MMOs Need More Bastards

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Where it not for Trammel, I would still be playing this game today.. and I started January -98 I think if I remember right... glorious good old days! Sadly, I think we will never see its like any more.

Recovery time.
How much time do i have to invest to come back from getting wiped by a player?
The length of that time frame determines whether the game is "playable" or not by mere mortals.

Why do developers and players (especially those doing the killing) think that i or any other player will stick around working hours over hours just to come back from getting killed?

Are you mad?

I do not have oozles of free time. not anymore.
So why are actively working to drive me away?

Risk versus reward doesn't hold a candle to "fun vs time invested".

Leviano:
I think someone didn't vote for lord British because maybe they are Lord British :)

Damn, I've been found out! Also, please buy my house

I feel in the minority here, being someone who much prefers PvE play.

Usually PvP in PvP-based MMOs tends to turn out terrible for me, because of the classes I like to play (tanks tend to be a PvE spec) and because I tend to join at least a few months after a game is released. Also doesn't help that I don't have any gaming friends in RL, so it's hard to integrate into a group as I have no instant-community to rely on.

If you risk losing everything, then it's usually a pretty big risk for lowbies, as you lose a whole bunch of time and are back at square one. Yes, if a higher level player dies it's more time lost, but is a lot less likely to happen.

If killing the same person over and over had negative consequences (or initiated a "time out" between the two players), or allowed the ganked player port to somewhere that the other player can't get to quickly, then it'd work better.

For me, I find it really rather annoying to get into a consta-ganked situation and I have set playtimes as it is, so having someone reduce that playtime is no fun at all. I like being able to decide if I'm going to be a crafter or a fighter on a whim that PvE games give you. I don't like having something forced upon me either by being too weak or unlucky.

I think there could be far more work into making PvE more interesting and not riskless. One of the reasons I left WoW is because it was too much steamroll and not enough threat. If you died it was usually because the mobs were being cheap, not an epic battle between you and mob. Or you jumped off a cliff.
Do remember in the later stages levelling a pally, going against a red lvlled mob... was a massive struggle, but won in the end lol. Felt a sense of accomplishment for completing a quest I could obtain but wasn't really intended for my level.

Play Dark Orbit and Battlestar Galactica Online. They allow PVP in 'noob' zones. Players that have the best ships and weapons jump and just fuck everyone up.

Mike Kayatta:

Thanks! Originally, I really wanted to mention the Galaxies thing (though I didn't have room for it) because it's such a great example of how developers listen to all the wrong people when making changes. I think the point was proven the second that game lost most of its player base after its "reworking." The whining vocal minority is such a pain in the ass. I think devs should start prioritizing complaints by level and/or time with game. Not ignoring the newbies, mind you, just listening more to the vets who have been spending subscription money for months and months...you know, the actual reason the game became a success to begin with.

Another way that they could do it to keep the "whining vocal minority" from calling the shots is, to take a poll or a vote, whenever they have a proposed "reworking" or major change in how the game plays out. All it would take is sending a message to each player, "We are thinking of making changes X and Y to the game. Would you like the game more or less if we made those changes?" They could even make it as simple as marking a checkbox with their vote. Then everyone who subscribes to and pays for the game would have a say in what their game is like.

what if you made griefing actually dangerous or undesirable?

what if killing your fellow players outside the designated battlefield or warzone puts a bounty on your head in the local cities that players will try to collect.
if you take it further the city guards may actively try to take you down?
mercenaries unwilling to take orders from you out of fear for their livelyhood.

the only place you could buy or sell wares is that lonesome fisherman that lives detached from society and that raggedy old witch that curses your testicles for nothing else but a giggle.

the point to this is that you may be anonymous to other players, but the world never forgets, and if you choose to be a bastard, you better make sure you will never get caught.

Oh please.

Here's a TL;DR of your article: "Sandbox games rock, themepark games suck."

Here's a TL;DR of my response: "We know it's a themepark, that's not a bad thing, stop treating that label like a curse word."

Both game types have their audiences, it just so happens that the potential audience for a themepark game is, according to every scrap of data we currently have, far higher than that for a sandbox game. People are not "fooled" into thinking that the games they currently play are true sandboxes; they know that they don't have full control over their world. Guess what, that's not what they're looking for! They're looking for a well-paced adventure, for definite challenges that they can overcome, for defined goals, a sense of progression, and an environment that is only as stressful as you want it to be. In short, they want well-crafted single-player RPG experiences that are delivered over hundreds or thousands of hours, in the presence of millions of other players. This quote here:

What complaints such as these fail to account for is that much of the fun in gaming comes from the conflict and risk that naturally grows from perilous game worlds. What are you truly achieving if you're kept perpetually safe, slowly gaining material items while playing through what can only be honestly defined as a consequence-free environment? At that point, you may as well be playing FarmVille.

shows an absolutely stunning blindness to where "fun in gaming" comes from, at least for other people. Fun, for YOU, comes from organically grown conflict and risk. I, on the other hand, am not building a sandcastle on the beach because I want someone to come and kick it down, I'm building a sandcastle because I want to build a bloody sandcastle. The risk of someone kicking it down is not only nonessential to my fun, it's actually detrimental to it.

You say that the player may as well be playing FarmVille. There's a kernel of truth there, surrounded by a thick shell of stupidity. Let's tackle the shell before we get to the kernel. Obviously, playing an MMO is different from playing FarmVille, even if you are (mostly) guaranteed to win at some point (and there are plenty of MMOs where you are not guaranteed to succeed at all challenges, no matter how much time you spend grinding away at it, because the challenges do take a modicum of skill to beat). Your statement is equivalent to "The single-player campaigns of MW3 and SC2 are essentially the same, since you're just playing through levels against AI until you beat the game." In short: gameplay matters far more than game structure, this is why we have categories called "genres" that we divide games into, and why people say that they like to play FPS games, not "games where I beat up AI for a while and then win." You can't say, "You might as well be playing Farmville," because Farmville does not provide the type of gameplay that I'm interested in.

Now for the kernel of truth in your statement: yes, many games (Farmville, basically all single-player games of every genre, modern themepark MMOs) are primarily designed so that the player will, eventually, beat them. In fact, I'd say the vast majority of games are designed like this. Have you ever stopped to think that maybe, just maybe, there's a reason for that? Maybe there's a reason that people gravitate towards themepark MMOs, with goal and reward structures that are set up similarly to popular games in every genre? It's quite simple: life itself holds enough risk and stress for most people, and this only gets more true as the average age of a gamer gets older. Games are escapism (cue dinging noise as the title of this website lights up) for many people, a way to unwind, socialize, explore, and in general do things without regard for risk or consequences.

I know sandbox games have their place, I know they have their audience, and I know that that audience has been tragically ignored for the past, oh, six years or so (barring the obvious exception of EVE, which isn't for everyone either). But for the love of all things, STOP writing this tripe about how no one understands that their worlds aren't truly alive, how developers are manufacturing conflicts for us, and how there's no real risk in MMOs or gaming anymore. Yes, we know. We want it that way, that's why we buy these games. You're not superior for preferring sandbox games, you just have different tastes, and different reasons for gaming in the first place.

So stop acting like it.

Hi Mike,
amazing article much Kudos my man,like many others you brought a gleam of nostalgia to my eye!.
I may be telling you something you already know,but from the tone of your article I know you would absolutely love Neal Stephenson's new Novel Reamde http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reamde.

To be honest I think it should be required reading for all Escapists(and gamers in general)
the themes of people getting ganked for their gold and organised warfare in an Mmo(AND RL:) resonate strongly with your article and the associated viewpoints,
I'm loving this book and its themes so much that I actually got back into playing Eve as a more or less direct effect!

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