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N8dunn

MMOs - why? (a bit of an editorial)

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just curious, and i don't mean to offend, but what's the big deal about MMOs? it seems like everyone and his brother has an idea for the "next big MMO" lately. i realize they bring in a ton of money, but as far as design goes, there isn't much new they bring to the table. // BEGIN: rant the big selling point, from my observations, is that instead of a storywriter handing you a storyline that you need to adhere to, or having x number of alternate storylines, there is unlimited possibility to create your own experience. however, the gameplay doesn't live up to this. when you actually play the game, everyone is working toward making their character "uber-badass" and the only real interaction going on is toward that end. star wars: galaxies did a good job of trying to get real interaction going by having non-combat classes, except that again, these people spend all their time "leveling" and gaining money. if a player could (or would) actually build a house/palace/complex/den, fill it with guards, and pay people to be their errand boys (deliver this, kill this guy, find me this item) the game would be more interesting, since real people are taking the place of NPCs. extend that further, and allow players to create their own areas and missions, and chances are you're going to end up with a lot of poorly designed crap, with toilet humor names and giant rewards for no challange, or vice versa, and a few really great areas to explore and interact with. in my opinion, the goal of the MMORPG should be to make as realistic a role as possible for the player to assume. obviously, most people want to be the bulked up commando or the super smart hacker, but if you have 5000 of them running around, what fun does the game become? would a better system be to say "we need x% merchants, y% crafters, z% warriors, etc" and allow players to pick their class only if it's available? or assign a class to the player when they begin? maybe if more people would actually role play, and spend less time trying to become insanely powerful, the experience would be a whole lot more fun. or maybe i'm the only one who thinks so. // END: rant

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I agree with alot of what you say. The big draw of MMO's is exactly that: they are Massively Multiplayer. People have an inherent need to interact with other people. Its the very nature of a social being. What no game has been able to master is the integration of players into the gaming world. Why not have cities with buildings owned and inhabited by players? Why create cities that are simply for show (EQ, UO, etc)? When players are able to inhabit domiciles within cities and create storefronts within city walls then you will have living breathing cities. That is what I think is missing from a lot of MMO games.

That and believeable death systems... :)

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i just realized that we posted similar topics at about the same time... great minds think alike, no? :-D

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To be honest, it's just the wow factor. People did the same with RTS and FPS games and RPG worship has remained reasonably constant throughout. MMO games are the currently 'cool' thing. I don't think it's worth giving much thought to, really.

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I'd agree Most MMO's don't deliver to thier potential. But there are very good reasons why people are so excited about MMOs in general; because they have ALOT of potential.

There are two things I'll mention, even though there are many more things to mention.

One is OWNERSHIP.

People love owning things.

Explorers love Owning knowledge.
Achievers love Owning reputations and loot.
Socializers love owning relationships and friendlist.
Killers just happen to love pwning other players.

When one says 'MMO'. It infers a persistant world/persona. And that 'persistant' element implies ownership.

And in many ways, a few MMOGs actually deliver on this to some extent.

The second thing is IMPACT (physical, temporal, social, and political), which, ironically, most MMOGs don't deliver at all, when that is where their main potential is.

Even in a single player game that allows you to affect the game world in extensive ways, it doesn't have the same impact potential like an MMOG. becuase you can always load from a saved game and the game is always eventually going to end, and all your impact is gone, and you can load it up again and start all over, and again all your impact is gone.

An MMOG has the potential to offer players real impact that changes the game world physically, socio/politically, and over long amounts of time, not only for themselves but for everyone else playing the game.

And I think this is very attractive to many players; however, most MMOGs don't do this. Probably becuase its really hard. But thats were thier big potential is, and no other game genre offers it.

Counter-strike is a great and very popular game; however, it will never be able to offer the things that WWIIOL does, which happens to not be very popular, but probably one of the best MMOGs ever made.

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I think it also has to do with genre fatigue. First person shooters, RPGs, Platformers, action/adventure games they are all fun but they all seem to run together sometimes. The plots get predictable, the gameplay gets repetitious.

MMOs bring humans into play and humans bring a randomness and creativity that cannot be captured by single player games. From the game design point of view they have the most potential and therefore allow designers the most creativity (even if they ARE impossible to implement).

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Ok one more comment, becuase it definitely answers the original question at least partially.

Quote:
To be honest, it's just the wow factor.[...] MMO games are the currently 'cool' thing. I don't think it's worth giving much thought to, really.


Another thing that tends to make MMOGs unique when compared to other game genres is that they seem to have a very real affect on people and thier relationships.

Below are some things you will not find in games, other than MMOGs.

When players spend 8+ hours a day playing one game, for months at a time, its something to think about.

When a Player's character Gets married to another players character not only becuase they are NERDS, but When a Player and another player get married in real-life becuase they met in-game and they get thier characters married too, its something to think about.

When a player kills another player in real life, becuase something in-game affected them, its something to think about.

When gangs of players, enter corporate facilities, by force, to change how things are going in-game, its something to think about.

When players make thousands of real world dollars (ebay), dealing in a virtual economy with virtual goods, its something to think about.

When in-game monuments are erected to players who have died in real-life, and players attend player funerals in-game, then it is something to think about.

It's not going away, it's something to think about.
So What's the big deal about MMOs?

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The big thing about MMOs is that most people don't realize you can communicate in the real world. That sounds silly, but AFAICT it is true, in that the only thing MMOs have going for them is 'you can play with other people'. Beleive it or not, you can play any multiplayer game with your friends, make new friends, keep in touch via voice chat and instant messages, etc. MMOs have just rolled it all into one so that you don't have to be at all intelligent to get things working together. Also, I guess the whole abstraction of people as their avatar helps some get over their asocial tendancies more so than just the general anonymity provided by the internet.

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Quote:
Also, I guess the whole abstraction of people as their avatar helps some get over their asocial tendancies more so than just the general anonymity provided by the internet.


There is some truth in this but most of it is myth. Personally, I am a very anti-social person at times, and I tend to be when playing MMOGs as well. I play solo. The people I know that play these games and get involved heavily with Guilds and affiliations are also very social in Real life.

Thats just peronsal expierence. However, alot of this can be seen here at,The Daedalus

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I think the main reason people choose to start dev a mmo game is because

They are programmers
They played one
It involves network (Internet)
(Resource management)
Script
Graphics (3d)
Teamwork
High potential
Resistant worlds
Worlds
Recognition
Players actually playing there game

Then after a while of coding you get smacked in the face, you realize how much work there actually is to make a decent mmo game. If you don’t work hard on a good base for the game then the tiniest little thing you want to add results in tons of work.

It’s hard to use the principles of k.i.s.s. when your fantasies explode. There is so many features you want your game to have and it seems so simple at first but after some dev it kicks you in the face and leaves you left for dead.

humm.. did I leave the subject

I’ve been there tried that...

anonymous
you dont die when you die

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