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Inconvenience is the Key

LauraFrostLauraFrost New York, NYPosts: 95Member

 

The reason why most recent MMORPGs are boring is because they are just too convenient.

When you design an MMORPG that probably aiming to use a subscription model you need to create an environment where the player can delve into for long playing time feeling that they "belong". It is when developers started to turn the world into a "game" of convenience that players started to feel more of being in a "themepark" than being in a world. (and sandbox has nothing to do with it).

 

The key here is we're so spoiled that everything is made easy to the point that "getting there" feels pointless and effortless. You don't feel accomplishment at all because it's a fact no matter who you are, you WILL achieve everything eventually (which is usually within a few days).

 

If traveling is too easy, death is unimportant and leveling is very linear and fast.... then what's the point???

 

Adding such inconveniences to the "World" would give you enough design options to add player-intederependence skills that help overcome such inconveniences. Traveling is too slow? you give, say, 30% of the classes abilities to overcome such a thing (teleporting, speed boost...etc).

 

The old timers always ask "Why can't I even convince myself to login in?" part of this because there's no sense of "investment" in your character. Everything feels very generic and again too convenient.

If every 2 minutes you're going to loot a gear upgrade, I say tell me why would you feel excited about gear upgrade anymore? I think we need to balance the pace of a game. Traveling pace, combat, leveling and gear upgrade. I think if it takes you 5 days in order to get a minor upgrade would actually make the item a lot more exciting than the recent trivial/redundaness of itemization in the insta-gratification MMORPGs.

 

 

 

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Comments

  • BetaguyBetaguy Halifax, NSPosts: 2,590Member
    Originally posted by LauraFrost

     

    The reason why most recent MMORPGs are boring is because they are just too convenient.

    When you design an MMORPG that probably aiming to use a subscription model you need to create an environment where the player can delve into for long playing time feeling that they "belong". It is when developers started to turn the world into a "game" of convenience that players started to feel more of being in a "themepark" than being in a world. (and sandbox has nothing to do with it).

     

    The key here is we're so spoiled that everything is made easy to the point that "getting there" feels pointless and effortless. You don't feel accomplishment at all because it's a fact no matter who you are, you WILL achieve everything eventually (which is usually within a few days).

     

    If traveling is too easy, death is unimportant and leveling is very linear and fast.... then what's the point???

     

    Adding such inconveniences to the "World" would give you enough design options to add player-intederependence skills that help overcome such inconveniences. Traveling is too slow? you give, say, 30% of the classes abilities to overcome such a thing (teleporting, speed boost...etc).

     

    The old timers always ask "Why can't I even convince myself to login in?" part of this because there's no sense of "investment" in your character. Everything feels very generic and again too convenient.

    If every 2 minutes you're going to loot a gear upgrade, I say tell me why would you feel excited about gear upgrade anymore? I think we need to balance the pace of a game. Traveling pace, combat, leveling and gear upgrade. I think if it takes you 5 days in order to get a minor upgrade would actually make the item a lot more exciting than the recent trivial/redundaness of itemization in the insta-gratification MMORPGs.

     

     

     

    ^ This

    image

  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member

    Expansion from the premise a) we're lazy and spoiled to the final conclusion of b) we're lazy and spoiled is an entirely circular argument.

    How many synonyms and repetitions for "convenient" can you pack into a single post?

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  • zymurgeistzymurgeist Pittsville, VAPosts: 5,211Member Uncommon
    There is a huge difference between challenging someone and just throwing up a series of pointless roadblocks. MMOs commonly  put time sinks and other bizarre barriers in players way. They were never, and still aren't, challenging. I'm not sure they can ever be challenging because people would just cry a river until the nerf bats come out. As it is people still whine about gear checks in WoW. That's not exactly a hard game.

    "Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause" ~Victor Hugo

  • PhaserlightPhaserlight Boca Raton, FLPosts: 867Member Uncommon

    I agree that, in general, a game with a persistent world should incorporate some form of progression into its design.  I don't need rewards every couple minutes to feel like I am making progress; I am willing to strike toward an objective that takes days to complete to receive a benefit.

    One part of your post I disagree with is travel.  A mantra I've had to learn when designing content is that travel does not equal gameplay.  If a player is traveling from point A to point B in order to do thing C, getting to point B is generally a time sink as far as travel is involved, and can actually be a deterrent in wanting to complete C.  Sometimes, a little travel is necessary if the location is specific and has features that are incorporated into the game's design for a specific purpose, otherwise I think games should try to keep travel to a minimum if at all possible.  I'm not necessarily advocating quick travel, mounts, or teleportation; I think MMORPGs need to do a better job of localizing gameplay.

    For example, if I have a choice between spawning a big mysterious entity for the player to investigate halfway across the map and telling the player to travel there, or present the player with a series of small opportunities based on their actions that lead toward other objectives like a chain of dominos that eventually build up to a confrontation with this big mysterious entity when the player is right on its doorstep, I'm going with the latter.

    The exception to this is if the player is exploring an area for the sake of discovery.  I don't mean like in WoW, where every time you walk into a new zone the game gives you a little drum roll and presents you with the name of the territory; I mean geographical features that present interesting environments that the player uncovers (WoW has these also; there was this one mountain that changed the time of day when you climbed to the top... pretty cool).  In this case, travel is a good thing because the travel is the gameplay: exploration.  I just felt it was important to make this distinction.

    Otherwise I agree with your post, and I would be interested to hear what less recent games you think do a good job of presenting the player with a series of meaningful challenges.  My pick would of course be Vendetta Online, not just because I have significantly contributed to its content (or not so significantly, depending on your perspective), but because it has a lot of progression built into its design.  However, opposite to a game like WoW, the progression is only a way to gain access to new equipment and/or opportunities (not to increase imaginary stats that determine combat) and the new equipment is only marginally better than the old.  Therefore, it does not take long at all before becoming a viable force in the galaxy.  Mastery, on the other hand, is a matter of sounding incredible depth of strategy and playstyle.  Progression is a matter of building alliegences with AI factions and/or other players, impacting the tapestry of the socio-political landscape across years.  The following video may give you a brief idea of the kind of progression I am talking about:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=691-NLeuhFo

    If you like the idea, be sure to support the Kickstarter.

    "To be what you are not, experience what you are not." -Saint John of the Cross
    Authored 110 missions in Vendetta Online
    Check it out on Steam

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common

    I don't see anyone wanting to play a game where your character is eating a bowl of soup and every spoonful is an ever more difficult quick time event. Its not inconvenience. Inconvenience is bad, when there's no point to it and many MMOs in the past had many of those.

    Why modern games may feel boring is because they have little to nothing new to offer. I've said this a couple of times before: if you made an old-school game now, it wouldn't do any better than the rest. You're not looking for a new old-game, you're looking for an entirely new game.

    And fast progression is hardly about convenience. Its about progression. I feel you are mixing things up in order to get to say "instant gratification". Another bashing thread, I see.

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  • YaevinduskYaevindusk Ul''dah, CAPosts: 1,537Member Uncommon

     

    *Sigh*  I had a lot written, but it all got erased somehow.

    Ultimately it boils down to profits and the like.  Many aren't willing or don't have the patience to partake in a game that provides them with a set of challenges.  The developers, I'm sure, know the who issue of a feeling of progression and how treadmills are going out of style.  When you factor in that many probably already have MMO games that they're relatively locked into, being sold on a game where they have to spend months on end to do anything worth while when they already have a max level character, a guild and many friends on another game will be difficult.

    Being someone who spent 9 months to get a Grand Master blacksmith on UO back in the day, in addition to playing FFXI for years when ot first came out... I know first hand how gratifying and lucrative such things can be.  Heck, I even spent about a month to level each profession (one month for this, one month for that) on FFXIV before it shut down in preparation for the new version of the game.  Though I am very much a part of the crowd that is usually busy, and leaving a game that has my friends in it just because it's inconvienent isn't going to sell me on playing the game.  In fact, the pitch itself sounds like a horrible idea (not the core argument surrounding it).

    The key therein would be to try and get their friends into that game, in addition to making it a rewarding experience.  How one would accomplish this is the million subscriber question.  In addition, it will have to be interesting in almost every way, with new ways to do things that reach the intended point.  When it's a matter of patience (as we're talking about now), we also have to remind ourselves that today's generation may have a much lower tolerance for long endeavors and have been known for their short attention spans as a whole.  This is a dangerous thing to do as it practically condemning your game to a niche crowd right off, unless you can market it in such a way to make it so there is absolutely no reason to stick with your current game or not to play this one.

    If they attempt it without the above, and even more, it will almost certainly become F2P if they attempted to go P2P initially.  Then it will eventually sell items to make it more convienent, which will make it all for nothing anyway.

    :<

    When faced with strife or discontent, the true nature of a man is brought forth. It is then when we see the character of the individual. It is then we are able to tell if he is mature enough to grin and bare it, or subject his fellow man to his complaints and woes.

  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member
    Originally posted by Yaevindusk

     Many aren't willing or don't have the patience to partake in a game that provides them with a set of challenges.

    I presume from the misty mystical "many", you're just making another unfocused "modern gamer" bash here?

    Where their "modern gamer" properties are the ones you assign? And that's why us Old Tyme Gamers are Inherently Better?

    (We get that one several dozen times every weekend, please don't bother.)

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  • TsaboHavocTsaboHavoc PinheiralPosts: 351Member

    also inconvenience can  form communities and give sense and deep to the world. lets say player A have to cross a forest, player B is a druid and can teleport ppl trough trees. Player A interacts with Player B.

    hell, EQ had that with corpse runs/ necro hire.

    a simple thing that adds to immersion, economy, bonds..... the possibilities are endless.

  • JemcrystalJemcrystal Champaign, ILPosts: 1,550Member Uncommon
    In all things there must be balance.  To much inconvenience is not a good either.

  • snapfusionsnapfusion San, CAPosts: 954Member

    Bingo.....

     

    And debating this with someone who doesnt understand the foundation of accomplishment is pointless.

  • PhaserlightPhaserlight Boca Raton, FLPosts: 867Member Uncommon

    I think the following comic strip aptly addresses the issue of inconvenience...

    "To be what you are not, experience what you are not." -Saint John of the Cross
    Authored 110 missions in Vendetta Online
    Check it out on Steam

  • KyleranKyleran Tampa, FLPosts: 19,981Member Uncommon
    The quote from Raph Koster in my sig sums it up best, one man's inconvenience is another person's challenge. How are developers to know which of them to cater to? There in lies the real heart of the debate. Generally speaking they try to cater to the largest audience to maximize revenues/profits.

    In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.
    "I don't have one life, I have many lives" - Grunty
    Still currently "subscribed" to EVE, and only EVE!!!
    "This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon

  • VincerKadenVincerKaden Edison, NJPosts: 457Member

    OP makes valid points. In fact, I agree with almost all of it. What's the point of once again saving the world when every single player who came before me already did it? In fact, there wasn't even any danger of the world being lost anyway. There's no cause and effect for the most part.

    Rewards for quests are out of whack. Quest Giver: "Thank you for delivering me this bag of beans. Here... have a powerful magic sword." (Quest Giver turns to the next player). "Thank you for delivering me this bag of beans. Here..."

    Now we ALL have magic swords! And how convenient that these swords are just powerful enough for the next challenge: "Kill 10 piglings who are eating all the crops" Don't worry... more will spawn, so there's no danger of them going extinct. There's no danger of them eating all the crops either. You'll never be rid of piglings OR crops!

    Jeez... no wonder we log off and look for another game. Hope springs eternal. Maybe the NEXT MMO will get it right!

    image

  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member

    A maze is all about the walls between you and your goal.

    Not all mazes are fun for all people all of the time.

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common
    Originally posted by Kyleran
    The quote from Raph Koster in my sig sums it up best, one man's inconvenience is another person's challenge. How are developers to know which of them to cater to? There in lies the real heart of the debate. Generally speaking they try to cater to the largest audience to maximize revenues/profits.

    I think the quote goes: "One man's inconvenience is another's game." There's a difference between challenge and inconvenience. One you want and one you want to avoid although players are the ones who determine which is which in the end.

    A good rule of thumb would be: if you can't make it fun, don't do it.

     

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  • KyleranKyleran Tampa, FLPosts: 19,981Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quirhid
    Originally posted by Kyleran
    The quote from Raph Koster in my sig sums it up best, one man's inconvenience is another person's challenge. How are developers to know which of them to cater to? There in lies the real heart of the debate. Generally speaking they try to cater to the largest audience to maximize revenues/profits.

    I think the quote goes: "One man's inconvenience is another's game." There's a difference between challenge and inconvenience. One you want and one you want to avoid although players are the ones who determine which is which in the end.

    A good rule of thumb would be: if you can't make it fun, don't do it.

     

    Since quotes aren't always visible to everyone, "Every inconvenience is a challenge, and games are made of challenges. This means that every inconvenience in your design is potentially someone’s game" Raph Koster

    As to your rule of thumb, what you and I consider "fun" are definitely different, so the only way that is even useful is to design towards the largest audience that consider's a certain feature to be entertaining.

    But knowing who those folks are and how many really like it is the mystery, and for the past 8 years most Dev's have just looked that the market leader and decided to center their design on that.   Undertstandable why they choose to, even if it ends up with most new MMORPG's not being interesting to me.

     

    In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.
    "I don't have one life, I have many lives" - Grunty
    Still currently "subscribed" to EVE, and only EVE!!!
    "This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon

  • greenreengreenreen Punchoo, AKPosts: 2,101Member Uncommon

    I've got the game design idea you want.

    Instead of increasing your stats or getting more as you level. First you start out with everything and the longer you play the more is taken from you. Then your levels matter, then you show improvement on a personal level.

    We'll call this game Erosion - Progressive loss never felt so good.

     

  • hraethhraeth Hillsboro, ORPosts: 34Member

    I'll have to (mostly) agree with the OP.  I AM looking for more inconvenience in my MMO.  I want to need light sources to delve deep into dark caves.  I want to travel, though travel needs to be meaningful and not 45 minutes of waiting on a dock for a boat to arrive followed by 20 minutes of standing on the deck of the boat.  I want upgrades to be fewer and much farther between. 

    That being said, I also believe that it is true that not all inconveniences are good inconveniences.  Waiting 20 minutes for my mana bar to refill is NOT fun.  Essentially, what I'm looking for are inconveniences that I can DO something about an not inconveniences that that I simply have to wait out.  Acting is fun, waiting is not fun.

    Someone posted previosly that old games wouldn't succeed in today's environment.  I agree, but I think that it is because of the insurmountable inconvenices like hyper slow mana regen and a "hurry up and wait" style of travel.  It is my sincere hope that we will see a few upcoming MMORPGs designed to run at a slower pace presenting worthwhile obstacles to overcome through effort, skill, and preparation rather than a few pigs to kill and a few kobold candles to steal and trade in for sword of everything killing +10 and a full set of armor.

  • Lovely_LalyLovely_Laly genevaPosts: 734Member

    make game too easy and you'll need to add content very often.
    make game too hard and you'll get people moving away, bored or disappointed.

    make mix of both? may be you gonna win.

    I keep posting that IMO modern game need to have 2 lvl of challenge or easy play / hard play realms.

    this way we can see who loves challenge (% of players) and can enjoy game style we like.

    personally I still love large world to explore but not too hard, not too long (i hate when I need 5 min to kill 1 mob) and never boring grind (quests kill X, come back, kill Y etc).

    I'm ok with idea of hard boss. =XD but I hope to have more content than kill said boss over and over.

    I like housing, gardening and fishing as not fast activities. as it not combat I can spend more time on it.

    I love games with lot of items, char customization (+ of creation) and good looking graphics (Aion, Tera, GW2, LotRO, Forsaken World, Runes of Magic, Rift and more I have not seen yet=D)

    So may be someone need hard combat style raid and large groups of people to make huge war?
    Why not make both possible? Why not make game where we all can find home and be happy for more then 3 months.

    try before buy, even if it's a game to avoid bad surprises.
    Worst surprises for me: Aion, GW2

  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member
    Originally posted by hraeth

    I want to travel, though travel needs to be meaningful and not 45 minutes of waiting on a dock for a boat to arrive followed by 20 minutes of standing on the deck of the boat.

    One of the drawbacks of MMOs is that travel is very rarely--at all--meaningful. Part of the price a 3D world pays for camera control; you can see what's happening, out to the edge of agro range or even far beyond.

    Surprise is only achieved by a mob spawning literally in your lap. Compromises exist; patrolling mobs help (a  little), randomly wandering mobs help (a lot more). Really tight density-spawning creatures are "annoying and tedious", if you're more concerned with getting from A to B than you are with killing spawns.

    But still, for a reasonably careful player, traveling from A to B just isn't something that's ever classed as "difficult".

    In the MUD days, we would travel from town to town via scripted movement--Move E, Move E; Move S, Move NE...you could do the moves manually, once you're memorized the sequence, but most folks, honestly, didn't do that for long.  A question of A to B being a 2-minute movement script or a 25-minute manual walk. "Surprise" consisted of moving into a room with a hostile crittur on your path; if it could get a hit in on you, your scripts would (sometimes) be interrupted, you could even get killed.

    At best, it reminds you of a toon's mortality (sneaking through a zone that's at or above your level).

    But town A to town B? Generally doesn't involve movement through much or any "near your level" territory. Which may be the design flaw that's really missing from this equation. Travel's is only meaningful through critturs (or players) that can do more than annoy you. Add mounts, and even fewer critturs can even annoy you. It's not inconvenience that's missing; it's relevance.

    If you find travel enormously tedious, I might first suggest a PVP realm to 'wake you up'.

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  • MardukkMardukk Posts: 1,556Member Uncommon
    Fantastic post OP. Too streamlined gives very little sense of accomplishment which leads to boredom. I do think its a fine line on a few issues. One thing that really needs to be addressed is the sense of danger when going through a zone as well as solo pve difficulty. Both need to be adjusted higher.

    I think we will eventually see some indie dev put difficulty back in solo play.
  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member

    Perahps one of the simplest examples of how messy this concept gets is travel time.  If you were a developer, how long should you make players hold down the w key to get from one hub to the next.  Is it a complete waste of the player's valuable time?   Is it a check on over-efficient consumption of content?  Or is required part of building a sense of geography, isolation and anticipation?  Is it all of these at once?

    My opinions on this are all over the map (and not always consistent with each other), but one of the trends that is setting off alarm bells for me is the notion of cash-shops being used to bypass inconvenience, that the idea of the sole reason an inconcenience exists in a game is to be a motivation for people to pay real money to get past it.  It freaks me out to look around on forums and see other people *not* having the same alarmed reaction, just taking it in stride.  It's a humbling reminder to me that I still have a lot to learn about how other people think.

  • EzhaeEzhae LondonPosts: 737Member

    While I can agree witht he points, you forget that what you describe only applies to a small part of overall MMO playerbase. Keep in midn that back then whe, 100-200k players in a MMO was a lot, nowadays, ammo that falls that low is considered a failure and disgrace to the genre. 

    Once the whole thing exploded (thanks to vairous factors) and a high profile MMO is expecte dto have at least 1 million players on board you get a lot more poeple that play to kill time, to have some fun for 2-3 hours a day every other day, those people make the majority of the customers so it's no surprsie that the developers started creating games that are enjoyable for that group. 

    On whatever games official forums you will rarley find a huge number of posts syaing "stuff is too easy", on the contrary, majority will want more (stuff) for less (effort)m they want to know that those 2-3 hours they put in every now and than is meaningful in itself, separate from the "big picture" and provides noticeable progress to whatever goal they may have set for themselves. 

    Same time you can see all those "hardcore" MMOs barley able to sustain themselves, with exception of EVE that due to it's unique approach has rather loyal fanbase. Doesn't help that when some indie company goes to make MMO that has more "punishing" gameplay 3 others try the same thing at same time which gives each of them even smaller slice of the overall pie and neither has enough resources to produce quality game on their own. 

  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member
    Originally posted by maplestone
    My opinions on this are all over the map (and not always consistent with each other), but one of the trends that is setting off alarm bells for me is the notion of cash-shops being used to bypass inconvenience, that the idea of the sole reason an inconcenience exists in a game is to be a motivation for people to pay real money to get past it.

    The dubious honesty of faster-mounts puchasable only with cash?

    Not substantially different from pay-by-the-hour services (yes you, 1st gen MMOs) manipulating income with jogging speed,  is it? A wee distasteful, but reaching clear back to the dawn of internet.

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member
    Originally posted by Ezhae

    On whatever games official forums you will rarley find a huge number of posts syaing "stuff is too easy"

    :raise hand: I've seen those posted virtually every day in certain games.

    Scratch that, every game. "Too EZ" is just a traditional pose-and-flex topic, has always been.

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

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