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[Column] General: The Ready Player One MMO

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,610MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

In today's Tingle's Touchy Subjects, we take a look at "Ready Player One". Never heard of it? Well then, this is definitely a must-read and a must-play. Find out more about what Ready Player One is before heading to the comments to tell us what you think.

Like many gamers out there, I recently read Ready Player One. While I had been aware of the novel for quite some time, the protectionist within me was ever-vigilant whenever I approached Amazon for a sneak peak. You see, it's hard to be a nerd in Northern England; dragons and elfs, swords and sorcery , they just don't really cut it round here.

But like a man stealthily purchasing pornography with a roomy jacket and steely determination, I eventually pushed past my own hang ups and entered the OASIS. And boy was I glad. While the book is of course no literary masterpiece, it is just about every geek's dream when it comes to the written word. I swear that I actually yelped when "EverQuest" and "Norrath" appeared on the second page.

Read more of Adam Tingle's Tingle's Touchy Subjects: The Ready Player One MMO.


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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • BadSpockBadSpock Somewhere, MIPosts: 7,974Member

    You know, I was there back in Britannia and also in the multitude of the worlds of Star Wars Galaxies.

    My rose colored glasses have been off for a long, long time.

    You know WHY these worlds were magic and exploring them actually felt like exploration?

    Because they were the first of their kind - we had never seen video games like them before.

    Huge expansive worlds FULL of other players to meet, adventure with, fight against...

    No where else in the video game world could you do such a thing.

     

    It's common place now. We've been doing it for 15 years. Hard for magic to stay magical when you know the secrets behind the trick.

    These games have all, and will continue to all play just about the same way. You progress, you fight stuff, you accumulate stuff, you do the before mentioned online with thousands of others.

    Sure, I'm tickled pink to see a big resurgence of player housing and open world PvP, but there is NEVER going to be another MMO that recaptures the "magic" from your first or even first few for people like me.

    Are you having fun? Yes - keep playing. No - play something else.

    I'm just trying to find a game that gives me a "Yes" for more than a few weeks.

  • MishakaiMishakai westminster, COPosts: 105Member
    Originally posted by BadSpock

    You know, I was there back in Britannia and also in the multitude of the worlds of Star Wars Galaxies.

    My rose colored glasses have been off for a long, long time.

    You know WHY these worlds were magic and exploring them actually felt like exploration?

    Because they were the first of their kind - we had never seen video games like them before.

    Huge expansive worlds FULL of other players to meet, adventure with, fight against...

    No where else in the video game world could you do such a thing.

     

    It's common place now. We've been doing it for 15 years. Hard for magic to stay magical when you know the secrets behind the trick.

    These games have all, and will continue to all play just about the same way. You progress, you fight stuff, you accumulate stuff, you do the before mentioned online with thousands of others.

    Sure, I'm tickled pink to see a big resurgence of player housing and open world PvP, but there is NEVER going to be another MMO that recaptures the "magic" from your first or even first few for people like me.

    Are you having fun? Yes - keep playing. No - play something else.

    I'm just trying to find a game that gives me a "Yes" for more than a few weeks.

    Couldn't agree more!  Kind of like how my first bike was very special to me as a child, but in no way would I consider replacing my current full suspension ride for something that used to have training wheels.

  • stragen001stragen001 ReadingPosts: 1,720Member
    If you like Ready Player 1 you should try Reamde by Neal Stephenson. 

    Cluck Cluck, Gibber Gibber, My Old Mans A Mushroom

  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,209Member Uncommon
    Like I said in the other thread, we have a very one dimensional stunted concept of progression in the genre.  Until we can move beyond that the genre is going to be stuck repeating itself.
  • IselinIselin Vancouver, BCPosts: 5,611Member Uncommon

    Despite loving sci-fi, somehow I had never heard of Ready Player One until the interview you refer to. Got it immediately and have been reading it for the past couple of days. Loving it!

     

     

  • RaphRaph MMO Designer San Diego, CAPosts: 139Member Uncommon

    Metaplace predated the novel. But really, the book describes basically what we built, and which is now gone.

    - a generic server architecture that could handle anything from arcade games to MMOs

    - the ability for players to own and make their own spaces. Didn't even need to know how to make stuff in 3d modeling, it imported SketchUp from Google Warehouse even. You didn't even need to host your own art.

    - scriptable to the point where you could make a whole game in it.

    - full web connectivity in and out, so that you could have stuff from the real world manifest in the games, or game stuff feed out to the web. Like, an MMO where the mobs are driven by stock quotes was easy to make.

    - agnostic as far as client, so you could connect lo-fi or full fancy 3d. We never got to the 3d, but we had clients running on mobile devices, PCs, and in web browsers. If we were still pursuing it, you can bet we'd be doing an Oculus version right about now

    - worlds connected to one another, and you might change from world to world, but you ALSO had a common identity across all the worlds. You could walk from Pac-Man into Azeroth, so to speak.

    I think a lot of people were turned off by the 2d graphics, and a lot were turned off by the fact that there wasn't a full MMO there to just play, and a lot of people found building too hard.

  • Whiskey_SamWhiskey_Sam Lynchburg, VAPosts: 294Member Uncommon
    The more games have focused on combat and refining it, the more non-combat things have fallen by the wayside.  For me, that is the crucial piece that kills the virtual world feel and emphasizes "This Is A Game".  It's not being forced to do things, but the opportunity to do things other than combat that make it feel like a living place.  Why are games today so shallow?  Where is the deep crafting of SWG?  Making your own virtual cities with mayors?  A music system like LOTRO where you could play instruments?  It feels like we got off on a dead end somewhere along the line and lost sight of the potential things you could do with an MMO and just focused on faster combat to draw in players instead of enhanced features.  I've gotten more of a living world feel from Red Dead Redemption where you can play poker, blackjack, liar's dice, five finger fillet, horseshoes, take bounties, and do any number of things aside from combat than I have from the last several MMOs I've played.

    ___________________________
    Have flask; will travel.

  • DeanGreyDeanGrey Fresno, CAPosts: 154Member
    Originally posted by Whiskey_Sam
    The more games have focused on combat and refining it, the more non-combat things have fallen by the wayside.  For me, that is the crucial piece that kills the virtual world feel and emphasizes "This Is A Game".  It's not being forced to do things, but the opportunity to do things other than combat that make it feel like a living place.  Why are games today so shallow?  Where is the deep crafting of SWG?  Making your own virtual cities with mayors?  A music system like LOTRO where you could play instruments?  It feels like we got off on a dead end somewhere along the line and lost sight of the potential things you could do with an MMO and just focused on faster combat to draw in players instead of enhanced features.  I've gotten more of a living world feel from Red Dead Redemption where you can play poker, blackjack, liar's dice, five finger fillet, horseshoes, take bounties, and do any number of things aside from combat than I have from the last several MMOs I've played.

    You speak to my heart. Although I like crafting, I want to emphasize to others that a good crafting system and housing isn't enough to be fulfilled in the "world" experience. As you point out, some great systems have been in other games like LotRO's music system. I never used it to make music but I would often stop and listen to others.

    I really want an MMO where combat is just a part of the game, a game where hit-first and ask questions later is sometimes a really bad idea.

    The most innovative "MMO" I have played in years has been in Minecraft servers. (Yes I think MC can function as an MMO. It can hold many players within a single area, comparable to many MMORPG's). I have been a land barren, a trader, a thief, a bounty hunter, casino owner, and many other things within Minecraft.

  • DenambrenDenambren Montreal, QCPosts: 320Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BadSpock

    You know, I was there back in Britannia and also in the multitude of the worlds of Star Wars Galaxies.

    My rose colored glasses have been off for a long, long time.

    You know WHY these worlds were magic and exploring them actually felt like exploration?

    Because those MMOs were built around game immersion and player-driven economies, where the focus was to create a realistic world that you could explore and discover with other players.

    Because you could explore those worlds and feel like a part of them. No levels on the enemies, no levels on your character. Just a forest or a beach or a desert with weather effects and sounds, and the creatures there were a natural part of the ecosystem.

    Because you could discover player-built cities and communities, and would meet interesting player characters that governed them or lived there.

     

    But hey, don't let me tear down the philosophy of "childhood memories" that you use as a coping strategy. Your philosophy might apply to a turd of a game like Everquest and its lifequest of level grinding, but I'm not convinced it applies to UO or SWG when you consider how much was brought to the table for game immersion.

  • MumboJumboMumboJumbo LondonPosts: 3,221Member
    Thanks for the heads up. The rabbit-hole goes much deeper than I had thought.
  • BacchiraBacchira MalmöPosts: 50Member

    I can only agree with everything that has been said in both article and comments.

    For the past few months I have been feeling, well, rather depressed. Not so much because there is not a single MMO that appeals to me but rather because I have come to realize that there probably will never be one. Things that I love are just not popular enough to make it worthwile for developers to try it. It's so immensly costly to make an MMO that they have to focus on what they believe will be popular with the largest amount of players and I can understand that, but it still makes me depressed :(

     

    As an example, I love magic in a game, probably because its the one thing that I will never ever experience in real life. But in most games magic comes down to pressing a button, wait for the cast bar to finish and then watch the spell go off. It can still look cool and all but it just doesn't feel very magical. I wish that there would be one developer that would at least try something different. 

    For instance, instead of waiting for a cast bar, you'd have to "weave" the spell by combining different  "words". I'm not going to bore you with details but basically you could for example do "Word of Manifistation" + "Element: Fire" + "Word of Kinetic Power" to weave a fireball and then send it off with a mouse click on to what ever you are aiming at. I'm not saying it would work, but I so much would like to try something different. I would also love a world where magic can be used for other things than combat, like lifting heavy objects, illuminating dark places, open doors, make a branch on the ground do the polka etc, etc

     

    I also suspect that "convenience" features in MMOs might very well be a root cause of boredom. I'm a liitle torn here cause whenever I think about instant travel, bag space that can hold 5 elephants, auto area loot etc, my reaction is that I don't like it, but once I am in a game I seem to enjoy it when it is available. Still can't shake the feeling that it might be one initial seed that later grows into boredom. World become small when I can travel anywhere in a blink of an eye, no need to concider what I should take from a kill when I can carry 100 times my own weight, no pride in the sword I just created cause I can make a hundred of them by pushing a button etc, you know what I mean. But I think all those convenience things are here to stay because no developer would dare to promote a game where things take time to complete in this age of instant gratification.

     

    So yeah, I'm sentimentally depressed.

  • SomeOldBlokeSomeOldBloke Lancaster, UKPosts: 2,141Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BadSpock
    Are you having fun? Yes - keep playing. No - play something else.

    The problem I'm having is that all the 'something else' are no longer fun. Every new game I try seems like it's the same as something I've played before. If I wanted that type of game I'd still be playing it. I was considering ARR when they fix the server issues but as I just read "it's a slower version of WoW" on a diffewrent thread and have recently resubed to WoW and finding combat slow and boring I will cross ARR off the list also.

    For me, there are too many fantasy MMOs (I  am grouping MMORGP, MMOFPS/TPS in the loose term MMO) and most of the ones that are not fantasy have bad progression or are too PvP based for my tastes with not enough PvE elements.

  • xaritscinxaritscin CaliPosts: 349Member
    Originally posted by Bacchira

    As an example, I love magic in a game, probably because its the one thing that I will never ever experience in real life. But in most games magic comes down to pressing a button, wait for the cast bar to finish and then watch the spell go off. It can still look cool and all but it just doesn't feel very magical. I wish that there would be one developer that would at least try something different. 

    not an MMO but, on  Arx Fatalis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arx_Fatalis) you had to cast the spells by drawing figures on the screen using the cursor.

    something i found interesting from Skyrim was that shouts had to be learned from engravings, maybe someone could design a system where players had to memorize the markings and then draw them in the screen for example.

     
  • ApraxisApraxis RegensburgPosts: 1,515Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by xaritscin
    Originally posted by Bacchira

    As an example, I love magic in a game, probably because its the one thing that I will never ever experience in real life. But in most games magic comes down to pressing a button, wait for the cast bar to finish and then watch the spell go off. It can still look cool and all but it just doesn't feel very magical. I wish that there would be one developer that would at least try something different. 

    not an MMO but, on  Arx Fatalis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arx_Fatalis) you had to cast the spells by drawing figures on the screen using the cursor.

    something i found interesting from Skyrim was that shouts had to be learned from engravings, maybe someone could design a system where players had to memorize the markings and then draw them in the screen for example.

     

    Yeap.. i thought the same myself very often. In Ultima games you got the rune system to create your spells with different runes, the very same in Dungeon Master were you could combine all of your spells from the available runes. Or even the old adventure game Loom were you created with music, tones your magic. Ok, it would be hard to balance in a competive environment aka pvp.. but it would be in the very same time a lot more interesting and just magical.

    Nowdays everything comes down to shortcuts.. magic, cutting trees, combat, everything.. and withit everything becomes the same..

  • MitaraMitara NAPosts: 525Member Uncommon

    When you used terms like "crafting" and "melee fighting", you are stuck in the MMO-box. 

    What UO did good was to think about how the real world works and make a system that in some way copied that. I strongly believe that the biggest inspiration for a good MMO will still come from the richness real world. And this is also where almost all the MMOs I have tried have failed.  One after another, have implemented illogical rules that might have created balance, but most likely also totally destroyed the immersiveness.

    Like others here mention, there certainly is a lot more that could be done with MMOs

    Unfortunately I think that Raph is going in the wrong direction. One thing is to open up for creativity by the players, another is to let them create everything themselves. Full openness is going to fail simply because the creative skill that is needed to make a good game just is not commonplace. There are only so many Raph Koster's out there (thats good though, right?)

    Sp openness needs to come as a guided openness to work, to have a world balance (as contrary to battle balance), and to get the immersiveness, that most players are longing for.

    We tried to do this with an Intel funded project back in 2008, but... then the real world broke down and financing vanished (typical story of many MMO project unfortunately).

     

     

  • DeathWolf2uDeathWolf2u Maryville, ILPosts: 291Member
    I'm half way through reading 'Ready Player One' as we speak' it's a great book and hard to put down once you start reading it.
  • TheCrow2kTheCrow2k Adelaide, AKPosts: 953Member
    What can I say ? The current Foetid Stagnation of the MMO genre will continue because big publishers & studios will not take meaningful risks...
  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member
    Originally posted by stragen001
    If you like Ready Player 1 you should try Reamde by Neal Stephenson. 

    I'm old enough to remember when Dream Park was the cool book-based game that every reader wanted. But that was (eewwwww) basically LARP.

    These books are a pretty regularly recurring cycle. The games, however...never seem to actually get made.

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

  • jimbobfurleyjimbobfurley Nepean, ONPosts: 69Member Uncommon
    Reamde is amazing !

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  • Stone_FountainStone_Fountain Berkley, MIPosts: 226Member Uncommon

    Immersive, deep crafting, a truly large, expansive world that takes real time to cross through. Getting that rare item to drop for you or a friend. Friends that are beckoned to log on each night because you are all addicted. I consider Everquest as a model. A starting point, a beginning. It worked and was addictive. It was vast and fun to explore.

    Where has this success gone to? Sure it had it’s flaws but it’s model at least, was working and addictive. I feel the major game publishers see us all as impatient, whiny posers who will dump $60 on a game, play it for 2 weeks then they can F2P it and go onto the next project. A complete, single player game style and we get drawn in on a promise of a real MMO. We are being lied to plain and simple. It’s not a mystery. EVE works because it follows a similar model. WoW did as well though I never played it. Reinventing the wheel is not working and its clear that publishers are going for that initial $60 hit money ($80-$100 for those CE people) and then packing up and going home for the day. The thing to remember about MMOs is that you can not copy and steal software to play them. You need to purchase a unique code to play so they get their $60 hit money per license. That is the current model. EQ, WoW and the like had a philosophy about keeping their player base alive and addicted and paying. Great social tools, deep crafting, expansive, huge worlds to explore, enough classes and races and cultures to keep people making new characters to try. And if everyone in the group didn’t do what they needed to do, you wiped, period and getting back and recovering was a pain in the ass so everyone did pay attention.

    The trouble is, I’ve played it for years and I want something new. Not a new ‘model’ a new game interested in keeping me addicted. I’m just not seeing them being made. Why? Because the current financial models are not designed that way. 

    First PC Game: Pool of Radiance July 10th, 1990. First MMO: Everquest April 23, 1999

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