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A Split in the Genre?

This post is an exploration, of sorts, in that I offer no opinion, but rather asks questions of the community and to the nether (ether) in general.  As such I am not saying things that can be defined as either right or wrong, but merely pose, questions and statements to give rise (hopefully) to a positive discussion, why?  Well I suppose I enjoy the hobby of online gaming and wondered which direction it was going.  Why the caveat?  Lol, this may be my first ever post on these forums, but I have read them for years, and they can be a daunting place.

So, a split in the genre?  What do I mean?

Sandbox vs. Theme Park vs. Theme Box (or Sand Park) – No, I do not mean this

“High” Fantasy vs. Sci-fi vs. Contemporary – No, I do not mean this either

Free to Play vs. Subscription vs. “Freemium” – Nor this

No, when I think about a split in the genre, I am not thinking of the mechanics of a game but the purpose of the game; motivation.

Now I am not an EQ1 or UO vet or anything like that, so I apologise if some of what I say, may be a bit “well that’s how it used to be, we moved on” but I will talk about my motivation for playing MMOs.  I loved to play fantasy games, from a young age, read books set in medieval style settings, with tales of high adventure, or political intrigue.  Enjoying all the early incarnations of the old typing adventures we had on the Commodore Amiga, for once, I (ME), could go “adventuring”, just like the characters in a book, solving riddles, exposing sinister plots and “tidying-up” a “world gone mad!”tm.

However as online gaming progressed, these role-playing games, dried up, or changed, no longer were they about character development, no, no longer were they about solving those riddles (let’s just Google  (other search engines are available) the answer)).  What they were about was “Stuff”tm.  The more “Stuff” we accumulated, the more we demonstrated that we had developed our character…….  But no, that isn’t true is it?  Let’s look at a real world example to add context;

I am a top flight footballer (soccer), I play in the English Premier League, and I play in all the big matches.  As a top football player, I earn lots of money and buy lots of “Stuff”, I even have a camouflaged Bentley Continental.  My character is developed.

                                                                                          Vs.

I am a top flight raider, I am in the top raiding guild, and I take part in all the big raids.  As a top raider, I earn lots of shinies (Stufftm by a different name), I even have a camouflaged horse with wings.  My character is developed.

I call this type of player (and its not only raiders, there are lots of different sorts of players concerned with getting Stufftm ), demonstrators.  As demonstrators; they can demonstrate through pixels what they have achieved in-game.  Fine, this is all well and good, no issue, no problem, we all play games where we want to “win”, a trophy, a card from a deck, the pot in the middle of the poker table, etc. etc.

So this type of player, lends itself to the modern incarnation of the MMOs, that’s great, there must be lots of this type of player, therefore, the market is absorbing them, through the churning out of “collect stufftm games”.

But what happened to the character development games, or players, now before you say they don’t exist, or they are minimal in number, I would hesitate to believe that.  Let’s take Sim City, Sim City is a character development game, it’s just that your character is a city and not an individual, you can’t really win Simcity (well you can, but after that, most people sit and tinker and adjust, and play with their “character”, ad-infinitum), yet millions of people play it, so it can’t be unpopular, remember we are not talking about the mechanics or style of a game, I am talking about “motivation” to play a game, so yes apples (simcity) oranges (mmo), but same principle – taking a blank canvas and creating something in YOUR mind’s eye..

SO, is the question for future developers the following?

“Are we making a “collect stufftm game” or are we creating a character development game, a world to live in not just feast in…. (if that makes sense).

And if that question is now the question, does it mean we have a split in genre?  From the 8 button skills of the action “collect” game to the 50 ability “role-playing” game.  Would not acknowledging clearly and plainly that the genre is diverging into subsets, and catering for those subsets, rather than trying to be the panacea MMO bring about games that people WANT to play?  Would it not reduce development costs for the makers of such games to say, instead of trying to cater to everyone I have read on the MMO forums, I am going to take that 40% of the market and target my game at them?

I know, I know, a boring post (I wrote it, I should know), but it’s a post to find out the appetite of RPGs, hey maybe I am developing one myself….. and to postulate that maybe, just maybe, it’s not about “Casuals”, “Raiders”, “Roleplayers”, “FTP”, “PTP”, “PTW” and all the other things we debate ad-nauseum but, its deeper than that.  To build anything, we need solid foundations, and foundations are built on the purpose or “motivation” to do something.

Comments

  • LivnthedreamLivnthedream Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 555Member
    The issue is not kinds of players but how to monetize those players. You look at the Sims example you used, it did a heck of a lot better as a stand alone game than it did as a "mmo". You can see similar issues with Second Life. "Collect stuff" is a lot easier to sell to the player base.
  • xeniarxeniar Posts: 805Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Livnthedream
    The issue is not kinds of players but how to monetize those players. You look at the Sims example you used, it did a heck of a lot better as a stand alone game than it did as a "mmo". You can see similar issues with Second Life. "Collect stuff" is a lot easier to sell to the player base.

    well yeah its all about money in the end. but what really boggles my mind is why developers still make "collect stuff" games. You say thats easier to sell to the playerbase. Well your right but, it also makes content really trivial so they need to keep people bussy by very quickly churning out new content.

    While they could rather make that sim city type of game wich can keep you bussy for an infinite amount of time.

  • LivnthedreamLivnthedream Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 555Member
    Originally posted by xeniar

    well yeah its all about money in the end. but what really boggles my mind is why developers still make "collect stuff" games. You say thats easier to sell to the playerbase. Well your right but, it also makes content really trivial so they need to keep people bussy by very quickly churning out new content.

    While they could rather make that sim city type of game wich can keep you bussy for an infinite amount of time.

    Look at all of the issues with Sim City 5 though. Even with the limited budget the game had there were clear corners cut in production and even now there is a shadow of the 2m boxes it sold. Its hard to keep players coming back with grind based gameplay in that sort of environment and its near impossible to microtransaction without the pull you get from the ownership that comes from a character.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRCrMWvQsoM

     

  • generaladvocategeneraladvocate ExeterPosts: 2Member

    Thanks for the input so far guys, much appreciated.

    i guess the kind of game I am thinking of was Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1st and 2nd editions), unlike D&D or AD&D this game had you as an average Joe (or Joanna), a rat catcher, an agitator, etc. etc .  These were classed as careers rather than classes, although the careers would form archetypes of the fantasy stable classes.

    Each career developed a stat by a percentage upon experience point expenditure, rather than a base number, so for example 10% rather than 10 actual points.  Skills were common to all, even a warrior archetype (mercenary, soldier, sergeant, knight etc. ) could change his/her career and become something else, footpad, bandit etc, thus having the opportunity to move in the shadows like a thief).

    this didn't create a hundred warrior/thief/mages each with cherry picked skills and abilities, no his created variation, unique characters, developed by the chance role of a dice and the path that you chose.  Although the less said about the naked dwarf problem, the better......

     

    While not possible in a limited online world, is there not an argument for this style of character development in a genre that has claimed in the past to be MMORPG, surely with MMOs now we just have characters that are predestined to be good at collecting stuff through violence (strength, might etc.) rather than stealth, or intelligence.....

  • LivnthedreamLivnthedream Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 555Member
    Can it be made, yes. Can it be successful, yes. Can it be wildly successful, no. You can see the split going all the back to MUDS, general hack and slash is far more popular than what you are after. Players have made it pretty clear that they prefer gamey worlds to worldy ones. Maybe at some point in the future when the tech reaches levels that the worldy world does not send us directly into the uncanny valley this will change, but thats not today.
  • falconhandfalconhand ZuidbroekPosts: 47Member Uncommon

    Nice writing generaladvocat.

    When reading it I start to think about the mmo fallen earth.

    Also lots of (like you mentioned so nice) grinding stuff in it.

    But the crafting part of it. Trying to gather the mats to make that car. Waiting days for the progress.

    Very nice setting. I stopped playing it because I just could not get use to see my char walking around. So bad animated.

    But the crafting part, I never had the same feeling again in other mmo's. And yes thats including the engineer in wow ;)

    And as you mentioned it, ofcourse you could not use it but the flesh is weak), google did "destroy" time consuming solutions finding quests. But in the end whats the difference with asking guildies (or global) for help or trying to find it with google?

    Human interaction? Maybe.

  • iridescenceiridescence Elliot Lake, ONPosts: 1,486Member
    Originally posted by Livnthedream
    Can it be made, yes. Can it be successful, yes. Can it be wildly successful, no. You can see the split going all the back to MUDS, general hack and slash is far more popular than what you are after. Players have made it pretty clear that they prefer gamey worlds to worldy ones. Maybe at some point in the future when the tech reaches levels that the worldy world does not send us directly into the uncanny valley this will change, but thats not today.

    There is a niche for what the OP wants (and what I'd like too). I don't see why MMOs have to limit themselves to whatever the most popular thing is. If all of them do the same thing they're not all going to make a ton of money doing it (see WoW clones). It's like saying "Why bother to make jazz music when rock music is more popular?" But if you make jazz, you'll have a lot less competition and there is still a substantial number of people who like jazz so if you're good enough you can still make a lot of money doing it.

     

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member

    It is already happening.

    MOBA, and instanced PvP games like WoT is for the motivation of "becoming better than the next guy and kill him".

    online ARPGs is for the motivation of "kill stuff, and collect loot, and progress my character".

    Tales in the Dessert is for the motivation of "build a lot of stuff".

     

    The idea that a single MMO has to encompass all these is getting old.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,636Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by xeniar

    well yeah its all about money in the end. but what really boggles my mind is why developers still make "collect stuff" games. You say thats easier to sell to the playerbase. Well your right but, it also makes content really trivial so they need to keep people bussy by very quickly churning out new content.

    While they could rather make that sim city type of game wich can keep you bussy for an infinite amount of time.

    Why not make both, as both collection games and sim games are popular. The collection games, moreso. 

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,636Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by nariusseldon

    It is already happening.

    MOBA, and instanced PvP games like WoT is for the motivation of "becoming better than the next guy and kill him".

    online ARPGs is for the motivation of "kill stuff, and collect loot, and progress my character".

    Tales in the Dessert is for the motivation of "build a lot of stuff".

     

    The idea that a single MMO has to encompass all these is getting old.

    I think everyone has figured that out outside of MMORPG.com. 

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • LivnthedreamLivnthedream Salt Lake City, UTPosts: 555Member
    Originally posted by iridescence

    There is a niche for what the OP wants (and what I'd like too). I don't see why MMOs have to limit themselves to whatever the most popular thing is. If all of them do the same thing they're not all going to make a ton of money doing it (see WoW clones). It's like saying "Why bother to make jazz music when rock music is more popular?" But if you make jazz, you'll have a lot less competition and there is still a substantial number of people who like jazz so if you're good enough you can still make a lot of money doing it.

     

    Simply put, its money. None of the big publishers will touch such a game, its too little for too little return. And such projects are too expensive for any of the medium size studios. You may be able to go Kickstarter+venture capital, but even that is going to have trouble pushing more than 20-30m and that just does not go very far. Even if you nail mechanics you do not have enough to hit any kind of decent graphics and without flash you are left as yet another indy mmo.

  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member
    Although I can see the OP's point, I tend focus on a slightly different fault line: is the game about the player or about the character?

    In a game about the player, it's the player's mind and body which are being tested in the game and the character is a means to do this.

    In a game about the character, it's the character's mind and body which are being tested in the game and the player is largely an observer to the character's actions and accomplishments.

    That said, the existance of different player motivations has been catagorized since the easy days of MUDs, yet interestingly, there has never really been a split in the genre with different MMOs specializing in on different motivations.  This suggests to me that there is actually some value in having a variety of personalities in the community.

     

  • VengerVenger York, PAPosts: 1,318Member

    I don't have the time to go into great detail but I wanted to toss out my 2 cents.

    IMHO the gathering of stuff isn't the cause of the issue but an effect of a much greater character growth and the point of playing issue.  

    We wouldn't need to gather so much stuff if getting my character to max level meant something.  But on the flip side of that coin when getting my character to max level meant something it was a mind numbing grind between levels.  

    Maybe if character growth would be more then just one all powerful level the grind could be more easily masked.  Plus give me more of a purpose to killing X mob then because it gives me Y xp.

  • iridescenceiridescence Elliot Lake, ONPosts: 1,486Member
    Originally posted by Livnthedream
     

    Simply put, its money. None of the big publishers will touch such a game, its too little for too little return. And such projects are too expensive for any of the medium size studios. You may be able to go Kickstarter+venture capital, but even that is going to have trouble pushing more than 20-30m and that just does not go very far. Even if you nail mechanics you do not have enough to hit any kind of decent graphics and without flash you are left as yet another indy mmo.

    The problem being that none of the games I can think of that blatantly copied WoW have made much money. Most of them have  gone F2P (MMO version of life support). I tack it up to lack of creativity (Easier to copy a formula than make your own thing: You see it in music, books  and movies as well.) Some of the new MMOs coming out give me hope though as they have a few creative ideas attached to them.

     

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member
    Originally posted by Loktofeit
    Originally posted by nariusseldon

    It is already happening.

    MOBA, and instanced PvP games like WoT is for the motivation of "becoming better than the next guy and kill him".

    online ARPGs is for the motivation of "kill stuff, and collect loot, and progress my character".

    Tales in the Dessert is for the motivation of "build a lot of stuff".

     

    The idea that a single MMO has to encompass all these is getting old.

    I think everyone has figured that out outside of MMORPG.com. 

    Funny that they are ignoring something that is so obvious.

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