I find it really sad how the dominance of World of Warcraft has led so many people to believe that the way WoW does it is the only possible way to make a MMORPG.

I still don’t have an answer for how SWTOR will do. But increasingly I think the playerbase for MMOs won’t ever let another game do a WoW, they just have lost the patience we used to have for long term goals in games. And these are games which, at their outset, relied on people quietly getting on with progressing towards long term goals. – Spinks

The above is a comment from a Tobold post declaring hardcore gamers dinosaurs that the market no longer caters to. I like that through the power of the internet, I’m able to read blogs from different dimensions, because on planet earth, ‘hardcore’ games seem to dominate pretty hard.

For instance, take a look at the top 25 games on Xfire. It goes something like this: hardcore MOBA, shooter, WoW, SW:TOR, shooter, shooter, sandbox MMO, shooter, sandbox game, sandbox RPG, hardcore RTS, gold ammo, hardcore MOBA, shooter, shooter, shooter, hardcore RTS, shooter, shooter, indy TD, sandbox MMO, shooter, PvP MMO, shooter, EVE.

Who knew dinosaurs were so numerous and had so much time to play games?

Or take a look at last year’s best-sellers according to Amazon. Yes, Just Dance 3 is there, as are The Sims titles, but the rest? A pretty hardcore list eh? (Who the hell is buying FF11 in mass quantities?)

And most of us know that every year, in the console world, games like Madden and FIFA dominate the sales charts, along with console shooters like Halo and Gears. Madden is too hardcore for me folks, and I like football.

You know what games we don’t see dominating? Trash casual games. As the owner of Zynga, I can safely tell you that fad is over. People figured out that trash games are trash, and without the ability to scam you out of money, the model does not work. You know what does work? Quality casual games like Angry Birds, which are easy to pick up yet ‘hardcore’ enough to offer the kind of depth and enjoyment one needs to get from a game to tell a buddy about it.

And I’m pretty sure 2012 will only continue this trend. As the gaming scene matures, gamers as a whole get smarter. They get better at picking out the trash, at seeing through the smoke and mirrors of the hype machine. The more educated gamers get, the harder it will be to trick them into playing Farmville or knockoff clones. The age of some mom going into Walmart to pick up a random bargain bin title for little Billy based on the box art is over. We live in the age of Steam recommendations, of buddy bundles, and of every game for sale having dozens or hundreds of reviews right next to it (Amazon stars, Steam showing Metacritic, etc).

This brings me around, finally, to the initial quote from Spinks, who seems to suggest that MMO gamers have grown tired of playing titles long-term. Again I’d point to the top played games as counter-evidence to this. How many of those shooters are ‘old’ games? Why is it that Battlefield 3 players are so excited to get a re-release of an old map? Look at the top game, League of Legends. How is it that the most played game of the year, one that is printing money faster than Riot knows what to do with it, is basically a game from 2003, played on almost the exact same map? (And a game which, btw, is putting a lot of effort and money into courting the most hardcore of hardcore, from multi-million dollar tournaments to things like observer mode) What about a game like Skyrim, which is basically Oblivion in terms of gameplay but with dragons instead of demons? Minecraft and Terraria anyone?

Point being, gamers, be they MMO gamers or otherwise, are more than happy to stick with a title and repeat gameplay if, wait for it… the gameplay is good. If you take a game with previously great gameplay (WoW) and milk it by having the yearly update be an intern’s summer project, sooner or later people are going to notice and move on. Not because they have ‘burned out’, or because they have ‘grown out’ of MMOs, but because what they are playing today is worse than what the originally signed up for. And if you spent 300m recreating that summer intern’s project, and slap voicework on top of it, it’s still going to be a flawed product. Or more accurately, a flawed MMO. SW:TOR is, by most accounts, a pretty fun RPG if you enjoy blasters to the face. It just sucks as an MMO, kinda like WoW sucks as an MMO. Skyrim sucks as an MMO too by the way, but the difference is Bethesda never planned their budget around retaining Skyrim players for years, or hyped the game as such.

I find it really sad how the dominance of World of Warcraft has led so many people to believe that the way WoW does it is the only possible way to make a MMORPG.

Oh wait, the above is a Tobold quote. I think he slipped into this dimension for a moment. But it’s a good point right? Pretty insightful? If only someone had suggested earlier, like, back in 2007, on another blog, that WoW being so dominant is harmful to the MMO industry, that perhaps we could have avoided failures like SW:TOR? Ah well. Better late than never right?

And like I said way back in 2007, I don’t think a game exactly like 1997 UO would work. You need more structure. But there is a lot of space between more structure to UO and current-day WoW/SW. EVE and it’s Empire space is of course one good example, and EVE having the track record that it has shows that such design ‘works’. Which is why I still believe that something like EVE, but more mainstream in terms of setting (fantasy), gameplay (less Excel), and, well, no multi-hour shooting at static objects stuff, would do very well. Assuming, of course, that the core gameplay is solid. Not the amount of voice acting, not the total number of pokemon, and not whether it’s F2P/sub/runs-on-gumdrops. No, the gameplay, the design, the long-term “this is what you will be doing for years” vision. Maybe GW2 is that title? At worst it’ll cure cancer, right?

I don’t believe the desire to be part of an online world is lost. I don’t believe the general want to be part of something big, something evolving, something living and unpredictable, is gone. I don’t believe the ‘hook’ that only a real MMO can have on a player is something that is no longer possible to create. I just think a lot of people are having trouble see it past their solo-MMO that won’t stop talking. Let’s give it a month or three.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in DoTA, EVE Online, League of Legends, Mass Media, MMO design, Random, Rant, SW:TOR, Ultima Online, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to I find it really sad how the dominance of World of Warcraft has led so many people to believe that the way WoW does it is the only possible way to make a MMORPG.

  1. Mobs says:

    So I gave SWTOR about 2 days /played time, got my agent to level 30 and I literally never want to look at that game again. I actually stopped having fun around level 23. Worst MMO I have ever played. The story isn’t even near good enough to support even the piss poor mechanics you have to wade through to experience it. Seriously how many voices does Steve Blum have to do before someone says, “enough.”

    It is missing so many things that make a game an “MMO” it’s fucking staggering. I don’t like to see MMOs fail; but I am honestly so excited to see SWTOR reduce to 190 empty servers and 4 FULL servers (at best) in 90 days.

    I enjoyed it a bit in beta but I actually think their release is a worse game then it was in beta. I think my enjoyment was it was shiny and new.

    Their massive ego and the oversight Bioware has displayed deserves it.

    • SynCaine says:

      So that’s why I saw you playing Skyrim last night :)

      Want to play EVE?

      • Mobs says:

        Skyrim 4 EVA! or at least until the next one.

        The idea of Eve sounds awesome, my brother was mad for it, claimed it was best PvP MMO there is. I just don’t know. It seems like a very hard game to get into.

        I actually been dicking around in Rift, I oddly still enjoy it. The instant adventures thing and the new continent are pretty fun. PvP rifts are awesome good, have some fun battles.

        • Anonymous says:

          You really should consider EVE. We have cookies!

        • Hong WeiLoh says:

          Agreed, pick your side. It’s a lot like Star Wars but in reverse: The [rebel null and low] Alliances are fighting for the freedom to have a truly “open, vibrant, sandboxy” world complete with PvP that sometimes isn’t mutually-agreed-upon … and the ebil [hisec] Empire dwellers seek to enforce a rigid, mechanical style of gameplay consisting of shooting red crosses and asteroids in complete and utter[ly boring] safety.
          Grind missions, or grind your opponent to space-dust. What’s YOUR game? ;-)

          I still think Carlos Mencia needs to do a parody of the WoW tv spots to advertise EVE.

  2. AndurDC says:

    Seems like we need Titan. Yesterday!

  3. thade says:

    The games that you cite as hardcore are interesting to me as many of them are actually eased up, less “hardcore” versions to their predecessors. For instance, Unearl Tournie and the Quake series were faster, more twitchy than Halo and MW. The same is true for the shift from DOTA to League of Legends. WoW took similar steps even long after its launch (reducing raid sizes and ultimately difficulty, even for a time completely eschewing the need for CC abilities…dumbest thing ever). It’s like “Reducing complexity of game play” is en vogue now. The games have become easier, making their learning curves less steep, reducing “level of entry”, as it were. Even Skyrim is simplified from its parent-titles; used to be that only the literal acts of running and jumping made you better at doing these things (instead of simply putting points into stamina). They are lowering the bar because it doesn’t preclude most hardcore players from buying, but it does increase the number of non-hardcore players that buy.

    I also find it interesting that you say Zynga’s model is about to fail them…when everyone in the industry I’ve spoken to about it asserts “they are printing money”. Zynga, as I understand it, is all about variety on the same theme. Sure, no single Zynga title has the turnover of a Skyrim-like title…but if you sum up the cost-to-make and profit for all Zynga titles (or even just a subset of those that vary on a given theme, for instance every Farmville-style game) how does that compare to the cost-to-benefit ratio of Skyrim? Zynga titles are faster to pump out (compared to a big studio endeavor) so they (you?) can risk a lot more ventures for less commitment, no?

    I may have missed your point here, I fear. I felt I have seen a clear trend in the industry to move towards “easier to learn, less time required per day/week” for games and I believe it’s because they believe it nets more licenses/subs. I don’t think we’ll see an end to the steeper learning curve games as there will always be a subset of developers who want to see it happen and so they do it, and they’ll make modest amounts regardless of how restricted the demographic gets.

    Maybe that’s your point? That you feel the demographic isn’t as restricted as the industry seems to be treating it? Or that you feel the demographic may shift? Or that it can actually *be shifted* if the industry takes steps to make games with that in mind?

    Whether SW:TOR succeeds or fails is irrelevant. I don’t see games getting more complicated as a result of its failure; I actually see them getting even less complicated as a result should it actually fail in the grandiose way you predict and seem to desire.

    • SynCaine says:

      The Zynga angle is easy: if the company was doing well, the stock would not have tanked. I fully believe the reason they pushed an IPO out was because at this time next year, they will be greatly diminished (if not gone), and so they had to cash in now. When Zynga was at its prime profit-wise, they were still allowed to outright scam people out of money. When Facebook stepped in, Zynga started to fall

      As for shooters now compared to Quake or UT, I’m not sure they really are dumbed-down. MW and BF have levels, gun upgrades, vehicles, destructible terrain. There is a lot more ‘stuff’ to it than just pointing a gun at someone and pulling the trigger. I agree on the pace, but since shooters are PvP games, how fast you aim vs how fast someone else aims is still up to the individual, not so much the game.

      The barrier of entry part you are correct on, but that to me is just good game design vs making the game overall easy/casual. Blizzard nerfing raiding was not about the barrier of entry for new players, it was a belief that making things easy and giving epics to everyone would be good for the game long-term. They were wrong.

      Ideally a game should be easy to pick up and get started, but also must contain depth and solid gameplay to keep people around once they know the basics. That’s partly why LoL is so huge. It’s easier to start than DOTA, but did not dumb-down the core gameplay and kill what made the game so playable for months/years. Part of that is because the game is a PvP game, but another is that gameplay is still deep, and does require more than facerolling across your keyboard.

  4. I have to say, if you are running Xfire or Raptr, you are probably aligned hardcore to start. So no surprise that Peggle and Sims Social do not top that list. (Though when they used to do monthly summaries, Windows Solitaire would rank very high in the “other” category. I used to attribute that to people mining in EVE.)

    • SynCaine says:

      Sure, if Xfire was the only data point, you could say the facts are flawed. But when Xfire lines up with other sources, it does become somewhat reliable. I’d never claim Xfire is the be-all end-all of statistics, but if your game is #1 on Xfire, odds are pretty good your game is doing really, really well.

      • But it only lines up when you create a list that ignores the casual stuff. That list umps together PCs, which probably has more casual players as a platform, and all consoles, which I would guess trends towards hardcore, while ignoring anything that doesn’t ship in a box or is free to play. $60 games are hardcore on price alone.

        I would argue that the list you link to at The Escapist is biased to value hard core players beyond their actual representation in the overall game consuming market. Nothing on that list counts Facebook games or iOS or Android apps for openers.

        It is cherry picked data.

        Not that I am disagreeing with your objection to Tobold’s dinosaur statement.

        As a driving force, hardcore gamers push the market and the technology which trickles down to the casual market in its own good time. You don’t get WoW, or even FarmVille or Angry Birds without a base of hardcore gamers.

        But my wife is at home probably playing “Just Dance 3,” and my daughter had to have “Angry Birds” and “Fruit Ninja” on her Nook Color. Together they probably bought/got many more non-hardcore games this year than I purchased on the hardcore side of things.

        And where do you even draw the line at hardcore? Are the LEGO games hardcore or casual? Is anything on the Wii hardcore?

        • Torcano says:

          Wait, you got that backwards I think. Console players are by far more casual, it’s not even close.

          I would say that 90% of my friends have some form of console, and about 5% ever played a computer game, including solitaire.

          there is way, way more people who have a console and play CoD or sports games casually. Sports games are the top of all games played, and a tiny fraction of that is on comps for example… Most people only realize comp gaming exists due to WoW being so prevalent in the media.

  5. spinks says:

    I think it makes a difference that LoL and BF3 aren’t persistent MMOs. Or to pick a genre I find infinitely replayable, CCG mechanics make for awesome gameplay (much love for Duels of the Planeswalkers) but does that mean an MMO with those mechanics would be compelling? I’m not sure. The best decks get known quickly and then it’s either lots of new expansions to change things around, or a good solo game where you can experiment with sub-par decks in peace.

    Skyrim comes closer but the combat is hardly good gameplay itself, it’s just good enough to support the whole exploring/ doing your own thing where the game really shines. And adding other players to Skyrim would be awful, they’d just all try to gank each other and tell you you’re playing it wrong if you aren’t minmaxing, when the popularity is down to the freedom to do what the hell you want.

    EVE as you say also does not have compelling combat. It may have compelling strategies, economy and social competitive gameplay, but the actual combat is dull.

    So that’s at least two examples of successful games by your terms where parts of the gameplay aren’t all that compelling. And however long Skyrim occupies fans – 100 hours? it’s dwarfed by what people expect of a successful MMO. If people reach max level in SWTOR with 5 days played (you can probably bomb it faster but that’s based on my guildies), that’s about as much time as /keen/ players spend in Skyrim in total. So what does a game really need to keep players many many times longer than Skyrim? I come back to longterm goals and players who are willing to invest in them, you may have a different answer :)

    • SynCaine says:

      Skyrim combat is what it needs to be. If Skyrim combat was LoL-like, BF3-like, or StreetFighter-like (better ‘gameplay’), Skyrim would be a worse game overall IMO. When I say ‘gameplay’ as related to Skyrim, I’m not just talking combat, but the whole experience. The game does what it set out to do (be a single player sandbox RPG) better than any other game out.

      Same for EVE. It would not be a better game with hotbar-mashing combat, or even DF-like combat. For what it intends to do, EVE does it well (not perfect of course).

      When you design an MMO, you need it to do what an MMO is supposed to do well (keep people playing/interested long-term). Voicework, solo one-off content, and the like don’t accomplish that goal, and players are reacting accordingly. I’ve yet to see a single person comment that they believe SW:TOR is going to be awesome 6+ months down the road. Not a single one, and we all know how many obsessed fans SW has.

      For Skyrim, that’s a non-issue. For a supposed MMO, that should raise a flag. It’s not that players don’t want to invest, it’s that they have nothing to invest in.

      • spinks says:

        “When you design an MMO, you need it to do what an MMO is supposed to do well (keep people playing/interested long-term)”

        I don’t think we’re disagreeing in a major way. But what keeps players interested in the super-longterm (ie. 100+ hours) in a MMO is a world they can invest in and set personal longterm goals, at the same time as having fun medium and short term goals to aim for and a solid social experience. But what happens if the player base in general doesn’t have the patience for goals that take more than about a week to achieve? Can any MMO then succeed?

        Although I’d argue that Skyrim could change their combat so that it flowed better and you couldn’t pause in combat to eat your entire food inventory for more health, and it would be a better game.

        • SynCaine says:

          Successful MMOs have shown that players DO have the patience for long-term goals. EVE does, games like UO/EQ/AC did, and yes, even WoW did before Blizzard changed it. The formula does work. Sadly over the last few years, the AAA dev houses have been trying to re-create the wrong version of WoW, and are getting expected results. It’s why I’m rooting so hard for SW to go the way it’s going; it will hopefully be a huge wakeup call for the industry.

        • spinks says:

          “even WoW did before Blizzard changed it.”

          That was 7 years ago. What I am wondering is whether that formula would still work or have players changed.

        • SynCaine says:

          EVE was 8 years ago, the game did not change (Monocle, the results, and the retraction aside), the players are still there.

          But yes, I guess we won’t REALLY know until someone actually does it on the AAA scale (GW2?). What we do suspect, and will have confirmed in the next few months, is that what BioWare is doing is not the answer.

        • saucelah says:

          A comment I saw on Massively, that I’ve actually been meaning to write something about, was something along the lines of: “I really, really love SWTOR, and I’m really enjoying the story. But just like with WoW, I wish there were more reasons to be part of a guild than to just have a chat box and a go-to group for high-end instances. I wish there was something we could work on together over time.”

          That, to me, sounds like a young player who hasn’t had much chance to play the old virtual worlds who is dying for sandbox goals and doesn’t even know it.

          I think the playerbase does want long term, cooperative, sandbox goals. Many of them just haven’t had them, and there aren’t new, polished products they are interested in that offer them.

  6. adam says:

    I’ve been playing SWTOR for the last few weeks, mostly just because I’ve been hungering for something MMORPG-y to play. I am enjoying it, but I also know I won’t be playing it long term, and I don’t think I’m alone. These are not complaints about what SWTOR is not. They are complaints about its failures at what it’s trying to be. If you’re going to do a WoW-style theme park, do it right. WoW got a lot of things right 6-7 years ago that SWTOR has already failed at:

    1. Combat mechanics – Animations don’t line up with when damage is dealt. Button presses aren’t responsive. It’s clunky. WoW got this right. TOR is yet another game in a long line that doesn’t. Hugely disappointing to me.

    2. PvP – The bolstering system makes PvP prior to level 40+ simply lame, if not masochistic. What better way for someone to feel like their gear doesn’t matter in PvP but still get trashed because they don’t have a quarter of the abilities of someone else. What a joke.

    3. The zones (sorry, planets) are mazes and funnels. This destroys any sense of openness and authenticity. Why is every settlement in this galaxy couched in narrow canyons? I realize this is an artifact of the theme park style and “planets” instead of one cohesive world, but at least make an attempt at hiding it.

    4. Too many abilities, and too soon. I know this sounds like a strange complaint, but it doesn’t sit well for me to, at level 15+ on any given character, have two full hotbars of abilities, some of which feel like barely more than copies of abilities I already have and many others whose roles in combat are unclear at best. Once you’re at level 50 you have about 4 hotbars full of abilities. Plus managing your companion. It’s insane. Consolidate some of the abilities and divvy them out less frequently. We’re not rats pressing buttons here. (Well, not all of us).

    There are also a lot of things WoW never really got right that SWTOR has failed to address:

    1. The devs listening to idiot-player complaints and kneejerking game mechanics into stupidity. See #2 below.

    2. Crafting is screwy. High level crafting items just aren’t that useful compared to what you can get just from heroic quests/commendations/instances. Right now, they’re mostly just time and money sinks. One skill that wasn’t a complete money sink (just a time sink) was nerfed into uselessness the first week after release (went from something that made too much money to something that just plain loses money).

    Already I’m seeing evidence of what I assume are drops in server populations. The first week or so after release I was in a 10-20 minute queue every evening. Then those queues dropped to 5-10 minutes. Now they’re mostly gone.

    SWTOR is interesting and does some cool things, but a long term investment this is not. It’s too much fluff on an innately flawed package. Here’s to hoping GW2 can make our theme-park dreams come true. Sandbox? I got nothing.

  7. thade says:

    I see, so it turns out I don’t disagree with you on most points; you make some good ones.

    I don’t feel people asserting that SW:TOR will be good 6-months from now is either important or even enough to sway you. Again, people all thought WoW would tank out of the gate due to it’s significant stability problems; yet it endured. Then people said WAR’s lack of end-game content will kill it…and it basically did.

    When people got to max lev in WoW there was nothing to do; MC was barely a whisper. But people still hung out and had fun, as they felt connected both with their characters and with the people they played with. Why did people not feel connected to their characters in WAR? What else drove them away?

    TOR launched with “end-game content” and people are feeling far more connected to their characters (if self-report can be believed) due to the “story” than they have in previous games. I’ve grouped regularly and had uniformly positive experiences; people are nice, and because the game is still new people are learning. Sure, there are bound to be “ragers” here or there…but they are the loudest, not the most numerous. The community is good and my friends and I have having a very good time with it. Getting to the end of the game and running out of “voice-over quests” to do is only marginally different than getting to the end of WoW’s current amount of content. If there are still people, you might find yourself getting creative trying to find things to do. When people feel attached, they stick around.

    Many times now I’ve seen people in general asking remarkably base-level questions and admitting “This is my first MMO.” I haven’t seen that since WoW. There is something very different about this game; people are really enjoying it.

    I’ll probably never play EVE, despite my life-long curiosity about it. I want a space game and, frankly, the barrier of entry is pretty stiff. I’ve looked at a few “How to get started” guides and they are invariably long and dense. How do I just muddle through? Not only will it take years to get anywhere, but it will take years beyond that to correct any mistakes I make? Star Wars has a grossly simplified space component, but despite how simplistic it is, it is well presented and integrated.

    Also, I sort of unabashedly subscribe to Yahtzee’s review of EVE which – while extremely heavy-handed and probably not entirely fair – highlights enough of it to hammer the final nails in. I suspect I’m not alone in that way. (Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll hammer the crap out of TOR sooner than later.)

    • Kobeathris says:

      Get a 21 day trial from Syn, join our corp on the first day, do the tutorial then head over to us. There is usually someone on to ask questions of or do something with, and even as a brand new player you can help out with what people are doing. The big barrier to entry in Eve is the interface and trying to play solo because that is what you do at low level in like every other game. If you play with other people, you can get get into all sorts of stuff in your first few days. Yeah, it will take you some time to be more effective, but a new player is absolutely not useless in a group.

      • thade says:

        So…I have long considered asking about that very avenue. I would like that. However, new job + relationship on the verge of “the next step” limits my time dramatically. Should LoL and/or TOR finally lose interest for me, EVE is likely a next logical step. Stay tuned for that. <3 And thank you for the gesture.

        • This is going to sound a little strange, but I suggest going for it now anyway.

          Having things to do IRL passing your time,
          + 21 days free (Gotta get the code from Syn!),
          + Rast’s point two posts down about the early game’s vertical skilling,
          + an active corporation that is a mix of new players and vets
          = a great starting experience

          The mixed bag in the corp ensures that your learning curve is relatively smooth, the busy IRL schedule means it isn’t a big deal to you if you need to wait 18 hours for a particular skill to train, and the 21 day pass means you get to do it all for free.

          Sounds like a win, win, & win to me. I only wish I’d had the same opportunity when I started up 5 months back.

          If you do decide to play, don’t forget to join the corporation’s public channel “INQ-E Public.” There are several of us that hang out in there that are happy to help, but haven’t actually joined the corp yet.

      • adam says:

        I have an old EVE account I played for a few months back in ’08. I adored the openness and sandboxy-ness. I stopped playing because no one I knew was playing and I didn’t really make any friends in-game. I was also put off by the fact that since skill gain is real-time, I would never be able to “catch up” to any older players. But maybe while I can’t actually catch up, I can meaningfully catch up in terms of what I can contribute to a corp. True? Something to consider, I guess.

        • SynCaine says:

          The ‘catch up’ thing is a myth for the most part. Sure, you won’t catch the guy with the highest amount of SP, but what does that mean? In 6 month, you can get 99% of the power to mine, do industry, or PvP in certain ships. If you hyperfocus, you can get to 100% of a vets power in one area in a reasonable amount of time (depending on what we are talking about of course).

        • Rast says:

          The ‘catch up’ bit has always been one of the most-putting aspects of EvE to new players. It’s always weird to explain because EvE’s skillpoint progression is vertical for a noob but horizontal to anyone who’s been playing more than a few months.

          From a pvp perspective, you’re ‘caught up’ when you can fly one good PvP ship. If you know what to train for and have the cash you can be in a decently fit Hurricane or Drake (both of which are bog-standard fleet DPS boats) inside of two months, at which point the vertical part of your skillpoint progression is over and you start doing what everyone else in EvE does – train for new ships but don’t fly them until you have the proper skills.

          From that point, you will train up more and more new ship types and the amount of SP you’re actually using (as a fraction of the total amount of SP you have) will only decrease. Since this portion of the progression lasts much longer than the initial early skilling period (especially since learning skills are gone now) it can difficult for someone who’s been playing a while to relate, and it can be hard for the noob to understand how the system works when coming from a game with strictly vertical progression (which is almost everything but EvE, numbers-wise).

        • Hong WeiLoh says:

          EVE PvP, tl;dr version: player-skill > character skill.
          You can have 90M SP, most of them in combat, and still be laughably easy to kill, even in “l33t peeveepee ships”.

          I rest my case.
          Do the tutorial, career agents, the SoE epic arc, and by the time you’re back in Arnon, I guarantee you, you too will be ready to be the fun happy recipient of a Socratic killmail.
          “Oohhh but he has a faction/deadspace fit Gila,” yes, yes he does. Hopefully some of that shiny faction stuff will be yours after you pop that Gila in a T1 cruiser or T2 AF of your choosing. ;-)

          No matter what your inclinations in the game: nullsec CTAer, lowsec piwate, or hisec bear … hands down, no contest, Socratic tears and jeers best tears.

  8. bhagpuss says:

    I don’t have time for a detailed reply ‘cos I really, really want to play EQ2, but I did just want to register my agreement with your thesis and my disagreement with Tobold’s assertion that provoked it.

    His is a counsel of despair and, as you demonstrate, one with little justification.

    Everything will be fine. Quality will prevail. We will have good games.

  9. Rast says:

    EvE continues to be successful because it caters to a market that everyone else is ignoring – the only time they ever moved away from this happens to be the only time EvE’s numbers ever slipped in any significant way.

    I believe it’s almost impossible for any new MMO to enter the market and expect to be successful if it can’t start from a small base. The market is hugely oversatured and all the top MMOs have been around for many years now. Whether your thing is EvE, WoW, LOTRO, Lineage, EQ, whatever it’s the same thing – old players have little reason to leave behind a game that they and the devs have invested years into for something new and lacking population and features, and new players don’t want to go to an MMO where there’s no people – there’s a reason the fanboys go on and on (and on) about sub/activity numbers, these games live or die by the size and strength of their communities, no matter how much the devs might try to turn them into solo games.

    I think some of the recent and upcoming releases will have a big effect on what comes down the pipe later. If SWTOR crashes and burns (relative to its own size, of course) I don’t expect to see another WoW-style big-budget theme park ever again. If a game like DUST flourishes (again, relative to the size of EvE), you can expect to see new games starting tying into old ones in a significant way. If GW2 takes off it’ll show that there is still room for new MMOs but people want something that’s not the same old same old repackaged. It’ll be interesting to see.

  10. bodaster says:

    Why are you bashing Tobold so hard every time you refer to him? I like his blog, as well I like your blog. And I actually found your blog by reading his blog. Your articles are interesting, but I find repulsing the sudden spittings in the midst of an interesting text. I know I could leave and go elsewhere, but still…is it really necessary. I love reading about MMOs and games in these places, some of the thoughts are very valuable in these places. Can’t we just stuck to those valuable pieces?

    • saucelah says:

      Syncaine vs. Tobold is the ultimate epic blogosphere debate.

      Tobold might be too hidebound to participate now, but I for one am damn happy Syncaine still does.

      • bodaster says:

        Well, I am still here, so it is obviously not the end of the world:) Just can’t understand why to mix quality writings with personal grudges.

        • coppertopper says:

          Well Tobold famously deletes posts on his blog that disagree with him, so if Syncaine writes something vehemently disagreeing with him, its only because you can’t have the same sort of convo over there.

    • Barrista says:

      I also follow both blogs and have for many years, but I see where the frustration with Tobold’s blog can come from. In the past year or so he will bash WoW in one post and glorify it in another. At one time, I could go to his blog for postings about a variety of MMO’s and get an honest opinion about each on it’s own merits, but his blog has started to have a “this sucks compared to WoW” theme.

  11. thade says:

    It’s funny to read people saying “TOR’s animations don’t line up” or what have you, saying that “WoW got that right.” Those people clearly didn’t play WoW at launch. Possibly they just skipped right to BC. ;)

    • SynCaine says:

      As every WoW fan is always too happy to point out, it’s not 2004 anymore :)

    • adam says:

      I played WoW at launch. I think at the time, I was just having so much fun with a shiny new toy that I didn’t notice if the animations were “off.” Plus, WoW was my first MMORPG in years at that point (and my first MAJOR investment in one since UO). I honestly don’t recall–did they fix the animations as time went on? Maybe there’s hope for TOR yet…

  12. pkudude99 says:

    I’m also in the “Enjoying SWTOR for now, love the stories, but there are enough flaws that I don’t really see it being much more than a 3-6 month thing for me either” boat.

    And the biggest things that annoy me are things that were lifted from WoW and annoyed me enough there that I didn’t play it longer than 2 weeks.

    TBH, I think a lot more things should be lifted from EQ2 than from WoW. Most of my annoyances from Rift are also WoW-lifted things, and since the Trion folks are former EQ2 people, it really begs the question why they made those design choices to me.

    But that’s the whole diff’rent strokes thing. I think EQ2 got most everything right and WoW didn’t. But I’m apparently not very mainstream there as reflected in the subscription numbers. And I’m not actually playing EQ2 anymore either, so. . . there ya go.

    • adam says:

      I played EQ2 a bit. I thought it was really well done in terms of sheer amount of content, customization (I LOVE all the races and classes), crafting and setting. I thought it fell short in terms of actual combat mechanics, and the fact that so few people were playing it made it hard for me to establish a sense of camaraderie with anyone. Maybe if I’d joined a guild.. I don’t know. I dropped back into it for a few days when they had a free weekend several months ago, but I just couldn’t get into it.

      I think MMORPG developers could learn a lot from EQ2 (both in terms of what to do and what not to do). I’d play an EQ2 with better gameplay.

      • Carson says:

        Yeah, I’ve just recently had yet another crack at trying to enjoy EQ2, in the wake of its merging of the free-to-play EQ2X and the “real” EQ2.

        Lots of nice ideas, certainly plenty of things that could be stolen, but by far the worst combat of all of the “tab-targetting, autoattack + skillbar” MMOs. I’ve played a bunch of them, and don’t hate the concept – although I’d like to see more variety in gameplay from new MMOs. But none of them are even remotely close to how un-fun EQ2 is, with its enormous collection of almost-insdistinguishable skills on separate 10-20 seconds cooldowns.

  13. saucelah says:

    I almost forgot, from a conversation in a group that is actually dedicated to arguing about religion:

    Me: Well, yeah, I’ll check out the beta weekend, but everything I’ve read and seen tells me this game is not for me, it’s just a new skin on WoW.
    Friend: I thought if a game is an MMO that means it has to be just like WoW.
    Me: *headdesk*

  14. Barrista says:

    For all of SWTOR’s WoW-factor, you will constantly find whining on their forums because it is not enough like WoW for some.
    -“Why does it take 10 minutes to craft a purple item? It should only take a second.”
    -“Why do I have to interact with people to form a group? I should just be able to hit a button.”
    -“I need recount.”
    And the list of complaints go on and on and on.

    • adam says:

      #1 thing game designers should be aware of: gamers don’t know what they want. If the players had their way, they’d streamline and optimize the fun out of every game. Truly talented game designers are able to distill what gamers need/want out of what they SAY they need/want. This is why Blizzard has been so successful for so long. Talented designers, and the fact that they are extremely astute observers of their own testing process, not afraid to back out of something that just isn’t fun, no matter how much work has already been put into it (hence the interminably long wait between games and no-tentative-release-date policy).

      Of course, that talent base seems to have fled WoW over the last few years, but here’s hoping they’re on Titan. Or at least Diablo 3.

    • ”I need recount.”

      That one might actually translate as, “I need some way to tell if I am doing things right.”

      Meaningful and comprehensible feedback from combat, so you can tell you are at least mashing the right buttons, is tough. There is usually a combat log, but that often defies comprehension and is tough to track over time manually.

      WoW does this sort of feedback badly, so we have recount as a crutch. That people are asking for recount in SWTOR might mean more than a simple “Why can’t this be more like WoW?” It sounds more like it is the same as WoW with the same issues in that particular aspect.

  15. Quelldrogo says:

    Now if we could only get EVE + Mechwarrior Online in the same mmo, with extra crack sprinkles please. I hear a bunch of “dropship ur mom” jokes coming….!


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