Getting back to the source

Jester has a post up about how Sovereignty works in EVE, and how the game might benefit from borrowing some ideas from Perpetuum in that area. A good read as always, and it brings up a larger point: competition amongst MMOs can be a good thing, and ultimately if the devs are smart the real winners are the players.

Devs being smart is something that seems to be lacking in the genre of late.

Take for instance Rift. In beta, when Rift was limited to only one large zone (the 1-20 game), it was a great game. Players quickly learned which areas were the elite ‘tough’ areas, which parts were easier, and the different hubs truly felt like hubs given the player activity and uses. Combine this setup with how the invasion system worked back then (far more active, more impact to hubs), and while the ‘world’ back then was still a zone, it felt much larger and grander than the typical themepark zone.

The day-before-release nerf to invasions happened. The after-20 zone layout happened. And finally 1.2 happened.

And while this is just me speculating, IMO Trion tried to WoWify Rift. More speculating; they did it because WoWbies tried Rift and wanted it to be, well, WoW. It’s what the locust do after all. How’s that working out for Rift now? It’s one thing to ask your community for suggestions and such. It’s another to just blindly give the players exactly what they are asking for, regardless of how it fits into your game or what you originally set out to do.

What if Rift, start to finish, was like the beta version of the game? The one that was near-universally praised. The version that, for those how tried it, saw a game that, while still firmly themepark, at least felt a little different. Had a little more… MMO to it?

What if Rift borrowed from Guild Wars? 1-20 level game just to teach you the basics, and then all zones tuned to level 20, each one different based on theme and setting rather than level range. Make invasions really matter, allow them to dominate a zone to the point the players are ‘locked out’ until they rally together and fight back. At worst, one of the ten zones you can visit as a lvl 20 is blocked, big deal. Expand the game in that area, horizontally, rather than just repeating the same world event every few months, tacking on raids, and having everyone wait for the inevitable level increase and total content reset/replacement.

But, because while Rift was still cooking, WoW had its 11m ‘subs’, Trion borrowed from Blizzard rather than a different source. Same can be said for Mythic and WAR, Funcom and AoC, and today BioWare and SW:TOR. The results are in for WAR/AoC/Rift, and it’s not rocket science to predict what SW is going to look like in 5 months.

What’s amusing about all of this is that, because EQ1 had 500k subs and UO/AC ‘only’ had 100-250k, the big suit copy/paste monkeys looked at EQ1. And it works for a while, because for all its faults, at least EQ1 was still an MMO. And so was WoW origin. And… well we all know how things went, and what the ultimate result is.

So now, does the genre gravitate back towards EQ1-style design, or does it go full-circle to its roots, where we start seeing teams create worlds and make them work, rather than settling on a theme and tossing in some MMO concepts to calling it a day?

Is it 6 months yet?

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Age of Conan, Asheron's Call, beta, EQ2, EVE Online, Guild Wars, MMO design, Rant, Rift, SW:TOR, Ultima Online, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

45 Responses to Getting back to the source

  1. saucelah says:

    I’m not as enthusiastic about predicting the death of SWTOR as you are. I suspect it can coast quite a long time being just like WoW because of the IP.

    But I am disappointed in the MMO vets that have been through this all before, have gotten tired of the treadmill with other games, yet have shoved all memory and reason aside to join this game. Or have simply decided that MMOs are games that they should pay around $90 to enjoy for three months and then quit, only coming back to visit with major expansions (AKA complete wipe and restart with max level characters, I agree there) which they will pay more for.

    And I blame the lack of innovation on the gamers: http://mmogamersauce.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/the-bane-of-innovation-gamers/

    • Pitrelli says:

      Until a game that releases is different (guild wars 2) what do you expect MMO players to do ?

      I myself enjoy MMO hopping and apart from vanilla-tbc wow rarely play an mmo past the three month mark. Many players are the same and I don’t see the problem with that

      • saucelah says:

        I don’t expect them to play games that don’t exist, but I would like to see a little imagination employed to see that games could be different, could include things that would not be fun in their current games, and still be quite rewarding and fun. It’s an expectation I have of human beings in just about every field.

        I don’t have a problem with MMO hoppers — I have a problem with games that seem to give no incentive not to hop away, games that give few to no cooperative goals. Even if those goals are not for everyone, there’s no reason to design a game so that no one will be retained past the three month point.

    • SynCaine says:

      I find it hard to blame the gamers directly, in a way. If all someone knows is WoW, I don’t hold it against them that the idea of an open world is hard to understand, or that when they go into something even slightly different (beta Rift), they immediately wish it was just like home. Most people suck at adapting to change, especially after years of being brainwashed.

      Now, I do blame them for only playing WoW and not having the willpower to legitimately try something different, but that’s a different topic IMO.

      • saucelah says:

        Well, I guess it comes down to personal bias again (just like my point on TAGN) — I personally can’t stand human beings who resist change and lack imagination. But I’m surrounded by creative types and entrepreneurs in my day to day life, so it’s for me to get fed up with those that wouldn’t “fit in”

    • Sullas says:

      “But I am disappointed in the MMO vets that have been through this all before, have gotten tired of the treadmill with other games, yet have shoved all memory and reason aside to join this game.”

      It’s perfectly possible for one individual to enjoy both kinds of MMORPG… sorry, MMO. Different strokes for different parts of the brain. I’m sure that in your work with creative, self-directed, intelligent people, you’ve come across these sorts of phenomena.

      I’m mildly annoyed by the zero sum approach to the two subgenres, along with the occasional suggestion that anyone who plays TOR would spin around bleating helplessly if dropped into a virtual world without a giant quest marker five yards away.

      I do like the term ‘locust’, though. And while there are undoubtedly people who’ll play TOR like that, the game’s storytelling makes it easy to get invested and care about one’s character, one’s social connections, factional warfare. I have a feeling that a lot of the locusts, unless they take pains to isolate themselves from the community, might discover that the game did a mind-trick on them.

      • saucelah says:

        My annoyance is only directed at those who have stated that they have easily burned out on those types of games in the past, so they would not be individuals who enjoy both types of games. It could be personal bias again, but I honestly feel that anyone who has burned out on a treadmill because it is a treadmill shouldn’t invest in another treadmill.

        I wouldn’t suggest that “anyone” who plays SWTOR would react that way in an open world, but I have interacted with several people who react that way to any open world game, including Skyrim, and I assume some of them are playing SWTOR.

        I don’t even believe the genres need to be separate. If the name of the marketing game is accessibility and wide appeal, then it seems to me that a directed experience within a sandbox, or a sandbox of equal importance to and on the side of a directed experience, would be the ultimate market winner.

      • adam says:

        You might be annoyed at the suggestion that anyone who plays TOR is a helpless sheep, but let’s be honest about it. TOR is an incredibly stupid game in terms of the brainpower it requires to play. I’m currently playing it and I can basically zone out and watch Netflix on my iPad and not miss a thing while still leveling up as fast as everyone else (with an occasional pause to absorb some voice acting). I don’t have to think, I just use my lizardmonkey brain to follow the map, tap keys and get my loots while my conscious brain enjoys Captain Picard’s wonderful speeches.

        From the experience I’ve had so far with the TOR community, a great many of them sound and act like CoD-kid teabaggers whose idea of common courtesy is not stopping to rub it in after they steal your quest objective from under your nose. These are the mouthbreathers the MMORPG developer community has the privilege of catering to. It’s the same crowd that ruined WoW in a thousand tiny ways and several big ones. They’re the reason we can’t have nice things. These are not necessarily casual gamers or hardcore gamers. They don’t want to be challenged, they just want to win. And as soon as they do win, they get bored and leave. These are the loudmouths on the forums and in General chat. These are the people the rest of us have voted as our de facto lobbyists. They dictate policy, and their policy is shit. Locusts is the most apt word I’ve ever heard to describe these parasites.

        It’s impossible to lose in TOR, which is why it will be popular for a while and then it will die. WoW is bleeding accounts because people are finally realizing that being handed everything with minimal effort and no risk is, in actuality, not that much fucking fun over the long run. WoW has only lasted as long as it did because it was a really fun game to play and people became invested in it. TOR isn’t as much fun to play. The storylines are interesting, but hardly something that keeps you interested for multiple months or years. As all other things are nearly equal, it won’t last.

        Rant over.

        • Sullas says:

          And a fine rant it was, sir. It’d be classically Gevlonesque if you managed to work in a reference to moochers and slackers.

          If you’re contemptuous of TOR because it’s too easy and has a crappy community (which you contend are related) it would make no sense for me to contradict your subjective experience. Both difficulty and community depend heavily on what you’re doing and whom you hang out with. I’m pretty happy with most people I run into on my server, but your mileage has clearly varied.

          Someone made the point the other day, when discussing the dust-up in UB-UQZ, that the tactical skill of the average member of either flotilla needn’t really have been very high. You mostly locked what the FC told you to and attacked it. I’m sure that did not detract from the epic feeling of the fleet action. Hi-sec missioning, ratting or (ye gods) mining aren’t like, really exciting, either. They’re worth doing because they’re a stepping stone to the next goal.

          In general, I don’t think pure difficulty of gameplay execution is that great a way to judge an MMO, but TOR’s tougher in this area than is WoW. Normal questing’s fairly easy, sure. Class-quest bosses and the 2+ and 4+ heroic questing areas require that I, at least, keep focused, have a fight plan and micromanage my companion. You’re either a vastly better player or aren’t really paying as much attention to Netflix Picard as you should be.

          @Saucelah above: I can get behind fusing the subgenres, of course. I just think it’d be really really hard to keep such a game thematically coherent and keep the rewards for both playstyles balanced. What I disagree with is that the market’s so narrow that big theme parks have to fail for niche sandboxes to succeed. I want to play both.

        • saucelah says:

          I would be interested in an explanation of what makes those things difficult.

          I’m not being skeptical necessarily, but I didn’t pick up that there were actually conditions that needed to be noticed and responded to, unlike in KotOR where it was rather important at times to at least notice what shields your enemies had activated and use some weapon-type other than what they were protecting against.

        • Azuriel says:

          WoW is bleeding accounts because people are finally realizing that being handed everything with minimal effort and no risk is, in actuality, not that much fucking fun over the long run.

          Oh, please.

          Blizzard already acknowledged that the actual fact of the matter was that Cataclysm was too hard, and trying to recapture the sort of hardcore playerbase of the past was a mistake.

          You can argue that WoW is crap, difficulty is king, etc, but you can never argue about what caused the post-Cata sub drop. It is established fact that it was difficulty.

        • Rammstein says:

          Anything that Chilton says to the New York Times is “established fact”? LOL. You never considered any of the following?

          1. He could be lying.

          2. He could be wrong, which looks more likely when you consider he is part of the design team responsible for the drop.

          3. He could be both lying and wrong, the most probable scenario.

          4. He could be right. In this horribly unlikely case, what he said is STILL NOT ESTABLISHED FACT, as that would require something establishing it as a fact besides someone just saying it to someone else.

          Your comments get more laughable as time goes on, Azuriel. Thanks for the chuckles.

        • adam says:

          Sullas:

          I’m not contemptuous of TOR. Not at all. Unlike Syncaine, I would like TOR to succeed, and by that I mean I would like TOR to be a better game so that it COULD succeed. I should also qualify my statement about TOR’s community: the loud, obnoxious ones are crappy, and they are the ones that get the attention. MMORPG developers have trouble with correlation and causation. They see a lot of complaints over an issue, notice a bump in subscription cancellations for a month or two, and assume the two are related. Commence kneejerk. It seems to escape their notice that the more you try to control people, the less they want to be controlled. Case in point, WoW. Instead of wasting their time trying to “balance” an unbalanceable system, WoW’s devs should have been expanding the game so that unbalance didn’t fucking matter. Instead, WoW’s developers have spent the last seven years working towards the net result of a less and less fun place to escape to, the proof being their dwindling subscription numbers. Did they really think that whittling their systems down to their most vanilla incarnations would magically produce a more compelling product?

          My negativity towards TOR (despite my affection for it) stems from the fact that Bioware learned only the most cursory lessons from WoW’s journey, and with hundreds of millions of dollars managed to improve upon a seven year old game in only one or two major aspects. It’s simply going to take more than that.

          I played EVE for a while, and I agree, I do not think that it requires a particularly keen mind to operate a lone ship, but we’re talking about an entirely different type of game. The epic feeling in a large scale EVE battle stems from WHO you’re fighting. You’re not being told to watch the adds and don’t stand in the fire. The point being–and you seem to agree–allowing other players to provide you with entertainment is more fun than attacking a mindless mob or scripted boss. (The anti-PvPers like Tobold are, simply, afraid of being beaten and can’t stand the thought that not everything is fair. He’d disagree and give his reasons, but the question boils down to attacking something that can think for itself vs. something that can’t. Which is inherently less risky? But I digress.)

          I don’t think TOR has to be HARD to be good. I think it has to be challenging to be rewarding. This is a REALLY important distinction. Ultimately, every gamer in every game is searching for meaning. If he can’t find meaning, even if the game is FUN, he’ll get bored, and the fact is that rewards are meaningless without challenge. Most people don’t recognize that, which is why they wig out when something seems too difficult. There’s a fine balance to be struck by game designers between “challenge” and “frustration,” but so far all I’ve seen from TOR is ignoring that balance completely by making almost everything easy, and NOTHING risky. The most rewarding game in recent memory is Dark Souls. How many of its players list it as one of their most meaningful, poignant gaming experiences? These are not all hardcore gamers. They just want to be equitably rewarded for a challenge.

          TOR doesn’t ask anything of you but that you show up. It’s like soccer in kindergarten. Everybody wins and gets orange slices. Sure, that’s fun for a while. Then it’s boring. It’s what WoW’s become and what TOR has started as. Not a good sign, in my opinion.

        • Rammstein says:

          More specifically, Chilton was lying by omission because he clearly knows all about the dance difficulty vs. dps requirement difficulty dichotomy that Gevlon already analyzed but he answers vaguely with the intent of revealing nothing, and he’s wrong because he doesn’t know how to properly balance those difficulties or he would have already. I mean, I’m not angry with them for getting it wrong, it’s their game and anyone who thinks they could do it better should just do so–but I’m in favor of calling a spade a spade, and not pretending that someone bullshitting a reporter is mainlining divine truths.

        • adam says:

          Azuriel, you’re confusing “hard” with “challenge.” You want to know why Cataclysm really failed? Because Blizzard ignored the fact that synchronized square dancing around a boss is actually a really shitty way of entertaining your players. Period. It only worked in 2005 because the game was still new, the mechanics were novel for a vast majority and people were still testing the limits of what could be done. By the time 2010 rolled around, everyone knew what to expect, had seen it all, and Blizzard tried to shove an outdated game mechanic down the throats of people who were A) sick of it already and B) conditioned to expect freebies since before the previous expansion. It’s not hard to see why that idea completely sucked.

          Giving in to players’ demands of easier epics wasn’t really the problem–the problem was in removing their meaning. No one felt like anything they did really mattered that much anymore because everyone could win with a modicum of effort. WoW didn’t start losing subscribers until they let anyone with a pulse show up at the purple parade and then tried to pull back. I’m sorry, I know that sounds elitist, but it isn’t. None of my WoW characters ever raided regularly, and none of them ever had full epics, ever. That’s the way it should be. You don’t want to disproportionately reward players who have a lot of time to play? There are ways around that “problem” other than “give everyone whatever they want.” I promise.

          Blizzard consistently stoops to the easiest, most transparently lazy solutions and now they’re paying for it.

        • saucelah says:

          I came here specifically to reply to Azuriel, but Rammstein and Adam have it covered.

        • Sullas says:

          adam:

          It’s good to read that you wish TOR success. You’ll understand how your affection was a little difficult to see at first. One might be forgiven for assuming that you see TOR as pablum for those damned entitlement-kids and want it to crash and burn to repudiate anything that caters to their lousy work ethic. But I’m pleased you’re bigger than the caricature.

          I’m not as convinced as you are that forum crowdsourcing is how MMO devs make most of their decisions. There are plenty of examples from Ghostcrawler’s reign of terror in WoW where changes were made in the name of “vision” rather than anything anyone asked for. There were other changes, particularly class balance changes, which have been made specifically because of issues arising in very high level play, which would likely have made no difference for the vast majority of WoW’s playerbase. If you’ll remember, datamining consistently shows that most WoW characters at level cap have never killed even the first boss in the current raid tier. It doesn’t sound like wholesale cheap populism to me.

          ‘Why is WoW bleeding subs’ is a blogosphere staple with several camps and no clear answer, and I know better than to dive into that morass. I will say only that a position which rejects WoW-fatigue as main explanation (implicitly suggesting that WoW could have gone on and on if maintained correctly) but insists that a game that plays mechanically a lot like TBC WoW will fail for that reason suffers from a bit of cognitive dissonance.

          I enjoy PvP, not least for the occasion it gives me to help the merry, lolwutting, pimply-faced child beat the grim social Darwinist who’d run his spreadsheets, by tossing a few sly heals from behind a rock. I do hope Bioware flesh out opportunities for organised PvP; TOR warzones are rather a mixed bag at the moment. Still, you can always roll on a PvP server to add a bit of look-over-shoulder to your questing fare. Even in venerable old WoW, there are those who only PvP, and get enjoyment out of the whole arena metagame. By the end of my time in WoW, that’s what I did.

          However, I recognise the merit in conquering your own shortcomings, alongside friends, with the aid of a decent, immersive PvE script and it’s a little bit early to judge the extent of challenge that TOR will offer to those who seek it out – people are only barely hitting endgame. You must have found rock climbing a bit less fun in kindergarten than soccer, which is fair enough. Since I seem to be the only person in the world who ever actually died (or got ganked, or wiped in a flashpoint, or lost a warzone) while playing TOR, I’m pleased to report that the only thing you lose is a small amount of time. In EVE, it can be a huge amount of time, depending on how ambitious your fail was. At the end of the day, I’m happy with the idea of everyone getting some orange slice, as long as the real no-hopers get it when it’s already dry and crackly.

        • saucelah says:

          Only newbies are ever setback by dying in Eve. Loss of ship and goods, since they are known to be consumables, is no different than running out of health potions in a single player RPG, no different than running out of inspirations in CoH. You go get more, and you probably already have more stored away.

          I would still be interested in an explanation of how bosses are difficult in TOR.

          And someone has to die in PvP; otherwise it would just be PvE — no one is claiming that dying in PvP is impossible or only a result of idiocy.

        • saucelah says:

          Though I must confess, while I wasn’t skeptical before, this last response has me incredibly skeptical, given that you can’t wrap your mind around the idea that an Eve ship is not a WoW epic — it seem to me you’re one of the players I’ve talked about in my blog that takes ideas and projects them into the games they currently play, rather than imagine how those ideas could be different in a different game.

        • adam says:

          Sullas, it’s not that I’m concerned about the “work ethic” of entitlement-kids. What concerns me is catering to their shallowest and most short-sighted demands without proper thought given to the long-term consequences.

          At one time I was not convinced that forum crowdsourcing was how MMO devs make decisions, but it’s become increasingly evident as time goes on just how much they do, in fact, take their cues from the vocal user base. Especially when that user base is shouting right on their doorstep. And that’s not to say devs shouldn’t listen–they should. But there’s a big difference between the set of things your user base says they want and the set of things they actually want and need. This is true of people individually, and especially true of people in groups. For example, let’s say you’re with a girl who likes jewelry, but you can’t really afford it, and you find that even though she understands you can’t afford it, she still longs for and asks for jewelry. What’s the right thing to do here? Ignore her? Break up? Keep giving her jewelry despite the fact that all you’re accomplishing is spoiling her and going into debt? Or instead is the better solution to attempt to understand exactly what it is that makes her love jewelry so much and attempt to fulfill that need at its root? (say, for example, receiving jewelry makes her feel wanted, so you displace that with more affection or whatever). This is a form of treating the disease instead of the symptoms. MMO devs and designers are highly logical people. They have trouble seeing past the most logically obvious solution.

          There’s no question Blizzard treats the symptoms. A large portion of the user base felt left out of raiding in vanilla WoW because the barriers of entry were restrictions that had little or nothing to do, directly, with the actual act of killing trash mobs and bosses, like getting 40 people together, completing elite-level quest chains, grinding crafting materials, buying up resistance gear, etc. So they attempted to lower the barrier by making raiding possible by 25 man and 10 man groups. Then they tossed attunement quests. And then they made everything easier so that raiding could be done by just about anyone. This actually was not the worst idea in the world, except they were only halfway to a solution. See, the reason people feel good when they get gear is because they earned it. You can’t take the “earning” part away and expect people to care like they did before. The problem that the WoW devs had was that they consistently conflate tedious, obnoxious, grating mechanics and timesinks with “earning.” So when they removed those obnoxious mechanics in obeisance to popular demand, they didn’t replace them with anything. They just simply replaced “earning” gear with “being gifted” gear. That’s boring.

          As you point out, this only addresses the concerns of part of the user base. Another part, the part you mention as not killing the first raid boss, they’re leaving for similar reasons. They’re getting bored. The core game hasn’t gotten much better in seven years. WoW-fatigue, as you put it, IS the main explanation. That’s the problem. A game with the kind of resources WoW has should be progressing, not petering along and slowly bleeding out. Just like its main user base, WoW doesn’t want to take any risks. Okay, that’s fine, and they’ve earned that right, but the price is that the game will die. Maybe they want it to, I don’t know. I’m disappointed mostly because WoW was such a great game when it started out and has slowly traded in its myriad of possibilities (some good, some bad) for a one size fits all experience that reeks of the worst kind of pandering egalitarianism. It’s almost tragic.

          TOR’s PvP is a disaster. The bolstering system is horrible in concept and execution. I hope they have some major changes coming soon.

  2. If the Rift beta version of the game was, as you say, “near-universally praised,” but the “locusts,” which I gather is the group who bought most of the boxes and paid for most of the subscriptions… you know, the majority of the customer base… did not agree with this praise, it sounds like Trion picked the wrong people to beta test the game.

    I mean, we have heard this tale before. Warhammer Online was similarly praised in beta. And the post-launch reality… well… Mythic probably wishes they had adapted as quickly as Rift.

    Is it the beta process that is broken?

    • SynCaine says:

      Well open beta is open beta, kinda hard to control the population there. But I don’t think you need to anyway.

      Locusts can enjoy themselves while also ask for ‘more WoW’, or in other words; short-term changes that are poison long-term. Actually, that’s exactly what they do. If they were not enjoying themselves, one would think they would not buy the box, right? So they love stuff like impact invasions, but the second one of them interupts a solo-quest, they ask for a nerf to invasion, even though they overall liked the more impact version better. Can’t see the forest through the trees and all that.

      And that’s where the devs have to be smart rather than just cave in. Sure nerfing invasions prevents solo-quest disruption. It also makes the game boring long-term, for others and that solo-quester himself. Of course, the locust does not really care, he is in/out in 3 months time anyway.

      But if you are designing a game that is expected to live longer than three months, why are you making changes to please the 3-monthers?

    • Carson says:

      I don’t think the beta PROCESS was broken in WAR’s case.

      We beta tested it.

      We told Mythic “this game is an incredibly long way away from being ready to release”.

      They released it.

      The ensuing calamity was a surprise to none of us.

      And frankly, all of the pre-release praise of WAR that I recall was based on their announcements, videos, press releases, etc., there wasn’t a lot of praise coming out of the beta. Some of the IDEAS were praised (e.g. levelling entirely through PvP if you so chose), but none of the implementation was.

  3. Roq says:

    Warhammer was a tragedy. It wasn’t designed to be a levelled game, but some time during early beta they succumbed to the pressure (from EA? the fans?) to make it as much like WoW as possible – as you suggest with Rift. The result was a complete abortion, which nevertheless retained some indications of what it might have been.

  4. Carson says:

    I shudder to think what Trion must have done to cause this post – because when I saw Rift in beta, it was 99% WoW. I’m not sure I’d even be able to notice if it went from 99% to 99.9% WoW.

  5. Gaugamela says:

    Syncaine, you stoped playing Rift after the patch 1.2. Do you even know the following improvements on the game?
    You’re talking as if they haven’t done anything since that time which isn’t true.

    Go check on Instant adventures in the open world or the Invasions that happen in the new zone for example, or the PvP Rifts, or the crafting Rifts. The higher difficulty level that was created for the dungeons after the nerf of the expert level.

    And the fact is that Trion has started to bet on horizontal leveling.

    • SynCaine says:

      How would I know about the improvements after I stopped playing a game? That would just be silly…

      I was around for crafting rifts, they suck because crafting sucks. Solo-duo instances also suck because they are solo-duo instances in an MMO. The ‘higher’ difficulty in the instances is (was?) just the original expertc level difficulty, minus the gear inflation. I’ve hear very mixed things about PvP rifts (the most negitive being that they are just like WAR keep swaps).

      I’ll give Trion credit for the rate of updates. I just wish that, along with the rate, the actual updates themselves were worthwhile too.

  6. Hong WeiLoh says:

    See also: EVE Online, hisec incursions, and any talk of nerfing them, despite the fact my new Sov-null corpies have told me that for the best fastest ISK in game, forget the sov systems, JC to hisec and farm incurions.. ;-) Best ISK period, esp when you figure the “risks” involved in null or lowsec.
    Sov-null is no longer the EVE end-game. Hisec incursions are. lol.

    • loire says:

      Incursions could almost be seen as the PVE endgame I suppose. Whereas null is a mostly PVP affair.

      • Hong WeiLoh says:

        lol! Ever hear the term “nullbear”? “Carebearing” is perhaps even safer in sov null, for precisely the reason that the “borders” are protected. You don’t have to worry about goons sidling up in a tier-3 and blowing away your Mack — chances are they got blasted 5 jumps away from you.
        If nothing else, a neut shows up in-system, it’s hostile, you safe and cloak, or dock.

        I’m guessing you’re one of those people who thinks every lowsec gate is camped and haven’t wandered much past .7 systems? ;-)

  7. Azuriel says:

    The issue is that a company making a “proper MMO” is leaving money on the table. There is clearly a market for themeparks, there is clearly millions of players ready to leave WoW for something better, and there are few investors or companies who are willing to only make $10 million a year when they could potentially make $100+ million.

    The devs of WoW originally believed they would, at most, get 325,000 subs. What company dreams of only 325k subs today? That’s the minimum number for SWTOR to stay in the black. CCP is doing “fine” with 325k, although obviously they are spending that EVE money financing nonsense like PS3-exclusive FPS games.

    My prediction is that the only people willing to go back to the “roots” would possibly be indie developers at this point. It simply makes no sense from an AAA investment angle to build the next AC or UO or whatever – it’s go big, or go home.

    • SynCaine says:

      I would agree with you if WoW was the norm, not the one single exception.

      What company HAS 325k subs today? Blizzard, CCP, and…?

      Now lets put together a list of companies that made big budget themeparks, failed, and are now producing web-apps, or dead. Surprise, the list is longer than the “who has 325k subs” list.

      • Stylx says:

        Which has 325k+ ‘subs’?

        Blizzard, CCP, SOE (EQ2 alone), Trion, BioWare, Turbine (DDO), Turbine (LOTR), SOE (DCO), Cryptic (maybe combined, maybe COH/COV has 325+ total).

        Then, the asian MMOs =\

        • SynCaine says:

          You listed a bunch of F2P titles, many of them failures pre-and-post F2P, as examples of games with 325k+ subs… really?

        • Stylx says:

          Sure I listed F2P.
          They are MMOs. They have a lot of active players. They make a lot of money. They get allocated development resources for actual content.

          Guild Wars 2 will be free to play after the initial box. Does that not make it an MMO?

          That aside. EQ2 was doing fairly well for a MMO. It converted to F2P, and now it makes a lot more money.

          DCO failed, sure. However now it converted to F2P and makes a ton of money and has a higher playerbase.

          A game company needs to pick a revenue model that will appeal to the target audience. If your target audience is of a transient nature, or extremely casual nature (as I expect many of the planetside 2 folks to be, as well as STO, Champions Online, etc), you should stick to F2P models. If you have a large core of regular gamers (Tera, EVE, Vanguard, Star Wars Galaxy, EQ, EQ2, WoW, Rift are examples of this — nevermind that EQ2 went F2P), subscriptions might make the most sense.

          Keep in mind, other players is a large part of your content, even in theme park MMOs. If you can’t get critical mass, you will fail no matter what.

          ———————–

          Personally, I’d much rather play a subscription game that forces a great degree of personal time and emotional investment. However, that isn’t the definition of an MMO, or even a MMO that makes money. It is just a “Stylx’s Preferred MMO”.

          That aside, there are a lot of examples of MMOs in the hundreds of thousands range. Numbers thin after 500k or so.

          For 350k+
          I don’t know how accurate these are, but

          I see Aion, Lineage, Lineage 2 — which are all popular in asia.
          Runescape which is weird… but whatever.
          FFXI, Rift, Second Life (didn’t even think of this), Eve.
          Dofus? Not sure what this is. I googled it and it looks dumb. But whatever.

          Lumping all cryptic games together, you get a fairly sizable product. Considering all of the games have the same play style, I think that is fair…CoH/CoV/Champions/STO all use concepts and are very similar. Plus, you said company.

          LOTR/DDO both F2P, but make decent cash… both Turbine.

          I’m very surprised to see EQ at 100k. that kind of explains why it gets an expansion every year still.

  8. Bernard says:

    As ‘locusts’ or ‘WoW tourists’ make up the vast majority of MMO players, wouldn’t it be easier just to refer to them as ‘MMO players’ or the ‘MMO market’ in summary?

    Or would everyone prefer that we retain a clear distinction beteen ‘us’ (smart, socialable adults) versus ‘them’ (idiot mouthbreathing teenagers with no social skills or hand-eye coordination)?

    It really grinds my gears when I start playing an new online game, only to find that it is popular with other gamers! Sometimes I’m not sure if someone I meet online is one of ‘us’ or one of ‘them’!

    • Hong WeiLoh says:

      Most idiot mouthbreathing teens have plenty of hand-eye coordination. It’s the brain-mouth/fingers coordination that requires work. ;-)

      Also, I’ve found most ‘us’ adults are smart, but lacking even moreso in social skills than the idiot mouthbreathing teens. Think “comic book guy” from the Simpsons: “Worst. [raid, fleet, failfit, whatever]. Ever. u suxx0r, goodbai.” Something like that, perhaps with a penis reference thrown in.

      Add to that the ever-growing sense of entitlement, self-importance, and general narcissism that, generally speaking as a plague began here in Murrica, but quickly spread overseas like the big scary pandemic it is… after all, there aren’t any losers, you still get a trophy for trying your best. Jence why the “average MMOer” loves games like WoW where “death” has no consequences, and absolutely abhors games like EVE (and believes it should become WoW), where everything has consequences and often they’re costly ones.

      • saucelah says:

        Perhaps I’ve been lucky, but every time I’ve run into terrible behavior directed at me, it’s been verified I was dealing with a kid. For example, a WoW PUG in an instance, as healer I tell them to stop because a friend called and was upset, sharing news that was also upsetting to me. They apparently paused for about 10 seconds and wiped, and when I came back to the screen they were just layering the insults. My friend I had been on the phone with before taking the call tries to explain to the other 3 what is going on, two of them move to talking about how they fucked the shit out of my friend, then quit the group and leave the instance.

        The third sticks around, apologizes for them, explains that he’s only 17, and that the two that quit are his little brother and a his friend, both 13, not an age that put them in a position to understand the real life severity of that call.

        I have many more stories like this from WoW, most came with verification that I was dealing with a child.

        • Hong WeiLoh says:

          I do feel bad that that happened to you. Having never played WoW (almost got dragged into it by an ex-gf though, almost, and now knowing what I do about the general WoW populace, things make a lot more sense), I really don’t have much experience with the playerbase there, except those I know IRL who play it. Some are great, some … well, some remind me of 20-30yr old versions of those kids.

          EVE is def in a different realm from WoW, though it seems EVE is slowly steering that direction, simply because CCP fails to realize that 1) internet spaceships isn’t as popular (nor will it ever be, and rightly so) as elves in chainmail g-strings, 2) what they created, the fundamental design philosophy (PvP game with PvE content) is completely contrary to WoW’s, 3) re-working to accomodate the WoW philosophy (PvE game with some PvP content) will essentially destroy the original game… but 4) they see the big $$$$ in WoW’s subscription base, even if diminished, and think “if only we could attract some of those people….” All the while not realizing that 5) most of the “those people” they’ll attract, are the entitled little fuckwad teens like you met in that group.

          I’m not sure which is worse, the mom’s-basement-dwelling “comic book guy” types like Socratic, or the lil asshat teenyboppers. :-/ I will say, though, that most EVE corps “RL comes first” and I have yet to see any that I’ve been involved with or a part of put a lie to that. If something comes up RL and you gotta go, everbody wishes a safe/happy/good resolution to whatever the issue is, and no hard feelings.

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    • saucelah says:

      I think you need to read Adam’s comment above about treating the symptoms while not perceiving the disease, because you’ve helped sell me on it.

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