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[Column] General: Less is More

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe CitadelPosts: 23,006MMORPG.COM Staff Epic

In today's Independency column, we take a look at the notion of "finite MMOs", games with a life expectancy and no more. See what we've got on our collective mind before leaving your own thoughts in the comments.

To me, this one is pretty self-explanatory. A finite MMO should have a specific beginning and a specific end, with the middle being as much of a sandbox or theme park as it pleases the developers to make it. This isn’t so much about a level cap, as it is a specific end game. Players would go in knowing that this wasn’t going to be a WoW, or an Eve, or an EQ, but an enclosed experience that they can budget both time and money for. (Call me crazy, but I think there’s a market for entertainment that takes its audiences needs into consideration.)

Read more of Lisa Jonte's Independency: Less is More.



  • BattlerockBattlerock Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,393Member Common
    Im game if the price is right. I feel like so much of what is said and contemplated is a result of the post World of Warcraft prime era. Everyones looking looking looking for that one game to satisfy thier appetite. So today we have changed what we are looking for because that hunger can not be filled. I've always viewed single player rpgs as books, readtit once and throw it away. This past week I bought a used copy of the last of us beat it in 5 days and took it back for a full refund because I know I will never play it again. If I would had to pay full $60 for that game I never would have played it. Give me a disposable game for $10 and I will take it though.
  • aspekxaspekx Brandon, FLPosts: 2,167Member Uncommon
    read my sig. then read the book.

    "There are at least two kinds of games.
    One could be called finite, the other infinite.
    A finite game is played for the purpose of winning,
    an infinite game for the purpose of continuing play."
    Finite and Infinite Games, James Carse

  • NaucanoNaucano ZaventemPosts: 80Member Uncommon

    Finite games ?

    Most non-video games always have an end. At which point the winner and the loser are declared.  Game companies don't like that idea.

    Because "real" end(ing)games make the player stop playing. And they don't like players to stop playing because they stop paying. And they just invested ( big ) money in their project. With F2P games ( and there ingame markets ) this has become even more critical. Since they need to have a revenue as well, and players only show any signs of opening their wallet after they have spend time playing a game. And you want them to stop ? Horror ...

    You got my support, I am all for it 

    Rated M for Mature - May contain content inappropriate for children

  • AnthurAnthur StolbergPosts: 800Member Uncommon

    How are companies going to churn out a new MMO every 6 months ? Currently they need about 4-5 years for a new MMO. So they have to reduce that development cycle to 6 months to keep their customers.

    Or do you think a developer would just say, ok, you finished my MMO in 6 months which took me a lot of resources and time to develop, please dear customer just go now and play another companies MMO ? See you gain in 4 years ?

    So developers would just reuse their current engine, mechanics, gameplay, put on some different skins and a new generic story and call it a new MMO which is in reality just the same as the last one ? Who wants to play this ?

    Other aspect is that you more or less kill the rest of community that is left in MMOs. Time is a very important aspect here.

    In the end we will have MSORPG (s = single). Sure you see others running around, but you don't need them, don't care for them and you will be gone soon anyway. So why care for others.

    Personally I prefer playing single player RPGs rather than those short lived pseudo MMOs.

  • MondoA2JMondoA2J Henderson, NVPosts: 258Member

    I don't think so.

    I am not saying people wouldn't play it but in the end. If you want your game to have an end. Go play on the console. Its really that simple.

    I don't think anyone would want to play an MMO that has a season/book ending. I think its a neat concept and it would craft amazing stories but again MMOs are meant to be persistent are they not?

    You take that element out and make someone enter a new season/book then suddenly you have the chance the chemistry will change. For the worst though cause everyone will enter with preconceptions of the previous season/book. Unlike TV shows where we are invested in the characters that the writers make. Its our characters that we are losing or changing and that will piss off ALOT of gamers.

    Now I agree with you. MMO's inherently are a flawed concept. They get old after you play them for for years and because they are persistent worlds, they can become stale. No matter how much crap you throw on top of it. Add new classes, add new zones. Its the same world ultimately. The new player entering the game is playing the content you did when you first started. I think ultimately thats the nature of the beast though. MMO's have a lifespan but its all determined mostly by the players.

    Communities are what makes an MMO thrive....not game updates. That's my opinion though.

    MMORPG Gamers/Developers need a reality check!

  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAPosts: 21,642Member Epic

    I have actually been thinking that a "lord of the rings" finite game might be a good thing.

    So essentially, the game world would progress, maybe over the span of a year. I realize the journey took about 6 months but I think a year would be a fine time for players to progress or at least join "at some point".

    The whole "story" of "The lord of the rings" would be the metagame and it would affect players appropriately right up to the point of the ring being thrown into the fire.

    My thought is that players would level up, progress, do things in this world under the backdrop of "The lord of the Rings". However, when it was all done the plaeyrs would keep their progressions and the game world would reset allowing for players to experience the story again but could make different choices and participate in a different way for the next year.

    So yeah, for a heavily storied game world I can see having a "finite" game.

  • Attend4455Attend4455 BirminghamPosts: 161Member

    MMOs are a business.

    For the publishers they are a business, for the players they are a recreation (me .e.g) so I can't imagine why the other party, the business, would want to shut down while there is a revenue stream available.

    I sometimes make spelling and grammar errors but I don't pretend it's because I'm using a phone

  • waynejr2waynejr2 West Toluca Lake, CAPosts: 7,280Member Epic
    Originally posted by aspekx
    read my sig. then read the book.

     I agree with your sig.  mmorpgs should not have a win involved.  

    New 20016/12/09  Xmas Music:

    Kyleran:  "Now there's the real trick, learning to accept and enjoy a game for what it offers rather than pass on what might be a great playing experience because it lacks a few features you prefer."

    John Henry Newman: "A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault."

    FreddyNoNose:  "A good game needs no defense; a bad game has no defense." "Easily digested content is just as easily forgotten."

    LacedOpium: "So the question that begs to be asked is, if you are not interested in the game mechanics that define the MMORPG genre, then why are you playing an MMORPG?"

  • LJonteLJonte Portland Metro, ORPosts: 29Member

    And that would be a dandy comparison, had Professor Carse's book actually been about MMOs. Similarity of titles notwithstanding, his book is a philosophical look at human relationships and how we live/see our lives, not about gaming.

    And speaking of books, they are also finite, yet I've never read one in order to "win" it.

    -Lisa Jont

  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Sioux City, IAPosts: 3,828Member Common

    Originally posted by LJonte
    And that would be a dandy comparison, had Professor Carse's book actually been about MMOs. Similarity of titles notwithstanding, his book is a philosophical look at human relationships and how we live/see our lives, not about gaming.And speaking of books, they are also finite, yet I've never read one in order to "win" it.
    Ever read a game manual before playing? j/k :)

    While I like the idea, for I agree that many "things" (books, tv shows, MMOs) can hang around too long, I am not sure how it would work in an MMORPG.

    MMORPGs used to be about a world that was constantly there, no matter when a player logged on (except for server down time, of course).

    TV shows are a great example of when something hangs around too long. I have stopped watching shows when their whole premise gets lost in their effort to "keep on going."

    Books can be this way, too. There have been a few series where the author just does not know when to quit and leave their series stand. Then there are authors that keep their universe going with new stories about the main protagonist's offspring, or following completely different people. Anne McCaffrey is an author I have done both scenarios with :) When Dragon Riders of Pern started going all Sci-Fi, I lost interest. But I read all the other books in the series that followed other characters and even the ones about the beginnings of Pern, which were more Sci-Fi as the settlers landed on the planet and started colonization. In her Acorna, the Unicorn Girl series, she continues the series with new books about Acorna's offspring. Raymond Feist is another author who has spent years on his world (Midkemia) and has the books to prove it :) But his books cover so many different characters and spans of time that it does not get old for me.

    EverQuest did the sequel thing with EverQuest II. I never followed them there. Sure, it was still Norrath, but they changed the game mechanics so much, it was not a continuation, but rather a big change. Other MMOs have made sequels, too. Each new "edition" seems to change the original in a significant way other than technology improvements or story advancement. I don't know if I can trust devs/publishers to keep their hands out of what makes an MMO fun.

    It would be interesting to see if someone could pull this off and I would definitely look into it. Unfortunately, it is a "risk" and we a know that this is a bad word in the MMO market :)

    - 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.

  • steamtanksteamtank Rochester, NYPosts: 385Member

    i would honestly try both types.



    the real seller for me would be if after the game hit "time up" it was patched so that you could play it LAN style on private servers for as long as you wanted.   No more updates... just the game accessible to me and my friends when we want to visit it.

  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member Uncommon

    At this point, it might be important to analyze why MMORPGs more-or-less displaced CRPGs.


  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,952Member Rare
    4 years? I prefer my games to be long term. I'm not interested in 3 month mmorpgs or 6 months for that matter.
  • jbombardjbombard SapporoPosts: 580Member Uncommon
    Personally I would love an MMORPG that was modular and focused on character building.  Doesn't even have to be consecutive.  A world with some base zones, cities and adventures with a finite level cap.  A world where you can buy new adventure packs.  Of course they couldn't be required or provide a significant advantage, or constantly advertised while I am playing.  They would simply provide different adventures for a specific level range.  The thing in a game like this if I was buying content, I would want a lot of character slots and I wouldn't want to have to buy them since I am also buying content.  Also I would like something fun for my max level characters to do even if it wasn't end game progression.
  • FirnwindFirnwind -Posts: 25Member Uncommon

    How could such things make even a fraction of the investment back that are needed for MMOs? Even as F2P people would be averse to spending money as they definitly now that in a few months the game is closed and everything they paid for gone forever.

    Of course nothing lasts forever but the "illusion" that it might be is a strong factor. 

    Also think about that you might need to take a break from playing because of RL, you would miss a great chunk of the finite lifetime of a game that you can never ever get back. 

    The disadvantages are to stacking for me to think someone would consider this outside of an indy psychological experiment.

  • ScotScot UKPosts: 6,332Member Rare
    A Tale of the Desert is a finite MMO, not sure the concept would take of, but it worked with that MMO.

     25 Agrees

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  • sportsfansportsfan BlankenbergePosts: 431Member

    The only future for games these days is the internet.

    People want to compare and be compared with others and so want to grow their overall prestige and deeds within a game they like to play.

    Finite games on the internet are a dead end. Why play them if they stop after X ?

    To me Diablo 3 with its finite content but endless grind is the best way to make games in the future.

    While few people like the endless grind, D3 mechanics of playing limited content combined with endless gameplay is what we will see in the coming years.

    Actually pvp related games are already the future. The tric is to introduce these finite content games with endless play in PVE.

  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 3,656Member Rare

    A bit off, but I don't think the tv series analog is accurate. Except a few 3-6 episode long mini-series there's no such thing as "TV series are finite, and created to be so" nowadays. Maybe Babylon 5 was the last one, where JMS wrote the whole five seasons, and then managed to shoot it as planned (though finance almost managed to f*k it up towards season 4)

    Since then money is everything, studios canceling shows regardless of any other value, and on the other hand keeping the money-making ones alive even if it means fillers, irrevelant storylines and total loss of control in direction (right, Lindelof? :) )

    TV series of today are the exact match of present mmo's "infiniteness" and then the sudden cancel if the suits up there aren't satisfied with the numbers. We don't see cancelled games every week only because mmo's are much more "self-sustained" than tv series, you can run an mmo for months on lifesupport without any addition to the game if you have enough players to wandering in the world, while series need a serious investment every week to keep rolling.


    And with playerbase we're on topic now, I agree with Naucano's post, an online game needs to keep its players in the game playing, and if there's an end, that contradicts the previous goal. I'm from singleplayer games and I play mmos for the story mostly, so I can understand your desire of a closure. (and I stated numerous times that I play to the cap and then start a new alt or hop to a new game, never wasted my time on the grind they call endgame :) ).

    But a very big chunk of the players are playing mmos because of those are infinite, and it suits the companies too, so I don't think there will be any changes in this subject.

    A compromise could be some kind of a "restart", like in Sovrath's post. I can't praise enough (wrote it multiple times here as well) LotRO's two new servers when the f2p launched. Didn't affected the other servers, nor what players achieved in their world, but it gave a chance to those who were interested in the option of a new start. It was awesome to set foot in a brand new world, without kins, high level characters, etc, you could build up everything from the start. With your former knowledge of course, but "that's player knowledge, not character knowledge" to quote a nice movie :)

    Too bad, that it was a unique event, the evolution of mmo's are toward server closures and server merges, not to open new ones. A new server can shake up things nicely, it was refreshing to play there.

  • LJonteLJonte Portland Metro, ORPosts: 29Member

    I'm wondering where some of you are getting the idea that "game has an end point" = "game closes up shop forever", as if the first batch of players would also be the last batch of players. Someone reaching the end of a story doesn't stop that story from being told again to others. A rollercoaster has a definite beginning and ending, but that doesn't stop people from lining up to ride it after opening day is over and the newness has worn off. There will always be new readers and riders, just as there will always be new players. 

    Moreover, as nothing has stopped me from reading, say, Pride & Prejudice many times, or playing games I love many times, nothing will stop players from playing finite or consecutive games more than once if they so choose. If the game has what it takes to engage players, the revenue stream will continue, finite or not.

    Wow, am I ever breaking my own, "don't butt into the comment thread" rule this time around. Keep talking guys, I'll try not to do that some more.

    -Lisa Jont

  • IncomparableIncomparable KuwaitPosts: 995Member Uncommon

    The problem i have with these definitions is that it strays from a general skeleton of what the definition is, into something specific which seems off and obscure from its core.


    Its very simple. Finite, has a level cap, and most likely in an mmo entails no more level cap increases, but horizontal progression. You did not mention the benefit of a finite game. A dev would not spend millions in UI, combat, and an mmo engine just for a single player length of game. Its obvious thats not the case, but you did not elaborate on how finite games have a lot of content and due to horizontal progression allows people to join in on the fun to complete challenges and not have to keep up with farming exp.


    Consecutive games. The definition is straight forward and it would be like an expansion. This is a contradiction to a finite game, unless you are talking about an expansion that is horizontal progression, which you dud not specify. 

    “Write bad things that are done to you in sand, but write the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble”

  • StrommStromm BrisbanePosts: 243Member
    Originally posted by LJonte
    And that would be a dandy comparison, had Professor Carse's book actually been about MMOs. Similarity of titles notwithstanding, his book is a philosophical look at human relationships and how we live/see our lives, not about gaming. And speaking of books, they are also finite, yet I've never read one in order to "win" it.

    Hehe owned. :-)

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