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Many titles compete for the throne of the most populated/profitable mmorpg at this time, and some are doing better than the others.
GW2, Wildstar, FF, ESO, Tera and many others are pushing the limits.
All of those are fun on its own way, but its notable that there is no generalised mmo, players have their own preferences and therefore choose what they can connect to, becouse mostly, they must choose, since one mmo complements other one in almost all cases.
I myself was searching for sheer balance.Ever felt oppressed by higher lvl or p2w players in pvp, and no matter your skill ,you couldnt make an impact?
Yes i enjoy pve and raiding, but thats not all i want to do in one game, would be dull for me to not try pvp or exploring and many other aspects which one game can potentially offer like housing, secrets, underwater or floating cities, puzzes, climbing, gliding, flying, building, crafting, racing, area&world events, and maybe a hundred more options that are viable virtually.
Give players an option and they will use the hell out of it untill they get bored and want more options, give them freedom and you get limitless replay value.
For me it is not hard to imagine the thrill of being connected with other players in mmorpg's outside of raiding.I once cought myself enjoying the time on a ship while moving expensive trade goods and chatting with friends about strategy and we will do next, while i had area of effect invisibility spell cloaking entire guild so it seemed like the ship was empty on the outside. We than ,each of us earned gold and accomplishment of sneaking past great amount of enemies and afterwards when the goods were safe went back to deal with those enemies in pvp. When we secured the area, we got back to our mainland, crafting ,farming ,housing ,building, and enjoying the beautifull sceenery, or simply doing numerous dailies.
Meanwhile other people were doing dungeons and raids on our continent, and that wasnt even enough for them, they went to the enemy continent to do their dungeons as well, solely becouse it was possible and fun.(it was infamous Archeage, and i quit becouse the publisher got too greedy and forced cash shop p2w pvp gear model.)
Thats Sandbox for you, never underrate sandbox. Its a concept above themepark and opens possibilities you yourself never knew existed.
On the end of the day, its hard to balance out sence of accomplishment and balance for every player type, since if one player gets much stronger than the other, balance is lost, but if you make it equalised, accomplishment is lost.
This in my view can only be archieved with much effort and overthinking becouse it involves many factors.
If you want to sell a universal vehicle to entire online gaming community, better make it one hell of a customisable piece, since people are entirely different in their desires, and if you fail to predict it, you fail as a creator.
And whatever you create, it must not be a lie.
Artificially extending gameplay value by making enchantment or crafting near-impossible, to create a sink for time and funds, is one of the ways how one can fail(Tera) , and there are many dozens.
I have seen titans rise and fall, played them at peak, quit on crumble, and i am yet to see one game ,which in its genre, sci-fi, fantasy, or other, would fully unleash the potential of virtual fun and a way of life that could last and evolve for at least a decade.
Thank you for reading