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[Column] General: The Problem No One’s Talking About



  • ignore_meignore_me Apple Valley, CAPosts: 1,987Member
    Originally posted by Nomad40
    Fun. That is what every game should be. Not a timesink, not a leveling crawl...but fun. Somewhere along the line with all the slick graphics and shiny items the path of fun was lost. We need someone to blaze a trail back to the path and systems sounds like a step in the right direction.

    Yep, the technology somehow became more important than gameplay, and so a de-evolution began where the games became less featured because all of the time and money went into making the next big thing in visuals/cutscenes. The more constrained the gameplay, the less time and money for that aspect, which is harder to sell to investors than: watch this demo, see how great this looks! I love great looking games, but they are a waste of time if they don't have great gameplay with potential for longevity too.

    Bait and switch games are 2 month prospects. The end user should push back on this practice.

    Survivor of the great MMORPG Famine of 2011

  • ColdrenColdren Nowhereville, TNPosts: 452Member Uncommon

    Very good article. "Systems" are why I'm still playing Ultima Online 15 years later. Sure, I play other MMO's, but they always tend to get dull, whereas even after 15 years, with my rate of play, I still haven't seen and done everything in UO. Why? Because the basic systems, the crafting, the vendors, the player housing, the ability for players to create environments and situations to RP in, have kept me FAR more occupied than checking out a dungeon, or going after uber loot items.

    Couldn't agree with this article more.

  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,342Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Gdemami


    Originally posted by korvass


    That's because, at the heart of the game, it brought nothing new to the systems department, and also had little choice. Once you got bored of the cutscenes, you realised that progression for each character was identical, and there was nothing you could do to alter that path. 


    If only one could say why people are not into your product... Truth is, you do not know just like anyone else.

    You can only guess.

    He does not have to guess, it is all over the net.  Pretty obvious the problems SWTOR had, too much expensive voice overs and cut scenes, that end up being skipped after playing the game awhile.  The systems in the game were very poorly done hence the game has very little replayability and very little retainability.  It won't do well as a f2p either.

  • xmentyxmenty SingaporePosts: 679Member Uncommon

    Well I do not really agree with Bill.

    I think the problem lies with the AI.

    All MMO has the most dated AI compared to SRPG.

    The day the companies update the AI, the whole gameplay will change.


    Pardon my English as it is not my 1st language :)

  • TheCrow2kTheCrow2k Adelaide, AKPosts: 953Member

    While I agree with the sentiments regarding hybrid models I dont think it really contributes that greatly to the "Two months done, whats next" problem.

    Developers seem to think Everyone wants a themepark game & there are many players who will tell you they love themeparks & defend the concept of themepark MMO's to the death. Problem is the majority of players who defend such a concept are also the players who play for 2-3 months then move on.

    I have been saying for a while now that its impossible for themepark MMO devs to stay infront of player progression and provide quality new content faster than players can consume it, it just cannot be done. So Instead you need to have alternative activities for players to do (not just at endgame) that do not require you to generate lots of content rapidly.  If you like, as a developer you can have your themepark but you need to let players get out of the themepark at their leisure.

    The Hybrid Themepark with sandbox elements such as Wildstar is proposing is where new MMO's should be heading IMHO, letting players drive their own experience more instead of buying a ticket and hopping on for the ride which once completed is not all that interesting to repeat. New MMO's would do well to include things like.

    - Randomised dungeons/mission areas. Randomised like Diablo/Torchlight. Get players into them through whatever concept you like (portals, magical maze that is ever shifting, dungeon hack style thing etc) but truly randomising it and giving players a reason to explore them will go a long way.

    - Hold your themepark attractions inside a sandbox world. By that I mean make the world more of a sandbox, people will find the sandbox elements scattered throughout it (following fixed roads from quest hub to quest hub if you like) that are easily found, but for those who want to get off the themepark they can by going off exploring, finding non quest hub content.

    - Incorporate world & zone events into your game from day 1. By this I mean make it easy for your live team to run impromtu events and plan these out and get players involved. Sure you can have static events like public quests & programmed world events but GM run events are often one of a kind.

    - Let your players build upon the world. Allowing things like player run/controlled villages, player housing etc gives players a lot more to do and makes them feel a lot more part of the world instead of just strapped into a ride until it ends. Exploring the countryside and finding a small guild village with few player built buildings and a partially completed wall is a lot more exciting than just finding some new NPC content that has been added.

    - Let your players do the heavy lifting. allowing players to generate quests & missions of their own (if handled well, ie: content vetted) is always well recieved. RPG communities are generally crammed with talented people who love to build stuff for friends and other players, just have a look at the Neverwinter Nights community. Naturally there is a need to vet content to make sure players arent making easy mission for fast leveling or making offensive content but there are easy ways of handling this.

    - Its an MMO not a single player experience ! find better ways to encourage group play and build your community. Im not saying rip out all solo play as that is a big part of themeparks now but what I am saying is definitely put in content that can only be tackled by players working together, or perhaps even against each other.


    While there is no quick fix we can only hope that new MMO's that are being planned now (for release in the next 2-3 years) can see the current themepark model is unsustanable and adapt accordingly.

  • saerdrylxsaerdrylx Aix-en-ProvencePosts: 4Member Common


    yes ramdomised quest and dungeon is the best way to keep players for years in the game. But MMO need to be a long game not a game like swtor ! Swtor  u reach the maximum lv in two weeks ! Stop it. I want to made quest, dungeon alone or with friends for month and years. And when i reach the max lv after 2 years i m happy. 

    currently mmo are disposable game, u play to 2 week and it s over u are lv 80. it s a shame. So now u are lv 80, u can do PVP or farm dungeon to have the tier 1 armor. After u can farm to have the tier 2... tier3 ....  Where is the fun ?????? We want fun !

    And stop dungeon for a team with a tank, healer and 3 dps. i want to play with my 2 friends and do some dungeon with them or alone. Without tank, without healer. Just 3 dps that want to have some fun.

    Stop dungeon with boss that need 30 mn of fight, with one need to do this, an other need to touch the pillar .... It fun the first tim after it s very boring.

    Ramdom boss in ramdom dungeon with random quest inside it s the best way to keep players.

    And let players play alone if they want to do it. Stop quest that need 3 or 5 peoples to do it.

    Let player play like they want. 



    best regards

  • KalestonKaleston TrinecPosts: 173Member

    You see, there are sandboxes that actually fulfill your points. Have you seen milions of eager players on them? Certainly not. I don't think systems alone cut it anymore. Many people want to be told what to do and almost all needs some reason to do what they do. Or I believe so.

    For me the best way to go is theme park that sort of simulates Sandbox. You get a direction, but you are not able to do anything you want. Let's say you have a continent to settle. NPCs will do "planning" while players will do labor. Of course you can let players influence planning as well, but it's important NPCs fill those places. I've just seen too many forgotten and abandoned viliges in sandboxes. So you can go and build your city and systems for that would be sort of sandboxish, but still NPCs will give you direction and purpose to do so.

    This being said, it should be fairly easy to implement as you set systems in place and adding content is not such a huge problem (you can always go and settle another continent). Along this base system, you can add other content like dungeons and other events.

  • Yavin_PrimeYavin_Prime Oak Park, CAPosts: 233Member
    Wow what a great read, I agree 100%. Now we just need some devs to read this.
  • skydiver12skydiver12 burgundPosts: 432Member

    Great article,

    now that we re-invented systems could we also let "sandbox" and "themepark" die and focus on a system oriented gameplay which does not need "daily" chores and "max level raid tiering" and so "2 days to maxlevel" gameplay?

    Just like back when MMORPGs started...

  • kostantiskostantis ThessalonikiPosts: 29Member
    oh yes
  • AcidonAcidon Salem, ORPosts: 787Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by SaintPhilip

    An MMORPG.Com article which I fully agree with???

    My God, its snowing in Hell....

    Ze Pigs, They are a flying..

    Great article.

  • kostantiskostantis ThessalonikiPosts: 29Member

    and also hello all,

    i am not a poster, but one of the most avid readers.

    almost all posts have something interesting to say, but i have one serious question:

    Do you people think you represent the average mmo player? because if that is so, who are the other people buying new mmos on day one? and making all corporate suits calculate profit-losses and deem what is best for them (and obviously not for us)?

    I think the mmorpg crowd is a "niche" crowd by itself  :)

    could not agree more with the person mentioning the "WoWers not MMO players" apart from the rest of us. And yes it seems silly that other companies would try to steal a share of the pie, but i do not like to think they are that stupid. when they drain this well, they will move on.

    Let's do some wallet-voting please, kill the genre and see wether some will rise to cater to our niche needs.

  • sanshi44sanshi44 BrisbanePosts: 1,118Member Uncommon
    Systems are the way to go however system cost more moeny than making a game such as WoW which has basicly no systems (its only just strating to get them) and developers have been trying to maximise profits by trying to mimic the success of WoW with as little money as they can, unfortuently this isnt gonna work for them and they seem to have noticed that WoW success was a fluke, all eyes are on EQNext atm SoE is knows to have alot of good systems in there game elts see if they can carry them across to EQNext and make it an amazing game i hope they can pull it off cause im kinda getting sick of these stale games. A MMORPG revolves around systems not what there currently doing now it sickens me.
  • ZekiahZekiah Posts: 2,482Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by kostantis

     who are the other people buying new mmos on day one?


    The same type of people who buy drugs from their dealer as soon as they get more stock. image

    And I agree, we must first starve the beast in order to tame it.

    "Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever." - Noam Chomsky

  • renadirenadi MORA, MNPosts: 19Member
    Exactly, add systems that encourage players adding the content, mmo problem solved.
  • TheNightFlyTheNightFly Monterey, CAPosts: 2Member
    Originally posted by Ozivois
    They need to slow down level progression - that will add more time to subs.  Lower experience gain to a minimum so that players have to spend inordinate amounts of time in every area of the world. Offer raids for every ten levels. Limit daily experience gain.  Make it so that rare level 20 armor is worth looking for because you will be able to use it for another month as you work your way to level 30...

    Leveling in RPGs is about doing mission along a finite storyline. Mmos based on 'systems' don't follow a storyline and therefore have no missions and no need for character leveling.

  • GdemamiGdemami Beau VallonPosts: 8,235Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by TheNightFly

    Leveling in RPGs is about doing mission along a finite storyline.

    Two different things without any dependency.

  • corpusccorpusc Chattanooga, TNPosts: 1,329Member Uncommon

    many of the forum warriors here that are so personally invested in their 

    themepark vs sandbox war....


    are failing to see that

    systems vs. content == sandbox vs. themepark



    and lets not ignore that games are not one or the other, but somewhere on a spectrum between the 2.

    The End
    i don't expect to like Darkfall, altho i may like it MORE than other MMOs. i know it is gonna have a very frustrating level of grind to it, even if its significantly less than most. waiting for a pure FAST action virtual world. dice rolling & character levels (even "skills") IN COMBAT should have never carried over from pencil & paper to a computer that can reasonably model 3D spaces and objects

  • BleakmageBleakmage Plattsburgh, NYPosts: 174Member
    Originally posted by elocke

    Yes!  Systems!  Thank you!  Finally, someone saying what I've been trying to say for a few years now but more so in the last few months after sinking my teeth into GW2 and realizing it is lack of systems that stops me from playing.   The games adding the systems are the ones I'm playing right now.  Like Lotro and Rift, heck even WoW(although it could definitely use more focus in this department, but apparently they get this and 5.1 looks interesting with a new Brawler Arena system).

    The key to those old games everyone talks about like AC, EQ, FFXI are the sheer volume of systems in those games that keep people logging in.  Extra content is awesome and should never stop coming, but MMORPGs are all about adding systems and keeping players in the game.  Somewhere along the way, this core idea has become lost and needs to make a reappearance fast.

    This and digital actor NPCs, but that's wishful thinking :D R.I.P. digital actors.

  • NyadachNyadach KeswickPosts: 7Member

    Great article Bill!. And an issue which has been winding me up for many years ever since UO really. It still surprises me how much UO got right, that no one copied into newer games and are only now starting to reappear in modern games some 15 years later (such as GW2 and TSW using it's skill system roughly).


    I was fortune once to chat with the then Game Director of LOTRO, and discussed live action in game events (I was using UO and Anarchy Online as reference). He didn't seem to grasp the concept at all sadly much the shame as "we already have festivals" was his answer repeatedly. I think even SWG tried it at one stage. And currently all we really have is Eve which is pretty much utterly random due to the scale and nature of what it is (and quite possibly another fluke like WoW).


    UO with it's events run live action in game by it's (then) Councilors’ before EA got rid of them were brilliant for bringing the world alive. The player housing and shops also brought the would alive. Along with how detailed the skill system was and hobbies and other side line activities you could do.


    But by far my favorite in any of game "system" so far has to be that from Anarchy Online. AO had it's ARK's event team and GM's who were utter stars. The use of story characters or whole new ones alive (ok sometimes dead) walking around the game. In events, in story lines which would only become apparent after weeks, months...years. The way different characters would appear in different areas, how the stories evolved to involve players to effect them in game. Towns being lost or taken over! 50ft giant robots! assassinations of guild leaders (by the Events Team). Busy in a raid and a group of mercenaries popping up and ganking you from GM's as you mouthed off a bit on the forums etc...brilliant! Yes possibly frustrating for you at the time, but as a living breathing world it was great. 


    Such things don't need to occur everywhere, they just need to pop up occasionally, surprise people! And the players themselves pick things up and run with it also. The storyline the GM's might of had could realistically go any direction (and probably did with interference from players). 


    Complex detailed systems for a player to fiddle and tweak a character is great. But if the tools were there for a GM to blow up a huge chunk of a town, for them to have a small team running around the town causing mayhem or leaking a story out over time is something every MMO should have!

  • scrittyscritty WorcesterPosts: 89Member

    A theme park with more "time sink" rides than just "progression" or adding some well thought out sandbox elements that tax people's imaginations a little to create/use/adapt... whatever.

    More - different "things to do"

  • ZzadZzad Palma de MallorcaPosts: 1,327Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by elocke

    Yes!  Systems!  Thank you!  Finally, someone saying what I've been trying to say for a few years now but more so in the last few months after sinking my teeth into GW2 and realizing it is lack of systems that stops me from playing.  

    What "systems" are lacking in GW2 in your opinion?

    Actually i think it offers more systems than any other MMO for leveling....

    They don´t force you to do a quest in just one path...instead they give you multiple options for almost everything.

    All GW2´s systems are equally rewarding in terms of exp offering also multiple leveling vias availables.

  • LonferLonfer Morrison, COPosts: 4Member
    There's a MMO game coming out that will address many if not all of these concerns. Check out Citadel of Sorcery:
  • AesowhreapAesowhreap Omaha, NEPosts: 78Member
    Originally posted by theniffrig
    MMO's need to take the next evolutionary step & I think that player made content or as Bill put it: "Systems" that give the players lots of different things to do is definately a huge piece to the puzzle of getting MMO's to the next generation. Ofcourse all these systems arn't worth anything if the actual game "sucks" or isn't appealing. So it's going to take a combination of things for the next big successful MMO to get right before people can say we have arrived at the next generation of MMO's.

    I think it very well possible if a game has multiple systems such as class and race, then it wont need appeal. It will be appealing to the people who try to have fun with the skills(systems) as they differ.

    Best Regards, ...

  • ignore_meignore_me Apple Valley, CAPosts: 1,987Member
    This may be the best column I have ever read on this site

    Survivor of the great MMORPG Famine of 2011

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