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Why is everything MMO?

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Having participated much in the MMO craze (and still being a participant, don't get me wrong) - why has the MMO concept gained so much popularity - on these boards and otherwise? It seems that every other topic is about a hypothetical MMO game - why is that? EDIT - I'm aiming more for the reason that developers (Or just gamedev.net geeks) seem to be drawn to the MMO idea - the reasons that the market focuses on them are rather obvious and uninteresting. Why do people want to develop them, finances aside? [Edited by - Nytehauq on March 30, 2006 10:53:01 AM]

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Because MMO games are popular. The same thing happened with first person shooters. Everybody wanted to create an FPS, and nothing else. People wanted to integrate everything into an FPS game, and some really bad ideas came out of it. Just like now, there are some downright horrible MMO game ideas floating around. How about MMO Fishing?! We haven't seen a good fishing game in a while now. My level 74 Angler has a kickass Carbon Rod +7 of Accuracy and a Steel Hook +3!

I personally don't see what the fuss is about. The games themselves are BORING. Granted I haven't played every MMO game, but I don't see the concepts changing all that much. Playing a game with 50 other people at any given moment doesn't make up for the fact that the game is boring..

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It gives the illusion of ultimate freedom every player and designer wants. Too bad it IS an illusion.

For many a MMO is the perfect environment in which poor defined ideas are percepted as good.

It was a time when RPGs, RTSs and FPSs were hunting forums :). Now it is MMO time. And it cycles. I think it depends on a large measure on industry way of going at the settled time.

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Original post by Nytehauq
Having participated much in the MMO craze (and still being a participant, don't get me wrong) - why has the MMO concept gained so much popularity - on these boards and otherwise? It seems that every other topic is about a hypothetical MMO game - why is that?


It's a fad. A book is written, which is redone as a movie, a multiplayer game is released, a line of toys and clothing and lunchboxes and flamethrowers (the kids love this one) with the branded name flood the market, and eventually the craze dies down.

Merchandising! Merchandising!

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another advantage to MMO games is that they are easier to keep from being pirated as much. If the company can be fairly sure that a major part of the game can't be copied and put on the web for just anyone to download, they can be fairly sure that the midliners (people that will pay if they can't get a free copy, what is likely the smallest group of people) will actually pay for their game.

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You can merchandize a brand, but not a genre...

Anyway, a well done MMO talks to a deep-rooted instinct in the human being: working together against a dangerous and hostile ouside world. Because we are social beings, who used to have to work together against a dangerous and hostile outside world, there are probably certain reward buttons in our being being pushed when raiding the Molten Core or whatever -- the same buttons as were pushed when we slaid the wooly mammoth threatening our tribe on the steppe :-)

In my opinion, that's why MMO is so powerful.

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Original post by hplus0603
You can merchandize a brand, but not a genre...

Anyway, a well done MMO talks to a deep-rooted instinct in the human being: working together against a dangerous and hostile ouside world. Because we are social beings, who used to have to work together against a dangerous and hostile outside world, there are probably certain reward buttons in our being being pushed when raiding the Molten Core or whatever -- the same buttons as were pushed when we slaid the wooly mammoth threatening our tribe on the steppe :-)

In my opinion, that's why MMO is so powerful.


I concur. I never found any genre to be particularly exciting unless it had a certain amount of depth and complexity to it. While FPS's are fun, I've never had a strong desire to build my own - I like to craft worlds, not so much individual games. The massive and the multiplayer allow that kind of freedom - we are social creatures in a rather large world. It only makes sense that our games would eventually reproduce that setting more accurately, and that we would be enthralled by the oppurtunity to build them that way. Technically - most everything we do in life is massively multiperson - simulating THAT instead of just the individual an unrelated events (playing ping-pong for instance ;P) seems to be the logical step.

However, one caveat:

Raiding Molten Core isn't fun, I must say ;P

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Original post by Codman
It gives the illusion of ultimate freedom every player and designer wants. Too bad it IS an illusion.

For many a MMO is the perfect environment in which poor defined ideas are percepted as good.

It was a time when RPGs, RTSs and FPSs were hunting forums :). Now it is MMO time. And it cycles. I think it depends on a large measure on industry way of going at the settled time.


But MMO isn't a genre. It's a modifier - you can have an MMORTS, MMORPG, and an MMOFPS.

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Original post by jonahrowley
Because MMO games are popular. The same thing happened with first person shooters. Everybody wanted to create an FPS, and nothing else. People wanted to integrate everything into an FPS game, and some really bad ideas came out of it. Just like now, there are some downright horrible MMO game ideas floating around. How about MMO Fishing?! We haven't seen a good fishing game in a while now. My level 74 Angler has a kickass Carbon Rod +7 of Accuracy and a Steel Hook +3!

I personally don't see what the fuss is about. The games themselves are BORING. Granted I haven't played every MMO game, but I don't see the concepts changing all that much. Playing a game with 50 other people at any given moment doesn't make up for the fact that the game is boring..


I agree with the boring part. But it that a symptom of the type (MMO) or the quality of MMO games that people produce? I'm thinking the latter.

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Original post by Talroth
another advantage to MMO games is that they are easier to keep from being pirated as much. If the company can be fairly sure that a major part of the game can't be copied and put on the web for just anyone to download, they can be fairly sure that the midliners (people that will pay if they can't get a free copy, what is likely the smallest group of people) will actually pay for their game.


Yeah. Not quite what I was getting at, but true nonetheless.

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Original post by MatrixCubed
Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
Having participated much in the MMO craze (and still being a participant, don't get me wrong) - why has the MMO concept gained so much popularity - on these boards and otherwise? It seems that every other topic is about a hypothetical MMO game - why is that?


It's a fad. A book is written, which is redone as a movie, a multiplayer game is released, a line of toys and clothing and lunchboxes and flamethrowers (the kids love this one) with the branded name flood the market, and eventually the craze dies down.

Merchandising! Merchandising!


I disagree and agree. While publishers have been marketing the hell out of the MMO name, it's still just the same concept as chat rooms and all the other massively online social "thingies" - most of those "thingies" having been around too long to really be considered fads. I think it taps into something more than just passing.

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Original post by Nytehauq
I agree with the boring part. But it that a symptom of the type (MMO) or the quality of MMO games that people produce? I'm thinking the latter.


I'm thinking the former. In my estimation MMORPGs are boring precisely because you're one citizen out of thousands or even hundreds of thousands. When people play RPGs they want to be the hero, not the baker down the street. It's analogous to the fact that fiction is written from the point of view of (or at least describing) the main characters in the overall dramatic arc, not one random inconsequential villager out of thousands.

Note that I'm specifically talking about RPGs. This observation may not hold water in other MMO-genres, which are still mostly untested. The one that comes most readily to mind is MMOFPS, but I think comparing MMOFPSs to MMORPGs is like comparing apples to oranges. An MMOFPS (at least those I've read about, haven't ever tried any admittedly) is really nothing more than a glorified multiplayer FPS with a HUGE lobby.

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The whole paradigm of multiplayer gaming is being irrevocably changed by the simple fact that connectivity is improving so much.

Lobby services offer a simple glimpse of what I think is coming - service offer 'private' games to thousands of potential players. Instanced dungeons in games like EQII, SWG, WoW are little different when you consider it. Only the format has changed - from a simple menu to a 3d environment.

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Original post by Michalson
Why is everything 3D?


You don't know?... jeezz. [smile]

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3d is easier to get around in, because it's got that whole depth dimension, so you can use a proper map. 2d games with big maps, all the way back to the venerable Castlevania 2, feel a little bit weird. Top-down, like The Legend of Zelda, works well, but you start to feel like you're playing a board game, moving pieces over icons and triggering effects.

The 3d illusion contributes to immersion, which is key. As others have noted here and elsewhere, MMO gameplay is boring. Mechanical controls, long travel times, impractical learning systems and repetitive tasks make MMO grinding the worst of all gameplay types. Becasue the system must accomodate every player, it cannot really serve any of them, so you're pretty much on your own.

That said, I'm still an EVE fanboy, and have started playing it even more than I play N (Episode 29 has been kicking my ass for days. Days!). I like to calculate profits for mining expeditions, and to plan skill training for months in advance (205 days to Recon Ship! \o/). I like to chat, IRC-style, with my squaddies while my lasers cut away at an asteroid or coordinate flanking maneuvers on Teamspeak during complex battles. I like to check the market to see what I can get for the goods I manufacture, and read the in-game newspaper to learn what's been going on with the player-run military/industrial alliances out in lawless space. It's a vibrant, dynamic world, and if my presence in it consists of clumsy combat, mindless mining, long travel times and discouraging character improvement (205 fekking days to Recon Ship! T_T), that's no big deal.

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There's also the challenging aspect of an MMOG.

I could ask the same question in a different way: "Why does every mountain climber dream of climbing Mt. Everest? What's wrong with, say, climbing High Point in NJ? It's easier and just as much nature." ;)

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Original post by Michalson
Why is everything 3D?


You're either reffering to the fact that 3D is standard or to the fact that everything is NOT actually 3D. Two dimensional games are still popular.

Touche, touche. So you're saying that MMO's are either the evolutionary step or not as prolific as made out to be?

I dunno, they don't seem to just be the "next" step, and they do seem rather prolific on these forums.

Do I misunderstand? ;)

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Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
Top-down, like The Legend of Zelda, works well, but you start to feel like you're playing a board game, moving pieces over icons and triggering effects.


Which is why I love those games. There's something to be said for "immersive" (in the common sense) games, but there's also something to be said for thinly veiled games. They have something of the appeal of board or card games or puzzles. Ever met a cut-throat Monopoly player? Ever play Settlers into the wee hours of the morning? Ever felt the irresistible draw to a jigsaw puzzle? (even people who claim to loathe jigsaw puzzles can't seem to resist the temptation to "Look for just a minute". 5 hours later... [rolleyes][wink])

As for MMO's, I think the draw is that MMORPG's promise to let you be a hero in an actual community of real people. MMORTS's and MMOFPS's come about from a "what's good for the goose is good for the gander" attitude. Someone on this forum had the rather picturesque "steak milkshake" comparison to describe the mentality. (I'm not sure an MMOFPS would be quite so bad, but an MMORTS, in the vein of Warcraft, seems like a horrid idea to me.)

As pointed out, MMORPG's can't really follow through with this promise. I remember a planet with too many superheroes on Justice League. They started saving people from every little thing. Not very heroic and kind of annoying to the common people. It sounds like Eve gets around this by offering something interesting other than being a hero, but then it also doens't have quite the mass appeal to all those people wanting to be the next Aragorn or Legolas or Gandalf (nobody really seems to want to be Gimli or one of the hobbits. I want to be Pippin! [grin]).

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Original post by Michalson
Why is everything 3D?


Your right, we need to flood the market with 4d games.

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Original post by Talroth
another advantage to MMO games is that they are easier to keep from being pirated as much
I agree with Talroth here; MMO's are harder to hack because authentication/registration is done through the MMO's servers, so there's no keygen or cracked exe that can be made to bypass that (although, some people create their own hacked servers... but that's another issue).

I think another reason why MMO's are hitting it big now is because, in a way, they're like today's reality TV shows; they're easy to make (when you have a large team) and not a whole lot of thought needs to be put into a story. And like reality TV, I think most MMO's today suck... They're just big money-makers, is all, so everyone does one to make money and they make the games as fast as they can, which hinders gameplay content. Stupid monopolizing humans... :P

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Original post by Falling Sky
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Original post by Michalson
Why is everything 3D?


Your right, we need to flood the market with 4d games.


Travel forward into the 4th dimension!

Do you mean games like this?
4D Boxing

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My take on MMO's popularity:

1. Most importantly, they are many things to many people. I play MMO's because I like to pound the crap out of other human players (which is why I also play FPS's). Others like the community, the character development, world lore, etc. Basically you have a game that contains a lot of different genres and that attracts a multitude of different gamers. And specifically, more female gamers play MMO's than any other genre, which also boosts popularity.

2. Competition. Just like in FPS's, people want to fight other people to show their dominance. This is why PvP is such a big deal with MMO's coming out. Also, there's inter-guild and inter-faction competition, and with WoW, even inter-server competition. It comes down to basic male nature, we want to compete. I think this aspect also helps contribute to some of the addictiveness of the game. I played WoW for a few months even though I didn't particularly like it. The drive to have better gear than everyone else kept me from putting the game down.

3. Community. You're playing a game with friends, or at least other people. Makes it a lot less boring. When xbox live first came out I spent a lot of time playing Whacked! It wasn't that great of a game, but the fact that I could play against real live people and talk smack or about our day made it a whole lot cooler. Same applies to MMO's. Also, another aspect of addictiveness. Much like the original chatrooms of the internet, people can get their social kicks from the community and then not want to leave.

4. Character Development. I like Halo 2, but if you play it for 2 years, you are still the exact same character. In MMO's you are constantly upgrading your gear and skills. Even if everyone is upgrading their equipment at the same rate, it still adds excitement when you are getting something new. Plus you have the option of becoming something totally different (classes, etc.).

5. Story-line. Most MMO's have an immersive story-line and world lore. Couple that with the fact that you get to be a part of it, it makes a lot of fun for the RPG lovers.

I think MMO's are a great genre because it is the first game type to combine so many of the reasons people play games into one. Personally, the only thing I don't like about the current state of MMO's is that they are almost all level-based and not skill-based. I expect to see this trend change in the future as you will see more action MMO's and when the bandwidth is there, MMOFPS'.

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As I see it, it would be difficult to create a 2D game. Seeing as one dimension is used up by time, that would mean that we would be left with only a straight line.... not a very exciting game.

Back on topic: The reason why alot of people want to make MMO's is that alot of those same people are currently playing MMOs. All(excluding the truly serious ones that actually get something accomplished) of the people who come and post about making an MMO here have probably just stopped a 6 hour-straight WoW binge.

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Because kids don't understand scope. It's easy to say lets throw everything and the kitchen sink in a game hence bloating to MMO proportions. But it is quite another thing to implement it. Nevertheless, a prerequisite to writing a MMO is to have a fairly functional single player game. I think most will crash and burn well before reaching this stage.

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Original post by WhardieJones
Because kids don't understand scope. It's easy to say lets throw everything and the kitchen sink in a game hence bloating to MMO proportions. But it is quite another thing to implement it. Nevertheless, a prerequisite to writing a MMO is to have a fairly functional single player game. I think most will crash and burn well before reaching this stage.


Not only does the scope need to be taken into account; but, the number of different possible paths and conversations and interactions that a single player can have all need to be clearly defined. I think that's something a lot of the people that come on here asking about how they should go about creating the next best MMO don't even consider.

Personally, I have an idea for an MMO; but, I know the amount of work I need to put into it, so I write every possible idea down. I also know that I will probably never develop it, and that's fine with me, since my current projects are much simpler, and are much more reasonable, and attainable goals.

Something I usually tell people if they ask me how to make an MMO is to make an RPG first. This, of course, assumes that they've already built other complete games. If not, then I tell them to go make something much easier.

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One reason MMO games are so popular is the social thing (people who are less geeky like interactive media more than solo media - people who are extremely geeky like occasionally interacting with quasi humans without the awkward stares).

Another reason is because, just like in hollywood, most writters suck. Writing is hard, game design is hard, creating compelling content is hard. And all of these things affect single player games more than multiplayer games, because there is no human element to partially correct the shear inane boredom of playing a bad single player game.

Another reason is economics, the current fad for businesses is to try to shoehorn everything into a subscription pay model. MS wants to do it for the OS and Office and Services. Netflicks wants to do it with movies. Game developers want to do it with MMO.

Because on game development, if a sequel runs 6 months late, no sales, no income and sometimes a company does bankrupt for lack of revenue.

In an MMO world if the sequel runs 6 months late, the subscriptions start dying down somewhat, but there's still money coming in month-after-month ... if your lucky.

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After playing Oblivion the past few days, I now realize MMO games are faddish rubbish and I hope they die awful deaths.

I have had a more 'real' experience with Oblivion than I ever have in any MMO. The NPCs in Oblivion are more real than some slack-jawed avatar of some impatient 14-year-old kid X 1,000 running around like Mexican Jumping Beans on steroids.

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Original post by Kevinator
After playing Oblivion the past few days, I now realize MMO games are faddish rubbish and I hope they die awful deaths.

I have had a more 'real' experience with Oblivion than I ever have in any MMO. The NPCs in Oblivion are more real than some slack-jawed avatar of some impatient 14-year-old kid X 1,000 running around like Mexican Jumping Beans on steroids.


yes, you have hit the "most writers suck" issue ... not all .. I too have been playing Oblivion for a few days and am very happy with it. I was happy with Bard's Tale and Wizardry long before Oblivion - and those games provided much more enjoyment than any MMORPG I've ever had.

Even Diablo with its non-MM multiplayer was much more fun than hardly anyone has been able to duplicate on MM scale games

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