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Richard Garriot Argues Against Stagnant MMOG Design 175

Posted by Zonk
from the kill-ten-rats dept.
The creator of Ultima Online and Tabula Rasa and well-known designer Richard Garriot spoke at the Develop Conference in Brighton, England on the subjects of stagnating MMOG design and the NCSoft deal with Sony. His commentary on Massive game design is fairly direct: "If you look at the vast majority of MMOs that has come out since Ultima Online and Everquest, you can look at the features and they are almost exactly the same. Even though the graphics have got better and the interface is much slicker, fundamentally the gameplay is unchanged. Worse yet, there are many things that have become standard that I look at and even though they are powerful enough to encourage the behavior of people obsessed with playing these games, I don't think they are the right way of building the future."
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Richard Garriot Argues Against Stagnant MMOG Design

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  • Take Warhammer Online http://www.warhammeronline.com/ [warhammeronline.com]. That looks like the first MMO that'll actually be fun to play IMO. PVP with some clear cut goals and accomplishments. But really, it's about time someone said this, the MMO genre is really boring right now.
    • Warhammer intrigues me, but most of the press I've seen on it has talked about the game at a very high level, as it were - lots about the overarching systems, little about the nitty gritty of how the game actually handles (maybe I've just been looking in the wrong place though? If anyone has some references, that would be nice).

      This is the main problem which crops up when people say that the genre is stale and needs new ideas and so forth - the game which contains those ideas still needs to be satisfying t

    • by eison (56778) <pkteison@hotma i l .com> on Friday July 27, 2007 @04:26PM (#20015839) Homepage
      PVP with clear cut goals and accomplishments? The description sounds _exactly_ like Dark Age Of Camelot. How will this game be different? Does it remove the insane grind as the chief gameplay mechanic? The fedex quest as the great innovation in improved gameplay? The constant repetition? The unbalanced-rock-paper-scissors design/constant nerf/constant whining cycle? The pick-a-"shard" dice roll that will have a huge impact on your game experience that you have to make up front with nearly zero info to base it on and can't really change later, so you better do homework before signing up to play?
    • Warhammer Online might be a great game, but I fail to see what will make it stand out. I'm getting kind of sick of the same old Medieval RPG theme. I've been playing Medieval MMO's since Ultima Online (still my favourite), Everquest 1, Lineage 1 and finally World of Warcraft.

      It all seems like the same formula we've been seeing for the last 10 years.

      Fantasy/Medieval Based? Check.
      Orcs, Humans and Elves? Check.
      Two Factions at war with each other? Check.
      Grinding? Check.

      What I'd like to see is something really o
      • by Jellybob (597204)
        Sounds to me like you should try out Eve Online. I'm not a huge fan of MMOs myself, since I just don't have enough time to put into them, but I did get sucked into Eve for a couple of months.

        The best comparison I can make is that it's Elite, but with real people running the galaxy, and you can't argue with that.
        • by EQ (28372)

          The best comparison I can make is that it's Elite, but with real people running^W ruining the galaxy, and you can't argue with that.

          There, fixed it for you.

  • Hey awesome, if you've got some great ideas that gamers will love, then go ahead and make a new game.

    I realize that this was an article that someone wrote based on this other guy talking, but there didn't seem to be much in the way of actual suggestions, just the observation that many MMO's have a lot of very similar qualities. Which, by the way, is true of just about every game genre that's ever existed.

    • by cduffy (652)
      Do you know who Richard Garriot is? I'll give you a hint: His first groundbreaking game (targeting the Apple II) was published 28 years ago, and he hasn't exactly sat on his laurels since.

      I'm not saying that everything that comes out of his mouth is gold -- but I am saying that to the extent that experience and success bring authority within a field, Garriot is most certainly an authority with regard to innovation and evolution in game design -- so making snide comments ("Hey awesome...") isn't necessarily
      • by cowscows (103644)
        Yeah, I guess I was a little harsh towards Mr. Garriot, when the real criticism should go towards whoever wrote the linked article. The talk was likely far more informative.
    • by vertinox (846076)
      Which, by the way, is true of just about every game genre that's ever existed.

      I dunno. Ultima Online was rather broundbreaking in what it was trying to accomplish. Yes. A great deal of that was due to Ralph Koster (who made the original Star Wars Galaxy because Sony butchered it), but in general the concept had some lofty goals.

      Wheras EQ, AC, and WoW have gone for the same technique for the Diku muds concept of "Kill things to earn loot and XP to kill bigger things to get even more loot and XP to kill even
  • Who here that remembers the original muds thought that we'd be a lot further along in vr worlds after 3-d near-photo-realistic graphics became prevalent? The market is great at filling needs, but I think it sometimes stinks at serving innovation.
    • by cowscows (103644) on Friday July 27, 2007 @04:09PM (#20015617) Journal
      The truth of the matter is that it's a lot easier to add complexity into a text based game, because the player's imagination will fill in so many of the details for you. Adding graphics, particularly ones that are trying to look photo-realistic, allows the player to shut off that part of their imagination, and so then you've got to fill it all in, which is a hell of a lot of work.

      When I read "You throw the rock through the nearby window, which shatters into hundreds of razor sharp pieces. The shards fly into the store, catching the many shoppers by surprise. Panic breaks out amongst them.", In my mind I can picture all of that happening without very little effort. But for a game developer to create a scene like that in a game, they'd have to do an incredible amount of work if they wanted it to look good. Things like physics to have the glass shatter realistically. Some sort of AI(or at least scripting) to have the people react appropriately. Not to mention wrapping it all up in some pretty graphics with high-rez textures on detailed and well animated models.

      All the computing power in the world isn't going to make designing photo-realistic gameplay anywhere near as easy as it is to do it text based (that's not to say that good text based games are a piece of cake though).
      • Well why not wave the bird at photorealism then eh?

        Wow that pile of crap looks photo realistic.... but its still just a pile of crap.

        There are other things you can do to improve the graphics without moving an inch towards photorealism. Don't make each frame more realistic, make each frame more detailed.
        • by cowscows (103644)
          Agreed. Plenty of games have gone with a different art direction, and been better games for it. WoW even did this. It's a stylized, semi-cartoony look. It fits in well with the history of WC, as well as helps them avoid the issue of how difficult photo-realism really is.

          But still, once you put images on the screen, it shuts off the images in the player's mind. Reading a book is a way different experience than watching a movie, even if they're telling the exact same story.
      • by westlake (615356)
        The truth of the matter is that it's a lot easier to add complexity into a text based game, because the player's imagination will fill in so many of the details for you. Adding graphics, particularly ones that are trying to look photo-realistic, allows the player to shut off that part of their imagination, and so then you've got to fill it all in, which is a hell of a lot of work.

        But - in your example - using text merely simplifies the depiction of the action. In your example - text isn't being used to te

        • by cduffy (652)
          In that example, sure. Much of the larger issue is the death of the lone developer. Once upon a time, extremely popular games were written by a single person -- and they were considered good! Those days, needless to say, are no more. (I'm not necessarily complaining -- I adore Half-Life -- but there are also a lot of stories that don't get told, because one person no longer has the resources to tell them alone in the style to which gamers have become accustomed).

          As for games which make good use of text-base
        • by cowscows (103644)
          That's kind of the point of my post. A crappy story is a crappy story no matter how you tell it, so sure a text based game isn't guaranteed to work well. But on the flip side, a bad presentation can ruin even a great story. Now, writing good stories isn't a trivial matter, but it's the kind of thing that one or two skilled people can do. Turning that story into a photo-realistic looking video game is likely to take dozens of skilled people, and with the current limits of our computer technology, it's still
      • by Hatta (162192)
        The truth of the matter is that it's a lot easier to add complexity into a text based game

        Hence Nethack [nethack.org]. The most complex, most detailed, intricate, and damned hard RPG ever written. But oh, it's so worth it when you finally ascend. Nethack is my desert island video game. Assuming the desert island has electricity, I guess.
        • by Blakey Rat (99501)
          Nethack is more a dungeon digger than a proper RPG, IMO at least. I personally was very fond of Mission: Thunderbolt back in the day, which is basically Nethack with a sci-fi theme.

          That said, Nethack has nothing to do with the topic at hand, which is about RPG MUDs, not single-player dungeon diggers.
  • Grinding bad? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DeadManCoding (961283)
    From the sounds of the article, Rasa feels that grinding is dominating MMO gameplay and that it's time to innovate. Having never played UO, but spending plenty of time in EQ and Warcraft, I can't say that all MMOs are dependent on grinding. I can understand a want to innovate and create a something completely new for MMOs, but in order for characters to advance, they need to be given waypoints to show completion. I agree that grinding doesn't have to be the only way, it's just the easiest way, and easily
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cching (179312)

      I agree that grinding doesn't have to be the only way, it's just the easiest way, and easily understandable to any MMO gamer out there.

      So what? I mean, you kind of come off as defending adding grinding to a game "because it's what people know." That's just claiming MMO's don't need innovation.

      I'm sorry, I've played a lot of MMO's over the years and I am sick to death of mindless grinding. Bring on the innovation, make games fun again. For those that love grinding, you can play the games that are out there.

      Let me also just say this. Whatever Blizzard developer came up with mote grinding ought to be taken out back and tarred and feathe

    • by MMaestro (585010)
      Grinding in MMOs is terrible. I've played MMOs since UO and recently quit WoW; most of them all have one thing in common, spending 100+ hours just to reach the "maximum" level (assuming there aren't multiple "jobs" like FFXI or cranking out a new character every month in WoW).

      Obviously, to SOME extent grinding is necessary (not counting PvP which Guild Wars has down damned near perfectly) but when you start talking about hundreds of hours just to REACH the end game (let alone take part in end game activiti

      • But they don't *want* casual players! What sets a casual player apart from the hardcore? Hardcore players spend a lot of time (and more importantly MONEY) on their gaming rigs and games. They buy the game guides, they'll pay for the extra content. They'll buy the Expansion Packs the second they arrive -- because they've reached the end of the last expansion 6 months ago. In short, they're the ones you get the money from. Casuals on the other hand, play a few hours a week if that. They probably don't
  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@nOSPAm.yahoo.com> on Friday July 27, 2007 @04:04PM (#20015545) Journal
    MMORPGs need more interactive elements and less static content. I would love to see a game where you could start a merchant empire, overthrow a king, or build a village, as well as delving in dungeons and hacking monsters. Everything outside of combat skills is relatively useless in most MMORPGs. With elements of simulation included, skills such as diplomacy, leadership, and acting would become important. Every server would develop differently. Developers wouldn't write static content, but would instead script dynamic content that would draw from the present game world instead of shoe-horning new plots into every instance. For instance, rather than making quests that use the same NPCs, existing NPCs with the right characteristics would be used every time the quest was given. Rather than use the same locations, generic locations such as "any lower class bar" could be specified, and the quest might be activated any time the PC went into such a location.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by First Person (51018)

      The challenge is making a game where everyone can "start a merchant empire, overthrow a king, or build a village". It's easy to do in single player games, but far more difficult when you've got millions of players. Here [getafirstlife.com] is the only one that comes close and the graphics are far better than Tabula Rasa. But even in that one, players complain that the outcomes are heavily influenced by the starting conditions.

      You can't please everyone.

      • by lymond01 (314120)
        The challenge is making a game where everyone can "start a merchant empire, overthrow a king, or build a village".

        One thing is the point of view. You can look at how the larger guilds do things - build guild towns, share major raiding areas, declare a hierarchy within both their own guild and amongst others, etc. You could easily compare this to merchant empires, kings and villages, but for some reason, people choose to not look at it that way unless the game tells you that's how to look at it.

        MMORPG Disc [ign.com]
      • by Mattsson (105422)
        Nah... Just use "real world" mechanics.
        Everyone can try to start an empire, but you have to fight the current empires for land.
        If a bunch of people have a village somewhere, you have to kill everyone in it and burn it to the ground to start your own village there.
        You want to start a merchant empire? Then you have to compete with the other 56739 persons who are currently trying the same thing on your server.
        You're a basket weaver and need a shop to sell your baskets? Find a suitable place thats up for rent.
    • by cowscows (103644)
      Then what you're looking for is MMO's with a bigger focus on the multiplayer aspect. One game that I'll mention that does this pretty well is eve-online. It's intensely player driven, and its in-game universe has many player created and run alliances. Alliances can take territory and improve it, but they also have to defend it and can certainly lose it. There is communication, diplomacy, spying, backstabbing, love for allies, hatred of enemies...all beyond a level that you can probably believe unless you've
      • All eve needs is more players and an ever growing number of star systems to explore.......

        but thats just my opinion.
        • All eve needs is more players and an ever growing number of star systems to explore.......

          but thats just my opinion.


          And maybe less accusations of a corrupt developer.
      • by spun (1352)
        Every time I bring this concept up, people reply, "Eve-online." I am seriously going to have to give that game a try!
        • by cowscows (103644)
          It's a neat game. But it's very overwhelming at first. They're not always easy to find, but if you can discover a corp that is actually interesting in helping newbies, you'll have a much better time of it.
      • by vux984 (928602) on Friday July 27, 2007 @06:07PM (#20017149)
        eve online only has one server, so developing 'dynamic' content that will work regardless of how 'each' server develops is comparatively trivial. All it has to do is work with the one server they've got in the state that its in.

        As for being player directed...sure. But its player directed the way the real world is. A few are at the top calling the shots, and the VAST majority work for them, or work for someone who works for them, or are otherwise relatively irrelevant pawns in the game, who have about as much impact on the direction the game takes as they have on the direction the real world takes.

        Now don't get me wrong, its entirely -possible- to control a trade empire. Its just utterly unlikely of ever becoming a reality. If 250,000 people log in each day dreaming of controlling a galaxy spanning empire... well, 249,500 of them will never reach their goal. The nature of the power consolidation that is represented by an empire is such that it is controlled by a small number of people. And to be one of the lucky few you have to essentially out-compete nearly everyone else who wants that same empire.

        I guess if all you really want is to be a cog in someone elses wheel you'll likely reach that goal in Eve.

        And, that, is eve at its hypothetical best... Eve, in my opinion, has been tainted by the devs/gm's who also PLAY. Even when they aren't outright cheating to give their corporations an edge, its pretty much a given that they'll have an information advantage. (Is it merely a coincidence that a corporation/alliance the devs are known to be involved with has been a dominant force in the game?) I don't mind devs playing a pve mmog, but when the game developers are also a competing to win against their own subscribers it sets the stage for scandals... which Eve has seen plenty of.

    • would love to see a game where you could start a merchant empire, overthrow a king, or build a village

      The problem is only 1 person per server can overthrow any particular king. So scripting a plot even like that for 2 dozen people requiring 2 or 3 people to script is not cost effective. Buildign a merchant empire (EVE) or a village (EQ2, UO) have been done.

      Every server would develop differently. Developers wouldn't write static content, but would instead script dynamic content that would draw from the pres
      • by spun (1352)
        If each shard is a simulation, they will develop differently. And by generic, I mean not specific. In the example I give, instead of using the same exact NPCs for each quest, the game would look for existing NPCs that fit the criteria for the quest. The game play is not generic. Get it?

        So what if only one guy can overthrow the king? In a system like I describe, someone else could then overthrow the PC who overthrew the king. Or an NPC could. Not everyone will ever get a chance to play out all the quests. Yo
        • If each shard is a simulation, they will develop differently. And by generic, I mean not specific. In the example I give, instead of using the same exact NPCs for each quest, the game would look for existing NPCs that fit the criteria for the quest. The game play is not generic. Get it?

          So what if only one guy can overthrow the king? In a system like I describe, someone else could then overthrow the PC who overthrew the king. Or an NPC could. Not everyone will ever get a chance to play out all the quests. Yo
          • by spun (1352)
            The layout of each city and the NPCs will be unique for each city. While some quests might be activated from any shady bar, other quests might only be activated when talking to the mayor of North Rend, and still others might be activated in any building in North Rend if you've done any of the Mayor's first five quests and an orc is present.

            You see, I've been thinking about the best way to have certain scripted elements interact with the simulation and the NPC AI. You know that the AI in Oblivion had to be t
            • As for your bandit example, well, in a simulation the value of removing bandits would depend on the number of bandits present. It seems like you are still thinking in terms of static content with static spawn points. That is not what I'm going for. In a sim-driven game, once you killed enough bandits near North Rend, there wouldn't be any more bandits near North Rend! This would have knock-on effects in the sim, more goods would flow in prompting lower prices, while bandit hunters would leave, perhaps leavi
    • Try Eve Online? It's the closest thing to what you described. I'll admit it's not a fantasy game (fantasy > sci-fi imho), but you can do...whatever you want given you have the skills and/ or money. I've always dreamed of a fantasy MMO that was a bit more free form. You know, bring the "role playing" back into MMORPGs. Not in that dumb "Hail!" stuff you run into on those so called RP servers on WoW. I want to have a reason to play my character. I want a world that motivates players to pursue other careers
    • Make a game where it starts structured, but allow players to integrate into that structure, let them become the structure. Let the first players run around during the semi calm before the storm. Once you think they are ready, usher in the storm, have a major NPC leader get assassinated, preferably by a player, possibly one who doesn't know that he just started a chain of events, hell make him the games unwitting Gavrilo Princip.

      Then watch, when you need to shape events using your game masters (Who are some
      • and how about this trick split the super feats into skill/ power requirements and then have folks with low skill (maybe even low max skill) but very high power ratings then you could have setups where a LV100 Fire Wizard needs to have a group of followers just so he can have enough power to do his casting. (hmm maybe even have things where
        he would need say somebody with Ice/Water magic)
    • MMORPGs need more interactive elements and less static content. I would love to see a game where you could start a merchant empire, overthrow a king, or build a village, as well as delving in dungeons and hacking monsters.

      So would I. So would a lot of people. The problem is that when you try to do these things, they don't scale well. To he who has the most time to spend online in a game goes the spoils. There is no way in hell an adult with a job will ever be able to compete with a high school kid or a college student who isn't bothering to attend classes. Even if you were able to limit the game to professionals with jobs, some people have good weeks and some people have bad weeks. Who wants to see a hard-won empire lost be

  • Worse yet, there are many things that have become standard that I look at and even though they are powerful enough to encourage the behavior of people obsessed with playing these games, I don't think they are the right way of building the future.

    Slightly change the wording and you pretty much sum up what's wrong with society nowadays. Stagnation is a problem across the globe. When was the last revolution we had? The seventies? Berlin wall? Maybe i'm being cynical.

    • by Ravenscall (12240)
      They happen all the time in Africa, a veritable utopia of innovaton and progress!
    • Slightly change the wording and you pretty much sum up what's wrong with society nowadays. Stagnation is a problem across the globe. When was the last revolution we had? The seventies? Berlin wall? Maybe i'm being cynical.
      Does the internet count? Tor? Cryptographic software with plausible deniability? We're having plenty of revolutions. They are just not noticed by big media... Now THAT is a revolution.
    • 1) Civilized societies don't have a need for revolutions. That is unless an uncivilized society (tries to) subjugate them.

      2) The Berlin wall thing was non-violent.

      3) If you'd take a look at the (3rd) world, you'd see TONNES of revolutions regularly. You don't hear about them because they are poorly reported on and even then only briefly (flavour of the week syndrome).

      4) You don't need revolutions for progress.

      5) Progress IS happening at a startling rate, if you care to open your eyes.
      • by Hatta (162192)
        1) Civilized societies don't have a need for revolutions. That is unless an uncivilized society (tries to) subjugate them.

        Civilized societies tend to become uncivilized. Power naturally tends to become more centralized over time, and since power corrupts civilization gets corrupted too. This is why Thomas Jefferson said "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." He meant every 20 years or so. Looking at the state of the union, we're far overdue.
  • well.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by doublefrost (1042496)
    Eve and DOAC are good departures from the MMO standard. Still are I think. Whats also great about those 2 games is you don't have to spend 8 hours a day on them to do well.
    • by teg (97890)
      DAOC was fun, until they added the ultimate grind... TOA.

  • by Xlipse (669697) on Friday July 27, 2007 @04:14PM (#20015699)
    He's totally right and he doesn't need to offer suggestions -- he's just stating the obvious because that's apparently what all the MMOG developers have forgotten since the UO/EQ days. Now, it's mostly about keeping players on the hamster wheel (grind) and paying the monthly fee to make your parent company/publisher happy.

    For example: WoW is a terrible GRIND when you compare it to a game like UO, which had a much more robust setting to play in. Uo had crafting, gathering, hunting, quests, treasure hunting, boating in the seas, dungeons, role playing, houses, player cities and PVP (and that's just from 1996 to 2000 when I played) Those were all *MAJOR* aspects of the game. In WOW, the only major aspects are: PVP and Gear Grinding.

    BOOORRRINNNGGG

    Games like UO were designed to be open ended and non-linear, unlike WoW (which I played for 2 years, BTW). The UO developers might not have thought players would create an innovative city (such as Oasis on the Sonoma server) or build Fish Tanks in their towers using scraps of cloth left over from crafting and the fish you could catch from the sea... but due to the open ended design of the game, you COULD do creative things like this -- ALL over the place in UO.

    That's what he is saying and I agree with him.

    • by ZombieWomble (893157) on Friday July 27, 2007 @04:31PM (#20015921)
      Hang on hang on.

      I played UO for years and years, it still has a fond place in my heart. But you're complaining about an excess of grinding in WoW, and then lauding UO for its gathering and crafting systems? They were nothing but a grind, and even less engaging in general due to the extremely repetitive nature of the activity and general lack of threat (barring random PvP encounters if you chose to do it in Felucca, obviously). Similarly - hunting and treasure hunting form two of the primary quest archetypes of WoW also (and are, I would argue, better developed in the latter setting). "Dungeons" are much better developed in WoW (although the instancing does somewhat detract from the fun of that, from a certain point of view) and are the main setting of the gear grind in WoW.

      In terms of actual game mechanics, I would suggest that WoW beats UO hands down - many of the concepts you laud in UO are not only present in WoW, but are refined and improved on. What's different is primarily the arrangement of the world, and the adjacent mechanics which aren't strictly related to "gameplay". WoW is very clearly a path from A to B, where A is level 1 and B is a pimped out level 70. You can take small diversions along the path (crafting, RP, etc), but basically they are all fitted in to support your primary profession of bashing creatures' faces in. UO, on the other hand, had a much broader scope: there was no fundamental need to go kill beasts of any sort (indeed, it was often not that profitable to do so) and you could build a skillset completely independent of your ability to smash faces and still have a complete, meaningful character. Coupled with the additional mechanics for interacting with the world (which rarely affected actual mechanics), you have a recipe for a much more broader, more realistic feeling world than that offered by the rather linear pathway in WoW and similar MMOs.

      • [crafting was] nothing but a grind, and even less engaging in general due to the extremely repetitive nature of the activity and general lack of threat

        I guess you didnt have uo assist and a macroing program.

        • Actually, I just deleted my copy of EasyUO off this very PC two nights ago while doing a clear out in preparation for moving it. That doesn't change the underlying problem that the system was staggering repetitive (and, as a corollary, I never felt the need to download WoW Glider or the like to avoid the grind in WoW for the most part)
    • For example: WoW is a terrible GRIND when you compare it to a game like UO, which had a much more robust setting to play in. Uo had crafting, gathering, hunting, quests, treasure hunting, boating in the seas, dungeons, role playing, houses, player cities and PVP (and that's just from 1996 to 2000 when I played) Those were all *MAJOR* aspects of the game. In WOW, the only major aspects are: PVP and Gear Grinding.

      WoW has all of those with the exception of housing (thus player cities) and boating. While I wo

  • The road to a massive improvement of MMORPGs is simple, really. It's just hard to find it. Here's my theory:

    Whoever comes up with a design concept that eliminates the constant grinding has a winner on his hands. Grinding is what:
    * Makes only freaks with nothing else to do reach the top levels/weapons/armours/etc
    * Put off lots and lots of casual players who play to get away from work and stupid job
    * Makes the whole thing so boring and repetitive

    Find something to replace grinding as the core gameplay componen
    • Getting rid of the grind has this one eensy-weensy little problem. Whatever you come up with to replace it has to be interesting, and more importantly, has to remain interesting so that people continue to pay a monthly fee. For the most part, that means continually updating the game.

      Allowing player-created content is all well and good, but it's not something you can rely on if you intend to collect a monthly fee. Most people won't pay a monthly fee if they're expected to do all the work.
      • by Tom (822)
        Yes, it means either continually updating the game, or building it at a size that makes Oblivion one corner of the world.

        Very likely, autogenerated, random content is the only way to do this, so instead of writing quests you'd write quest generators. Stuff like that. Plus player interaction. SL is too far to be a game, but in almost all MMORPGs, the world is just too static. Why can't the players build a village, or a city? In AO, you can rent a flat. Why not have the cities expand if they are filled? Why c
        • Just make sure your random quests don't suck. See: Star Wars Galaxies.
    • by Hatta (162192)
      Find something to replace grinding as the core gameplay component and you'll start the next era of massive multiplayer online gaming.

      I dunno, plot?
    • by Kelbear (870538)
      The idea is the easiest part.

      The critical part is funding, and then the prodigous task of implementation.

      I can come up with a design concept that keeps people playing for years on end while breaking from the MMO grind:

      Starcraft
      Counter-strike

      Consider the massive popularity of the two games, and the relatively small amount of updates placed on these games. If converted into an MMO format while keeping the core gameplay with the added bonus of consistent update content, then these games could be even more popu
  • Anarchy Online already did the more FPS version of a MMO.

    Tabula Rising isn't groundbreaking. It's another stab with small variations of games that have already been done. Whether or not it gets done better remains to be seen.
  • If you look at the vast majority of MMOs that has come out since Ultima Online and Everquest, you can look at the features and they are almost exactly the same. Even though the graphics have got better and the interface is much slicker, fundamentally the gameplay is unchanged. Worse yet, there are many things that have become standard that I look at and even though they are powerful enough to encourage the behavior of people obsessed with playing these games, I don't think they are the right way of building

  • "there are many things that have become standard that I look at and even though they are powerful enough to encourage the behaviour of people obsessed with playing these games, I don't think they are the right way of building the future."

    The article mentions one. That's it.

    I would have thought that "many" qualifies as at least 3 or 4.

  • Pirates of the Burning Sea [burningsea.com] looks like it's the most innovative MMO coming out soon, unless Garriot puts his money where his mouth is and Tabula Rasa turns out amazing. PotBS mostly does away with the grind, has a completely player operated economy and a player-driven world, and it certainly gets away from the tired fantasy setting and all that stuff. Finally, the gameplay's totally different from almost every other MMO. Stuff like EVE and a Tale in the Desert or whatever also break the rules; he's really co
  • I was in line for my Wii. I am here in Austin, TX. There is this guy behind me, and in conversation, he says he knows Gariot, and had dinner with him. Among the conversation, the best line of all, was him saying 'He is having trouble with his new house as the draw bridge is having architectual problems over his moat'. Now, I drive down 360 everyday on the way to work, and I can see what I think is his new castle up on the hill, it might be his old. And it is HUGE! I have no idea where his funding is co
  • I disagree with his comment that it's a stagnant industry. While there are quite a few games built on the EQ model, others are branching out in new directions.

    Horizons, while still a grind, was an example of the latter, changing the focus of the game from "improve self" to "improve world".

    For an example of an MMO that's definitely not built on the EQ design, check out Empire of Sports [empireofsports.com]. Disclaimer: I work there. Lots of neat ideas in the game, focused on (duh) sports, physiology, metabolism, etc.

    The industry
  • Disclaimer: I am not a regular MMORPG gamer, and have not seriously played one since the Planetside days.

    IMHO the big problem with MMOGs is grinding. That being said I don't think getting rid of levels or skill advancements is necessarily a good idea.

    There needs to be a move towards regarding grinding as a specialization, as opposed to a generic level-up. I think Planetside had this down, and to this day I still regard it as the best MMOG I've ever played. It's too bad the expansion fuxed it and its lac

    • by Reapy (688651)
      A little late to the thread, but I thought I'd throw a shout out to your observations. That was exactly what made planetside work for me. Right off the bat, I had an effective weapon. I was low level, and I could play exactly one extreemly specialized role. But I had choices. I could snipe, I could infiltrate, I could be an engineer, I could drive a transport, a tank, or an attack plane. The world was open to me.

      As you play, you then start making yourself more versitile and effective. I went the sniper rout
  • "...offering more strategic demands and ethical choices for the player."

    I have greatly admired Richard since I started playing Ultima IV in the early 80's. The Ultima series was hands-down the best RPG ever IMO. If I could pry myself away from WoW, I'd go back and play every one of them again. I highly respect his vision of games and the ideals he tries to incorporate into them. I especially admire how he and his team put the players' experience before everything else.

    That said I think he is too much an

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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