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Design element that has hurt recent MMORPGs

ReallyNow10ReallyNow10 Pile It High Town, LAPosts: 2,010Member Common

This

 

--------------------------------------------------->

 

It's called a line.  And the devs have been engineering gameplay so that you are always following it.

This is changing.  

AAA PVE fantasy sandbox MMORPG's are on their way.

«13

Comments

  • centkincentkin Asbury, NJPosts: 943Member Uncommon
    This began with the unified starting zone instead of everyone's race having a unique starter area and flavor to the game and ended with the micromanagement of the raiding class such that they had the exact equipment the devs wanted them to have rather than having some choice in style.
  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,273Member Uncommon
    separate with worlds with different rule sets.
  • GorweGorwe Ald'RuhnPosts: 2,473Member Uncommon

    And Thank Asuryan that it is!

    I am sick n tired of that thing.

  • zevni78zevni78 grimsbyPosts: 1,133Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by centkin
    This began with the unified starting zone instead of everyone's race having a unique starter area and flavor to the game and ended with the micromanagement of the raiding class such that they had the exact equipment the devs wanted them to have rather than having some choice in style.

    Say what you will about WoW, at least they gave us great starting zones, (though the last 2 expansions were so linear I couldnt get through them), though I think sandox isnt needed for the lvling part, as GW2 and the dynamic elements and instant adventures of Rift help to reduce linear-itis. As to endgame, I remember in RO when PVP was what most people did, and we had all sorts of odd gear, I miss those chaotic days. Can you make PVE endgame without dev dictated limits?

     

    This is a weird period, we all know a huge wave of sandboxes is coming and so few themeparks, that the mmo climate will be un-recognizable soon, yet here we are, in this waiting limbo. I will miss certain themeparks, I hope their devs get the hint and sandbox them up a bit, or it may be hard going back after some AA or EQN.

  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Sioux City, IAPosts: 3,828Member

    While I like both centkin's and bcbully's reply, let me add:
    Max level in 100 or so hours.

    That has made "the journey" nothing but a chore and gives the "end game" too much focus.

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR

  • zevni78zevni78 grimsbyPosts: 1,133Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by AlBQuirky

    While I like both centkin's and bcbully's reply, let me add:
    Max level in 100 or so hours.

    That has made "the journey" nothing but a chore and gives the "end game" too much focus.

    Yep, that too, back to RO, we had a lvl cap of 348 and no quests, now that was a grind, they never focused on endgame that much, instead they added more lvling zones and more classes to use them as, switching to WoW after that was a shock.

  • AxehiltAxehilt San Francisco, CAPosts: 8,716Member Uncommon

    All that matters to players is gameplay quality.

    • Interesting decisions are a big part of that.
    • Games can have interesting decisions while being completely linear -- unless you want to try to convince most players they didn't have fun playing Portal.
    So fixating on lines is pretty irrelevant.
     
    In most cases, depending on the "line", a line doesn't reduct the amount of interesting decisions a game offers.  When it does, sure it's bad.  When it doesn't, no harm has been done.  

    "Joe stated his case logically and passionately, but his perceived effeminate voice only drew big gales of stupid laughter..." -Idiocracy
    "There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance." -Socrates

  • zevni78zevni78 grimsbyPosts: 1,133Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Axehilt

    All that matters to players is gameplay quality.

    • Interesting decisions are a big part of that.
    • Games can have interesting decisions while being completely linear -- unless you want to try to convince most players they didn't have fun playing Portal.
    So fixating on lines is pretty irrelevant.
     
    In most cases, depending on the "line", a line doesn't reduct the amount of interesting decisions a game offers.  When it does, sure it's bad.  When it doesn't, no harm has been done.  

    A "line" destroys immersion if your supposed to be exploring an open world, and it ruins re-playability with alts. I want freedom, spontainious variation, hard to get that in a linear context. Portal isnt an mmo, lines always feel too single player, that is why more and more are failing to complete PVE lvling in games like WoW, even if it's open world, it might as well not be.

  • KyleranKyleran Tampa, FLPosts: 19,989Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by zevni78
    Originally posted by centkin
    This began with the unified starting zone instead of everyone's race having a unique starter area and flavor to the game and ended with the micromanagement of the raiding class such that they had the exact equipment the devs wanted them to have rather than having some choice in style.

    Say what you will about WoW, at least they gave us great starting zones, (though the last 2 expansions were so linear I couldnt get through them), though I think sandox isnt needed for the lvling part, as GW2 and the dynamic elements and instant adventures of Rift help to reduce linear-itis. As to endgame, I remember in RO when PVP was what most people did, and we had all sorts of odd gear, I miss those chaotic days. Can you make PVE endgame without dev dictated limits?

     

    This is a weird period, we all know a huge wave of sandboxes is coming and so few themeparks, that the mmo climate will be un-recognizable soon, yet here we are, in this waiting limbo. I will miss certain themeparks, I hope their devs get the hint and sandbox them up a bit, or it may be hard going back after some AA or EQN.

    Don't start waving goodbye to theme parks too soon,  I suspect that many of the up and coming so called sand box games will bear far more similarity to WOW than UO, SWG or EVE even.

     

     

    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

  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Sioux City, IAPosts: 3,828Member


    Originally posted by zevni78

    Originally posted by Axehilt
    All that matters to players is gameplay quality.
    Interesting decisions are a big part of that.Games can have interesting decisions while being completely linear -- unless you want to try to convince most players they didn't have fun playing Portal.
    So fixating on lines is pretty irrelevant.In most cases, depending on the "line", a line doesn't reduct the amount of interesting decisions a game offers.  When it does, sure it's bad.  When it doesn't, no harm has been done.  

    A "line" destroys immersion if your supposed to be exploring an open world, and it ruins re-playability with alts. I want freedom, spontainious variation, hard to get that in a linear context. Portal isnt an mmo, lines always feel too single player, that is why more and more are failing to complete PVE lvling in games like WoW, even if it's open world, it might as well not be.
    But that is "inefficient." Lines make the game much more efficient.

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR

  • MMOExposedMMOExposed lalal land, DCPosts: 6,255Member Uncommon
    Sandboxes are also designed in a line sometimes. That's when they become nothing but an open world Arena sandbox though. 

     

    How about some true open ended gameplay with player made content.

    image

  • ZorgoZorgo Deepintheheartof, TXPosts: 2,226Member
    Originally posted by MMOExposed
    Sandboxes are also designed in a line sometimes. That's when they become nothing but an open world Arena sandbox though. 

     

    How about some true open ended gameplay with player made content.

    That would depend on the specifics of how that concept is implemented.

    If player made content = player ability to place mobs in a set map in an instanced dungeon, I would say 'no thanks'.

    If however, it meant players built homes, towns, industry, fortifications and competed or cooperated with neighboring realms over resources, territory, religion and politics - well I'd say count me in.

    However, I've never really seen the latter in a true sense.

  • AeliousAelious Portland, ORPosts: 2,854Member Uncommon
    Linear design has its place and the large majority of what people are playing now are that way. Great for telling a story and you never waste any time because there is always a flashy thing guiding you.

    I for one don't need it or want it no matter how fun the combat (gameplay) may be because you can do both. WoW is a good example of just one aspect being really good. I think the gameplay is fun but the overall experience wanes when the pattern never changes. As time has gone I think others want something different as well.

    I see it like people who play instruments. Sometimes it's more fun to just have an open jam session than to constantly be playing to the sheet. If you know how to play you don't always need to be told what to do.
  • LogicLesterLogicLester Claremont, CAPosts: 68Member

    Which would you rather read:

     

    A book which goes into great detail on the characters and the environment they live in, but very little story.

     

    or

     

    A book with a great story but not much detail on the characters and their environment.

     

    Because of book design limitations, the book can only be a certain number of pages long, with text of a certain size.  And those limits prevent the writer(s) from doing both well in a single book.

     

     

    I think we all know the majority will choose the latter, and that's why "sandbox" is still a tiny niche.  It just can't draw people in without a decent story, and it can't keep people without a definite sense of progression.  Traditional "sandbox" has neither, so to be a successful MMO they really can't focus too heavily on those "sandbox" elements.

  • ReallyNow10ReallyNow10 Pile It High Town, LAPosts: 2,010Member Common
    Originally posted by LogicLester

    Which would you rather read:

     

    A book which goes into great detail on the characters and the environment they live in, but very little story.

     

    or

     

    A book with a great story but not much detail on the characters and their environment.

     

    Because of book design limitations, the book can only be a certain number of pages long, with text of a certain size.  And those limits prevent the writer(s) from doing both well in a single book.

     

     

    I think we all know the majority will choose the latter, and that's why "sandbox" is still a tiny niche.  It just can't draw people in without a decent story, and it can't keep people without a definite sense of progression.  Traditional "sandbox" has neither, so to be a successful MMO they really can't focus too heavily on those "sandbox" elements.

     

    Disagree.

    The Sandbox games are eliciting HUGE interest, so I think the "niche" comment is off-base.  And most (95%+) of the linear storyline MMO's have been splashing and crashing for 10 years, no matter how polished, how uber the graphics, or how epic the IP.  I mean, really, how can something based upon the LOTR IP and following the three LOTR movies be FTP within two years?  C'mon.  (Hint:  The "line" killed it.)

  • AeliousAelious Portland, ORPosts: 2,854Member Uncommon
    Well "pure" sandboxes are niche because the world starts out literally empty of anything save players and resources. The MMOs that are branching into this vein (EQN, The Repop, AA) are hybrids of sorts. There is indeed a story to the world, you just aren't lead there by the hand each step of the way.

    One reason this sandbox/open world play interest me is because of all the fantasy books I read. I always thought how I would like to make my own story like the ones I was reading in an MMO sense. Most up to now are just like a preprinted book that is not nearly written as well. Making your own story inside of a bigger storyline seems more adventurous.
  • StormsoneStormsone Posts: 42Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by AlBQuirky

     


    Originally posted by zevni78

    Originally posted by Axehilt
    All that matters to players is gameplay quality.
    • Interesting decisions are a big part of that.
    • Games can have interesting decisions while being completely linear -- unless you want to try to convince most players they didn't have fun playing Portal.
    So fixating on lines is pretty irrelevant.

     

    In most cases, depending on the "line", a line doesn't reduct the amount of interesting decisions a game offers.  When it does, sure it's bad.  When it doesn't, no harm has been done.  


    A "line" destroys immersion if your supposed to be exploring an open world, and it ruins re-playability with alts. I want freedom, spontainious variation, hard to get that in a linear context. Portal isnt an mmo, lines always feel too single player, that is why more and more are failing to complete PVE lvling in games like WoW, even if it's open world, it might as well not be.
    But that is "inefficient." Lines make the game much more efficient.

     

    Yes lines are efficient but as everyone should know circles are stronger. If getting to point a from point b is all you care about.... then carry on and keep supporting the same old same old. I for one would like to take a step in a new direction, I do have my doubts about the upcoming mmo's but I hope they are wrong and turn out to be a step in the right direction.

  • hayes303hayes303 Edmonton, ABPosts: 369Member

    Item inflation and LFG finders. Killing them dead.

  • ReallyNow10ReallyNow10 Pile It High Town, LAPosts: 2,010Member Common
    Originally posted by Aelious
    Well "pure" sandboxes are niche because the world starts out literally empty of anything save players and resources. The MMOs that are branching into this vein (EQN, The Repop, AA) are hybrids of sorts. There is indeed a story to the world, you just aren't lead there by the hand each step of the way.

    One reason this sandbox/open world play interest me is because of all the fantasy books I read. I always thought how I would like to make my own story like the ones I was reading in an MMO sense. Most up to now are just like a preprinted book that is not nearly written as well. Making your own story inside of a bigger storyline seems more adventurous.

    That is kind of a point.  A story to the world = lore and is in no way player pre-destiny.  By storyline MMO's, I mean the ones where your whole character life is scripted out from Noobie-zone to final fight with the big-bad-baddie, and predetermined cutscenes in between.  A script placed in your hands, basically.  That kind of story sucks, IMO.  However, lore and world story are great and fit equally well in sandbox or non-sandbox games.

    A sandbox need not be empty, just free ranged and mutable to some degree, and the free range (i.e., free roaming) aspect is more my hope and concern, anyway.  I don't have to build towns, I just want the hand-holding and directing to end.

    And your point about the fantasy books is spot on.  The main theme I see across nearly all of them is FREEDOM.  You have no 9-5, no appointments, you can just put on your cloak, strap on a sword, grab your walking staff and head out the door, indeed travel cross-continent, all at will (and within your character's physical abilities, of course.)

  • NotimeforbsNotimeforbs Memphis, TNPosts: 346Member Common
    Originally posted by LogicLester

    Which would you rather read:

     

    A book which goes into great detail on the characters and the environment they live in, but very little story.

     

    or

     

    A book with a great story but not much detail on the characters and their environment.

     

    Because of book design limitations, the book can only be a certain number of pages long, with text of a certain size.  And those limits prevent the writer(s) from doing both well in a single book.

     

     

    I think we all know the majority will choose the latter, and that's why "sandbox" is still a tiny niche.  It just can't draw people in without a decent story, and it can't keep people without a definite sense of progression.  Traditional "sandbox" has neither, so to be a successful MMO they really can't focus too heavily on those "sandbox" elements.

    But in that analogy, you're saying that a book with a great story with a sufficient amount of detail does not exist.  And... that's simply not true.  The mark of a great writer is someone who can tell a story without failing to express everything the story needs in order to sustain itself.

    Films are the same way.  On average, a full length major motion picture with better than average funding is expected to last up to 125 minutes - an average film should only run approximately 90-100 minutes.  An exceptionally high budget film is allowed a run-time of approximately 150-180 minutes.  That means the writer has to write a script that does not exceed the budgeted length of time.  So he writes.  Each page is an industry standard of one minute's worth of film, give or take depending on what is taking place.  For instance, the 10 minute scene of Neo and Morpheus fighting in the first Matrix could have been easily summed up within the script as, "They fight."  Regardless of any of this, however, we have all witnessed extremely moving films that gave us everything we expect from a superbly crafted film.

    MMO's simply are not doing this.

  • neurojameneurojame Bloomington, INPosts: 26Member
    Originally posted by LogicLester

    Which would you rather read:

     

    A book which goes into great detail on the characters and the environment they live in, but very little story.

     

    or

     

    A book with a great story but not much detail on the characters and their environment.

     

    Because of book design limitations, the book can only be a certain number of pages long, with text of a certain size.  And those limits prevent the writer(s) from doing both well in a single book.

     

     

    I think we all know the majority will choose the latter, and that's why "sandbox" is still a tiny niche.  It just can't draw people in without a decent story, and it can't keep people without a definite sense of progression.  Traditional "sandbox" has neither, so to be a successful MMO they really can't focus too heavily on those "sandbox" elements.

     I'd rather have a "Choose your own adventure" book...

    Remember those from when we were young? They were popular because they were non-linear.

    Ultimately we are novelty seeking creatures. Things that are different and unexpected are seen as fun because they are novel to us. The reason that MMOs are seen as stagnate is because their elements resemble other games we've played, are not novel and therefore are not seen as fun.

    Increase the non-linearity, the randomness and the player generated content (with some restraints). This will increase the novelty and fun.

  • AxehiltAxehilt San Francisco, CAPosts: 8,716Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by zevni78

    A "line" destroys immersion if your supposed to be exploring an open world, and it ruins re-playability with alts. I want freedom, spontainious variation, hard to get that in a linear context. Portal isnt an mmo, lines always feel too single player, that is why more and more are failing to complete PVE lvling in games like WoW, even if it's open world, it might as well not be.

    There is no "supposed to be" in design, apart from the fact that games are going to be whatever players want, through the natural selection process of which games are successful vs. failures.

    Trying to convince players that Portal wasn't immersive is another thing you're going to have a hard time of doing.  Despite being linear, it was plenty immersive.  In some ways it was more immersive due to its linearity (not just because it fit with the narrative, but because it allowed the developers to efficiently focus their effort.  Letting players roam to more places would spread the dev hours over much more area, which dilutes the quality of any given area.)

    Spontaneous variation has more to do with game rules than linearity or being an open world.  If the abilities in a game are dynamic, like LoL's, then spontaneous variation is going to happen on its own.  In older MMORPGs, the spontaneous behavior was mostly just randomly deciding to stop endlessly farming mobs at one location and moving on to another -- not exactly the most compelling example of enabling spontaneous behavior, is it?

    I'm not sure why you would think more players fail to complete WOW leveling than other games.  The game had superior gameplay variety (quests) and better gameplay (combat design) compared with earlier MMORPGs.  This meant higher retention.  Which means that even if you completely factor out WOW's shorter leveling curve and just measure "How many players reached the 30 hour mark?" you would find more players staying with WOW than those earlier games.  The factors which create that superior gameplay which create that superior player retention are some of the biggest factors behind WOW's overall success, actually.

    "Joe stated his case logically and passionately, but his perceived effeminate voice only drew big gales of stupid laughter..." -Idiocracy
    "There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance." -Socrates

  • HrimnirHrimnir Qeynos, COPosts: 1,597Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Axehilt

    All that matters to players is gameplay quality.

    • Interesting decisions are a big part of that.
    • Games can have interesting decisions while being completely linear -- unless you want to try to convince most players they didn't have fun playing Portal.
    So fixating on lines is pretty irrelevant.
     
    In most cases, depending on the "line", a line doesn't reduct the amount of interesting decisions a game offers.  When it does, sure it's bad.  When it doesn't, no harm has been done.  

    I really hate when people use the word "Fun"  Its honestly become a cheap cop-out argument.

    Fun is extremely relative.  I remember watching a youtube video from a guy named Travis Haley, who was a former force recon marine, and he was talking about how he was watching his kids playing in the backyard with all of their expensive/cool toys and complaining about being bored, and how it reminded him of some of the crap he had seen overseas, and he brought up an example of some kids in the ukraine who had found some wire that they rolled into a ball and were running around with sticks wacking this wire "ball" around in the streets and they were having a blast.

    This idea that "fun" should come first in a game is ridiculous because every single person's perception of what is fun differs greatly.  As you pointed out, many people have fun in a game like Portal.  But you incorrectly try to portray that the fun happened in a linear game, when the fun came from figuring out the puzzles.  Whether the puzzles were in a linear game or not is of no consequence, the point was to solve the puzzles.

    The OP's point is that what most people find (and *found*, in the past) fun in MMOs was the sandbox elements in a PVE setting.  His point is valid in that a lot of what has caused people to become disenfranchised from MMO's is because companies like blizzard and subsequent wow clones had somehow figured out a way to turn what was by nature a non linear style of game, into a linear style of game.

    "The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently."

    - Friedrich Nietzsche

  • AxehiltAxehilt San Francisco, CAPosts: 8,716Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Hrimnir

    I really hate when people use the word "Fun"  Its honestly become a cheap cop-out argument.

    Fun is extremely relative.  I remember watching a youtube video from a guy named Travis Haley, who was a former force recon marine, and he was talking about how he was watching his kids playing in the backyard with all of their expensive/cool toys and complaining about being bored, and how it reminded him of some of the crap he had seen overseas, and he brought up an example of some kids in the ukraine who had found some wire that they rolled into a ball and were running around with sticks wacking this wire "ball" around in the streets and they were having a blast.

    This idea that "fun" should come first in a game is ridiculous because every single person's perception of what is fun differs greatly.  As you pointed out, many people have fun in a game like Portal.  But you incorrectly try to portray that the fun happened in a linear game, when the fun came from figuring out the puzzles.  Whether the puzzles were in a linear game or not is of no consequence, the point was to solve the puzzles.

    The OP's point is that what most people find (and *found*, in the past) fun in MMOs was the sandbox elements in a PVE setting.  His point is valid in that a lot of what has caused people to become disenfranchised from MMO's is because companies like blizzard and subsequent wow clones had somehow figured out a way to turn what was by nature a non linear style of game, into a linear style of game.

    Whether an individual has fun is subjective. Many individuals having fun with Portal is objective.  It's by no means a cop-out to discuss these straightforward facts.  It would be a cop-out if we avoided the conversation entirely just because fun is subjective on an individual basis.

    Hopefully that's not what you're implying, but by calling it a cop-out it seems to be what you're implying.

    Fun is relative to our environment.  The kids enjoying a wire ball is like how McDonalds is a gourmet meal to a starving family.  It's human nature to want to improve our situation.  That doesn't mean that people don't have preferences which are safe to talk about in an objective, absolute way.  If starving, McDonalds, and a meal at a fancy restaurant all cost the same, we could safely say everyone would choose the fancy restaurant.

    You're right that the fun in Portal comes not from the linearity but from the puzzles.  That's the point I was making: linearity has little bearing on whether the game is actually fun to people!

    I don't dispute that some people had fun with the sandbox elements of older MMORPGs.  I'm simply pointing out that many more people have had fun with the more constrained modern MMORPG designs (which can only be considered "linear" through a dazzling display of hyperbole.)

    "Joe stated his case logically and passionately, but his perceived effeminate voice only drew big gales of stupid laughter..." -Idiocracy
    "There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance." -Socrates

  • AeliousAelious Portland, ORPosts: 2,854Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Axehilt
    /snip

    I don't dispute that some people had fun with the sandbox elements of older MMORPGs.  I'm simply pointing out that many more people have had fun with the more constrained modern MMORPG designs (which can only be considered "linear" through a dazzling display of hyperbole.)

     

    That's what I feel is changing and what the OP also stated.  WoW has been around nine years now and though the "WoW model" did not start in 2004 the years after have come closer and closer to design concentration.  Now we have a sea of themepark F2P conversions, WoW losing 12% of their sub base in one year and the other major MMO EvE is a sandbox.

     

    It may be that people are looking for something different.

     

    While that doesn't nessesarily mean a sandbox (or sand-ish, etc.) having a linear quest system be the base of progression certainly is a commonality and a sandbox-ish game changes that.  I get that enjoyable gameplay is important but where is the line between enjoyment and getting bored doing the same thing? The gameplay doesn't change but my enjoyment of it does.

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