A View From the Road: Welcome to the Massive World

A View From the Road: Welcome to the Massive World

Sooner or later, you will be playing an MMOG - and you might not even know it.

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Those of us who prefer our games with involving stories not delivered purely in Quest Giver Pre-Ambles and without random douchebags asking "how I mine for fish" every 5 seconds are in a spot of bother however. I know I'm not the only person who despises this constant slide toward multiplayer.

The term has become so...varied now, I think anyone can be closed as a MMOG...even stuff like Farmville to an certain extent...

It would be a great way to turn conversations around when people thing your bad for playing WOW, or FFXI

More and more games are growing to encompass MMOG-style gameplay, which... well, sucks, to be honest. Every time I've tried to play a game online I've left in disgust after 5 minutes. There are quite a few gamers that are a joy to play with, but we all know the types that are the scourge of the online gaming world.

I prefer playing only with people I know. It's more enjoyable that way.

What about games like Spore, or Demon's Soul?
If I got your point, these too are crossing the line between MMO and non-mmo.

I, for one, like the idea that there are some games you can share with every other player.
who knows, gaming might some day be regarded as social, like going to the pub is today.

I for one look forward to being teabagged in the game lobby, waiting for the game to load so I can be teabagged there too

I think it's more a matter of terminology than anything else. Gaming has grown so much the last couple of decades that most of the old words either no longer sufficiently cover the essence of the genre they describe, or have become so vague as to be meaningless.

"RPG" is one example of both: On the one hand, most RPGs have next to nothing to do with the tabletop role-playing games that spawned the genre and gave it its name. On the other hand, there are so many games that claim to be RPGs (or to have "RPG elements", which is even dumber IMO), but they're all very different from each other. Issues like this give rise to endless discussions like "Is FF13 an RPG?" Everyone's got their own answer, but none of them are 100% right (even though I like to pretend my answer is more right than the others :P ) since the term has been so stretched and twisted that it's become next to meaningless.

The same goes for "MMO". Even more so perhaps, because it's not really a genre to begin with. Maybe once upon a time when 99% of all MMOs were MMORPGs in one form or another (MUDs, MUSHes, etc.), the word implied a certain type of game, but these days everything is online, and almost everything has certain "massive multiplayer" elements. Whether it's high-scores that are compared to thousands of other players, custom content that is exchanged, or simply a massive online playerbase. As this development towards online gameplay and data-exchange continues, the term "MMO" will become increasingly meaningless.

I really hate to be the one...but as long as I am not paying a monthly subscription I don't mind if some games are closet MMO's.

The term MMO only becomes a "stay away" flag for me once the letters RPG are tacked on after it. MMORPGs are terrible games that are devoid of any development creativity and are essentially just really complicated slot machines. Making a game with a huge amount of online interactivity though can be good, and it can be bad. These days though, it's leaning mostly towards bad. It's become a crutch for developers to just make their game have MMO aspects so that the devs can spend less time doing anything actually creative with the game itself.

Multiplayer in general is becoming problematic because it ferociously relies on a well known truth: Everything is more fun with friends, even shitty games. A game can be mediocre and average as all hell, but sure enough, throngs of people will say it's the best game ever because of "how fun it is with friends." Checkers is fun with friends. Lawn darts are fun with friends. Kicking a bag of poop around is fun with friends. "Fun with friends" instantly translates to me as "this game is actually pretty mediocre and can be safely ignored."

Quite true. A great many games have aspects of what makes MMOGs so popular, despite being primarily something else. But it's not so poignant a statement when you step back and consider what a broad description Massively Multiplayer Online Game is. It's the MMORPG which is a genre on its own, and it seems like more and more the only distinctive quality of a true MMORPG is the beloved grind.

sometimes your articles scare me..

you are scary!

Sorry son, I have alot of things to do than keep up with some MMORPG or whatever humungous game with online capabilities. I stick to Gears and massive single player games. And when I can, my life as well!

Real men ride around in Barbie skins.

And it's true I have spent nights contemplating the future of gaming and this fits the bill pretty accurately.

Phuck phat lewt. I don't want to pay extra to have the screaming chimpanzees of the internet bothering me while I play MY video games.

ModNation might be an "MMOG" but "MMO" with a capital M usually infers "MMORPG." I mean Home is an MMOG, but so what?

Ha! I was going to ask if you downloaded a Gundam skin! Lord knows I've paraded mine around here a few times ;)

Anyway, it seems to me games these days aren't really becoming MMO's, but instead adopting MMO gameplay idead. TF2 has the drop system, Modnation Racers and a few other games have the "hub world". In Fable 2 you can actually see everyone online as little orbs in your world if you so choose. Hell its basically a damn auction house in Bowerstone Market. At least it was a year ago, no idea if it still is. Also you have the auction houses of Forza and other racing games (I think, I don't play much racing games) and, well that Fable 2 example I mentioned.

The only thing they seem to be lacking is a widespread massive world on different servers. With the possible exception of Fable 2. But something tells me games aren't and won't become full-blown MMO's. At least an MMO by current standards. But perhaps MMO will soon mean something other than World of Warcraft and the other MMORPG's.

John Funk:
If there's anyone particular topic that has repeatedly come up in this column (other than that I think WoW rocks socks), it's the exploration of just what precisely counts as an MMOG. Is Pokemon an MM(Offline)G? Is the Portal ARG? Where do you draw the line?

In games that allow a massive (generally upwards of 100) number of concurrent people to play together, at the same time, in the same persistent and interconnected place, in a way that all said users may potentially interact with each other.

Well, that sort of cut the article short didn't it?

Allow me to elaborate:

WoW is an MMO, where you can have hundreds (thousands?) of people concurrently connected on the same "world". ModNation Racers is not an MMO, it's simply a game with a chat system and "community" capacities, when you want to play the actual game, you're limited to... what? 8 people? Yeah.

You could, and indeed tried to, argue semantics: "It allows several thousands of people to interact online over the game, therefore MMOG!". Under that same logic every interactive website, chatroom, or forum are an MMO, and every game ever made is an RPG as they allow, and indeed intend to be conductive to, role playing. At the end of the day all you're arguing semantics. Sure we could redefine the meaning of the word "MMOG", or "RPG"... But it's just needlessly complicating the procedure for the sake of semantics. We'd find a different word for the games we now call rpgs (Grinders?), and a new word for MMOGs (Massive Concurrent Online Multiplayer Games?), and we'd be right back at square 1.

Online modes are, by nature, social. An online mode is NOT the same as an MMO. Supporting your game's community does not change it's genre.

You know, John, I bet there is a group of Diablo fans planning your murder right now. :P

Anyway, I can see the point you are trying to make and it is true. Having said that, I do agree with others in this thread that I am quite disturbed by the increased focus on multiplayer games tend to have nowadays.

Sure, playing with others can be loads of fun, but that isn't something I look for in every type of game. Yet, for some reason, developers see fit to implement multiplayer in every game imaginable (even those with a heavy singleplayer focus).

What I want to know is ... why does it matter? No, seriously, why does it matter if a game or activity is 'qualified' to be an MMO or not?

Call me a Luddite if you like, but I find the increasing pervasiveness of interconnected networks to be annoying at best and stupid and useless at worst - the prospect of a future where every game is an MMO sounds positively horrifying. Sure, there are situations where the ability to interact with a world-wide audience is a real plus, but there's a freaking limit - how would you like it if you couldn't read a book anymore without somebody reading over your shoulder, asking you to go back/skip forwards, interrupting or otherwise obstructing your ability to just read the damn book?

That is a ridiculous example of course, but how do immersion-breaking pop-up messages about achievements or notifications that friends just came online help one enjoy a narrative? Now imagine how much worse it would be if you literally could not escape interaction with other people no matter what you're trying to do, because everything is multiplayer now, it's the future!

Oh freaking boy, I cannot wait. I think I'll go shove sharp objects under my fingernails until then!

You make some good points, but maybe this is good and maybe it's bad.

I was so looking forward to The Settlers 7 and have been a fans since #2 yet they screwed it up with making the online option. Not that online was a bad thing they just got the model wrong.

Alot of new games could be made into MMO's, or have online components, yet I think there's alot of new styles that could be done and improve the choices. Because as of now you either have a Single Player game that beakons multiplay, a multiplay that is just so wrong thaat you wish it was single player only, or you have an outright MMO that has no PVE (single gamer) element to it or is just another Gank-fest in waiting or an item grinder.

For me, I've gone looking for Single player games with a LAN option, like Borderlands (and I hate FPS), or maybe I should be sending a partition to Blizzard for a LAN version of Starcraft of wait.....

Ever since I got hold of Planetside I've been waiting for more developers to tie MMO to other genres and see what could be done. I'm typically more of a single-player campaign guy, but Planetside's atmosphere was able to make up for its shoddy design and gameplay.

Unfortunately, since Planetside wasn't the cash-in WoW was, publishers just shrugged it off. One of these days a company will apply Blizzard's strategy into making a game and it'll be a success (that strategy being "How do we make our game awesome" and not "How do we beat current major competitor?". After all, WoW only beat Everquest because it did so much differently, not by trying to imitate and improve).

As long as I can fill up my sockets.

If the single-player game-play doesn't suffer and as long as I can ignore the MMO (or social) aspects of a game, I don't care. When a game sacrifices its game-play/plot or crams multi-player down your throat (either as part of the core game-play mechanic or just because the single-player campaign is a poorly-designed afterthought) I become unhappy and begin to think that maybe this brave new world with its beautious avatars is not for me.

ccesarano:
After all, WoW only beat Everquest because it did so much differently, not by trying to imitate and improve).

Yeah, not so much there - WoW, at least when it originally debuted, was the poster child for refining pre-existing systems. It didn't do anything differently so much as it did those things better or more elegantly than the MMORPGs that came before. A bastion of originality in MMORPG design WoW is not.

If all games eventually become MMOs I will give up gaming.

adderseal:
If all games eventually become MMOs I will give up gaming.

Good luck with that.

For good or for bad, eventually close to all games will become "online" games in one sense or another. Steam is a pretty good example, but as the article talks about, many games today are integrating online functions into themselves even ignoring something like steam or windows live. Settlers 7 and Command & Conquer 4 are two recent examples of games that I bought with this function (though in my opinion they both failed massively at their implementation). Warcraft and Starcraft are still alive today because of their online functions.

But, going online with a game should be an option, not a demand put there so that it becomes slightly more annoying for the pirates to pirate your games. Actually, now that I think about it, CNC4 is a good example of what TOGSolid was saying; "Kicking a bag of poop around is fun with friends" - and that's really what CNC4 is: A bag of poop only entertaining when played with friends. I hope that more designers won't be applying the same mentality to their games.

With every successful MMO will eventually comes two things:

1) Subscription based gaming. (or if we follow the Asian method, free player = useless, bribe player = playable)
2) Grind.

To me, those two are the death knell of gaming.
Gaming should never assume it will be a never ending experience.
Even Tetris in its seeming infinite gameplay has an inevitable end.

I truly hope that gaming never reaches the point where every game exists solely for online multiplayer. I don't want to put up with a virtual city of assholes. I play games to get away from the assholes I have to put up with in everyday life.

Anyone remember Ultima 5 and other old school games that didn't have any "kill 10 rats" quests?

There was an overarching story, a world to explore, and mysteries to uncover. You didn't need any adventurer journal nonsense to move you along, just the motivation to keep the story moving forward and discover more of the game. Sadly WoW has blinded modern gamer to that level of involvement in the process.

Emergent System:

adderseal:
If all games eventually become MMOs I will give up gaming.

Good luck with that.

For good or for bad, eventually close to all games will become "online" games in one sense or another. Steam is a pretty good example, but as the article talks about, many games today are integrating online functions into themselves even ignoring something like steam or windows live. Settlers 7 and Command & Conquer 4 are two recent examples of games that I bought with this function (though in my opinion they both failed massively at their implementation). Warcraft and Starcraft are still alive today because of their online functions.

But, going online with a game should be an option, not a demand put there so that it becomes slightly more annoying for the pirates to pirate your games. Actually, now that I think about it, CNC4 is a good example of what TOGSolid was saying; "Kicking a bag of poop around is fun with friends" - and that's really what CNC4 is: A bag of poop only entertaining when played with friends. I hope that more designers won't be applying the same mentality to their games.

I meant MMOs as the absolute quintessential thing it originally was, like WoW or Runescape or whatever: a grind-tacular grind-fest in a world populated by, in the main, whiny arseholes (I realize this is not true for every single player, but the majority are.)
For example, Pokemon Diamond is the most played game of the past 3 years, with over 200 hours. It has a lot of online functions, like wireless trading, battling and item swapping which I have used extensively (no other way to get all 3 starters from all the generations) It's also a grind getting Pokemon up to level 100. BUT BUT BUT the single-player mode stands up very well and you are the ONLY player-character in the world. There aren't 500,000 other pokemon trainers going on about pwning ur noobz pidgey in your personal copy of the game.
Er, so I suppose my point is this: if every game becomes like WoW then I'll give up gaming.

I prefer the campaign and story of game rather than multiplayer, like mass effect.

I would say a game needs to tick three boxes to be classed as an MMO.

First you need to justify the first M. So to be Massive you would need upwards of hundreds of players on the same map at the same time. Even if they are not interacting with each other.

Second there must be a persistent world. Even when not online things need to be happening in the same world and upong logging you can see their effects. An example of this would be logging into WOW and seeing Onyxia's head displayed in Orgrimmar. Or logging into COH and seeing people fighting one of the world boss spawns.

Just about every online game will have people playing it when you are not online, but FPS and Racing games for example load a unique map for each group of players and as such are not persistent.

Third there must be a higher level of player interaction than is normal during online play. They would need to allow you to talk to other players, allow resource trading, grouping together and randomly encountering other people while travelling around.

A lot of games will incorporate one or two of the above but to truly be an MMO they need to include all three. The mobile game cited in the article where you get points for visiting locations would not count. It does have a persistent world (you can't get much more persistent than the real world. :p) and you could argue that there can be thousands playing on the same server ("Life") at once. But there's no interaction. It is just an online scoreboard.

 

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