#1 Posted by Atary77 (502 posts) -

Over the years just about every publisher has wanted to cash in on the MMO genre wanting those sweet sweet subscription fees. Of course one problem with all this is that they all want to be World of Warcraft. In a sense you can't blame them since after all WoW became the most successful game in the genre spreading far beyond main stream appeal. Nothing wrong with wanting to reach that level of popularity right? Well the problem is, in my opinion WoW was like Lightning in a bottle. The time that it came out and the design choices made with it worked perfectly in it's favor. While it borrowed ideas from other MMO games it was the first to use those ideas well. It was heralded by every critic on the net and in publication and everything that would follow after it would have a really tough time escaping it's shadow.

It's not to say games that stand toe to toe with the WoW behemoth never came along certainly not. In fact it wasn't long we got games like Guild Wars which was a free to play game that offered new approaches to the MMO formula and having played both of them I can tell you that GW was a worthy competitor. More recently we also got Rift which was a game I didn't pay much attention to but it certainly turned my head when the reviews came in and songs of it's praise were being sung.

But still for every one good MMO that comes along there are dozens of others that are practically thrown at us and despite the potential they may have had, they can't seem to escape the fate of being rushed, having a terrible launch ,and game play riddled with bugs. I don't blame the designers certainly not. Making a game is hard, making a game online that works properly is freaking ludicrous! The sad truth of that being publishers are not willing to give developers the time they need to properly test and desighn everything so the game launches smoothly. Now this could be said about games other than MMO's but lemme get back on topic.

MMO's good or bad have fallen into a number of tropes and trends that seem difficult to escape. For example just to name a few Combat is usually turn based or timed so that fighting can still feel like you're using skill while playing over a potentially laggy connection. Quest are usually repetitive not always feeling fulfilling but rather feeling like work asking you to find some NPC, bring back X number of items, kill X number of enemies etc. Anytime there's some type of boss or important enemy it's basically stand in line till someone kills them, wait for him to respawn then kill him when it's your turn while other folks wait in line to do the same thing. The differences in player levels can make it difficult if you want play with a friend who is perhaps 20 levels higher than you are and all you can do is grind to get to his level or worse yet be murdered trying to follow him.

Although the other issue which depending on the game you play is the money investment in the subscription fee. Now things have become less expensive these days going from 20 a month to 15 per month and of course saving money if you pay in 6 month blocks. However with money being as tight for folks these days given the poor economy no one wants to pour cash into something if it's not going to be worth their time. After all if you're going to continuously pay to play a game then it should damn well be worth it. Thankfully in some cases it is and also some games have gone free to play. Although depending on if it's really free or if it's limited until you pay for all the goodies can make a F2P game questionable as well.

But where am I going with all this? Well I'm curious in this day and age, how do we break out of the MMO stereo types? How do we break the mold again so that critics and average joe's alike don't feel like doing a quest is just repetitive work? How do we make players feel like they are the heroes again? How do we make the actions of the player feel important and have weight and consequence? And above all would it be possible to do any of these things and still have a fun and functional online experience that anyone can have fun with?

I await your input people. Discuss!

#2 Edited by RiotBananas (3600 posts) -

Give me Skryim's questing and DCUO's combat style in WoW and I won't need another MMO. 

#3 Posted by Shadow (4988 posts) -

The only way to fix it is to let it die for a little bit. Thinning the herd is for the animal's own good. Right now, I don't play MMO's because there's too goddamn many of them.

#4 Posted by tekmojo (2302 posts) -

The main problem with MMOs today lie in the fact that they label themselves as such, yet provide barely any MMO-like qualities. Or when developers copy paste other games of the genre. MMO players are the hardcore crowd, try to play it safe and you fail. You are creating a universe, not a world in most cases. Companies develop and rely on their budgets or IPs to sell their game. You sell the game based on lore and gameplay mechanics and innovations.

I know there are decent MMOs out there, I've played nearly all of them. But you think after so many failures and F2P models someone would swoop in and shake things up.

#5 Posted by Jimi (1126 posts) -

They need to remove levelling and have some other form of encouragement to keep playing. MMOs fall into the trap of "Oh I need to get to the max level before I see any of the cool shit" which is dead wrong. I don't know how you would go about doing it but if somebody told me they were going to take all of the cool parts of MMOs like WoW such as arenas, raiding and the social elements I would be up for it. I played on private realms for a long time purely because of this.

Then again I may not be the average MMO player, some people just like MMOs BECAUSE they take so much of a time investment.

#6 Posted by CL60 (16906 posts) -
@Shadow said:

The only way to fix it is to let it die for a little bit. Thinning the herd is for the animal's own good. Right now, I don't play MMO's because there's too goddamn many of them.

The problem is that there are too many bad ones that are buggy messes.
#7 Posted by scarace360 (4828 posts) -

@Jimi said:

They need to remove levelling and have some other form of encouragement to keep playing. MMOs fall into the trap of "Oh I need to get to the max level before I see any of the cool shit" which is dead wrong. I don't know how you would go about doing it but if somebody told me they were going to take all of the cool parts of MMOs like WoW such as arenas, raiding and the social elements I would be up for it. I played on private realms for a long time purely because of this.

Then again I may not be the average MMO player, some people just like MMOs BECAUSE they take so much of a time investment.

What if you had cool shit the whole way through?

#8 Posted by MrRedwine (430 posts) -

So, I have never payed for a subscription to any MMO.

I have to say, I am closely watching what 38 Studios is doing because that Reckoning game looks awesome and they have been developing an MMO without ever revealing anything about it to anyone for nearly five years now.

If there were an MMO with active combat, rich lore, great loot, beautiful graphics, only as much interaction with others as I wanted, a Guild Wars style pay structure (don't think that will happen, but maybe). I might be inclined to check it out.

I think good, active, strategic combat is the thing lacking from most MMOs. The combat in Reckoning looks pretty promising. We'll see what happens.

#9 Posted by Jimi (1126 posts) -

I would be up for it so long as there weren't level restrictions. If I wanna go check out the cave on the horizon I don't want to be instakilled by a monster three times my level, shoehorning me back onto the levelling path that is set.

#10 Posted by Deusx (1910 posts) -

I've played at least 70 MMO's, both free and paid. I'm dead serious.

I've asked myself the same question for years and I can't come up with any solution. I stoped playing a year ago and will never go back. As @Shadow: said, just let the genre get stale for a moment. Maybe then, developers will come up with innovative ideas.

#11 Posted by NekuSakuraba (7241 posts) -

Guild Wars 2 will do a lot for MMOs and make them a lot better, just look at some of the gameplay videos.

#12 Posted by tourgen (4542 posts) -

Strip away all of the level grinding elements - is the game still fun to play? Is it more than hitting 1-2-3-4 on the hotkey bar? Then maybe they have something worth playing.

1. It needs to be a real Massively Multilayer game. Almost all games on the market who say they are an MMO are LYING. 4-8 player instances, or any instancing at all really, is a complete cop-out and is not an MMO by the very definition of the term. Not massively multiplayer. Just a multiplayer game with a 3D lobby.

2. It needs to break away from healer-tanker-damage trinity as the core of strategic gameplay. Enough of this crap already. We get it, your game designer is a D&D nerd. It's not fun anymore.

3. The game designers need to loosen up and get better at their craft. Don't punish players for exploiting your crappy AI, make your AI better and more inventive. Don't punish players who find super-efficient spell combos, make the spell system deeper and even more interesting. Don't punish players for finding incredibly power team combos, ,make even more, cooler combos. Don't punish players for exploiting your world geometry, make cool stuff hidden in there for them to find.

4. Rethink what it means to be an MMO and what multiplayer can be. Taking boss-control as in Demon Souls, or a robust player-only economy like Eve, or entirely player-built areas like City of Heroes are good starting directions.

#13 Posted by text (26 posts) -

Go after a different market. Make the combat multiplayer internet Devil May Cry. Styles are classes, though obviously more diverse. Instanced combat for lag, second priority for spectators.

Quests can't be fetch or grinding anymore. Make it exploration. Make me explore a crazy world with my friends. Make the world a giant Metroidvania. Make it free to play, but get me to buy a bunch more castles/dungeons/whatever.

#14 Posted by coakroach (2492 posts) -

Lets see what Blizzards next project turns out to be, cause I have no fucking clue.

#15 Posted by Atary77 (502 posts) -

Lots of great input guys and I can agree on a good number of things said here. The whole level grind system really does have to go. There has to be another way to encourage the player to keep going other than "I need to be at max level". If you give your player some small rewards leading up to a big one maybe that could help. Also if a game is free to play then it should also be free to win. By this I mean make it so that your player dosn't need to spend a penny to be good at the game but you can still sell them some cosmetic items or maybe character slots etc. Combat is always my main complaint with a lot of these games. I'm tired of just pressing buttons on a hot bar. I want something that feels like I'm in control like Skyrim. Now that'd be some shit if you could have a big adventure with your friends with combat like that! Fuck DPS, or Tank, or healers! When you're actually in control of your character's movements and attacks then that would be fun and exciting!

#16 Edited by shulinchung (182 posts) -

Playing off-line :D

#17 Edited by lockwoodx (2479 posts) -

1: 3 faction pvp has been the only successful pvp in mmorpgs to date. (fuck off UO, you're only popular because you had a captive audience) If you're pvp system is only two factions like jedi's and sith... server populations and forum chatter will dictate pvp in the future of your title, and it will suck.

2: Grinding has to mean something. you can't just grind for gear or reputation anymore. In order for mmorpgs to further progress your actions need to shape the world you exist in.

3: Monthly fees have got to go. Studios simply cannot produce the quality or content that justifies a monthly fee anymore. The only reason gamers payed in the past is because playing with 100s of other players live was new and exciting. Now it's all instanced, gated, garbage where companies cut corners, release early, and abandon their games before the year's out.

#18 Posted by Doctorchimp (4078 posts) -

@RiotBananas said:

Give me Skryim's questing and DCUO's combat style in WoW and I won't need another MMO.

I would say Skyrim's combat is league's ahead of DCUO.

That game is a mess.

#19 Posted by lockwoodx (2479 posts) -

@Doctorchimp said:

@RiotBananas said:

Give me Skryim's questing and DCUO's combat style in WoW and I won't need another MMO.

I would say Skyrim's combat is league's ahead of DCUO.

That game is a mess.

Skyrim's combat is worse than mmorpgs. In Skyrim all you have to do is whack the monster a times before you get a nice cushy cut scene of your character killing it in slow motion.

#20 Posted by Doctorchimp (4078 posts) -

@Buzzkill said:

@Doctorchimp said:

@RiotBananas said:

Give me Skryim's questing and DCUO's combat style in WoW and I won't need another MMO.

I would say Skyrim's combat is league's ahead of DCUO.

That game is a mess.

Skyrim's combat is worse than mmorpgs. In Skyrim all you have to do is whack the monster a times before you get a nice cushy cut scene of your character killing it in slow motion.

Like how in DCUO you just mash on a button and your character does something that vaguely looks like an attack to kill a character?

#21 Posted by Soapy86 (2638 posts) -

@Atary77 said:

How do we make players feel like they are the heroes again? How do we make the actions of the player feel important and have weight and consequence? And above all would it be possible to do any of these things and still have a fun and functional online experience that anyone can have fun with?

I await your input people. Discuss!

Short answer: MMO developers need to stop chasing Warcraft and start trying to make new and fundamentally different types of MMO games. Read on for my long answer.

My answers are focused on medieval fantasy MMOs, or at least melee combat-focused MMOs, but I'm sure you could easily bend my answers to apply to many different settings as well.

Is it possible to make an awesome game that anyone can have fun with?

Yes! This one's easy. Two things: The first, remove leveling. Or at least remove character leveling specifically. That way, ideally someone starting out in a game and someone who's been playing it for years would be on basically equal footing in a one on one fight. Second, make the combat based on player skill. Preferably the combat would be slower paced with each attack being meaningful similar to the Souls games. That way, it would always be challenging, but not reliant on lighting quick reflexes or memorization of combos or whatever. This would give new players the feeling of being good at the game and the ability to hold their own in most one on one situations, even if they don't have a deeper of understanding of the subtleties and intricacies of the combat that a veteran of the game might.

How do we make the player's actions have weight and consequence?

Permanent character death. Keep in mind though, that there would be no leveling in this fictional game that I'm making up. You wouldn't have to worry about losing your level 85 dude with tier 13 armor or whatever. Should you be killed, it would still feel like a bitter, crushing defeat, but ideally, it wouldn't be too difficult to get back where you were if you've got a good community backing you up, which brings me to the next question.

How can players feel like heroes again?

By making the game open, free form, and almost entirely player driven. Allow players to find other like-minded people and build a community. Literally. Let them build their own towns and fortresses. The villains in the game would be actual people. And they're not bad because they chose to play "the bad guys" at the beginning of the game, they're bad because their actions have led them down a villainous path. Imagine defending your village (which you and your friends built) against a band of marauding players intent on ransacking the place for all it's worth. Imagine winning the fight, and chasing down the surviving enemies who tried to get away, and killing them, knowing that those characters are dead forever.

#22 Posted by Kazona (3092 posts) -

I tend to give up on MMOs because of their focus on grinding for new levels and gear. Partly this is because people playing them aren't interested in anything but hitting max. level as fast as possible. But it's also because the majority of quests in such games make me feel like I am nothing more than person number x doing quest number y. It's hard to feel like your character is the hero of anything when twenty other people are standing around the quest giver trying to get or hand in the same exact thing you were doing five minutes ago.

In (good) single player RPGs I feel that when I move forward, so does everything else. In MMOs I always feel like everything in the world is standing still. Even when games like WoW do the whole thing of changing landscapes depending on how far along you are in a quest, I still feel like I'm running around in something that is incredibly disjointed and at an eternal standstill. And by disjointed I mean that everything feels like it's in its own little bubble. The NPC who wants me to get ten paws of some lion critters couldn't care less about the dude ten feet away begging for someone to save his daughter from the poison that's killing her. And when I go into some dark cave that's supposed to be mysterious and creepy, and my character is fighting for his life, I see people running past me as if I don't even exist.

The only time I've ever felt like I was of any importance in an MMO was in City of Heroes when I played a mind controller and those were much desired by teams trying to do an instance. To me an MMO is an inherent social thing; something you do with a group of people. And since the two people I know that play WoW are leagues ahead of me and I'm not the type to jump into an instance with complete strangers (I use to in CoH, but not anymore), I don't get much of that fun with friends thign.

#23 Posted by Atary77 (502 posts) -

@Soapy86 said:

How can players feel like heroes again?

By making the game open, free form, and almost entirely player driven. Allow players to find other like-minded people and build a community. Literally. Let them build their own towns and fortresses. The villains in the game would be actual people. And they're not bad because they chose to play "the bad guys" at the beginning of the game, they're bad because their actions have led them down a villainous path. Imagine defending your village (which you and your friends built) against a band of marauding players intent on ransacking the place for all it's worth. Imagine winning the fight, and chasing down the surviving enemies who tried to get away, and killing them, knowing that those characters are dead forever.

I love the idea of making the content player generated. Allow the users to create parts of the environment, content, and allow them to come up with their own factions. Not just having two or three factions but as many that can be created. It would do away with the whole idea of just good guys and bad guys and make things feel more organic and the world would feel more rich and exciting. Players could finally feel like they're actions have meaning and benefit their group.

Gosh I can only wonder what a game dev or publisher would think of these suggestions for an MMO. Probably blow their fucking minds out of their skulls.

#24 Posted by lockwoodx (2479 posts) -

@Doctorchimp said:

@Buzzkill said:

@Doctorchimp said:

@RiotBananas said:

Give me Skryim's questing and DCUO's combat style in WoW and I won't need another MMO.

I would say Skyrim's combat is league's ahead of DCUO.

That game is a mess.

Skyrim's combat is worse than mmorpgs. In Skyrim all you have to do is whack the monster a times before you get a nice cushy cut scene of your character killing it in slow motion.

Like how in DCUO you just mash on a button and your character does something that vaguely looks like an attack to kill a character?

I can't consider DCUO a mmorpg sorry. It's an online brawler like Phantasy Star Online was.

#25 Posted by Doctorchimp (4078 posts) -
@Buzzkill

@Doctorchimp said:

@Buzzkill said:

@Doctorchimp said:

@RiotBananas said:

Give me Skryim's questing and DCUO's combat style in WoW and I won't need another MMO.

I would say Skyrim's combat is league's ahead of DCUO.

That game is a mess.

Skyrim's combat is worse than mmorpgs. In Skyrim all you have to do is whack the monster a times before you get a nice cushy cut scene of your character killing it in slow motion.

Like how in DCUO you just mash on a button and your character does something that vaguely looks like an attack to kill a character?

I can't consider DCUO a mmorpg sorry. It's an online brawler like Phantasy Star Online was.

You don't consider DCUO an MMORPG but you still commented on it like you were defending it. And then you apologize like I was defending it?

Were you dropped on your head?
#26 Edited by lockwoodx (2479 posts) -

@Doctorchimp said:

@Buzzkill

@Doctorchimp said:

@Buzzkill said:

@Doctorchimp said:

@RiotBananas said:

Give me Skryim's questing and DCUO's combat style in WoW and I won't need another MMO.

I would say Skyrim's combat is league's ahead of DCUO.

That game is a mess.

Skyrim's combat is worse than mmorpgs. In Skyrim all you have to do is whack the monster a times before you get a nice cushy cut scene of your character killing it in slow motion.

Like how in DCUO you just mash on a button and your character does something that vaguely looks like an attack to kill a character?

I can't consider DCUO a mmorpg sorry. It's an online brawler like Phantasy Star Online was.

You don't consider DCUO an MMORPG but you still commented on it like you were defending it. And then you apologize like I was defending it? Were you dropped on your head?

If you have to ask that makes you a pretty shitty Doctor.

ROFL

#27 Posted by matthias2437 (985 posts) -

Best way to fix MMOs is to make them all like WoW during the Burning Cruades. That was the peak for raiding/fun in MMOs.

#28 Posted by Benny (1955 posts) -

@Soapy86: This is pretty much what the developers of APB talked of wanting to create almost 10 years ago when they first talked about the game (yes ten years ago, they wanted it to be a 360 launch game!)

They spoke of a GTA style experience where if you were offline and some player tried to rob your house and steal your car, unless you were online nothing could be done and they would steal your shit and get away with it. Or if you died it would be permanent. Players could form gangs and businesses, the list goes on. Look what that game became...

The problem is there is too much room for griefers and a colossal amount of variables to contend with when developing something of that scope. It would be damn near impossible to craft something like that.

All the money EA had to spend on the old republic's development and that's the best they can do, imagine the resources required to actually execute on something like what you're talking about. It would be one of the best gaming experiences you could have but its such a tall order for even the giants of the industry.

#29 Posted by Guided_By_Tigers (8061 posts) -

World of Halo

#30 Edited by Helios1337 (328 posts) -

It's easy to say "remove the grinding", but that's what keeps the average MMO player playing. Watching the XP bar slowly grow and get rewarded. It's the carrot on the stick. Ask your average Wow or Rift player if they would play the game if you didn't level up, they responded to me with "why would I play the game?". Personally the grinding, leveling system, lack of detail in the world, fetch quests and lack of any real story or characters is my issue. The Secret World sounds like it could solve some of these issues, but I'm not holding very high expectations.

#31 Edited by Atary77 (502 posts) -

@Helios1337: Istill believe there could be other ways to motivate a player to keep playing other than just EXP like maybe gear or weapons. New eviroments to see and explore. And my whole big suggestion with all of this is maybe they could cut back on some of the RPG EXP grinding and instead make a game where skill matters over stats. That you defeat a monster based on your actions and skills with the controls and movements. Just just because you do 1000 damage points or something.

MMORPG's need to somehow break out of the typical cycle of, "I gain EXP so I can gain more power, so I can have better gear, so I can do more stuff" Something that makes you feel like you're doing something fun and not just the same repetitive chores

#32 Posted by mmzOne (279 posts) -
@Atary77 said:

@Soapy86 said:

How can players feel like heroes again?

By making the game open, free form, and almost entirely player driven. Allow players to find other like-minded people and build a community. Literally. Let them build their own towns and fortresses. The villains in the game would be actual people. And they're not bad because they chose to play "the bad guys" at the beginning of the game, they're bad because their actions have led them down a villainous path. Imagine defending your village (which you and your friends built) against a band of marauding players intent on ransacking the place for all it's worth. Imagine winning the fight, and chasing down the surviving enemies who tried to get away, and killing them, knowing that those characters are dead forever.

I love the idea of making the content player generated. Allow the users to create parts of the environment, content, and allow them to come up with their own factions. Not just having two or three factions but as many that can be created. It would do away with the whole idea of just good guys and bad guys and make things feel more organic and the world would feel more rich and exciting. Players could finally feel like they're actions have meaning and benefit their group.

Gosh I can only wonder what a game dev or publisher would think of these suggestions for an MMO. Probably blow their fucking minds out of their skulls.

You know, Mortal Online has pretty much all of the features you guys wanted, except perma death. 
Having tried the free trial, I have to say that I don't find that type of game particularly fun to play.