Burnouts Anonymous

Quick break from the PvE Sandbox series to make an observation about Rift, but no worries (you were worried, I could tell), another post in that series is coming soon.

Over a month in and I’m still having a ton of fun with Rift, sitting on the edge of tier 2 expert dungeons and a few (thousand) points away from rank two in PvP. I’m also amused whenever I read something on Massively about the game, or rather, the comments that follow. There is very clearly a large portion of the MMO population that is simply burned out on themeparks, yet at the same time that population only really plays themeparks. From the outside looking in, it’s a pretty comical situation.

From my personal perspective, Rift does enough things different/better than other themeparks to make it feel fresh and enjoyable. Of course, the last themepark I seriously played was over two years ago (WAR, oops), and that was before Darkfall launched. And before WAR I was playing EVE for well over a year, with some LoTRO mixed to play something with Aria. WoW was before that. Prior to WoW I was playing DAoC, AC, and UO. Other titles have come and gone, but really those are the ones that I’ve spent a significant amount of time with. I’d say it’s a pretty solid mix of themeparks and sandbox titles, with both PvE and PvP focuses.

Had I stayed with WoW from 2004 to Rift’s launch, or jumped between WoW/EQ2/LoTRO during that time, perhaps I’d be as upset or worked up about Rift as well. I’m sure some of the things I’m finding interesting in Rift now are somewhat familiar territory to themepark regulars, and the number of truly unique features Rift sports might indeed be short. If you already hate themeparks (but can’t admit it to yourself), that short list won’t be the cure.

If every dungeon or encounter reminds you of something else, I think that might say more about your gaming history than the game itself. Let’s be honest here, that are only so many ways to design “don’t stand in the fire”, and when you go off the beaten path and create something unique, most of your playerbase won’t be able to handle it, with you either Blizzard’ing it (30% buff!), removing it (Rift werewolf curse), or the players will slowly learn to skip it if the reward is not super-shiny. Skipped content is poor content.

Going back to that burned out playerbase, the sad truth is options do exist for them, whether it be EVE, DF, Fallen Earth, or other titles, but what those games offer is not what these players are actually looking for. Oh, they will tell you it is, just with more polish, or more/less PvP, or just a UI like WoW, or countless other excuses, but for most the honest answer is they just want WoW, but they want it to also feel as fresh as it did for them in 2004. It’s an abomination of the rose-tinted glasses theory in a way, only with a game that is still current rather than something that has truly passed (unless you are playing on the EQ1 progressive server anyway).

It’s also an impossible situation from a dev’s perspective. If you give them what they actually want, you make Rift. If you give them what they say they want, you make Darkfall. The burnouts don’t want either title. They want a revolutionary themepark that feels comfortably familiar. Oh, and can it run on a toaster maxed out while looking like top-end GCI and handling 100s of players on-screen? For free. Gotta be free.

I’m sure someone is crafting that right now, and it’s due to be announced “soon”. Until then, your anguish will continue to entertain us all.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Dark Age of Camelot, Darkfall Online, EQ2, EVE Online, Fallen Earth, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO design, Rant, Rift, Ultima Online, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Burnouts Anonymous

  1. Poison says:

    Just wanted to mention it was cool seeing you in Stillmoor yesterday. Sorry about the ganking, we couldn’t resist.

  2. Ob says:

    It’s comical to ME (and a fair number of others, I’d imagine), that you find it so comical that anyone burnt out on Rift (or themeparks in general) wouldn’t want to play Darkfall or Eve. That you find it so illogical makes me chuckle. I mean, a person couldn’t POSSIBLY be primarily interested in themeparks, burn out on them, and not want to play something as bereft of life as Darkfall or something as time-consuming and with as steep the learning curve of Eve. I’m sorry, but there’s just nothing unreasonable about that scenario. It’s nice to know that you’re here with your finger on the pulse of the MMO gaming community though :)

    • SynCaine says:

      Go check out some of those comments and see what those players are asking for. It’s DF/EVE, and has been for a long, long time. That’s nothing new to anyone who has been around for a bit.

      The new part is that usually, they did so while happily grinding rep/tokens/whatever in WoW. That’s partly why every WoW expansion has included one failed ‘world impact’ PvP area; to try and satisfy that perceived demand.

      • Ob says:

        Now I understand. A segment of the MMO population is burnt out on themeparks, but continues to play them. They know about games like EVE/DF, they want to play something like them (but at the same time just want them to be WoW????), but for some mysterious reason that only someone like you that has “been around for a bit” is privy to, they just don’t. Oh wait, they’re WoWbies (that you happen to currently be playing alongside), so it’s not supposed to make any sense. Not at all like someone bashing solo-friendly, 1-2-3 hotbar combat, fun-filled themeparks for over a year and then diving headlong into one. Btw, have you tried a chloromancer yet? Most fun I’ve ever had as a healer.

        • SynCaine says:

          I know the first part was sarcasm, but that’s basically how it is; hence, comical.

          Take Rift events: burnouts call them not dynamic enough, right? They only impact a hub for a few minutes if they are cleared, etc. Yet as soon as you have something truly dynamic (ie: one-off, non-repeatable), the first thing you hear is “I can’t be online, terrible event!”. If the whole rift system was like this, or even close to it, how would the all-important ‘casual’ player base react?

          Oh and I’ve been bashing themeparks since 99 and the coming of the stupid EQ carebears that ruined MMORPGs (yea, MMO’s have been ruined for that long).

          My mage is 18, necro atm. Just finished the quest to get Chloro, but I’m not a great healer (too much tanking, I never watch health bars…)

        • bonedead says:

          Thats the beauty of Chloro. Health bars? What’s that? Just dps mfker!

  3. Ramizeth says:

    We are well over a month and a half now into Rift and my guild as of yesterday had 51 level 50 toons. A couple of people do now have two level 50 toons however we still have over 90% login rate each day.

    We as a guild have yet to get heaviy into the T2s and see the first raid content being a few weeks away.

    Burnout has not happend yet with our gang.

  4. Hatch says:

    Sounds like Keen

  5. joeyjoejoe says:

    best post in months…

  6. Zapod says:

    “Oh, they will tell you it is, just with more polish, or more/less PvP, or just a UI like WoW, or countless other excuses, but for most the honest answer is they just want WoW, but they want it to also feel as fresh as it did for them in 2004.”

    So true. I think people really need to ween themselves off WoW. WoW has become a tired old game with few if any truly radical gameplay ideas remaining. It simply exists as a cash-cow for Blizzards next MMO venture and Kotick’s shareholders.

  7. Angry Gamer says:

    “large portion of the MMO population that is simply burned out on themeparks”

    disagree… like totally disagree

    What you are seeing in comments is the same disenchanted playerbase that has led Wow to ruin.

    First Wrath was too easy, then Cata was not hard enough to keep their epeen for two point releases. Now some of their gank targets and groupies have gone to play somewhere else… and their mad. just plain mad to have the biggest staff and fewer people to kiss their feet of pixel mastery.

    What they really want is to be cyber-lords of their virtual worlds with plenty of micro-serfs to fawn at them and do their bidding.

    They don’t want EVE now that goons have toppled Band of Brother.
    They don’t want Darkfall where they will be the red-mouth-ball equipped gimps getting ganked all the time.

    They got some of what they wanted in Cata and THEY ARE STILL NOT HAPPY. They are only the outliers of anti-socials that clog up any older city, business or game. AND they are really ALWAYS the vocal minority because the late majority does not speak up much except when leaving.

  8. Bhagpuss says:

    Top-notch post. Agree with pretty much everything you said there.

    There’s one thing that I think often can’t be heard above the wailing and gnashing of teeth of the burned-out bloggers and posters: lots of people have been playing MMOS for years and are still loving every minute.

    Unlike you, I have played most of the big post-WoW theme park MMOs, and a ton of the smaller ones too, but far from being burned out on the form, I find it ever more fascinating. Instead of complaining when I find something in Rift that reminds me of something I’ve seen before, I rejoice in it.

    Only yesterday I noticed that the area at the end of Freemarch between Smith’s Haven and the bridge to Droughtlands is very strongly reminiscent of pre-Searing Ascalon in Guild Wars. Rather than feeling in any way short-changed, I was enthralled and ran around taking screenshots before enthusing about it to Mrs Bhagpuss, who it turns out had already noticed the similarities.

    If someone’s still excited by the genre and the hobby, these things add value. If that’s not happening, then probably the person has sucked the hobby dry and should consider moving on to something new.

    Oh, and for my money some of the dynamic events can and should be truly dynamic. Let the hubs be overrun and stay that way until players clear them. Let World Events happen once and once only and if you miss them, tough. I would draw the line at changes to your actual character (like the werewolf curse), for the simple reason that I think that risks transgressing the player’s sense of virtual self, which probably is something best avoided, but changes to the environment are absolutely fair game and to be encouraged.

  9. Saucelah says:

    Did they really remove the werewolf curse quest? That’s shitty.

    • SynCaine says:

      They changed it. Now when you are cursed the NPCs are yellow to you, not red.

      • Remastered says:

        Amen to that change.

        • SynCaine says:

          It’s carebears like you that ruin it for the rest of us. Fitting that you finally embraced your true roll as Yet Another DPS’er just along for the ride.

        • Remastered says:

          The quest was clearly broken when you would get turned into a werewolf in town and get essentially camped by NPCs until the dude in the house would spawn and cure you.

          Being along for the ride is enjoyable this time around. I drive the car, so to speak, with enough other things in my life.

        • SynCaine says:

          “Tanking is too hard for me in my old age”

          We know.

        • Spidubic says:

          That quest freaked me out the first time I changed and got jumped. I’m like WTF! Then I figured it out. Then when I came to do it with my alt and the NPCs were yellow rather than red i was kinda sad. Once I got over my initial WTF that quest was cool. I don’t care for the change.

        • Beerbrain says:

          That quest actually SOLD me on Rift. It was so simple to remove that curse yet NO ONE reads anything the NPCS have to say. I was actually sad when I heard they carebeared it all out. Lost points in my book.

  10. Dril says:

    Did you not consider there are also some of us who are ready to move on from themeparks (or, rather, the bad era they’re going through at the moment. Give me Vanilla WoW back and I’d play it in a heartbeat) but have already at least tried (several times, in some cases) the “sandbox” offerings and found them wanting? Darkfall on paper sounds great. Darkfall in practice is bunny-hopping PvP that I could get by playing Mount & Blade any time I want (without paying a sub fee,) with a crappy stat gind tagged on to make it an MMO. No thanks.

    EVE is just plain dull. Seven times, yes, SEVEN TIMES, I’ve downloaded and played the trial. Every single time I’ve just been put off by the dullness of the combat and the fact that it’s in space.

    FE is actually a fairly good game, but it gets repetitive after a while, and the lack of meaningful building and endgame systems make it a bit pointless, along with the dwindling pop.

    Xsyon, again, has combat problems, and apparently it’s a griefer paradise. Noty.

    When your sandbox PvE MMO (or one with a superb, realisitc player politics system with meaningful battles and a central government) comes out, then, then I’ll play sandboxes. But as it stands, waiting on the next themepark gives me more hope.

  11. Trippin Ninja says:

    Glad to see this post. Just yesterday I was on a blog where all the comments were just shitting all over rift. The funny part was all of them acted like Trion lied to them or something. When I bought rift I knew damn well it would be very similar to the other themeparks but the rifts and more importantly the soul system drew me in.

    Many wanted to blame marketing hype but I blame naive mmo players. Marketing for EVERYTHING is made to make it look like that product is the best thing since sliced bread. Why people keep falling for it I’m not sure. There was plenty of opportunity to try open beta and see for yourself, there’s no reason to feel burned by Trion.

    I wonder if the same people actually think they will pickup more hot girls wearing axe body spray.

  12. Max says:

    EVE is just plain dull. Seven times, yes, SEVEN TIMES, I’ve downloaded and played the trial. Every single time I’ve just been put off by the dullness of the combat and the fact that it’s in space.

    You beat me. I tried it 4 times (counting first time when I was in beta -ironically I played it for almost whole month then!)

    Try Black Prophecy -its free and is a great space sim on its own even without MP part . (MP part is bolted on but its beta )

    If only EvE had combat like Black Prophecy. I honestly dont understand how CCP can spend time doing their console FPS (or whatever it is) but can be bother to improve the most crucial piece of their main title

  13. Nils says:

    Seven times, not bad! I think I am just about to let the sub run out for the 4th time. The problem with Eve is that the process of actually playing it is no fun. But otherwise I just love it. As I have said before. I’d love to love Eve Online.

    Anyway, the weakness is not inherent in a sandbox design. If anything, the fact that Eve has 350k subs despite all it’s limitations, proves the viability of the sandbox design.

    To design a true PvE sandbox might be a good thing to get away from the grieving curse that Darkfall&Co attracted.

  14. Stylx says:

    I actually want an updated Everquest 1.
    – Long leveling time investment (1yr for avg. player with the curve taking 6mo to 2yrs)
    – Severe death penalties (lost exp and deleveling)
    – required grouping
    – truely rare items and rare spawns
    – competative raiding
    – community reinforced reputation management
    – Little PVP / Not factored into balancing classes
    – Eternal progression through AAs post max-level
    – Little to no instancing – instancing restricted to a player’s private story that they can include other players into.
    – Epic quests that takes months to complete, and require other player’s help
    – True quests, instead of mini goals
    – An economy that has more money going out than coming in; You’ll have to choose which items to buy carefully.
    – Huge wide open zones / long travel times. Back in the day, traveling from Qeynos to Kelethin was an all day affair.
    – no gear reset at expansion, keep old content useful for several expansions.
    – not having a million buttons to push at any given time. Stick to 3-5 buttons to be pushed no more than one per 4-5 seconds.

    Added to EQ would be
    – Lots of scripted events (grouping required)
    – A few quests (but not enough to level from!)
    – Authenticators / coin lock from rift.
    – New graphics / zone layout /design
    – In-game mapping system (optional!)
    – More tactical positioning / tactical encounters

    we could probably add a few more things to update the old EQ, but the main thing we’d be reaching for is the kind of community we had, where if a player screwed up a lot they’d be outcast from groups… if a player did anti-social behavior (kill stealing / screwing over a guild / etc) they’d be black listed (and the black listing meant something).

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