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What boggles my mind about MMO's is why they keep doing the same things over and over. As hinted about in the overall story above this genre is very stagnant. The companies rely on one gimmick without thinking through the rest of the game. Personally I think the companies do not think from the perspective of the people consuming their content.
1. GW2-okay great game. It just has a shallowness to it. That's really stemming from the character you create. While they are aesthetically pleasing its the core of your character that feels so lifeless. This I think is mostly to do with skills you have they don't seem like they do much. Don't have much weight behind them. After playing that game I can see why you would need a trinity. Everyone can't do everything, hence why you need people.
2. Rift-Love this game, reminds me of vanguard and FFXI and a bit of Ever quest. To general in terms of how it presents itself so it will always be compared to World of Warcraft. They will remain second to that game. That's fine by me however one hang up I have with Rift is the buggy wonkiness of it. Vanguard had the same problem although Rift is way less buggier.
3. World of Warcraft-Its the "It MMO" that everyone either loves or loves to hate. It is its own worst enemy. Its a place where a lot of gamers got their feet wet in the MMO space. Content wise World of Warcraft has it in spades. However the content I think is used incorrectly as in most MMOs. GW2 and Rift have an idea with the mentor down system. However...I think zones without level limitations would be better, or zones with different levels to the zones.
4. Challenge/Reward: Let no one here fool you, games all games are about challenge and reward. Just enough to keep you going and dangle that carrot on the stick. GW2 messed up with the aesthetic endgame because...in my opinion they did not have enough skins to strive for. A player must have a reason to continue on...its like this in every thing we do. Life, hunting, work, play...relationships, everything. Taking the carrot away and saying do it just because is not enough in the long term game. Perhaps hide the carrot in the nuances of the overall saying of doing it just because.
5. Strutting: come on...people love to strut, i.e. changing the color of their outfits, to match the persona they are going for in an MMO. That must be something that is not only available via character creation, but with clothing skins and colors, housing, mounts, armor. this alone can be a meta game. Just imagine if you could attach things to your mounts.
6. Openness of content: Neverwinters only real quality in my opinion is the foundry. The idea of players creating content is a god send. Now in some way you must also have great rewards for that character. Perhaps housing items, or some monetary compensation. Their must be conflict in the game as well. I for one can't stand pvp unless its consented. I've never seen a game with FFA pvp where I wasnt just ganked constantly. Its just what people do. so if you are going to have that you need balance to that...perhaps a police force formed of characters that have jobs of actually going out to catch the character. Now for instance when you normally log off you are gone, but in this game your character stays on so perhaps you will find yourself in jail the next time you log on.
I'm sure there are other things and it would be nice to have a constructive discussion.
Originally posted by Loke666
Betas today seems like a pre-order bonus and when you do it like that people are indeed expecting a close to finished product since they are paying for it. Longer beta time and actually inviting players from earlier games your company have made should indeed increase the effect of the beta and allowing you to test new ideas. Experienced players who are fans of your previous games are more likely to put effort into testing your future product than random people. But beta needs to go back to actually being real beta tests and not a way to hype the game. MMOs really needs to try out new ideas, particularly with combat. Good article.
Betas today seems like a pre-order bonus and when you do it like that people are indeed expecting a close to finished product since they are paying for it.
Longer beta time and actually inviting players from earlier games your company have made should indeed increase the effect of the beta and allowing you to test new ideas. Experienced players who are fans of your previous games are more likely to put effort into testing your future product than random people.
But beta needs to go back to actually being real beta tests and not a way to hype the game. MMOs really needs to try out new ideas, particularly with combat.
I 100% agree. Not sure when it happened but betas are becoming a way for companies to make money on the side. Also the kickstarter programs are kind of like the same way though I understand that one to a point. I can see why people start to think that the game is in the finished state. I just did two such betas, marvel heroes and neverwinter....I quickly regretted it. Now I have put money on Grimdawn and will on Hex as well but I think that's it for me in terms of paying to beta test something. Never winter is a very bad game with good concepts here and there, but I noticed something. History repeats itself...games do not really change all that much over time in terms of changing things that def need to be changed. Never winter will be the same a year from now, so on and so forth. Though I do like the foundry system.
Free to play = content updates for the cash shop. Buy to play = content updates for the cash shop. Subscription = Actual content updates!
Things have to change, but this developer still seems to be out in space.
You can't streamline a process, automate for customer support, and have a successful game. You are streamlining boredom.
You can't layout a game in level ranges, and streamline your graphics production, one set this, one set that, one set for this.... You are laying out boredom.
Developers have all the answers at their fingertips, they don't have the management answers, its that simple.
Lets look at action..
The second you take a mob, make a game that fights that mob, then you take another mob, and you fight that mob the same exact way, but think its fun because its a spider and not a wolf.. you created repetitious boredom. You created boredom from streamlining your attack..
MMO Gaming was never about the attack (of course you listened to the public mainstream, who as any business manager should know, he doesn't know what he wants, he just wants more) Anyhow it was about the HOW TO ATTACK. In the old games, we needed knowledge and lore to combat. We needed fire to fight this particular enemy, and we needed lighthing to fight that one..That's what created the llore... btw, w/e happened to lore and beastiaries? Oh they got streamlined into boring useless crap. Back to fighting, it was not about particle effects and special animations while fighting, which you have wasted ton of money on that do nothing to add fun.
The problems are completely development and management and business related.. All you people in game industry, you are not players, so you can never make a good game. No matter how much artistic effort or money you throw at it... Until you hire a player, you are wasting your time. And any mainstream MMO fans are mostly gamers, not players...
There problem is that even if you follow all the suggestion involving players earlier on and having a 2 year beta - you could still end up with a very mediocre game that will not do well in the market, so in the end you are not any better off than the traditional model.
I think that the reality is sinking in for many Dev studios - 5 year game projects are simply not worth it, it is a lot less risky to develop smaller games that take 2 year max from inception to launch - cheaper to make, shorter Dev cycle, much less financial risk, and since you could make more smaller games, higher chance of one of them doing really well.
I think many game Dev studios will focus on smaller games instead and simply drop out of major AAA titles, Funcom has already made this decision, more major Dev studios will follow.
Perfect Practice Makes Perfect.
Ok this is sad and funny at the same time. we call on Devs to listen to us as players, we want the Devs to cater to our every whim, we think we know what it takes for developers to come up with content, we want everything now!..
any of that look familiar in this thread?
Developers have a few problems in developing games. I am not a developer, however I have followed game companies creating games for over 30 years. I have watched hundreds of games come and go. I have seen the "revolutionary" games that succeeded also whither.
prior to the Graphical evolution in PC games that was started by Chris Roberts in the late 90's ther was the good ol single player rpgs on consoles, the side scroll games like mario, the RTS games like Command and Conquer(old school) and Final Fantasy the over head RPGs.. all in their glorious pixels. what 8 bit?maybe 16 bit ... then we saw 32 bit.. we thought it was amazing. then 64 bit... even better! Looks so real... and so we have evolved and now Developers can offer amazing realistic images and characters in up to 10 million polygons per facet (Star Citizen)... and yet players want more.
As Jatar stated earlier in the thread ... they went Kickstarter for Citadel of Sorcery and players whined that it didnt have the cutting edge graphics when in the video in very large captions it clearly stated "Pre Alpha graphics"
Yet the players whined. Me? I am a 1k Founder with CoS and am hoping it will not only succeed but show players that they need patience and knowledge of design before they judge anything.
It take months of effort for a team of developers and lead designers and concept artists to create even the smallest image in a game. I saw a comment above that states that Rift comes up with new instances with new models every few weeks/months. Rift also has a very large team working on these things long before they plan what they are going to do with said models.
Hundreds if not thousands of models and parts are designed before most of it ever has a use. many get used in future content, the rest is either slated for a different project or archived. As a game is developed even more people become involved in the process... If you use the publisher models there proofing teams, talent teams, Advertising teams, hell alot of teams... and the costs rise.
If you go the route Star Citizen ran and talked to the players gave the players a voice in the development and ... so far.. cut out the publisher the players obviously respond. The players see the process, they listen to the devs and they get an understanding of how a game is developed. Those of us who followed Star Citizen from the kickstarter to now know what it takes and we continue to support it. as of this morning the crowd funding of Star Citizen exceeded 14.3 Million Dollars.
Yes the traditional model needs to change I think everyone here can agree that more often than not Games get hamstrung by the publisher for profit. EA was voted worst publisher two years running for this. It doesnt take a genius to do the research and see the problems with the traditional system.
More and more developers have a back ground in gaming themselves. They have seen the writing on the wall.. Star Citizen and Citadel of Sorcery both have teams that were fed up with the status quo. They took steps to change it and those steps I for one Believe are necessary for the growth of PC gaming. They took different routes in the process and designs but they are both revolutionary games and more players should support them.
Played: UO, LotR, WoW, SWG, DDO, AoC, EVE, Warhammer, TF2, EQ2, SWTOR, TSW, CSS, KF, L4D, AoW, WoT
Playing: The Secret World until Citadel of Sorcery goes into Alpha testing.
Tired of: Linear quest games, dailies, and dumbed down games
Anticipating:Citadel of Sorcery
This idea would require a “co-development” where the game is shared early to a large group of players for the last 50% of development time. Developers would also share features before they were completed. Sharing these prototype early would ensure that developers could make changes without incurring great cost.
If only it was that simple. Personally I would rather trust the vision of a developer than many individuals arguing interminably about game features. I'm presuming here that the framework you speak of has already determined whether the game is sandbox vs themepark vs etc.
I sometimes make spelling and grammar errors but I don't pretend it's because I'm using a phone
I agree that player involvement earlier in a game's development would greatly benefit all involved, however I think this is nothing more than a pipe dream.
First off, the game developers and programmers are slaves to the number crunchers in the back room holding the purse strings and demanding certain timetables be met to satisfy investors. I think many have seen games pushed out to retail that shouldn't even have been in open beta yet. It was different in the beginning when it was the developers/programmers who actually were investing their money into the game because the whole genre was considered too risky by investors. Then they had total control of the product.
As soon as they showed they could make significant money with the games, investors, some of which wouldn't know an MMO if it smacked them on the side of the head, entered the mix. Now with the price of making games so high, it's all but impossible for devs/programmers to be in total control, so it's always a battle between them and the number crunchers. It's the real world we're talking about so we all know who ultimately wins those battles. (For those that need a hint: the devs don't win too often)
That leads to the whole open beta issue. It has become little more than a promotion period for the game and server stress tests than actually testing to see if content works. Few, if any, problems with content found in open betas now get corrected prior to the game going live. Frankly with most games lately it wouldn't surprise me if the game was already boxed and ready to ship to retail outlets before open beta even starts. Beta needs to go back to it's intent of fixing game problems instead of a promo period, which in most cases now, is paid for. Go ahead and keep a promo period if you want, but call it what it really is, a server stress test, and go back to have a meaningful beta where you have lots of players finding bugs and flaws so they can be corrected before you ship the boxes out the door.
Another problem I see is that the majority of players now have the patience of a gnat, or worse. You really can't change that one at all. The younger generation, that grew up having the technology, wants things yesterday. (See problem above with investors as a large chunk of them come from this base) They weren't around during the days of paper rpgs where you actually had to keep track of your health with a pencil, and god forbid, do the math without a calculator.
Sure, most of the crowd wants the latest graphics as well. WoW seems to survive without the best in that department. The whole genre seems to be going downhill sacrificing true content to pretty looks. Games seem to be 'dumbing' themselves down to concentrate more on looks. Whatever happened to wanting a brain behind the pretty packaging?
I've played 8 MMOs during the past 2 years and I can't see playing any of the games out there long term any more. There doesn't seem much point when you can max level and see all the content in a week, or maybe two. Sure there's the people interaction part of MMOs vs the old single player rpg, but when MMOs, like WoW, go to cross-realm and other such platforms, they limit that as well. Nothing like standing next to a bunch of other players that you can talk to, but if you want other interactions like trading, crafting, etc, with them, you're out of luck. Heck, you can talk to your friends on Vent while playing single player rpgs and there's not much difference.
Much better article Mark. If I remember correctly you said in the comments of your last article that you would leave out the advert and probably still get crap for it. Well I personally say its much better and well done. Thanks for it.
Now on to the contents of the topic. I would have to say game development needs to change as well. The amount of money and time being spent and lost is just not sustainable. One suggestion I would have for developers, would be work with your fans. Listen to them, they most likely will care about the product more then you. I know some companies say legal issues or they want to control PR, or competition might get to see your product. But honestly look how your products are doing in general do you really feel those would be your major issues? Just build your games with your customers, listen to them, and embrace them. I personally think it will create better products and have a higher chance of success. So what I'm suggesting is beta the whole process, let all information flow and gauge reactions of the community from that.
So, I kept my part of the bargain and left Firefall out of this one. As predicted, I was still attacked regardless of the content of my article. Can we leave personal attacks out of this? I'm just trying to have an open discussion about how to improve our hobby.
If you feel slighted by Firefall or by myself, please post it to the Firefall forums. It doesn't belong here. Otherwise I might as well go back to saying "Firefall" every article since it hardly seems to make a difference.
Follow me on <a href="https://twitter.com/grummz">Twitter: @Grummz</a>
Originally posted by Cukshaik
Who is we Mark? Use I, not we, when you are the only person typing. I don't think of a beta as a "nearly finished" product, merely as a nearly ready for release product. MMOs are never "nearly finished" until their server(s) population drops. You claim "we" need more innovation and less-risk. This will not happen. What game companies consider risky is the money they spent vs the money they will see in return. The all mighty dollar will win every time. What game developers need to do is their own thing. MMOs have become too much of a copy cat gaming scene. Game X has this, and if Games Y and Z do not, they will fail. Developers are afraid of going back to their roots of game making. A lot of other things have taken a step back into the past. Music, fashion, cars to name a few. Get back to making games that challenge people, not just pretty looking games. Until game developers grow balls and are willing to do something they believe in rather than something that has been done ten times already, but this time with vanilla (flavor), MMOs are going to continue down this path.
Who is we Mark? Use I, not we, when you are the only person typing. I don't think of a beta as a "nearly finished" product, merely as a nearly ready for release product. MMOs are never "nearly finished" until their server(s) population drops.
You claim "we" need more innovation and less-risk. This will not happen. What game companies consider risky is the money they spent vs the money they will see in return. The all mighty dollar will win every time.
What game developers need to do is their own thing. MMOs have become too much of a copy cat gaming scene. Game X has this, and if Games Y and Z do not, they will fail. Developers are afraid of going back to their roots of game making. A lot of other things have taken a step back into the past. Music, fashion, cars to name a few. Get back to making games that challenge people, not just pretty looking games.
Until game developers grow balls and are willing to do something they believe in rather than something that has been done ten times already, but this time with vanilla (flavor), MMOs are going to continue down this path.
So go back to the initial market type of person? I agree going back to roots of MMOs will help them out. Give them an atmosphere, not just a lounge area. But are people going to stay. I remember being around for 10 minute shuttle rides. I remember the joy of them dropping to 5. I remember when people were happy when they went to 1minute. I think 5 was good.
The problem is the only interaction between people is when something needs to be completed. No talking required just go attack, heal, or tank. Nuff said. This reminds me greatly of the TSW anniversary event going on right now, the community effort for this is awesome. The game functionality though doesn't give time for the players to rejoice or speak while doing combat though thus no community atmosphere is built.
"Possibly we humans can exist without actually having to fight. But many of us have chosen to fight. For what reason? To protect something? Protect what? Ourselves? The future? If we kill people to protect ourselves and this future, then what sort of future is it, and what will we have become? There is no future for those who have died. And what of those who did the killing? Is happiness to be found in a future that is grasped with blood stained hands? Is that the truth?"
Mark, a well thought out piece, but I would argue we need a new model more than we need new development methods. MMOs today are scared to truly break the mold and try something really new. The companies are scared to make a game that has true depth to it and require time, patients and developing skills to advance.
Computer Gaming and MMO play especially today is more like a grade school soccer game. It does not matter if you play, if you play well, if you win or what you do, if you show up you get a prize. No longer do you have to work for it, no longer does the accomplishment have meaning.
Using the fantasy example; When you get that first +1 sword there should be a sense of accomplishment, even of wonder. It should be a weapon to last you a bit and when you make the next advancement it should hold the same sense of effort the first one did. Today however that first magic weapon is usually in your inventory without you doing anything but making the character and often replaced within minutes of game play, there is no accomplishment or work for the reward.
=============================I have a soap box and I am not afraid to use it.
Originally posted by akiira69 Another thing that needs to change in MMO Development is the developers listening to the vocal minority when it comes to the balancing of class dynamics. I have been playing MMORPG's since 2001 and it is always the same thing the pvpers cry that every class but theirs is too op. Then the Developers spend the next 2 - 3 patches trying to balance out PvP Damage which causes the PvE damage to get hosed. If it is not that then you have people whine and complain that something is too easy or too hard which is another 2 - 3 patches to balance out dungeons instead of adding in content. This cycle of players telling the developers how to do their jobs is starting to make MMORPG's from a fun time away from the real world to a dull task that makes watching paint dry seem like more fun.
Very true, also. The dev mouse wheel on "balance" also shows dev's lack of unifying Vision for a project as far as Project Management fundamentals are absent from green leaders, and they quickly lose their way.
Final note. It's too late in the process to get to alpha or beta before engaging feedback loops. The core gameplay dimensions (everything from travel and crafting to items and content) needs to be fully described and vetted with player communities on paper before code is written. A strong marketing group needs to use their survey and focus group and community skills to engage the community at various stages from paper to beta stages...
Beta is WAY too late.
The problem with MMORPG's isn't the feedback. It's that developers over the years have given into a convenience creep of listening to players.
Imagine your trying to make a happy healthy kid. Not to call gamers or MMO's kids. If you were just taking notes on what makes the kids happy from the kids you'd be making the kid unhealthy. He's going to want junk and candy, no school, and play video games all day. So in many ways we've changed the game to be easily digested at the cost of the point of MMO which is interactions with other players.
Community destruction catering to the masses, high developmental cost, lack of general gaming publishers/developers taking risk have made games all feel the same. Now they can no longer support themselves on subscriptions because of lack of risk taking creativity and lack of solid communities to have destroyed retention.
To counter this situation they've turned to free to play models which essentially allows games to exist that likely shouldn't survive. That leads too to many MMORPG's. It also allows the model of cheap MMO's that don't have to even support the masses just the whale players who will prop up a failed game. Make a familiar game to get in people easily, make cash shops to prop it up, make it free so people will play and comeback when bored at no cost.
Imagine if you had designed a Planetside like game to only have 32 vs. 32 matches in instances and basically and the rest of the world was a large mass instanced lobby to show off your stuff. You could ask what was the point of making the game a MMO when essentially it's multiplayer game forced online. This is how I feel about most MMO's that I rather play a single player game like Skyrim that I'm going to be the story than generic quest grinds that don't change anything and I have no reason to care about what's going on.
I would like to see more sandbox elements. Player city building, open world house ownership, players making a difference in the world.
More community quest and problems. There's a world wide plague that to cure in game lore needs to be read and players need to cooperate or massive crafting obstacles that open up new content or areas when solved.
Worlds that are more explorable. Like developers are all from Bioware and like sending us down the dirt path instead of giving us places to explore.
More down time and player interdependence. Down time gives us time to regroup mentally and do other things than quest/mob grind non stop. How about crafting needing more than one person or needed.
I'd like to see less dependance on power platform levels. It's stupid that suddenly giant boss creature 100 feet tall shooting you with a megabeam that leaves craters only tickles you because your 20 levels over its head but random same level orcs axe can hurt you. Content is burned through and area designs are wasted after the first months. Levels as a sign as advancement is much better than magic power platforms making you suddenly untouchable.
All fine and nice. The article fails to mention of wanton disregard of player feedback also. The 3 mo beta means by this point the game is done, nowadays. Any bugs found need to be gamebreakers to get attention.
Devs have taken the attitude this is the game , this is how it'll be released, we'll get to fixing things after. The premise being the game runs and that's all we're concerned about, the rest is fixable. That was the old days and the old way of thinking , when staffs were smaller , populations more patient and with less competition. What they don't understand is that they don't have the luxury of that kind of thinking anymore. I've Alpha and Beta tested enough games to that schedules are tight and sometimes they can't get to stuff. I also saw devs ignore posts about exploits that ruin games and chase away players for the same reason.
It seems devs don't learn that when given a project that the business types expect results in a contracted time frame. Unfortunately the artistic types seem only to preform when under the gun to do so. Age old problem for which there seems no cure. So in this environment it seems it'll take a lot of pain before the money people realize things need to change.
"MMOs have become the riskiest and least likely to succeed game genre in existence." - Try telling this to the crowd who seem to think the MMO genre is doing better than ever.
"The rise in development costs can be attributed to many things, but next-gen graphics are definitely a large part of the cost." - This is at the heart of the problem, your MMO either looks bad at launch, or has little content down the line. Looking good at launch is the option they have chosen to ensure early sales, be they box or in the cash shop.
"Rising costs and time, and pushing beta into shorter windows, poses several problems. First, it becomes too risky to innovate. You need to stick to “what works” when budgets are that high." - This is why we see so little innovation in the MMO genre. The greatest steps forward have been combining MMO's with another genre like MMOFPS, solid innovation in the MMO genre is a rare find.
We have been posting these points for ages, industry insiders agree, but still many posters go on about how everything in the MMO industry is going great. Even with P2P MMO's going to the wall, everything is fine. You really need to have your head in the sand not have great concerns about this.
I wonder if any of our posters with rosy coloured spectacles will post here? Thought not.