Getting RPG players to act like MMO players

On vacation right now, so blogging activity might take a little dip for the next week or so. I’ve got a laptop so I should be able to post a bit, but we’ll see.

Azuriel over at Player Vs Auction House makes a very interesting point: even if someone loves sRPGs, but plays anywhere close to the amount MMO players play, they very quickly “run out of content” even if they pick up all the sRPG offering for a given year. Many of them then turn to MMOs.

IMO devs should not be trying to recreate the single player experience with stuff like solo instances and phasing, but instead trying to ease RPG fans into what really makes an MMO great, the massive multiplayer aspect. Soloing should be an option, because even die-hard MMO players sometimes want to just do something quick, but the really good stuff should be multiplayer, be it group content or just a random gathering of players doing something.  I have some thoughts on all that, but figured I’d throw the idea out here first with a quick post.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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14 Responses to Getting RPG players to act like MMO players

  1. AngryGamer says:

    Good luck. Most of the MMO community has fought this since 2004 and there are more solo cry babies out there than anything. Mention the word grouping and they freak out. It will never be like the good old days again

  2. spinks says:

    How well do you think the various implementations of public quests work for this? I like the public rift raids but they don#’t really require too much coordination from individual players.

  3. Dril says:

    You’re absolutely right.

    The only problem is, there are people to whom an MMO should merely be COD in a fantasy setting with less twitch gameplay. And there are a lot of those people.

    It’s they that need convincing, otherwise devs will pander to them.

    Also, as a side: I find it sad that people in WoW complain about not enough solo content. 90% of WoW’s absolute content is entirely dedicated to a solo, casual playstyle: levelling.

    That seems wrong to me.

  4. bhagpuss says:

    This is, in fact, the exact reason why I bought Everquest in 1999. Mrs Bhagpuss and I had played through literally all the offline RPGs we could find by then, and all the point-and-click adventures like “Broken Sword”.

    Amazon hadn’t got going over here yet and iinternet shopping was in its infancy.We’d literally run out of stuff that was in the games store to buy. But they had a couple of things that looked really intriguing, Everquest and Ultima Online, so I did some research on them, read some accounts of how you could spend three hours chopping wood in Ultima and then have it all stolen from you before you could get back to town, found out that couldn’t happen in Everquest, and next thing you know I was being killed by bats outside Freeport with Mrs Bhagpuss laughing herself silly watching over my shoulder.

    In almost a dozen years since then I think I’ve bought two offline RPGs. There’s simply no meaningful point of comparison, in my opinion, between the satisfaction of playing in a persistent world with other people EVEN IF you never interact directly with them. There’s just something entirely different about playing in a shared gamespace, even if you play entirely solo.

  5. Shadow says:

    I honestly don’t think MMOs (or more specifically, virtual worlds) are the right destination for sRPG players. Surely there is conceptual overlap between the two genres, but the goal and force behind each are not just different, but completely at odds with one another. I’ve always thought of the adoption of sRPG elements in part to blame for the dilution of the things I love about virtual worlds. I’d like to see sRPG devs instead work within their games to retain its fans, and prevent the bleed of inhibiting play types.

  6. theJexster says:

    Story ends, Community Doesn’t, it’s that simple.

    Even if you put all of your funding into Story, it will eventually have an end (and MMOers blaze through content like no other), producing new content will be slow because producing new quality content takes a long time, and in the mean time players will move on.

    If you put all of your funding into creative community tools, your looking at a never ending supply of content that you don’t have to spend money on.

    Why don’t companies do this cheeper non ending version? Oh, because 8 years ago 1 game that didn’t do that made money, and every game since that copied it failed, makes perfect sense.

  7. Azuriel says:

    I would be interested in your “solution” to this considering how anathema the entire massively multiplayer element is to someone who enjoys solo RPGs. For example, I feel burned out in WoW raiding because A) I cannot play when I want, B) I have to schedule my game time around other people when I do want to raid, C) social mores ties chains of obligation around me such that I feel compelled to raid even when I do not want to, and D) the “difficulty” of the vast majority of encounters comes down to other people not screwing up. Can you imagine a typical sRPG where NPC teammates you don’t control in any way are the sole determining factor in a Game Over?

    You can be the best player in the world, and would wipe on nerfed Magmaw for all of Cataclysm based on the people you raided with. Obviously the idea is to find people of similar skills to raid with, but is the payout actually worth the equivalent effort of job hunting, complete with resumes (applications) and interviews? No matter how good of a raid team you run with, you are either personally being challenged or you are not. If challenged, 9/24 other people are groaning every time your screw-up wipes the raid. If not challenged, you are bored and groaning each wipe that was not your fault.

    The funny thing is I see how sRPG players segue rather seamlessly (for a while anyway) into the MMO landscape. Thrall wants you to kill 10 rats, and so do the wizards in Baldur’s Gate. Fetch quests, kill quests, vehicle quests, traveling an overworld, and so on, are all commonalities that honestly blur the lines between genres. Until you hit the end, and suddenly it is group-time. Except… daily quests! The party never ends! …until you get burned out, realizing that the quests there were boring and game-time padding in sRPGs are something you voluntarily do for no reason in MMOs. Well, not for no reason. The reason you do them is for the Show & Tell aspects, which is something that could honestly sustain hundreds of hours of additional “gameplay” in sRPGs. I have wanted to show off my army of Ninja/Time Mages in Final Fantasy Tactics forever.

    • Kring says:

      Love this comment.

      And I think when people request “solo content” they probably request “content that doesn’t require scheduling groups in advance or out of game and not getting you wiped by others”. It’s just that, in WoW, solo content is the only content that meets those criteria.

  8. Torcano says:

    Show and tell is somehow less interesting to me personally when every single player is showing and telling the exact same things, and its a known fact that NOBODY cares what you are showing and telling.

    Wow I got these leet epics and achievements…that literally millions of other players have.

    I can’t Make myself believe that Other mmo players care about my showing, let alone care if they do or not. Which is why I don’t play wow and similar games. I guess millions of people are better at self deception or are morons.

    Looking forward to tor personally for the story continuation from kotor….wish it was kotor 3 but oh well. And it looks like by September I will have decent gaming time for the first time in almost a year. Not that i will fill it with any of the weak mmo offerings available….going to make a comeback in LoL and finally get into SC2 multiplayer.

    • Anonymous says:

      Show and tell works exactly like it does in the real world (where there are also millions of “players’). I’m not going to ooh and aah at that epic gear that is obtainable by anyone willing to pug heroics or battlegrounds for a weekend.

      But I’ll be suitably impressed and might send you a tell with “grats on x” or “cool mount” or whatever, if I happen to know that it probably took you 3 months to a year of dedication to achieve whatever it is you achieved. There aren’t millions who have completed the What-A-Long-Strange-Trip-Its-Been or Loremaster achievements, so those are still show-and-tell worthy in my book.

      And I do appreciate seeing the occasional “Insane” title in Wow.

      • Coeur-de-fer says:

        <- Raving lunatic. Commission to the asylum makes for an appropriate, in-character explanation for terminating one's account.

  9. Straw Fellow says:

    I think the major issue is that leveling style games, like WoW and LOTRO, work the best when the leveling is mostly solo. As some posters mentioned, it is a great way to ease normal RPG players (and those familiar with this style of MMO) into the game without making them feel totally out of the loop. Part of the longevity of an MMO is making the players feel “at home”, and the quickest way to do it is by not messing with a formula they know.

    That being said, you are right. In some ways even group activities are becoming scheduled “single-player” content, if only because you’re only raiding or dungeoning to get loot for your own benefit and not actually creating anything substantial within the game.

  10. SM says:

    Answer: player-initiated content. Make the world evolve over time with player-driven actions, whether they be combat, crafting, or trade. Need a town? Build one. Need resources? Pillage them. Need friends? Offer to help out. Anything could be soloed but as usual, cooperation works better but keep in mind another group of people might be working against you somewhere so best to prepare for it. You don’t need levels or purple gear or scripted boss fights. Sheesh.

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