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[Column] General: Up to 90% of MMO Real Estate is Wasted



  • SharessSharess Victoria, BCPosts: 293Member Uncommon
    Meridian 59 which predates UO had no tutorial, nor did UO for that matter.


    Sharess Dragonstar - Midgard
    Grievance is recruiting.
  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,949Member Rare

    Games with hard levels are outdated. 


    In Wushu, within the first couple hours of the game you can go anywhere, and hit anything.


    The mobs are not tough, they drop no loot, and give no XP. They're part of a larger unwritten story, not grinding, filler content. 



  • tokinitokini third hut on the leftPosts: 370Member Uncommon
    tutorial in my first mmo was old ascalon, spent an hour trying to get back to it after the 'searing' part of the story (GW1)
  • GiffenGiffen Lacey, WAPosts: 276Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by John_Grimm
    Well, i know one game that is like that, Eve Online, most of its space can be used by any lvl char.  :D

    That's because EVE has no levels.  Wasted "zones" are an attribute of level base games.  UO and EVE are two that did not have this issue because they did not have levels.

  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,949Member Rare
    Originally posted by Giffen
    Originally posted by John_Grimm
    Well, i know one game that is like that, Eve Online, most of its space can be used by any lvl char.  :D

    That's because EVE has no levels.  Wasted "zones" are an attribute of level base games.  UO and EVE are two that did not have this issue because they did not have levels.


    and Wushu

  • ShadanwolfShadanwolf Posts: 2,243Member Uncommon

    Wasted ?

    One could say that about the movie that cost over $100 million to make that you just watched ... or the television series you just finished watching.

  • troublmakertroublmaker St. George''s, NFPosts: 337Member
    Originally posted by Timassin
    Do mid level mmos really cost a 100 million to make? How do indie devs do it on an incredibly lower budget and better most of time?

    The "indie" devs you're talking about are not that indie.

    The first few MMOs were costing about $1M to make.  Because they were the first ones in the door they could avoid the massive bills.

    But these days a modern MMO costs millions to make to get those shiny graphics and giant zones.  Consider for a second that a developer will be expecting a six figure salary to physically move to your studio and work for your MMO.  The more people you need to transfer to your physical studio the higher the cost of making an MMO will cost.

    Richard Garriot crowdfunded $2M to make an RPG.  It's suspected he'll spend even more on that.

    As for the article the presumption that traditional leveling zones are wasted is a bit of a mistake.  People don't just make one character in an MMORPG they enjoy, they make many more.  One of the things people do in MMOs is revisit zones they were previously in.

    The reason why areas were zoned was so that people of equal progression would play together.  By congesting everyone into constantly revisiting the same zones all you do is lead to gear dominance and ganking of newer players.  It leads to an overall poor experience.

    I hope the people at Red 5 Studios are smart enough to know that people of similar progression levels ought to be grouped together.

  • tordurbartordurbar Alexandria, VAPosts: 429Member Uncommon
    Seems the OP forgets about Guild Wars 2. You are downleveled to the level of the zone that you move in to. At first I hated this. There is nothing more humiliating then being killed by level 3 mobs when you are a level 20 toon! But, as I played more I realized that there were some zones that I liked more than others. I could and did spend more time there leveling (although slowly) rather than in the higher level zones. In hindsight, I think that this was a brilliant idea. There is no wasted space - every zone can be used to level.
  • ragz45ragz45 Posts: 780Member Uncommon

    Or go back to our roots, where zones were not gated content.  EQ1 for example had mobs from level 1-40 in butcherblock mts.  Yes if you ran into that level 40 mob and agroed them as a level 2 you died... fast.

    But that just added a level of excitement to the game.  Once dev's stop following the "WOW formula" of gated zone content and world design, the genre may move forward.  

  • LaterisLateris Phoenix, AZPosts: 1,757Member Uncommon

    It’s going to take a lot of work to accomplish this, but it’s imperative that we do. It’s simply gotten too expensive and too wasteful to keep making virtual worlds in a throwaway zone mentality. The cost of failure is too high.

    I have to agree on this. 

  • kjempffkjempff AarhusPosts: 1,195Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Hrimnir
        Im sorry but this mob scaling thing fails miserably.  It is NOT a good system.  Part of playing ANY rpg. MMO or not is the feeling of your character getting more powerful.  If when you enter and old zone the mobs are just as hard as the new zone then, all of a sudden it becomes both stupid, and pointless to go to new zones.  Why should i travel to a new a place when i can just stay in the same area and kill the same mobs whose spawns i know and tricks i know and get the same XP? Oblivion had one of the most universally hated systems and it was pretty much as Mark Kern described. The solution is much simpler.  Do what EQ did.  Have high level mobs the run around the zone that low level players have to be weary of.  And stop making every zone only encompass a certain level range.  There is no reason a section deep in the zone can't have level 30 mobs in it if its normall a 1-10 zone.  So what if 10% of the zone is used for higher level mobs.  Its gives people a reason to come back.  I used to go back and kill Kizdean Gix in west commonlands in EQ1 just for shits n gigiles, help out the n00bs, whatever reason i wanted ot. Guess what you can also do.  Attach higher level dungeons to the lower level zones!  Holy crap the thought!.  Yes, amazing, a level 1-10 zone could easily have a set of goblin caves filled with mid 20's goblins, Who woulda thunk it.  

    Don't think I could have written it better. Horizontal progressing system may be a great idea in other types of games for example map/lobby based games, but reusing zones like that kills the rpg part of a game. The downlevelling as gw2 present it showed this problem perfectly. Using downlevelling should be used with great thought if used at all.

  • TheocritusTheocritus Gary, INPosts: 4,998Member Rare
    You need look no further than the original EQ to see that this is pretty much true...WHile there are literally hundreds of zones, the players generally only go to about 10 percent of them if that......Once games started using instancing and quick travel it ruined alot of what the devs were trying to do with MMOs......Most of hte PVP games became battleground instances instead of open world PVP, and PVE games became instanced dungeons where players would run the same ones over and over.
  • colin205441colin205441 Miami, FLPosts: 1Member Uncommon
    This reminds me of when I used to play Runescape years back. I think they actually did a pretty good job with having zones that people would revisit. Of course there were still many places that you would only go once and never visit again, and quite a lot of them, but there were a good many towns and resource locations that would have people comming back regardless of their level. At least a lot more than other games I have played. They were able to do this beacuse these spots would either have something unique there or would have more content opened up as you gained levels. They also did something like reusing areas, adding dungeons, npcs, buildings, etc, to already existing locations when adding new content. 
  • quotheravingquotheraving WorthingPosts: 280Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by grogstorm
    I think if MMO's switch to a horizontal progression mechanics verses their current vertical systems then all zones can remain alive and offer challenges to all players.  Just to be clear, in a horizontal system a player gets more skills as he progresses through the word where the player in the vertical system gets upgrades to current skills.
    So a player who is new would have the same fireball skill as a player who has played the game for 5 years and they would both find some challenge in killing a bunny in the starting zone.  But the older player may have decided to skill up their sword the last time they were in this area but now they want to work on their magic skills.
    And in a good horizontal system the older player may be only marginally stronger than the new character due to upgraded armor and skill synergies.
    And now we can live in worlds where the dev's don't have to create an entirely new zone for each rung of the vertical system but instead thoroughly enjoy the entire world with people of all skill levels.

    Well said sir, well said! 


  • TrykenTryken Ultima Online Correspondent Orlando, FLPosts: 63Member
    Originally posted by Talin
    I agree with what is proposed here, as most MMOs either spend too much time/effort for the number of zones, or take the "easy way out" and reuse art and landscapes to the point of their embarrassment just to give more real estate for mob placement. The better balance would be adding tiered layers in content. Imagine near the "starter" area (let's say it is a town surrounding a castle) there is a crude village of goblins. In the beginning, players will perform some raids on the perimeter, taking down the lower level grunt goblins. There is then an interior part of the goblin camp filled with elite goblins several levels higher that players will return to battle later in their career. We have now created two levelling areas out of one set of assets (although I would expect the goblins to look far stronger with their size, weapons and armor). Not too complicated, eh?

    Ragnarok Online actually did this. There'd usually be two or three levels to a dungeon, and the level of the mobs would change significantly depending how high up you went. It was actually a good idea, as dungeons were usually full of varied level players, and I never felt like they were dead inside.

    Truthfully, I think Ultima Online has the best approach with its no level system. Having characters just go off skills is great.  You can get caught up well enough to play with your friends fairly quickly and start enjoying the world. You'll have plenty of room to move around and improve, but you won't be miles behind everyone else. You'll be playing with them in no time. To me, Ultima still embodies the best way to use real estate in a game.

  • HakudoJoeHakudoJoe Pittsburgh, PAPosts: 10Member

    Firefall solved the problem alluded to in this article. They decided that instead of making content on par with other MMOs, they'd make 5% of what's considered acceptable content and call it a day. 

    Why build a full game when you can just build a small percentage of the game and claim you're being efficient? LOL 

  • LostarLostar Johnstown, PAPosts: 890Member Uncommon

    /raises hand

    I remember my first tutorial starter zone:

  • MojoKingBeeMojoKingBee Buchholz i.d.N.Posts: 25Member Uncommon

    *raises hand*

    Anarchy Online - gutting leets in the backyard - good times

  • waynejr2waynejr2 West Toluca Lake, CAPosts: 7,280Member Epic
    Originally posted by Jakdstripper
    the "money invested vs. money returned" approach to mmos is exactly why games have gone down the tube. Money invested per square inch DOES NOT translate to gaming enjoyment per square inch. just look at EvE, or DayZ, or Minecraft. there is no way those games spent 3.5 millions per zone and yet they are some of the most iconic, most innovative and fun games of the last 3 years.   games are about, fantasy, imagination, freedom, and innovation. without those you can spend billions and all you'll get is Star Wars prequels, and Jar Jar Binks clones. Business man DO NOT make good games. Artists, visionaries, and innovators do, because they do not ask themselves "how am I going to make money out of this?", they ask "what kind of world would I want to lose myself in?". THAT is what makes great games. The rest is just greedy suits complaining how throwing money at the industry doesn't work like it does at the strip club.    

     I have  to agree with the point about money invested vs returned in regards to mmorpgs.  They call it over production and it leads to having minimal content as anything extraneous is wasting money.  Games need to become bigger with tons of areas to explore but a small number of places that provide "benefits".  Beancounters are ruining this world with their minimalist philosophy.  

    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?"

  • BladestromBladestrom edinburghPosts: 5,001Member Uncommon
    Agree, thos se bean counters would have all green space in RL covered by shopping plazas because of the 'greater footfall', we humans love space and opportunities to explore - why should it not be the same and indeed exaggerated in a virtual world.

    rpg/mmorg history: Dun Darach>Bloodwych>Bards Tale 1-3>Eye of the beholder > Might and Magic 2,3,5 > FFVII> Baldur's Gate 1, 2 > Planescape Torment >Morrowind > WOW > oblivion > LOTR > Guild Wars (1900hrs elementalist) Vanguard. > GW2(1000 elementalist), Wildstar

    Now playing GW2, AOW 3, ESO, LOTR, Elite D

  • swarmdieswarmdie Posts: 44Member Uncommon
    Or Norrath
  • uidCausticuidCaustic acworth, GAPosts: 128Member
    No tutorial zone in The Realm.
  • severiusseverius sacramento, CAPosts: 1,512Member Uncommon
    In order that I played them: Neverwinter Nights on AOL, Meridian 59, Sierra's the Realm, and Ultima Online did not have tutorials.  I think Asheron's Call might've been the first that had a tutorial?


  • yangdudeyangdude Gold CoastPosts: 72Member Uncommon

    I very much felt this way about Perfect World.  Now theres an empty MMO.  Certain areas are always full but I would say 99% of the map is empty and that seems a real pity because some of the areas are amazingly beautiful.  I made quite a few threads in the suggestion box about this and ways to encourage players back, but to no avail.

    Compare that with GW2 which Ive gotten back into lately.  In actual fact, most of it is empty also.  Large numbers of players do a continual rotation of events/bosses etc in Queensdale which is a starter zone.  Because of the level scaling, you get just as good rewards there as you do in a level 80 zone, which kinda feels weird to me.  I mean, on my lvl 80 char in Queensdale, a level 10 mob can drop a piece of level 80 gear but if I switch to my level 15 char, I get level 15 drops, and irrespective of which char I play, a successful event gives a % as a reward, so both chars effectively get the same amount of xp per event.  Im not sure if the devs consider this an issue but I just soloed 5 other zones - 2 zones had a few people doing events like me, 1 zone I saw 2 other people I think and in 2 zones I didn't see another char.

  • jbombardjbombard SapporoPosts: 580Member Uncommon

    It serves a purpose.  Zone progression is another form of progression, going somewhere for the first time is fun.  Seeing more powerful monsters as you enter new zones is also fun.  Having places in the world too dangerous to venture is exciting.


    Games could do a better job of getting people back to older zones with events, but the reality is that people enjoy seeing new things rather than seeing the same things over and over again.


    If game production is getting so expensive that they can't make a profit, I don't think making less content is the solution.  Perhaps better tool development is one way.  If you stick your players in one area for too long they will rapidly grow bored of it.

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