CODDLE the player-base, hold them by the hand and make it very easy for them.  Let's provide true challenge and risky situations.
Let's get that heart pumping and anxiety of the encounter back into the MMO.
Sure, go out and explore, at your own risk.  You may lose most of your gear if you stray too far away from any safe location and you get yourself killed.  The world is a dangerous place, and you better be prepared for the consequences of your actions. 
But hell, when you do succeed, through proper planning, using your brain, and a bit of luck to boot, the reward is soooo sweet!

[CONTINUED NEXT POST]


Comments

  • Zer0KZer0K TokyoMember UncommonPosts: 68
    [CONTINUED FROM FIRST POST]

    5.  Cooperative

    It's an MMO.  Some solo content is of course fine.  Though the game needs to focus on providing a true multiplayer interactive experience. 
    This includes 'some' class/ability dependencies on other players.  Buff that player with levitation to help them out.  They can't do it themselves, because they have a specialty in some other area which might be beneficial to you.
     MMOs are meant to be played with others, not some single PC install play in your own vacuum.
    Sure, again some solo content is fine.  For those times where you can't get into a group for whatever reason.
    Though, don't expect to progress and be successful through the whole game as a solo player.

    5.  Progression

    The player needs to feel that their actions have meaning.  There needs to be a true feeling of accomplishment.  That true feeling can't come when the game is a pushover with little risk vs. reward (see above #4).  In my opinion, grinds aren't really progression.  Having a grind should not be there to replace consequences.  Grind in a game is again a very lazy way to create a game and goes counter from a truly fun game.  If you've conditioned yourself to expect and like grind, then I'm sorry brother, the lazy game designers have brainwashed you.

    6.  Story

    Or game lore.  This is very important.  You could have a great game idea with interesting systems.  Yet, if there's no enticing and rich game story / lore in the background, the game is quite empty.  A background story helps the player get immersed into the game.  It supports multiple points above and is one of the most important things about an MMO.  It is often related to the PvE aspect of an MMO, but not necessarily.
    An example of weak PvE/Story would be ArcheAge.  ArcheAge does various things well, but fails(IMO) in this aspect.

    Let the player sink themselves into the story/lore of your world.  Allow them to branch from that and make their own adventures and stories.  Plus, let their heroic actions become part of the story of the game world in some way.

    --------------------------

    The above are just some of my thoughts about what MMOs need, some examples that go counter to being a good MMO.
    I believe if a game-maker can address all of the above successfully, they have the recipe for a winning MMO.

    Not a guarantee, but on the road to success.

    Maybe in a later post I'll share more specific ideas on how I think MMOs can improve.

    Thanks for the read.    Fire away!
  • AAAMEOWAAAMEOW New York, NYMember UncommonPosts: 470
    The most difficult is probably retention rate.

    Judging by how many mmorpg you guys played probably show why it's so difficult for mmorpg to success.
  • RobokappRobokapp Dublin, OHMember RarePosts: 5,903
    AAAMEOW said:
    The most difficult is probably retention rate.

    Judging by how many mmorpg you guys played probably show why it's so difficult for mmorpg to success.
    still playing WoW...

    image

  • Zer0KZer0K TokyoMember UncommonPosts: 68
    AAAMEOW said:
    The most difficult is probably retention rate.

    Judging by how many mmorpg you guys played probably show why it's so difficult for mmorpg to success.
    Well.  Keep in mind that this is over the course of 16 years.

    All of the games we played had 'some' element(s) that we liked.  Whether be the popularity of the IP, or a slightly different take on the combat system etc.

    Reasons for moving on include exhausting the content, content becoming too grindy, P2W appears, game-maker/publisher foobaring things up and so on.

    Longevity in part comes from when the game world doesn't have elements that support in the trivialization of its content and game-world.

    There will always be those who race to the top, or try to break some record on max leveling their character in the shortest amount of time.

    In part I believe that's one of the weaknesses in many MMO game designs.

    We support the abolition of a 'leveling' system to that of a 'skill' system.

    You want to wield a sword proficiently, you need to train, you need to fight with it, you need to enhance it with crafting(or someone else's crafting services).  It takes time to learn certain sword forms for offense/defense.  If you change to bow/arrow & staff, you may start forgetting some of your skill with the sword.
    Same with magic.  You need to study spells, find missing pieces to make spells stronger, tie in certain elements to help enhance your spells further and have some level of customization.  It takes time, and is not automatically given to you at the DING of a level.
    You have to travel the world to POSSIBLY find certain/new spells.  You may be KOS to a certain faction, but the only way to get a spell is to align with the faction and train with their train and spend time doing various quests and studies with that previously KOS faction to get/enhance a spell particular to that faction/race.

    To us/myself, the leveling system of most games is just a rinse/repeat of many predecessors.

    Some games have done better in this regard, but haven't totally departed from a leveling system.  If they have, they'll likely have other weaknesses that may not entice 'some' to play it.

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