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[Column] General: Content Locusts Aren’t the Problem



  • FaelsunFaelsun Brandon, MSPosts: 492Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Jaedor
    I'm playing differently than I used to. I'm engaged with 4 AAA mmos at once instead of being loyal to one. From my perspective, it's quite strange.   As a result, I'm also spending more money. My gaming entertainment budget is a lot higher today than the $13/mo I used to spend. For the industry, this is a good thing. It does feel strange, though, and I find myself continuing to search for something that may be lost to time.  

    I'm just playing DAYZ until someting not crappy comes along. The freedom to kill players I don't like has been long missed.

  • MurlockDanceMurlockDance ParisPosts: 1,223Member

    People keep saying that WoW is an anomaly, but is it? It is one of the best developed games out on the market, and they tend to develope expansively, that is, to please many and on several levels. There is stuff for the content locusts, and there is stuff for those who like to stop and smell the flowers, like me. As such, it provides in general the longest term enjoyment for both kinds of players.

    Outside of the grinds, of which there are many, there are things like arena, now the pet battle system, economic activities with the AH, exploration outside of flagging the achievements. There is still so much to see and do, resee and redo.

    The only game I find that is equivalent in that sense is EQ2.

    Both of these games are nigh-on impossible to entirely complete. What I mean by that is getting all of the endgame PvE gear, get the best PvP gear and titles, get the best slot in arena, be the best crafter with all of the recipes in the game, etc. I mean, after 8 years of playing these games off and on, I certainly haven't seen all of the content, and I think even the min maxers are a lot like me. There will still be stuff they haven't done or seen.

    The issue more is that recent releases are too slimmed down and streamlined that they don't offer as many elements of play.

    Playing MUDs and MMOs since 1994.

  • LeviathonlxLeviathonlx Cleveland, OHPosts: 135Member
    Originally posted by MurlockDance
    People keep saying that WoW is an anomaly, but is it? It is one of the best developed games out on the market, and they tend to develope expansively, that is, to please many and on several levels. There is stuff for the content locusts, and there is stuff for those who like to stop and smell the flowers, like me. As such, it provides in general the longest term enjoyment for both kinds of players. Outside of the grinds, of which there are many, there are things like arena, now the pet battle system, economic activities with the AH, exploration outside of flagging the achievements. There is still so much to see and do, resee and redo. The only game I find that is equivalent in that sense is EQ2. Both of these games are nigh-on impossible to entirely complete. What I mean by that is getting all of the endgame PvE gear, get the best PvP gear and titles, get the best slot in arena, be the best crafter with all of the recipes in the game, etc. I mean, after 8 years of playing these games off and on, I certainly haven't seen all of the content, and I think even the min maxers are a lot like me. There will still be stuff they haven't done or seen. The issue more is that recent releases are too slimmed down and streamlined that they don't offer as many elements of play.


    I blame the fact that so many games try to copy off WoW yet fail to even do that well leaving out large things that should be in any modern MMO release such as multiple things to do at 'end game' from dungeons, raids, to 'casual' content or other quality of life improvements like LFG systems. One of the larger mistakes I see occur all the time is so much effort being put into the leveling portion of the game and the max level content being nonexistent.

  • MurlockDanceMurlockDance ParisPosts: 1,223Member
    Originally posted by Leviathonlx

    I blame the fact that so many games try to copy off WoW yet fail to even do that well leaving out large things that should be in any modern MMO release such as multiple things to do at 'end game' from dungeons, raids, to 'casual' content or other quality of life improvements like LFG systems. One of the larger mistakes I see occur all the time is so much effort being put into the leveling portion of the game and the max level content being nonexistent.  

    Yes, that and too many bucks spent on fancy pants VO and cutscenes. ToR is the worst offender.

    I really do not think that that gives us bang for the buck. A cutscene here and there to tell a story is good, and VO can be very nice if used properly, but I find that overusing both is an irritation and a waste of money that could be spent developing the world content in such a way that is even more immersive. Too many cutscenes can break immersion because they force on the player how the developer wants him/her to see the world.

    Playing MUDs and MMOs since 1994.

  • evolver1972evolver1972 Port Orchard, WAPosts: 1,118Member

    Content locusts aren't bad per se.  Content locusts who play MMOs like they're a second job (or the only job in some cases) and then complain "there's nothing to do after 700 hours of gameplay in 2 months" are the problem.  They seem to be the loudest, most negative types out there.


    I'd also say that content locusts are the reason there are so many games out there that are superficial gear grinds.  If that many people are going to run through so much content in so little time, in many cases companies may feel they have no choice but to implement grinds in order to keep the locusts playing.


    Tell you what, stop playing a single game for 30+ hours/week and you probably won't get bored.  Companies may also feel they can take more risks with more in depth play rather than just having to through content out there to keep the locusts happy.


    You want me to pay to play a game I already paid for???

    Be afraid.....The dragons are HERE!

  • evolver1972evolver1972 Port Orchard, WAPosts: 1,118Member
    Originally posted by MurlockDance
    People keep saying that WoW is an anomaly, but is it? It is one of the best developed games out on the market, and they tend to develope expansively, that is, to please many and on several levels. There is stuff for the content locusts, and there is stuff for those who like to stop and smell the flowers, like me. As such, it provides in general the longest term enjoyment for both kinds of players. Outside of the grinds, of which there are many, there are things like arena, now the pet battle system, economic activities with the AH, exploration outside of flagging the achievements. There is still so much to see and do, resee and redo. The only game I find that is equivalent in that sense is EQ2. Both of these games are nigh-on impossible to entirely complete. What I mean by that is getting all of the endgame PvE gear, get the best PvP gear and titles, get the best slot in arena, be the best crafter with all of the recipes in the game, etc. I mean, after 8 years of playing these games off and on, I certainly haven't seen all of the content, and I think even the min maxers are a lot like me. There will still be stuff they haven't done or seen. The issue more is that recent releases are too slimmed down and streamlined that they don't offer as many elements of play.  

    Both of the games you mentioned have been out for a long time and have had several expansions.  That's why there is so much to do and see, and so much for so many different playstyles.  But was it like that originally, in their vanilla releases?  I don't think so.  Yet, people seem to expect that a game being released now should have as much content and expansiveness upon release that those two games took nearly a decade to produce.


    That's the main problem I see with gaming in the present.


    You want me to pay to play a game I already paid for???

    Be afraid.....The dragons are HERE!

  • CeleberegCelebereg Valencia, CAPosts: 38Member

    I played SWG from the beginning, suffered through CU, and terminated my participation with NGE. 


    I played SWG for years, would still be playing it today if not for horrifically inept project leadership.


    Hate the use of Sandbox and Themepark terms as stereotypes of MMOs.  To me, an MMO is about virtual worlds, and being a world, your avatar is able to live and breathe "so-to-speak" or  "experience life" in an alternate reality.   It therefore must have depth, must have multiple dimensions of activities and progress/achievement ... a building process of accomplishment, for avatars, for activities, for guilds, for communities.  The world around you should be "built by activity" and "sustained by activity" allowing players to choose and find their individual niches from a selection of game and player-based systems and cohesively around shared or common core activities.


    SWG gave us that, until inept leadership unwound and destroyed it.  They launched it prematurely - missing crucial content - due to a bad corporate decision.  Lacking core theme-based content, and with weak leadership and weak sustained vision, weak project leadership  and management fundamentals (including integrating and managing community feedback), the development team then was caught in catch-up mode, trying to catch up for a false start, and tripped over themselves week after week, month after month, lacking vision and reacting in an ad hoc manner, zigging and zagging in response to ad hoc criticism from players.


    Lacking vision, they could not maintain cohesion with high level design tenets and quickly lost their way, tripped themselves and their development infrastructure, and essentially crashed and burned to the point that critical staff were gone, design was confused and breaking, they couldn't sustain the bloat of confused design elements, and they didn't know which way was up.  Complete project Leadership failure that was quickly evident and was allowed to continue for years.  Smedley owns that.


    Instead of owning that leadership failure, they deflected and blamed the design that they broke, and sold shareholders on the need to revamp the game (and again).  CYA instead of dealing with ineffective Leaders.  Leaders were spared the embarrasment and accountability for leadership failure (not design failure, the design started out sublime), deflecting blame onto original game design inappropriately, and so we lost the greatest MMO ever built due to corporate shennanigans... Smedley at the top of the blame pyramid who somehow survived the greatest failure and injustice of the MMO genre that laid waste the creativity of the MMO's for a decade and a half so far, and let inept SWG leaders like Daniel Erickson of the NGE fame to go on and pass his sacred cows to the same effect with SWTOR with its shallow NGE-like design fundamentals.


    A premature start and lack of effective leadership sank SWG, but there is no doubt that had they just held course to high level design tenets and caught up with missing content, I would still be playing and paying pre-CU today, and loving every minute of it.  


    So I've been a locust, and every MMO since SWG has been something to kill time with until the next one came along, also to disappoint, and ever waiting for someone to deliver again on the promise of the MMO experience.

  • darkhalf357xdarkhalf357x Brooklyn, NYPosts: 1,188Member Uncommon

    Great post Bill.  Mirrors a lot of what I (and others here) have been saying for awhile now.  BadSpock also made some great points that this is what gamers (today) want to play.  I just starated WoW a few weeks ago, and I must admit, albeit its shortcomings (level too fast, linear questing, etc) its a fun experience and there is a TON to do.

    So it makes sense that developers try to 'copy' or 'mimic' that.  The next one to become the leader of the pack will no doubt have to introduce sandbox like systems that allows players to create the content. I want something to DO outside of questing/pvp/raid/dungeon.  Let me fish. Let me build a boat or a flying contraption. Let me explore. Give me something (pretty) to look at. GW2 almost made it but the lack of progression killed it for me (along with the fact I couldnt get into action combat - just not what I prefer in my RPG).

    Im also playing multiple MMOs until one comes out that can monopolies all of my interests.  Eyes on ArcheAge at the moment.

  • citadellicitadelli richland, WAPosts: 36Member

    Well writen article with some good points.  But I think the true challenge for MMO's nowadays is and the way corporations are handling a new player base and it is completely and uterly ignored in these forums.

    I'm guessing the majority of people on MMO post sites are similar to me, age 30's-40's. People who used to play D&D and were the pioneer role play gamers on Genesis and the PC etc. Now have jobs, kids, and are driven dedicated people. 

    The MMO landscape has evolved along with those of us. The 1 to 2 million of us, who are still here looking for "the"game in a genre that has drastrically changed.

    How did it change? WoW. Blizz did the most amazing gaming marketing campaign to draw in a new type of MMO player by the tenfold. Straight up brilliant, but changed our landscape forever. But they are only one part of the change. As us original MMO gamers evolved so did the next generation that didnt grow up on MOGS, and table top games, but rather XBOX and PS2's etc in a digital world.

    IMO WoW is only popular because people went to it.  You look for an MMO that has population, friends bring in friends and have a good time. WoW was good in many ways, shallow in most others, but they had people, which draws people and the marketing behind it to boasted that at every chance. Honestly WoW has only been successful because of their marketing, which was completely ignored from SOE and majority of titles that hosted games like UO or DOAC at that era. Blizz really didn't have anything revolutionary or drastically different beyond easy leveling and lots of instant gratification which takes us to the other point.

    As we aged and changed so did the genre. Don't forget this is a commercial and capitalistic Genre, as is well pretty much everything. Point in case would be the music industry, look back 60-70 years then move forward, you have the Beach Boys, you have the Beatles, you have Manudo, New Kid's on the block, Nsync?, Justin Beeber and so on. An ever changing cycle with the majority of popular sales world wide targeted towards a certain demographic. Is the MMO market much different?

    Well first we used to be more of a "cult" market really. Some might call us nerdy techy types, on the leading edge of hype trendy technology that was actually pretty expensive and complicated. Now those are given out pretty easily. New box's are pretty cheap, technology and interfaces easily understood by most. One of my coworkers was setting up a computer for his youngest daughter last week like he did with all of his other kids, and she couldn't get past the keyboard because of her previous interactions with the iPad. Again another change.

    I think what we're seeing is the continued surge of those evolving from the Xbox360/PS3 environments where they were continually conditioned people to beat the game on a linear track and move onto another title, hence the "locusts" people mention. Honestly the market and development reflects this in every way. Unfortunately most game developers also seem to be trying to keep up with these trends only to a negative affect to their product in the MMO world scape. And lets not even mention the foriegn asian market because I know very little about those games but has quadroupled the player base.

    Why wouldn't they? Let's look at a few facts. Most major console title's like Halo, or MWF, are dishing out more than major motion pictures for production, and bringing in way more revenue than them. Selling hundreds of millions of boxes at around 60 bucks a pop, at least tripling the sales of the most popular movies on the market.

    From a story line, these games are very linear, from a pvp aspect they are dead as soon as the next release comes out. They don't even stack like MMO's. But these are the clients who have been merging into the MMO world over the last decade, our "locuts"; Beat it, on to the next; follow the popular herd to a new game and or release that doesn't allow for you to carry your character or continue to build your hero any more.  It's a very different world. The different MMO companies seem to be trying to catch up to this and continually try to suck in the billions of dollars being used for gaming entertainment.

    Probably no different than why I can't understand my X-wife, or why my kid wants/NEEDS a new $60 game every month :-P

    How have we seen this affect our games?

    Well most of my complaints would revolve around poor marketing for most major titles, and the success of marketing for other titles that have kind of ruined the genre. But beside that there are crucial differentiators that are obvious.

    IMO there are a few titles over the last couple decades that had stood out as true MMOs. UO, EQ2, SWG, VG. Each of these had had their good stuff and eventually major short fallings.

    UO absolutely revotionary, simply couldn't compete with upcoming major devolepment titles and progressive systems, poor management and dissruptive ownerships.

    SWG could have been would have been the next evolution of this. This is literally the biggest proprietary title on the planet, and should have gone so far. NGE did kill this game, but why? Battlefronts had come out and did amazing on the consols selling millions, they twitch played production to try to replicate that, not realizing those people were'nt MMO'rs yet (check the timeline). That was really what that was about. NGE failed and almost no production money was put into the title after that, and the few remaining developers did their best to make the best game they could, but unfortunately it wasn't enough, and was then killed because of the next fail of the new SW MMO SWTOR.

    VG, which I really think "physically should be" what an MMO is, was again just sabotaged by many poor desicions and never received much love after it's poor launch.

    EQ2 was MY game forever. I loved it and was dedicated to it since beta. I just think they swung way to far to left over the last couple years and now the game being "ftp" has only added a dozen ways to make you pay for it. Management dummied it down so much that you either are playing it as a newbie locust, are a Sim City crafter/decorator or are left with raid grinding. The game had so much to offer, but they completely yanked out the core game play aspect. No matter how much candy you throw in, once you lose the real game play, the core, there is no back bone to hold it up. If SOE had half the smarts that Blizz did this game would have rivaled WoW. But now SOE has chosen to completely disregarded their original player base and proves to only play "twitch" development to find everyway they can to cash grab from customers instead of continue to make them loyal.

    What I am currently playing is GW2. It has honestly been refreshing over the last three months. I don't feel any level grinds, and when I am over powered for a zone I am quickly put back in my place even in zones way below my level. The PVP is amazing and I spend most of my limited time there. I paid to buy the game (as almost all FTP games do, but have actually saved hundreds of dollars over the last few month from my last game that was "FTP"). There is no monthly sub, no constant barrage of market items.  Simple and fun.

    FTP is an illusion to suck in new people, simply an illusion.

    To any publishers out there. Just make the game fun please, make it easy. If you want a serious and dedicated player base, don't keep changing subscription rules, just stand up for what you believe in continue to develop the story. That will keep your players active and loyal. I don't honestly see how the "fly by night" players bring in real non-spurt revenue, aka most of the "locusts" people are complaining about should become the complete focus.






  • Esquire1980Esquire1980 Stillwater, OKPosts: 544Member Uncommon

    Developers have created the "content locusts".  They insist on making games "on rails" with specific time limits, developer control on what the end stats are, and then cry when people hit their so called "end game" and find there is no reason to continue playing.  So, they try and create "harder" content, make grinds to surfice for some part of longevity, and then even try the Cryptic way of placing "some" developer tools into the game itself so players can create their own quests.  The "foundry" did not work in STO (where is was introduced) as players were still complaining for dev released content, and developers still wanting that "control" so they did not allow for players to put in "rewards" for their quests that would make the playerbase want to actualy do them.  "Story" may have been TOR's "4th pillar" but I believe the industry now knows exactly just how far that will get you.

    The problem here with player made content is the same as with developer made content (quests).  At 1 point in time, they're done and people who rely on content for something to do in an MMO will be at an end.  There is no longevity in that context.

    I'm almost overjoyed to see the industry looking again at "sandbox" gameplay rather than strict on rails themepark.  Maybe we will actualy get a game that is worth playing for years instead of months.  ESO, if they include most of what Skyrim has in it, might be the game that I'm looking for but, to be honest, with so little info on ESO, I'm waiting for more to make that decision.  I was bit for 2 CEs (mine and the wifes) for TOR and will not make that mistake again.

    TOR was a train-wreck looking for a place to happen the minute that BioWare hired the NGE devs back on 06.  Dallas Dickerson et al.  These guys had the idea to make vanilla "WoW" (that's what was out when they made their design criteria) with a Star Wars skin and that is exactly what they set out to do and they suceeded in design, however their game did not with the masses.  It did the exact same thing as their previous design did with SWG's NGE.  The problem was, the game they set out to create already existed, there was nothing new to it, and WoW (the direct competition) had almost 8 years of post launch "content" (for the locusts) to compare it with.  Pretty much the same problem with all the WoW clones.  No sence in playing a copy if the original works, has more to it, and Bliz keeps adding more and more.

  • CeleberegCelebereg Valencia, CAPosts: 38Member
    Originally posted by Esquire1980
    TOR was a train-wreck looking for a place to happen the minute that BioWare hired the NGE devs back on 06.  

    Spot on truth.  I said the same thing the moment their names were associated with TOR, and we saw in their video diaries leading up to launch the arrogance and sacred cows that they were foisting on their future customers rather than fundamentals of MMO universes.  So, its clear these fools intended and gave us an NGE in TOR, which they probably thought "we were right with NGE in SWG, but the reason we failed was because of the baggage.  In this case, we don't have that baggage and we can now be successful with an NGE-like MMO that we always knew was the right model."


    I have no doubt that's what these fools from SWG thought as they foisted their NGE sacred cows on TOR design.  That's exactly what we have today, and why they're now out the door and unemployed.  Unfortunately, we players continue to suffer another anemic pseudo-MMO experience in TOR.


    You have to wonder, how so many people can continue to be so arrogant and wrong, and blow a franchise opportunity represented by Star Wars and MMO players.  


    As I said before, Smedley (NGE) is directly responsible, Julio Torres (NGE, went on to KOTOR), Daniel Erickson (NGE, TOR) ... all of those fools who trashed a legendary MMO universe, and instead of taking responsibility for their inept leadership of the project, deflected blame on the game design complexity (lacking the original vision, the ability to manage a complex project, or having any vision as leaders otherwise) and lobotomized it.  And because those fools weren't held accountable in SWG, deflecting blame on complexity of design rather than their inability to manage the premature launch and the project itself, and were able to move on and get hired for TOR only to arrogantly apply the exact same mistakes in MMO design principles.


    Let's hope with two strikes on two phenominal Star Wars MMO franchise opportunities and blunders, these fools are flipping burgers for a career from now on and no longer doing harm to gamers.  Yet, somehow, people like Smedley were able to deflect the blame and still hold their jobs... amazing.  To this day, I have never bought a Sony product of any kind.

    P.S. In case anyone from Bioware or otherwise is following these things and the feedback.  I'd sure like to know who hired Erickson and gave him leadership, more Koolaid-drinkers, to allow him to postulate time and again that his NGE game was anything more than an NGE game.  That whole nonsense about Story and 4th Pillar, and then delivering a game that had zero story depth, just an avatar going from one stranger NPC to another to get a task.  No depth of story, no recurring characters, no ensemble cast... just one stranger to another.  That's not story, and certainly not a Pillar.  The only thing TOR offered as an innovation is voice, and absent depth, its just a novelty.  Games like LOTRO offered 20x the story associated with any individual quest, just in text...
    P.S. In case anyone from Bioware has their eyes open to feedback, I'd sure like to know who hired Erickson and bought his nonsense after the NGE failings.  Watching all his arrogant diatribes about TOR's innovative 4th Pillar, Story, and then finding that Erickson's idea of Story is an avatar going from one stranger, NPC, to another stranger, to get a typical MMO task to accomplish, is Story innovation?  There's no depth of story, no ensemble cast, no recurring characters... nada.  Just one stranger to another to get a task.  No charm, no warmth, no Chewie or Antilles or Ackbar as examples of recurring or ensemble casts...  Frankly, LOTRO had 20x more story per quest than TOR's, just in text.  Without the depth and charm that we expect from Star Wars story, or any real story, the only innovation that TOR offers is Voice, and that becomes a novelty in its shallow Story-less execution.
  • CeleberegCelebereg Valencia, CAPosts: 38Member


    PS-  I'd sure like to know who hired Erickson as a Bioware leader, and bought his nonsense.  The whole 4th Pillar Story idea was a no-show.  All we got was shallow quests as the avatar moved from one NPC stranger to another NPC stranger to get a task.  No ensemble cast, no recurring characters (and if we did have recurring characters, no stand-outs), nothing we'd expect from the charm and depth of Star Wars or any story at all.  Just one stranger to another for a task.  Really?  Pillar? 


    The only innovation provided by TOR is Voice, and absent story - of which LOTRO by comparison has 20x more story per quest save in text - the Voice innovation is little more than an underutilized novelty that gets what it deserves - which is alot of space-baring to get past the "yada yada go do this or kill that".  What a sham, what a shame... what hacks.  Where do they find these people to run MMO projects?


    It's almost inconceivable that when I learned years ago that I would get another chance to play a Star Wars-based MMO and about fell out of my chair, that I would be stuck with another NGE MMO (literally made by the same fools.)

  • CeleberegCelebereg Valencia, CAPosts: 38Member

    Here's an example of what I want from a real living, breathing MMO experience with my avatar able to play out life in an alternate universe.  I'll use SWG as an example with some twists, since I haven't seen anything else come close to creating an MMO universe (some might call it sandbox, I do not).


    Using crafting as an example.  Multiple trades, multiple roles, suiting those who would approach crafting as a casual endeavor, or a dedicated activity:


    * Multiple roles; resource gathering, reseller, casual goods crafter, niche crafter/specialization, factory production, merchant focus, shopkeeper and decorator.


    * Multiple goods; casual crafters can craft low-quality, low maintanance-cost, low frills goods... an example of which would be housing structures where some players may be interested in comparatively inexpensive, low maintenance cost structures, and have little frills, to serve purposefully as workshops or storage facilities shared by crafters or a storefront that requires a distinct look - they're more disposable and replaceable - or factories that make low-level goods at lower production costs (more efficient for low level goods) or in fewer volumes.  Contrast with crafted high-quality structures or factories (from same or similar schematics) crafted with high customizability and textures (for player houses to be decorated) or factories that produce high quality goods but both require higher maintanence to support.  Demand for both levels of goods, with segmented production by casual or dedicated crafters; each with their own market.  As a dedicated crafter, I can make low quality, low maintenance, low frill goods, but there's no economic payoff by doing so... "I'll do it if I have to or if asked to, but its not efficient for me."


    * Multiple production levels; ability to produce high volumes of low-quality goods at casual levels, low volumes of high-quality goods at median engagement levels, and high volumes of high quality goods at dedicated engagement levels, lesser ability to produce high quality goods at high volumes across various niches requiring specialization - ... all suiting different roles desired by individual players to be mass producers, niche producers, merchants with stocked vendors, etc.


    SWG did most of the above, and the amount of player-directed activity across various dimensions of above gameplay was almost unlimited.  And that's just for crafting.  Find something you enjoy, and spend untold weeks or months doing it, tweaking it, sustaining it, building reknown and reputation for your niche, and at anytime delve off into another area of gameplay.  A place where in many cases, your participation matters, what you do effects others, such as providing them goods that they need in the crafting example and where you can build a reputation and reliability for your place in the universe.  You matter.

    In other dimensions of a true MMO's gameplay, you can matter in other ways, whether leveraging a niche in rich guild features, or rich Raid environments where individuals can add value by leading groups or specializing in _____, etc.
  • CeleberegCelebereg Valencia, CAPosts: 38Member

    The following was just prior to the NGE bombshell to change SWG as we knew it, which itself just followed the launch of the Trials expansion that players had just "paid" for.



   What is your personal favorite part of Galaxies? What makes it a good game?


    Julio Torres:

    My favorite part of Galaxies is that it allows me to immerse myself in the Star Wars universe like nothing else can at any time, all the time. In addition to that aspect, I would say the amount of depth Galaxies offers in terms of the game itself is simply amazing and provides near-endless gameplay and fun experiences.


  With a couple of expansions now under your belts, how does Galaxies appeal to the “new player” without having them feel lost or somehow behind other players?



    Julio Torres:

    This has definitely been a challenge for our game in the past, but has come a long way, especially in terms of directing the player to what they need to be doing early-on. The first experience a player has with a game is incredibly important in terms of design because it is within this initial time frame that a player decides whether they will continue playing the game or move-on to something else. Knowing how important it is to put your best foot forward as early as possible, we are constantly looking for ways to make the game more accessible to more players and improve the overall experience. 




    That being said, we actually have some very exciting things in the works right now to help accomplish this. Stay tuned.


  With Trials of Obi-Wan now nearly on the shelves, what is next for Galaxies?



    Julio Torres:

    Though I can’t go into any detail regarding future products, I can tell you that Trials of Obi-Wan will not be the last expansion to Star Wars Galaxies. We are constantly conceptualizing, designing, and thinking about the future for this great game that despite being out for over two years, continues to be enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of players. [about to cry out in the Force]




    Smedley, Torres, Erickson ... nice.

  • illutianillutian There, OHPosts: 229Member Uncommon

    Companies also need to just skip to Free2Play.

    Seriously, how many of you see a new MMO title come out that looks interesting and think, at least somewhere, " I'll wait till it goes Free2Play "?

    "Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising everytime we fall." - Confucius

  • MikkaylaMikkayla Avon, NYPosts: 2Member
    I am a 40-something year old female. Whether that has to do with what I'm looking for in a game, I don't know.   I am sad to say I missed out on SWG.  From what I hear, it sounded like something I would have really enjoyed.  I had never even heard of MMOs until about 8 years ago and, of course, the first one I tried was WoW.  I thought it was the greatest thing I had ever seen at that time because I had never experienced anything like it before.  I lasted 2 years in that game before I got bored.  I don't run dungeons.  I quite honestly don't find the challenge to be fun.  I find it stressful.   Speaking of stressful, I also don't PVP.  I'm not good at it.  I panick.  I hit 80 keys all at the same time without remembering what any of them do.  I die.  To many of you, I'm what you would call a "baddie" or "noob" or whatever.  Yes.  Yes I am.  Therefore, you will never see me in any of those parts of games.  I know my limits.



    I'm the type of gamer (like many) who works all day, comes home, takes care of family, cooks, etc.  Then I want an hour, maybe two if I'm lucky to immerse myself in a beautiful world where I can be creative and social and not have to murder everything in sight nonstop.  (Granted, on the really bad days where I need to release some stress, sometimes that's not such a bad thing - lol).  But anyway, I want an immersive world with people running around talking, an alive and bustling world.  I want to be able to explore nooks and crannies without having to worry about getting attacked by something every 10 feet.  I want to craft stuff that is interesting and useful for myself and for others.  I want "busy" activities, whether it be fishing, cooking, building, creating something.  I want a house or a shop.  I want pets or animals.



    Now, most of the time, I hear people say to go play Hello Kitty or whatever it is.  Yeah, well, I'm an adult.  I want an adult game.  I want to be surrounded by adults (well, not that everyone is an adult in MMOs, but you know).  I want the atmosphere/open world that exists in many MMOs these days, but I want all those things I mentioned (or at least enough to keep me interested) without having to "progress" by doing mindless quests and killing nonstop.  Every MMO I've tried since WoW, I've labored through that part of it while focusing on doing the stuff I enjoyed such as crafting, fishing, etc., but too often in MMOs, in order to progress those aspects, you need to level your character by...yep...doing those boring quests and killing nonstop.  Sigh.  I don't mind killing stuff, but that being the whole basis of a game just doesn't work for me.



    I do have my eye on The Repopulation, which is in its early stages of development.  So far, it sounds like the closest thing I will find to what I'm looking for.  It's still quite a ways out, though, so in the meantime, I'm slogging along looking at all new MMOs that come out and being disappointed over and over.  The only upside is that I'm starting to see more and more blogs/articles/discussions like this one where I'm finding more and more people who, while they may not think exactly like I do or want exactly what I want, they're voicing many of the same things that I've been feeling.  I make sure to jump into any of these conversations to add my voice to what I hope is a large enough base of players with these wants to maybe make some developer out there somewhere think it's worth it to come up with something different.

  • CeleberegCelebereg Valencia, CAPosts: 38Member
    Well said, Mikkayla.  Concur on every point (except the perpetual dying in combat :D ).
  • CeleberegCelebereg Valencia, CAPosts: 38Member

    With my prior rants (feedback) done... Thanks, Bill, for bringing up such an important topic.  We spend so many hours and so many dollars, and so many hours invested with guildmates and friends made, that it is 'never' my intent to be a locust.  If SWG hadn't done what it had with the revamps, there is no question I would have stayed with it.  Even with TOR performing at a 3 out of 10, I'm still sticking with it despite my long list of fundamental issues (search Definitive Issues in TOR forums), until such time as they seriously tick me off (actually find its gotten better, maybe a 4 now, and a slight eagerness to log in again).


    So why do we leave hoping the next will entertain us better, or meet our MMO needs better?   And how can MMO's based on a franchise like Star Wars or Star Trek go so wrong?


    Face it, SWG was mismanaged, but enough of that.


    MMO Leveling - what is leveling and what is end game?  Well... two premises...  1) Leveling is an exercise in skill building and learning curve - if not, then give us all our skills at Level 1 and turn us loose on content and content areas, balanced accordiingly, and 2) we need endgame that isn't just a gear grind.  If you flatten this conceptually, quest lines and quest areas currently attributed to leveling are just another element of end game activity.  They give you things to explore, areas to explore, skills and competencies to learn.


    Endgame - once you get to end game, whether after leveling up, or as above theorized with a player dropped with end game activities from the onset with a flattened and complete set of skills at Level 1 - what do you expect?


    Here's a list:


    1)  Questing - this is exploration, achievement, and loot-based activity to enjoy game time.  Tell a story, not just strangers represented in NPC's like in TOR, where they assign a task, then the next NPC stranger to assign another task.  Have recurring characters, ensemble characters, that help tell a progressive story and recognize the progression your avatar has achieved.  Have interesting areas of exploration with stories and achievements (not just gear - see motivating items below).  Questing and story lines don't have to be associated with leveling, but can be one of story telling and exploration, with non-gear oriented rewards.  Don't even need to level or have levels if approached with quests as just another activity for players.  "It's all endgame!"  "I'm going back to the Darklands quest area, because... never finished it... to get avatar skill stats... to finish achievement and unlocks... to do hardmode... to get awards..."


    2)  Crafting - allows players the opportunity to enjoy aspects of the game, self-created activity, such as resource gathering, reselling, merchant, specialization, building a reputation as a niche provider where players seek you out or know of you, storefront shopkeeper and decorator


    3) Guilds - activity that supports and reinforces guild communities and progression.  These can include accomplishments that award vehicles, pets, structures, crafting halls/malls, taverns, or ships for the guild, guild-feature modules and capabilities, combat or merchant skill sets, cosmetic items (banners, logos, fireworks), gear (militia armor, heavy weapons, platform weapons, ship weapons) ... stars the limit, only we typically have dark skies in MMO's.  With so often that player enjoyment is based on guild community enjoyment, provide guild charter tools for "would-be" guild leaders to flesh out succesful expectations, and search tools that allow players to find good guild fits beyond today's dismal "have to jump into a guild with both feet to really find out what they're about" beyond their usual poor "no drama" shingles.


    4) Raids - Activities that are not so gear-gated ("let me load my tank, and we're good to go") that provide for flexibility and opportunity based on challenges to class skills and teamwork primarily - things that guilds and teamwork, even PUGs with embedded voice chat, can overcome with repeated effort.  Things that provide rewards other than gear, such as the many items listed in Item #3 above.  A place to enjoy content together, build skills, build teamwork, and demonstrate achievement as groups.  If nothing else for PUGs, indivdual motivation such as Credits, cosmetic items, badges, twinking loot, and crafting materials...


    5) PvP - a place for multiplayer combat that links activity and accomplishments to persistent MMO world progression, such as the items listed in Item #3 above, for guild awards, and Item #4 above for individual awards.  Ideally, a place where teams (of balanced numbers) can come together in a variety of environments, victory conditions, and configurations to apply teamwork and class skills against other players.  A place where skill and teamwork is more important than gear (more gear gating), where the rewards benefit the guild, the guild community, its players, and also indivdual players.  See above for examples of awards.  Fortress maps, battlefield maps, capture the flag, most kills, hold territories...


    Make access to the above simple, not gear gated, so that there's more opportunity to form a team, and exercise teamwork, class skill building, team role building, without being gated by gear requirements.  Again, "I'll get on my tank and we're good to go" rather than, "we don't have a tank that's raid ready."  In so many MMO's we always find the latter.  Then, once in and building skills, "ok we got owned there, here's where we need to do better, here's what we learned from that - the good news is, after three months now we got the crafting module for our guild capital ship and had alot of fun, but I really want those guild logos for our armor pieces."


    6) Entertainment - not alot personally to say here, I know alot of players ask for this in MMOs (harkening again to SWG), the musicianship, the cantinas as a social hotspot... but I've had a hard time articulating what this might mean from a design standard.  I would say that in LOTRO, I had 5 accounts, and 5 boxes, and for a hoot would load them up in a public spot, dressed them the same, and equipped each with a different instrument, and played a song as a band like the Rohan Theme.  That was fun and funny and always drew a crowd and cheers.


    7) Player Housing - we all know about the SWG ghost towns... we also know there's a solution for everything and that SWG leaders applied neither leadership nor policy.  There's a hundred ways to solve it, whether instanced neighborhoods (LOTRO) or instanced worlds (TOR, "Tatooine 1"), but simple policies like LOTRO's "can't pay too far in advance" and introducing policies like if you don't log in to your structure and pay upkeep for 4 weeks, it disappears, or is available for purchase, and your belongings are in escrow to collect.  Set policies and let people have some fun.  Provide cheap structures for shared storage, crafting, and manufacture of low-quality goods, that require little monthly maintenance costs, and provide high quality structures and textures, highly customizable and decoratable, that cost more per month to maintain, all player crafted.  Provide the lots, and let players place the structures they want, in the configuration they want (guilds).  Provide Guild structures, awarded by achievements (combat, raid, PvP) such as capital ships, guild halls, flag poles in neighborhoods, neighborhood signs, turrets, walls, decorative items, merchant structures and vendors, custom guild flags, blacksmith shops, travel stops, taverns... provide player ship berths in Guild Capital ships as hubs, or merchant hubs, or player housing within Guild Halls/Keeps... so many opportunities or approaches.  Where's the leadership?


    8) MMO Flexibility - games that rigidly lock down player names, player surnames such that Kash Thurston prevents another player from naming theirs Kash Forbit, or in turn prevents another player from naming theirs Triton Forbit... all too restricitve.  We all seem to get along just fine in our RL without being confused by three Ted Smiths in the phone book.  Let people be.  Then we get server merges where one Kash has to give up their name when merged and players have to give up a name they've had for years before the game even launched, in planning, and ticks people off.  For what?  Let people be.  Similarly, provide ample storage for guild crafters and banks, for crafting materials, shared storage, workshops, and crafting huts, with large stack sizes, without rediculous and unnecessary stack size or other types of gates to limit people's ability to enjoy, to craft, to produce (factories), to cooperate.

  • illutianillutian There, OHPosts: 229Member Uncommon

    #1. Just so long as it's not done with Group Quests. I never got to listen to any of TOR's Group Quest dialogue because people wanted to get it done...and I can't blame them, it was like the 7th time they ran the damn thing THAT DAY. Instead, make 'Journal Entries' that allow you to replay the dialogue, saving the coversation choices you and the group made. That way you can "experience the story" at your leisure without having people who maybe need to log in a few telling you to "Spacebar through".

    #2. Harkening to Lineage II's crafting system (in terms of you could set yourself up as a crafting station) and private shops? :D

    #3. agree

    #4. Has to be gear-gated...or else there's no carrot.

    #5. Gear will always be important, second only to level...true even in Guild Wars 2 (Trait and Skill Points)

    #6. I love player-driven content

    #7. Yes to housing, no to instancing...unless it's dynamic instancing used in like AoC to reduce lag. I don't want to have my house in Instance #33.....which has two other people's houses :(

    #8. Sorry, but #8 is ridiculous. Unless the account name is displayed after it, like in STO (or was it before?). Or are you seriously saying you'd be fine if I used your character name and made you look like a douchebag; I can skirt the EULA/ToS in just about any game and still make the game population hate me (which would be you, since I'm using your name). [just an example, I don't do that, because I have to much self-respect].

    That's the #1 reason it's not done. Has nothing to with DB entries, that can all be done like Blizzard's Battletag (playername.###).

    As for server merges, that's why they do first-come-first-served.


    -Most of that is solid, but some need tweaks.


    "Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising everytime we fall." - Confucius

  • CeleberegCelebereg Valencia, CAPosts: 38Member
    Originally posted by Dyner
    #4. Has to be gear-gated...or else there's no carrot. 

    This is an MMO.  Players aren't involved for MMO's to grind gear, they're there to play a multi-dimensional game where they can engage, explore, develop, and enjoy.


    Relative to Raids and multiplayer combat... my clan played CounterStrike for more than two years just as enthusiastically as I raided with a LOTRO or TOR guild, not because of gear, but because of class and role challenge, teamwork, fun, and community.  How many games do we play endlessly and gear is not even a game feature?  It's just "he11a fun."  MMO's can deliver on all those dimensions, and gear need not be the carrot or at least the gate that it is to the extreme that it is.


    You can gate challenge levels by 2 elements:  class competency, and role (teamwork) competency.  These guys constantly add a 3rd element - gear readiness.  The gear uberness is just a 3rd wheel that only serves to restrict opportunity to enjoy raiding.  I'm not saying that gear shouldn't matter, that I can just go in without any armor.  But the extreme they  take it, such that I can't be reasonably geared, and very good in my class, and very good at executing in a team in a combat environment...  so very often groups can't go because they don't have the requisite "raid ready" (gear-wise) class availability.


    I killed myself to get raid ready in LOTRO on 4 classes, and I could go into the toughest content and play it well.  That provided my guild alot of flexibility to enjoy the content and provide access to the content for alot of players in the guild, because of me and some select others, they could say, "Celebereg's on, he can fill the missing DPS role," or "Celebereg's on, he can fill the missing Tank role."  But that's a killer pace, a marriage-ending pace, because as soon as you kill yourself to "gear up" multiple toons, they raise the level cap, and you're on the mousewheel again to level and twink their stats and gear again.


    When do we get off the mousewheel and really get to enjoy the content they give us, before that level cap goes up again.  The gear gating to the extent it is used, is way over the top.  As a result, because there can't be more people multi-role and raid ready, it gates players accessibility to enjoy the content.  As such, only a small percent gets to enjoy the tougher endgame content when it's not the players' competency in class or teamwork, its the enormous time to grind gear.  That's completely counter-intuitive to providing a game for players to enjoy, developing all that content, and then putting up roadblocks to prevent most players from enjoying it to their capabilities.  Pretty rediculous.



    Originally posted by Dyner
    Sorry, but #8 is ridiculous 

    We learned in business decades ago that you don't design a game around the bad behavior of a few abusers.  There is so much distinction between one avatar to another; from species, appearance, male/female, class, guildname, title, profession... that I have no problem if another player happened to have the same first name, or the same last name.  


    Having both first and surname the same as another player would be pretty rare, unless you took a really common name for both, and even then, if you don't like it, you "should have" (emphasis Bioware) the ability to choose to change your name.  In the rare example that someone was trying to grief you or impersonate you, they can be dealt with.  Frankly, they can do that today, too, with a slight alpha variation - instead of Kandus Ordo, Guildname of True Blud, name yourself Kandos Ordo, and start a guild called Tru Blud.  If someone's going to grief, they're going to grief.  


    Can't build something around griefers, or you'll be left with an NGE passing for an MMO.

  • wgc01wgc01 Fort Worth, TXPosts: 232Member Uncommon

    I agree for the most past, scripted content is only going to last for so long, and companies just keep giving us the same ole content over and over and call it new, adding another ferris wheel to the park is just another ferris wheel, it's not new when you have 10 other ferris wheels..

    Games need some kind of hybrid so our toons feel like they live in the world,and not just playing through it, more activites that are indeed new and not just rehashed. 


    I wonder with so many f2p games these days, if it is not putting the breaks on companies creativity, they just keep pumping put stuff for a store a little content here and there,but not addressing the real issue of the transient player.

    But all games are not what the used to be even stand alone games do not offer the hours of play they did a few years age, everything seems to be designed for the wham bam thank you mam crowd, and on to the next.. depth and creativity are becoming a lost art in video games, might explain why sales were down across all platforms last month by 25%.. /sigh

  • CeleberegCelebereg Valencia, CAPosts: 38Member
    Originally posted by wgc01
    .. depth and creativity are becoming a lost art in video games, might explain why sales were down across all platforms last month by 25%.. /sigh

    As far as MMO's go, there is a dearth of leadership.  I have to call on SWG again, as it is the landmark MMO having the depth of a virtual universe.  Two quick facts:


    > The design was sublime across all gameplay dimensions.


    > It was launched prematurely due to corporate leadership failure, missing much of its activity-oriented content


    With those two things in mind, without strong leadership, it was doomed.  There were two things that drove a failure of leadership:


    1)  The so-called leadership ilk represented by Torres and Erickson were too young and too inexperienced, they didn't know what they didn't know.


    2)  They lacked effective project leadership skills; everything from effective community feedback and communication loops, to an absence of project vision (design tenets) to hold to, and to apply feedback to within the contraints of a cohesive vision.


    Absent that leadership, what we saw was one ad hoc design redirection after another, based on community shouting, without a cohesive vision to apply it to.  They couldn't do anything right, because they didn't have the core vision, didn't have the leadership skills to integrate the feedback to the vision, and demonstrated their twists, turns, and meandering right off the cliff.  As a result, too, they lost the talent, they lost any cohesion of the design tenets from one expansion to the next, and the game was breaking almost from the start.  


    Complete leadership and project management fundamentals failure.  It would be bad enough if these young leaders were trying to cut their teeth on a simple project, but they were thrown into a guidance position over the pinnacle of MMO depth and design, a complex series of interconnected systems that made it the pinnacle that it was.  That was a failure by Smedley and other higher ups at both SOE and LucasArts, that put these green leaders into the positions they were.


    So, instead of putting experienced leaders on the team, they blamed the complexity of the game as "unmanageable".  We knew by watching them over time that they had no leadership skills, so the issue was the leadership, rather than the game (we'll never know about its manageability, because the leadership was so bad so as to smother any chance of success).  By blaming the game, and by that story being bought by SOE and LucasArts corporate leaders, they were able to deflect blame from themselves and sell the lobotomization of the MMO.


    Two things followed that matter to TOR.


    A)  The failure of SWG as a poster child for sandbox (don't like the term, rather "a game of depth, dimension... a true virtual universe"), such that nobody touched sandbox for a decade and still counting, and the alternative, themepark MMOs, continued to disappoint players since.


    B) The leaders of SWG who deflected blame, who blamed the game, who sold corporate leaders on lobotomizing SWG, and subsequently failed with NGE, went on to be leaders at TOR development.  We players got The Old NGE as a result.  Call it TOR or call it TON, doesn't matter, we got Erickson.  Erickson apparently believed in his youthful hubris that he was right all along with what would make a great MMO, and probably thought that the reason NGE failed was not because it was bad design, but because players had baggage from the revamp.  


    We could see all through the development of TOR in Erickson's videos his arrogance, his sacred cows he was placing in design tenets, and thereby and more,  his leadership failings.  In the end, we launched with TOR/TON.  What happened?


    Let me ask you this?  How is it possible that you can mix an MMO and Star Wars, and fail?  ... Twice?


    ANSWER:  When the same failed leaders were at work on both projects.


    Ultimately, we will never have a sustaining MMO success in a themepark, as it is counterintuative to "depth and dimension, in a virtual universe."  We will never thrive without that depth, without experience through our avatars the life (story, combat, crafting, social interaction and dependencies, roles such as merchants and gatherers or raid coordinators, decorators, manufacturers, niche specialists, etc. etc. etc.) in a virtual universe.


    The issue of project failure is not sandbox or themepark.  The issue is three-fold to have MMO success:


    1. Great design across many gameplay dimensions (no easy task)


    2. Great leadership (no easy task)


    3. IP (eg. Star Wars, Star Trek, BSG, Potter :D , whichever)


    We've rarely had #1, and never had #2.  So without those, we will never have a great, thriving MMO.  The question for Bioware today, is do we have #2 now that Erickson has been shown the door.

    I may have missed some of the guilty parties behind the scenes, but I've seen the youthful arrogance and incompetence of Erickson and Torres in countless interviews, like deer in the headlights, even as fans are yelling at them and they didn't know how to respond - and certainly Smedley.  I'm sure there are more parties responsible behind the scenes and up the ladder, they know who they are.  However, there's no question from years of posts, videos, and blogs, that Erickson was squarely in the middle of that leadership failure for both MMOs, the NGE in particular, and its legacy represented in TOR today.
  • NildenNilden Canada, NBPosts: 1,923Member Rare

    This article should get some more face time. After seeing many people try to blame the players for playing a game the way they want, be it having more time, accusing people of rushing to max, not stopping to smell the roses,  some of it even sounds like jealousy because they can't play more.

    Content locusts are a symptom of current MMO design.

    If someone can eat a four course meal in 5 minutes and someone else takes an hour that doesn't change the fact that you both have a four course meal and are not at a buffet.

    If someone can beat the game in a month because it has 100 hours of content and someone else takes 6 months to beat the 100 hours of content that doesn't change the fact that there is only 100 hours worth of content.

    Pretty tired of people who have not done all the content telling people who have how they should play. Maybe they should design MMOs so that they are not linear, shallow, easy, and able to be beaten in whatever number of hours. This is why I'm such an advocate for Minecraft, you can never beat it you just build more stuff.

    "classification of games into MMOs is not by rational reasoning" - nariusseldon
    Love Minecraft. And check out my Youtube channel OhCanadaGamer

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