Sign in to follow this  
Nytehauq

Intentional design "flaws" in the MMO market

Recommended Posts

http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/12/27/1748252&mode=flat&tid=127 I'm sure most people have read this article and the usual crapshoot of comments following it, detailing the various techniques that are employed by MMO parent companies and developers in order to extend suscriber time and increase company revenue. It's unsettling to see an entire genre dominated by corporate greed, but what's even more unsettling is that there are actually worthwhile aspects expoused by some of the time sinks and limitations put forth in MMO's. For example, in World of Warcraft, you have to defeat many many "trash" mobs to get a shot at bosses, you have repair costs to worry about and the hassle of getting 40 competent people together for a challenge. However, at the end of it, there is some sense of accomplishment. What are some ideas for extracting the worthwhile from the bullsh*t intentional design flaws?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Personally, I reckon procedural / emergent worlds are the way forward. Can't see it happening in the mainstream any time soon (too hard to balance and predict) but in the indie scene, definitely.

That said, I think we can look forward to indie MMO's pushing things in quite a few directions, in the same way the shareware scene did with FPS's. New and interesting gameplay concepts can be tried in indie projects without the huge commercial pressures a mainstream studio have. I always ramble on in this way. I'm gonna stop now. :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The writer of that article has it completely backwards.


Why are MMO game companies different than other game companies?


EVERY game company out there is striving to make the most bang for their buck. It doesn't matter what their pricing model is, game design is always going to center around cost efficiency, not player enjoyment.

Often times, cost efficiency and player enjoyment coincide since you need players to enjoy your game in order for them to buy it in the first place. The problem lies in the fact that a game company is trying to do THE ABSOLUTE MININMAL work required to get you over that hump.

Since MMO games rely on recurring revenue they're actually more likely to come up with compelling gameplay than a "regular" game. After all, at least the MMO game has to continue to hold your interest in order to keep getting money out of you. A "regular" game already has your $50 and they could care less if you no longer like the game two days after you've bought it.

Plenty of people don't fall under the spell stated in the article "The game becomes a source of frustration and anger instead of a source of entertainment and fun. It becomes a chore." I for one cancel my account when that happens, as do plenty of others.

When the writer says this: "They care little for player complaints, and less about player suggestions and requests." nothing could be further from the truth. "regular" game developers care little for complaints. They have little revenue to gain from addressing requests and suggestions. MMOs on the other hand have all kinds of revenue to gain from addressing those complaints, since that means continuing revenue from the people making those complaints.

Final words: That article was written in 2002. It's no longer applicable. There was no vialbe MMO alternative to EQ at that time. If SOE didn't provide the greatest gameplay, so what? Where were you gonna go? Ultima Online?

Today, WoW has proven that gamres will chose the best option out there. It is possible to attract new MMO gamers and lure existing gamers away from other games. We're much more likely to see innovation coming from this new competative atmosphere than any "regular" game.




Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
@benfinkel: Big companies are out for the $, as their investors demand it. Indies can be a little bit better, just wanting to be paid for their time and a bit of money to bank roll the next project. Some people out there are honestly out for the pleasure of doing the work and are just happy to get paid for it. They want the player experience to be amazing and great, screw profits.

Just because the majority aren't this way, don't pigeon hole them all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by benfinkel
Final words: That article was written in 2002. It's no longer applicable. There was no vialbe MMO alternative to EQ at that time. If SOE didn't provide the greatest gameplay, so what? Where were you gonna go? Ultima Online?


Actually there was. Sure everquest was largest with its 3-500k members but asherons call probobly hade around 120-150 k members at that time too. And i think Anarchy online was in its starting problematic period.


But as i see it. MMOs dosnt use all the capacity there is to use from presistant world. And mmos as well as other games have been dumbed down to let everyone and there grannys to play. I think its impossible to make an mmo game that satisfies everyone. SOme might like mechs some might like a pokemon approch. Some might wantt o have an fps typ and others like wow.

As i see it there are to many flaws in todays games. And way to easy. And way to narrow. In a world of mmos You cant be the singel hero becouse it isnt a singelplayer game. Therefore there must be ways to make each player unike.

Not like Linage2 or wow were each high level char is built with certain skills and same armor becouse its "the best" game has to offer. So more random More prucedial( generated ) Let the world evold. Have world events. Unike entities ( So you cant kill the same boss 200 times ) And offer great depth and replayebility. Take away "flavour of the month" part ( NO RESPECCS ) Make the character system so that it dosnt force an egocentric way over the game( You have to raid 200 hours before you get to bid on DKP on items ) NO BIND ON PICKUP STUFF. Let "eventual loot" be devided fairly and let the players trade at a later point. Open world, no instancing. A world that evolvs. if it has pvp. Let the pvp mean somthing. Let players catpture eachothers baces brun down eachothers villages and so on. Let each action actually mean somthing and you will have an world that actually effects people able to make each and everyone UNIK.

Sorry hope this rant is helpfull to someone or argu/discuss with me what can be done to improve the world of massiv multiplayer online games.


summery: Todays games to easy, to dumb. MMO's to narrow to static.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Mike2343
@benfinkel: Big companies are out for the $, as their investors demand it. Indies can be a little bit better, just wanting to be paid for their time and a bit of money to bank roll the next project. Some people out there are honestly out for the pleasure of doing the work and are just happy to get paid for it. They want the player experience to be amazing and great, screw profits.

Just because the majority aren't this way, don't pigeon hole them all.


Mike,

You're right, I'm sure there are plenty of people out there developing "for the love" as opposed to the paycheck. This isn't about individual developers or designers. It's about companies and their motives. ANY company, any company at all, answers finally to the bottom line. They can have the best intentions in the world, but the bottom line rules all. Any company that doesn't pay attention to the Benjamins will go out of business and not be developing at all.

I wasn't trying to be mean or take shots at game developers. They need to eat just like everyone else and as consumers of their product we need to understand that their interests necessarily need to lie in places other than our interests.

Aside from that, the companies being addressed in that article are not the small, indie dev studios cranking out amazing games for the IGF and then never being heard from again. It's the Sonys and MSs and Bungies and Ubis of the world that are in this position and they DEFINATLEY are driven by corporate needs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Athos


Actually there was. Sure everquest was largest with its 3-500k members but asherons call probobly hade around 120-150 k members at that time too. And i think Anarchy online was in its starting problematic period.



True dat. But, I still don't think people at that time "recognized" the alternatives or were jumping ship from one game to the next all that easily. People playing EQ tended to stay playing EQ, because they felt (probably accurately) that they couldn't get the same gameplay elsewhere.

It's different today. MMO gameplay has taken some major strides. It may not have had any major leaps yet, but WoW definatley has come close to perfecting the original EQ formula that you could consider "1st Generation MMO Gameplay". People today know more about games like Eve Online, WoW, Planetside (still around?), and even services that compete in a different paradigm like XBox Live (I for one cancelled my WoW account to sign up for an XBox Live Gold Account).

If nothing else, the sheer volume of MMO alternatives today is so much greater than 2002 that MMO developers are forced to innovate and compete for the gamer's attention more than ever before. You've named three MMOs available in 2002. How many are there today?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by benfinkel
Since MMO games rely on recurring revenue they're actually more likely to come up with compelling gameplay than a "regular" game. After all, at least the MMO game has to continue to hold your interest in order to keep getting money out of you. A "regular" game already has your $50 and they could care less if you no longer like the game two days after you've bought it.

Today, WoW has proven that gamres will chose the best option out there. It is possible to attract new MMO gamers and lure existing gamers away from other games. We're much more likely to see innovation coming from this new competative atmosphere than any "regular" game.


Ironically enough, I play in a raiding guild in WoW. I find the same complaints and mannerisms expoused in that article are true even in World of Warcraft.

Also, take a game like WoW for example: The $240 million in box sales (this figure assuming that the only people who bought the game are the ones still playing it; actual revenue is much higher) more than covered initial development and deployment costs as well as providing a buffer for subsequent costs of operation. That $15 they charge a month is gravy.

Given that the general goal of business is maximum profit for minimum cost - doesn't providing a mediocre and addictive experience save money compared to actual gameplay?

The dicotomy between "raiders and non-raiders," over abundant time and money sinks in the game world, and generally tight lipped "community managers" in WoW doesn't bode well for any ideas about WoW not being an almost completely commercialized MMO. It's perfectly engineered to keep people playing and paying indefinitely - for profit.

Compare this to a game like Counterstrike Source - past the initial game sales, what reason does the developer have to provide content with no reccuring profits? Yet they still do - often in my experience more satisfactorily than Blizzard does.

It's either ineptitude or money hoarding. Given the departure of design leads and even the Vice President and cofounder from the company, it seems to be more the latter...

In any case, one example. Don't discount it as tinfoil hat pseudotheory either - it's a well known fact that that's how business functions.

WoW may be the best MMO out there, but not because it's good - the other ones suck comparatively. There is no competetive market - it's a market dominated by one product with a 6 million user base. Hopefully, something innovative (and procedural ;P) will come along to rock the boat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
Also, take a game like WoW for example: The $240 million in box sales (this figure assuming that the only people who bought the game are the ones still playing it; actual revenue is much higher) more than covered initial development and deployment costs as well as providing a buffer for subsequent costs of operation. That $15 they charge a month is gravy.


Not entirely gravy. I would imagine they have an overhead that we can barely imagine. Staff salaries and technology upkeep alone are taking a big chunk of their change every single day.

That doesn't mean they aren't making money hand over fist. I believe they absolutley are. It's just that their business model is predicated around people CONTINUING to play the game, not buy it once and walk away. Blizzard is using that "gravy" money to fund the current operations as well as future projects.

Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
Given that the general goal of business is maximum profit for minimum cost - doesn't providing a mediocre and addictive experience save money compared to actual gameplay?

The dicotomy between "raiders and non-raiders," over abundant time and money sinks in the game world, and generally tight lipped "community managers" in WoW doesn't bode well for any ideas about WoW not being an almost completely commercialized MMO. It's perfectly engineered to keep people playing and paying indefinitely - for profit.



Addictive? Yes. Mediocre? almost irrelevant. But that was the point of my post. They will always be trying for efficiency. This means lowering the gameplay standards (if we assume that worse gameplay = cheaper costs) but there is a minimum standard that they have to maintain in order to not lose players. They couldn't patch the game so that it crashed every ten minutes, people would leave. That minimum point will be constantly changing. Given the more competative nature of the MMO market today as opposed to five years ago, I believe that minimum has risen dramatically and will continue to rise.

And doesn't good gameplay by definition have to be at least a little addictive? If I wasn't addicted to it at all, where would my motivation to play come from? Games are a luxury good, not a necessity.



Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
Compare this to a game like Counterstrike Source - past the initial game sales, what reason does the developer have to provide content with no reccuring profits? Yet they still do - often in my experience more satisfactorily than Blizzard does.


That's purley opinion. I played CSS quite a bit too and plenty of people bitched and complained about the poor quality of the gameplay, the poor quality of the updates, and the constant bugs that those updates brought with them. Search around the interweb and you'll find plenty of people with the same complaints about CSS and Valve. And Valve doesn't even have to maintain nearly the technological overhead that Blizzard does. CSS is client-hosted.


Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
It's either ineptitude or money hoarding. Given the departure of design leads and even the Vice President and cofounder from the company, it seems to be more the latter...

In any case, one example. Don't discount it as tinfoil hat pseudotheory either - it's a well known fact that that's how business functions.


Again, that was my exact point. They are a business, not a charitable organization. If they acted any different they wouldn't be acting in the best interests of the 'shareholders'. The thing to realize is that what counter-balances that fact in ANY industry is competition. The more competition, the more likely you are to lose your customers to a better product. That's what forces you to improve your product. The reason that games sold on a 'regular' price model get patch releases by the Developer at all (remember, that's a sunk cost for them) is because the Developer wants you to buy a FUTURE game of theirs. They want MORE money out of you, same as an MMO. The 'MMO' price model is the same but they're interested in you continuing to spend money on an existing product.



Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
WoW may be the best MMO out there, but not because it's good - the other ones suck comparatively. There is no competetive market - it's a market dominated by one product with a 6 million user base. Hopefully, something innovative (and procedural ;P) will come along to rock the boat.


Amen. WoW isn't all bad, but like I said in one of my other posts, it's the best "1st generation" MMO out there for sure. I feel that WoW has finally proven the article wrong. It's proven that people WILL flock to better gameplay, which will cause developers to find ways to improve the gameplay in their offerings. The 'addict' model really doesn't hold much water. If people didn't enjoy some aspect of the game, they wouldn't play. You can't blame the Developers for somehow hypnotizing all of these people into playing. I mean honestly, we can go outside and kick the football around too ya know, it ain't Blizzard's fault that I want to get to level 60. And don't give me any "I just want to play all of the game I bought" baloney. Every buyer knows exactly what he or she is getting when he or she buys that game. Noone has been duped or fooled into a model they were unaware of.

The simple fact of the matter is that all game companies operate exactly the same, as does any other company out there. You're fooling yourself if you think that they'll ever operate any differently.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I played WoW for a while, I didn't think it was exceptionally fun. It certainly didn't feel groundbreaking for an MMORPG. There are now hundreds of mmo's to choose from. Heck, just look at mmorpg.com.

Rather than singling out MMORPGs, look at the corporations. Heck, not just gaming corporations, but all corporations. How far are corporations willing to go for profit? How many will pull an Enron; lie, cheat and steal their way to $$$ in a manner that makes Mr. Krabs look generous. By and large, corporations hold profit over customer compassion. Its sad and true.

I think indy developers generally work under a different philosophy. That philosophy is "Have fun making this thing because it probably won't make a lot of money."

In hindsight, the article is much more an [old] critique of Sony's Everquest. Most of the comments in the article are specific one one MMO, not all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by benfinkel
Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
Also, take a game like WoW for example: The $240 million in box sales (this figure assuming that the only people who bought the game are the ones still playing it; actual revenue is much higher) more than covered initial development and deployment costs as well as providing a buffer for subsequent costs of operation. That $15 they charge a month is gravy.


Not entirely gravy. I would imagine they have an overhead that we can barely imagine. Staff salaries and technology upkeep alone are taking a big chunk of their change every single day.

That doesn't mean they aren't making money hand over fist. I believe they absolutley are. It's just that their business model is predicated around people CONTINUING to play the game, not buy it once and walk away. Blizzard is using that "gravy" money to fund the current operations as well as future projects.


Yeah, but the way they maintain subscribers has nothing to do with the quality of their product. It's kinda like the cigarrette company analogy; "Why would we want our consumers dead? We want them to live and buy more cigarrettes." Keeping customers is all that matters. It doesn't matter if you're selling them crap, you just need to be selling. Thus, you spend $50 for a one time purchase of a normal game and get your money's worth, while you spend much more than that over time and get watery combat with gameplay designed to extend the time you spend paying for a sub-par product that nevertheless is the best option available for the type of gameplay it provides. I'd prefer the souless bastards who sell me a fun $50 game to the ones who sell me a unique and desireable yet boring game for much more over the long run. IMO, the fact that their business model is centered around continuing subscription regardless of quality isn't a justification for anything.

Quote:

Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
Given that the general goal of business is maximum profit for minimum cost - doesn't providing a mediocre and addictive experience save money compared to actual gameplay?

The dicotomy between "raiders and non-raiders," over abundant time and money sinks in the game world, and generally tight lipped "community managers" in WoW doesn't bode well for any ideas about WoW not being an almost completely commercialized MMO. It's perfectly engineered to keep people playing and paying indefinitely - for profit.



Addictive? Yes. Mediocre? almost irrelevant. But that was the point of my post. They will always be trying for efficiency. This means lowering the gameplay standards (if we assume that worse gameplay = cheaper costs) but there is a minimum standard that they have to maintain in order to not lose players. They couldn't patch the game so that it crashed every ten minutes, people would leave. That minimum point will be constantly changing. Given the more competative nature of the MMO market today as opposed to five years ago, I believe that minimum has risen dramatically and will continue to rise.

And doesn't good gameplay by definition have to be at least a little addictive? If I wasn't addicted to it at all, where would my motivation to play come from? Games are a luxury good, not a necessity.




The thing is, lowering gameplay standards shouldn't even be a viable option - this simply means that they need much more competition. Anyone who things that gameplay in MMORPG's is good compared to other games would have to be insane, it's fair to assume that MMORPG gameplay is poor right off the bat. Lowering the already low standards of MMO's signals that the market lacks competetion. The entire concept of trying to maxmize profit at the expense of the user experience is also backwards. Business is about making money regardless of ethics - but the fact that that's how things are doesn't mean it's how they should be. The MMO market today is more competative than it was five years ago, yes. WoW still dwarfs the competetion easily. It's a market in its infancy and the standards set now are, IMHO, completely unnaceptable. Good gameplay tends be addictive because you're addicted to having fun. Engineering addictiveness for the sake of addictiveness on the other hand, is not ideal. Your motivation to play should come from the fun of playing the game - not from irritation at loosing, inability to feel a sense of completion, or any number of other negative factors leading to addiction. I think you've got the cart before the horse there ;)

Quote:

Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
Compare this to a game like Counterstrike Source - past the initial game sales, what reason does the developer have to provide content with no reccuring profits? Yet they still do - often in my experience more satisfactorily than Blizzard does.


That's purley opinion. I played CSS quite a bit too and plenty of people bitched and complained about the poor quality of the gameplay, the poor quality of the updates, and the constant bugs that those updates brought with them. Search around the interweb and you'll find plenty of people with the same complaints about CSS and Valve. And Valve doesn't even have to maintain nearly the technological overhead that Blizzard does. CSS is client-hosted.



Well, the last remark was opinion. But the fact that they even provide content when there is no reccuring revenue says something. People bitching about CSS updates certainly doesn't seem as valid as people paying for a game over time (for the sole reason that the provider wants to control all revenue and access to their servers...Blizzard has chosen to eliminate all alternatives to playing on their servers, and I doubt it's because they want to harbor more costs themselves. Emulated servers could provide free WoW gameplay at NO cost to Blizzard - Blizz wanted the revenue, period. And BTW, Valve has to maintain huge technilogical overhead with steam and content delivery - with no reccuring subscriptions.) - a game like WoW.

Quote:

Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
It's either ineptitude or money hoarding. Given the departure of design leads and even the Vice President and cofounder from the company, it seems to be more the latter...

In any case, one example. Don't discount it as tinfoil hat pseudotheory either - it's a well known fact that that's how business functions.


Again, that was my exact point. They are a business, not a charitable organization. If they acted any different they wouldn't be acting in the best interests of the 'shareholders'. The thing to realize is that what counter-balances that fact in ANY industry is competition. The more competition, the more likely you are to lose your customers to a better product. That's what forces you to improve your product. The reason that games sold on a 'regular' price model get patch releases by the Developer at all (remember, that's a sunk cost for them) is because the Developer wants you to buy a FUTURE game of theirs. They want MORE money out of you, same as an MMO. The 'MMO' price model is the same but they're interested in you continuing to spend money on an existing product.




Yes, this is again the unfortunate reality of business. But reality != ideal. The MMO market is, once again, devoid of competetion for those at the top. There are so far ahead of all contenders that they don't HAVE to do much of anything to keep subscribers save for keep them addicted. It's easier to addict someone by keeping them irritated at loosing than it is to provide a worthwhile experience. Furthermore, WoW was realesed as an unfinished product and subsequently players had to pay as major changes were implemented. Even now, it's an MMO that requires you to group for any sort of endgame character progression - without a looking for group system. Blizzard retains customers despite poor performance, and they'll keep getting them. Essentially advertising for an upcoming game with patches and requiring customers to pay while you finish the current title are two different things. One is a question of reputation and PO, the other is concerned with immediate revenue. Blizzard isn't charging you for new content like a game company charges for their next title - they charge you for server access and gameplay, period. You pay your $50 for the box and then pay subsequently to play the game at all. They don't have to release patches, they just have to keep you playing and paying. It's not really the same - they're not trying to get you to buy WoW 2, they're making sure that you don't stop playing WoW 1, even if you get jack crap out of it.

Quote:

Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
WoW may be the best MMO out there, but not because it's good - the other ones suck comparatively. There is no competetive market - it's a market dominated by one product with a 6 million user base. Hopefully, something innovative (and procedural ;P) will come along to rock the boat.


Amen. WoW isn't all bad, but like I said in one of my other posts, it's the best "1st generation" MMO out there for sure. I feel that WoW has finally proven the article wrong. It's proven that people WILL flock to better gameplay, which will cause developers to find ways to improve the gameplay in their offerings. The 'addict' model really doesn't hold much water. If people didn't enjoy some aspect of the game, they wouldn't play. You can't blame the Developers for somehow hypnotizing all of these people into playing. I mean honestly, we can go outside and kick the football around too ya know, it ain't Blizzard's fault that I want to get to level 60. And don't give me any "I just want to play all of the game I bought" baloney. Every buyer knows exactly what he or she is getting when he or she buys that game. Noone has been duped or fooled into a model they were unaware of.

The simple fact of the matter is that all game companies operate exactly the same, as does any other company out there. You're fooling yourself if you think that they'll ever operate any differently.


Well, I disagree entirely. WoW, being now a 1st gen MMO, is exactly what is described in that article. People flock to better gameplay, yes, but that doesn't mean they're going to GOOD gameplay. The addict model IS the reality. People do lots of things that they don't enjoy out of habit and a slew of other reasons. Often times, hope for enjoyment is all there is. It's an idea that people aim for, even if the reality doesn't match it. People don't want to put down a game they just spent 480 hours investing play time in that they haven't beaten. It's in investment. You grind and do some boring stuff for the hope that you'll get a reward that you must continually upgrade. Compare this to games where you play and as you play, you advance in the story. It's reversed with MMO's, you have to work to get to where you can play. And no, every buyer does not know what he/she's getting into. Every WoW player will tell you that 1-59 is a completely different game than endgame. Even 1-30 is different from 30-60. If you look at the box you'll get the idea that there's such a thing as "World PVP" and town raiding. You'd think that you can progress through the game as you choose - but then you "finish" (get to 60) and suddenly you can't do anything that's not in a group. All character progression at that point essentially requires at least a five man group. Then, after that, to progress any further, you have to be part of a forty man RAID. You're fooling yourself if you think that endgame is obvious at level 1. It's actually quite the contrary. WoW was billed as the antithesis to EQ, everyone thought they were getting something new. Then came the EQ developers and the entire endgame became raiding. Everyone had been duped, and everyone is being duped.

Every game company is different. As is, all the ones that design MMO's happen to be the same - poor service, poor quality, maximum profit. The problem isn't the last part - it's the first two. Every company strives for maximum profit, yes. Good developers try to put out a quality game first. It's a shame when you can put out crap and still win.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/12/27/1748252&mode=flat&tid=127

I'm sure most people have read this article and the usual crapshoot of comments following it, detailing the various techniques that are employed by MMO parent companies and developers in order to extend suscriber time and increase company revenue.

It's unsettling to see an entire genre dominated by corporate greed, but what's even more unsettling is that there are actually worthwhile aspects expoused by some of the time sinks and limitations put forth in MMO's. For example, in World of Warcraft, you have to defeat many many "trash" mobs to get a shot at bosses, you have repair costs to worry about and the hassle of getting 40 competent people together for a challenge.

However, at the end of it, there is some sense of accomplishment. What are some ideas for extracting the worthwhile from the bullsh*t intentional design flaws?




Hmm, EQ sounds even more pathetic than what I remember from seeing it played.
I thought that UO had been run by incompetants/unimaginative/bottom-liners, but the descriptions in that article makes EQ sound far more pathetic.

Solution?? Dont play such crappy games and encoutrage others not to as well.

Hopefully with the newer generations of games and more powerful servers etc.. we might get a paradyme shift that makes use of player creativity.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Woo, long post :)

I'm back from a rested weekend and ready to argue some more!!


Quote:

Engineering addictiveness for the sake of addictiveness on the other hand, is not ideal. Your motivation to play should come from the fun of playing the game - not from irritation at loosing, inability to feel a sense of completion, or any number of other negative factors leading to addiction. I think you've got the cart before the horse there ;)



First of all, I think the 'addict' model you describe is predicated on a fairly ethereal idea.

While cigarette's can be considered addictive due to a measurable biological response to the chemicals contained in cigarette tabacco, calling gameplay addictive in the same manner (pathologically) takes a pretty big guess at something that is not very clear at all.

I'm sure plenty of people would argue that "irritation and other negative factors" do not encourage more play, they encourage less. While it's true people around the world have had a definate "addictive" response to games, it's a very small exception and has not been researched in any formal capacity at all.

Quote:

Furthermore, WoW was realesed as an unfinished product and subsequently players had to pay as major changes were implemented. Even now, it's an MMO that requires you to group for any sort of endgame character progression - without a looking for group system. Blizzard retains customers despite poor performance, and they'll keep getting them


As unfinished as you think it is, millions of people from all around the world have still payed for, bought, and enjoyed playing this game. Your friends in the game who complain bitterly about it are STILL PLAYING. Do you really think they've been somehow pathologically induced into an addictive state and they require some kind of medical treatment to overcome their addiction? Isn't it possible, just possible, that they're complaining because people like to complain and the fact of the matter is WoW provides a better MMO gameplay experience than anyone else out there? If it was really so bad, would they really have 6 million subscribers?

Quote:

Yes, this is again the unfortunate reality of business. But reality != ideal.


Of course it's not ideal, and we all wish it were different. But be careful, capitalism is kind of founded on this reality. Attempts for "ideal" have mostly fallen through (see Stalin and the Communist Movement). The simple fact of the matter is that an MMO company does the bare minimum required to keep you paying and playing. They're not secret about it, there is no conspiracy, it's just simple math. You don't have play their game. Your friends don't have to play their game. There ARE alternatives. The simple fact of the matter is that all of the negative aspects of the game you listed are still your opinion and the market has shown that most people don't agree with that opinion.

Not even I do! LOL. In your final paragraph I couldn't find a single point to agree with you on. After I played the game for 480 hours I said 'Wow, I had a lot of fun for 480 hours'. Beating the game wasn't really a concern of mine. I didn't mind that the gameply changed every 20 levels or so, that made it constantly new for me! Requiring me to group at end game? It's an MMO. If I didn't want to group I'd play Morrowind. Blizz made that decision about their game and I can just not play their game if I don't like it. I don't play Halo because I don't enjoy it's gameplay, plain and simple.


Lastly, let me apologize for hijacking your thread. It wasn't really about this, you asked a different question and I got up on a soap box. To tie in an appropriate answer to your original question, I think innovation in gameplay will come when MS and Sony and other big corporations attempt to lure gamers away from WoW, or whichever MMO is on top at the time. The best ideas will always come from the indie/open-source community, but in the end I think it'll take the money and marketing power of the behemoth's to implement those good ideas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Long post part 2 ;P

Quote:

Quote:
Original post by benfinkel


Woo, long post :)

I'm back from a rested weekend and ready to argue some more!!


Quote:

Engineering addictiveness for the sake of addictiveness on the other hand, is not ideal. Your motivation to play should come from the fun of playing the game - not from irritation at loosing, inability to feel a sense of completion, or any number of other negative factors leading to addiction. I think you've got the cart before the horse there ;)



First of all, I think the 'addict' model you describe is predicated on a fairly ethereal idea.

While cigarette's can be considered addictive due to a measurable biological response to the chemicals contained in cigarette tabacco, calling gameplay addictive in the same manner (pathologically) takes a pretty big guess at something that is not very clear at all.

I'm sure plenty of people would argue that "irritation and other negative factors" do not encourage more play, they encourage less. While it's true people around the world have had a definate "addictive" response to games, it's a very small exception and has not been researched in any formal capacity at all.



Similar to ciggarettes, marajuana can be considered addictive - but only psychologically, not chemically. Your body naturally grows accustomed to being in an intoxicated state with one, while cigarrettes overide the entire system and substitute neurochemicals on a baser level. Point being, psychological addictions can be just as damaging as physical ones. Marketing in itself is a social study on most effectively manipulating such tendancies in human nature. It's not an ethereal idea - addiction can be and is engineered. The specific studies relating to it are out there, somewhere ;) At the very least, addictions do EXIST.

Quote:


Quote:

Furthermore, WoW was realesed as an unfinished product and subsequently players had to pay as major changes were implemented. Even now, it's an MMO that requires you to group for any sort of endgame character progression - without a looking for group system. Blizzard retains customers despite poor performance, and they'll keep getting them


As unfinished as you think it is, millions of people from all around the world have still payed for, bought, and enjoyed playing this game. Your friends in the game who complain bitterly about it are STILL PLAYING. Do you really think they've been somehow pathologically induced into an addictive state and they require some kind of medical treatment to overcome their addiction? Isn't it possible, just possible, that they're complaining because people like to complain and the fact of the matter is WoW provides a better MMO gameplay experience than anyone else out there? If it was really so bad, would they really have 6 million subscribers?



Well, it is admittedly an unfinished product. The fairly major changes added to WoW after release show that much. Bitter complainers still complaining isn't a sign of a good game to me - it's more a sign of addiction. And it's not a pathological state requiring medical treatment - you can be addicted to pizza and fast food (a significant chunk of the american public are) non-pathologically. Doesn't mean it's good for you. I highly doubt that the many many disgruntled forum denizens (biased and unreliable as their posts may be), as well as the many people I know in game, are all complaining because they just like to complain. What I find is that non-raiders complain quite a bit about being decimated in PVP and unable to help it. It is frustrating, and they are in the majority. Once again, the fact that WoW provides a "better" experience doesn't really amount to anything. I could give you something slightly better than crap, but that wouldn't make it good. WoW's gameplay experience is inferior to other games even technologically - everything else is subjective. The fact that WoW has the most customers doesn't mean it's good. The fact that everyone likes it doesn't make it right - appeal to majority is a logical fallacy. If you think about it, having 6 million unhappy customers (of course, they're not all unhappy, but you get the idea) wouldn't be a much of a sign of accomplishment.

Quote:



Quote:

Yes, this is again the unfortunate reality of business. But reality != ideal.


Of course it's not ideal, and we all wish it were different. But be careful, capitalism is kind of founded on this reality. Attempts for "ideal" have mostly fallen through (see Stalin and the Communist Movement). The simple fact of the matter is that an MMO company does the bare minimum required to keep you paying and playing. They're not secret about it, there is no conspiracy, it's just simple math. You don't have play their game. Your friends don't have to play their game. There ARE alternatives. The simple fact of the matter is that all of the negative aspects of the game you listed are still your opinion and the market has shown that most people don't agree with that opinion.

Not even I do! LOL. In your final paragraph I couldn't find a single point to agree with you on. After I played the game for 480 hours I said 'Wow, I had a lot of fun for 480 hours'. Beating the game wasn't really a concern of mine. I didn't mind that the gameply changed every 20 levels or so, that made it constantly new for me! Requiring me to group at end game? It's an MMO. If I didn't want to group I'd play Morrowind. Blizz made that decision about their game and I can just not play their game if I don't like it. I don't play Halo because I don't enjoy it's gameplay, plain and simple.


Lastly, let me apologize for hijacking your thread. It wasn't really about this, you asked a different question and I got up on a soap box. To tie in an appropriate answer to your original question, I think innovation in gameplay will come when MS and Sony and other big corporations attempt to lure gamers away from WoW, or whichever MMO is on top at the time. The best ideas will always come from the indie/open-source community, but in the end I think it'll take the money and marketing power of the behemoth's to implement those good ideas.




Bah, hijacks are fun, and this is still technically topical.

In any case, I find that people often have entirely too much faith in fairly recent developments like the concept of capitalism. While the other systems tend to fall through (Though communism was never exercised in its ideal for, nor could it be. As it existed it was really a dictatorship with the veneer of equality), government by money isn't the ideal either. Ideally, everything would be fair. The fact that the reality is different shouldn't take away from the pursuit of the ideal...

But I digress...

Of course, I don't actually have to play their game. But I'll feel free to point out flaws in it and complain about it ;P While my disgruntlement with the things I posted is opinion, many of them are factual. Whether they are flaws or not is subjective, but they do exist. Alternatives, on the other hand, are hard to come by, given the investments you tend to put into MMORPGs.

But really, why are all these things standard? Grouping in MMO's, innovation coming from consolodated business powerhouses...?

We're obviously from different backgrounds and ideologies, but we can at least agree that I don't like WoW, and you apparently don't mind it ;P

I still maintain that the business system is flawed. I guess I'll have to throw the monkey wrench into the entire thing...can anyone loan me a couple million dollars?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by benfinkel
[...]Since MMO games rely on recurring revenue they're actually more likely to come up with compelling gameplay than a "regular" game. After all, at least the MMO game has to continue to hold your interest in order to keep getting money out of you. A "regular" game already has your $50 and they could care less if you no longer like the game two days after you've bought it.[...]
I disagree. I don't know anybody that plays an MMO for the game itself - every single person I've even heard of that played MMOs over long periods did so for the interaction with the people they met. In other words, people use MMOs as chat rooms, apparently not realizing such services as IRC can be used for free.

An MMO only has to promise entertainment (note: delivery is not neccessary as long as beginners believe higher levels bring more fun) long enough for players to become attached (emotionally) to a guild/clan/etc. Once that happens, the game doesn't matter, and the person will keep spending monthly without game-created incentive to do so.
Quote:
Original post by benfinkel
[...]People playing EQ tended to stay playing EQ, because they felt (probably accurately) that they couldn't get the same gameplay elsewhere.

It's different today.[...]
IME, the main difference is that instead of dedicating 12 hours to one game that costs monthly, people dedicate 4 hours to 3 pay-per-month games and thus get less out of them and pay more. Sure, people change games, but every time they drop one, they pick up another that is exactly the same (at least in that it's not a fun game and they pay for community, something easily had for free) not because the other is better, but because it is new

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:

IME, the main difference is that instead of dedicating 12 hours to one game that costs monthly, people dedicate 4 hours to 3 pay-per-month games and thus get less out of them and pay more. Sure, people change games, but every time they drop one, they pick up another that is exactly the same (at least in that it's not a fun game and they pay for community, something easily had for free) not because the other is better, but because it is new


That's like saying you could play free games instead of paying for commercial ones, for the fact that they are free.
Perhaps an IRC chatroom ain't as much fun as doing something while chatting, to some?

I agree that community is a strong point, but you're trying to make it so simple - while it's not.

It all comes down to personal opinion, not something global.
If I like to pay 10 bucks a month for a MMO rather than visiting IRC for free, then I do so for a reason.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm your classic case hard-core FPS gamer so the only RPG that could ever hold my attention for very long was Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I realise it's not massively-multiplayer but I think thats the reason I like it so much. For one thing there were none of the stupid people running around being jerks and ruining my experience. I could actually get into the fantasy world and do some real role-playing instead of just being myself with a purple elf avatar talking to friends and strangers doing the same. The other big reason was I could go at my own pace. There were no other people I had to keep up with and no obligation to wait on a bunch of people to form some party. I was a real lone hero/adventurer in a virgin world ripe for me to explore. What's the point of adventuring in a world where everyone one else is an adventurer. Like in City of Heroes; why bother being a super hero in a city inhabited soley by some 200,000 odd other super heroes. I promise I began this with every intention of it to be more on topic, so much for that. But's my opinion of all this anyway.

P.S. Hurray for Guild Wars cause of no monthly fees. It's just as good as the rest of them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yes!

Hooray for Guild Wars. Broke the mold they did.

Unfortunatley it wound up being not much fun to play after 30 or so hours. I haven't been back yet since then, so I'm sure much has changed, but still.


So to Nytehauq:
If you're NCSoft, why bother updating the gameplay? Why bother making it anymore fun? There is ZERO incentive to keep making content additions and gameplay updates.

Now they DID and DO make minor balancing tweaks, but it's mostly to keep people saying good things about their game in order to make additional sales. As NCSoft, you could not financially justify paying developers to make all kinds of new content and gameplay changes when there is no ROI. Compare that to a more traditional model, where Blizzard (or whomever) at least has a financial incentive to make bigger and better changes to the game.



Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by benfinkel
Yes!

Hooray for Guild Wars. Broke the mold they did.

Unfortunatley it wound up being not much fun to play after 30 or so hours. I haven't been back yet since then, so I'm sure much has changed, but still.


So to Nytehauq:
If you're NCSoft, why bother updating the gameplay? Why bother making it anymore fun? There is ZERO incentive to keep making content additions and gameplay updates.

Now they DID and DO make minor balancing tweaks, but it's mostly to keep people saying good things about their game in order to make additional sales. As NCSoft, you could not financially justify paying developers to make all kinds of new content and gameplay changes when there is no ROI. Compare that to a more traditional model, where Blizzard (or whomever) at least has a financial incentive to make bigger and better changes to the game.


A good point, but I've been playing GW since close to when it came out, and it's always been NcSoft's model to release expansions/side packs as their 'big content updates'. They're trying to keep it affordable buy bundling all the big pieces together into one pagackage, then give that to the consumer as a new, albeit compatable, game. Which is a model I'm quite a fan of (ahh, the expansion pack. I miss those days.).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Not much fun to play Guild Wars after 30 hours? I played it for over 350, and know alot that played it for more than 600 hours. Now, thats *nothing* compared to World of Warcraft players.

I hope more games use that non-monthly fee policy, it rocked.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by benfinkel
Yes!

Hooray for Guild Wars. Broke the mold they did.

Unfortunatley it wound up being not much fun to play after 30 or so hours. I haven't been back yet since then, so I'm sure much has changed, but still.


So to Nytehauq:
If you're NCSoft, why bother updating the gameplay? Why bother making it anymore fun? There is ZERO incentive to keep making content additions and gameplay updates.

Now they DID and DO make minor balancing tweaks, but it's mostly to keep people saying good things about their game in order to make additional sales. As NCSoft, you could not financially justify paying developers to make all kinds of new content and gameplay changes when there is no ROI. Compare that to a more traditional model, where Blizzard (or whomever) at least has a financial incentive to make bigger and better changes to the game.


Well, I dunno. I still see it as NCSoft has an incentive to keep players coming back to buy new products and expansions, while Blizzard doesn't have to do much of anything to keep their playerbase. Not only have they more than broken even, people will keep paying even if they aren't provided with new content and a new experience - or quality new content for that matter. Blizzard really doesn't have a financial incentive to make bigger and better changes as long as the subscription numbers keep coming up and up - there isn't a correlation between quality and ROI as much as simply playerbase size and ROI. You can get players to play low quality products, despite it being rather unscrupulous to do so. Now, if you don't really have to worry about people getting irritated with you or refusing to buy a further product, why should business sense match up with moral sense? You pay Blizzard regardless of whether or not you're getting new content, you pay NCSoft each time you buy a new piece of their game. Both provide servers and incur the costs - doesn't NCSoft's method seem nicer to you? Consider, once again, that Blizzard chooses to incur the costs of supporting servers even though they could "outsource" this aspect of the system (especially since their serverload is arguably larger than that of NCSoft) to players. So, they choose to control access to the game and then charge for that access. I dunno, both are "legitimate" practices, but somehow Blizzard's way of looking at things seems a tad devious in light of NCSoft's free gameplay.

In any case, even if Blizzard did have a theorhetical incentive to provide a quality experience, it wouldn't change the fact that they haven't been providing an appropriate experience, which is the most frustrating part of the matter. According to Blizzard's figures, fewer than 8% of the playerbase participates in raid content - and this is the sole form of new content they have released since March 2005, given that the so called "non-raid" content they've released has been mostly gimmicks and "reputation grinds," while raid content has included four new instances (technically only two are full raids, but two is still >> 0). Is that quality service? Catering to 8% of the playerbase while leaving the other 92% no alternative form of advancement? Not to mention the server instability, massive downtime...the list of grievances goes on.

But, mind you, I'm part of the 8% raider population. I don't particularly like raiding, top end guilds on my server require extensive applications and 6 hours a night devoted to raiding. In my perspective, the entire thing is backwards. Sure, all power to them if they like to raid, all power to Blizzard if they like to develop a product like that. But it's the difference between having the right to do something and being right in doing something; intentional design "flaws" are the right of any developer, but they're not very nice. It's obvious that this example game caters purposefully to a minute sector of the its playerbase, through ignorance or meaning, it is an intentional decision which is apparently rewarding to Blizzard (and their parent company, Vivendi, no doubt) in the form of reccuring subscriptions. But I'd like to thing there's more to ethics than the bottom line - in fact, I'd like to think that ethics have nothing to do with finance. Can we at least agree that some businesses are unethical and legitimate at the same time?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, yes I can agree that a business can be both unethical and legitimate at the same time. But I still think it's a very difficult line to define. The whole point of a service-based business is to balance cost with quality of service.

You say that "You can get players to play low quality products, despite it being rather unscrupulous to do so." But I still don't think there is much to back up that argument. Six million people don't play, and continue playing, a low quality product just because. There is still a reason they're playing.

Intentional "flaws" are certainly intentional, but not necessarily flaws. What you consider to be "flawed" gameplay seems to be slighty less flawed than you believe (if six million people can be trusted anyways). Just like my experience with GW versus Ezbez's, our perception of what is flawed and what is fun varies drastically by person.


What it boils down to for me is that I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist. It makes more sense (ask Occam) that game developers are simply trying their best to provide a gameplay experience that they KNOW works, that people want to play, and that accomodates somewhat for the complications involved with an MMO game. It doesn't sit well with me that there is some grand MMORPG developer conspiracy to create an unfun psychologically addictive game. They'd need to have psychologists and research and know something that the medical community at large doesn't even know for sure yet. It would be dangerous, secretive information shared by all MMO developers and no one else. Maybe the instructions come with your secret MMO developer decoder ring?.



Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by benfinkel
Well, yes I can agree that a business can be both unethical and legitimate at the same time. But I still think it's a very difficult line to define. The whole point of a service-based business is to balance cost with quality of service.


Well, AFAIK, sarcrificing quality for the bottom line in a creative industry is always looked at as "selling out" - given that Blizzard has stated on many occasions that they are trying to provide the best and most fun experience possible for their players, isn't is double talk to say that and subsequently still pursue the business goal of maximum profit for minimum quality? That seems unethical to me. It's kinda like false advertising, except legitimate. I'd draw the line right there.

Quote:

You say that "You can get players to play low quality products, despite it being rather unscrupulous to do so." But I still don't think there is much to back up that argument. Six million people don't play, and continue playing, a low quality product just because. There is still a reason they're playing.


That wasn't intended to be an argument as much as a hypothesis ;) But, here's an argument for you:

Six million people could decide to move to a new game that comes out because it's a better product. That wouldn't say anything about the actual quality of the product - did they go from good to better, from bad to good, or from better to worse? Consumers often buy inferior products for many reasons, advertising, peer pressure etc. There is a reason they're playing. But it's a bit dishonest to advertise a product for something different than it is. A lot of people play simply because of the time and relationships they've invested in the game, just like many people keep bad products out of ignorance or fear of loosing an investment. It's not conspiracy theory, it's business practice.

Quote:

Intentional "flaws" are certainly intentional, but not necessarily flaws. What you consider to be "flawed" gameplay seems to be slighty less flawed than you believe (if six million people can be trusted anyways). Just like my experience with GW versus Ezbez's, our perception of what is flawed and what is fun varies drastically by person.


...or our concepts of what is and isn't flawed can be based on more objective standards. Would it be a "flaw" if your gameplay changed dramatically at some point, without explanation or precedent (raids)? What about time sinks and the like? Are the time sinks present in MMO's meant to increase the fun factor of the game? I don't think it's a secret that many of the "design devices" implemented in MMO's aren't fun for players to deal with and exist for purposes like extending play time and thereby increasing long term revenue. Time sinks are intentional design flaws in this sense - there aren't intended to bring something positive to the gameplay experience, most players will agree that they don't enjoy them or like them, and they exist for the purpose of increasing subscriber play/pay time. Would anyone buy a console game if it was full of such time sinks? Only if they didn't have a better alternative. No one likes doing mundane and menial tasks - and even if they do, they aren't expected to enjoy time sinks. Intentional design "flaw."

Quote:

What it boils down to for me is that I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist. It makes more sense (ask Occam) that game developers are simply trying their best to provide a gameplay experience that they KNOW works, that people want to play, and that accomodates somewhat for the complications involved with an MMO game. It doesn't sit well with me that there is some grand MMORPG developer conspiracy to create an unfun psychologically addictive game. They'd need to have psychologists and research and know something that the medical community at large doesn't even know for sure yet. It would be dangerous, secretive information shared by all MMO developers and no one else. Maybe the instructions come with your secret MMO developer decoder ring?.


Yep. They know the gameplay experience works. Conspiracy theory? They don't need psychologists to rip off the EQ1 formula, but the fact of the matter is that engineering addiction isn't a taboo subject. What do you think most companies do with advertising? They DO hire psychologists and analyze how to cater advertisments to appeal to the largest possible audience. Fast food is engineered to taste good regardless of the nutritional value. Cigarettes were engineered to be addictive regardless of the health effects.

Now, I'm not suggesting that anyone would bother with such things in game design or even consider taking such methods, but I think you make the mistake of thinking that every developer is looking to make the ideal "best game." Many of them aren't. Do you really think Vivendi gives a rat's ass about your gameplay experience if it isn't making them a buck?

No offense intended.

Quote:
Original post by Extrarius
Quote:
Original post by benfinkel
[...]Since MMO games rely on recurring revenue they're actually more likely to come up with compelling gameplay than a "regular" game. After all, at least the MMO game has to continue to hold your interest in order to keep getting money out of you. A "regular" game already has your $50 and they could care less if you no longer like the game two days after you've bought it.[...]
I disagree. I don't know anybody that plays an MMO for the game itself - every single person I've even heard of that played MMOs over long periods did so for the interaction with the people they met. In other words, people use MMOs as chat rooms, apparently not realizing such services as IRC can be used for free.

An MMO only has to promise entertainment (note: delivery is not neccessary as long as beginners believe higher levels bring more fun) long enough for players to become attached (emotionally) to a guild/clan/etc. Once that happens, the game doesn't matter, and the person will keep spending monthly without game-created incentive to do so.
Quote:
Original post by benfinkel
[...]People playing EQ tended to stay playing EQ, because they felt (probably accurately) that they couldn't get the same gameplay elsewhere.

It's different today.[...]
IME, the main difference is that instead of dedicating 12 hours to one game that costs monthly, people dedicate 4 hours to 3 pay-per-month games and thus get less out of them and pay more. Sure, people change games, but every time they drop one, they pick up another that is exactly the same (at least in that it's not a fun game and they pay for community, something easily had for free) not because the other is better, but because it is new


Also, what he said ^

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this