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to throw a spanner in the works i think aion has some great potential from what i have seen and read and for me seems like a fresh idea (but i did say the same thing bout warhammer) and that still does have great potential in my veiw.
Originally posted by Dana Who says MMOs should be the way they are? This week, Massey suggests the only chance some upstart has of matching World of Warcraft is to forget all their assumptions about what an MMO "should be" and start over.Ignore everything. Even games that try to be innovative still employ basic conventions of MMOs, because they’re “supposed to.”Who woke up and decided every MMORPG needs to have a D&D-esque character development system, or even a UO-esque one for that matter?Who said that MMOs require hot bars?Who proclaimed that it’s not a proper MMO unless you have quests?
Read more here.
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In a way, couldn't you say that Second Life did this?
Anyway, I think the next big thing will probably be the opposite of what people here want - something that appeals mostly to casual players
R.I.P. City of Heroes and my 17 characters there
good article, as others have said it is the same way me and nearly every gamer i know feels, but not only does it apply to mmorpgs but other genres as well. im just so sick of shelling out money or wasting time on a game that gets all kinds of hype and at first seems to be a great new thing, but once you get past the couple of cool new features it turns out to basically be the exact same as everything that has come before it for years, only with prettier graphics. imo we gamers, as the ones buying the product should demand more. look at the massive numbers we have just within the mmorpg community and all the ideas we have and the innovations we would love to see that can never come to light because we dont happen to work in game design or a similar field. we should stop funding these clones of clones of clones month after month and force these companies to either change and give us something truly new and unique, or die out. look at other products outside of gaming, such as cars. do the car companies succeed by just shelling out the same design, performance, features, etc year after year, no they are forced to improve their product or their sales suffer greatly and they cant keep themselves going, which is part of the reason many foreign auto makers are out performing the US companies, because they are being more innovative.
the best thing a gaming company could do at this point if they hope to come out with something to topple the competition is to stop relying on these so called pros, who are stuck in one mindset of how things should be done, and setup some communication with the actual gamers who they are catering to and have a way for us to give them suggestions/ideas/feedback and for others gamers to see these things as well and have it all build on eachother in order to ensure that the end product is something that, perhaps not all, but the great majority of the mmorpg community has had some hand in contributing to and are getting exactly what they requested. i know there are lot of creative and intelligent people out there in the gaming world that have ideas that would have never even crossed the minds of anyone at some of these companies, but we need a way of getting this information to the devs and publishers so that they can take that and turn it into reality, theyre the only ones with the funding and skills to make it happen. after all many of our greatest advances in history have not been made by a large group of singleminded people working together, but rather by one or 2 individuals who for whatever reason had the ability to see and comprehend things that noone else would have ever dreamed possible.
I read someone said that funding is the biggest obstacle for innovation, for example, I know a game which I've been following for quite a while now, called Renaissance, and it's ideas are great, the development team seems to be skilled and they are veteran gamers, so they know what most gamers want from a game, and they will try to make it original, however, atm development has been halted, becouse every time they found an investor, that investor suddenly 'mysteriously' dissapeared, investors just don't like innovation, they prefer tested and 'working' concepts.
I remember Tabula Rasa ran their whole marketing thing about thinking out of the box and starting over with a clean slate. While in reality it was not actually that much different from the cookie cutter MMOs it failed pretty badly...
I'm still waiting till the day they give me cyborg penguins with katanas, flying around in purple space ships trying to conquer the breakfast table through the use of a reverse leveling system based on stealth.
Notice: The views expressed in this post are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of MMORPG.com or its management.
I thought Tabula Rasa was one of the better mmos I've played, I think mostly becouse I got the feeling I got to do something, and actualy shoot at the enemy (even though everything following was standart rolls) Still, it seems that all mmos I like, die >.<
I liked Tabula Rasa alot too, but it just seemed like they gave up on it after a while. After a month of play I had tried all it had to offer, I always ended up doing the same things over and over again. The npc invasions of the cities were fun at start, but it seemed very pointless, it could be fun to implement an AI director like the L4D one to add some randomness and maybe some consequenses to your actions.
Though I do miss sitting on a rock outside of a town with my sniper rifle shootthing random mobs.
Speaking of throwing out the rulebook, Mortal Online seems to be doing that.
The question is - Can MMOs work diffrently ? Answer is yes.
Will players like it ? ???
Can a company develop something that the players will maybe never like ? No.
Here is the thing tho. Its easy to break MMOs into certain catagories and actually test what works and what doesn't work. Lets take few examples.
Grapihcs (cartoon like or extra detailed ? ) Enviroment (PVP - PVE - AI - interface - travels)SKills (Classes - Abilites - lvls - rulesets.)Comunity (player interaction - influence of the players on the game)
Now - go test it !!!
Do you need multibillion project to do it ? No.
And THATS where MMO develoopers go terribly wrong these days. They will not take a dump without paying 10 million for it. Its that flaw of basic thinking that will always hunt the genre. Money not only talks - it controls everything.
Taking risks in game development is not always profitable. Hell - it almost never is. WOW was nothing new to start up with. It just did the things better than most other games had done so far. First and formost tho - the game was created FOR the gamers - with basic thinking of what most players would like to see and be able to do. The fact is that probably the biggest factor in WOW succsess is the ability of players to create their own mods and UIs. It kinda gives the game a new "life" every 3-6 months when you get bored of actually playing it the same old way. And at the same time many other MMOs including LOTRO do not even have the ability to change the basic font of the UI... and i HATE that font (and alot of other features of LOTRO). The simple fact that I can't change that font is the main reason I will never ever ever buy that game. Cause I simply can not think of playing a game for a year or two while watching at that horror.
So - personalised gaming is one thing. Every MMO department should in fact have a team of devs working on making new UIs and new features. Most of the time tho. It ends up beeing the last thing that ever changes. Again - the devs dont think like the players.
Brilliant article! I have been saying to my friends for a long time now that there needs to be a new and major change in MMO's. Like many on here I have been playing MMO's for so long now and WoW really was nothing that new. Sure I played it but after 3 or 4 months I was done and wanted something else. It was just another MMORPG to me.
Doing something different is going to make a major impact when it actually is done in my opinion. I think a lot of people are scared of losing money but your average MMORPG gamer who looks beyond WoW is looking for something new and fresh. They want something to really capture them and take them to a new level in gaming. I know this is me. I am constantly looking for the next game. I am constantly looking for something that really stands out from all the rest.
So when will we see something new and fresh? Who will make it? Who will put their money behind it? I hope to see it sooner then later. Believe and it will happen.
Great post. I wish that there were more developers who took a liberty to research more ideas that MMOs can be created based on. It almost feels like these D&D templates are hard coded in peoples minds now and they don't know anything else to try. The biggest problem is probably gamers mind itself. Somehow games that are unique (Auto Assault good example) don't create enough interest to be popular. Its almost like we are getting born these days holding a virtual melee weapon in one hand and shield in another, and tracking a virtual goblin with our infant eyes.
I think that Gaming Market will have to go through quite a few trials and errors until gamers will get used to ideas of MMOs without elves and goblins. problem is that nobody want to be a developing company who will fall into the trial and error routine. Nobody wants to lose money. So we are kinda doomed to gazillion variations of fantasy MMOs.
I really hope that Black Prophesy and Jump Gate Evolution will succeed in their space flight sim combat MMO attempts.
This is exactly the reason why i place high hopes in Star Wars the Old Republic. BioWare like Blizzard is a big name and has the funds to do something innovative without the need to rush it out cause the run out of money. Beside that, they are new to MMO's, like Blizzard used to be before WoW. Those similarties let me hope that Star Wars the Old Republic could be the MMO(RPG) some of use have been waiting for.
Buuut those facts dont garantee a good game, lets see if they come up with something good.. otherwise we will have to wait some more.
I've been saying this exact same thing for years. And the posts over here only confirm it.The MMO space needs to be shaken with new products. If you look at multiplayer games you'll find very distinct experiences.From MP GTA to Gran Tourismo, Unreal Tournament and so on. But if you look at the MMO space with few exceptions it is always the same. Typical MMO rpg game that needs to have a crafting system, items, quests, turn base combat and so on. Technology has evolved a lot and broadband is now easy to get access too, yet companies prefer to repeat a formula that comes from the Everquest days. The formula isn't bad, but new products are needed and you will only get THAT huge hit if you build something that is more than a sum of past MMO features.Don't get me wrong. We've had some interesting games like WWII online and so on that aren't the typical MMO game. But frankly when can this games bring something like Call OF Duty or Battlefield Online to the MMO space?I greatly enjoy some of the current MMO games but frankly do almost all of them follow the same basics?I also think most MMOs could be a lot, and I mean a lot more fun and engaging when copared to traditional single player games. Take a traditional single player RPG game like Fallout 3. To put it simple a traditional walk in the park in Fallout 3 is much more enganging than most mmos.You got AI walking around doing they're thing activaly engaging the world. Events occurring without player intervention everywhere. Most MMOs even today feel like static beautifull worlds with lots of real players doing pvp and pve but little world interaction.
Just to finalize. In a traditional Call Of Duty level you got lots of things going around at the same time that give you that cinematic feel and emergence. Even the traditional MP game feels alive with action, good movement, players characters speaking depending on what is happening around.My point is there is a very big player base that is waiting for something that really impressses them.
Originally posted by reanor Hey Dana,Great post. I wish that there were more developers who took a liberty to research more ideas that MMOs can be created based on. It almost feels like these D&D templates are hard coded in peoples minds now and they don't know anything else to try. The biggest problem is probably gamers mind itself. Somehow games that are unique (Auto Assault good example) don't create enough interest to be popular. Its almost like we are getting born these days holding a virtual melee weapon in one hand and shield in another, and tracking a virtual goblin with our infant eyes.I think that Gaming Market will have to go through quite a few trials and errors until gamers will get used to ideas of MMOs without elves and goblins. problem is that nobody want to be a developing company who will fall into the trial and error routine. Nobody wants to lose money. So we are kinda doomed to gazillion variations of fantasy MMOs. I really hope that Black Prophesy and Jump Gate Evolution will succeed in their space flight sim combat MMO attempts.
To me the future of MMOs should and will have elves and goblins. What will hopefully change it the concpet of "levels", "classes" and "abilites".
A game without a leveling curve ? Yes... very much possible. You just find new ways of progressing the characters. For example through repuation with certain factions that open up new content as you go along. And you meet ppl on the way that are looking for the same and playing the game for same reasons.
Classes ? Who said you need to start a game as a "hunter" or a "mage". Or even a "tank" or a "healer". The progression through the game should be determining how you progress and what you like to do or how you want to play - Right ?
Who said that the laws of MMOs need to be - I get to lvl 20 and I get this and that ability if I play this and that class? Almost every rulebook in MMOs so far tells you that. Some games take diffrent aproch and are still populare. EVE for example. So how is it that there are no other ways ? Why isn't there a "path" you can take to get certain skill ? Talk to a NPC - get a quest for an item that gives you powers. Do that quest. And if you then deside you like to change your ability you go on another quest and loose this abilty you have before.
How come MMOs dont give each character 10 abilites they can work with instead of sticking them into determined subclasses like "tank", "healing" and "dmg" like WOW is doing. Whats wrong with a class that has 3 abilites of each? Hell - as long as the abilites are balanced it could work fine. Every tanking ability you take for example means you will take less dmg - but also do less dmg yourself. All healing abilites mean you can heal but also loose both dmg and the way of protecting yourself. And dmg - you can do more dmg but also become alot more vulnarable. So... a class that has 3 of each is "balanced" no matter what abilites of those subclasses it takes. Class that has 9 tanking ablites tho is ofc a pure tank. And if he wants to change he goes and does quests to give him other abilites but at the same time looses some tanking abilites.
Everything is possible. The only thing preventing it to happen is money. But thats because every big developer thinks that way. The future of MMOing is based on smaller projects that can "afford" to do something diffrent. Look at Eve. You dont need multibillion project to come up with new ideas. And the thing is.. you dont have to have billions to test those out... in a free game online...
Now let me ask you this ... should the future of MMOs be based on free to try while in development OR pre-order before you know jackshit about the game ? I tell you what the big developers want. But thankfully they are not the gamers. And many of them care very little about the gamers. The future is based on experiments with new ways of making games. And the company that actually does this will probably be the next giant of MMO. Free means it doesn't have to be perfect. So you can experiment all you like ! And when you have the basics - then add content/expansions that can be charged for. Thats the future of MMOs.
I think thats why SWG pre-NGE was so popular because people were not forced to play some certain template or class. They could mix up their abilities up to a certain point and be so much more proficient. I think that Black Prophecy would be more popular than JumpGates Evolution with the modulation system which allows a pilot to build the ship they want. Again, variety of choices is more attractive than being forced into specific template of a 'class/profession'. Then again, JGE will have different types/classes of ships that will allow pilots to make their own choices on who they want to be today. Just on example of these 2 new games.
I hope The Old Republic will be innovative at some extent but it already seems that we will be forced to chose classes early on in the game. Which will put us in the same shoes of forced choice.
This goes well with my argument that its time to have manual targeting in MMORPG's (ie. you have to aim your bow manually and fire an arrow manually to hit something). Some people say: "But no we cant have that, MMORPG's ALWAYS had auto target, therefore it must remain so...". NONSENSE. This is just one point, ofcourse here are lots of things that can be done differently than the "traditional, safe, way.
This is why 90% of current MMO ae alike :-/
Originally posted by arctarus Dont be surprise if this kind of new gameplay comes from Blizz next MMO.They need a new mmo, yet they wouldnt want their current subs in WoW to fall too much, and they have the capital to do it.And the fact is their new mmo will be a new ip really makes it all the more possible. Why new ip if there's nothing new they want to implement?So i believe their next mmo will again "revolutionize" the market....
I agree. Considering Blizzard has the money and the reputation, I believe if any company will turn the genre on its head, it would be Blizzard. It'll have to be a large company with money, that's for sure.
If they release another WoW looking game, I'll just boycott their existence in my mind.
Great Article and I think that's what I've been waiting for. I can't get into any MMO anymore, just gets so boring after about 2 weeks.
What I want to see is a Character system with no limits. If you want to learn a skill, go ahead and learn the skill! A cost may be involved or maybe even a pressuasion system where you have to pressuade the master of such skills to teach you. Everytime they agree to teach you it becomes like a instance so it's not just "You just gained this skill by paying some money. Point the sword at the enemy and swing." I want a character that can learn and do anything under the sun if I wanted him to with enough time and effort, rather then 10 different characters I have to level up differently.
The idea of enemies just "spawning" is strange to me after a while. I wish to see a game with a very interactive world. Reasons for things happening and constantly changing. One day going into a easy area and killing some wolves who had recently been breeding quickly in the woods. The next day you come back and all the wolves have been killed and eaten by the large goblin tribe that just set up camp on their way to raid a local village. Maybe a Player Controlled Goblin Character had been run out of the local village and he wants pay back. So he was the one who told the tribe about the village and leads them to lay siege to the area. In a sense there would still be spawning but from the major towns/cities of each race or creature living in the world where they move out from the cities themselves and make camps from there.
A world where alliances between nations constantly switch depending on the actions of the players. Not just PvP based actions but PvE based ones.
These are just a few ideas that I would love to see implemented. With MMOs as they are now they are very predictable and you know what to expect. That quickly loses it's charm, I want a world that's constantly changing that makes you think "I actually did something to effect this world, I freaking did that!" rather then "What's the point of killing these mobs, they are going to just keep coming back every 5 mintues and have to kill them all over agian."
Edit: Wow I just reread this and I'm all over the place.
Originally posted by zymurgeist Originally posted by bobfish Developers are well aware of this, however there is NO ONE willing to pay for such a product.You are preaching to the converted, if you did it at GDC, you'd still be preaching to the converted, you need to walk up Wall Street and convince the people with the money, though I have no idea how you could ever do that.
Really? I'll tell you how it's always been done and will always been done. First you get together a small group of investors and a talented core of programmers and make a successful single player game or three. They don't need to be completely revolutionary but they need to get you noticed and they need to make good money. You leverage that sucess to take your company public. It's helpful if you can develop a good relationship with a major publisher along the way. You might release some technologically significant multiplayer games. while developing the infrastructure to build your MMO in the background. Then you make and market your MMO sucessfully using the war chest you've built up along the way. You see most investors know nothing about games. They do know about money and flock to success. You just have to think long term, make no mistakes and not cash in by selling out to a major corporation that's going to run you into the ground along the way. The concept isn't hard, it's the execution that's an iron clad bitch.
Oh yeah, that's what Blizzard did. That they chose to build a derivative game rather than something revolutionary says more about the developers than the investors.
Every developer has mentioned how complex creating a MMORPG is compared to a single player game, and that's saying a lot considering a single player game is complex too. So I agree that veteran game designers and leaders should be the ones to make MMORPG's. We've seen all to often the brand new guys in the industry, trying to take a crack at making a MMORPG, but their game fails in the end. Blizzard was either incredibly lucky or very smart, because they created a stable of games that were well received before creating their MMORPG, and that gave them the experience, money, and reception needed to do well in the MMORPG industry. They deserve their several billion dollars a year and I hope they make good use of it to revolutionize this genre with their upcoming MMORPG.
I'm all for innovation. But... who says it really has to come from the Dev's for it to work? I think that 'sandbox' games have really received a bad wrap over the last few years, but I think that the 'sandbox' system could be augmented to the point of 'success'.
WoW, as we've all admitted, is a very well 'polished' game. I tip my hat to Blizzard.
Wow does have a lot going for it, but honestly... at this point, what WoW has going for it is beyond the technical aspects of the game.
I look at Blizzard and see a 'here's our menu, no substitutions allowed' type of game. It works as the masses can easily get into their game AND people are likely to stay because 'everyone else is doing it'. Word of mouth, ease of use, and high player population continues to work... while 'innovation' isn't really in play.
Innovation = complexity and complexity would destroy Blizz's support model.
A new game has to catch a positive 'popular' curve and outweigh, outlast, and outlive the 'negative' barrage that will come by the 'fanboi's' of other games. And, some games have more fanboi's in their arsenal than other games, let's be honest.
I think most game companies are fearful of offering something that doesn't spoonfeed their clients, leading them down a linear path and telling a scripted story... the same path and same story for EVERY player.
Spoonfeeding = success? Perhaps that's why we don't see more games for 'thinking' players.
Someone finally said it. This is the best approach to solving any problem really... you can't be too close to it. The more expert you are the less likely you'll solve the problem. Once you have your epiphany then it takes a massive amount of will power, courage, sacrifice and risk to make things happen--nothing truly significant happens in the world without these qualities (and then some). Most developers are unimaginative, unenlightened husslers trying to repeat someone elses pattern. Assholes!
Knowing this is really only the seed though. You still have to tend the plant to maturity. Polish was mentioned. You won't topple wow without polish, polish, polish. My bet's on Red 5. This article reminds me of what I've read of their vision. Good article BTW.
I enjoyed reading this article, and will read the other associated articles later.
A friend and I have been working on our own online game over the past 2+ years. Neither of us have much money to put into the game, but we have invested much time. The idea of our game sparked from a couple different sources. The first is another browser-based game that I told him about. Part of the idea was for a card game I was trying to create, but just wasn't feasible in that medium. The rest was our likes and dislikes of games similar to the one we've made. How did we not stick with the norm? Well...
(1) We scrapped the D&D stats, and just stuck with Brawn and Brains. And, both start at a base amount to build from.
(2) Character creation? Boring! ... Adn tedious. How about just enter a name and go? No races, genders, etc. to pick from. You start as a "tabula rasa", and build your character from there.
(3) I enjoy games where I can explore. So, we created an open-ended game with a rich and detailed world. We constantly add new content, so the game continues to grow and there is more to explore and more challenges to conquer. Plus, there is an on-going plot-line that we build upon, much like periodic comic book releases.
(4) We both enjoy the community surrounding other online games. Although the game is solo (so far), we have added a chat, forum, and (soon to be added) combats against others via Player-as-NPCs.
(5) We constantly challenge and reinvent ourselves. The engine, simple when constructing content, is quite robust. Not only do we think "How can we use it for this game?", but also, "What else can we construct using the same set of tools?"
(6) The main thing... We don't worry or stress too much about, "What if the public doesn't like this?" We focus more on if this is a game we would enjoy playing, which we do, and play on a regular basis.
We don't know if our game will ever be as big and as well-played as WoW or UO. But, we're enjoying what we're doing, and don't mind sharing. Sure, we'd love to retire from our day jobs and work mainly on the game. If that day ever comes... Woo hoo! If not... It's still an awesome journey!
As for money... We don't invest too much money into the game. But, we do have various tricks for getting the word out there. Email me offline if you'd like some ideas.
If you'd like to try our game, we'd love to hear anyone's opinion. It's Urban Legions (http://www.urbanlegions.net).
Reminds me of "The Grandfather Clause of Stupidity"
Probably the biggest single source of bad rule and mechanics decisions comes from the fact that most game designers, rather than actually going to a library, base most of their research on the work of other game designers. In this way errors are compounded, unrealistic ideas are perpetuated, and design flaws from the earliest of games become commonplace in all modern iterations. It all goes back to the origin of the "role playing game." Here we are talking about the true origin of the "let’s pretend" game like House or Cops and Robbers, but of the origin of the systemized, rule-based role playing simulation. It all starts with Chainmail.
The modern idea of the systemized RPG, from pen and paper to MMORPG, all stems from this Chainmail legacy, and several silly factors have never been properly weeded out. The two biggies are:
* The focus on combat as the core activity in games that are purportedly about assuming a role, as opposed to a tabletop miniatures battle system* Arbitrary and unrealistic characteristics ascribed to weapons and armor, very convenient for calculating casualties in mass combat quickly yet wholly inappropriate for small-scale tactical simulations
It is difficult to underestimate the ability of people to consider themselves an authority on things when their only source of information is a game manual someone else wrote before them, which was in turn based on another game manual, etc. etc. Things become worse when these designer-types elect to "make a few little adjustments" in the thirdhand systems they’re stealing from.
Read more here, its a classic mmo-design text: http://mu.ranter.net/design-theory/general-topics/the-grandfather-clause-of-stupidity
You run into problems when you try to pigeon hole MMO players. The time of massive games like WoW have pretty much run it's course and the chances of challenging Blizzard are slim.
So, you want something different. Great. Who's going to pay for it? Like many have pointed out, investors want formulas that guaranty a profit in return. Thinking outside the box requires someone who has money and just wants innovation. They aren't expecting anything in return except that innovation.
So, where would that come from? Most likely a small group of people that can fund themselves.
Is such a scenario possible? Sure. Just don't expect to become the next WoW. No one will. Just make a game you'd want to play. If you'd want to play it, most likely others would as well. Once you have that, you can fill in most of the blanks pretty easy.
However, back to the original problem of pigeon holing MMO players. Many 'hard core' players are people that move to the latest and greatest MMO and go through the content so fast that they can't be satisfied no matter what you do. If you plan on catering to this segment of MMO players, no matter how good you are, the game will fail. Even Blizzard realized this and began catering to the casual player. The casual players will stay for years, not just months, and won't blow through your content that took you years to develop in just a couple of months.
So, you want to have a profitable MMO? Go after the market that ensures the best return for your investment... the social aspect for the casual player. Quests, mobs, etc are all nice, but if you don't allow players to be social and give them the tools to do so, you'll be ignoring your best paying customers. Casual players are less demanding in many areas as long as they feel there is something to do. Just don't have a game that has lots of downtime and bugs as that will kill off your casual player base so fast it will make your head spin. When a casual player has like 2 hours a week to play, they want to log on and play. Not deal with bugs or downtime.
So, what kind of MMO? Who cares. Make a social MMO in a unique setting and give people something to do. Fantasy? Okay, kill stuff and get rid of the evil guys. Sci Fi? Okay, defend your planets from the invaders. Post Apocolyptic? Fine, kill off the zombies and keep yourself alive. Want something out of the box? How about a Renaisance MMO where politics and religion have to be dealt with to create a better world? The sky is the limit as long as you give people an environment to be as social as possible.
Personally? I'm a huge roleplayer and enjoyed the roleplaying experience that pen and paper D&D offered. The interaction between the group and the people/enemies we met was more than just casting a spell or wielding a sword. Creating a character with flaws was more fun than trying to create the perfect superman character that would never die. Life is about our flaws not about being invinceable. Overcoming the flaws is what makes great movies and stories... Why not make it part of MMOs?