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sunandshadow

MMO Postmortem Project - Player Impressions

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sunandshadow    7426
The purpose of this thread is to collect our impressions, as designers who are also player, of the design successes and failures of various MMOs. I'd like to see posts saying:

"I decided not to play game X after trying it for an hour, and here's why." (Try not to be abusive/insulting to the game or its designers.)

"I played game Y until I had completed about half the game, and I admired/enjoyed features A B and C while playing, but then I quit and here's why."

"I played game Z to completion, or close enough. I found D, E, and F to be the game's greatest successes. I found U, V, and W to be the games biggest weak points, and thought they could have be improved in such and such ways."

OR
"Games H and I are quite similar, so here's a comparison/contrast of them."

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polyfrag    2504
I played Starpeace Online for a few minutes. The buildings looked like a bad art exhibit and I could only build an export warehouse and got bored of waiting for it to finish. But the map was huge and UI looked nice. I didn't find the nugget of fun in the game when I logged in a second time and tried to build more.

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sunandshadow    7426
I'll start with the games I tried and decided not to play, since it will be much quicker to comment on a few hours' worth of play or one deal-breaking flaw than it will be when I get to game I played more fully.

Flyff - This game was my first unfortunate experience with "auto-combat." Auto-combat means you click on a monster, then wait until your character and/or pet monsters beat it to death. No strategy or tactics involved. Probably someone somewhere likes auto-combat, but to me if there is no strategy or tactics involved (spending stat points does not count) it isn't really a "game". I just don't see the point of playing something like this.

MixMaster and Eudemons Online - These two MMOs are quite similar. All characters are monster tamers, and the monsters do the majority of the fighting. These games both suffer from auto-combat; two or three monsters follow the player around at all times, and when a monster is clicked the characters and monsters all beat on it until it dies. Additionally both of the English versions of these games are quite badly translated, making it difficult to do the quests in them.

Rappelz - This game seemed like it would be a good game except for one really glaring design problem - no keyboard control of movement. I really am baffled why anyone would design an MMO with no option for WASD movement. The only possible exception is a game like Dofus where the view is quite zoomed out fixed-camera view isometric, and combat is tactical, both situations ill-suited to keyboard controlled movement. At any rate my arm was in serious pain after an hour of controlling all movement with the mouse. I regret being physically unable to play the game more, because I was quite interested by what I read of the game's pet system.

Ryzom, 2Moons, and Guild Wars - This trio of games seemed to have over-all higher quality design than the first three I've mentioned. Ryzom has quite unique science fiction worldbuilding, with original races and monsters, and a flexible and extensive crafting system. 2Moons requires players to be 18 or older, which I appreciated all by itself, and I also enjoyed the bawdy humor of the NPCs in the starter city. The occasional glowing monsters which dropped bonus loot were also a nice way to spice up grinding on monsters. Guild Wars I did not play long enough to see any particular virtues of the game, but I had been told before I started that the game has some very interesting pvp minigames available at higher levels.

What did these three games have in common? In all three cases I stopped playing the game shortly after completing the starter area. In all three cases I did not really get immersed in the game, and there seemed to be either a shortage of quests after the tutorials were done, or the quest text failed to build an interesting identity within the game world for my character, and there were not any alternative goals dangled under my nose such as achieving an important class or profession skill, improving my character's appearance customizations, or investigating a bad guy. If I quit an MMO at any point other than the very beginning or the very end the reason I quit is almost always because the game has failed to give me either an interesting story to find out the next piece of or an interesting non-story goal to aim for in the next few hours. (For comparison, some examples of good non-story goals other games provided are: unlock the ability to have a mount or a house, unlock the ability to shapeshift or capture pets or gain some other tactically interesting new spell/skill, learn how to effectively play a new minigame, earn a quest reward which can be exchanged for an appearance customization, etc.)

In Guild Wars I think a major barrier to my immersion was the fact that exploring the world and killing monsters was all instanced (for players not in a group) so I was basically wandering around in a wilderness by myself for hours with neither NPCs nor other players providing a sense of companionship or community. In 2Moons the game seemed to channel everyone toward PvP after completing the tutorial area, so PvE questing after that point was only a token effort. For a player like me who has no real interest in PvP that's like the game giving me the cold shoulder. Ryzom on the other hand I could tell was more of a sandbox game for explorers and experimenters; the opposite of 2Moons, but still not aimed at a player like me who is mainly motivated by story and collecting/completing.

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sunandshadow    7426
[quote name='polyfrag' timestamp='1313890927' post='4851778']
I played Starpeace Online for a few minutes. The buildings looked like a bad art exhibit and I could only build an export warehouse and got bored of waiting for it to finish. But the map was huge and UI looked nice. I didn't find the nugget of fun in the game when I logged in a second time and tried to build more.
[/quote]

That sounds much like my experiences with Evony (MMORTS) and Tygras (non-mmo online pet breeding... well I can't really call it a game, so I guess it must be a toy). Also with single player games like Plant Tycoon, Virtual Villagers, and pretty much every other game by that company. What is supposed to be fun about a game which is 90% waiting? :blink:

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elondon    242
Cool thread.

Many of you have probably played a number of indie MMOs or games built by smaller companies. For the good or bad, I have for the most part played the multi-million dollar MMOs by the AAA studios. I started way back when with Ultima Online (my favorite game ever - possibly because I was so young, possibly because it was the first, possibly because of its amazing and unique gameplay but probably a combination of all). Since then I have played a whole slew. I thought Asheron's Call was great. More recently: Shadowbane, World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings, Age of Conan, Rift, Vanguard, Guild Wars, and many more.

I stopped playing them all essentially for one reason. It boiled down to this: If I want to play World of Warcraft, I'll play World of Warcraft. In other words, most games I've tried in the last few years are so similar in every aspect to WoW that I may as well just play WoW because the others all fall short in some regard. Most of the time, painfully short. Changing the story doesn't do it for me because if I'm being honest I don't pay much attention to the stories. I love advancing characters, collecting items, upgrading, building, etc...

Any team that releases a working MMO has my respect. I think it is just a phenomenal achievement. However, to get my money, you are going to have to change it up a little. Ultima Online and Asheron's Call had character advancement systems that have since been forgotten. I love advancement. To really get into a game I need to always feel as though I am advancing. Grinding for 15 hours on quests to get myself the next level of 2 spells is boring. Running the same instance 9 times for 1 piece of armor is boring. In Asheron's Call, you did have to grind experience but it had a skill system so that you could dump your experience into skill points regularly. I could spend an hour playing and raise a couple of skills and even if it was only a little bit, I felt as though I did something.

I did try Darkfall - which is supposed to be much more open and player driven but it was too hardcore for me and I simply don't have the time anymore.

If someone builds an MMO that is fun, gives you that feeling of advancement, and has some cool hooks - I think they will be on a good path. Oh... and it can be nothing like WoW.

Just my 2cents :)

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polyfrag    2504
That is, I couldn't build anything else afterwards and I didn't know why.

I also played Rappelz but got intimidated by players that were more experienced than me. I was going to play with my cous and I don't know why I didn't go back to that game. It was an okay game. Probably because RPG's take so long and I can't really hope to accomplish something when there's so many other players.

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sunandshadow    7426
@elondon - When I get around to writing about my experience playing Dofus I have positive things to say about the character building system in that game. I'm not much of a fan of stat points, but in that game I actually enjoyed the way they worked. I played Dofus before I played WoW, but those are the only two games I've played so far that had more than one workable way to build a character of any given class. Other MMOs with stat points such as Perfect World and Maplestory have their stat points rendered pretty much meaningless by the fact that there's a clear best way to spend the points for each class.

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So you're looking for a postmortem of my experience, rather than of the game as a game and/or social phenomenon? Groovy.

EvE Online here. I always try to capitalize both Es because someone made a joke about it being "Everyone versus Everyone" and I thought that was clever. Anyhow, I had that sucker set to autopay on a yearly basis to save a few bucks, since I played the crap out of it for the better part of half a decade. I freaking loved EvE, because I was fed up with video games, and it seemed to spit in the face of games in general while still scratching my video game itch. Predictable rewards? Not really. Intelligible ratio of time invested to returns on those investments? Not unless you know a guy who used that system since the most recent patch. Rules that engender a positive experience for all players, regardless of skill level? Not on your life. A sense of accomplishment and superiority based on time and effort spent in-game? Go choke to death on a thousand penises.

After years of skill development, my character is now able to pilot almost any spaceship in the game, which is no mean feat. Not only can he fly them, he's downright dangerous in them. I've got a lot of highly implausible solo PvP kills in my combat log, including several insances of me in my interceptor brutalizing twinked-out newbs who spent hundreds of dollars on eBay buying illegal in-game assets. I'm a many-armed fury of death and it takes a half-dozen skilled players with advanced characters and expensive gear to beat me in a fight, since I'm savvy enough to choose my battles and badass enough to win the ones I choose.

However, I'm a pauper, and although I can use the state-of-the-art gear, I'm not willing to do what it takes to obtain it. For me to express my full potential would require dozens of hours of gameplay just in amassing resources and trading goods, or even more time invested in establishing, operating and defending a supply chain that would build that kind of gear. Since a death in EvE costs you everything you were using at the time, the price of failure is steep, and even the best of us get hosed now and again, blundering into 50-versus-1 boobytraps. Consequently, I am Yojimbo, a mighty swordsman wandering the land in a threadbare kimono and carrying an old, poorly-maintained blade. Sure, I win any fight up to and including 5v1, but when I lose, I have to spend a week doing menial labor to buy another kimono and sword. Ultimately, it's not worth my time, and I've wandered off, periodically dropping in for a month's subscription to check out a new content update, but if I'm on for six hours in any given three-month period, it's an anomaly.

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sunandshadow    7426
@Iron Chef Carnage - EvE is such a unique game - I've always wondered what makes people enjoy playing it despite the fact that, as you say, it does seem to spit in the face of what we generally consider good game design. I've never personally been tempted to play it but I hear it mentioned regularly, it's undeniably popular. Could you comment a little more on exactly how what you were doing in the game scratched your videogame itch and was satisfying?

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elondon    242
@sunandshadow - I'll check out Dofus, it looks interesting.

Skill based and point based systems are by no means perfect. Most of them suffer from exactly what you describe. In AC, while you have a vast array of skills and stats to put points into, you still need to decide what type of character you want. If you want an offensive mage, for example - there was that certain path you needed to go down with your experience and points and if you didn't your character would be much less powerful than another offensive mage at the same level who did follow that path. In AC, if you didn't set your initial stat points properly, your character was forever gimped. I've never tried to think of a good solution for that issue in that type of system. The community of the game always come up with that most efficient path for a given class.

That is a whole separate design discussion though - off the postmortem topic. :)

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Caldtem    323
[quote name='elondon' timestamp='1313899276' post='4851799']
@sunandshadow - I'll check out Dofus, it looks interesting.

Skill based and point based systems are by no means perfect. Most of them suffer from exactly what you describe. In AC, while you have a vast array of skills and stats to put points into, you still need to decide what type of character you want. If you want an offensive mage, for example - there was that certain path you needed to go down with your experience and points and if you didn't your character would be much less powerful than another offensive mage at the same level who did follow that path. In AC, if you didn't set your initial stat points properly, your character was forever gimped. I've never tried to think of a good solution for that issue in that type of system. The community of the game always come up with that most efficient path for a given class.

That is a whole separate design discussion though - off the postmortem topic. :)
[/quote]

Allow the reselection of skills/attributes/classes/etc, but require the player must re-play to earn these aspects. Don't let anything be free. Don't just throw and in-game currency fee on it. Make it earned through play outside of money farming. Make all stats posses values outside of class specific bonuses to make each attribute more viable to multiple archetypes. In order for this to be successful you can't force the players to grind specific things. Let them play how they see fit. Don't make gear too strong and don't make the acquisition of it too predictable.

Dilute, probably not the best word, the gear rewards, along with the power curve of the game, to make it more casual play friendly while also maintaining a more in-depth skill/attribute gaining system. You may be level 50, but that isn't the hard part. Working on your skills of choice to increase their potency isn't a quick nor easy task, but you can certainly compete without being maxed out. Provide multiple viable ways to play the same class differently from another player of the same class. Provide multiple options for gear without making anything beyond the basics a minimum requirement.

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sunandshadow    7426
The rest of the game I have to talk about are all ones I spent at least a month playing, so it will probably take me several paragraphs to talk about each one.

A Tale In the Desert - First of all let me make the disclaimer that my comments do not apply to the current version of the game, although it usually doesn't change much between annual server restarts. Anyway. This MMO is fairly unique in that it does not have combat. It also for the most part does not have NPCs, although it has a few temples and schools that act as quest obtaining and quest turn-in points. It does have a bit of a quest sequence which is internal to each character - basically a list of what must be done to reach the next level of "citizenship", with the highest levels being Pharaoh and/or godhood. But the vast majority of the gameplay is gathering and crafting to climb a tech tree. You start out as basically an ignorant pre-historic human with nothing but what you can pick up off the ground and the gift of a couple of flax seeds. With mud and grass you make bricks, with wood and slate you build yourself a plane and make planks, with bricks and planks you make a house and a treasure chest and a kiln, with the flax you make twine and cloth, onward and upward, branching out into livestock and metallurgy until you are a one-person iron-age culture or even more advanced than that. A Tale in the Desert is one of the most successful instances I have encountered where a basically storyless game didn't feel too empty because it had me imagining my own little stories about my character and surroundings.

So why did I not play this game very long? Well, for one thing I like combat; it's exciting, and there just isn't any kind of challenging and adrenaline-pumping activity in the game to take its place. For a second thing the game world is way too big for the number of people playing in it, I rarely ran into other players in person. For a third thing it has no money system and worse no automatic world-wide bartering system. For a fourth thing the game has a pollution system where one player can get unknowingly screwed over by something another player did weeks ago, and the harmed player can't do anything to repair the situation. But the real deal-breaker for me was the mandatory group play. I'll probably rant about this in several of my comments on different games. I am a solo player; I like having other players around to talk to and trade with, but I don't want to be forced to spend an hour or more at a time being part of a group tackling some complicated task. That takes more planning, commitment, and socialization than I am up for. Finding out that one of the basic second-level building materials of the game could ONLY be gathered by a group just ruined for me the pleasure of being a one-person civilization. And it just further sealed the issue when I found out that marriage was a required quest for a higher level (IIRC it even had to be a heterosexual marriage, heteronormativity and gender stereotyping are another thing I'll rant about later.).

Beyond all that there were a few things about the game that could have used improving. The cooking system, as well as the activity of trying to make charcoal, were both pretty terrible. Actually they had some of the same problems as Ryzom's super-flexible crafting system - the player could try a thousand things, most would fail, there would be no feedback on what to do to succeed next time, and the only way to get anywhere would be to resort to the really annoying practice of taking notes on paper and doing a thousand rather boring experiments, which would take weeks to gather enough supplies to carry out. A Tale In The Desert also would have benefited from the ability to craft things to customize the character's appearances, as well as more customization for houses and the land around one's house. Mounts would have been really nice too, especially considering the fact that the world map would have taken most of a day (real time) to walk across. But the real answer to that would have been to make the game world modular, and only open one module at a time to dump all the new players into when existing areas were full. That would also have ensured there was a source of every resource in each sub-area, instead of some rare resources being present at only 3 places on the whole map.

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sunandshadow    7426
[quote name='Caldenfor' timestamp='1313900784' post='4851806']
Allow the reselection of skills/attributes/classes/etc, but require the player must re-play to earn these aspects. Don't let anything be free. Don't just throw and in-game currency fee on it. Make it earned through play outside of money farming.[/quote]

Personally I strongly disagree with this. It's my preference to be able to do all the activities within a game with a single character, rather than creating a new one. If I've played my way to level 50, I feel I deserve the freedom to experiment with all possible builds that can be done by a level 50 player. I'm offended by games that make it impossible to respec or painfully costly in terms of money or effort. I don't at all agree with the argument that this is realistic - the average person these days has at least three careers in their lifetime, and they don't forget one to learn a new one either. However, that's my personal opinion, as the type of player that I am. Other types of players may very well prefer a system which encourages them to make several characters or restart a character. *shrug*

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sunandshadow    7426
[quote name='elondon' timestamp='1313899276' post='4851799']
@sunandshadow - I'll check out Dofus, it looks interesting.

Skill based and point based systems are by no means perfect. Most of them suffer from exactly what you describe. In AC, while you have a vast array of skills and stats to put points into, you still need to decide what type of character you want. If you want an offensive mage, for example - there was that certain path you needed to go down with your experience and points and if you didn't your character would be much less powerful than another offensive mage at the same level who did follow that path. In AC, if you didn't set your initial stat points properly, your character was forever gimped. I've never tried to think of a good solution for that issue in that type of system. The community of the game always come up with that most efficient path for a given class.

That is a whole separate design discussion though - off the postmortem topic. :)
[/quote]
Eh, I'd rather have some off-topic posts scattered through the thread than stifle discussion. I thought I'd mention a few other problems with stats and character-building that I've seen. Of anything an MMO can do, one that seems to induce the most sheer rage and feelings of somewhat justifiable betrayal in a player is if an update to the game nerfs a build or class. If a player has spent three months or more building a high-level character, having the game change out from under him to invalidate all his work... that's bad news all around. A related problem is that it's not only difficult to balance each build against each other, there's usually an additional factor that they need to be balanced in both PvP and PvE situations, both solo and dungeon party situations, in leveling speed and money earning capacity, and at many different levels. I've played several games where there were one or two classes in constant shortage because they were mandatory for any dungeon run (generally healers and tanks), and one or two classes that were pariahs because they couldn't pull their weight in a dungeon, usually due to being halfway between a tank and a dps (pet users, paladins/druids). In one situation the class that was unwanted in dungeons for being weak in that situation was the SAME class that ruled 1v1 PvP and had the ability to level and earn money the fastest in solo play. Can't fix that with any simple buff or nerf. It might even be some sort of general truth of the universe that specialists classes are weak solo and generalist classes are weak in groups. And it would also be quite difficult to fix a situation where dungeons were built for a different mix of characters than players were making. A 5-man dungeon party is typically 1 tank, 1 healer, and 3 dps. But if only 1 in 10 characters created is a healer there's going to be a perpetual shortage of healers and difficulty doing dungeon runs.

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lithos    414
Lets go indy sandbox

Haven and Hearth

Joined before all the newbie "quality of life" updates were made. So here we have a blank map that would take over a literal day to cross filled with various annoying beasties that will knock you out(and eventually kill you permadeath style if your wound health bar gets to 0, players can do the same). So your goal at this point was to grind out learning points while barely managing to keep yourself fed. After far too much time you'll eventually run into another person to find you you don't just automatically know their name and actually need to introduce each other. also around that time I've built enough learning points to advance my skill tree to the point I could start farming, building a cabin and various other supply chain stuff. At this point I can keep my food bar completely full for some of my play time so I start experimenting with combat and other mechanics. I eventually hit another "kind of dead end" Since metal comes from mines and mines were in limited supply that means trade is pretty forced on new players(the weakest and least interesting) to the longer played players.

BAM

end of alpha/beta whatever with a world reset. now that I knew what I was doing I pretty quickly develop shelter and similar. I also develop skills fast enough to find a mine. and a few people join me. I laugh at how easy it is to actually get metal, hardest part is getting the mine and "space" requirements from the building you need produced if you want to mass produce. We eventually get a nice little fortress set up with the highest tier buildings and a laughablely large amount of food. Play around with the new combat a bit, do some mapping of the surrounding area, then never again log in without ever making a conscious choice of quitting. Also ended up getting pretty darn lost in caves once, and was interested by the fact that I ended up finding a different exit out.

Permadeath actually works pretty darn well in the game. Since animals won't kill you or similar. Most players also won't kill you unless you wrong them, if you do steal or murder you'll leave scents behind which can be used to track you, or summon you if you're offline. Meaning the community has a way to actually police themselves, which means that permadeath actually worked(also means people would go after people around their level or above theirs for the "level of risk" to justify itself).

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Acharis    5979
I find feedback and impression of designers irrelevant. We all are old geezers who played all the games and are bored of them already. We have seen everything and tried everything. We strive only for originality, not for gameplay and fun. Designers are completely unlike normal player and have not much in common :)

It's like asking critics for opinion of the new movie. The real viewers have different tastes than critics, so favourable impression of critics might even be a death kiss for a movie.

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Caldtem    323
[quote name='sunandshadow' timestamp='1313901658' post='4851809']
[quote name='Caldenfor' timestamp='1313900784' post='4851806']
Allow the reselection of skills/attributes/classes/etc, but require the player must re-play to earn these aspects. Don't let anything be free. Don't just throw and in-game currency fee on it. Make it earned through play outside of money farming.[/quote]

Personally I strongly disagree with this. It's my preference to be able to do all the activities within a game with a single character, rather than creating a new one. If I've played my way to level 50, I feel I deserve the freedom to experiment with all possible builds that can be done by a level 50 player. I'm offended by games that make it impossible to respec or painfully costly in terms of money or effort. I don't at all agree with the argument that this is realistic - the average person these days has at least three careers in their lifetime, and they don't forget one to learn a new one either. However, that's my personal opinion, as the type of player that I am. Other types of players may very well prefer a system which encourages them to make several characters or restart a character. *shrug*
[/quote]

I think this comes entirely down to the type of game being designed and how the system is employeed. The content of the game determines what subsystems work and in my opinion a game with competitive PVP and/or a solid community should never have instant respecs. Yes, people are going to find some of their decisions unpleasant, but you also need to take other players into account. If you can just instantly swap to anything you want you bring forth the issue of making individuals obsolete at times and all sorts of Flavor of the Month trouble. Need a fourth healer? "Well, I am a Berserker, but I will just instantly turn into one!" What about that poor healer sitting around looking for a group that just lost out because of a flawed system?

It all depends on the game. There are plenty of games where changing around is suitable and even partially necessary, but that is not a game I would design or play. Freedom of choice is key to MMORPGs, outside of certain Theme Parks, and we should aim to retain player choice. If you train a skill, say the use of a Shield, so that you are a master wielding a shield. Awesome. Now you want to do something else? Set it to lower while you set your new skill to raise, similar to Ultima Online, and then go through the process of retraining. This is best used, in my mind so far, for a game where attaining maximum character level is rather casual, but developing your character and the skills it possesses are what takes a little extra time. The system would provide you the option to play the entirety of a game on just one character, but it requires time involved in training in order to try out everything.

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Caldtem    323
[quote name='sunandshadow' timestamp='1313902844' post='4851812']
[quote name='elondon' timestamp='1313899276' post='4851799']
@sunandshadow - I'll check out Dofus, it looks interesting.

Skill based and point based systems are by no means perfect. Most of them suffer from exactly what you describe. In AC, while you have a vast array of skills and stats to put points into, you still need to decide what type of character you want. If you want an offensive mage, for example - there was that certain path you needed to go down with your experience and points and if you didn't your character would be much less powerful than another offensive mage at the same level who did follow that path. In AC, if you didn't set your initial stat points properly, your character was forever gimped. I've never tried to think of a good solution for that issue in that type of system. The community of the game always come up with that most efficient path for a given class.

That is a whole separate design discussion though - off the postmortem topic. :)
[/quote]
Eh, I'd rather have some off-topic posts scattered through the thread than stifle discussion. I thought I'd mention a few other problems with stats and character-building that I've seen. [b]Of anything an MMO can do, one that seems to induce the most sheer rage and feelings of somewhat justifiable betrayal in a player is if an update to the game nerfs a build or class. If a player has spent three months or more building a high-level character, having the game change out from under him to invalidate all his work... that's bad news all around.[/b] A related problem is that it's not only difficult to balance each build against each other, there's usually an additional factor that they need to be balanced in both PvP and PvE situations, both solo and dungeon party situations, in leveling speed and money earning capacity, and at many different levels. I've played several games where there were one or two classes in constant shortage because they were mandatory for any dungeon run (generally healers and tanks), and one or two classes that were pariahs because they couldn't pull their weight in a dungeon, usually due to being halfway between a tank and a dps (pet users, paladins/druids). In one situation the class that was unwanted in dungeons for being weak in that situation was the SAME class that ruled 1v1 PvP and had the ability to level and earn money the fastest in solo play. Can't fix that with any simple buff or nerf. It might even be some sort of general truth of the universe that specialists classes are weak solo and generalist classes are weak in groups. And it would also be quite difficult to fix a situation where dungeons were built for a different mix of characters than players were making. A 5-man dungeon party is typically 1 tank, 1 healer, and 3 dps. But if only 1 in 10 characters created is a healer there's going to be a perpetual shortage of healers and difficulty doing dungeon runs.
[/quote]

That certainly depends on the quality of the dev team behind the changes, and to a certain extent, how flawed the rest of the game is. In Dark Age of Camelot Midgardians received the old "Left Axe Nerf". Sadly, it was necessary. Classes that were using it were overly dominate in PVP. Problem? Quick sweeping change to "bring them back in line". I feel a more subtler approach would have been more tact. Slowly adjust classes, don't just tear them down with changes and then bring them back up when you find out you over did it. This is just a loose example that I am sure would hit a few people very personally.

With the concept I was describing in the previous post above you could remedy this issue to an extent. Providing the player the freedom to change their class would save people from having to reroll completely. Being able to raise/lower skills rather than needing to "earn" a respec, either by cash or finding drops/waiting for dev help to save you, would also help to assist the players in the situation of not liking their class/specialization any more. The sacrifice? Your class/build is no longer fun, which sucks, and you have to take the time to retrain your character. If a class/build is no longer playable, communicate with the proper people, and hopefully you can one day train back to be what you once preferred to be if they make adjustments you want to try.


As for the group/healer shortage issues. Develop a design where you don't limit groups to just five people. Why not eight? Then you will be less restricted on what you can bring into a party and if you have a system where more than just 1-2 classes can heal. Current design plan for my concept has 14 classes and at least four of them can heal, if specialized to do so, while two of those four can heal despite specialization. The design also employs a tactic where a player can fully specialize in one line, but they would have more points so they could sub-heal spec and thus, heal. Not a primary healer perhaps, but they can help.

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Caldtem    323
[quote name='Acharis' timestamp='1313932786' post='4851883']
I find feedback and impression of designers irrelevant. We all are old geezers who played all the games and are bored of them already. We have seen everything and tried everything. We strive only for originality, not for gameplay and fun. Designers are completely unlike normal player and have not much in common :)

It's like asking critics for opinion of the new movie. The real viewers have different tastes than critics, so favourable impression of critics might even be a death kiss for a movie.
[/quote]

I can't claim to be a designer, but I like to think about designing games. I am not bored with everything. I am just bored with how it has been presented as of late. When I design I try to compromise to find what is best for the developer and the player alike. Not overly complex so it becomes impossible to balance while also providing options for players to help them retain individuality.

As for movies.. I can pretty much watch anything. I don't like certain types of movies, but I can watch them, and show appreciation for what I felt was done right or wrong. People that critique need to look at the desired audience targeted not just how much they personally liked it. Unless, well, that is the aim of the critic. "If you follow my advice and have the same exact tastes, here are the movies you should watch, but don't watch Star Wars: Return of the Jedi because I hate Sci-Fi." Sorry, tangent there lol.

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elondon    242
[quote name='Caldenfor' timestamp='1313932841' post='4851884']
It all depends on the game. There are plenty of games where changing around is suitable and even partially necessary, but that is not a game I would design or play. Freedom of choice is key to MMORPGs, outside of certain Theme Parks, and we should aim to retain player choice. If you train a skill, say the use of a Shield, so that you are a master wielding a shield. Awesome. Now you want to do something else? Set it to lower while you set your new skill to raise, similar to Ultima Online, and then go through the process of retraining. This is best used, in my mind so far, for a game where attaining maximum character level is rather casual, but developing your character and the skills it possesses are what takes a little extra time. The system would provide you the option to play the entirety of a game on just one character, but it requires time involved in training in order to try out everything.
[/quote]

That is one of the things I loved about Ultima Online. You had 700 skill points to distribute however you wanted. There were the classic builds - like a tank mage or sword melee but you could also make hybrids and get creative and your character would still be effective against others who used those classic builds. The more you used a skill the more it raised and you could lock or lower skills as well. If you had a fully built tank mage and you really wanted to, you could turn that character into an ingot mining blacksmith. And hey, if you still had your magery skills high enough you might have a nice surprise for a PK who tried to kill you for your ingots. The argument could be made that the classic builds were the most effective and that may be correct - but there was still 700 skill points and your character could take up and work any skill they wanted with those 700 points and if you wanted to change your character around you could slowly do so without deleting and re-creating. You still had multiple character slots so you could get creative with your account - but there was no pick a class or race at the beginning and get locked into a certain style of play. 700 skill points. Have fun.

Note that I do use past tense because I haven't played UO in probably 10 years. I have no idea what it is like now, but I know it isn't like it was.

Bottom line for me is this: While I've played WoW extensively, I've always put it down (along with all of the clones) because spending 10 hours getting a level, seeing no reward or advancement in between, and just getting a new spell at the end of that 10 hours just doesn't do it for me. Aside from the few extra HP points and mana, I just don't feel like my character is going anywhere. Just quest after quest of the same stuff. It gets mind numbing. Granted, a lot of people love mind numbing. They did ALOT better imo with the expansions. Quests are more fun and have variety, the gear you get during those quests does give you some feel of advancement - but still, eventually, I get bored and wonder why I wasn't programming or working on learning something in that time.

Now Eve - that seems like a great idea to me. Level skills and stats in real time while you are not logged in? Brilliant. Problem is, from what I saw in the limited time I played, Eve is not very newbie friendly and of course when anyone first starts playing they are exactly that. I really didn't have much of a clue and the tutorials and some of the missions were fine but I still found myself thinking, "Ok. Now what?" Or wondering if what I'm doing is actually correct or advancing my character.

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loom_weaver    321
Dark Age of Camelot - the reason I stopped playing was because I had been playing quite extensively for 5 years and I got tired of it. I found I was spending more time on the forums getting worked up over upcoming changes.

Forums are actually a catch-22 when playing an MMO. On one hand you get lots of useful information, on the other hand they are overwhelmed by the disgruntled complainers and it gets you down after a while.

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Caldtem    323
Since there are so many I am just going to do a list format and hit some brief pros/cons for each.

[b]Ultima Online[/b]: I really enjoyed the ability to develop my character as I saw fit. When I first started the game I just wanted to have a Wilderness Traveler so I picked up lumberjacking, fletching, archery, tactics, swordsmanship and the like. I was able to just venture off from the villages/cities and do what I wanted when I wanted. I mainly lived out of Empath Abbey in the city of Yew where I was able to meet fellow players at the bank. When I first started I saw it as a peaceful game where I wasn't too afraid of going around by myself. I would run into a murderer here and there, but I was generally able to out run them and get hidden via the Hide skill before they could catch me. Upon my travels I eventually ended up near a graveyard south of the city. There I met what would become my first guild. They were a nice kind of folk that had a guild house there and they offered to help teach me the ropes to better defend myself against murderers. That was when the world started to shrink for me. When I was finally becoming a member of the community rather than a lone traveler.

I was able to make friends and foes. I eventually created a thief character of which would haunt Empath Abbey targeting players I may have had a bad encounter with on my other characters, or just for the sake of fun, would steal their stuff and run away to hide until I could bank it. Eventually I bought my own house and became friends with multiple guilds that were generally found at the Abbey. Little did I know there were hundreds of other players doing the same thing out of their own city of choice. It was a world. There was freedom to do what you wanted.

I ended up in Britain on my crafter character, mainly a smith, and I was introduced to the larger part of the game at the time, Order versus Chaos. Many street battles were fought between the sides and I had fun just running around watching them fight. I enjoyed having personal property that you could decorate and even turn into a shop with vendors. I enjoyed being able to collect items and I actually had a decent "semi-rare" collection going before I left the game. I returned several times and though I had fun, I could never get back to the original play once Trammel came around. Playing the economy was a valid play style. You didn't have to hunt to make money.

Cons: Templates became the norm. If you weren't X/Y/Z, then you weren't properly setup and would falter in combat. So much freedom became narrowed down to less freedom than some class based games. Tamers were godly. As the game aged Murderers became more common and less purposeful. They became PKs.


[b]Everquest[/b]: Though zones were separated by zonelines they seemed to mesh together well to create the feel of a complete world. Some zones were very large and it added to the feel of an expansive world. I enjoyed getting into groups and playing alongside other players. Sometimes it was a single serving group, but there were occasions where a group introduced you to friends for the future. It starts with Orc Camp groups, then to bandits and groups are a mainstay for focused levelers. You could solo, but some classes weren't as capable as others and grouping was ideal for gaining experience. The worlds provided a sense of exploration as there weren't nice little sandy roadways leading you every where there was to go. Bartering was a very valid way to further yourself economically.

There were items of rarity that were very desirable and if you were able to obtain one it would give you a feeling of great success. One of my greatest gains was when I was trying to trade my stuff around in the East Commons tunnel to get stuff for the monk I wanted to play, twinking was a common occurrence in Everquest, giving low level characters high level gear. I was trying desperately to get a Fungi Tunic, built in health regen, and I was settling on buying a Fungi Robe as I couldn't afford the tunic. When I got to the person selling the robe I placed my platinum in the trade window and they placed a Fungi Tunic, rather than a robe, in the window. I questioned if they were sure they wanted to sell the Fungi Tunic for 3,000 platinum and they assured me that they were okay. I made the trade and ran off with my newly acquired Fungi Tunic. There were many times later that I would try to buy low and sell high, or trade up so to say, playing the market game. I found it to be a game within a game.

Cons: Leveling took a long time. Classes were all identical in the end aside from gear selection/lack of funds to buy rare spells. There wasn't any way to really stand out from the crowd aside from playing your class well, which was fun none the less. I got up to level 54 on my Druid by the time Dark Age of Camelot came out so that is when I left Everquest for a new game. I wasn't a big raider. I didn't want to "key" myself to go do all of these extra things. Once I got high enough the game lost it's openness as I found myself just trying to level to do more dungeons. Not being the raider type it lost it's appeal.


I will add the rest as I have time.

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sunandshadow    7426
[quote name='Caldenfor' timestamp='1313934012' post='4851890']
[quote name='Acharis' timestamp='1313932786' post='4851883']
I find feedback and impression of designers irrelevant. We all are old geezers who played all the games and are bored of them already. We have seen everything and tried everything. We strive only for originality, not for gameplay and fun. Designers are completely unlike normal player and have not much in common :)
[/quote]

I can't claim to be a designer, but I like to think about designing games. I am not bored with everything. I am just bored with how it has been presented as of late. When I design I try to compromise to find what is best for the developer and the player alike. Not overly complex so it becomes impossible to balance while also providing options for players to help them retain individuality.
[/quote]
Hardly anybody becomes a game designer, hobbyist or otherwise, without being a gamer first. I play MMOs primarily because I have fun playing MMOs, studying their design is only a secondary benefit. I also play at designing MMOs because I find that fun. The statistically average MMO players gets older every year, although granted the average is probably still five years younger than I am. Boredom is sort of a factor, but not in the sense that I have any interest in originality for originality's sake. Heck I read romance novels and fanfiction, not exactly things known for originality. The things I'm bored of are the ones I didn't like much in the first place, such as high fantasy settings and dark settings and really macho testosterony game stories, because when you don't actually like something you run out of tolerance for it a lot faster. I'm constantly looking for new games to play, so if I'm bored it's usually a direct result of me not being able to find a game I haven't played yet of the type I think would be the most fun to play at the moment. I am most driven to design what I want to play but can't find.

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sunandshadow    7426
Perfect World - This game is basically a WoW clone except with a Chinese fantasy flavor and payment by cash shop instead of subscription. Being a WoW clone its is quite playable, and some of the more noticeable problems it has are the same ones WoW has, such as the fact that quests get sparser and play more grindy as players get up into the level 50-60 range until the game is just too boring to play unless you really love running dungeons and/or PvP. That's the actual reason I quit playing it. Also the fact that crafting professions are a grindy money pit players can't even break even on is a problem both games, and several others like Dofus, have in common.

So I'll skip over the parts where I don't have anything to say that's different from what I'd be saying about WoW. One of the unique awesome things about Perfect World is that the game's cash shop currency can be sold in the game's auction house for game gold. I personally think this was just a brilliant move, because it allows the game to shut out goldspammers by providing officially the services such people try to provide unofficially; and it does so without the harm to the economy that games do when they sell game gold directly in the cash shop. Allowing the players who would normally never but cash shop items to bribe other players to spend cash on their behalf results in both a happier playerbase and more total income for the game.

Another good point of perfect world is that is has the best integration of flying mounts into the game that I've seen so far, including the ability to fight flying monsters while riding a flying mount. With the exception of elves, who have wings from the beginning, the other races have flight unlocked for them at level 30 (IIRC) and this allows a great double use of the map, because Level 30 and higher monsters are placed in the air and on floating islands above the ground level where the below 30 monsters were. Giving higher level players an excuse to be near lower level players is helpful in encouraging higher level players to teach the lower level ones how to play, help them in dungeons, and invite them into guilds.

On the other hand, Perfect World unfortunately has some of the problems typical of Asian-made games; specifically the enforcing of gender stereotypes through single-gender classes (yuck), gameplay actions only male characters can perform toward female characters like letting a passenger ride with you on your mount (double yuck), and heterosexual-only marriages with gameplay benefits (ew). Besides that I was quite unhappy with the hundreds of player shops strewn like trash all over the major cities and resulting in almost-useless empty auction houses because the use fees on the auction house were higher.

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Caldtem    323
[b]Dark Age of Camelot[/b]:
The first game that actually made me feel like I was a part of something. RVR was a fantastic concept as it provided players the ability to find PVP combat while also providing PVE only areas for those that weren't big fans of PVP. Scouting was a huge bonus for your side so those that took the time and effort to scout with quality were able to stand out. Individuals mattered in a MMORPG.. fantastic.

Gear started off mostly basic, but evolved into a completely different beast as the game developed. Early on crafted armor was great as it provided an extra bonus to the armor of a character in PVP combat that made it compete with high end PVE drops. Eventually they added Spellcrafting and Alchemy to buff up player crafted gear to make it competitive with the newer gear that had been added to the game. Templates became a huge subculture as people spent hours and hours trying to fit specific items into their gear setups while also maximizing all of their stats as much as possible. The release of Trials of Atlantis which brought Artifacts to the game, high end PVE content that required experience grinding to raise in power, which almost became mandatory to compete in PVP. This was a huge pitfall and the beginning of the end for my enjoyment of the game. I played for over 4,000,000 realm points on my ranger, most of it came after New Frontiers released. I didn't earn much in Old Frontiers as I had primarily been a scout and not until late in play well after ToA released did I start doing stealth war games.

The problems: Not many. I had a really great time playing the game and even did end game dungeons quite a bit. I may have been younger and more tolerant, but they seemed to possess a variety in play being one of the first people to experience it with a very active healthy guild. Leveling alts became a drag. I must have worked a lot harder on leveling my ranger than I remember, but I had generally had a duo partner that I would group with when we were both online, otherwise solo. It wasn't until I reached level 40+ before guilds started recognizing me. If you weren't high level you weren't able to help your realm(40+ generally, 50 by the end, 50+RR5 ended up being the minimum to PVP successfully).

The way the game evolved PVE wise, gear wise, and the housing system made me lose interest. Your house was in a small plot with room for about 10-15 houses per clump. Four sizes for houses, all instanced inside, with a small porch/yard to decorate. Customization was rather limited, but it wasn't unbearable. I would have liked a system that promoted socialization more rather than an instanced area filled with instanced houses.

PVP and Class balance were also issues, but that is to be expected in any PVP game. Some of the changes were not well accepted, but they also changed things around a bit for the better.

Biggest failure for me was the revamping of the archery system. You used to draw your shot(with or without a target), be able to hold it for a few seconds, and once you had a target selected you could fire manually or auto release. It was later changed to behave very closely to the magic system and it really took a chunk out of the enjoyment of it all. Archers aren't magicians.

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