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[Column] General: Why So Many MMOs Disappoint

BillMurphyBillMurphy Managing EditorBerea, OHPosts: 2,356MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

No this isn't a religious column from Bill Murphy this week. Instead, it's a quick look at why we as MMO gamers always seem to be waiting for the next big thing, instead of enjoying what we do have while looking forward. And why developers are so hesitant to move the genre forward, and how they can do just that if they're brave enough. Read on, see if you agree, and leave a note in the comments.

There's a tendency, as written about here and across the MMO industry, for players to latch onto their favorite past games with a sense of erstwhile pride and more than a little bit of "rose-tinted" glory. We forget the reasons we left some old MMO flame, and isntead long fondly for the time in our MMO life when that game was the game. But the fact is, if we left a game and haven't been able to get back into it since those golden years, chances are it's time in our gameplay life is over.  That's not a bad thing, but we're only limiting our future enjoyment of new titles by clinging stubbornly to "the old days".

Read the rest of Bill's Why So Many MMOs Disappoint.

Ultimately, we all just want to be (fowl-mouthed) kids, playing pretend.

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Comments

  • NadiaNadia Canonsburg, PAPosts: 11,866Member Common
    missed one - lacking content!
  • ConleyConley Somewhere in the...Posts: 195Member

    [quote] Let's try harder to make what we lovingly call "virtual worlds" actually feel like worlds. [/quote]

    Especially this. This is lacking in many modern MMO that start to feel like clones after other clones. On the other hand GTA Online feels more alive and vibrant then any mmo on the market right now. Stop making clones and start to imagine new worlds that we want to "live" in and go on from there to imagine ways to entertain ourselves in that world and adventures to be enjoyed. I want to feel immersed again instead of arriving in mmo's that have the same checklist of features that all the other mmo's had but lack an imaginative and original scope. 

  • BMBenderBMBender Nowhere, NCPosts: 566Member Uncommon
    Another thing don't start marketing till the NDA is lifted; nothing is more conductive to unsustainable raised hope than that as the PR spin rarely matches the game.

    image
  • GrumpyMel2GrumpyMel2 Catskills, NYPosts: 1,832Member

    I think there is a bit of a cop-out in this article Bill. It's not all about player expectations. The games themselves HAVE changed and particulary they seem to be going for a different target audience then in the past. Earlier games targeted people who actualy DID play PnP Role-Playing Games or frequented MUDS...or even, gasp, played complicated turn based board-games like Advanced Squad Leader or World In Flames. In other words, they targeted people who weren't afraid to have to think and fail and suffer setbacks and have to work together and maybe even occasionaly actualy role-play. Today's games seem mostly to target an entirely different audience.

    That's why I see most games released today and my initial reaction isn't super hyped.....it's more like "meh", not really for me. So much so that I generaly don't even bother to try them. Yesterday's games were different because they WERE different. They may have been flawed in many ways, but at least I was actualy interested in what they were TRYING to accomplish.

  • mmoguy43mmoguy43 , CAPosts: 2,439Member Uncommon

    Ok, but how do they let us players in without selling the alpha? The alpha which could turn people away before the "good stuff" finally comes?

    Is it proven it is better this way? Better than doing a near complete* beta?

     

    *less than a year
  • KyleranKyleran Tampa, FLPosts: 19,977Member Uncommon

    I agree, no one is ever going to make a game exactly the way "I" want it. but would it hurt to have a few more options than standard theme park #234 and under funded Indy title (theme park or sandbox)  #67?

    I'm just tired of the current options that are out there, and yes, for the record I did try a lot of titles both AAA and Indy and find the fun in them.  Ended up spending anywhere from 1 - 3 months in each, and for the game hoppers this is great, goes well with their play style.

    But for the same reason I read very long novels instead of short stories, I prefer longer, more engaging MMORPGs where I might spend 6 months to 5 years in the same virtual world (perhaps on and off) and as of late, there's been few titles in this design category.

    Just like you really can't create a game with the perfect blend of PVE and PVP without making tradeoffs somewhere, I don't think you can make a title designed for long term retention and try to make it interesting enough for the short term game players out there at the same time.

    Developers keep trying, and so far the majority of the designs seem to favor the short term customer, would be nice to see a title or two designed a bit differently.

    Yeah, I know, it won't sell enough to justify the cost.

    Pity.

     

    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

  • BMBenderBMBender Nowhere, NCPosts: 566Member Uncommon

    DBL Post

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  • SiveriaSiveria Saint John, New BrunswickPosts: 1,200Member Uncommon

    The reason they dissapoint is becvause every since world of warcraft, they all cater to the casual, or they copy and paste parts directly out of world of warcraft and such, Bascally the problem is they just don't attempt to do anything unique and just keep bascally re-making world of warcraft in a few skin. FF14ARR is the most recent example of this, Combat system? direct copy and paste from world of warcraft. Insted of using the 1.0 combat system near the end (1.20 patch iirc) that was actually a tad unique, they opted to just copy and paste from wow instead.

    Wildstar will have some stuff copy and pasted from wow, but it also has its own sort-of unique combat system(Tera did something simmlar), a unique "break out of cc manually" system that I haven't seen in other mmo's yet, and the path system actually sounds intersting. I still hate the cartoony art style wildstar uses though, but thats a personal thing for the art style.

    All in all it all boils down to every mmorpg pretty much feeling like that same mmorpg we played how many years ago? I played ff14arr, and I just felt like I was playing wow in a new shiny skin for the most part, which is honestly not the feeling you want your playerbase to have.

    But then there is the flipside, everytime a mmorpg dev team tries to do something diffrent the comminuty slaps them for it. I mean maybe the problem is with the community and not the genre itself. People want change, but when they try change they get yelled at for it.

    I'd honestly love a mmo to come out that plays like old school ff11 (way back wotg and older), where your forced to party to do anything (even to level you needed to party), so the bonds you make actually really matter.

    I don't think people want something totally new, I think what they really want is someone to try to innovate the current system, not so much totally redo it, but add to it so it feels diffrent at the least, but most mmorpg devs don't event attempt this sadly.

    Being a pessimist is a win-win pattern of thinking. If you're a pessimist (I'll admit that I am!) you're either:

    A. Proven right (if something bad happens)

    or

    B. Pleasantly surprised (if something good happens)

    Either way, you can't lose! Try it out sometime!

  • BMBenderBMBender Nowhere, NCPosts: 566Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BillMurphy

    "There's also a prevailing trend in our genre to shun anything that doesn't meet the above impossible hopes, rather than accept what is good about a game despite its misgivings.  Now, I'm not saying we should lavish praise upon turds, but we should surely strive to point out the good with the bad, even if we really don't enjoy a game. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, they say, right? Well if only the squeaky wheels are noisily rumbling and never a good thing is said about something, what do you think the ultimate response will be from the industry? It won't be a sudden and swift change to fix the entire genre... it'll be the decimation and complete disregard of this pastime.  I don't believe we should all throw money at things we don't enjoy. But whether with financial means or with our words, we should strive to give credit where credit is due."

     

     

     

    There is much truth to that, however developers/publishers do not go out of their way to say to this or that demographic this game is not for you we are targeting this.  Actually the reverse is true, quite often actively marketing play styles they KNOW don't fit in the game.  They don't then have an excuse to be "confused" why they get pushback from bad demographic targeting

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  • HurricanePipHurricanePip Sommerille, MAPosts: 167Member
    I always like Bill's columns.  Lot of typos fin many of the write ups recently for a fairly large blog site though

    If you don't worry about it, it's not a problem.

  • DavisFlightDavisFlight Talahasee, FLPosts: 2,556Member
    Originally posted by Nadia
    missed one - lacking content!

    No. No amount of content can keep people happy forever. The correct observation is, there is no player driven content. That shit keeps people around for ages.

     

    The real reason? Cause they're all the same. STO, AoC, LotRO, Rift, SWTOR, they all play virtually the same, and have the same problems that solo centric instanced quest hub grinding games do.

     

    This column is basically saying "Shame on you for not accepting the declining quality of MMOs! You shouldn't lust over the great games of the past and put unrealistic expectations on MMOs that have millions more in budget and manpower than those MMOs that managed to be great!

     

    No I'm sorry. I will never be okay with WoW and its clones. The genre should march forward, not backward.

  • NadiaNadia Canonsburg, PAPosts: 11,866Member Common
    Originally posted by DavisFlight
    Originally posted by Nadia
    missed one - lacking content!

    No. No amount of content can keep people happy forever. The correct observation is, there is no player driven content. That shit keeps people around for ages.

    i agree - i stand corrected image

  • banshe13banshe13 aurora, ILPosts: 200Member

    The main reason is simple  it's community  today is is not there. Today it's all about me  and the good old  join a guild it used to be where you would have hour long talks with people in world chat with  a few diffrent people. Need help there where 10 people to help in under 10 secs.  

     

    You can have the best game ever and it will  fail since every one plays MMO's like there solo games  but can't blame them realy  anymore since now there are made to be solo with some need to group. We need the community back with hard normal mobs that kill you  if you make more then 2 or 3 mistakes and you need to rest after every fight.

     

    In order to lvl the fastest you need to group and grind mobs and have world bosses that spawn 1 time every   12 hours that drop the best items in the game. Like EQ used to have sure it had it's flaws  like the biggest guilds just camped it a lot.  but that in itself would  have pros and con like making the server hate your guild  and other things.

     

    This is what is gone  tody and will never be back. The golden age is long gone never to be back this is the rush age max lvl fast and possable  grind gear fast as  possable then cry theres nothing to do and jump to the game that just came out and start it all over. 

  • BMBenderBMBender Nowhere, NCPosts: 566Member Uncommon
    Also, using 3rd party IP's as a crutch for your game tends to bring a certain amount of false expectations.  Name one of those that did well

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  • mmoguy43mmoguy43 , CAPosts: 2,439Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by HurricanePip
    I always like Bill's columns.  Lot of typos fin many of the write ups recently for a fairly large blog site though
     

    If you ever critique someone's writing you better be damned sure your own doesn't have the same errors.

    It is amusing that this often isn't the case.

  • EncephalitisEncephalitis anchorage, AKPosts: 75Member

    i'm so sick of the "ohh you just have rose-tinted glasses" rebuttal.  a game was fun for however long you played it. just because you stopped playing it, somehow automatically makes it a terrible game that you just remember as being good.

    what sort of logic is that.

     

  • quixadhalquixadhal Kalamazoo, MIPosts: 215Member

    Actually, the number one failure for most MMO's is re-re-re-re-inventing the wheel again.

    It's as if every MMO is developed in a total vacuum, and refuses to learn anything from those that came before, let alone those that are in play during development.

    There are millions of examples, but just for the heck of it, here's a simple one.  Inventory management.  Almost every MMO has an inventory system where your players are constantly collecting all the junk they need (or think they need) as they're leveling up.  Various games have come up with ways to help players deal with it.

    WoW has addons that allow searching, sorting, categorizing, and collapsing of inventory as the user desires.  Guild Wars 2 allowed crafting materials to be sent directly to the bank, and used FROM there while crafting.  Etc...

    Yet, every time a new game comes out, it seems we're back to a tiny collection of "bags" with no easy way to sort or manage them until 2 years later.  FFXIV v2.0 is a perfect example.  The game was re-launched with an opportunity to learn from everyone else *AND* from their own mistakes, yet right now, it has a crufty inventory tab system that looks more like it came from EverQuest 1.  Why?

    And more generally... WHY?  Why do they feel the need to re-invent everything in worse ways, just to be unique?

    Think of all the man hours that went into making half these features from scratch, knowing they would NOT be as good as ones in other games already out, but doing it anyways out of sheer stubbornness.

  • SenadinaSenadina San Diego, CAPosts: 896Member Uncommon

    My first MMO was EQ. I was introduced to MMOs by some real life friends who I played tabletop RPGs with. I joined their guild, and accepted and enjoyed grouping.

    Fast forward to 2013, and I no longer enjoy grouping. I am a soloer.  I would like to posit that the difference is that, in "the olden days", MMOs, and internet access in general, was still not universal. Anyone you encountered in a group could be reasonably expected to be a techie/geekie adult who could afford to maintain this computer based, subscription required hobby. Now, everyone from babes to your grandma is online, and frankly, I don't know what kind of individual I will be grouping with ( although they often seem to be whiny, impatient babies for some reason). Yeah, no more group- centric MMos for me, sadly.

     

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  • NildenNilden null, NBPosts: 1,284Member Uncommon
    How can you write an article about MMO's being disappointing and not mention, risk vs reward, lack of challenge, or how dumbed down easy mode everything is. Even if you made the best virtual world possible if nothing was challenging and it was all handed to players on a silver platter would it even matter?

    How to post links.

    "classification of games into MMOs is not by rational reasoning" - nariusseldon
    Love Minecraft. And check out my Youtube channel OhCanadaGamer

  • barezzbarezz Granite City, ILPosts: 140Member Uncommon

    Very nice article with some great points!

    One that that bothers me is that despite some great features having been developed in past games that prove to be popular, many new MMO's do not include these features at launch.  Group finders and vanity/apperance slots come to mind.  Both of these systems are well received in many games, but it still treated as a feature that "evolves" over the course of development.

    I am not sure if this is done intentionally, in order to be a headline or bullet point in a post launch update, or if it has something to do with the long development cycle in MMO's.

  • reillanreillan Tulsa, OKPosts: 234Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Nadia
    missed one - lacking content!

    This.  People will rush to max level in 2 or 3 days.  These are your most hard-core gamers.  If all you have for them is "epic versions" of all the 4/5/6-person instances they've run before, then you're going to lose their interest.  Give them at least one really mind-bogglingly difficult raid, something they're going to have to work hard to overcome.  Give them other things to do in the game besides grind for gear (cosmetics are a surprisingly-large part of that, especially uber-rare colors or collectibles).  Give them a housing area they can decorate. 

  • SnarlingWolfSnarlingWolf Thereiam, ARPosts: 2,697Member

    I will start by saying some gamers have solid balanced ideas that could actually be implemented.

     

    That being said, most don't. I'll use Asheron's Call as an example. They were going to do a major change to the weapon skills (the short jist of it was take all of their melee skills which were broken up by weapon type as sword, axe, dagger, mace etc. and make 2 new skills: Heavy and Finesse weapons). They brought this to the player base months before it was implemented to open up the discussion and get feedback to adjustments. A group of the player base became adamant that they needed three skills: Heavy, Finesse, and Light. The Asheron's Call devs put up that they didn't think this was wise and that it wouldn't be a skill that was used much and would essentially just bloat the game that they were trying to remove bloat and balance issue from. The players insisted and they added the third skill.

     

    The patch came around and quickly players avoided light weapons. Almost no one uses that skill, but now there is more loot that gets in the way of finding what you want (because light weapons drop) there are more quest weapons that aren't liked (because they are light weapons) and there is another whole skill that gets in the way that people don't take.

     

    So why did this happen when players think they know what is the best design so often? They were blinded by how they currently play and not by how they would play with these changes. Because of this they felt light weapons filled a role that it didn't (and which wouldn't really be there after the changes) so they demanded it. Even with developers directly trying to point this out they were sure that they were right and now there is a permanent skill in the game that everyone dislikes and avoids because it always makes more sense to use Heavy or Finesse instead of light.

     

    So there is an issue with opening up your plans early as players will all think they have the best change/solution that should be added. Listen to them and you could end up with stuff people don't like, don't listen to them and people could complain you never listen. It is a no win situation.

     

    I actually think MMOs should remain fully silent until they are hitting beta. No hype, no misinformation, no false expectations, none of it. Just "hey here is our game try it out for what it is".

     

    I've seen far fewer rage/panic posts with Asheron's Call's new approach which is to essentially not hint/hype anything about upcoming big patches until the patch notes come out (traditionally the Thursday/Friday before patch). Because instead of players twisting and distorting what COULD happen, they instead jump right in to see what DID happen and it is never as bad, and often far better, than their mind would have made it out to be.

  • apocolusterapocoluster newport news, VAPosts: 1,321Member Uncommon
    I'm
    Cool with what I see so far. I know I'm totally in the minority though

    No matter how cynical you become, its never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

  • TuchakaTuchaka san diego, CAPosts: 468Member

    Thing i liked about old MMO's is they were harder so when i accomplished something it really felt good , but with that being said a huge amount of those old MMO's lacked end game content , were really buggy years after release. So while i felt the earlier MMO's were really innovative they were also a royal pain in the butt to put up with. The way i see it is MMO's cost a ton to make and companies are not taking risks cause they don't wanna end up with a flop on their hands. All the MMO industry needs in my opinion is some new ideas it's at a crossing point where it needs to adapt.

     

    At this stage as a gamer you couldn't pay me to play a wow inspired theme park game, but i still remember during vanilla WoW being impressed how much better the game was being run than most of the MMO's  i had played to that point. There is only so long you can do the same thing over and over again where ANYTHING new seems fresh.

  • BMBenderBMBender Nowhere, NCPosts: 566Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by SnarlingWolf

    I will start by saying some gamers have solid balanced ideas that could actually be implemented.

     

    That being said, most don't. I'll use Asheron's Call as an example. They were going to do a major change to the weapon skills (the short jist of it was take all of their melee skills which were broken up by weapon type as sword, axe, dagger, mace etc. and make 2 new skills: Heavy and Finesse weapons). They brought this to the player base months before it was implemented to open up the discussion and get feedback to adjustments. A group of the player base became adamant that they needed three skills: Heavy, Finesse, and Light. The Asheron's Call devs put up that they didn't think this was wise and that it wouldn't be a skill that was used much and would essentially just bloat the game that they were trying to remove bloat and balance issue from. The players insisted and they added the third skill.

     

    The patch came around and quickly players avoided light weapons. Almost no one uses that skill, but now there is more loot that gets in the way of finding what you want (because light weapons drop) there are more quest weapons that aren't liked (because they are light weapons) and there is another whole skill that gets in the way that people don't take.

     

    So why did this happen when players think they know what is the best design so often? They were blinded by how they currently play and not by how they would play with these changes. Because of this they felt light weapons filled a role that it didn't (and which wouldn't really be there after the changes) so they demanded it. Even with developers directly trying to point this out they were sure that they were right and now there is a permanent skill in the game that everyone dislikes and avoids because it always makes more sense to use Heavy or Finesse instead of light.

     

    So there is an issue with opening up your plans early as players will all think they have the best change/solution that should be added. Listen to them and you could end up with stuff people don't like, don't listen to them and people could complain you never listen. It is a no win situation.

     

    I actually think MMOs should remain fully silent until they are hitting beta. No hype, no misinformation, no false expectations, none of it. Just "hey here is our game try it out for what it is".

     

    I've seen far fewer rage/panic posts with Asheron's Call's new approach which is to essentially not hint/hype anything about upcoming big patches until the patch notes come out (traditionally the Thursday/Friday before patch). Because instead of players twisting and distorting what COULD happen, they instead jump right in to see what DID happen and it is never as bad, and often far better, than their mind would have made it out to be.

    excellent example, one reason why test servers and an ACTIVE incentive program to get people to use it can be so valuable.  And while a lot of a mmo's have test servers, they rarely incentivize and hardly ever focus test

     

    most test servers end up being nothing more the "build/skill testers" for the min/maxers

    EDIT

    I give Cryptic/PWE a lot of crap for basic design but in this area they do ok or at least better than the average.  At least in the area of getting people on the test server.

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