05 Jun, 2014, Chaos wrote in the 1st comment:
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So I discovered I have some pretty unkind thoughts about mainstream MMO development and its priorities, this having been made clear to me when I found myself typing them:

otherperson: Do you still code for your mud?
chaos: yup
otherperson: Wow.
otherperson: I'd think that all the immersive environments would have killed it.
chaos: nah
chaos: they're such facile unambitious exploitative shit that there's a little bit of spillover of people looking for something else
otherperson: Pay to Play can be annoying.
chaos: it isn't really pay-to-play as such that's annoying imo, as that the basic experience is this shallow hedonic treadmill that's designed to basically give you OCD and keep you sunk into it as long as possible, milking you for cash as you go, while continuously promising a deeper experience that's never delivered
chaos: pay-to-play is an element of that, and a raison d'etre obviously, but it's a very particular style and (abusive) relationship with the player
chaos: you can easily have a pay-to-play game that doesn't treat you abusively
chaos: but you can't have a large scale commercial one because abuse dynamics are the only way to squeeze enough money out of people to pay for the customer service staff
chaos: even at poverty wages paid to a call center in thailand

I wonder what you folks think about this. :)
05 Jun, 2014, plamzi wrote in the 2nd comment:
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You're being too easy on those guys. Their ambition is *not* to cover the poverty wages in their call center :)

I keep thinking that it has to be possible to create a casual, simple, addictive, immersive MMO that would not insult smart people's intelligence, nor rape stupid people's wallets. But my guess is it will come from the indie dev scene. And maybe it already exists, but it lacks the money megaphone for us to hear about it…
05 Jun, 2014, quixadhal wrote in the 3rd comment:
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The biggest problem with graphical MMO's is that it's expensive and time consuming to make graphics, and you need GOOD graphics to be taken seriously in that market. Content creation just doesn't scale well.

In a MUD, you could have a small staff and still churn out a new area every month with a handful of quests, new creatures and items, and maybe even a one-time event to introduce it to the players.

Now, how would you go about that in a graphical MMO? Just trying to get all the team on the same page would take some time, and if you aren't going to reuse most of your assets from other areas, it would be pretty tough to get new artwork drawn and turned into 3d models and then put into the game world's framework and STILL have QA test it.

But, players chew through content! That's why MMO's have kept it fairly simple… not that it needs to be simple, but it needs to be repeatable. That's why "endgame" is usually you fighting the RNG through instances over and over again… if you just ran through everything one time, you'd fall off the end of the content and quit before anything new was ready.
06 Jun, 2014, Nathan wrote in the 4th comment:
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A problem I see is that it's incredibly hard to deliver an experience like, say, Fallout 3 for thousands or tens of thousands of player (or more…). One particular issue is that the average player wants to be personally important and you really can't make more than a handful of players the center of the world, it's both unrealistic and near impossible. By that I mean that the real world doesn't work that way. You can make someone self-important in a pocket world (instancing and separate servers, etc), but then that importance is once again just to the world and npcs and not to other players. It's hard to build a dynamic world evenly close resembling ours (the real one) in it's mechanics.

In the best of all worlds, I'd love to see fantasy rpg mmos with something close to the amount of player control as say Eve Online. It's going to be hard because you need responsible in-game authorities to curb the excesses of crazy players. For instance you were going to be realistic-ish, then whenever an NPC was killed they'd be dead for good. That would present a serious problem really fast (some nutcase would go kill them all) and making only the NPCs unkillable or making them as powerful as the best player are not really good solutions and may destroy the atmosphere of the game. One reasonable way to handle it is to employ a D&D-esque level cap like 20 where you can hit the end and then you can't advance in power in great strides anymore. Of course, then you have to develop a more complex, interesting game that doesn't run solely on combat and questing. You need working crafting systems and to convince people that mining resources, making stuff, politicking, etc is worth their time to play a lot of. You also have to allow for the possibility that someone will scheme to end the world or plot a massive takeover. The fact is that such a world probably wouldn't work if it wasn't largely under player control what happened.

In summary, the mmo developer is caught somewhere between player desires that are difficult to fulfill meaningfully on a good day, and downright impossible on a bad one and a commercial enterprise that needs the players to be caught up in the game so they'll keep paying money to play it. That combination probably lends to lowest common denominator design that satisfies the company and just barely placates the player and keeps them from not playing it.
07 Jun, 2014, Ssolvarain wrote in the 5th comment:
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I've been the Savior of the Shadowlands, Champion of the Horde, and a Hero of Light.

Don't tell me MMOs can't make you feel your character is special. It takes the same suspension of belief to follow the story as it does to immerse yourself in a game. If you don't enjoy the game itself, you're never going to enjoy its endgame.
08 Jun, 2014, Nathan wrote in the 6th comment:
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Ssolvarain said:
I've been the Savior of the Shadowlands, Champion of the Horde, and a Hero of Light.

Don't tell me MMOs can't make you feel your character is special. It takes the same suspension of belief to follow the story as it does to immerse yourself in a game. If you don't enjoy the game itself, you're never going to enjoy its endgame.

Think what you like, but it's not very exciting to follow the same, almost static, quest line that everyone else does and to repeat for every new character. Most characters are at best sojourners with no real place in the virtual world. They don't even really live there.
08 Jun, 2014, quixadhal wrote in the 7th comment:
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Of course not! They live in an SQL database, with all the other characters!
08 Jun, 2014, Nathan wrote in the 8th comment:
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Very funny, Quix. :P You know what I mean.
09 Jun, 2014, Runter wrote in the 9th comment:
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I live in South East Asia. Just wanted to clarify that all center jobs are well above poverty level here.
09 Jun, 2014, Runter wrote in the 10th comment:
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all = call

time to edit expired already.
09 Jun, 2014, Ssolvarain wrote in the 11th comment:
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Nathan said:
Think what you like, but it's not very exciting to follow the same, almost static, quest line that everyone else does and to repeat for every new character. Most characters are at best sojourners with no real place in the virtual world. They don't even really live there.

Your character is you. It is what you choose to make of it. You certainly don't live in a game, either, yet I bet you choose to play them.
09 Jun, 2014, Nathan wrote in the 12th comment:
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You clearly don't get so I'll quit wasting my effort on you. What I am talking about is not about what you make of it.

When a game provides the ability to craft stuff, but the gear you can buy from npcs (in infinite supply I might add) and the randomized gear obtained from adventuring (essentially infinite supply) is better than almost anyone can make no matter how good their character is at crafting then that aspect of the game is just broken. What's the point of making something that will always be inferior and yet ends up costing much more and thus not being profitable? If the game isn't player run then the player is like a foreigner who has no part in anything local.
09 Jun, 2014, Ssolvarain wrote in the 13th comment:
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Let's talk about that first sentence for a second.

Don't talk to me or anyone else any kind of way you feel just because this is the internet. You made a post, I responded. You quoted it, I responded again. I don't understand how I can fail to "get" your point, when all you're doing is pining about the fact that you can't enjoy a game. Just because you have a pissy attitude doesn't really give you an excuse or a motivation to run your mouth. People can have different opinions about a subject and treat each other civilly without threat or moderation.
09 Jun, 2014, Nathan wrote in the 14th comment:
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Maybe you should quit being so stuck up. It's apparent to that you like insulting people and expect not to be treated the same in return.

You clearly don't understand, because I do enjoy plenty of games. It also happens to be the case that I think they could be much better and I am somewhat in agreement with the notions indicated in the initial post that those games are somewhat shallow and are in fact, designed to be that way. You're attitude is just as questionable. When you want to have different opinions and treat -me- civilly you go right ahead, because you have not been so far.

One thing in particular that you don't seem to understand is that enjoyment of a game is not just about what you make of it. It's just not. If that were true, then there would be no game with universally bad reviews. Some games are shit and others are generally considered good. The fact of the matter is that there is a degree of objective reality about whether a game is fun and things that make games fun.

P.S. A game can be enjoyable and still have an endgame which is not enjoyable.
09 Jun, 2014, quixadhal wrote in the 15th comment:
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Wandering back around the topic, take a look at a few of the MMO's that are still out there.

The vast majority of them offer two distinct experiences.. the "leveling" game, and the "endgame". During the "leveling" game, people generally run around doing quests, killing critters, running instanced dungeons, and in some cases doing PvP battleground matches, all of which gain you experience. Usually, such games have one (or more) main storylines that are primarily told via that series of quests. Sometimes, those stories continue into the leveling dungeons. If you skip a dungeon, it's like skipping a chapter in a book… you can usually still follow the story, but you miss content. In addition, there are usually numerous "side quests", which may flesh out details of the story that aren't really important to the overall arc, but provide lots of lore and history for those who enjoy a more lifelike world history. And, some of those side quests are just amusing, or in some cases, mechanical, with no part of the overall story at all.

Many people enjoy one or most aspects of this style of gameplay.

When you get to the "endgame" part, your options narrow down to basically two choices. You can repeat the instanced dungeons (and their larger counterparts, the raids) to obtain gear which allows you to progress into more difficult dungeons or raids, until you either hit the point where you can't progress any further, or you hit the current "cap" and have to wait for new content to be added. Your other choice is typically to compete in PvP matches, which become "ranked", and work much like the dungeon/raid system, but instead of seeing new dungeons, you simply compete against better and better players (if you move up the ladder).

The nature of this "endgame" is different than the "leveling" content. While you may choose to repeat things while leveling, very few games have so little content that you are forced to do so. In fact, long-running games like WoW and EQ tend to have so much content that you can out-level it before seeing it all. So, while leveling, you are constantly experiencing an evolving storyline. Sometimes it's really cool. Sometimes, boring.

In "endgame" though, you don't have that. You may get a chunk of story and lore with each dungeon/raid, but once you've done them a couple of times, there's nothing else to do until you get the drops needed to move on to the next chunk. You can no longer become more powerful by leveling, and are entirely at the mercy of the random number generator for loot drops. MANY people (myself included) dislike that rinse-and-repeat mechanic, and us "casuals" tend to get bored and stop playing… not because we can't compete, but because we don't want to put in the necessary grinding to do so.

Sandbox games try to work around this by having player-generated content, but in most cases, this amounts to PvP squabbling over land. In a very very few cases, the drama and intrigue this generates can be enough fun to make it worthwhile (EVE-Online), but usually it's just masses of zerg-armies smashing against each other forever.

There are games that offer other activities which are NOT part of the normal "gameplay", which can keep people interested and playing while they wait for new developer-generated content. Wildstar and EQ2 both feature extensive housing systems, which many people can happily waste countless hours tweaking. Crafting is often a fun way to spend time, especially when you treat the marketplace as a PvP game and consider becoming wealthy to be the equivalent of gaining XP. Lately, collecting "achivements" has become popular, and EQ2's "collection" system is a wonderful way to get people to revisit old content in search of the rare items.

However, in all these cases, you are only as important as the rest of the community thinks you are. The game itself cannot care about you, because it's NOT a group of friends playing D&D around a table. You can't be "THE" hero, because that would mean everyone else has to be less important than you were. That's not fair.

In many games, some players DO stand out. There are youtube videos of people who made really amazing houses in EQ2. There are tons of stories about people who did incredible things in EVE-Online. Each game often has a few PvP'ers who are infamous for their skill or how horrible of griefers they were. But none of that is something the game can offer you. Either you become super-good at it, and be social enough to get noticed… or you don't.
10 Jun, 2014, Nathan wrote in the 16th comment:
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With regard to crafting, I think that in order for it to be a successful mechanic it has to be able to produce better gear that what can be bought. It doesn't have to be epic or awesome just noticeably better. If you have to put time and effort in to produce what people can get for less effort by doing the normal content and going to npc vendors, then crafting is broken. I also am in favor of breaking stuff down producing real materials rather than 'essences' and whatever other b.s. is used in various MMOs. Of course, for that to work it has to mesh with whatever other resource gathering mechanics exist and there must not be infinite gear available to produce infinite material supply at limited cost. In other words, the raw materials must have semi-stable value. Also, you need to not have to purchase lots of expensive materials from npc vendors to help break the stuff down… like some games do.

Basically, I think mechanics that work well amount to fun (maybe not directly, but still) and such mechanics arise from good design.