Why do we seek a WoW killer?

Tonight, as I was playing LoTRO, then again while at the movies, I had an epiphany. The reason we seek is time. And that same time is the driving force behind 99% of the migraines that developers get while trying to make us a miracle game.

If you think about it, time is the driving factor behind a great deal of what we do every day.  We need time for laundry, time for food, time for fun, and time for rest. Everything we do is a time siphon. In LoTRO the quests are simple enough, but it takes a while to get to where you have to be to complete them. You receive a signal, ala the gold ring over the head, that there is something this person would like you to do. You, sell your bits and baubles from the last adventure and head out.  At this point, if it weren’t for auto run, most of us would have permanently disfigured fingers after just a few weeks. So what do we do while on the way to the quest destination? Stare at the screen. It’s kind of like getting a soda at Micky-D’s. Half of it is ice.  Filler.  But why?

Money/time. Simply put, if we got everything we wanted as quickly as we do when watching a movie, we would be done in a few days and they would never get another dime.  So what do we want that can take us 7 to 10 years of game play to get? Ouch, now that is a tough one.

How about shorter distances until we get a mount? Increase the distances the higher the level and the faster the mounts. What about QuestHelper? It makes it faster to get our goods, but is that what we want? Well, yes and no. We want the challenge of having to look for what we need to complete the quest, but since the devs do a horrid job of giving instruction, we have to have an addon. So we trade part of our adventure for a bit more speed. But how much speed is too much? For that answer I think that we need to look someplace between LoTRO and WoW (with addons).

As I romp around in Warhammer I realise that I enjoy the linear scope of the quests, but hate that there is too much freedom in the RvR.  If an objective is left unguarded, it seems to be the easiest target, and therefore gets attacked first… or claimed as the case may be. All of the PvP gameplay seems to come down to the least common denominator. As if a vast majority of the players were all chosen from the audience of Oprah or Jerry Springer.  What ever happened to playing a PvP game for the PvP? Have we dropped to the level of Achievement Whores who just want a ding, but don’t want any work? Fight damn it, that is what the game is for!

It may just be that my tastes have changed over the years, but I miss the nervous fear of Shadowbane. The hidden factions like Marrissa Sandwisper in EQ. And the Firefly-esk freedom of pre-faction play Eve. Hell even Age of Conan could have been great if they had made the rest of the game like the first twenty levels… and let you start out differently with each race/class. That whole everyone starts out exactly the same time and time and time again.  Oi.. lets just kill alt lovers, eh?  As of today I have 67 addons installed to make playing WoW a more complete experience. Remember folks, pollished does not mean complete. If I need an addon for any reason, it’s not complete. I can play LoTRO for a few hours before I start to get frustrated with the quest system. My wife and I both love it for the shear beauty of the game (minus the elves faces), but the quest text is a bit spartan, and if you just want to go kill something, you are mostlikely killing a person’s quest mob. There seems to be no real eco system at all outside of the quest mobs. In Warhammer I can only RvR my heart out for a few hours Before I start belloring “PU****S” at the fleeing weenies who call themselves PvPers. The game could use a better system for rewarding exp for RvR and PvP. Give us a reason to kill each other.  :)

To me, a good quest is story bound. It is long enough to make me feel like I have earned my reward, but short enough to offset the fact that developers have no clue how to reward every classthey have designed for their game.  Dump any quest with spiders, wolves, mojo/vials of blood, bats, and rats. These have all been played out a bazzilian times in every MMO that has ever been released. And 99% of all MUDs.

Make me imagine.  Give me a reason to be playing a fantasy game.  Dig a bit deeper into legends and lore from cultures around the world and fish up really good monsters.  And no, I don’t mean mobs. A mob is something that you change the color of 50 times and tell the world that you have 50 different monsters… ala gnolls in EQ2.  And why is it that you only hate mobs inside dungeons (for giving faction rep)? Are the trolls walking around outside not as evil/good as the ones inside the instances? How about 5 points a kill for the outside ones, and 50 points for the inside ones?

I loves me some MMO. But when it comes down to it, I think I loves me some FPS and strategy games for their complexity. But why do I need more than one type of game? I think it is because of what Tabula Rasa was trying to do with an FPS/MMO combo… and failed at for the same reason as SWG. In a post during Beta on SWG, Koster was asked if there was going to be more content added because the world seemed rather empty and a bit dull after a month or so of play.  He answered that they didn’t need to add more content because the players would create the content.  In some respects I agree, but for the most part I say poppycock.  The players will create the community, but they need content to exist on. Perhaps if they stop putting a three year limit on development?  How about you charge$2.00 a month to play your Beta until your fans tell you you are done?

I find myself playing almost as much on my Wii these days as I do on an MMO. Sure it’s a bit crude, but it is made to do exactly what it does. I rock out with Rock Band and Guitar Hero, I shape up (barely) on my Wii Fit, and I relax with some brain teasers.  I guess I just long for an MMO that goes outside the five MMO elements a bit more than just adding achivements.  1. Quest  2. Fight  3. Gear Up  4. Craft  5. Harvest.  lets face it, a FPS is a continual quest. From the time you start it, until forty-five hours later when your done, it’s a kick-ass quest adventure. But an MMO can’t do that… or can they?

What would you take from FPSs and MMOs to place in an MMO that would make questing great, adventuring action packed, and rewards truly epic?

Let us know!!  Post about it!

I’m Ark, and that’s my angle on it.

11 Comments to Why do we seek a WoW killer?

  1. January 11, 2009 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    MMOs are all about time investment and the loot slot machine. That’s aa byproduct of the monetization strategy that charges for time, rather than content.
    FPS and strategy games are about player skill. They charge for content rather than time playing. (This, because they can’t get away with cheesing the charges by making pretty treadmills.)

    The two are working to completely different ends. If you want a dynamic MMO that’s more like the skill-intensive world of an FPS, it needs to charge for content rather than time, make player skill more important than time investment, and give players power to change the world and feel like they are actually making a difference in the world.

  2. January 12, 2009 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    Forgive me, Ark, I don’t detect sarcasm well on the internet. Are you describing Tabula Rasa to make a point sideways, or does that idea just bear a superficial resemblance to that game?

    I’m describing what I think would make a good MMO, so if TR fits that but failed anyway, perhaps the market has spoken?

  3. January 12, 2009 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I am of the same mind as Ark here.

    The reason the MMO has started to stagnate, and what you are feeling based on your post…is that time commitment.

    Think of console games. Here I am playing 360 games right now, and I will spend maybe 2-4 weeks playing it (with my limited schedule) and maybe 20-40 hours at most on the game…but guess what..I know there will be an end.
    I do not get “bored” of these games from them over staying their welcome.

    I have argued this before, but games should be done in “Chapters” or parts…
    Guild Wars is the perfect example of a good MMO setting that is not so MMO time wise.
    Imagine if you had enough game play to satisfy 30-40 hours of fun, and they charged 30-40 bucks.

    They release a new Chapter say every 3-4 months (6 at most) and charge each time, and instead kill the monthly, I think the overall return and profit would be increased considerably.

    Right now, I will only play an MMO if I can get a deal, or if I do play, my max seems to be level 20, as it starts to over stay it’s welcome beyond that..

    Good post by the way!

  4. January 12, 2009 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Tabula Rasa didn’t know what the fuck it wanted to be and that’s why it bombed.

    It’s a fine example of what happens when you spend a year designing a game with space ponies and martial arts, then you stand back and think…”what the fuck were we smoking?! Let’s do a tribute to Starship Troopers instead and use some of the old assets.”

    My question? Where are my motherfuckin’ space ponies?!

  5. January 13, 2009 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    “The direction changed day by day, but the plan did not.”

    Ruh? How in the hell is that even possible?

    Wow. That statement just made Nomad malfunction.

  6. January 13, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    FPS+MMO can work, but as noted, it would require some overarching changes to the “mainstream MMO” recipe.

    Oh, and Jason? I read that as “the broad end goal stayed the same (FPS+MMO), but the implementation thereof, with plenty of wiggle room, kept wiggling around, ultimately in its death throes”. Does that make more sense?

    The end goal wasn’t so much a moving target in that respect, at least not if the target was “a broad side of a barn”. The trouble was that the gunner (the dev team) was drunk, and trying to navigate a mine field of concepts while trying to shoot the barn.

    …which might strangely describe the gameplay, but I digress.

  7. January 13, 2009 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Jason your first comment up there had me laughing so hard I cried.

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