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Is a new age of bad design coming? (MMOs)

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And maybe MMOs should be more single-player. Even if the game is an MMO, you should be able to play alone and affect your own copy of the world.
Sure, but what for? If you want to play alone, why not play singleplayer games which will ALWAYS be superior in terms of playing alone?

It's sounds to me like trying to make an elephant out of a rabbit. Sure, both have 4 legs and one head and one tail and even the colour is similar but... :)
The strenght of multiplayer games is in playing with others, the strength of singleplayer games is in playing solo. Not following the natural strength of a genre/game type is a recipe for designing an inferior game.

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Thanks for contributing smile.png


The strenght of multiplayer games is in playing with others


The question is if we really need "massive", toward infinite amount of players, or "massive" can be something moderate that allow us to enjoy the game. How many people do you need in a MMO to fulfill the "play with others" feature? Isn't balance always better? Maybe technology is taken games too far, to a wrong reality.


It's sounds to me like trying to make an elephant out of a rabbit.


I'm having fun with an apocalyptic scenario for game design, but at the same time I trying to realize if the player would be happier playing alone and inviting his friends to his game whenever he wants, instead of an actual massively world in which you practically don't know anyone, and you also aren't allowed to make changes in their world, because that is not nice. Edited by cronocr

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I believe there is a sweet spot for "social" in games.
(Disclaimer: I don't know squat about psychology)
Like in real life, a densely populated area tends to have people ignoring oneanother,
while being just two persons in an otherwise deserted lands are more likely to connect.

Of course the more challenging the environment (as in urban vs. wilderness), the more need people will see to team up.
I understand your "be more singleplayer" idea, although I think it's a balancing issue.

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Not all MMO's are like this. For instance CitiesXL and SimCity 2013 have/will have an MMO planet where each player gets their own city site to construct on. Each city is able to interact with the world, and decisions in one city can have an impact (albeit tiny impact) on other cities.

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On the topic of procedural content becoming bland:

I got into MMO's with Anarchy Online, and one of the primary xp grinds were procedurally generated dungeons (called "missions") you could request from mission terminals. The room palette was only like 4 or 5 rooms large, with 4 hallway types and 2 or 3 themes to choose from for the interior as a whole. That content rapidly became stale background noise, but the fights against the npc's IN the missions were the focus because they took everyone's attention.

I think this is a key element that a lot of mediocre games forget: if your player is going to spend a lot of time doing X, make X inherently fun! Combat in AO was tedious once you knew what you were doing, the standard "stand still and responsively hit skill buttons" fare. Occasionally things would get crazy with accidental add-on enemies and your utility class with the calm/sleep/mind-control skills would save your bacon, and THOSE were the fights everyone talked about after. Not the 200 went-like-clockwork encounters.

That's the kind of fun that needs to be harnessed, then. Tons of content doesn't make up for bland gamePLAY. How many shooters fall flat because firing the weapons doesn't feel right? That was a major gripe with the Planetside2 beta before release: the guns felt too lightweight. They reworked that with response rates, sound and graphics, particle effects and damage rates and now, even with the game being a repetitive slogfest, it's fun to catch an enemy in your sights and unload a clip. I don't care if I've done it before a hundred times that day.

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Too massive for so few content
The designer will never be able to generate enough content to cope with the population of the game. For example if you are supposed to destroy some computer terminals, but some other people are there and destroyed them first, you are forced sit there until they rematerialized, so you could destroy them again. Bottlenecks.[/quote] That's because MMOs are designed like virtual theme parks. Quest lines are like a series of rides.

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Is people actually interested in seen an overcrowded game?

I'm interested in seeing crowds where I'd expect to see crowds. Adventuring off the beaten path, I expect to be pretty much alone with the wilderness, and running across other adventurers would be something to take note of. I don't want to see a queue 300 people long for the entrance to a remote cave. Unless they're all there because someone's hosting a great party. Emergent gameplay, yay.
Similarly, I expect crowds in a metropolis. An idea in a "if I had a million dollars I'd make this" sci-fi mmo design I have is to phase crowds based on player population: if you're the only player in the downtown area, you'll see lots of npc's milling about. If there are hundreds of players running around the city, you need relatively few extras to give the sense of crowd, so the game tones down the npc numbers (gracefully, they'd all wander off to other business or something).

There's a sweet spot for population though. There's almost no chance for personal significance in a crowd of 5000 heroes. If there are 10 or 20 avenues for greatness, that changes things. Likewise, if there are only 500 people on a server, almost everyone has a shot at being a known name, even if there's only really one path for gameplay.

I have lots of fun playing co-op games with just one friend, but MMO crowds are there to give you several things:
1) An economy to benefit from (auctionhouse content, sales, specialized crafters)
2) The chance to find similar peers (you know, the source of guild drama and whatnot)
3) An audience to show off to.

Of course, only points 1 and 2 really benefit from MASSIVE numbers, 3 works even in a small circle. Case in point: I always made Diablo II characters LAN-based, even if I was playing solo for the entire character progression, because it gave me the option to leverage that character's skills and "awesomeness" in a game with a friend if the opportunity ever arose.

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I hope to create some controversy...

We don't need any more controversy anywhere, let alone an internet forum.

But to answer your question, one of the biggest things you hear about MMO's is the complaints of Blizzard's World of Warcraft players (as WoW is the longest running MMO to date, although Runescape probably is older, but has less of an audience) who say that "the original (vanilla) WoW was so much better than the new ones." A big reason people say this is because a game, especially a social game like an MMO, is so much more fun and adventurous when you and your friends go on a new adventure and play a game where everything is new and you are all newbies, and you go on adventures discovering the world with them. If you look at WoW now, although it still is a great MMO and game in general, the game itself is better, but the players now complain about how the game is an antisocial stat fest. If by some stroke of genius you find a way in game design to make someone a perpetual newbie, encourage unscripted social adventure, maintain positive feedback from your audience, and still deliver a great end product, please tell us.

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as WoW is the longest running MMO to date

Not even close. Off the top of my head Ultima Online, EverQuest, [s]Age of Conan[/s] (EDIT: much newer, my apologies!), and RuneScape have all been running for at least a few years longer than World of Warcraft. I think what you might have meant to suggest however was that World of Warcraft is the most popular MMO -- I don't know the latest statistics, but that would quite probably be true. smile.png


Interesting topic, and I think you might be right that the majority of people aren't really interested in a massively multi-player experience: they do want to be able to play with friends -- some of whom may be new friends met within the game -- and they want to have an audience they can show off their achievements to, but realistically they don't need thousands of concurrent players for that. This is perhaps an area where instanced content helps to reduce the crowding.

//Sorry, I've got more to say, but I'm currently on baby duty and she's started crying! Edited by jbadams

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