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Are MMO's overdesigned; nothing left to chance?

Hawkaya399Hawkaya399 Member UncommonPosts: 443
edited August 29 in The Pub at MMORPG.COM
The inspiration for my thread is here:

SWTOR’s $300 Million Virtual Bridge to Nowhere


To sum up the linked article from wolfshead, I provide this quote:
No longer are MMOs are created with the expectation that anything can happen. Those days are long past. If players were left to forge their own destinies it would result in chaos and conflict which would be unacceptable to the story obsessed new breed of video game designer who insists that every aspect of what a player does should be tightly controlled and scripted. You see, you as a player can’t be trusted.
Instead MMOs have become virtual sausage factories where the spectator-like player sits back and enjoys the ride. Game design has been reduced to process of crafting every moment of the player experience — nothing is left to chance — a philosophy that would make amusement park tycoon Walt Disney proud.

It's not coincidence I come here and make a thread after visiting that link. This has long been a theme in my endeavours. So lets get that out of the way, and I won't pretend to suddenly come upon this.

Unlike Wolfshead, I think I actually DID something about it. In 2012, I stopped playing Project 1999 and took the plunge in Wurm Online. I LOVED it. Admittedly,  I play(ed) on the FFA PvP servers, eventually settling on Chaos. Still, the base game is very sandbox-oriented. Long story short, it's the opposite of tightly controlled and scripted. In fact, I was deposited into the world with only my backpack and a couple tools. I wasn't told where to go! And that was true on the PvE-servers too. Most of what I saw around me were player-made things, and sparse playermade signs informing me where things were! There was no ingame map! The list goes on. I had to rely on other players, and my own intuition.

I think there's always been a divide between story-driven players and action-driven players. Action-driven players tend to create the story as they go along, dependent on what they do. The story isn't particularly breathtaking, since it's composed of mostly menial labor and random circumstances, but these players tend to give it more meaning than it deserves. Story-driven players want a story delivered to them with all the bells and whistles of great storytelling. They revel in exploring the characters and playing through the different--re: branching--points of view. One seems oriented to making stories, and the other in living from moment to moment.

It's hard to please both in the same game, or MMO. I think story-driven players are by far the most common, resulting in the surge of themepark MMORPGs over the years. So it seems then most players drawn to RPGs are story-driven in their nature, or this is at least true for MMORPGs. If you examine a story, what you'll see is it's not particular interactive in nature. When you read a book, you read it from the first page to the last, it runs like a movie, and then ti's over. You don't interact, you don't act on it. THIS is why themepark MMO's dominate. They're precisely constructed. Every moment is controlled to deliver the powerful narrative and iconic symbolism. Sandboxes, contrastingly, are chaotic s***storms, more ackin to a roller coaster running off the tracks and collapsing into ruins. Thus, the two aren't very compatible with each other, and so tend to be separated into different games, or MMO's.

So I don't think they're overdesigned. They're just being made for the largest pool of players, to maximize profits. Early on in the MMORPG industry, it wasn't well understood yet this was what MMORPGs should be. They didn't know yet this is what players would most desire. I do think they try to appeal to the action-driven players in the SAME MMORPGs, or games, but that has met limited success.

Post edited by Hawkaya399 on
GdemamiDeddmeatRhoklaw

Comments

  • centkincentkin Member RarePosts: 1,461
    Yep -- everything is overbalanced and micromanaged.  This was what killed Rift for me.  I was having fun but every time I found a combination that worked and was fun, they nerfed it.  Then I got to the end game and it was one loot path that they could control -- to get the fake stat that you needed to advance I had to demolish my character's abilities.
    NorseGodAmarantharHawkaya399
  • AmatheAmathe Member LegendaryPosts: 5,719
    Many players don't want to fret over what to do next. They want it to be apparent what they should do next. So we end up with paint by numbers content.

    And the second that content is exhausted, they don't make their own fun. They quit or come to the boards and say "there's nothing to DO."   
    AlBQuirkyAmarantharvegetableoilHawkaya399

    EQ1, EQ2, SWG, SWTOR, GW, GW2 CoH, CoV, FFXI, WoW, CO, War,TSW and a slew of free trials and beta tests

  • Vermillion_RaventhalVermillion_Raventhal Member EpicPosts: 3,933
    I would say player story has died.  I played MMORPG and couldn't understand why with better graphics, playability, story and etc.  the experience was empty and an inconvenient single player game.


      


    AmarantharHawkaya399
  • Hawkaya399Hawkaya399 Member UncommonPosts: 443
    edited August 29
    I would say player story has died.  I played MMORPG and couldn't understand why with better graphics, playability, story and etc.  the experience was empty and an inconvenient single player game.
    One thing about MMO's is htey have less world reactivity. This can be a problem in MMORPGs with strong stories, since they're a shared space--with players existing at different stages of the story, and having different needs. So it might feel like the story, or the branching story, is failing to have an affect on the world. This is one area where themepark MMORPGs can gain a lot from sandbox MMORPGS, since world reactivity is usually one of their strengths. Being able to shape the sand in the sandbox, and other player seeing and experiencing it, is a hallmark of many of them. Player housing and PvP are examples, if they're inworld--not instanced. This is beside the point sandboxes are about acting independently, not merely about playing with sand. Themeparks would probably benefit from sand if it's a community effort, or community-shared story.

    In my OP I'm making a connection between the precise construction of a story, or branching story, to the precise, if overdesigned, workings of increasingly quest-driven MMORPGs. I don't know if it's a convincing connection because it's possible quest-driven MMORPGs are giving players more direction, and story was never the exact reason. So, in other terms, players want themeparks not because they're stories of staggering dimensions, but because they don't have to act independently. So stories were just tacked on, maybe because they're compatible with hte whole business of precisely tuning things to direct the game.

    However this doesn't mean if you like story-driven games you'll also like themepark railroad gameplay. As a matter of fact, the original Fallout can be termed a quest-driven sandbox, with strong links to Planescape Torment, both having strong story, open worlds, and deep branching in the questlines. Conversely, if you like action-driven games, this doesn't mean you'll like quest-driven sandboxes. I think I can use myself as an example--I did not like Fallout or Planescape Torment, despite a large open world and deep branching storyline. It felt restrictive. There was too much reading and questing. To be honest, I have more fun killing orcs and building a house in a PvP survival game, than I do absorbing myself in something like Planescape Torment. It was at that moment when I quit PST when I realized there was a division. Have I figured out yet exactly what it's? Not quite, but I don't think it's a mistake over the many years I've been playing games the kidn of games I usually don't like are strongly story-driven.
    Post edited by Hawkaya399 on
  • AmarantharAmaranthar Member RarePosts: 3,414
    Yes, in the context that you mean it, OP.

    I'm not sure "overdesigned" is quite the right word for it, maybe over-controlled. 

    There is nothing more fun to me than doing things your own way. In everything from your looks, to your skill sets, to developing your own tactics vs. a variety of situations/encounters, to what your home is made out of and looks like, to your guild's purpose, your choices in anything and everything. 

    While it's true that most gamers want it made to paint-by-numbers, there are a huge number of gamers. And there are plenty out there for an MMORPG with freedom and choices to be wildly successful in an industry that's lacking in this world type. 
    NorseGodAlBQuirkyVermillion_Raventhal

    Once upon a time....

  • vegetableoilvegetableoil Member UncommonPosts: 389
    Amathe said:
    Many players don't want to fret over what to do next. They want it to be apparent what they should do next. So we end up with paint by numbers content.

    And the second that content is exhausted, they don't make their own fun. They quit or come to the boards and say "there's nothing to DO."   
    Absolutely right. when the story ends is where the problem start. Many of the mmo's do not have end game content. For example I played startrek online, they rely heavily on story and didn't pay attention to anything else. Many of the player said you can grind raid, and repeat the quest, that is just dumb, it's boring to do repetitive thing only to get better equipment to repeat the same thing. Swtor also falls in the same category, the story is amazing, but when it ends you have to wait for the next content. at earlier version of swtor you have open faction pvp and you can even kill quest giver from opposite faction, but they remove that entirely. The sad thing is the open pvp was actually the fun part. creating new story takes time and money, and they cannot do it fast enough that people who moved to other games didn't even look back. At launch people finished the entire content of swtor in just 1-2 months and left with nothing to do but grind equipment.
  • Halayen19Halayen19 Newbie Posts: 0
    No longer are MMOs are created with the expectation that anything can happen. Those days are long past TellDunkin.
  • DeddmeatDeddmeat Member UncommonPosts: 385
    Best time i had in an mmo was UO and that was when your choice was Meridion59 or UO .. before EQ 

    Game was PvP unless you were in town, set foot out of town and you were instantly a free target again.  Kept people on their toes, they chatted to each other more, offering advice on where players were that would kill you .. they'd even be sort of 'hunting parties' where they would hunt down the Reds and slaughter them ... which was all good cos after all, you were a blue so you hadn't done wrong lol

    After that it was SWG

    Then AO

    after that .. sort of just got on with whatever i could
    NorseGod

    image

  • Vermillion_RaventhalVermillion_Raventhal Member EpicPosts: 3,933
    I would say player story has died.  I played MMORPG and couldn't understand why with better graphics, playability, story and etc.  the experience was empty and an inconvenient single player game.
    One thing about MMO's is htey have less world reactivity. This can be a problem in MMORPGs with strong stories, since they're a shared space--with players existing at different stages of the story, and having different needs. So it might feel like the story, or the branching story, is failing to have an affect on the world. This is one area where themepark MMORPGs can gain a lot from sandbox MMORPGS, since world reactivity is usually one of their strengths. Being able to shape the sand in the sandbox, and other player seeing and experiencing it, is a hallmark of many of them. Player housing and PvP are examples, if they're inworld--not instanced. This is beside the point sandboxes are about acting independently, not merely about playing with sand. Themeparks would probably benefit from sand if it's a community effort, or community-shared story.

    In my OP I'm making a connection between the precise construction of a story, or branching story, to the precise, if overdesigned, workings of increasingly quest-driven MMORPGs. I don't know if it's a convincing connection because it's possible quest-driven MMORPGs are giving players more direction, and story was never the exact reason. So, in other terms, players want themeparks not because they're stories of staggering dimensions, but because they don't have to act independently. So stories were just tacked on, maybe because they're compatible with hte whole business of precisely tuning things to direct the game.

    However this doesn't mean if you like story-driven games you'll also like themepark railroad gameplay. As a matter of fact, the original Fallout can be termed a quest-driven sandbox, with strong links to Planescape Torment, both having strong story, open worlds, and deep branching in the questlines. Conversely, if you like action-driven games, this doesn't mean you'll like quest-driven sandboxes. I think I can use myself as an example--I did not like Fallout or Planescape Torment, despite a large open world and deep branching storyline. It felt restrictive. There was too much reading and questing. To be honest, I have more fun killing orcs and building a house in a PvP survival game, than I do absorbing myself in something like Planescape Torment. It was at that moment when I quit PST when I realized there was a division. Have I figured out yet exactly what it's? Not quite, but I don't think it's a mistake over the many years I've been playing games the kidn of games I usually don't like are strongly story-driven.
    Low level stories/task should all be procedural and it would go a long way to making MMORPG feel fluid.  Do we really need static shared quest to go kill 10 wolves and collect 5 paws?  That quest could be randomly generated by applicable NPC and feel more dynamic.  You could have players actually solve problems without things being instanced or phased.

    The controlled aspect is just a side effect of  vertical progression and themepark only content.  Controlled is not required but it is the path of least resistance.  Allow players to sort out camping or have instances? Allow players to train or have very controlled NPC behaviors? Allow players to learn and possibly quit or hold hands?  Make players look for groups or auto grouping tools?

    The control is just collective refinement in not a very diverse genre.  

    Hawkaya399Gdemami
  • Hawkaya399Hawkaya399 Member UncommonPosts: 443
    edited August 31
    Yes, in the context that you mean it, OP.

    I'm not sure "overdesigned" is quite the right word for it, maybe over-controlled. 

    There is nothing more fun to me than doing things your own way. In everything from your looks, to your skill sets, to developing your own tactics vs. a variety of situations/encounters, to what your home is made out of and looks like, to your guild's purpose, your choices in anything and everything. 

    While it's true that most gamers want it made to paint-by-numbers, there are a huge number of gamers. And there are plenty out there for an MMORPG with freedom and choices to be wildly successful in an industry that's lacking in this world type. 
    I do think they're intentionally overdesigned. I'm not sure I'm right about the story-driven and action-driven thing. Spending too much time on that might be a lost cause. It might be better to return to the original Wolfshead article and debate the topics it brings forward, and how they shed any light on this.

    I have another link that's related. It's about how the "magic" is gone, and it makes connections consistent with the link in my OP. Below:

    The Importance of MMO History And Why Developer Hand-Holding Is Killing It (Penny-Arcade.com)

    Fast forward over 15 years later, every new MMO that launches excites me at first. After a month (and in some cases, just a couple weeks), my excitement has drastically diminished. Mostly that’s due to missing a strong, core social stickiness. Of course, having a brand new AAA MMORPG to play every four or six months only exacerbates that. However, I also believe it’s due to the extensive player hand-holding that’s now become an expected staple of a new launch. If every second of your time in game is guided, how can you expect to find any magic?
    There’s no real discovery anymore. Everything’s in a wiki or cleanly mapped out in a YouTube video. I’m really not sure the MMOs of the past can really exist inside the society we have today and that’s truly a major loss.
    Every MMO player has their story. No matter what game they play, every person who has played MMOs for an appreciable amount of time has a tale of emergent gameplay, those moments when the rules of the game broke down and the personality of its players was laid bare.
    These moments happen in every MMO, not just EVE Online, but they may be dying out and, ironically, it’s because MMOs are getting too “good.”

    What'ya think? It's stating almost exactly the same thing:

    Instead MMOs have become virtual sausage factories where the spectator-like player sits back and enjoys the ride. Game design has been reduced to process of crafting every moment of the player experience — nothing is left to chance — a philosophy that would make amusement park tycoon Walt Disney proud.

    Not an accident, I think. A lot of us feel the same way, so it's no mistake two different writers write essentially the same thing.
    Post edited by Hawkaya399 on
    AlBQuirky
  • TheocritusTheocritus Member EpicPosts: 7,034
    I saw that design in FFXIV...I couldn't delete it fast enough.....I do not like MMOs wehre you just go through the motions following a script...To me that is the worst kind of gameplay there is.
    AlBQuirky
  • Hawkaya399Hawkaya399 Member UncommonPosts: 443
    edited August 31
    I saw that design in FFXIV...I couldn't delete it fast enough.....I do not like MMOs wehre you just go through the motions following a script...To me that is the worst kind of gameplay there is.
    Depends who you ask. A lot of people read books and love it. A lot of people watch movies. A lot of people are fine with video games playing like a story. It offers a more relaxing--re: reliable--experience, and a lot of working adults want something to get away from the stresses of work (and family!). The fact it's overdesigned--or overcontrolled--is why it's so reliable, and exactly what they need.

    HOw many times have you heard someone say "I don't want to come home after work and play a game, and feel like I'm just going back to work." I've heard it a lot over the years, especially regarding forms of gameplay I liked, but they didn't. The only thing I can conclude is they either don't get enjoyment from the same things as me, or maybe some of us can enjoy working--for different reasons?
    Post edited by Hawkaya399 on
  • UtinniUtinni Member RarePosts: 988
    Nothing left to chance? Boy are you gonna be stoked when you come across a loot box.
    AlBQuirky
  • AmarantharAmaranthar Member RarePosts: 3,414
    edited August 31
    Yes, in the context that you mean it, OP.

    I'm not sure "overdesigned" is quite the right word for it, maybe over-controlled. 

    There is nothing more fun to me than doing things your own way. In everything from your looks, to your skill sets, to developing your own tactics vs. a variety of situations/encounters, to what your home is made out of and looks like, to your guild's purpose, your choices in anything and everything. 

    While it's true that most gamers want it made to paint-by-numbers, there are a huge number of gamers. And there are plenty out there for an MMORPG with freedom and choices to be wildly successful in an industry that's lacking in this world type. 
    I do think they're intentionally overdesigned. I'm not sure I'm right about the story-driven and action-driven thing. Spending too much time on that might be a lost cause. It might be better to return to the original Wolfshead article and debate the topics it brings forward, and how they shed any light on this.

    I have another link that's related. It's about how the "magic" is gone, and it makes connections consistent with the link in my OP. Below:

    The Importance of MMO History And Why Developer Hand-Holding Is Killing It (Penny-Arcade.com)

    Fast forward over 15 years later, every new MMO that launches excites me at first. After a month (and in some cases, just a couple weeks), my excitement has drastically diminished. Mostly that’s due to missing a strong, core social stickiness. Of course, having a brand new AAA MMORPG to play every four or six months only exacerbates that. However, I also believe it’s due to the extensive player hand-holding that’s now become an expected staple of a new launch. If every second of your time in game is guided, how can you expect to find any magic?
    There’s no real discovery anymore. Everything’s in a wiki or cleanly mapped out in a YouTube video. I’m really not sure the MMOs of the past can really exist inside the society we have today and that’s truly a major loss.
    Every MMO player has their story. No matter what game they play, every person who has played MMOs for an appreciable amount of time has a tale of emergent gameplay, those moments when the rules of the game broke down and the personality of its players was laid bare.
    These moments happen in every MMO, not just EVE Online, but they may be dying out and, ironically, it’s because MMOs are getting too “good.”

    What'ya think? It's stating almost exactly the same thing:

    Instead MMOs have become virtual sausage factories where the spectator-like player sits back and enjoys the ride. Game design has been reduced to process of crafting every moment of the player experience — nothing is left to chance — a philosophy that would make amusement park tycoon Walt Disney proud.

    Not an accident, I think. A lot of us feel the same way, so it's no mistake two different writers write essentially the same thing.
    It's worth noting that so many gamers are just like that. They've grown tired of the controlled path through these MMORPGs. The magic wore off, because it was based purely on the well defined content that never (or rarely) changes. 

    And this is why I say that there are plenty of gamers out there who are an attractive target for a new style of MMORPG. One where there are all kinds of REAL magical moments or ideas or accomplishments or player choices. (This list can be misinterpreted based on the common definitions in this industry based on current game designs, so take it loosely please.) 

    Edit: this sort of "magic" is old style design. It's not new. UO was the cream of the crop and each successive game lost bit by bit by design, and even some newer games have a small degree of this sort of magic (i.e. not based on things everyone does, quests, raids, etc.). 
    GdemamiAlBQuirky

    Once upon a time....

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