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Creating an Environment Conducive to Roleplay and Fun in General...

JonsusJonsus Toronto, ONPosts: 175Member

I believe that the current trend of "making things easier" in MMORPG's is, at worst, the genre's downfall, and at best, a severe detriment to any sort of immersion that the "Massively" part of the oft-used acronym is meant to describe.

Let me explain.

When I began playing EQ1 around 15 years ago, there was a sense of wonder that rose within me when my blocky little avatar would crest a hill and see a city I had never visited sprawling out before me. That sense of wonder was the product of having to brave a difficult journey, on foot, across hostile lands where absolutely everything could and probably would kill me, in order to get to a strange new area that offered more quests/sights/people etc. The whole concept of "Fast Travel" has all but eliminated this in contemporary late 2nd or early 3rd gen MMORPG's.

Nowadays, whenever you want to get someplace, you just run to your local "Griffon Trainer/Drake Rider/Stable Hand" etc and a few seconds later you are at your destination. Now, even this is debateable as to whether it is, at its core, an advancement in the genre or a detriment to immersion, because in many games, this sort of thing is perfectly lore-acceptable, albeit uncommon. Where it starts to get dicey is when you see the continual telescoping/collapsing of the game-world in order to make it "easier" for players to get places. Why did the developers of whatever game you're playing even bother to create a gameworld if you can just warp around it at a whim and the cost of a few silver coins? Why not just play in a tiny little box with all your quests in the same place to make it "easier" for you. Or even better, why not just make everything a "click button to warp to instance" thing, where all you do is sit in one spot, flip rapidly through never-read questgiver babble, click OK, and go smash things to get that l33t reward?

In the old EQ days, im talking pre-PoP, pre-Luclin, you actually had to travel to the Eastern Commonlands, sit down with the other random people milling about in the EC tunnel, and hock your wares. In doing this, people would meet each other, haggle, barter, ultimately and most importantly, interact with one another. But now, again in the spirit of making things "easier", the "Auction House" mechanic was slowly introduced, eventually becoming a staple of the genre that we all love. Now, you had no reason to ever even talk to another person outside of your guild or close-knit social circle. Find some neat gear in a dungeon? Toss it on the AH and it'll be sold for you, the money will be mailed to you and can be picked up at one of a thousand mailboxes scattered throughout the gameworld. No longer do you need to meet another person face to face in order to show them the item of power you dragged from the deepest pit, against all odds and at terrible peril. No longer will you meet and speak to others of your trials and quests, braved in the pursuit of said shiny trinket, or hear of theirs.

Sound stupid? Well examine some of the games that are out right now, the big titles as well as the FTP ones. They all seem to be going the same route, which brings me right back to the main focus of this thread: Immersion.

Immersion is why we play MMORPG's, especially us roleplayers! And this rising trend of "easiness" is how immersion dies, and everyone, from all powerful Dev, to random casual gamer, should take a moment to think about why they want things to be "easier". Isnt the questing SUPPOSED to be tough? When you venture into the wilds, isnt traversing them SUPPOSED to be perilous? When you run across someone wielding a flaming sword, wearing a suit of golden armor wrested from the hands of evil planar denizens, arent you SUPPOSED to go "HOLY SHIT MAN! WHERE'D YOU GET THAT STUFF?!!"

I dunno, its all just food for thought I suppose. I could be wrong...

I will end my ramblings with a quote from the late, great, H.G. Wells. In his novel "The Time Machine", Wells writes "We are kept keen on the grindstone of pain and necessity." At the rate things are progressing... we all run the risk of becoming frightfully dull.

My 2c.

Cheers.

Comments

  • Torment1982Torment1982 Fremont, CAPosts: 156Member

    Originally posted by Jonsus

    I believe that the current trend of "making things easier" in MMORPG's is, at worst, the genre's downfall, and at best, a severe detriment to any sort of immersion that the "Massively" part of the oft-used acronym is meant to describe.

    Let me explain.

    When I began playing EQ1 around 15 years ago, there was a sense of wonder that rose within me when my blocky little avatar would crest a hill and see a city I had never visited sprawling out before me. That sense of wonder was the product of having to brave a difficult journey, on foot, across hostile lands where absolutely everything could and probably would kill me, in order to get to a strange new area that offered more quests/sights/people etc. The whole concept of "Fast Travel" has all but eliminated this in contemporary late 2nd or early 3rd gen MMORPG's.

    Nowadays, whenever you want to get someplace, you just run to your local "Griffon Trainer/Drake Rider/Stable Hand" etc and a few seconds later you are at your destination. Now, even this is debateable as to whether it is, at its core, an advancement in the genre or a detriment to immersion, because in many games, this sort of thing is perfectly lore-acceptable, albeit uncommon. Where it starts to get dicey is when you see the continual telescoping/collapsing of the game-world in order to make it "easier" for players to get places. Why did the developers of whatever game you're playing even bother to create a gameworld if you can just warp around it at a whim and the cost of a few silver coins? Why not just play in a tiny little box with all your quests in the same place to make it "easier" for you. Or even better, why not just make everything a "click button to warp to instance" thing, where all you do is sit in one spot, flip rapidly through never-read questgiver babble, click OK, and go smash things to get that l33t reward?

    In the old EQ days, im talking pre-PoP, pre-Luclin, you actually had to travel to the Eastern Commonlands, sit down with the other random people milling about in the EC tunnel, and hock your wares. In doing this, people would meet each other, haggle, barter, ultimately and most importantly, interact with one another. But now, again in the spirit of making things "easier", the "Auction House" mechanic was slowly introduced, eventually becoming a staple of the genre that we all love. Now, you had no reason to ever even talk to another person outside of your guild or close-knit social circle. Find some neat gear in a dungeon? Toss it on the AH and it'll be sold for you, the money will be mailed to you and can be picked up at one of a thousand mailboxes scattered throughout the gameworld. No longer do you need to meet another person face to face in order to show them the item of power you dragged from the deepest pit, against all odds and at terrible peril. No longer will you meet and speak to others of your trials and quests, braved in the pursuit of said shiny trinket, or hear of theirs.

    Sound stupid? Well examine some of the games that are out right now, the big titles as well as the FTP ones. They all seem to be going the same route, which brings me right back to the main focus of this thread: Immersion.

    Immersion is why we play MMORPG's, especially us roleplayers! And this rising trend of "easiness" is how immersion dies, and everyone, from all powerful Dev, to random casual gamer, should take a moment to think about why they want things to be "easier". Isnt the questing SUPPOSED to be tough? When you venture into the wilds, isnt traversing them SUPPOSED to be perilous? When you run across someone wielding a flaming sword, wearing a suit of golden armor wrested from the hands of evil planar denizens, arent you SUPPOSED to go "HOLY SHIT MAN! WHERE'D YOU GET THAT STUFF?!!"

    I dunno, its all just food for thought I suppose. I could be wrong...

    I will end my ramblings with a quote from the late, great, H.G. Wells. In his novel "The Time Machine", Wells writes "We are kept keen on the grindstone of pain and necessity." At the rate things are progressing... we all run the risk of becoming frightfully dull.

    My 2c.

    Cheers.

     

    You've got some rose colored glasses on because it was THE first experience.  You can't ever recapture that magic, doesn't matter what game it is because its the same medium, to get that experience again you'll have to wait for something more like true virtual reality or something.  Aside from that...

    Games have taken the stance that time consuming boring activites are not fun.  Exploring a world for a while can be interesting, but traversing the same area repeatedly just to get somewhere, that's problematic.  You have people who then have to wait for you, and your possibly limited play time is also being wasted.  Why pay for a subscription, or for anything in a game where the only "playing" you do is running to someplace. 

    Now, taking that one step further, games have reached a point where there's a lot of people familiar with the genre, they could use more challenge and they wouldn't necessary abandon the game as being too draconian, I for one definitely fall into that category, unfortunately right now the only "challenging" games tend to be hardcore pvp ones which I won't touch because of the people who play those.  Games have gone from convenience in formerly tedious activites to convenience in every activity, and the challenge has been... reduced to the point that people look around and say "that's it?" 

    Anyway, one of the other things games lack is enough stuff to "do" in narrower roles that people can specialize so that stuff like auction houses aren't needed.  It would be nice if those people who get thrills from hawking wares in real time could do so without forcing every player to need to do so, nor rely on an auction house.  The same is true with crafting for example, some people really like that aspect of gameplay but its not special because many times all players do it for the necessary min maxing achiever grind.  These problems or issues don't really get addressed and I would assume these players make up a large chunk of those getting more and more dissatisfied with the genre, of course with the influx of new players I'm fairly sure they can be safely ignored by the business end, but this does open up the market for more niche games, which I truely hope we see a rise of.

    Long story short, game companies need to know where to draw the line on convenience and realize that people need to struggle, or at least need a challenge to be entertained, so in that sense at least I agree with you.

  • DKWFirstbornDKWFirstborn VantaaPosts: 32Member

    Jonsus I do agree with you games nowadays are generally too easy in my opinnion aswell. I agree with your post about 80% of what you said. Instead of telling how things are run nowadays I just agree. World never changes without persistance, I am one of the type who strives for changes for the better. I don't just be content when things are lacking, I can adjust but I will not surrender my beliefs. I tend to disagree with developers, but more about that topic in my upcoming blog. That hopefully won't rise stormfront:)

    Kindest regards,

    DKW

  • JonsusJonsus Toronto, ONPosts: 175Member

    Hey guys, thanks very much for responding!

    Torment, you are correct in assuming that EQ1 was my first MMO experience, and yes, perhaps the glasses I remember the old days with are a tad rose-coloured... but in my mind, the difference between the oldschool, firstgen MMO's (Ultima Online, EQ1, DAoC) and the newer-gen MMO's (WoW, EQ2, AoC, WAR) is, with a few notable exceptions that are actually decent, interesting games, comparable to the sort of duality set up by the old Star Wars trilogy vs. the new Star Wars prequel trilogy.

    To put it simply, the old movies were filled with genuine feeling and soul. Watching them made you believe in them, and without realizing it, you were whisked along on the adventure, even though the visual quality and flashy graphics were, for the most part, sub-par. The new ones, however, are nothing but hollow flash which looks good, but ultimately leaves you feeling empty and disappointed because you could not truly connect with the experience that they present you with.

    So, if we are to continue back into the MMO discussion using the duality of the Star Wars trilogies, what is missing in the new games that makes them feel so hollow and dead even though they are, graphically and in many ways mechanically, leaps and bounds beyond what the first gen MMO's could present us with?

    Ive been thinking about this for a very long time, and honestly, I am still not fully decided on the issue... However, I believe that it has a lot to do with the fact that, at the risk of being terribly cliche, WoW changed everything. Nowadays, most MMO's are made with one goal. "Lets make money." Suddenly, over the past couple years, mostly due to WoW's spectacular success, the genre is being seen as a cash-cow by corporate investors, and many games are being made to simply turn a buck by raping an old IP that people love (see: Warhammer, Star Wars, different comic books, etc).

    Now, this isnt to say that ALL second-gen and onwards MMO's are unconcerned with being innovative and interesting. I hold that some, EVE Online and the CoX games being perfect examples, are excellent games which do their own thing, while flying comfortably under the mainstream radar. But ultimately, the games that were only made to be flashy and turn a profit (similar to the new Star Wars prequel trilogy) are easy to spot, and feel dead after a couple months of play.

    I dunno, rambling again, ill conclude with this thought:

    The old MMO's were, insofar as I have seen, more community centric, where the social aspect was elevated, and interaction with others was natural. To me, the newer-gen MMOs have always felt like single-player games in which the idea of inter-player interaction is stapled on as another gimmick among gimmicks. Instead of being the core idea upon which the game was founded, meeting and making friends with other people has taken a back seat to grabbing greedily at phat lewtz and winning empty status in an ever-deepening struggle to show who's E-peen is bigger.

    So yea... Maybe I'm seeing things through rose-coloured glasses... But with all of the stuff supporting what im trying to say... I cant be the only one... Right?

  • jonrd463jonrd463 Tacoma, WAPosts: 598Member

    Excellent thread. I'm afraid my take on it is more, for lack of a better term, misanthropic. No, I don't hate all people, but I have no patience for the mainstream, pop-culture soaked, low attention span, and shallow types that make up a majority of the buying public. Instant gratification and entitlement seems to be the primary goal and philosophy of this segment of society. This is all fine and dandy, except they've been creeping into what I used to consider a safe haven of the geeky intellectual- RPGs.

     

    The fact is, I'm pretty sure the vast majority of MMO players now would never have given games like the Ultimas, M&M, or Wizardry series an iota of thought when they came out. A game where you had to keep your own notes or plot out the maps on graph paper? Pffssh, forget it! Sure, sometimes having to do those things was a pain in the ass, but how much more immersive can you get than consulting your own handwritten journal and maps to try to figure something out?

     

    When Ultima Online came out, I was giddy. Here was the chance to hook up with like-minded people and participate in what could be seen at the time as an evolution of the Pen & Paper scene into the computer age. What has happened, now that MMOs have gone more mainstream, is that this safe haven has been invaded by the same people who used to avoid these types of games. Imagine (for those of you who play or used to play Pen & Paper games) that you've got your geeky friends over for a night of D20 and all of the sudden, a group of dumb jocks storm in going "YEEEEAHHH!!! FOOTBALL, BABY!", knocking over your DM's board, shoving you out of your chairs, and taking over your game by playing with your gamepieces like they were those little green Army men.

     

    That's kind of how I see the evolution of RPGs, both online and singleplayer. Since the dumb jocks are now the majority of the player base, and they aren't the brightest bulbs in the fixture, you've got to make concessions to get them to continue to pay. Unfortunately, anyone who appreciates a more cerebral challenge is faced with either "getting with the times" or finding a new hobby, and for some odd reason, it's this group that's labelled the bad guys.

    "You'll never win an argument with an idiot because he is too stupid to recognize his own defeat." ~Anonymous

  • BazharkhanBazharkhan The Pad, VAPosts: 29Member

    I tend to agree that the community aspect of games has long been left by the wayside.  The incessant focus on creating content for solo-play, while great on paper, has tended to dampen the amount of interaction in MMOs.  It was certainly done in good faith, as a lot of players of MMORPGs are less inclined to spend all of their playing time with other people, but in the endit more or less killed the idea of a community.  The divide between casual and hardcore players began to widen - especially when everything is solo-able until max level, then the only means to progression is suddenly via repetitive large-group PVE raids.  It's like keeping kids alone in a dark room until they're 18, then sending them out into the world and expecting them to play nice; or even just be minimally respectful to one another. 

     

    Not having to worry about the man on the other end of the internet choking them like they deserve gives a lot of "key-stroke bravery" to these kids.

     

    Looking-for-group mechanics that allow you to insta-que for a random group of players take it a step further.  RP Guilds only really RP within their own ranks, and new people in such guilds have a hard time finding a niche.  RP-bashing by people who roll up characters on RP servers is, frankly, beyond my ability to comprehend.  The laundry list goes on for some time, I'm afraid.  Community is everything for a good RPG, and especially for a fun RP experience.

     

    To forge a strong player-community that lasts, you have to have a system in place for reputation (with NPC factions, for instance), proactive game forums, people willing to take the lead in RP inclusiveness, and, finally, Devs who also want to foster RP.  Take one of those away, and you find yourself squeaking by with the usual pipeline of progression grind, anti-social behavior, and drudgery.

  • Hephi7Hephi7 LeuvenPosts: 3Member

    For the travelling thing. Try Ryzom! You start out in a city but can not warp anywhere before you've visited it once before (and bought a ticket to return there). This leads to grouping of veterans that help 'trek' a newer player towards a new area and through deadly areas, slow exploration of the gameworld through time and doesn't hinder top-end players because they can travel more easily having been there before.

     

    Another helpfull thing to get the adventurer feeling is the sandbox style of gameplay. If you have to find out yourself where the easier areas are and where the harder ones are it's more fun to explore and run around (getting yourself in trouble). I'm thinking EVE, Ryzom or SWG. The latter with the added benefit of waiting times at shuttles which makes for good conversation starters like when you're waiting for the bus. (Don't know if it's still like that, I'm talking pre-cu :))

    =====================
    Pre-CU all the way!
    =====================

  • HluillHluill Lovingston, VAPosts: 105Member Uncommon

    What an excellent thread!  I am surprised no one has flamed it...

    I heartily agree with the points made, specifically concerning the lack of RP and the changing of the player base.  I don't like generalizing them as "dumb jocks" but the analogy is still fitting.   

    I have to admit, though, part of my frustration with these games goes back to PnP games.  Many of my fellow gaming-geeks were quite moronic.  Ideas like dual-wielding, hundreds of hitpoints, bags of powerful magic items, swimming in armor, the ten-second combat-round, power-gaming, etc, clouded my fun.   I PnPed a bit while in the Army.  Our gaming sessions were sometimes in bay barracks, so groups sometimes included those "dumb jocks".  They were usually more fun than the power-gaming geeks.

    So it keeps coming back to the community.  I encountered a few good ones in second and third generation games.  But it's work to maintain and support good behaviors while correcting and ignoring bad.  The image of the jocks crashing the gaming session is quite relevent here.

    MMO success has introduced many of these games into the mainstream.  MMOs need success.  They need a market share to survive.  Trying to  cater to a more mainstream market, they have compromised the actual adventure of these types of games. 

    Adventuring is a key word here.  It's meaning is somewhat lost among us, civilized, modern humans.  It wasn't that long ago that feeding oneself was an adventure.  Traveling was risky business indeed.  Now those are considered mundane activities.  We live in hamster cages.  Our food magically appears.  Our waste is magically removed.  We spend our time running on a wheel that goes no where.  Like Bilbo Baggins, we initially avoid adventure.  It may be quite a few years later that we realize how much fun were were having when we left our comfortable hamster-cage.

    I am a philospher, so I could go on, ad nauseum.  Let me end with the idea, in game and RL, there is adventure in meeting and helping people. 

    Hluill, a barbarian rogue, and his Warrior-daughter, Leyek
    Playing/Subscribing: TSW, LotRO, EQ2, and SWTOR
    Played: GW2, V:SoH, Neverwinter, ArchAge, EQ, UO, DAoC, WAR, DDO, AoC, MO

  • AtaakaAtaaka Benson, AZPosts: 172Member

    After reading your post, I am convinced that my earlier post, "PVP Ruined My RP", is far beneath what you stated here. I play these games to pass time (Not)... I want to immerse. I want to forget time and let my imagination run free. It's just not happening with today's games.

    I work hard so I can play hard... sadly, there isn't much hard playing to do anymore. We are handed everything, even a pseudo-culture that is created by the blending of real world cultures. I don't want to settle for anything. I want my RPG to be an RPG.

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