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Merluche

MMO topic: Is MMO still appropriate?

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I know some of you are going to jump in the air at the reading of the very title, but I'd like to give this thought a try nonetheless. Is MMO still accurate? It seems these days that MMOs are not making much effort towards promoting interaction between players, and are resorting to a Massively Played Single Player Experience Online. What I mean is, in order to get interaction, you only have so many possibilities so far, which seem to be: PvP, or in other words, feel cool about wantonly mudering anyone. Crafting, a.k.a. I'll show you mine if you show me yours and Guilds, which seem to be more and more groups of people ready to share their time in order to progress their single-player character faster. Has anyone ever considered the fact that RPGs are supposed to be about questing and groups? I mean, the BASIC RPGs, the ones that are played around a table, with potato chips and sodas all night long, right? Why hasn't any game that I know of offered yet an experience about having to interfere into someone else's online avatar? Why isn't there a quest to go and HELP someone? or Block someone from doing something? I mean someone REAL, who actually plays the same game too? Why aren't there negociation quests? Why aren't there any other way to interact with people than either kill or ask something from them? Specifically when either one or the other are meaningless in terms of interactions, given that PvPing is usually useless and gratuitous, and that buying something from a crafter won't help either the buyer or the producer, save in terms of property or combat efficiency? Why is it that we usually consider the other players in MMOs as reluctant NPCs? Why is it that you sometimes have to wait for long before anyone even considers joining your group of adventurers? I'll grant you that in LotRO, things seem to have moved away a little from what I say, in that quests seem to be aplenty, and therefore, someone always seems to be willing to help you finish that one off, since he needs it too. But those quests don't modify your gameplay much, you can still go on living your wantonly murderous life without caring about the main questline, and not use grouping more than necessary to advance the main questline if you DO give a damn. Why is it that MMOs are mainly made for lone players?

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Quote:
Original post by Merluche
Has anyone ever considered the fact that RPGs are supposed to be about questing and groups? I mean, the BASIC RPGs, the ones that are played around a table, with potato chips and sodas all night long, right?


No RPGs are about telling a story in which you play a role hence the name role playing game. There are plenty of MMORPGs out there though I don't know of any that take place in 3d. Most are BBMMOs(browser based) like battlemasters or urbandead.

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Because real people are unpredictable. You never know what a player might do, if you give them total freedom. Games need rules, otherwise people will find ways to either exploit things or ruin the experience for others (mostly out of boredom).

This fact is true for real pen and paper RPGs as well (in my experience). I have played RPGs without any rules at all. The GM just make things up as the game goes along. The outcome usually depends on the mood of the players.

I think MMORPGs have been all about character progress from the beginning. I have never played a MMO that does not promote this kind of mechanic (leveling, collecting better equipment etc). I think it works very well for casual gamers that don't want complex game play. And as long as it does, developers will continue milking that formula.

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As a big MMO fan i agree a lot with what you say ... most main MMO titles (in my experiance) have been quite narrow single-player experiances, with the more rewarding group "raids" being reserved for the elite players at the top of the food chain.

The problem is, players hate being Forced into groups to complete objectives .. most experianced players resent newer players in groups for being 'dead weight' and not understanding tactics/abilities correctly ... newer players in turn resent the experianced elite who refuse to take 2 minutes out of their day to help them .. I guess the problem is partly down to human nature and partly down to game design

I guess when designing a game, if you wanted to force player interaction / grouping youd probaby have to rethink how a game works, as the EQ/WOW model of gear+levels=power will always let a player gear/level past a particular challenge. And its normally quicker to do that than wait around to get a group of strangers together

At a human level, the reason when playing tabletop RPGs that i stick with my group and not run off solo is because when interacting face to face with IRL friends you feel obliged to remain loyal to the group ... when sitting safly behind a keyboard its too easy to ninja the epic sword of dragonslaying, and leave the group with a "UFL N00bz".

I think the problem when looking at group interaction is communication .. maybe webcam/VOIP is a potential solution .. i for one would stand by my group if i could chat with them via VOIP ... bringing us a bit closer to the Tabletop D&D mode of play rather than the solo-grind of the current generation of EQ/WOW clones

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I'm a firm believer (and this applies to my designs)in the legal idea of "power" and "authority". In other words, I have the "power" to make people group up, but I have the "authority" to ask/position them in a way that they can or are encouraged to. An MMO should be, in my book, and in the games you seem to be hinting at, a sandbox experience, where social interactions between players should evolve as they would in real life. You're commenting on Western society in general, which is conservative, competitive and relatively self centered (I claim this based on an article in an early 2007 Time magazine titled "What is Society?" - if anyone is interested in the read I'll dig it out and scan it). I think players do well enough as is to approach other players, who are generally total strangers, and ask/invite them to undertake cooperative activities.

Besides, the cynic in me believes that that sense of the unknown, the dog-eat-dog, is necessary in subscription based games as it implements within the player a drive to succeed and therefore keep playing.

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Having played 6 mmos now, my experience has been that there are 2 really obnoxious things mmos can do: try to force people to play together, and allow players to interfere with each others' play experiences. Also 4 minor obnoxious things: make it difficult to stop playing at a moment's notice and resume without having lost anything, restrict travel, restrict item storage, and not automate buying and selling.

I would argue that the purpose of an mmo is definitely not questing and groups, the purpose of an mmo is to create a virtual world in which players can always have something interesting to do when they are bored in the real world, and always have some kind of progress they can make when they are stuck in real life. It should be easy for players to seek out socialization when that's what they lack in their lives, but also easy for players to avoid socialization (and not have their progress within the game crippled by doing so) when they are in an introverted mood. Ideally roleplaying, otherwise known as interactive storytelling (of which quests are only the lowest simplest form) should also always be available for people who want a more narrative experience, and avoidable for people who just want to kill stuff or play minigames.

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The MMO playing experience issues originate in gameplay itself. The mainstream MMO(RPG) concept has actually evolved from single-player game fundaments - basically by removing PC-centered plot and then shoving it online and allowing thousands of players to join in with their own characters.

Of course all that would do is produce a dumbed-down single player RPG experience for each of those thousands of players, while offering a virtual chatroom and item-swapping system in return.

I've always felt somewhat uncomfortable with the concept of "massive" multiplayer myself. While I am aware of its popularity, I really fail to see why would anyone actually want thousands of players in the same virtual environment? What are the objective benefits of that - for the player, that is?

I still feel that small-scale multiplayer (2 to 32 players, depending on genre) has much more potential than it shows. It allows each of the players to assume a fairly important role in the game and not be so easily ignored, as well as making it easier to get familiar with all other players both in social and game terms. It gives game designers more freedom for innovation, and it allows the game itself to be more than just a virtual container. It's easier to maintain and generally cheaper. The list goes on.

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I noticed that all MMOs that turned out to be single player online, I stopped playing, only because it is not fun, there are only two online games that then managed to stay on my games played: OtherSpace (a MUSH) and Footstar (A Brownser game)

What they have? OtherSpace, is a game about true RPG (technically, single-players RPGs does not exist, and the called MMORPGs are just MMO-third-person-action-adventure, or in case of brownser games, turn-based or pseudo-real-time strategy game), that is, in the game, there are spam of NPCs, there are only the players, sometimes even itens does not exist properly on the game, so you NEED to roleplay if you want fun, and even character development in some sense can only be done that way. A new version of OtherSpace is currenly in testing, this version will have automatic combat, with the objective to make the day less boring when there are no players to RP with you, but I really hope that the game does not get turned into a single-player text-adventure, with focus in char development and bragging (and murdering...) instead of evolving the history.

Footstar is a game where you are a football player, in fact the game itself nearly suck, since it is too much simplistic, there are nothing much to do on a day, only repetitive tasks, but this made the game intersting from the point that it demands little time, and the most of the time is consumed in precisely doing the little actions in the best way, something that can only be done working with a team (you ever saw a lone football player? I mean, soccer for those on US), that is: there are a seemly pointlessy section on the game with several radiobuttons, to select your player behaviour during the match, seemly it does not do much and is stupid even to bother with it, but my team was winning matches like crazy while everyone was obeing the couch, that took time to analize the team and tell us how to set that orders, but last match people ignored the couch, the result was that we lost, and we made the team record of goals taken in a single match.

BTW: Do not reply my comment about single-player RPGs not existing (thus meaning the Square-Enix games are not RPGs), since this most likely will lead to a pointless flamewar (I already have my belief, that I can defend withouth flaming, but I know that many people have their beliefs and that they do not have arguments to defend properly)

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I find that more roleplaying takes place in BF2142 than in most MMOs I've tried. You get the voicechat up and running,a nd those guys turn into Navy Seals, they talk about fields of fire, they'll bound from cover to cover and secure buildings and defuse bombs without firing a shot at a bad guy, without scoring a point, just for the pleasure of immersing themselves in the fictional world.

Of course, that's pretty rare. Often as not their hopping around tossing C4 at each other.

MMOs, paradoxically, are bean-counting score-tickers, with about as much stimulus for roleplay as Pac-Man. The constand grind for money, for XP, for lewts, it's all very personal. But BF2142's system of offering bonus points for a kill that takes place in the general area of the beacon you're defending, or for helping a squadmate, or for fixing a friendly vehicle, harnesses that compulsion and turns it into believable behavior.

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Quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
I find that more roleplaying takes place in BF2142 than in most MMOs I've tried. You get the voicechat up and running, and those guys turn into Navy Seals, they talk about fields of fire, they'll bound from cover to cover and secure buildings and defuse bombs without firing a shot at a bad guy, without scoring a point, just for the pleasure of immersing themselves in the fictional world.

I've had lots of similar experiences in FoM (a MMOFPS), from being beat up by a police patrol at the mall for mistaken identity in a terrorism case, to attending a pre-battle live-fire training exercise, to organising an illegal death-match using stolen army equipment in a restricted area, some of these FPS players did a hell of a lot more role-playing than most WoW players I've seen...

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