Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Crystal Ball-ing: Futura MMO-itis

Some appreciated linkage took place yesterday on my post about Rift and the difficulties of the current MMO gamer to just let go of the WoW mentality. (Thanks Common Sense Gamer)

Reading through the comments on his post got me thinking...especially one specific posting.

SmakenDahed said: “Guys, what do you want?” Something different.

This got me, of course, looking at my Crystal Balls for our future in MMO land. Can the genre really offer enough change that everyone really wants? The major complaint is how Rift is so much like the old MMO's, why would anyone want to play it?

But, will the new generation be that different?

Lets take a gander while I do a reach around and look at our future in MMO's...

This one has my ire up. The spectating I have done on this game has so many looking to Bioware for their next gen relief. Can the supposed "story" pillar really offer the change in this genre the MMO player craves?

Hell, all I need to do is go to my previous post and look at comments to see how "story" will be to the standard (WoW) MMO player...

Allen said "MMOs are about the gameplay. That's what makes people pay money every month to play. People aren't going to shell out $15 a month for a story, no matter how good, once they've completed that story. The gameplay is the hook."

So, is that how you feel? Rift has a unique IP and original story, but according to this player...who cares? But, is it the fact that so many are attached to the Star Wars IP and the legendary story, that it will be the key to their enjoyment?

Even though discussion has been rampant on some unique gameplay styles, SWToR will still have various issues that have plagued our MMO's since WoW began. Talk is there will be dual faction RvR...uh, everyone complains that true factional RvR needs three to survive. Dual factioning equals imbalance. What about the standards? Kill 10x? Gonna be in at launch. Raids? Sure thing.

What is unique? How about the companions...oh crud, DDO and Guild Wars have these....

Ok, will graphics...oh, fudge...NVM.

Again, next gen? Where?

Why will Star Wars be your MMO nirvana?

Ok, this one is easy. Right off the bat, we have Funcom at the helm. Yes, Ragnar, the man who supposedly can do no wrong is in charge. BUT...two launches of an MMO, both gone horribly wrong...Can the third time be the charm?

This issue alone will most likely turn away a good bit of audience.

Right off the bat though, gameplay is unique in respect to no "levels" per se, but a skills based system. The setting is also unique (modern day instead of renfaire fun). So, where could it possibly go wrong?

First off, the main push is the "story"... Yep, another game that believes players want story. I know I do. Age of Conan was awesome in respects to that first 20 level run. Story was incredible. then they pulled it out from under our feet and the game fell on it's ass. It has since been polished up quite a bit, but is still a sore spot.

What about progress? We do not know much in that respect. Here is what the website says...

"The Secret World does not force you down a set path of progression. You are free to do anything you want at any time. If you ever get tired of doing missions or slaughtering demons, why not return to your secret society and perform tasks for them so you can rise up in their order? Do so, and you will unlock even more powers, weapons, and even unique uniforms. And, of course, untold secrets!"

Lets check our words...Tasks? QUESTS. Missions? DUNGEONS. Slaughtering? GRIND.

Did I get them all? As you can see, anyone can take any part of the "hype" a game developer builds and see that even our next gen games cannot escape the routines we have grown accustomed to.

Out of any game I will discuss today, Secret World has the most chance to offer a unique experience. The fact the developer is frowned upon and the mechanics still have that "similarity" feel...it will be hard for the game to escape the discussion that surrounds all MMO's.

Why this is on ANYONE's radar, is a mystery to me. With it's Aion like graphics, why does it appeal to the MMO gamer?


Ok, well, there is also action based combat, but still....Vindictus does that already.

So, what does it offer? Quests? yes....Raids?...yep, yep. Story....meh, who cares, right? Most likely a lot of text boxes based on the videos I have seen. Hey, WoW does that too.

So, the game engine is definitely next gen, using Unreal 3. But, this is another issue. The game will hardly run on the hardware most gamers use (especially with the complaints so many give Rift of FPS issues, yet a friend of mine runs on a laptop with built in graphics, adequately, ...)

No, what we have here is another Korean MMO. Though they are popular to a large audience of manga/anime lovers, the derision most of these games receive due to poor westernization and shoddy UI's, etc...all add up to another game that will be reamed on a regular basis...(again, looking at Aion as our example).


This one I saved for last.

Though still stuck in Fantasy tropes and using some standards, GW2 is set to try and change the MMO genre as we know it. No quest markers? No grind? No Holy Trinity of Tank/DPS/Heal?

What could possibly go wrong?

First is the requirement of "story". Guild Wars, the original, did this well. But, people were not that interested in this aspect. But, the game DID sell 6 million copies, so that built in audience who cares about the story will exist.

Even though there are no true "quest" markers or this feeling of "following the path", there is still a need to somehow notify players of what is happening, so some type of system will be used to say "Hey, come here and kill 10 of these...", etc.

But, guess what? Dungeons? Still there. Raids? Still exist. Those same features that EVERY MMO HAS is still in GW2. Also, PvP, which is notorious in the realm of balance hell, will of course lead to the inevitable nerf, which is the purview of the MMO complainer.

Guild Wars 2 should be my choice for most innovative here, and it will be huge. But, I can smell the rampant MMO player waiting in the wings to take each NEW element, and turn it on it's nose and make us believe it has all been done before.


Basically, our future, though bright, is fraught with the MMO burnout. That player who, jacked up so much on MMO gameplay, is crashing when it comes to the newest innovations in this market.

Though we have a list of games that each offer something to advance the genre...just like Rift did.. they will be frowned upon. I mean, if I can find the issues (and two of those games on that list are my most wanteds), what will prevent that burnout from doing the same?

Though Rift is a really great game, the player feels the need to attach themselves to the "similarities" and not let go. I feel each of these upcoming games, no matter how hyped our MMO player is, will offer that "same old" feeling.

My suggestion right now is that if Rift is too much like your old MMO to let that feeling of sameness go...then let MMO's go in general until one of these launch.

Maybe by then you will remember what you loved about MMO gaming.


Longasc said...

Thorough analysis, I'll just talk about SWTOR and GW2. You nailed TSW, Funcom has a tradition of great ideas and then it still does not work out. See Age of Conan, awesome universe and a lot of good ideas there. It's still running, but it definitely fell short of its potential. I'm going to watch the first Conan movie tonight, again. I love this stuff!

SWTOR is DIKU, reloaded. With the bullets that Grandpa already had. That's enough for most people (unfortunately!). My main gripe is that I loved Han Solo and Darth Vader, but then Lucas came along with Jar Jar Binks and young Anakin and oh well... I would like to shoot him! :(

GW2 makes a lot of concessions and compromises to lure people used to the "standard" MMO design, DIKU based, into the game. They have a lot of good ideas but I see what you mentioned, the generic DIKU monster is present and just waits to be unleashed, trinity or not. I hope for the best and fear the worst.

If GW2 doesn't do it I am afraid none of the other MMOs you mentioned is going to do it. Maybe TSW - if Funcom really can pull it off! They manage to hit the nerve, so many people dream about TSW, let's hope the awakening is not too rough!

Anonymous said...

I'd certainly hope for there to be PvP in Guild Wars 2, seeing how Guild Wars IS a PvP game. ;)

What I really love about Guild Wars is that they have PvP and PvE versions for some skills. They work differently in either of those environments (or in some cases, you only get a skill for PvE and can't use it in PvP). Hopefully they'll do that as well with GW2 because I can't stand the whining of either the PvP or the PvE crowd. ;)

GW2 won't have raids, though. It'll have dungeons for 5 players max (don't have a source right now). I guess those open world events might feel like a raid with enough players around. :)

Elementalistly said...

"GW2 won't have raids, though. It'll have dungeons for 5 players max (don't have a source right now). I guess those open world events might feel like a raid with enough players around. :)"

This is correct. But, as you also said, the big open world events will play off like Raids.

Who knows, this may be the final piece that would allow GW2 to escape the multitudes of criticism heaped on all MMO launches? No raid endgame means no whining about balancing the encounters, etc.

Anyways, here is how the big world event plays out. Will it be different enough to escape the burnout ruining the game for everyone else?


Sente said...

The Secret World can work out if Funcom finally realizes that they should not put some of their developers or creative minds in change of managing the projects.

Guild Wars have been one of the best games out there when it comes to delivering a story and ArenaNet certainly seem to have a lot of good people in that area.

I think the important part about "next-gen" story though is not necessarily to tell something like in a book or movie, but to make people care about the setting they are in.

Somehow I think GW2 may end up being better in that regard than the others, but that is just pure guessing though.

Bhagpuss said...

You forgot ArcheAge, currently #2 on MMORPG's most anticipated list.