If They Are Persistent, Why Do They Need Sequels?

If They Are Persistent, Why Do They Need Sequels?

When your MMO is already doomed, you may as well start a new one.

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I hope Rockstar read that article. GTA is beginning to repeat itself over and over again. If they make another game with Liberty city, i will cry.

That was a very enlightening article about the production cycle of MMO games. I never played WoW and I only recently learned how all the players are hoarded up at the endgame, and this is a very good explanation as to why that is. You know, I wonder if this problem would persist if you were to assign a limited life span to all the in-game characters? You would only be able to play your human character, say, 100 years in-game, and then he'd die of old age. You could vary the game's passing of time to equal several months, a year or several years in real time for one lifespan. It would also give you something new to consider when choosing your character's class, for example, to choose a fast-growing but short lived (80 years) human, or a weaker, long-lived (200 years) elf. Would you play such a game?

LTK_70:
I wonder if this problem would persist if you were to assign a limited life span to all the in-game characters? You would only be able to play your human character, say, 100 years in-game, and then he'd die of old age. You could vary the game's passing of time to equal several months, a year or several years in real time for one lifespan. It would also give you something new to consider when choosing your character's class, for example, to choose a fast-growing but short lived (80 years) human, or a weaker, long-lived (200 years) elf. Would you play such a game?

it probably wouldn't as no one would play that game, i would imagine that 80-100 game years would be something like 1-1˝ irl years, and if you still play at that point you would most likely own all the end game gear, something which takes about 6 months of gearing up trueout all the lower gear lvl dungeons and raids, and after all that work to lose everything to start all over would drive most people insane, sure they could maybe lvl up faster and gear up faster too, but as most people are in guilds or battlegroups the other players would lose a vital player, many guilds would stop functioning if say the main tank and main healer both died within a month (which would be the case for many guilds after the first year, heck they may even lose half the guild).

many people would leave the guild since it would have trouble progressing and many people wouldn't even bother to remake the new char, the game developers would be under extreme pressure to release new content because the players would not only want it, but need it if they wish to experience it before dieing.

Thats a fascinating article. My friends and I worked up a 'perfect' MMO one time and it had mechanics to be able to revise and alter the world to help it evolve to handle that issue.

You raised a good point in the article, and i agree that database magangement is definatly a factor in long running mmo's.

but i think that at times new mmo's set in the same universe that are direct sequels could be quite cool. After awhile even if you continue tacking on end game content (only 5 lvl's in cataclism = one week afking in AV, or did since it's harder now) the game still feels same old same old. At such a point a sequel with vastly diffrent classes and mechanics may be called for.

This is a reason I could see for say a "World of Warcraft 2", after haveing spent two years in world of warcraft I desperatly want something new. it isn't enough for me to buy another expansion and then drag three lvl 80 toons to 85 and get them fresh gear. give me a sequel set 500 years in the future with diffrent classes, or reimagined old classes, give me a new a war torn world that looks vaguely familuar but is much diffrent. you can take an axe and a shovel to the barrens and dig a big chasem in it but it's still the barrens.

My point is that sometimes a mmo needs a sequel, many people are still playing wow true but I think that many of them will leave when a second new and glossy mmo enters the market. and when that happens i think blizzard will have to bring something new to the table as well not just tacking on new arms and legs to the same creature untill it becomes a behemoth.

Distorted Stu:
I hope Rockstar read that article. GTA is beginning to repeat itself over and over again. If they make another game with Liberty city, i will cry.

Hear hear!

On another matter, this article has a lot of good points, but Macris forgot that every new generation of gamers hasn't necessarily played the older versions of an MMO. By releasing newer versions and sequels they let these newer gamers see hat all the fuss was about, and maybe entice them to buy the earlier versions. A good strategy for selling the older versions.

I don't understand why some others even try. Hellgate and Tebula Rasa went under and I winder if anything will even be as big as WoW.

Totally agree. Such is, off course, caused by a very characteristic feature of MMOs, one I deeply hate: Leveling systems.

Leveling systems are basically a way to fake out skill, in which time spent playing is almost directly converted into power, ensuring that, no matter what you do, the guy that spent more time playing the game has an inherent advantage over you.

The issue is exactly the one you posed: You can't develop content permanently, and the more you create towards "endgame" the bigger the gap between new users and old users. Etc, etc, etc.

I think "database deflation" summarizes the fundamental flaw of a leveling system. What happens when 75% of the server is max level? What do people do? Repeat the same series of boss fights over and over? How about develop interesting varied and new content instead? But if endgame content is varied and interesting, then why not make it available from level 1? Why make players suffer the grind to get there? What is a new person on a trial account going to think when everybody else there is level 80 and they have their little wooden shield and short sword?

The death knell of an MMO is when cancellations exceed new subscriptions.

***

Anyway I'm glad they made Champions. I wasn't going to buy City of Heroes because it was old, but I'm having a great time with Champions Online. You get to have as cool looking a character as you want from level 1, and as such Champions is edging in the direction of being a roleplaying MMO, where you can go to Club Caprice in Millenium City from as early as level 7 or 8. So the strength of the game--roleplaying your hot looking superhero toon--is available at a very early level. And the PvP is best at earlier levels too before the imbalances really start to kick in. And the character creator entices one to have plenty of alt's, so there is plenty of early game action. Leveling up is almost an afterthought if you are bored.

I find it funny that being on top brings its own problems. I'm sure that if Blizzard announced WoW2, their fanbase would switch over, but after years of investment there would also be alot of bitterness. Everyone always speculates on the next WoW killer, but maybe being in the middle of the pack is a good economic model. You put out a product, wring what money you can out of it, and then just make a new one when the time comes. I think the old addage of "riding the tiger" applies here (or maybe snow tiger is more appropriate).

Something I thought of while reading the article, and which semi-ties in with LTK_70's thought for limited lifespans...

Kingdom of Loathing has a re-incarnation mechanic, which is in and of itself necessary for advanced players to minimax their characters. Several of the quests have mutually exclusive outcomes, so you can only really collect all the best stuff by trying different solutions to the same problems.

One of two things then: either the greased leveling curve following expansions is indicative of just how useless the early level content was to start with (when lacking large numbers of simultaneous users at low levels), or the company assumes that its user base is static, and the only people going through low-level content are existing users at or the near the level cap, who have already experienced the content. The KoL approach could be really useful here, in that if you're re-incarnating yourself, they could give you the greased curve, while if you're brand new, you would run through the content at a normal pace.

Directed at potential complaints: If you don't like this, because you want to run 20 alts, then don't blame me, blame the game designer who set it up so that you needed to outfit 20 variants, and grind them all through the game, in order to properly enjoy yourself. Either you enjoy grinding, or the game has a design flaw.

This article illustrates a good point: any MMO can stagnate and die, even WoW. If Blizzard were smart they'd be preparing for this, instead they seem to be hastening towards the end. When WoW was released it was considered the casual MMO due to the quest-heavy design and fast level advancement. Now it is considered ultra-hardcore and everyone is trying to differentiate themselves from it, and Blizzard is doing nothing to combat this.

There will be no "WoW-killer," other than WoW itself...

Database deflation gives a name to what I was thinking about, The conclusion I reached that the "WoW killer" will come in the form of a persistent world mmo dependant on skill rather than level. This would require a substantial improvement in the technology behind the internet (higher bandwidth, elimination of lag and all that).

Imagine an mmo with combat like a fighter (soul calibur ideally) and you'll get what I'm talking about.

Screw levels and epic items.

Distorted Stu:
I hope Rockstar read that article. GTA is beginning to repeat itself over and over again. If they make another game with Liberty city, i will cry.

Did that have ANYTHING to do with the article? How is reusing a setting even remotely connected to gradual destabilisation of MMORPGS?

Grampy_bone:
When WoW was released it was considered the casual MMO due to the quest-heavy design and fast level advancement. Now it is considered ultra-hardcore and everyone is trying to differentiate themselves from it, and Blizzard is doing nothing to combat this.

Well, uh... the article itself basically says what Blizzard is doing to combat it. They make the process of leveling way faster, give out equipment more easier and give out perks that used to be for end level players to people right away. It's not that they aren't trying to do something, it's that the whole problem of database deflation has as to yet be neatly solved. Making a sequel is one solution, but it's essentially giving up (and abandoning half your player base, usually).

And no, WoW has never been considered ultra-hardcore. In fact, with each passing expansion, it has become less hardcore. No, why other companies have been trying to go different ways is that there's nothing to be gained in trying to combat WoW with WoW's weapons. When something else will be taking over WoW's mantle, it'll be something disruptive, something completely new.

Not entire sure I agree about your Champion/City of Heroes commentary. I think a better reason they wanted to make Champions was because Cryptic wanted to make a Marvel MMO and when the IP didn't pan out they went with Champions instead. Part of it was they saw what the NGE did to Star Wars Galaxies, and Cryptic has varying fallout from massive gamewide nerfs that alienated a lot of the player base. Trying to change the Power system in City to the one in Champions mid-game would have wrecked the playerbase.

City of Heroes didn't become a serious "loot" game until they added the invention system. Before then you could equip characters with very generic "enhancements", the "Epic" enhancements were obtained from the Endgame raid. Now they changed it where the most epic enhancement are simply obtained by day-to-day grinding. The odds of getting one of these receipes is similar to hitting the lottery, but understandable since they sell from anywhere from 20-100+ million.

The devs at City of Heroes have said they have no intention of raising the level cap past 50, mostly because of the question of "What's the difference between a level 50 hero and a level 60 one?" Do you fight the gods of creation after fighting the Archvillain of Archvillians?

I've played both Champion and City of Heroes. I'm sticking with City mostly because of the time I've spent in it. I can see the appeal of Champions though, it's possible to create differen't types of characters that it would be in City. The reverse is also true, I can't recreate every character I've made in City in Champions.

I do see what is meant by "Data Deflation", my first 50 was the hardest and it's gotten progressively easier partly because I can transfer resources from one character to another as needed. As all of my characters reach the same endlevel, I'm able to utilize more and more of what I obtain rather than sell to the market or an NPC vendor.

I liked the article and reading about Raph Koster's thoughts on Database Deflation
that gave me an idea about automatic game item deprecation.
http://emsai.net/journal/?post=Rescator20091013045315
Or "Game Content Deprecation" as I call it since it's not just limited to items really.

I can't recall any MMO that has any form of actual Game Content Deprecation, that I've noticed at least. (not sure about Asian MMOs or a bedroom MUD programmers though)

I am certain however, that Game Content Deprecation would avoid MMOs going stale progressivly quicker.
And WoW is kinda sniffing at that these days right?

Regards,
Roger.

Very good read and rather true. However some companies take steps to avoid this with more than just updates in friend and foes. While I hate going back to old arguments, EVE Online has it a little bit different in the deflation in the sense of its no longer a rock paper scissors affair when you do things - the best gear is not an instant win.

That and while the PVE content is not particularly great, CCP tend to change the mechanics of the game every couple of expansions in order to keep it fresh and fun for us. Dominion, the one coming now, is a prime example - with it they are getting rid of a 5-year-old mechanic which was the very core basis for EVE warfare, and replacing it with a system that should allow more fun.

All companies really have to do is mix up their games a bit, while still keeping them playable by the core of their fanbase. Cataclysm appears to be doing that for WoW, but we won't know for sure until that arrives.

Dynasty Warriors do it.

Megaman DS/GBA games do it.

Gunz: The Duel did it.

Funny how those games including WoW still produce good numbers.

Theo - I thought about discussing Eve but it would have made the article too long. You are absolutely correct that the "Eve model" is a different way of handling database depreciation, where player skill, group affiliation, etc. have more impact. That said from what I understand (I'm not an active Eve player) there has still been significant database deflation in Eve - witness the increasingly powerful high end ships, the speed with which groups like GoonFleet could level up new recruits, etc... I'd be interested in what the Eve players think about it.

Of the MMOs I've played, Warhammer Online, for all its issues, seems the closest to beating database deflation. Pretty much all levels, starting from level 1, are fun. One of the great features of WAR is you can que for tier 1 scenarios at level 1, fresh off the character creation screen.

One of my fondest MMO memories was doing that with a choppa. I got three insta-ques back-to-back, and by the the time I finished my first quest I was level 4, had an equipped piece of blue gear, had at least one set piece for the auction house, and was a member of one of the more active guilds on the server. From level 1 you do PvE, RvR, scenarios, and public quests, and it is like that for the entire game, and Tier 4 is no more fun than tier 1, and in fact tier 1 might have better balance and fewer abuses and exploits.

Beginning game or end game it was all pretty much the same game in WAR. I think the solution to database deflation would be to make a strong fun early game, where ¨leveling up¨ adds more content but not necessarily more fun. Keeping the emphasis on the early game is welcoming to new players and keeps most of the ¨data¨ interesting to most of the toons.

...On further thought, as you level up in MMOs, it is not like you gain new content, as much as you lose old content because it becomes irrelevant... which I guess is the point of this article.

While reading this I couldn't help but think of Guild Wars. At first I loved the PvP experience, but being me at was inevitable that something would come up and my attention span would fade for a time. Since Guild Wars doesn't have a subscription cost, I opted to keep it on my computer so I could play it again down the road. When I finally did return to it sometime later, I found that the experiences I enjoyed earlier were changed so abruptly that I haven't picked it up and played it again.

There is a level 20 pvp challenge that pits teams of 8 players at a time against each other from across the world. When I first got the game I'd regularly make it to the final stage, and even win it once or twice, with a ragtag band of players I picked up by spamming LFG randomly. When I picked up the game later on, I quickly discovered that the "experts" and "pros" of the game had been hard at work during my hiatus coming up with and perfecting various combat strategies and the only people you saw in the PvP were people who had a preorganized team that had spent their entire gaming life practicing their strategy until they had it to an art. If I wanted to make it to the end I had to work hard for it. Since Guild Wars was without subscription, I looked to it as a "Casual MMO," something I could get behind. Unfortunately I was completely wrong.

I'm going to suspect by 'sequel' you meant better quality ripoff, because unless I am QUITE mistaken the company who made this is different than CoH.

Also do you have any idea how many fantasy MMOs there are? And how strikingly similar some are to WoW? and the fact that they are actually making MONEY even though WoW already exists?

I think that's probably why they are making a sequel(again, your words, not mine).

I'm actually somewhat curious about Champions Online, but the fact that the first month is free... BUT you need to pay 50$ to buy the game at a store makes it less of a free trial and more of a cheap attempt to get some money from people who won't enjoy your game but will try it.

and thus we see why MMOs are "epic fail" to coin a phrase.

bushwhacker2k:
I'm going to suspect by 'sequel' you meant better quality ripoff, because unless I am QUITE mistaken the company who made this is different than CoH.

Also do you have any idea how many fantasy MMOs there are? And how strikingly similar some are to WoW? and the fact that they are actually making MONEY even though WoW already exists?

I think that's probably why they are making a sequel(again, your words, not mine).

I'm actually somewhat curious about Champions Online, but the fact that the first month is free... BUT you need to pay 50$ to buy the game at a store makes it less of a free trial and more of a cheap attempt to get some money from people who won't enjoy your game but will try it.

Cryptic was the company behind both City of Heroes and Champions. Heroes was co-owned by NCsoft, who later on took full control taking the City of Heroes Cryptic Dev with them. That studio was renamed Paragon Studios.

Both games started out at the same company. Cryptic decided to pursue other IPs. Champions is very much a reworked City of Heroes.

Stabby Joe:
I don't understand why some others even try. Hellgate and Tebula Rasa went under and I winder if anything will even be as big as WoW.

Both of those were sci-fi though, and fantasy sells better, typically.

Distorted Stu:
I hope Rockstar read that article. GTA is beginning to repeat itself over and over again. If they make another game with Liberty city, i will cry.

I haven't played a GTA game since San Andreas, so I can't really say.

I can say that your avatar made my day, however. Kudos.

On topic, I feel really stupid for not realizing that the same studio made both Champions and CoX. Goes to show how much attention I pay.

Kajin:
While reading this I couldn't help but think of Guild Wars. At first I loved the PvP experience, but being me at was inevitable that something would come up and my attention span would fade for a time. Since Guild Wars doesn't have a subscription cost, I opted to keep it on my computer so I could play it again down the road. When I finally did return to it sometime later, I found that the experiences I enjoyed earlier were changed so abruptly that I haven't picked it up and played it again.

There is a level 20 pvp challenge that pits teams of 8 players at a time against each other from across the world. When I first got the game I'd regularly make it to the final stage, and even win it once or twice, with a ragtag band of players I picked up by spamming LFG randomly. When I picked up the game later on, I quickly discovered that the "experts" and "pros" of the game had been hard at work during my hiatus coming up with and perfecting various combat strategies and the only people you saw in the PvP were people who had a preorganized team that had spent their entire gaming life practicing their strategy until they had it to an art. If I wanted to make it to the end I had to work hard for it. Since Guild Wars was without subscription, I looked to it as a "Casual MMO," something I could get behind. Unfortunately I was completely wrong.

Sorry to double post, but I had to put this in. That is also only one side of guildwars, the PvP has become an art. But the PvE in its own regards has become quiet an amazing thing aswell. It used to be a group of ragtag guys going out to do a simple, quest, mission, etc. But now its turned into plotting, planning, and it has made the game into a strategic battle, rather than a simple fight. I am often awe inspired by some of these guys, they have it so down pat, they can do it by themselves with a hero at their side. I still play Guild Wars regularly, but I am no where near as good as the majority of players on there. A causal MMO it is not.

I believe you have hit the nail on the head here. Very interesting reading, and although I quit WoW a long time ago, I think Blizzard are marketing pioneers.

And no, they won't get my sub back.

Or rather than making the game persistent, it could be made to cycle with the whole world being destroyed more or less eventually, winners declared, museums and archives made to commemorate the greatness of Cycle X and then the whole world could be restarted with players investing at different levels and different things being changed in the next iteration as a result.

 

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