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Purpose in MMORPG's

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This starts off with a tangent about combat - but it gets where it's going :) A thought has just occured to me. In the PS2 game Devil May Cry 3, you level up different fighting styles by acquiring style points. You get style points for defeating enemies. The more complex and daring the moves you perform, the more style points you gain. The more mundane and repetetive your moves are, the less you gain overall. Duh! Why not make the experience gains in RPG's (Online and/or otherwise) tied to the player's performance? Not neccesarily in a 'style' based way, but in some way or form? That would greately add to the satisfaction factor. If you were rewarded for performing better in fights, this would create a motive to suffer through hours of repetetive grinding. But wait...why even suffer through hours of grinding? How many MMORPG's force you to grind to level? When you enter the game world, what is your purpose? Why are you just killing things for days? Why are you even going on quests? (This ties together, bear with me) If a person were to play a game like World of Warcraft alone, the experience would excruciatingly boring. The world is dependent on the players that inhabit it, and has little to no personality otherwise. You may be thinking, "Well duh. It's a MMORPG." But this is no excuse. The game world gives the player no meaning, purpose, or reason. The players populate the world - but they do nothing to advance the cohesiveness of the plot or gameplay. They just alleiviate social boredom. The games, at their core, are rather aimless. If you look at Diablo II, designed as both a single and multiplayer experience, you realize that the game has appeal because of the fact that it was designed to support solo play as well. The multiplayer aspect has that much more depth because it doesn't rely on the fact that you have others around you to build the cohesiveness of the world. Now, when you have games with no clear purpose (In Diablo II, you knew from the beginning that you had to kill Diablo and his brothers. Simple.), you run into problems. It's absurd to spend hours just killing things. What decent single player game requires you to grind before you can get to the next stage? Can you imagine having to kill things for a few days before you could beat Tony Hawk's Pro Skater? Or if you had to kill 1000 elites to advance past the Silent Cartographer in Halo? I know that those games are not RPG's, but why should that matter? Why should RPG's be entitled to wasting profuse amounts of the player's time? It's shameful. This now leads back into combat. Enemies in games are traditionally placed as obstacles between you and your goal. You kill them because you have to - and if you so choose, you kill them for fun. In many MMORPG's, they are both the means and the end. It's illogical. MMORPG's should be roleplaying games played online with lots of players. Role Playing games should be games where you play a role and develop your character. That should not involve participating in boring combat situations and leveling ad infinitum. Therein, when you travel the line all the way up to MMORPG, all these things should still hold true. Ironically enough, grinding would be less of a hassle if the combat was fun. I wouldn't mind grinding as much if it was as fast paced and fun as combat in an FPS or in a game such as Devil May Cry. In fact, I often play Devil May Cry and kill enemies repeatedly in order to improve my skills and obtain items. Why is this more tolerable than it is in an MMORPG? I have a purpose, and it's damn fun. In contrast, when you're thrown into a world with no particular purpose, one that doesn't react to your achievements (You kill a boss and they respawn later. Big whoop.), one where the NPC's are lame and the world doesn't pull you in, and one where the interactions, leveling (Even leveling is up for debate - But that's for another post), and fighting are weak and boring when compared to other games - it is boring as all hell. So, in conclusion, what MMORPG's tend to lack is true immersion (E.g. not half assed "You are in a huge world! FEEL IMMERSED!") and purpose - in interactions, in the combat, in NPC and locations, and even in player interaction. It just isn't very detailed. Methinks developers would benefit if they developed MMO's more like deathmatch shooters with interconnected maps. The gameplay should be about combat, the world should only enhance that. Wow...I went off on alot of tangents here. My two hundred cents :)

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Though I'm not much of an MMO fan, I find it interesting that both MMOs and open-ended games (like Elite) have a problem which strategy and story-based games solve: Closure. It is a good point that you make that we often feel the need that things are heading in a certain direction, and this entails some sort of end or resolution.

As far as economics of MMOs, though, I'll have to use my dogfood principle: "Why make fille minion, when your customers will eat dogfood?"

When there is a critical mass of players demanding something different, the games will change. Right now the market is so glutted with me-toos that the grind and alleviation from social boredom make sense as a low-risk way of getting a continuous revenue stream. (Who cares about making a game, we're talking money! [rolleyes])

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You're hitting a main point and key here. It's called be animated. Making things more life-like and real. The point is, if this is real, I could face the boss and get my ass whopped or get lucky and find a BFG and blast the shit out of him. Your level shouldn't determine what you can and can't do, it's how good you can do it...

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Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
Though I'm not much of an MMO fan, I find it interesting that both MMOs and open-ended games (like Elite) have a problem which strategy and story-based games solve: Closure. It is a good point that you make that we often feel the need that things are heading in a certain direction, and this entails some sort of end or resolution.

As far as economics of MMOs, though, I'll have to use my dogfood principle: "Why make fille minion, when your customers will eat dogfood?"

When there is a critical mass of players demanding something different, the games will change. Right now the market is so glutted with me-toos that the grind and alleviation from social boredom make sense as a low-risk way of getting a continuous revenue stream. (Who cares about making a game, we're talking money! [rolleyes])


While the regulars that frequent your "Kibbles" restaurant may be enough for you in this scenario, you would be making the mistake that countless MMO developers do all the time -- failing to see the bigger potential. All MMO's are plagued by the "money for nothing" syndrome. Their main focus is to keep finding ways to squeeze more money out of those willing to stick it out without giving them anything in return but empty promises of fixed bugs & added content. They fail to see that while they tighten the grip on those willing to stay, the others are oozing out like wet mud in a clenching fist. They are losing millions in these efforts to make a few extra bucks. I call this tripping over dollars to pick up pennies.

MMO's as they are currently designed only have long-term appeal to a very small minority of the entire gaming community. If they were smart they would apply the massively multiplayer part to the more popular gameplay styles. Any MMO developer would sell his mom for the online populations that have thrived from games such as CS etc... well, here's a clue -- provide the gameplay styles they do.

There IS a critical mass of players demanding what you say they're not. Almost every big MMO has suffered from massive subscription loss -- And the top reasons are exactly what the original poster described. The problem is that developers are to shortsighted to see it. As long as we're talking principles, I'll use one of my favorites..."If you build it, they will come."

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Original post by Anonymous Poster
While the regulars that frequent your "Kibbles" restaurant may be enough for you in this scenario, you would be making the mistake that countless MMO developers do all the time -- failing to see the bigger potential. All MMO's are plagued by the "money for nothing" syndrome. Their main focus is to keep finding ways to squeeze more money out of those willing to stick it out without giving them anything in return but empty promises of fixed bugs & added content. They fail to see that while they tighten the grip on those willing to stay, the others are oozing out like wet mud in a clenching fist. They are losing millions in these efforts to make a few extra bucks. I call this tripping over dollars to pick up pennies.


Please don't think that I'm advocating that philosophy, I was just describing the process. If a project is to be professionally funded, over and over again, it will be compared to what's already out there. If publishers see that a model is raking in tons of money, they'll demand a product that is like it.

Now customers may be doing my favorite thing, "voting with their dollar." But it seems so far that they're outvoted.

Quote:

If they were smart they would apply the massively multiplayer part to the more popular gameplay styles. Any MMO developer would sell his mom for the online populations that have thrived from games such as CS etc... well, here's a clue -- provide the gameplay styles they do.


Haven't they done this already? (Haven't played it, but I thought that Planetside, minus the head shots, was an example)


Quote:

There IS a critical mass of players demanding what you say they're not.


Where are they? Where are they making themselves heard? (Again, I'm not an MMO fan, so there may be some huge outcry that I haven't heard of, but when I see the success of Star Wars Galaxies, warts and all, I've got to wonder)

Quote:

"If you build it, they will come."


I wish I could believe this, but the expression "best game nobody played" withers my faith a bit. I'd rather change this to "damn the torpedoes, build it anyway!" [smile]

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I think the overall goal in an MMO is to be noticed, to be the best. People grind all day and all night so they can eventually kill the biggest monster, craft the best weapons, or cast the best spells. Once they can do these things they say, "Look at me, I'm so l33t!" Attention is the name of the game. Others play so they can do something with their friends or make new friends. And other people play just because they like the gameplay or graphics.

I'd call what was once Wish a great MMO full of potential. The frequent events allowed anybody to have fun and join in on the story. Spawned enemies were scaled to the event group's overall strength. Even the quests that spawned from the events and led to new events didn't require any particular level or skill. Participants were recognized in the game's newspaper and received special loot during the events. It was easy to make some new friends and the roleplaying was some of the best I've ever experienced.

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Original post by The Regent
I think the overall goal in an MMO is to be noticed, to be the best. People grind all day and all night so they can eventually kill the biggest monster, craft the best weapons, or cast the best spells. Once they can do these things they say, "Look at me, I'm so l33t!" Attention is the name of the game. Others play so they can do something with their friends or make new friends. And other people play just because they like the gameplay or graphics.


Not everyone. Dr Richard Bartle, the co-creator of the first MUD wrote a paper back in the 90s that puts MUD and MMO players in 4 broad catagories: Achiever, Explorer, Socializer, or Killer. You are referring to the achiever types, but Bartle makes a strong case for other player types in these games. I'm inclined to think that there are more than 4 basic player types and/or those 4 groups aren't granular enough. Nevertheless, he does make some great points about player types. His book, Designing Virtual Worlds is a great read for anyone interested in an indepth analysis of MMOs.

Quote:

I'd call what was once Wish a great MMO full of potential. The frequent events allowed anybody to have fun and join in on the story. Spawned enemies were scaled to the event group's overall strength. Even the quests that spawned from the events and led to new events didn't require any particular level or skill. Participants were recognized in the game's newspaper and received special loot during the events. It was easy to make some new friends and the roleplaying was some of the best I've ever experienced.


/agreed

I'm not ready to call Wish the best thing since sliced bread, but it is unfortunate that the project was cancelled. If nothing else it could have moved the genre forward.

PD

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Original post by pink_daisy
Not everyone. Dr Richard Bartle, the co-creator of the first MUD wrote a paper back in the 90s that puts MUD and MMO players in 4 broad catagories: Achiever, Explorer, Socializer, or Killer. You are referring to the achiever types, but Bartle makes a strong case for other player types in these games. I'm inclined to think that there are more than 4 basic player types and/or those 4 groups aren't granular enough. Nevertheless, he does make some great points about player types. His book, Designing Virtual Worlds is a great read for anyone interested in an indepth analysis of MMOs.
I did mention Socializer and sort of mentioned Explorer, but it was only a couple of sentences. Anyway, you're absolutely right. MMOs could be a great source of info on psychology. I may have heard of this Dr. Bartle, but I did read some presentation on MMOs by Raph Koster and Rich Vogel. It was about manipulating players into loving your game and getting their help in silencing nay-sayers...of course it was explained in a much more neutral way than I've just stated. ;)

I've found that presentation: Here

[Edited by - The Regent on June 4, 2005 2:12:28 AM]

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Hmmm...hmmm...

I didn't know that so many people noticed that MMO's are largely (if not solely) engineered to make money. I theorize that developers would benefit in the long run if they created a more symbiotic relationship between player and developer. As the system runs now, most things that make developers more money in MMORPG's consequently make the game less fun for the player. If the developer designed a game in which profit was made porportionally to the experience that the player was having (Well, the basic idea - It would be kind of impossible to create a system that gives you money based on the 'happiness' of your players :)), games would both be better and make more money - in the long run. You can only saturate the market with inferior crap for so long. Eventually, someone will beat you or people will get tired, and find something more fun to do. While it might not be as cost effective in the short term to produce FUN games (I know...what a concept...FUN games...) that don't act solely as timesinks, it would be beneficial in the long run.

Alas, it is true. The lack of direction in MMORPG's is either a symptom or propigator of time wasting. I suppose if people were compelled to play a game because of the enjoyment factor and not just because they're trying to make their character stronger so that the game will be less boring, they would probably get alot more done more quickly. The more aimless wandering you do, the more time you spend, the more money they make. Yech. This gives me the urge to throw a gigantic monkey-wrench into the entire contraption.

P.S. - Check out Gamasutra's 'It's all relative' article. It offers a very good definition of what kinds of people like to play what games. Too lazy to get the link :)

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