I know exactly where u r going nintendoboy, but I might try WoW sometime soon just to see what the craze is about. I have seen videos, and all I see is a big, 3D, MMO Diablo with Warcraft's name stamped on the box. I would prefer an MMO live EVE where there are no scripted events, everything moves and flows in real time and wars are found over disputes between the groups you side with, not the race you pick to play (of which there are none). The biggest thing about EVE is that A) It is almost all player driven, with the exception of a few, and I mean few, AI, and B) It is all on one server being run by a powerful supercomputer. EVE is a great monster of an MMO and I would suggest picking up a copy of that over WoW almost any day. There is also the BioWare MMO: The Old Republic. That looks interesting because it attempts to blend BioWare's storytelling with an MMO crowd. For free MMO, look for what I think was called Crime Life, it is being made on the Unreal 3 engine, and is free, minus a few item transactions if you want a boost, but how else is a free MMO meant to get money.
Well, I had intended to post periodic updates of the Warhammer Online experience, but honestly, my schedule has been so hectic, it's impossible to keep up. The fall season is upon us, and I will be part of the TGS crew, so I haven't been able to focus on the small things as much as I would have liked.
The Warhammer Online review goes up tonight, but playing that game--and a lot of other MMOs over the years--has made me question (again) where the genre goes from here, particularly when a juggernaut like World of Warcraft totally dominates the market. To add an ironic aside: WoW doesn't really do much that hadn't already been done in other games, and it's always interesting that Warhammer Online--and other games--get accused of being WoW clones, when in actuality, Blizzard's own awesome game used already-existing standards, polished them to a degree previously unseen in MMOs, and made them accessible to almost everyone.
Regardless, Blizzard has proven you don't need to massively retool gameplay conventions that work well to make a highly successful game. You could argue the same in almost any genre, really; most first-person shooters and real-time strategy games simply play with proven concepts. And I certainly don't believe a game has to be innovative to be good--but I do have a personal MMO wishlist that may tell you what conventions I think are worth sticking with, and which ones need to be rethought.
1) Play with combat.
Age of Conan is the newest example of a game that revamps traditional MMOG combat, but other games have played with the standards. Vanguard lets bards create their own buffs by attaching song pieces together; Everquest II had heroic opportunities; and of course, games like Neocron and Planetside went the FPS route but had other significant problems that held them back. I don't want to see AoC's system copied, but I do want developers to think about how they can breathe life into combat. How about rare but effective cinematic quicktime events? (Think about how awesome it would be to trigger an event like this; other players would watch as you launched onto a dragon like an acrobat and brought it to the ground.) Whatever it is, it should keep us engaged and active, and should entail more than just clicking on icons or pounding on hotkeys.
2) Play with crafting.
Vanguard sets the standard for MMO crafting--but its relative lack of success means few of its original features are bound to be copied. All too often, this aspect is either tacked on (oh Warhammer, how I wish it wasn't true), or unbalanced (all too often in an MMO, the items you make aren't even as good as you can get at a regular vendor; what's the point?) Crafting should be about more than just the end product--it should match that product with an activity engaging enough to make crafting an item enjoyable. Make a good system (Vanguard, because the act of crafting is cool; Pirates of the Burning Sea, because it ties in with a giant economic web), or leave it out and create another gameplay mechanic to keep us busy in the downtime (gambling minigames, anyone?)
3) Play with AI.
Rooting, pulling, and so on are standard acts in an MMO, and they require predictable NPC behavior. Here's what you usually see: a monster that has a radius that, if you cross it, will draw aggro--and the monster will then attack you. What happens if we make monsters with real artifical intelligence? What if they were less predictable, acting on their own devices, rather than in a highly strict manner? The concept means a lot of other mechanics would need to be rethought (class roles, escape opportunities, and so on)--but perhaps that's a good thing. Make entire monster societies, and let them battle each other independently of players, and do it in a non-scripted way. City of Heroes and Tabula Rasa made some progress with genre AI. Let's see more of it.
4) Play with location.
I'm an explorer. I want to see something new. After all, this is a virtual world. A developer should ask: why would players want to live in our universe? It isn't just about how much there is to do, but how much there is to see. I'm not just talking about graphics (though art design is inextricably tied to this suggestion); I am talking about surprises. World of Warcraft hides a lot of cool things in the nooks and crannies, for example. Give me awesome places to stumble upon, reasons to leave the beaten path. I recognize that most developers want their world to have visual consistency. But the real world doesn't have that, and I'd like to wander about another world that has secrets to share. If I wander into an alley in San Francisco, I'm bound to find something weird. Why shouldn't the same happen when I wander into one in an MMO? And don't just make it a visual thing--hide a vendor there that sells unique items; stick an NPC there that has a story to tell. Fill your world with unpredictability, and it gives us a reason to return.
5) Play with story.
Some developers are headed in the right direction. Turbine (Asheron's Call; Dungeons & Dragons Online; LOTR Online) is consistently good at delivering story, as is Funcom (Anarchy Online; Age of Conan); and Everquest II's abundance of voice acting makes quests more involving and fleshes out the lore better as a result. But even the most expertly written quest is pointless if the player ignores the dialogue, or if it has no character. Make voice acting a standard (but allow people to turn it off if they want); improve animations and design NPCs so that they look different from each other (I don't look like my coworker Lark Anderson in the least, so I certainly don't see why every goblin has to look alike). These may not seem directly related to story, but they give the world's inhabitants personality, which goes a long way towards making you care about their tales. Guild Wars, Asheron's Call 2 and others gave us cutscenes. Give us more--and make them good. And--God forbid--give us branching paths, a single-player standby, and one that would be difficult to implement well in an MMO environment. But do it.
Or scrap it all and do something crazy. Of course, this is my own personal wishlist; a good business plan doesn't always include a lot of chances and innovations. What would you like to see in an MMOG? What things are you happy with, and what needs improvement?
As tired as I am of the usual "grind" in WoW, I have to admit that what they've done, they've done well. Granted, I no longer play any MMO due to burnout of the genre completely. Why copy WoW then, just to give players something else to grind, but not improve on anything else. I was horribly disappointed in WAR because after getting to lvl 15 I thought, "Hell, if I'm going to be grinding, I'll go back to my lvl 70 in WoW to do that." I think people are sick of the typical fantasy MMO's as well. I still fondly remember games like Asheron's Call 2 and Earth and Beyond simply because they did something different. Neither one survived in the end, but at least they gave it a shot.
Well, I was going to say that I think a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. or Resident Evil / Zombie Outbreak type MMO would be a good idea...as I have zero interest in all the fantasy, anime and space themed MMOs out there... ...but in typing that response up, I've realized there is no saving grace for the MMO. In conclusion: Where do MMOs go from here? In the trash.
i wanna see how "traditional" the Kotor mmo is going to be. Is it gonna be like everything other mmo or will it bring something new?
A truly good console only MMO. Something that merges modern day, wild west, and mythical themes and weapons, because it would be really cool the blast a dragon with a rocket launcher, or to take out an orc with two six guns.
Stevo, I admit I'm sort of tired of them too; it was just an example of something--anything--developers can do to take a more cinematic approach to combat. I'll leave it to the developers to decide what the best way is to ramp up the excitement of combat, but I do think it would be nice to see more MMOs think outside of the box in that regard.
Here's what I want, and I don't even know if it's possible. I'll admit, I can't even think of a way to make it work. But hey, that's not my job. I want a persistent online world that actually changes as a result of my actions, and the actions of other players. The one thing that time and time again prevents me from getting as invested in online worlds as I would like to be is that my stupid brain just can't get past the fact that, five minutes after my friends and I kill the evil Warlord Cleantrousers, he's back again, ready to be killed by the next party. This shatters every attempt any MMO makes at telling a story for me, as the world is obviously trapped in some sort of nightmarish Groundhog Day where the same quests need to be undertaken over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, and all that changes over time is what level you are and how much phat loot you have. I know I'm in the minority--in fact I don't really know anyone else with this hang-up--but that's my big problem with MMOs, and I look forward to the day when someone out there develops a world that is truly impacted by my actions and the actions of other players.
IS there an MMO out there with a turn-based, ATB sort of system? I've been playing Final Fantasy X lately, and I'd love to make a character online using the sphere grid.
I think they need to figure new ways to improve the MMO genre and not get stuck in the traditional RPG or fantasy setting. MAG to the PS3 could be called an MMO technically speaking, as an example. I think developers are just too stuck with the notion that MMOs has to be about a certain type of gameplay, it has to be and beat WoW, but why play with the exact same rules? People are talking about social reward, by why emphasize just one aspect of games? Thusfar, battle with creatures or other people has been the only real reason to improve your character and the sole purpose of playing. And that's in a way quite a shame. I played Anarchy Online a lot before because I liked the world in it, and I let my character grow and then I found out about housing and social outfits. This lead me to give my character a social RP side. But what was that aside from a waste of time that could go to the everlasting grind? This is why I would like to see an MMO where a social career (politics, crafting, whatever) is equally viable as a combat one. And even one that takes a bit of both. And lastly, there needs to be more diverse settings.
I'm not a big fan of MMO games mainly due to the monthly fee part but WoW looks like it could be a good game and i'll definitley give it a go when i upgrade my comp:P
am starting to think of mmo's and i dint like them in the begining, still agree 100% with your reviews!
I guess unique settings are what is going to set them apart. Fantasy MMOs are getting old :P. I hope the KOTOR MMO/Warhammer 40k MMO does a good job of doing that.
Excellent question Kevin. I can't really imagine where should genre go, however I'd like to see more MMO concentration on story and exploration and much less on grinding and raiding aspects. You are right to say: "But that's what MMO do!" Maybe it's time for MMO to allow thousands of players to do things that haven't really been used before. WOW is moving in right direction, however time will come soon when MMO will evolve again, or so i hope. :)
dannyodwyer Posted Oct 4, 2008 8:12 am AEST Really great read It probably sounds really lame, but i used to dream about an MMO that wasnt so much about improving your characters points, but improving your own experience, almost like a sandbox for real life. Growing and experiencing the good and bad and eventually just dying. The internet is a wonderful trick on us all. It seems its about learning from other people, but i think its truely an arena for people to explore themselves; the parts they like and the parts they dont. I think its a shame nobody has tapped into this in any meaningful way in a game. Surely MMO's should be people powered. The nearest approximation to this is probably Second Life (or on a more basic level maybe Fable), but in my head it felt more organised like EVE online. Some of the stories of politics and disputes in EVE are facinating. A few years ago PCGamer UK devoted 4 pages of the magazine to tell one story about a power war there. It was totally mindblowing. Im sick of numbers i think. Every MMO is about numbers, and half of them about friggin elves. ------------------------------------------------------------ Tatally agree. 100% On The Money with that statement. 8)
1 . Aah , Tokyo Game Show , that would be great . Do they give out tickets or was it just the media ? I can't remember . 2 . So goblins are now co-workers :lol: 3 . No mentions of FFXI ? :o 4 . "a good business plan doesn't always include a lot of chances and innovations" yes , that's the biggest bottleneck ! If there was some way that the developers didn't have to worry about their game's selling and the Return on Investment , we would have seen most of these games 3-5 years ago . I wish there was someway that problem would go away therefore opening both creativity and technical courage to developers :( That problem makes progress very slow and risk taking a rare thing . Anyway , Sorry for the long post , nice article and good points , thanks for time and effort you put in :)
The thing with mmo's is that the need a large user base (a MMO with no users is no fun), So most aspects must be simplistic and easy to pick up and not be so technically superior that the cannot run on 90% of computers while you have some great ideas I could see many of those aspect being over looked... I love the idea of rewards for leaving the beaten track that's why people play open world RPG's to explore, so bring it on.
I would like to see then cost a little less..... I am a penny pincher when it comes to subscribing to stuff.....
My wish for MMO's is to get the Assassin's Creed Combat system into the Genre and perhaps the Crafting systems from Horizons and the Magic mechanics from Fable ll. La Parkour style World with the Physics of Farcry 2 with the options to build up Army's and play RTS against others and be able to swap from 1st/3rd isometric camera views and a RTS view with a scroll of the mouse wheel The AI, Stories, and Locations can be whatever suites the tone of the settings. Art direction is so important with Games in general and its something i've always felt lacking in MMO's. Sure WoW [ Which i freaking HATE with a PASSION ] is a rich vibrant world but if i wanted to play a cartoon i'd play Naruto. Just my 2 cents worth :D
Really great read It probably sounds really lame, but i used to dream about an MMO that wasnt so much about improving your characters points, but improving your own experience, almost like a sandbox for real life. Growing and experiencing the good and bad and eventually just dying. The internet is a wonderful trick on us all. It seems its about learning from other people, but i think its truely an arena for people to explore themselves; the parts they like and the parts they dont. I think its a shame nobody has tapped into this in any meaningful way in a game. Surely MMO's should be people powered. The nearest approximation to this is probably Second Life (or on a more basic level maybe Fable), but in my head it felt more organised like EVE online. Some of the stories of politics and disputes in EVE are facinating. A few years ago PCGamer UK devoted 4 pages of the magazine to tell one story about a power war there. It was totally mindblowing. Im sick of numbers i think. Every MMO is about numbers, and half of them about friggin elves.
Flexability with character development would be high on my wish list. One of my favourite aspects of Guild Wars was the ability to switch movesets and stats almost immediately, without any sort of punishment or cost for doing so. It promoted experimentation, and let your characters fill in a number of roles whenever the need arose. Everytime I raised a level in WoW and had to assign a new skill point, I was terrified of making a mistake and ruining my character.
For me, AI would be the thing I want to see improved the most. Server farms by comparison to a single computer have an incredible amount of power, so it baffles me why the AI hasn't improved. Having more interesting and challenging mobs can change so many facets of the game. But ultimately Kevin, I think you touched on one of the key things that MMOs need to do more, introducing more social reward. I haven't touched Warhammer yet, but it sounds like the trophy system might be that. But I also believe that MMO's need to put players in situations where they can excel or fail in front of their friends.
There are quite a few good MMOs out there - and while I am looking forward to Stargate Worlds I don't expect anything earth shattering. You are correct - some of them are TOO darn predictable. Many are very well done graphically - getting the bugs/glitches out would be nice, but in some cases those can be interesting. Saturated with MMOs - perhapes - but with high quality games I would really want to immerse myself in:? It IS almost necessary to be in a decent guild/clan in most games. EVE has a limited appeal
I was with you right up to the part where you said that you and Lark don't look alike - that's just crazy.
I'd love to see an MMO that doesn't follow EverQuest formula. We've already got few, EVE for example, but few isn't enough. Oh, I also want SWG back in its former glory. Yes, that's a bit too much to ask so I'll go with something simpler: more areas like the Old Forest in LOTRO beta. It was everything Old Forest is supposed to be like: spooky and confusing. I don't know anyone who didn't get lost the first time they ventured there. And even after several visits, I still didn't know my way around. Surprise, surprise, everyone wasn't as happy with it as I was and soon the area had a detailed map and it was also otherwise ''streamlined''
Great read, Kevin. I wrote a blog similar to this a few months ago. The reason why I think most MMO's seem kind of ho-hum lately is that there constantly seems to be a new one coming down the pike every month or so. Every one over the past year was supposed to kill WoW. Tabula Rasa, Conan, and now Warhammer... how can true innovation happen in such small steps? The real thing is that this whole thing is simply and economic issue. The market is currently saturated with MMO's. How can a new on succeed when there's no real DEMAND for a new MMO? Sure, WoW haters want something, anything to knock WoW off but those people in the minority of MMO gamers. We simply want the best/most fun game and like it or not, WoW is it, IMO. In order for me to jump ship from WoW to a brand new MMO and basically give up on the countless hours I've invested I need something earth shattering and minimal tweaks and changes aren't going to cut it and that's all we've been getting.
I'd like to play MMO games but my computer is never good enough. Sounds like you have good ideas though.