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The Lameness of Warcraft 354

Posted by Zonk
from the snort dept.
Slate is running an article lamenting the fact that, despite World of Warcraft's popularity, it is a deeply flawed game. Author Chris Dahlen makes the statement that Blizzard's MMOG should take its cues from single-player RPGs by offering further customization, morality based choices, and dynamic events. From the article: "Blizzard has written new storylines before. Last winter, it challenged players to team up and fuel a worldwide war effort. As a payoff, it unlocked new territory. This was a good example of letting the users drive a story, but Warcraft needs more of them. New wars should break out, cities should rise and fall, and all hell should break loose at least once a month--and the players should be the ones to make it happen. After all, in a world that never changes, you can never make your mark." I want to be snarky and point out that this guy obviously has no idea how these games are designed, but I think he pretty much nails what every MMOG player really wants out of a game. Now, if only it were feasible within the bounds of money, time, and talent.
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The Lameness of Warcraft

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  • It's that bad... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by creimer (824291) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:21PM (#16876922) Homepage
    Warcraft 2 was probably the last best game in the series and the greatest game Blizzard ever made.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:33PM (#16877116)
      I know a horde of Starcraft fans who'd disagree.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jack9 (11421)
      There's nothing special about taking an RTS and making it better. Ubisoft did it with Conquest: Frontier Wars and now Relic has done it with Company of Heroes. Nobody claims that those were the best games those companies ever made because that's RELATIVELY easy. The real trick is making an entire world and an engine that DISTILLS an RPG down to what it's about, item finding.
      D2 is much better technically, creatively, and for the genre (turns out that's what most people like) IMO.
      • by myowntrueself (607117) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:02PM (#16877458)
        The real trick is making an entire world and an engine that DISTILLS an RPG down to what it's about, item finding.

        I *must* remember to draw my DM's attention to this next time we play...
      • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionaryNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @08:01PM (#16878126) Journal
        Item finding isn't even one of the major categories of play in an RPG. There are three types of players: Dice Rollers, Problem Solvers, and Role Players. A good DM knows his players and can juggle the desires of everyone in a group. When someone looks bored, the DM can throw in a challenge suited to that player.

        Dice Rollers are numbers wranglers who want a good game of chance. The most common sub-species is the Hack-n-Slasher, but that's just because most rule sets lend themselves to that kind of dice rolling. In games that have skill rolls, you'll find these guys rolling for damn near every feat up to and including getting up in the morning. "An 18?!? I spring from my bed and land in my shoes in one smooth motion! Hurrah!"

        Problem Solvers like puzzles and planning. These are the guys who calculate exactly how many miles your party will average per day trekking across the Great Arid Waste and know exactly how much food and water to pack. When the party stumbles across a series of levers and switches in the dungeon, these are the guys to call. "Gruntmore the Dwarf pulls the red lever, goes through the blue door, pushes the star shaped switch, coems back out, pushes the green lever to a 45 degree angle disabling the secret blade trap and we all go merrily on our way!"

        Role Players like to have long, drawn out in-character conversations with every shopkeeper and passing peasant they encounter. Whereas Dice Rollers will do whatever it takes to win, and Problem Solvers playing stupid characters will still come up with genius plans, these guys are apt to do utterly stupid things if they think that's what their character would do. They also tend to talk about their characters in the first person. "I leap from behind the tree and run screaming at the horde of orcs- What? Yes, I know the plan was to sneak up on them, but I'm overconfident with anger management issues. But you should really say that in character..."

        But perhaps I missed your point, were you saying RPGs are about item finding or RTSs are? In any case, I think the real trick to either is actually basing it on a good simulation of some sort, but having story telling hooks that can effect the sim in the scripting interface, and have those hooks have flexible triggers and random details so that the same basic plotline can be activated from many different starting points using characters and locations tailored to the individual players. But I understand how hard it would be to scale a system like that up to WoW levels.

        The real problem with WoW is that it isn't an RPG and it isn't for people who traditionally like RPGs so the players who would bring real quality to the game are driven away by all the Azkiker4921s and l33tWariers in the game.
        • I was always what you call a "role player." I suppose that is why I feel that what the computer gaming world calls RPGs bears so little resemblance to what I think of as an RPG. There have been games where the characters and the story they told took central stage, but for the most part computer RPGs do seem to be about gaining levels and gathering items. I've always preferred "adventure" games and FPS games because I feel more "in character" playing them.
        • No, it is well established that there are four types [facetieux.free.fr] of roleplayers.

          The Real Man
          The Real Roleplayer
          The Loonie
          The Munchkin
        • by TheJorge (713680) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @10:45PM (#16879624)
          This is a great breakdown of player types. You miss one understressed type in RPGs that gets overinflated in online RPGs. I don't have a good name for them, but they're essentially Builders.

          These players tend to spend more time on character creation than playing. They plan out all their stats, profession changes, skills to practice, etc (depending on the game of course) long before they begin their first mission. Often perfectionists, but nearly always they want to create something-- to build something that wasn't there before, usually different than anything else and customized to their liking.

          I think there's a little of this trait in everyone you mentioned, but nearly every hardcore MMORPG player falls into this category. Levelling and more often finding good items fuels this player type. Diablo II did (imho) a better job of feeding this kind of player, with ever stronger items and more varied builds. WoW does it by having a pretty well-defined "best" gear, but making sure to continually add new, better, gear over time.

          As I think about it, this player probably fits pretty well into your Problem-Solver type, but it removes a lot of the roleplaying aspect of it. Rather than finding ingenious solutions to in-game problems, players now compare DPS in offline calculators.
    • Re:It's that bad... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ajs (35943) <ajs@@@ajs...com> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:05PM (#16877512) Homepage Journal
      WoW is a very, very rich game, but like most MMORPGs it requires a lot of time and effort (and some cooperation with others) to see that.

      If you're looking for a good marathon 2-night game, you're correct. If you're looking for potentially years of quality game-play while interacting with others, then WoW is the game for you, IMHO.

      I say this, having played EverQuest for about four years, and having been impressed with much of the world and the story, but ultimately cheated by a company that wanted to milk the game without adding to its depth or richness. In many ways the depth of story and complexity of gameplay in WoW out-strip even early EQ, and they have fixed much of what made EQ painful (tradeskills, quests that weren't worth doing, etc.)

      Heck, it's even beautiful, which EQ never really was for some reason (ignoring the progress that graphics have made, I almost never found the sense of art to be satisfying in EQ). When I fly into Orgimmar and see the red rooves and watchfires, it's truly imposing, which none of the EQ cities were (though the dragon city in Velios came close).

      Fun story: yesterday I ran into a quest for the first time that involved nothing more than leaping off a tall mesa, presumably to my death. It was kind of cheesy, but really fun as a one-off quest. They seem to be much more playful with quests/missions than any game I've played.
      • by brkello (642429) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:21PM (#16877698)
        WoW is not years of quality gaming. After the few months of leveling to max (which was fun and interesting to me), you just grind the same places over and over again. It's like reading the same storyline every time you log in. It becomes a competition with a group of other people for items. The only thing enjoyable is spending time with the friends you make. End game is very shallow. You can get involved in just about any MMO community and have years of the same level of quality game play.
        • There's lots of replay in lvling. Different classes are a completely different experience, different races, the opposite faction, all kinds of good stuff.

          I have a main and to the whole raid grind, but those alts bring alot of fun to the experience.

          Just recently I logged into my very first character created at launch (but only lvld to 20), and oh was he a horrible mess, leather armor purchased from a vendor, a grey weapon... oh it was embarrassing.

          Knowing the game mechanics and story, then traveling through
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Floody (153869)

          It's like reading the same storyline every time you log in. It becomes a competition with a group of other people for items. The only thing enjoyable is spending time with the friends you make. End game is very shallow.

          You couldn't be more wrong. WoW end-game is incredibly rich. In fact, in many ways its almost a separate game. The problem is, its not accessible to the casual player. End-game consists of a series of raid instances, with a max raid size of 20 or 40 people. Progression through these i

    • by rucs_hack (784150)
      I still play it, and enjoy it. Warcraft II was one of the best of the crop of early RTS games I think. It was the first RTS game that made sea based warfare enjoyable and tactically useful. I think the sea based warfare wasn't equalled until Total Annihalation, and never bettered. Oddly even Warcraft III didn't better it, or so I feel, it just looked nicer.

      I am annoyed that I can't play it multi-player any more though, the modem/null modem/ipx-spx connection methods don't exactly work on my network these da
  • More Content (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HappySqurriel (1010623) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:25PM (#16876970)
    One thing that all MMO games need is self-generating content regardless of whether that content is procedural or combinatorial; procedural is where content is created through an algorithm, combinatorial is where you have content that is split into a bunch of independant sections where the final product is a combination of all of the sections. This is so important because it would free up resources to produce more "crafted" experiences.
    • you mean like Dark and Light advertises?
    • One thing that all MMO games need is self-generating content regardless of whether that content is procedural or combinatorial; procedural is where content is created through an algorithm, combinatorial is where you have content that is split into a bunch of independant sections where the final product is a combination of all of the sections. This is so important because it would free up resources to produce more "crafted" experiences.

      The problem is in practice (so far), most people would rather do well cr

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TinyManCan (580322)
      The answer to this is to have the PLAYERS create the content.

      I don't mean in a Second Life kind of way, which I personally find very boring. I mean in a way where player and groups of players can change the political scene, move boundaries of empires and manage a complete, highly complicated economic system.

      The only game I have found so far that even approaches the goal of the "Player Driven Universe" is Eve-Online.

      I think the key component in the games success is that the entire game runs on a single

  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:26PM (#16876982) Journal
    Asheron's Call did it right with motes. Collect 2 and it forms a bigger one. Do this for elemental immunity %. 2^100 is a lot of motes to find. Sure you can find ones in higher #s but its a collect game that will never stop.

    Castles that rule housings. You have to conquer the castle to get it, then people who farm the land and run crafthouses pay tithes to you. Any band of adventurers can try and steal your Castle off you, but your offline guildmates show up and defend it.

    Real time combat like Mortal Kombat or Tekken. It'd be like Zelda Ocariana of time MMOG. You would have to do all sorts of sword play or aiming bows like a FPS.

    Those are just 3 of my big ideas.

    I already did #3, but I'm making it multiplayer over the next couple months. I got some bugs with directdraw not working, but it doesn't stop the 3d action combat.
    • by L7_ (645377) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:34PM (#16877118)
      Some counterpoints:

      1/ Consumables based on collected items exist in every game. This is not new, and WoW does this quite well. [OT: I thought AC motes were used for the weapons? Its been awhile...]

      2/ See Shadowbane [shadowbane.com]. See 5am raids, see 'zerg [wikipedia.org]'. See server wide alliances. L2 also had something like this castle thing, I haven't heard much about it, so there is no comment on it. DAoC was the first to implement something like this with thier Artifacts: 3 static world objects that grant 1 of 3 realms various bonuses.

      3/ Uhh, lag. Also, see "dialup users". Positioning doesnt work when the server and client have to sync up for positioning and time sensitive distance checks.

      --

  • sheer genius (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theStorminMormon (883615) <theStorminMormonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:26PM (#16876986) Homepage Journal
    You're a rat, and the game keeps sending you to look for bigger pellets.

    People never tire of making that analogy, do they? But it's probably about the most worthless analogy you could make. Reducing an activity to stimulus/response may seem clever, but the trouble is that it works for pretty much every human behavior imaginable. And it certainly works for every leisure activity.

    The problem is that games are supposed to be fun. You're going to have to work really hard to come up with an alternative criteria. And since fun is pretty subjective, there's really not much room for criticism.

    Art, literature, poetry, drama and film all have associate bodies of academic criticism and pop-derivatives. So there's a semi-objective framework from which you can criticize these works even if they are popular. Everyone rushes out to see "Titanic", but it still had some really, really lame dialog.

    Unless you're going to make a similar attack on gaming (e.g. lame dialog, bad graphics, etc.) it's really hard to make any criticism that doesn't reduce to petulant whining. There simple is no cohesive theory of gaming criticism (outside of technical elements), and so before you start slinging criticisms you need to build the framework. I don't see that happening in this article.

    So basically, it's just whining.

    -stormin
    • All Games Are Lame (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DJ_Adequate (699393) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:36PM (#16877144)
      Indeed. How lame is chess--all you do is move the same pieces the same way over and over again. Obviously the game would be better if there were more options. If people didn't find the game fun, they probably wouldn't play it. While there are things it could have done better, it's hard to think of WOW as a failure. And there is no guarantee that a more complicated game, like the author desires, would actually attract a bigger audience. In fact, I would argue it would do less. If you make it more possible for people to "Leave Their Mark" you are, in the process, going to create a lot of users who fail to make their mark and are frustrated.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ClamIAm (926466)
        If you make it more possible for people to "Leave Their Mark" you are, in the process, going to create a lot of users who fail to make their mark and are frustrated.

        You'll also have a lot of users who leave their mark by creating giant penis statues. Enjoy.
    • Re:sheer genius (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vertinox (846076) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:51PM (#16877340)
      People never tire of making that analogy, do they?

      Actually, I don't like that analogy... Personally I like to call WoW and EQ the games they are...

      "Kill things over and over again so you can kill bigger things over and over again."

      That is the problem I have with WoW, EQ, and various other Diki mud derivatives. Its solely focused on killing AI Mobs.

      Ultima Online was more fun even though it was dated until they removed player interaction (Player killing and thieving). Sure many of you can't stand PvP, but in truth static quests, bad scripting, and poor AI will never beat playing against a human mind.

      Even if you took the PVP away from UO, it still had crafting, housing, and plenty of non-combat activities that WoW and EQ lacks.

      And the fact you only had to spend 3 months to generate a character with casual play rather than 6 months of hard core grinding.
      • Re:sheer genius (Score:5, Insightful)

        by theStorminMormon (883615) <theStorminMormonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:39PM (#16877904) Homepage Journal
        Old pet peeve: compare games to the old rat-and-the-pill analogy

        New pet peeve: my style of game play is better than yours

        I suppose I shouldn't be to harsh. This is just a public message board, not a peer-reviewed academic journal. But it's still annoying when people try to pass off personal preference as some kind of objective value statement. in this case you say "Sure many of you can't stand PvP, but in truth static quests, bad scripting, and poor AI will never beat playing against a human mind".

        Aside the question-begging (does non-PvP have to involve bad scripting?) what I found truly obnoxious is the false idea that you can either play against an AI, or against a human. Believe it or not, some people don't see that question purely as picking your opponent, but they turn your dichotomy on its head and ask "who can I play with ?"

        I get that you like PvP. And I'm not going to try and tell you that you shouldn't. But your myopically conflict-oriented viewpoint isn't the only one out there, you know. A lot of people like WoW because they enjoy cooperation. I love to shoot my buddies with a rocket launcher in the original Halo, but I also got intense satisfaction out of playing cooperatively with them against hordes of AI. Now you could play team vs. team, but A - some people don't enjoy "killing" each other, especially in an RPG where you actually do some type of damage to the person you "kill" and B - it's (so far) impossible to wrap massive PvP into a story line with any kind of script.

        So in the end, you're no better off than the original article. You're trying to pass off personal preference as objective criticism.

        -stormin
    • by StikyPad (445176)
      Reducing an activity to stimulus/response may seem clever, but the trouble is that it works for pretty much every human behavior imaginable. And it certainly works for every leisure activity.

      I think the implied meaning is that MMORPGs are already reduced to basic stimulus/response, like masturbation. You just keep doing the same thing to get the same result. In other activities -- chess, scrabble, skiing, basketball -- you usually try to increase your actual skills, instead of just having a sign pop up sa
    • by gad_zuki! (70830)
      I think people dismiss the skinner box criticism because its all too real. As someone who hurt his grades in college over Muds its hard to deny that there isnt an addictive element here. Its really all about the levels, equipment, stature, and gold. The social aspect also stops the lonliness you would get if you were just, say, shooting hoops all alone.

      You don't need a large body of academic knowledge to fess up to the skinner-box model of gaming. Its real.
    • by mattgreen (701203)
      Oh please.

      There is very little depth of gameplay when it comes to WoW. It deserves all the stimulus/response criticism it gets, because it is overly simplified. MMOs never have much in the way of gameplay, and that is why I don't play them. Without an element of skill, the game becomes repetitive once the shine of materialism wears off the players.
    • The problem is that games are supposed to be fun. You're going to have to work really hard to come up with an alternative criteria. And since fun is pretty subjective, there's really not much room for criticism.

      No argument there. But a game can be addictive without being fun, and addictiveness is arguably easier to achieve than fun in game design. It's certainly far better understood.

      I haven't played WoW or any of the other MMORPGs, but a lot of players seem to fall into this trap. I don't think I've ever h
  • Yes Yes (Score:5, Funny)

    by uglysad (867575) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:28PM (#16877012)
    ...Blizzard got it all wrong that is why nobody is playing it. Blizzard, Listen up! If you want people to play this little game you devised, you better start listening to random internet guy or else it will never take off.
    You have been warned
    • by gad_zuki! (70830)
      Top-40 is popular and profitable but that doesnt mean that its any good.

      The author makes some excellent points but theyre not exactly new. People have been asking for more dynamic content and world changes since the early days of mudding.

      Personally, I dont think most players would want things to get too dynamic. The game is driven by predicatable and published actions to gain levels. I doubt many players will take too kindly to "You town has been invaded and destroyed. Here is a new map that isnt on thott
    • Re:Yes Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hlomas (1010351) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @08:05PM (#16878170)
      I heard McDonalds has the greatest food in the world too, just look at how much they serve.
    • WoW is good at what it does. The author suggests a wide range of changes without considering how they will fit into the game. You can't just toss in random features. For instance, why bother with moral dilemmas in the game? Nobody cares, players will just pick the option that gives them the best loot. There's no point in adding such roleplaying features if you won't go all the way. What about player-owned land? Where will players own it? There's no room, unless you use instances (maybe an apartment complex
  • by FreeRadicalX (899322) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:29PM (#16877034)
    So basically, he's saying that WoW is a deeply flawed game because it's not absolutely perfect? Can anyone think of a game that features all of the aspects he claims WoW lacks, plus the ones it already has? While we're at it, does anybody have the waaaaambulance on speed dail? Let's face it, WoW is the best MMO out there right now. It's also *arguably* the best ever. If you can manage to complain about it, at the risk of being labeled a troll I'm gonna assume you're a wanker.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AP2k (991160)
      Anarchy Online. Deep customization and events that do change the environment on the outcome of player response. The only thing that it lacks is elves and updated graphics. Then again, WoW graphics really arent all that great anyway.
      • by CorSci81 (1007499)
        I played AO for like a month. Did they ever get around to actually adding some graphics to that game? Last time I played every spell looked EXACTLY the same.
      • by tibike77 (611880)
        EVE-Online
        Have been playing it since early this year, never looked back to any other graphical MMOG.
        I still casually play some browser/text-mainly not-so-massively multiplayer online games, but that's about it.
    • by miu (626917)

      I don't know about "deeply flawed", but I will call it an incredible implementation of a bad idea. WoW has sales numbers that are hard to argue with, but a lot of players want a lot more from an MMO and are already bored silly of WoW. I was a serious addict myself, did all the raids, got all my epics, played 40 or more hours a week, and haven't bothered to log in for 3 months. From what I see I'm not alone in hitting a point at which the game seems to just run out of steam.

      Contrast that with SWG, a terrib

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by erikdotla (609033)
      I'll argue that. UO. For a brief period from a month or two after launch to early 1999 it was the best game ever made. When you could kill anyone, anywhere, without penalty. When there was no bank, and all you had was your backpack, and if you got killed, you lost everything. When Dread Lords were truly feared.
    • What he's actually saying is that WoW needs to be more like Second Life, Matrix Online, and other RPG's that it outsells by the millions.
  • Money? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AetherGoth (707621) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:30PM (#16877036)
    Seeing as how the entire Vivendi company's profits rose by 190% mainly on the "higher margin of the World of Warcraft business," I think Blizzard's standard response about money being a problem in the creation of dynamic events rings a little hollow.
    • by k_187 (61692)
      except notice it was vivendi's profits and not blizzard's. It wouldn't surprise me a bit to find out that Vivendi's keeping the lion's share of that and just letting blizzard use enough to trickle content out.
  • by everphilski (877346) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:30PM (#16877038) Journal
    One example (fta):

    Players never face moral quandaries and never get to choose between an upstanding act and an evil one.

    Everquest allowed you to do this on a daily basis. EQ2 as well. Vanguard (will be released Q1 2007) will have this element as well.

    And on storytelling ... yeah. There is no overarching story to WoW. Or at least not a long, drawn-out historical one. Like EQ or EQ2. Not sure about Vanguard. EQ had tomes and books found in libraries, spawn points and dropped off of mobs that painted a clear picture of the historical timeline and the relevance of various events. And there **were** one-time events that occured in-line with the history of the world (for example, the waking of the Sleeper).

    And Vanguard is doing away with static spawns. It should be a good thing ...
    • by Rayonic (462789)
      I have to say, there are plenty of in-game books, events, and even some one-time events in World of Warcraft. (The opening of the gates of Ahn'Qiraj. The Scourge Invasion a few months back.) Quest chains often tell a story and reference the history of the Warcraft universe.

      Everquest is bland and clunky. Ditto for EQ2.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:30PM (#16877058) Homepage Journal
    No, sorry to burst your bubble, but not every game, by far, wants a world which is torn asunder monthly.

    Warcraft succeeds because blizzard realizes something the pundits don't, people still play games for fun.

    Logging into an unknown situation isn't what most gamers want, if so many other games would have done well that haven't. For the most part players cannot be trusted, especially those who want anarchy and the like. Oh yeah they will repackage it as something other than anarchy but that is all they really want. Fun at someone else's expense drives that other off.

    His ideas for character customization are fine, many would like that. Housing can wait, if ever. The game doesn't need it. As for the morals section, most players still wouldn't care. They will do the task presented. While it might be interesting to have the choice to cheat a NPC what real point is there? A lot of his ideas are best suited to PvP aspects of the game.

    For the most part he seems to be lamenting that WOW does not have features he found interesting in another game. It goes without saying that that other game obviously is lacking in the rest of the department that he'd rather play WOW - just with some things added. WOW is a very good game. That people want to add features to it only proves that point. Unpopular games rarely get lauded and have recommendations placed to them as much as WOW does.

    Look at it this way, there are games that do offer what he wants, and some are coming that will also. Will they succeed? Well it really comes down to one important factor : Is it fun? WOW still passes that test more than any other game for a majority of MMORPG players.

    For everyone claim of WOW being lame I just have to ask, with population numbers like it has what does that make the other games?
    • For everyone claim of WOW being lame I just have to ask, with population numbers like it has what does that make the other games?
      For everyone's claim of McDonalds being lame I just have to ask, with population numbers like it has what does that make the other restaurants?
      (Having never played WoW, I know next to nothing about it. I just hate that argument.)
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Merusdraconis (730732)
      There is a theory going around that everyone wants out of their virtual worlds the features they saw in their first game, even if it was those features that eventually drove them from the game.

      I agree with the article's premise, but not with its conclusion.
  • by Channard (693317) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:31PM (#16877070) Journal
    The reason I never really got into MMORPGs, despite trying several including WOW was that you're living in a world where every real person is a hero. It reminded me of nothing so much as that Monty Python sketch where there's a world full of supermen. An offline RPG, on the other hand, lets you be the only hero or at least one of a small band of heroes, the fate of the world in your hands. Online, you're not really making any difference at all. No matter how many orcs you slay there'll always be more and more.
    • by adoll (184191) * <alex@doll.agdconsulting@ca> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @08:58PM (#16878752) Homepage Journal
      I've been playing a Linux/Windows/Mac friendly MMORG called Wurm Online [wurmonline.com] for some time now. The basic idea is you appear in an iron-age society and there is largely NO storyline. You settle and build your little farm, or you join a village and become a craftsman, or you turn to the "black light" and become a fanatical raider.

      But the land is what's magic about Wurm. You can terraform almost everything in the game - chop down forests and make plains, plant trees and make plains into forests, dig canals, flatten mountaintops and build fortification, dig tunnel labyrinths, and more. About the only thing players haven't done yet is fill in the ocean with dirt, but that should be possible the way the game engine is written :-) . So it is more than a war game, in fact the war is almost incidental to building the villages that fight the wars.

      Oooo, screenshots [z42.us]

    • "The reason I never really got into MMORPGs, despite trying several including WOW was that you're living in a world where every real person is a hero."

      Well, but that's a bit like saying everyone in the Justice League is like Batman or Superman. There's going to be a difference between the guild leader who main-tanks Naxx and the rogue who only gets into the run when there's an open DPS slot. You've probably got a lead priest who coordinates the healing. There's likely a guild on the server that everyon

  • Tough to say (Score:4, Insightful)

    by static0verdrive (776495) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:33PM (#16877106) Homepage Journal
    The problem with this type of dynamic world alteration is that newer characters are subject to the mercy or malice of the majority of the top-level characters. While this may not seem like huge deal, it would suck really bad if you could no longer get your whatever-thingamajig because punks destroyed the place to get it. Also, on most servers, there is a huge imbalance between the number of alliance characters vs. horde characters, so the world (in most cases) would tip toward the alliance's favor time and time again.
  • Shadowbane has a good number of the ideas he presents.

    Shadowbane has cities and empires that rise and fall, server wars, people driven politics. No safe areas, you are always in danger of being killed, that really makes guilds, nations, alliances, territory claims really matter.

    When I tried WoW, all I could do was laugh.

    Shadowbane is an amazing game because the players make things matter, not the programmers.

    I don't play anymore because after 18 months it had taken over my real life, but it was the best 18
  • Give me some money, a team, time, and good hardware and ill see what I can do.





    Yes, I know I'm delusional, I'm gonna be a cube rat in the end but I can always dream.
  • "This was a good example of letting the users drive a story, but Warcraft needs more of them. New wars should break out, cities should rise and fall, and all hell should break loose at least once a month--and the players should be the ones to make it happen.

    I want to be snarky and point out that this guy obvious has no idea how these games are designed, but I think he pretty much nails what very MMOG player really wants out of a game. Now, if only it were feasible within the bounds of money, time, and tale
  • Motivation??? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tprime (673835) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:40PM (#16877216)
    What is the motivation for this kind of change??? In other words, why should Blizzard care? They are making money hand over fist with the current model, why change? Yes, some people are getting tired and leaving, but it seems like they are being replaced with new people just as fast. http://www.tomandemily.com/ [tomandemily.com]
  • Congratulations, you've just been successfully manipulated.

    If there's anything thought provoking about this article, it's made me wonder how WoW stacks up in profitability versus OFFLINE RPGS.

    How much money did Neverwinter Nights make?

    It's almost unthinkable that an online RPG could reach that critical mass, it seems like only yesterday I was outraged when I bought Ultima Online and learned it had a monthly fee.

    Does anyone have that kind of information on hand?
    • How much money did Neverwinter Nights make?

      Interesting example. I played through the original campaign once. Shadows of Undrentide twice. Hordes of the Underdark three times (once with each of the previous three characters).

      But you buy NWN for the engine, not the campaign. So I'm playing a computer, but it's running player-written content. I've spent a whole more time in Shadowlords, Dreamcatcher and Demon than in all of the original modules... Is that so much worse than spending all my time in a game w

  • Personally, (Score:2, Funny)

    by robyannetta (820243) *
    Personally, I would like to have seen a massive zombie invasion this last Halloween, but the author does have a legit point... This game sucks (Even when playing my 60 Priest) when all your quests are the same old repetitive killing/traveling/grinding/farming.

    This is why I'm quitting the game after 16 months of playing.
  • Let's take Freeport (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrSkwid (118965) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:02PM (#16877466) Homepage Journal
    In EQ1 I was disappointed that the war of Evil vs Good races never went anywhere. The backstory told of an attack on Freeport by the Evil races. I wanted to be able to take Freeport, get a group of PCs and enough strength to take out the Freeport guards and other NPCs.

    Was never going to happen.

    DAoC had the territory system and that was good, though organising 100s of people to do a raid was always a bit random.

    Dynamic systems are a tricky business though. Keeping the balance right is an obvious challenge.

    Eventually it will work out, all the MMO people know it. It's just a matter of time.
  • ...the article is about "World of Warcraft", a different kettle of fish entirely.
  • I actually just started playing last night after an unsucessful attempt to evade my friend's bombardment of WoW propoganda. I have to agree. The best part of the game for me so far is learning the build-making strat and seeing all the old stuff from the RTS games. I'm an old school Everquest raid fanatic that couldn't put the mouse down, but this game does little tog et me really excited. And yes, I just got done reasoning (with a sleep-deprived brain, mind you) that the game is reminiscent of single player
  • One limitation is that you choose your faction at the moment you create your character, not through the quests that you choose. It's interesting to imagine how the game would be different if someone could choose to join the Defias or Bloodsail Buccaneers or the Venture Company by accepting certain quests. Sure, some quests let you gain reputation with certain factions, but the game doesn't really force you to choose one side or another through your actions.

    I started playing WoW with a friend who's a polic
  • Almost every event in that game is player organized. And when it's not, the GMs come in and play characters and create events that shape the content and the game. Nations rise and fall in Eve, because it's all player driven. Ask Eve players why they think the concept is better. Especially ask the people who still play after like 4-5 years.
  • by seebs (15766)
    I actually like the game the way it is, for the most part; I don't necessarily want world-altering events, because if I miss them, I never get to see them. I'd rather have events that are just there for everyone to do, despite the suspension of disbelief issues. (Those stupid kids in redridge are obviously throwing that necklace back in the lake the moment you hand it in.)
  • This has been done in a game called "Shadowbane", years ago. It's actually still around for free (game and network) from what I've heard.

    It was built on the idea of "Guild Warfare", where guilds and townships would defend their territory from others with largescale, epic battles.

    It worked great when it was happening but you quickly saw it was a fringe thing. People didn't like risking their things they played so long to aquire.

    In the end, most people are care bears and just want to chat and farm while was
    • I thought Shadowbane died because it was buggy. At least that's what every other post mentioning Shadowbane said.
  • 'Players never face moral quandaries and never get to choose between an upstanding act and an evil one.'

    Obviously this person has never been ninja'ed out of loot, had a priest suddenly drop out mid-instance, or had a gold-farmer train him. =P
  • You can see discussion about MMOs and how to "improve" them here:

    VNBoards MMORPG Concepts and Design [ign.com]

    I would say that pretty much no idea has been left unnoticed there.
  • I want to be snarky and point out that Zonk obviously has no idea how other games are designed, but I think he pretty much nails why games publishers make bad decisions about what they publish. Those looking to play something other than a massively single-player game such as WoW might want to look at games such as Eve Online [eve-online.com].

  • by oompaNerd (456766) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:54PM (#16878062)
    Clearly this guy has barely played world of warcraft at all and doesn't understand what keeps people playing once they hit the level cap.

    1. 90% of the people who play this game don't give a rats ass about the story and when presented with a quest, skip the text and just try to finish it as fast as possible as the means to level up or get an item that they need.

    2. The real appeal of the game is the challenging raid encounters and the social environment that has evolved around beating said encounters. People end up in every social guilds that all work together to defeat very difficult content. It's like the same reason people play team sports, there is no story around the sport that makes it interesting, it's the strategy, the socializing, the working together that makes people keep playing team sports. Also, imagine a team sport where once you have mastered one level of the sport you are presented with new and even more difficult challenges. If your "team" is good enough and cohesive enough, there is even the thrill of being able to spend months working on encounters and being the first group of people in the world to beat them. This teamplay/challenge comes into play in both PVE and PVP aspects of the game. This is what bridges the gap between the FPS/RTS type players and the RPG type players out there (being able to fullfil a class based roll in a highly strategy scenario and evolve your class/gear over time).

    He clearly has misconceptions about WoW and would like to play a game that involves more role playing gayness and less strategy/teamwork/progression.

    I don't want an f'n house. I want to be challenged 100% of the time.
  • Yes it would be pretty cool if you could make your character look different from all the other male Trolls running around, but keeping it just a few simple bodies that are only wearing different things is how the game stays so fast. If everyone looks completely different, every time you run through a city, your computer would have to load the graphic(and therefore need to be given the specs) for every character in the city instead of just which outline they chose and what the character is wearing. This woul
  • by Archimonde (668883) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @08:17PM (#16878300) Homepage
    I've read the whole article and even though there are a few good points I must point to the obvious bullshit.

    Last winter, it challenged players to team up and fuel a worldwide war effort. As a payoff, it unlocked new territory. This was a good example of letting the users drive a story, but Warcraft needs more of them.


    Not only I beg to differ, but furthermore, I cannot find words to express my disgust with that event. Let me explain.

    Ok, Blizzard announced that in next content patch there will be some huge event, which everyone can take part which will unlock some new content. Content patch arrived, and for each server both factions (alliance and horde) needed to chinese-farm *ridiculous* amounts of materials (which drop from monster, can be gathered etc). Then, when all the materials were gathered, the Guy-with-the-key can open the gates of the new content ("Ahn'Qiraj"), which everyone should enjoy. Well, that one can sound kinda fun, but lets see some facts first.

    Amount of materials were too much for like 98% of servers (look at the sheer number of materials here: http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/wareffort/wareffort .html?113 [worldofwarcraft.com], so blizzard after a few weeks of those majority of servers "slacking", filled those materials by "themselves". Horde faction actually had to gather less materials then Alliance (probably because of many servers have greater Alliance population then Horde), so on the servers where alliance population was about the same as horde, it just didn't work out. Furthermore, blizzard obviously calculated that pretty much all of the server population would help the "war effort" by gathering stuff. Problem is, it didn't. People couldn't care less for two new dungeons (aka instances) which are only available to like 5% of the server population. So players didn't farm those materials much. So it all fell behind.

    At the same time with those huge farming effort, there was a quest line which could effectively be only taken by one(!) person in the whole server. Only that guy could initiate the boss fights, pick rewards, see quest text etc. But that guy needed help from his guild (best guild on the server) and other guilds in defeating some bosses. On some boss fights there was such a big slowdowns that server(s) couldn't handle it and crashed repeatedly. At the end of that ridiculously long quest line (for just that one guy), he got [Scepter of the Shifting Sands] by which he could open the gates of Ahn'Qiraj and ultimately unlock the new content (assuming that war effort - materials gathering was done). So what happened on our server (Ragnaros, EU)? Our server was average in gathering materials so after a month or more, they gathered them "for us". But there was a problem with the guy who needed to open the gates. Some major guilds (me included) helped him and his guild defeat some bosses and make that Scepter. When he finished the scepter somewhere in the middle of the night, he didn't came online for days, telling on the realm servers that whole realm population didn't "deserve" the gates to be opened, that he will not do it, generally flexing his e-peen. The guy single handedly held whole realm as a fools. Some seven days later guy opened the doors after some ass licking by his guild mates on forums. And this was not the one and only incident, there were a lot of them on other servers.

    So to conclude, the event was total fiasco because of server crashes, non-existent story for 99.999% of players, e-peen flexing moron with the key, nolife kids telling others that they should farm materials more so they (nolifers) can go into the new instance, mind-puzzling number of materials to farm for *all* of the population etc.

    We'll, that was my take on that glorious event.

    PS Sorry for the grammar
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by elhedran (768858)
      I'm not even sure the gates of Ahn'Qiraj was about creating a player generated event.

      Look at the materials that need gathering. Then look up some of the research on economies on games like World-of-Warcraft. Ahn'Qiraj may have been merely a sink to pull crafting resources out of the economy until there was a player base to support the crafted item economy, or at least provide partial value to selling crafted items.

      After all, crafted items to work well need a large player base to sell the items to. Howeve
  • by supabeast! (84658)
    I want to be snarky and point out that this guy obvious has no idea how these games are designed, but I think he pretty much nails what very MMOG player really wants out of a game. Now, if only it were feasible within the bounds of money, time, and talent.

    It seems a little more likely that you're just buying into the excuses cooked up by the marketing departments of the MMORPG industry. Turbine pulled off most of what TFA asks for in the original Asheron's Call and made money hand over fist, and still had a
  • I still don't get games that make you collect stuff which lets you level up which lets you collect different stuff which lets you level up which lets you...

    I'm not saying it's wrong, I just don't get the appeal of collecting things in an RPG. Clearly, there is a market for this kind of game, but I agree with the premise that there must be certain cataclysmic events. Things have to matter, or else who cares?

    To me, WoW and others that are similar are just like the old "Hack" and "Dungeon" games except the g
  • by etherlad (410990) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (nostawnai)> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @09:10PM (#16878868) Homepage
    New wars should break out, cities should rise and fall, and all hell should break loose at least once a month--and the players should be the ones to make it happen. After all, in a world that never changes, you can never make your mark.

    Well, not in such a violent fashion, but this sort of thing is the plan for Uru Live [mystonline.com].

    Every day, there's a small change. Every week, a slightly larger change. Every month, a major change - a new area of the city opens, or you get access to a new Age.

    A new story element is introduced roughly once each quarter... what the players do with it in the interim is entirely up to them. The players truly develop the story. There are no NPCs (in the computer-controlled sense), however Cyan does have actors who play the role of certain important people, ready to answer questions and react to whatever it is the players are doing.

    This is a lot more impressive to me than Warcraft, although I do enjoy a good quest now and again.
  • Wait a second... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vthornheart (745224) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @09:25PM (#16879004)
    ... hold on, this really isn't impossible.

    Asheron's Call had new earth-shaking player-driven events every month, and they had - what - 1/100th of the income and staff that World of Warcraft does?

    World of Warcraft is making tens millions of dollars a month in subscription fees alone, and has an unimaginably large staff.

    Asheron's Call made significantly less each month, and yet they'd make sure that every month there was something new and player driven. In some events, they would even have developers and admins manually control NPCs who helped or hindered players in person for the quests.

    So don't tell me it isn't possible. I've seen it done much better with many less resources. The WoW team is just making so much money without doing it that they don't feel the need to. If WoW was struggling at 30k users and barely paying for their servers, you can bet they'd try harder with monthly dynamic content to try and get a larger market share.
  • It's doubtful whether the author ever actually played World of Warcraft, but coming from a veteran of 1 and 3/4 years World of Warcraft basically has lost all fun that it initially had. The only point of the game is to get the next upgrade. A game that's entirely focused around gear upgrades and the next new shiny is appealing at first but after a year it gets really, really old. As a healer in numerous raids in MC, BWL and AQ40 the game requires a great deal of attention and energy to keep everyone aliv
  • by Mathonwy (160184) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @11:15PM (#16879808)
    "Blizzard has written new storylines before. Last winter, it challenged players to team up and fuel a worldwide war effort. As a payoff, it unlocked new territory. This was a good example of letting the users drive a story, but Warcraft needs more of them. New wars should break out, cities should rise and fall, and all hell should break loose at least once a month--and the players should be the ones to make it happen. After all, in a world that never changes, you can never make your mark."

    There ARE mmorpgs that have non-static worlds that the players feel like they can change. (Because they can)

    Might I reccomend some, such as a tale in the desert [atitd.com] or possibly eve [eve-online.com]...
  • by rampant mac (561036) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @11:34PM (#16879946)
    So I doubt this will be modded up, but you want a real MMORPG story line? Where the players *make* a difference? Go look up Asheron's Call. No, not the crappy sequel, the original. In that game, each shard (rpg world) was given a task to open up a certain gate... One server (where you have to be pvp flagged to unlock the gate) decided to be a little different. They called up all their guild mates and friends and DEFENDED the gate from attackers. And they did it. For an entire month.


    In the end, a GM, in some rare NPC form finally had to come along and destroy the gate the guild was defending.

    Turbine finally conceded and raised statues dedicated to the defenders of that certain server's gate. The statues were viewable on all servers, and it showed everyone who played AC just how much a player's actions actually affected a game.

    It's a shame more MMORPG's aren't like AC.

  • The Problem Here (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:38PM (#16885612)
    The problem here is that this is a great idea for L60 players with nowhere else to go. But for someone new to the game just trying to level up, well you're just making it harder for them than for the established players. Maybe you need starter worlds (servers), each of which evolve over time into more challenging storylines that everyone can move to together.

The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent. -- Sagan

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