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How to Revolutionize the MMORPG

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June 19, 2007 4:35:56 PM

The evolution of the massively-multiplayer online role-playing game has stalled out. Now all we can look forward to are title after title of World of Warcraft clones. TwitchGuru's Travis Meacham looks at some ways to improve the MMO experience.

More about : revolutionize mmorpg

June 19, 2007 5:10:46 PM

I played SW Galaxies, WOW and GW for a resume.

I liked the massiveness and configurability of SWG. I hated the time suck later but when I started to play, it was great.
WOW - wasnt my thing really. Played to try and meet up with my brother but he was lvl 60 and I was just starting.
GW - thought it would be different. Great tool to use if you have a group and want to game together but falls short as a game all by itself.

:evil:  Major limitations: fully interactive environments. Cant shoot down the trees.
:D  Advantages: lots of competition available. Play isnt limited to just your PCs horsepower.

:idea: Its the advantages that I want to talk about. Think of AI and the challenge PC games have generating it for multiple enemies on just your PC. Now imagine a grid of PCs all linked together singley responsible for only one AI each.

We are getting the computer power to do this. Deep Blue played chess and beat the best. I dont need that level of computer skill, I just need a challenge.

What I see is a world that is controlled by 100 or even 1000 seperate computers all located at a hub. Each computer controlles a Boss and his minions. Each computer reports to a world computer that is responsible for maintaining the environment. One computer plays the roll of the God computer who can change the rules that the Bosses play by and the rules that the world follows. Each Boss has his/her own motivators and things that they try to do. Although their play is in real time, their thinking and processing is at full multicore speed.

Results:
The world is constantly changing. - but slowly. Like the SWG model of creating buildings. Items are constantly in creation as well. By players and bosses.
The world can grow as well. Foliage changes with the seasons. Wildlife works on AI and will avoid city growth until cornered and then will retaliate.
Players interact with minions and when high enough can interact with the computer Boss - who is unpredicatable.
Computer Bosses wage war against one another and grow cities, raze cities as they see fit.
It would be like a world full of Deep Blue PCs, all playing Command and Conquor while you are in the middle playing Crisis.
June 19, 2007 5:45:01 PM

lets face it, the best MMO out there is WoW. And it’s the same game that it was when it first came out.

To be truly immersive, and that is what we really want. It needs to replicate life, which is not static but dynamic and unpredictable. Not like today's mmo, with the same old dungeon, same old NPC, same old... Well you know.

Therefore, the next gen mmo will have very few guides, because things change too rapidly, but it will have a news letter or paper(blogs) of what’s going on. It will most likely have a automated computer generated content, that changes dynamically based on random factors and actual events. Who knows, it may even have politicians! The character will be able to carry a somewhat inteligent conversations, no scripted responses!

In any case, the real next gen MMO will be nothing like todays!
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June 19, 2007 5:47:09 PM

You are preaching to the choir man. I've played EQ for about 2 years, then moved onto AO for a year or so. I quit for a while then came back. Played EQ2 for about half a year as well. I think a lot needs changing in these games.

Now I have mentioned this many times on other boards and you brought it up here: The 1d20 system has to go! This system is old and has not only been used but abused. They try to make it "better" by giving you glowing icons to click on to perform some "special" move. However it still kills the fighting experience. Most of the time I just hit attack and take a few sips of my beer or something till the fight is over.

Twitch based combat needs to come into the mix. Combat like in Jedi academy or another good FPS needs to take the place of this generic combat found in every MMO today. I think Hellgate London will introduce this sort of combat in an MMOish way, but we will see when it comes out.

Leveling needs to go. If I walked outside, I do not see the age or names of people hovering above their head. This is crazy, should never have been introduced and needs to go. With the graphics today, no one person should look alike and I should be able to tell my friend joe apart from john doe.

Raiding should stay but up to a point. For example, to kill one monster should not require 40 people. To raid a town or a city or to defend yours should. Gaining the best gear in the game should require no more than 2-3 people and hould involve a deep, story driven quest.

The more you use something, the better you get system can and should replace leveling as well. I hate hearing "DING LEVEL xx!" every 5 minutes on an ooc or shout channel. Speaking of the devil, ooc and shout channels should go away. I cannot hear someone from the other end of the country shouting and I should not be able to in a MMO either.

Those are my 2 cents for now, gotta get back to work.
June 19, 2007 5:51:04 PM

I'm looking forward to an mmo that encorporates Diablo style combat where you fight swarms and swarms of mobs at any given time. Where after you're done fighting, the battlefield is covered with corpses. and you charge into the next group or unload a barrage of arrows one after the next.

I'm really curious to see what Blizzard decides to do with Diablo 3 and how they turn it into an MMO (because thats what I think it'll be).
June 19, 2007 5:51:09 PM

As an avid MMORPG’er I’d have to say that this article brought nothing new to the table, every single thing listed is done in other games, now I know you said “don’t say game xx does that” but I really didn’t read anything innovative though I’m glad the subject was brought up and do think it’s a valid discussion point.

I’ve been playing since UO beta, and haven’t gone more than a month or two with out a subscription to one company or another (I don’t even want to think about how much those fees ad up to). And I can honestly say that what you’re looking for (an innovative change to the industry) already existed and almost came into creation.

Anyone remember Horizens? From the EARLY game mechanics discussion, before the original developer got bought out and the game was turned from a wild new idea to a cookie cutter MMORPG cash maker.

I wont go too far into the details, it WAS fantasy based, no big change there; where it seemed to shine was the racial selections, and daring never seen before game play ideas. This game generated the same scale of Hype as WOW, it had us (the registered forum posters) day dreaming of the game and repeatedly clicking “refresh” on our browsers to check for new tidbits of info.

As the author mentioned, it takes a huge amount of money/time to produce these projects and companies that truly are trying to be innovative often are not motivated by the possible profits so much as the possibility of a great title. But companies don’t stay in business by ignoring the bottom line, and no one wants to take a risk like this; its really unfortunate.

If something even remotely comparable to WOW came out, even with just a few new ideas I have no doubt that there would be a mass migration of “hard core” players who are, like the author, a fan of the genre but tired of the staleness that it is developing.
June 19, 2007 5:53:46 PM

This is a discussion i would like to see all 5 million or so subscribers to wow start posting on the wow website. The expansion is such schlock. 100's of hours of grinding required to do anything at all. This game has been reduced to the intellectual level of the average food-worker.

Really though, when i was 15 in the 80's i worked fast food, and we called our jobs the "grind". It's the same thing. Repeat simple task 1000 times, recieve paycheck.

Lotro does one thing right in that there is scripting. It might not be the best, or implimented how i would like, but it's at least there! For my epic flying mount in WOW, i have to make 2000 circles around eclipse point killling everything in my path. How ridiculous is that. It's insulting. Give me a Myst-like puzzle, or a long epic quest, anything other than 2000 circles around some lvl 68 region. THEN, i have to start working on end-game which requires reputation. And hmmmm, how do you think we get rep?? Well ill tell you, you go up north and you start grinding again. You make 2000 circles around any area that has NPC's with "Fel" in their name on the 3% chance they will drop "Fel Armament" and you collect it and turn it in. No other way. There's one thing in the article which i don't agree with, the statement that creating something like this requires great effort. I DONT BELIEVE IT. Scripting something takes great effort. Throwing a bunch of aimless NPC's out on a 3d grid with drop-tables does NOT TAKE EFFORT -DONT BE FOOLED I'm on the verge of calling MMORPG's quits. Im fed up

I appreciate the article.
June 19, 2007 6:00:51 PM

Quote:
There's one thing in the article which i don't agree with, the statement that creating something like this requires great effort. I DONT BELIEVE IT. Scripting something takes great effort. .


You have no idea how difficult it is to achieve some sort of balance between the classes, that alone is huge, not to mention the hours spent on that shrub you just ran past and ignored, don’t get me wrong, I agree that there needs to be change, but never think that creation on this level is easy.
June 19, 2007 6:03:30 PM

You make a lot of good points and highlight a lot of the main culprits in terms of what keeps us in the rut we call MMOs. I'd like to call out another typical problem which you sort of address via "no levels, no experience" but then again, you miss the basic problem.

If I don't want to deal with a bunch of jerks lake Rundolph, I need to be able to adventure with my pals, be they in my guild or not. The problem is, my friend may be level 50 and I may be level 10. Or to take "levels" out of the equation, my friend may have a 1handed sword skill of 200 while I'm at 20. I've played many of the same MMOs as you, but one I tried which had a nice solution, or at least a step in the right direction was City of Heroes. They had a sort of mentoring/sidekick system. It has been a few years, but I think the core of it was that you could bring the level 20 person up to 50 (albeit a weaker than average 50, but playable) or you could bring the 50 down to 20. You both get some amount of experience, though I can't recall the relative proportions. I'm not sure if the idea is patented, but the basic need for a way for long-time players to be able to adventure with their newbie buddies without the long-time player having to re-roll a new toon is in great need.

Regarding the raiding, I like the "heroic mode" idea that WoW started using recently. I think they really need more of a "raid mode" and "5 man mode" and maybe even a "10 man mode" sort of thing. I positively hate raiding and hate missing out on the in-game content of a gameworld I love so much just because my 2 year old daughter won't give me a 6 hour block to go raiding. >:-(

I realize that is a burden on the developer, post game release...but that's what I pay them monthly fees for. Yes, they are developing "new content" for me, but lets face it they focus on end-game raiding which I've had quite enough of thanks very much.

So....we need a method to allow two characters of widely varying levels to play together and still progress somewhat. And we need scalable dungeons such that all instances are eventually playable WITHOUT raids. By eventually I don't mean 2 years after release of said instance either. 6 months is plenty of time for all those hardcore guys to go get their "Realm firsts", their "phat loot", etc.

Of all your points, the one I think that has the most merit is the combat changes. Granted, WoW was a step in the right direction. As a rogue I went from having a basic attack, a backstab, and a kick button with annoying timer in Everquest to having a bunch of buttons with timers. Combat took on the tiniest amount of strategy: (Ambush, SStrike SStrike Gouge, Backstab, Eviscerate) but still very mechanical. After playing 70 levels of it, it gets old.

Now, I realize that having more "twitchy" combat mechanics would alienate a fair number of players.... So how about we let them program a few macros etc to make it a little easier, etc such that they can still accomplish combat in a mode similar and familiar to what they're used to. BUT! For those of us who want to try a little harder, and want to button mash, circle strafe, do wall jumps then jab our two daggers in the ogre's neck for the killing blow.....well...give us a little damage bonus.

I would like to see more "multiclassing" if classes must be retained. I would be perfectly happy with a skill based system where points get allocated and improve a'la Dungeon Siege (or even old UO), as long as I can spend some points to specialize in a tree structure like Diablo/WoW etc. Then you can call me what you like. I think the names for the archtypes are merely good as a means of identifying the basic needs to construct a strong group: healer, tank, dps, cc, etc.

I could go on and on, but I'll stop for now.
June 19, 2007 6:04:55 PM

The new MMOs will not be RPG... there will be MMORTS and MMOFPS.

Unfortunately it will about 2 generations before computing technology is capable of this.

The new Tom Clansey game is moving towards MMOFPS with its persistent world and non-persistent battlefields. Give it a generation or two and you will see an FPS with a completely persistent world.
June 19, 2007 6:06:17 PM

Ok, so anyone ever play allegiance? Well, one of the few trully brilliant games in existance which has only about 100 dedicated followers. Brief explanation for anyone unfamiliar: Team leader has distant tactical view of gaming environment, an RTS map. Every member of the team is one of the avatars on the RTS map. So you get how this works? Like playing Age of empires where one person has the traditional RTS map, and the rest of us are immersed in a 3d world recieving instructions from above.

Now, If WOW could just do THAT. Blend Warcraft III, with WOrld of Warcraft. Freakin awesome. But Blizzard seems to be far too dedicated to mediocrity at the moment.
June 19, 2007 6:07:01 PM

I’ve pretty much followed the same track as the author:

UO (which I alpha tested)
EQ1
DAOC
NWN (multiplayer online module creator that servers 100000 people)
EQ2 (short)
SWG (short)
WOW (2.5 years)


I totally agree. I have been waiting for the 3rd generation of MMORPG's.

Some may be confused about that but I break them down like this:

UO = gen 1 (even though online BBS games could be called gen 1 like LORD)

EQ1, DAOC, Wow, SWG = gen 2


In fact, when I started playing Wow from 2 months on EQ2 I thought it was very much a step back in generations so I would almost say that EQ2 was almost 3rd generation.


But the problem was that EQ2 was absolutely no fun. but Wow was extremely fun. Wow doesn’t touch DAOC in PVP and doesn’t touch EQ2 in game design and mechanics (aka "databases" backing up the game).

We need a true 3rd generation game and I do not see one coming. WoW is in a state of failing right now. It has been some time since BC came out and casual gamers just cant play.

The average age of this class of game has been shown to be 30 years old. To ge successful, the game really needs to be easily casually played.
June 19, 2007 6:11:56 PM

It's been done. They called it "Savage" and the sequel is on its way. Pretty good concept, but I don't think its a good model for a MMO. Though it is a good ASPECT of this. Indeed, WoW's Battlegrounds should be more like this.
June 19, 2007 6:16:33 PM

I played EQ1 for several years. EQ2 for a couple months(hated it) and WOW for a couple years. I have many of the same gripes as the other guys. I think many companies put in major time sinks to keep players paying up $20.00 a month for as long as they could. I am playing LOTR now and grinding is just as bad. I do most all my leveling through quests. I'm just tired of the static game play. I kill a mini boss and it comes to life again in 2 min.
I would like to see special events in game. Something new thrown into the mix. It could be done in existing games. Maybe one time bosses that either groups or guild could kill. I want some NON-static content. Well heres a thought. Allow players to randomly take control of mini bosses or major bosses and reak havok untill other players band together and kill him. That way the company doesn't have to pay a gm to do it. LOTR does this to a limited extent with the pools.
I would like to see a game with no level grinding. It would also have forever death. If your character dies its dead. You start a new one. Yes a person may got thru thousands of characters but so what. let players reuse names.
In the real world if I assault a military base chances are that the whole base will get alerted and I would have to deal with everyone in the base. So why is it different in game play. Yes I know my little group would get wiped in seconds and that would not be any fun. However a little more realism needs to be introduced.
June 19, 2007 6:28:08 PM

Here is an idea, though it may not be so revolutionary, simply incremental.

We have a fair number of instanced dungeons. OK, great. We love them because we can "be the heroes". Then the main zones are non-instanced so we have to deal with that schmuck Rundolph, kill stealers, griefers etc. Well, what if each and every zone had an instance-able option.

I know WoW best now-a-days, so imagine this.... Having the option to have an instanced Barrens/Stranglethorn-Vale/SearingGorge, etc. So if I want to log on for an hour and blast through a bunch of quests solo or in a small group I can do so without sharing the zone with Rundolph and getting irritated at him because he killed the named giant purple people eater that I need for the "Death to Purple People Eaters" quest. I wouldn't have to wait 20 minutes for a respawn.

When you don't always have to have enough mosters in a zone "for everyone" where each on is a challenge (again because of crowding reasons) then you can make more of the mobs be less powerful so swarm-fighting becomes more realistic/plausible.

And no...it would NOT be that hard to make a zone like the Barrens an instance. Take the number of monsters normally in it, divide by factor X, a provide a means for the player to access that instance (perhaps make them decide when they walk out the door of the inn?).

Just throwing ideas out there.
June 19, 2007 6:31:18 PM

Quote:
Here is an idea, though it may not be so revolutionary, simply incremental.

We have a fair number of instanced dungeons. OK, great. We love them because we can "be the heroes". Then the main zones are non-instanced so we have to deal with that schmuck Rundolph, kill stealers, griefers etc. Well, what if each and every zone had an instance-able option.

I know WoW best now-a-days, so imagine this.... Having the option to have an instanced Barrens/Stranglethorn-Vale/SearingGorge, etc. So if I want to log on for an hour and blast through a bunch of quests solo or in a small group I can do so without sharing the zone with Rundolph and getting irritated at him because he killed the named giant purple people eater that I need for the "Death to Purple People Eaters" quest. I wouldn't have to wait 20 minutes for a respawn.

When you don't always have to have enough mosters in a zone "for everyone" where each on is a challenge (again because of crowding reasons) then you can make more of the mobs be less powerful so swarm-fighting becomes more realistic/plausible.

And no...it would NOT be that hard to make a zone like the Barrens an instance. Take the number of monsters normally in it, divide by factor X, a provide a means for the player to access that instance (perhaps make them decide when they walk out the door of the inn?).

Just throwing ideas out there.


This is exactly one thing that made EQ2 better mechanically then wow. Every area was an instance and you could pick which one you wanted to go into. Even the largest of areas. It told you how full each one was.
June 19, 2007 6:41:04 PM

Excellent. Now if only it weren't EQ2. :-/ Never played it. I just don't dig dying and losing XP or a level etc. Not when they make getting said XP/Level so bleeding time consuming. I get to the point where I invest several hours to get half a level, die, lose a quarter of a level and say, "hey, I want those 2-3 hours of my life back. I'm already giving you 30 a week." You know? heh heh.

But cool. It seems like there are a fair number of good ideas that are out there now, but just need to be incorporated. What I wonder is how many are patented such that others cannot use them. Such patenting can often lead to stagnation. No one wants to pay the royalties to the other guy, even if the other guy WAS willing to let the competition use his brilliant idea.

You know what I'd like to see? I'd like to see a bunch of polls that group certain mutually-exclusive design choices together and let the consumer vote on what they like best.

Ex: Advancement Poll
1) Pure Leveling (old EQ basically to 60)
2) Pure skill based (UO)
3) Hybrid skills + levels (Wow)

Combat Poll
1) I like it tw-tw-twitchy please! Bring on the button mashing, combos, etc
2) A little button mashing, a few simple combos or timing-sensitive things, but keep it relatively simple
3) I like drinking beers while my toon kills a monster without intervention


etc etc.
June 19, 2007 6:52:34 PM

Quote:
The new MMOs will not be RPG... there will be MMORTS and MMOFPS.

Unfortunately it will about 2 generations before computing technology is capable of this.

The new Tom Clansey game is moving towards MMOFPS with its persistent world and non-persistent battlefields. Give it a generation or two and you will see an FPS with a completely persistent world.


It actually happened about two generations ago...

www.planetside.com
June 19, 2007 7:02:06 PM

If you are looking for an MMO with a great "twitch" combat system and a somewhat mature platform, try DDO. I haven't found an MMO since Ultima first came out that hooked me, until DDO.
June 19, 2007 7:03:22 PM

Great article. I completely agree with you, which is why I haven't played an MMO in the last few years (other than Lineage2 beta and WoW beta).
June 19, 2007 7:30:11 PM

Generation 2.5 is on its way .

Both Conan , and Two Worlds cold be considered 2.5
June 19, 2007 7:32:45 PM

I know this might seem like blasphamy on a site like twitchguru, but not everyone wants twitch combat.
Most people I know that play MMORPGs really like the RPG aspect of the game. Pretty much as you go away from character skill you also go away from an RPG. This is of course perfectly fine to do, but it will be its own genre of MMOs, and not really a revolution of the MMORPG genre. There is also the huge limitation of network performance and PC performance. We all know twitch based games require high end systems to be competative and latency is an absolute killer. You loose the option of having a world with more then 50-100 players because the hardware on all sides and inbetween can't really handle it.

One thing about making a bunch of smaller worlds without 1500 people is you are taking away the Massive part of the MMO. Once you've done that and moved away from the RPG aspect, then what you have left is Multiplayer Online. This already exists in the majority of games anyway. Playing with a select group of friends in generated content where you can be the hero and save the day... well other then the combat system you basically have diablo. You haven't really revolutionized the genre again, you've change the name of an existing genre into a new name with a focus more on the multiplayer aspect rather then the single player aspect (which is being done by a lot of games anyway).

As far as customizable looks for individuals, it really is a matter of time. The only way to have 1 million players looking completely unique is to have art designers make 1 million different models, which simply isn't practical. It would also mean that the 2 year $20 million development cycle just doubled too. Of course there can be entirely procedurely generated models of characters and armor, but that takes a huge amount of work too, see Spore as an example. It also takes considerable more power to run a game with even 100 unique procedurely generated and controlled models in it.
Of course here there is a easier approach too, but people will still look similiar, but not exactly the same. First take out the pre-designed without question best "sets" of armor, make a lot of different pieces of armor that are all about the same and people will mix them as they want and diversity will come with it. Give people an easy and practical way to change the colors of their items and it will also help, two pieces of the exact same armor will stand apart simply by being different colors. These of course are options already being used in many games today (just not most of the games mentioned).

So now you've made a game that is completely new to what current MMO players are used to, you've spent a huge amount of time and money to do it, and you've put the system requirements high enough to greately limit your playerbase. Thats failure waiting to happen.


There can, and have been, games that take virtually everything mentioned and use them, some work better then others. Some options are much easier to do without really changing too much. They are all being tried by different developers.

Chances are if someone thinks all MMOs are the same then they simply haven't played enough of them. There are a lot of the more niche games, the ones put out by less known developers and may not have had the marketting draw that are good games and do things a lot differently. With the exception of SWG all of the games mentioned where a very linear progression of the core of the genre but didn't touch on the variety that is there.
June 19, 2007 7:40:50 PM

The article really hits some points I also would like to see being changed. I played Jumpgate for quite some time ( www.jossh.com ), this is different from any other MMORPG i have ever played. It s a spacesim and there is leveling, but the leveling only decides which ships you can fly. But the ship you are flying is not as important as your skill is (no point and click.. flying like you did in TIE Fighter). Once you reached lvl 18 (of 50) you were ready for a the fight. The rest was just about your personal skill. There were so many tactics, flying styles, different ship setups and different ways to simply aim that i worked for years to get better and better. That was my main drive there. But in contrast planetside it also had a good trading and exploration part, although that it doesn t match heavyweights like EVE, but you could do all that stuff.
That is a combination i never found elsewhere. The design has some problems too though, but I really think the need for playerskill in combat should be raised in next generation mmorpgs in order to give the players a chance to not only develop their characters but also themselves.
June 19, 2007 7:46:38 PM

I've been thinking about this as well and here's my 2 cents...

'Levels' and 'skills' are supposed to reflect your increasing abilities and experience. In current MMO's your level increases as you complete tasks and kill monsters. Thus, after killing 100 sewer rats you are now level 2 and thus your strength, agility, etc. get higher and you can now kill wolves. This is a feed-forward system, i.e. you need to put in the work (grind) in order to reap with rewards (access the higher level abilities).

What if the game were designed so that 'levels' and 'skills' were more like stats, simply reflecting your actual abilities at the game (giving you "feed-back"). For example, when shooting a bow, the game would record your hit %, it could take into account many factors like how far away the enemy is and how strong they are, if you were moving during the shot, etc... Thus your 'skill' with the bow would simply reflect how good of a shot you are. As you progress through the game you will naturally get better with practice and your skill will advance, allowing you to survive more difficult encounters, to advance your skill farther.

The same could apply to shooting out spells. I love the spell system in Oblivion, because you actually have to AIM your fireball. This added so much more challenge and excitement to the fight for a spellcaster. Furthermore, magic could require more then just a mouse click, maybe harder spells could be boosted with a synchronized mouse movement and keyboard combination.

Close combat could also benefit from this idea. I think blocking is an essential component of the fight, and should be dynamic and difficult. Let us swing the freaking sword with our mouse in real time, not just clicking to repeat the same swing animation. If the Wii can do it with Zelda, we should have it on the PC. The same goes for blocking. When an enemy is swinging a giant axe down onto my head, I am going to block in a different way then a sideswipe from a saber. My hit and block % can contribute to my sword and shield skills.

I apologize if this leveling system already exists in some game, but I have never encountered it (and would love to play it if it does exist).
June 19, 2007 7:49:14 PM

Quote:
The new MMOs will not be RPG... there will be MMORTS and MMOFPS.

Unfortunately it will about 2 generations before computing technology is capable of this.

The new Tom Clansey game is moving towards MMOFPS with its persistent world and non-persistent battlefields. Give it a generation or two and you will see an FPS with a completely persistent world.


It actually happened about two generations ago...

www.planetside.com

Yeah I've heard of the game but never played it. It was the first attempt at what is expected to be the future of online gaming and it did some things well and others not. The biggest issue, as far as I can tell, in that game is the manditory multiplayer instead of MMORPG, single player or multiplayer until you get deep into the game, then multiplayer only. I think this will come around with a MMOFPS with AI characters (Think Halo story mode co-op with persistent worlds MMO style). I have yet to see that.

Planetside proved that its feasible and close but I see that as more of a proof of concept than the smash hit that needs to happen for the new genres to catch on.
June 19, 2007 7:49:25 PM

I would say that we ARE headed in the direction of the kind of MMO mentioned in the article. Tabula Rasa, for example, does (to some extent) a fair number of the things talked about including reworking the class system. Like the author, I'm also looking forward to an MMO that de-emphasizes the necessity of raiding. I don't have a problem with it but I think that there are much more productive ways to separate the wheat and chaff.
June 19, 2007 7:58:46 PM

Tebula Rasa might worth the try... I could say in which generation it is, but to me it looks like MMOFPS.

Edit : To that I want to add the (my only opinion there) very genius, the allmighty Lord Bristish, creator of Ultima Online is the one behind Tebula Rasa. If he's to get, create things the same he did with UO, we'll see something really huge.
June 19, 2007 8:01:08 PM

The thing that made WoW such a success was ease of use, simplicity, and pacing. Interestingly, these are the same things that cause more seasoned players to quit playing. The game is too easy, too simple, and is either too fast or too slow for them.

There are several games that incorporate a large number of your suggestions. EVE Online, for instance, includes a skill based system based entirely on time. You can start training a skill, log out, then log back in after a certain amount of time and you'll be able to use that skill. Each skill has a level to it, meaning you can retrain skills, but each re-train takes more and more time to complete. The system basically allows you to choose how you want to play when you want to play that way. Combat is interesting as well. It isn't completely twitchy, but there is a great deal more strategy and user interaction in battles. The economy of the game is entirely human controlled. Almost every item you can buy is sold by someone else in the game. The main problems with EVE are its complexity and extremely slow pace. Even after 3 months of playing EVE, there were still a number of fundamentals I was clueless about. Casual gamers will have a hard time in EVE, simply because it takes at 5-6 hours or more just to learn how to move around and then get used to it. Pacing is extremely slow as well, though it opens up the ability to actually create two accounts and play two characters at the same time (Or more if you want, and since the client can run multiple times on the same computer, all you need is multiple monitors or really good ALT-TAB skills). I used the time spent mining to watch movies, do homework, or read a book. So it was a game that could be played while I was busy, which is actually kind of nice. I got out of the game after moving to an area without good internet, and just couldn't get back into it after a few months of not playing (Having to re-learn everything was a little daunting).

Ultimately, MMOs need to be accessible to a broad range of people if they are to succeed.
June 19, 2007 8:02:01 PM

Erloas,

While you are making some good points, you are rather missing the point entirely. Making it possible to choose on a day by day basis whether you want instanced combat or not, as a small group (2-3) or even solo does not suddenly remove the Massive portion from MMORPGs any more than todays instances do. Yes, if I want to always be the hero I will buy a game like Diablo. The issue is that with either game (WoW or Diablo to stick with the Blizzard theme) you are sort of stuck with either massively multiplayer, or not. Giving players a choice like that changes the game, in a good way I think. If you want to call it something different..go ahead. The question is...would it be better? Would people enjoy it more? Is it feasible, technically and economically for the company? I think yes, yes, and yes for the outdoor instance choices.

Somedays I want to "be the heroe" and other days I want to feel like part of something bigger than just my character.

I agree that taking levels, experience, etc out does tend tomake it more of an MMO rather than an MMORPG, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I personally prefer RPGs and will vote with my pocketbook accordingly.

I think a lot of those other hybrid, shoot-off-of-MMORPG sorts of games have some unrealized potential. True, I'm probably not interested in both of them, but i think someone will hit the sweet spot for players with tastes other than my own eventually.

Using WoW as an example....you can't tell me that by even doubling the system requirements would price most of the market out. If people kept that sort of attitude then we would never progress, never see better games. For goodness sakes, WoW requires an 800 MHz machine and 32MB of gfx. True, to play it well, you really need more like a 1.5GHz and a 64 or 128MB video card, but even double that and we're ok I think.

Dual core 2.4GHz machines are not that expensive anymore.

Basically what I am saying is that these games need to start pushing the envelope a little more. Machines, at a given price point, tend to double in performance every 1.5-2.5 years (depending on who you ask, how you measure, etc). Make a game that requires some decent hardware and you might actually see people excited about game and PCs again.

That being said, I think the changes to really give this genre a shot in the arm are needed in the gameplay department rather than gfx. Though yes, some more models would be nice. Hey, why not let players submit models/artwork etc, like games like Neverwinter Nights have done.

Players get access to certain tools, or are exposed to the required formats, and the players can develop the models. Players vote on the coolest model and that player gets a free month of play for their effort. Eventually, the developer takes that players model, tweaks it as necessary and puts it in. Just a thought.
June 19, 2007 8:04:20 PM

Most MMO's are simply an extension of the dice rolling RPG's of the 70's. Computers do the calculations instead of 62 sided dice, but the rules are largely the same.

The one thing that is missing though? The dungeon master...a good DM was a boon to RPG players. Making it hard but not impossible, ultra easy or capricious, but best of all UNPREDICTABLE. Anything could happen, because there was a human imagination at work.

MMO developers are trying to be DM's for 100,000 players at a time, and it''s a valient effort, but it still comes down to jumping through hoops, set up the pins so players can knock them down, or a sophisticated system of rock/paper/scissors where the now absent DM decided long ago that two rocks and five scissors would kill the boss MOB.

What if...developers started to give control over to the players, not just of individual characters, but of the 'Zone' or 'Instance'. DM Players could setup zones to their liking and invite people in. Let it happen in real time where a DM could spawn a group of MOBS at any point and develop story lines for quests.

As for DM's that indulge in griefing, let the market decide. Players will naturally gravitate to the places that are the most fun.

The trick would be the balance between DM players and developers, but that could be worked out.

This would also eliminate leveling because there would be no way to ensure uniformity.

What if...players took trade offs for their skills. In the simplest game there could be two attributes, body and mind. As you use your body it gains in strength and skill, but your mind withers. If you study the arcane magicks of the age your mind sharpens, but your body wastes away. Eventually you would reach the point where you would have the perfect character...for your play style.

I agree, though, that MMO's need a refreshing. Something disruptive has to happen, a new disruptive technology, a revolution. If you figure that out you could be the rights holder to the next WOW.
June 19, 2007 8:12:39 PM

There is a very good game out there that does not throw out all of those things but does throw out some and it is very Godd. Try DDO (Dungeon and Dragons Online).

Yes there is rolling, but do we allways accomplish what we set out to do. If I want to trip you I think I should get a probability to do it and it should increase the more I train it. That is what it is all about. Earn skill points, spend them, gain enhancements and customize your character.

Yes there are also classes, but you don't have to be a fighter, you can be a fighter, cleric, Barb. You start out your life as a brwler and learn to heal then you sing about it as you call apon the power of your gods to crush the life out of you enemy with superhuman powers.


DDO also does not always require clicking and such, just swing your axe and it hits whatever is in the way, you can een just mouse point in a general direction and swing, if there is something, or several somethings, you get a chance to hit em. Same with ranged combat and magic.


Best of all I can map any function int he game to my Logitech game controller and now I'm keyboard free thanks to handsfree chat too.
June 19, 2007 10:28:57 PM

Heh, computing technology is already here, not all these things are easy to implement - especially persistent worlds across a MMO environment, but they can be done.

I'm one of the people who believe the strive for eye candy has been extreme, the content of games these days sucks.

Agreed on GOW type battles.

The only game I've consistently played for 10+ years remains subspace which is a skill game and has some very short term leveling built into some of the zones. Look it up, it's free, come play in league!
June 19, 2007 10:40:44 PM

Quote:
You make a lot of good points and highlight a lot of the main culprits in terms of what keeps us in the rut we call MMOs. I'd like to call out another typical problem which you sort of address via "no levels, no experience" but then again, you miss the basic problem.

If I don't want to deal with a bunch of jerks lake Rundolph, I need to be able to adventure with my pals, be they in my guild or not. The problem is, my friend may be level 50 and I may be level 10. Or to take "levels" out of the equation, my friend may have a 1handed sword skill of 200 while I'm at 20. I've played many of the same MMOs as you, but one I tried which had a nice solution, or at least a step in the right direction was City of Heroes. They had a sort of mentoring/sidekick system. It has been a few years, but I think the core of it was that you could bring the level 20 person up to 50 (albeit a weaker than average 50, but playable) or you could bring the 50 down to 20. You both get some amount of experience, though I can't recall the relative proportions. I'm not sure if the idea is patented, but the basic need for a way for long-time players to be able to adventure with their newbie buddies without the long-time player having to re-roll a new toon is in great need.

Regarding the raiding, I like the "heroic mode" idea that WoW started using recently. I think they really need more of a "raid mode" and "5 man mode" and maybe even a "10 man mode" sort of thing. I positively hate raiding and hate missing out on the in-game content of a gameworld I love so much just because my 2 year old daughter won't give me a 6 hour block to go raiding. >:-(

I realize that is a burden on the developer, post game release...but that's what I pay them monthly fees for. Yes, they are developing "new content" for me, but lets face it they focus on end-game raiding which I've had quite enough of thanks very much.

So....we need a method to allow two characters of widely varying levels to play together and still progress somewhat. And we need scalable dungeons such that all instances are eventually playable WITHOUT raids. By eventually I don't mean 2 years after release of said instance either. 6 months is plenty of time for all those hardcore guys to go get their "Realm firsts", their "phat loot", etc.

Of all your points, the one I think that has the most merit is the combat changes. Granted, WoW was a step in the right direction. As a rogue I went from having a basic attack, a backstab, and a kick button with annoying timer in Everquest to having a bunch of buttons with timers. Combat took on the tiniest amount of strategy: (Ambush, SStrike SStrike Gouge, Backstab, Eviscerate) but still very mechanical. After playing 70 levels of it, it gets old.

Now, I realize that having more "twitchy" combat mechanics would alienate a fair number of players.... So how about we let them program a few macros etc to make it a little easier, etc such that they can still accomplish combat in a mode similar and familiar to what they're used to. BUT! For those of us who want to try a little harder, and want to button mash, circle strafe, do wall jumps then jab our two daggers in the ogre's neck for the killing blow.....well...give us a little damage bonus.

I would like to see more "multiclassing" if classes must be retained. I would be perfectly happy with a skill based system where points get allocated and improve a'la Dungeon Siege (or even old UO), as long as I can spend some points to specialize in a tree structure like Diablo/WoW etc. Then you can call me what you like. I think the names for the archtypes are merely good as a means of identifying the basic needs to construct a strong group: healer, tank, dps, cc, etc.

I could go on and on, but I'll stop for now.




I agree 100%

Nothing like been locked out of the end game because your on the west cost and get home between 7 and 8pm on a "WEST COST SEVER" and all the raid guilds start raiding @ 2pm, 3pm, 4Pm 5pm and 6pm week days.

nothing like being joined at the hip to people you cant progress with.

I do have to say i think I'm done with MMO's in general and i started playing beta Asheron's Call in 1999, a short trip to DAoC, then to World of Warcraft, and 2 trips to EvE Online.

Who knows WoW might get its next patch just in time for the end of summer? to bad me and my credit card wont
June 19, 2007 10:56:17 PM

Quote:
The evolution of the massively-multiplayer online role-playing game has stalled out. Now all we can look forward to are title after title of World of Warcraft clones.


While I do agree with you there, especially now that I am playing World of Ringcraft ( aka Lord of the Rings Online ), I have found that Fallen Earth appears to be addressing a lot of your concerns, especially with regard to a non-level system of advancement and not being pigeon holed into a class, with their classless system of character skills.

If all the games I've seen, this is the last great hope we beleaguered MMO players have, at having a breath of fresh air in the market.

http://www.fallenearth.com :D 
June 19, 2007 10:59:23 PM

What no mention of City of Heroes? It is a great game that is easy to play and has a very low learning curve. My wife and I have been playing for almost 3 years now. I have to admit I get bored of the game at times but since im not into the power level stuff I still don't even have a level 50 toon yet.

I create different toons with different power sets etc. and switch around each night. One night I am a blaster the next a defender. The variety of toons is what keeps me playing. The bosses coming back are fine with me since this is a comic book world no one is really supposed to die.

There have been many updates that have improved the game and in some ways made it worse but over all I really enjoy it. City of Villians is ok but you don't really feel like a villian when playing it. Heroes is the kind of game you can just get on an play. Solo or in a group you can't beat it. :wink:
June 19, 2007 11:10:56 PM

I agree with Caamsa here (even though he thinks our videos are stupid). City of Heroes wasn't entirely different from other MMOs but it did offer a smaller learning curve and a nice bit of variety.

However, the reason I never got into MMOs big time -- not that anyone is asking -- is because I can't stand grinding and obsessing over leveling. Bleh...

As for different MMOs, I don't think Age of Conan will be anything revolutionary but after getting a look at it at GDC a few months ago, there are some key differences. Funcom is definitely focusing more on action and more advanced combat gameplay, which could be fun.
June 19, 2007 11:31:54 PM

Something that's yet to be mentioned that planted the mmorpg seed in me was going and seeing things you shouldn't(by level) see and true risk. My first mmorpg was asheron's call. Those days were void of easy accessible maps and recipes, no X marks the spots, and no 'clues' as to what lied ahead. I had died fighting some random mob at level 13 and luckily for me a high level group of friendly people escorted me back to my body, see in Asheron's Call, when you die you lose some stuff, which can make and break you...anyways so these guy's helped me out, then opened a portal for themselves to go to a much higher level area in search of mad loots or whatever and told me to dare not follow because there would be no corpse trip even with them.... So of course curiousity made me jump in after them and the next 3 hours were full of intense encounters where often times my low heal spell, or kiting would save them as they saved me. The area was about 10 levels higher then they were and they had never ventured as deep as we all ventured that evening. It became an epic journey into the unknown with true risks everywhere. A single death could've very possibly caused all of us to lose a valuable piece of gear. Anyways i'm just reminiscing, WoW never gave me any experience like that, new mmorpgs need to be hardcore with deaths to bring back the heart race factor or atleast offer that with a full PVP world.

My mmorpg resume: red dragon, AC, Shadowbane, AC2, Lineage 2, and WoW
June 19, 2007 11:53:53 PM

Great discussion.

RE: instanced zones - I'm sure someone will tell me if I'm wrong here, but when I first started playing Guild Wars it had common town areas with everyone, but if you stepped out of town you were in an instance.

RE: DM control - I agree that what one thing that is missing is the dynamic of the DM. Neverwinter Nights and NWN2 both have small-scale multiplayer with the option to have a player run the DM. The DM tool allows the DM to possess any NPC or monster and speak, create objects, destroy objects, etc. It's very powerful. The NWN Toolset also allows players to create basically their own games using the NWN engine. Both the DM tool and the toolset come with the game.

Good stuff, though.
June 20, 2007 12:19:01 AM

Well, I believe that MMORPG's have become a bit tiresome. The standard 'grind' of monster bashing and repetitive "mission" - style play has probably reached its pinnacle. I believe the future is going to be the more "persistent" online worlds. That is worlds where the players make fundamental changes and have effects on the world, as in EVE online or Entropy Universe (if you are looking for something with a background story). Also Second Life has much to offer for those looking for something different than your standard "WoW style" play. These worlds provide much more freedom in play style, no "leveling", or experience. Game play is up to the participants and the landscape is constantly changing. As far as making unique characters nothing beats the level of avatar modification possible in Second Life either.
June 20, 2007 12:58:49 AM

Quote:
I agree with Caamsa here (even though he thinks our videos are stupid). City of Heroes wasn't entirely different from other MMOs but it did offer a smaller learning curve and a nice bit of variety.

However, the reason I never got into MMOs big time -- not that anyone is asking -- is because I can't stand grinding and obsessing over leveling. Bleh...

As for different MMOs, I don't think Age of Conan will be anything revolutionary but after getting a look at it at GDC a few months ago, there are some key differences. Funcom is definitely focusing more on action and more advanced combat gameplay, which could be fun.


I'm not trying to plug City of Heroes here but if anyone here has not tried it give it a try. It is pretty different. Yes it is the usual fight the bad guys, get exp, level and rinse and repeat. But there is a lot of variety with the power sets and how you can combine them. Some builds are better than others. Some builds are good for solo or PVP and some require you to team with groups because you are too weak at lower levels to solo.

Another cool thing is the charcter creation. I think it is the best in the MMORPG world. Every hero is different and distinct in their own way. Just creating your charcter and his costume and theme is fun.

At this point im not sure what the next MMORPG should be.

IMO a computer game will never match my middle/high school days when my friends and I used to play role playing games on the weekends. With my brother as DM/GM at the helm, and our vast imaginations any thing could happen and any thing was possible. The games often took on a life of their own.

The best role playing games IMO were Dungeons/Dragons, Boot Hill, and Champions. Maybe the MMORPG needs to be more open and random and unpredictable like a previous poster had suggested. Just like real life. Now that might be the way to go.
June 20, 2007 1:56:14 AM

Quote:
Its all about the game Darkfall


What the heck. Is that "The Awakening Project" Re-Branded? Ha.
June 20, 2007 3:27:55 AM

So the idea is to have a greater emphasis on skill rather than the time you spend grinding your character? I could see this with a FPS/mmorpg. Like Huxley or Tabula Rasa (is that FPS/mmorpg?)?
June 20, 2007 4:01:04 AM

Here's what I dreamed of once.

A MMO game Having 2 different teams in war with each other. People can buy the game either as Team A or Team B.

Each Team has various positions a person can play or qualify as. For example, one could have control of certain regions and is the Strategic Commander of that zone. He has other players under his command who perform tasks/missions, and each unit has a general who keeps his men in line. Of course there would be many specialist units. However, the numbers of each type are always taken into consideration by the gaming system. If there are too many grunts, then the system will disallow player to start or respawn as a grunt.

Of course, there will be a high focus on following rules in the game. And you get credit for obeying by more experience or leveling up in the form of higher rank.

Imagine this in a real life military scale. There are communications going on constantly among the higher level strategist on how to take over the other teams lands. And the game play would be different in the eyes of different types of players. Strategists could almost see the game in an RTS sort of way.

Everything is timed real life. There are spies as well, and teams can find out what the other team is plotting and ensure defenses. Once a month or something, there is chance for a massive real time battle between two sides for conquering important lands for resources or for having a strategic advantage. Imagine a fight between hundreds or troops. Of course once you die, you don't respawn at the battle. You are dead at that point, and will have to arrive as a new character from a further away post. Your level of experience may remain or you may choose to just return as a grunt.

Very sort of vague idea, but maybe you get the point.
June 20, 2007 4:05:53 AM

Well I first must confess that I no longer pay to play online games, right now " Last Chaos " suffices my need to get online and play with friends.

I would like to point out that I am actually a bit surprised that DAOC did not get more of a tout here as a game that was/is ahead of its time. DAOC made Ventrilo and Roger Wilco and and other VOIP programs popular in the MMORPG world.

I would still be playing DAOC if they had not messed things up by changing Realm Vs. Realm extensively and noticeably, favoring a particular race- (Albion Scum), and coming out with the- all way too powerful "RELICS" items.

DAOC was and still is the superior game to WOW. Go ahead and flame me WOW lovers, but I tried hard to enjoy WOW .. I played it for over 6 months. The pvp is horrible compared to DAOC the item creation (tradeskills) system in WOW is simply crap compared to DAOC. The Housing system and Auction system in DAOC is also superior to WOW IMO although WOW does look a lot more like eBay. I really did not intend to sound like a DAOC fanboy but. I simply do not understand how people can enjoy WOW when it is crap in comparison to DAOC.

On that note, I too await the next generation of MMORPG's I hope it resembles something like the original DAOC.

Thanks for reading.
June 20, 2007 4:15:34 AM

I think we should look at basics of a MMO and how it should be different from say a RPG standalone or a LAN game where you have like 16 players hooked up. What I can see is that MMO game today lack these and tend to emphasize on the wrong elements like leveling or questing. These of course being important but should not be the disinct features for a game that many people coming together and play.

What this means is cooperative play where you can have like guild that build houses, castle and cities anywhere in the game world. Then there is the game world economy based on the fantasy setting of supply and demand where goods are transported from and to castles or cities. There will be trade contract, treaties between guild, alliances. There are profession that uses these goods and transforms them to armor or weapons or gadgets that can be used. When there are areas of conflict there will be wars, disruption of caravans that carry goods and mercenaries that get paid for protection services. Then cities and castles can recruit army and guards, can protect or launch attck on nearby enemies with catapult or gate ram or aerial bombs. There will be posters for Wanted, jobs that guild mates can quest and be rewarded etc ... Imagine the game world will be dynamic with wasted castles strewn across the land and backstabbing politics!

For combat it will be lots of special moves that combines say 5 paladins that create a mighty holy smite that does huge aoe on the enemies or 5 warlocks that summon a huge beast with thunder roar that knockback waves of enemies.

Of course like SB, there are many issues that need to be solved like zerg or different playing time zones but I think such a game would be a blast!
June 20, 2007 5:41:43 AM

:lol: 

I just started WoW and it's my first MMORPG, so for me it's all new and great fun.

I'm late to the party. :lol: 
June 20, 2007 6:09:36 AM

All of the games that currently make up the RPGs that we play are more or less based on bringing the tabletop experience of Dungeons and Dragons into the mix from a mechanics standpoint. I don’t see “skills” as being tied to Role Playing Games. I think we only think that because it’s all we know; all we’ve seen so far.

What we need to realize is that this is not necessary nor even really what many of us want in a pass time. DnD served a vital escapist role for those who played it. However, DnD always bored me to tears....I hated being chained to a system based on probability and "skills" and not true skill.

The idea behind playing DnD at all for me was in imaging and becoming a heroic, fantastical figure. Having to rely on a mundane role of the dice to determine outcomes seriously diminished the ability to achieve this goal. While obviously we can't go around swinging real swords and try to kill each other for amusement, today’s' technology can enable something closer to this; to provide a better alternate reality where we can fulfill our dreams of being a beefcake barbarian or a learned magician. The element that is sorely missing for me is the actual "Role-playing" component. By that I don't mean to espouse the kind of role-playing that LARP'rs or those who play on "Role-playing" servers pretend at; not some mock attempt at acting. I mean to actually have a character, an alter ego that you can escape from the humdrum of the everyday and become. You can live out your evil or good fantasies if you wish. Be able to raze towns, lead armies and become a king if you want all by the strength of your hands (virtually speaking). Give players the choice of coming into the persistent world and forging their own back-story and becoming legend in their own right; or conversely play through a game completely instanced, allowing only friends to play together. None of this is impossible and we've seen elements in other games.

To that end, I think there should be no "system," or at least one with as few rules as possible. Skill should chiefly rely on physical skill, how familiar one is with the physical mechanics; knowing where to blow, how, and with how much force... I've always dreamed of taking on an end boss and besting it with skill alone; to be a true hero. This would offer true competition, not some weak system based on how much time you have to play. This is what all current games lack in my opinion, and what should be strived for. Doing away with levels and implementing a raw, real-time, twitch-based combat system is the only way to bring this about I think. Give different weapons attributes to increase metal strength (rigidity), blocking ability, sharpness, etc. Make magic focused and possible to be interrupted, blocked or redirected; perhaps make it possible to make your own magicks. This is what we have read about in fantasy novels and seen on screen. This is what I want my avatar to be able to do.

Of course this would be difficult to develop, but the results would be worth it...The implementation of a persistent world as well as instanced ones, a real-time combat system, a viable mythology that changes as time passes in the game, all of this is possible and necessary to the end of making a true role playing experience...Now, I realize many would not enjoy that experience, but by the nature of the term, this is closer to what an MMORPG should actually be… Really, current games would be served more by the moniker of MMORTG…Massively Multiplayer Online Repetitive Task Grind\Game…Stupid pun I know, but I wished to illustrate the point that what we are playing offers little in the way of actual role-playing in my mind; I like the reference to being a fast food employee and the grind. I don’t work fast food anymore, I want more out of life and out of the games I play. Pong doesn’t cut it anymore, neither does this antiquated system. My $.02.

Just a note of clarification, I would never intend a game like that to be played by children. Not passing judgment on anyone who may play WoW with their kids (and I praise you for playing with them and not just leaving them alone to their own devices), but I would really like a game limited to adults for once. At least Age of Conan should be able to offer me that in the short term...
June 20, 2007 7:07:47 AM

Hi guys,

I haven't tried many MMORPGs tbh, but that's because *I* decided I loved PvP and I'm in the best PvP one *IMO*. This post is mainly focused on PvP MMORPGs, it's what I like, I'm NOT interested in fighting AI which will always be beaten the same way :)  I like the challenge of beating other thinking human beings.

Now, don't flame my game if you haven't been on it lately, because it has changed A LOT since release: Shadowbane. I'll try to be brief in some things. The game was pushed to release so there was tons of bugs, people left, etc. Nowadays it's a FREE game with ADS in it. The adds aren't that annoying to be honest (when launching client (this one is like 10 secs long (sucks), when exiting the game and everytime you die every 10 minutes (so if you die 10 times in 10 minutes, it would only show 1 short add).

Wolfpack (now Stray Bullet Games) had BIG balls, in my opinion to create that kind of game. First of all, its REAL open PvP, you can kill ANYONE ANYWHERE, even your guild-mates (its necesary sometimes and it's fun as well).

Leveling: Almost non-existant. I can get a toon to the max level in 1 day. (1-2 weeks for new people). Skill/tactics is what this game is about (read below). I can play it 30 mins a day or 8 hours a day and I will always be able to kill anyone if I'm smart enough or find the right situations.

Character customization: afaik, Shadowbane has the most character customization ever seen. There's more than 20 classes; ALL useful (I know some were unbalanced back then, but balancing is AWESOME nowadays imo) and with its own abilities. Races do mean something on Shadowbane as well (12 races). Also, you put your stats wherever you want, no carebearish stuff like WoW where they pick them for you so people don't gimp their toons and they cry and quit the game.

Skill/Tactics: As I said, is all that matters in this game. Not all classes can beat all classes, which I love (some may hate, heh). It's a team game. You CAN do things on your own, but end-game is group-wise. Let's say you are a hugeass minotaur 2 handed axe warrior and you are doing whatever; If this nephilim (winged dude) wizard finds you and starts nuking you from the air, you WILL probably die and there's nothing you can do about it but see your huge HP bar go down :p . If he forgot to rest before the fight and has lil stamina, he might go down and then you can chop his head off with your huge axe. Or perhaps your best friend is a bow-user and was sneaked next to you and grounds the nephilim so you can own him with your axe. With more than 20 classes (i'd say its 30 classes, but you shall judge by yourself if you check the official site).

Build and Destroy Empires: You can build your own town and own resource mines (to craft gear on your own buildings later). The end-game of the game is "banes"... which basically consists in declaring war to your enemy, they pick the time they want their town to be vulnerable to being damaged and the massive fights start. Either the defenders knock down this rock and win or the attackers destroy the town the other guild built.

Time consuming: If you own a town, yes, it means SOME level of responsability, banes can get LONG (2-3 hours) and if you don't protect your town, well, it goes byebye. Many people quitted over this in the past. It's A LOT easier to own and build a town nowadays too (cheaper, less building time, etc).

I think this is way too long now, but well, Shadowbane is a great game, imo. It's by far the best game I have EVER played. I can play it 8 hours a day or 30 mins a day and still be competitive as I said. Thought I'd post this since you guys asked for some key features this game has. The official site is Chronicle of Strife which has a lot of basic info and you can get on the developers site linked up there (www.straybulletgames.com) to post stuff as well.

Not everything's so "perfect" on SB, though. It's not newb friendly, you kinda don't get guided step through step like on WoW.. but I assure you you can have A LOT of fun in this PvP game.

If you want to try out this free game, do it on the Wrath server, no matter your nationality (believe me, I'm in a European guild, they are all on here and it's a nice NA server as well). Stay away from the rest of the servers.

I'll finish by saying: WoW sucks. Not only because it's far from a PvP MMORPG (it wasn't even launched with their oh-so-cool battlegrounds!! says how much of a PvP game it is), but because it needs SO much invested time to be competitive (PvP and PvE wise). I see posts around the web from people asking for a "MMORPG that doesn't eat up a lot of their time" and people recommend WoW... huh??! That's fair from being the truth (no need to explain why). I could go on saying many bad things about WoW (no character customization SUCKS (DON'T let the player think for themselves! They will ruin it all and quit!)), but it's NOT the point of this post.

Thanks for reading,

Demv
June 20, 2007 7:42:46 AM

First of all, lets repair all the things that are in todays games, but could be made better!
My last MMOrpg was WoW:BC, since d2 and a way too crazy friend, i tend to play MOrpg with "at least" 2 characters at once. I started WoW with a def troll warrior, at 60 there was nothing more to do.
I came back, with an orc off warrior+a troll discipline priest. Hit 60, went raiding, and left raid/guild, because all the priests were just plain stupid...we could have rushed throug the instances, but they realy did not have a clue, what "good" or "effective" healing was...I was taken in by the same raid/guild...with my warrior, made the most damage in the first raid, by a 10% POINTS difference too the 2nd, and they had their first epic gear (which i helped attain with my priest), my warrior was just plain blue. Therefore, I had to reskill... yeah...make the most damage and all call NURF NURF NURF!
An off/def hybrid warrior, i was on top of the damage list, as long as i had not to tank (sometimes even with some tank periods^^).
I left WoW, came back...(yeah nothing else to do, and all your friends are there).
New guild, new raid, same problem. Warrior always way on top of damage list (it helped a LOT at that guild, people started to get ashamed, and made damage, had a real good warrior leader, who let me be off).

Way later, BC came, warrior def, then off, priest disc, holy, then shadow.
Shadow priest, same story as off warrior at first raid...green/blue, made loads of more damage, then mages, hunters and the like, without over aggro+healed loads of hp, dw shamy came as mh, and had to heal 1 time per 5 minutes..raid=go holy we need healers, no f****ng shadows.

Well, its all the same story. As far as I know, there is no real feedback, about how "good" someone plays, in any game.
WoW had self made "stats" plugins, which tended to be more or less reliable untill the next patch. But no "official" stats.
One plugin said you healed 25% more then the 2nd, annother said you overhealed 50% of the time, no one said, how many times you saved the raid, by a shield, at the right time, or an off warrior tanking, whithout warning, because the def just gave away, and sourviving, because of kickass shamy, who was not your healer, but realised the situation at once.

I left WoW again, after the last "fun but abitious" guild on my server, stopped to use stat proggies...and forbid to post stats (well..when officers have pure dps classes, and do no damage).

The only way, to realise, how good a player was in WoW, was to talk to him a LOT. See, if he truly understood the nuances, of his class, or theamwork.

Long talk for just 1 aspect, that was called for before, in the article, and the posts.
More combat that is based on the skill of the human player, then the stats of his char.
Shun, WoW, as much as you like. WoW fights are based on skill of the human player. You can manage any instance, with 2 buttons, because Blizz wants anyone to beat the game before the next big new instance.
But you can do it, way faster, "better", with the right skill.

So you don't NEED skill, but you can HAVE skill. This is the big problem there. If I do an instance with some kick ass good people in 45min, and do the same instance with some boons in 3h...i get the same loot...

Sure, with damage, it is easy to compare, heal is not so easy at all, and tanking for instance is real hard to tell (aggro is not everything, and tanked damage is not always a good thing), but possible, if the game implements it (correct stats, ways to tell, what was done in comparison to wat was happening).

What I am saying is, you can't take the loot away from the boons, they pay for the server, so you can play, and you can't give über kickass gear only to hardcore "idonthavetosleeporworkihavemypc" players.
But for the grace of Lord British, make a difference between, i grind all day, and i do 4% more damage with my char, as is theoreticly possible.

Yes, games with, "i block your attack from the left side corner of my back, with jumping in the air and holding my but with my shieldhand" are needed. For some of us. But not for most of the people in MMOrpg.
It would suffice for us, to be able to make a difference, between us, and the grind.

PS. And let us not forget, that there is a big difference, between, I love this game, and this game rocks, it will be played for years, by millions. If not enough people pay for the game, it can be the best s*it, and it will go down.
!