Massively Opinionated: Which MMO would be the most innovative if launched today?

MMO players are always concerned about innovation. Who doesn't want his game to be the latest and greatest? Inspired by two of our Patreon supporters, Duane and Viking, this week's Opinionated panel discusses innovation and its application in the realm of MMORPGs.

On this episode, host Larry Everett has invited two veteran MMO pundits to the debate: Troy Blackburn from Gamebreaker and Jason Winter from MMOBomb.

The rules for Massively Opinionated are quick and dirty: Each panelist is given four questions before the show and asked to come up with unique answer for all of them. Our host judges the answers based on the arguments and awards each question's winner a point. The panelist with the most points at the end wins the internet.

This week's questions

What does it take for an MMORPG to be considered innovative?

What is the the most beneficial development cycle for the devs and the players?

Which MMO would be the most innovative if launched today?

Which MMO is the most underrated but innovative MMO available today?

This week's panelists

Troy Blackburn
Site: Play2Win and Gamebreaker
Twitter: Noobfridge

Jason Winter
Site: MMOBomb
Twitter: WinterInformal

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67 comments
Necromonger
Necromonger

Eve online hands down.


it has a feature list not even 10 mmo's combined have.


syberghost
syberghost

@Necromonger seriously? Name three features it has that aren't found in at least one other MMO.


SoulboundStudios
SoulboundStudios

Honestly, we'd have to say Chronicles of Elyria :) Innovation is what we're striving for, starting from the fundamentals of our designs. 

dorn2
dorn2

Does innovation matter?  The market leader tries to ruin itself every other expansion.  At this point "stop being dumb" is a high bar few developers can jump.

jmadfour
jmadfour

Ryzom.

Custom spells.

Living ecosystem, where monsters migrate according to seasons.

MassivelyMacD
MassivelyMacD

@jmadfour Best harvesting, best crafting. Meaningful weather, seasons, day- and nighttime. Flora and fauna unseen in any other game.


Sadly: almost nonexistent marketing, almost nothing you can do solo, almost no targets for playing.

Craywulf
Craywulf

Most of the innovation seen in the past and even today is all about problem-solving software and technological hurdles. Things like instances, loot sharing, timed events, scaling, and many more. I really don't see how a game from the past could be seen as innovative today unless the game development is truly reached it's pinnacle. Frankly even the most innovative games have been marred by financial decisions. We still are dealing with leveling, because it's the cheapest way to manufacture content if you wanna call it that. The day MMOs stop using leveling as way of gating player consumption is the day I will truly call an MMO innovative. 

Oleg Chebeneev
Oleg Chebeneev

EVE Online. It was ahead of its time in 2003 and still is now.

Also Age of Wushu. The most innovative MMO since EVE Online


Dixa
Dixa

@Oleg Chebeneev I have to agree with the Eve sentiment. While i despise predatory PvP systems, the fact that the economy is 100% player created at every level is still unique to this game. 

Kaloth
Kaloth

@Dixa @Oleg Chebeneev If only they could get the Russian bot problem under control.

But yes, Eve is win; Eve is life.

Wakkander
Wakkander

Asheron's Call would still be rather innovative if launched today. 


* A fantasy MMO with sci-fi trappings that eschews the use of traditional fantasy tropes in favor of a highly original world and story. 

* Monthly sizable content updates included with a sub that advance the story and content.

* Open world with a focus on exploration.

* Unique combat mechanics. Choose power vs accuracy and hit locations for every strike to take advantage of your enemies weakness.

* Unique Spellcrafting system that requires players to reasearch spells, and the more players that know  and use a spell the less potent it becomes, share your research at your own risk!

* Skill based leveling with no restrictions, want to be a tank mage? Be a tank mage! Want to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Invest in jump!

* Best guild system ever introduced in an MMO. To whom will you swear your allegiance?

* Major story points that involve the playerbase, never forget the thistledown defense!

* You are not the only one gaining in power, monsters level with player kills! 

* Crafting that actually remained viable and was not a huge pain in the ass that required major grinding! Alchemy, Fletching, and Cooking all provided useful, even at high levels, items. Item augmentation allowed players to boost existing weapons, with a chance to fail and destroy the item after awhile, allowing it to enhance as well as serve as a item and economic sink later in the game.

* No cash shop


Just to name the stuff off the top of my head that made AC unique.

Dilectos
Dilectos

@Rhaegys Just Read up on the game. Sounds Amazing.
Cant say I have ever seen Aging and dying in a game before, and the way families work together to benefit eachother sounds really fun, and I cant wait to bring my friends into the game. 

Tandor Shadewalker
Tandor Shadewalker

Which MMO is the most underrated but innovative MMO available today?


I'd say ESO. It seems to me that 99% of the criticisms of it are based around PvP and the Veteran Ranks. Not enough credit is given for the 1-50 content, including the phased quests which are criticised for their group-unfriendliness but which are intended for solo play and as such are brilliantly and seamlessly executed within the open world.


I also think that in their own ways both The Secret World and SWTOR were innovative and both have also been under-rated. The former was innovative in pretty well everything it did, and how it did it, while the latter was innovative in its introduction of separate class stories and the extent to which they were wrapped up in cut-scenes.

Tandor Shadewalker
Tandor Shadewalker

@Siphaed @Tandor Shadewalker The way they've implemented is innovative, the fact that you don't like it idoesn't alter that. Most quests are perfectly doable with friends, and any phasing issues in that respect have largely been fixed as I understand it. It makes perfect sense that the main story quests should be soloed as they relate to a hero, not half a dozen heroes doing the same thing together. 



Siphaed
Siphaed

@Tandor Shadewalker 

"...which are intended for solo play ..." 



That's no innovative design for an MMORPG.  That is horrible design for an MMO because it keeps the players from playing with friends, clan/guild mates, and so on.  Who cares if it's "just low level questing and not 'end-game'" when it is still a portion of the game that locks you out of playing an MMO as an MMO. 



Zakharin
Zakharin

The Secret World. A completely new way to do quests.

But a close second? Possibly even taking the first place?

32 professions. Customizable. The deepest crafting game ever, providing gear that was relevant to the combat players, entertainment and services relevant to the combat players, player housing and city building, and much more:

Star Wars Galaxies.

ArbsX
ArbsX

WoW or anything before it.

Robert80
Robert80

Considering we have seen everything on already launched MMOs before... wouldn't the question really be 'Which MMO do you consider the most innovative in terms of current gameplay?'  Honestly, none of the features would be truly new, as we have seen them already, so you'd have to go with the one with the most variance away from the other games.

Sorry, I just think that's a poorly chosen question.  Now, if we expound on it that ALL mmos have had a certain feature set for this hypothetical, then we can talk about different feature sets without the same issue.  (Of course, that said, depending on what features are in that set we may be excluding some games that had some solid innovations, simply because they are either the entire feature or very much a part of that feature.)

As for the other questions:

Adding something new, not seen before, a new idea.

That depends entirely on the developer in question, and the players playing the game.  A developer has a certain amount of resources, which dictate what the best cycle for the developer is, and players play games at different levels of speed, and in different styles of play... which changes when they want new stuff.  The best, then, is the closest combination of when a developer can put out new quality material, and the majority of the playerbase will we ready for it without having lost interest in the game.  How do you translate that into a schedule of X months?  Heck if I know!

I'd say one of the various indie MMOs that people haven't gotten heads over heals about will probably hit the most innovative but underrated point.  We really don't see much for big new ideas from most of the established studios... just minor improvements on what they already have.  Of course, some of the indie games have large fan bases, and some don't.  Which one, exactly?  For right now, Mabinogi (it has some major innovations at release time, and where there are more recent examples, they are more highly acclaimed in general.)  For the future, it is hard to tell... but maybe Project Gorgon?  They have a handful of ideas that really haven't been done before, despite the otherwise clone copy tab target mmo gameplay (honestly, the gameplay itself felt very uninspired to me playing it, but that was months ago so maybe it has improved.)  Maybe the Repopulation, although it is fairly hyped so maybe not, with their perhaps excessive realism?  Still, there is always something else out there, and there are some strong features in indie MMOs that could contend for most innovative in MMOs... although most of them are things seen already in single player games. 


breetoplay
breetoplay moderator

@Enikuo Man that's a hard question if you've never played those games. I wouldn't want to be quizzed on a game I've never tried. Poor Jason. <3 Clay tablets, though! I'm not THAT old. I just had a baby last year... do the math yo! Most of you guys are older than I am. I just started MMOing early and young! Hehe.

Shaddoe
Shaddoe moderator

@Enikuo Troy is a very cool guy and really smart when it comes to games. I had him on a couple of times with the TESONation guys, but this is the first time he was on with just him.

Sorenthaz
Sorenthaz

What does it take for an MMORPG to be considered innovative?

Introduce new and original ideas, either by expanding on existing systems or trying something completely different that challenges the current MMO standards.And not half-assing them like GW2 did.

What is the the most beneficial development cycle for the devs and the players?

Varies based on the game model honestly and it's hard to not be subjective with it.   But what seems to be going solid for most of the bigger MMOs is basically a big patch every 3-4 months and smaller piecemeal updates in-between.


Which MMO would be the most innovative if launched today?

Probably one of the oldschool MMOs like Asheron's Call, Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot, Everquest, or maybe even SWG.  Basically everything pre-WoW could be a contender for most innovative.


Which MMO is the most underrated but innovative MMO available today?

Maybe something like The Secret World or Neverwinter.  Or Mabinogi.  I think games like Project Gorgon and Tree of Life have huge potential, but still have a lot of work to go.


Siphaed
Siphaed

@Sorenthaz 

Explain how GW2 "half-assed" what they did?   They made questing non-competitive by having shared mob credit, making all quests either Hearts (more or less 3/4th level experience tutorials) or Dynamic Events.  Players do not compete against each other for loot drops because it is character specific; same goes for gathering nodes too.   The game's questing system expanded on existing questing and got rid of most of the questing pains that exist in other games.  No need to turn into NPCs and back track after killing some 20 centaurs less than 10 yards from said NPC.  

Dixa
Dixa

@Quincha @Linaea permadeath is NOT an MMORPG feature. That is an ARPG feature. Permadeath in an MMORPG will not bring in paying customers. at all. 

Estranged
Estranged

I don't feel I have played enough to know, but I am surprised we arent wamped with SWG and CoH responses.

Damonvile
Damonvile

@Estranged Me too.


The crafting and resource system is still the most innovative system I've ever seen in a game. It probably wouldn't be very popular with the wow crafter but it was a great system. Then you have housing, entertainers, the factions buildings and equipment....the game was so far ahead of it's time as far as ideas went.

Satanixx
Satanixx

@Estranged Same here. I was expecting every other post to have a CoH or SWG or EVE response in it.

Dixa
Dixa

@Estranged nearly every system coh gave us has been copied and used in other games today. if it relaunched today, it would have nothing new. 


the HAM system in swg was innovative and ultimately a piece of garbage i'm glad nobody else tried. yes, i WAS a rifle mind-pool victim. i don't consider being able to go to bed and wake up a TKA master using only in-game tools and features "innovative" in any way, and wookies with swords was done two months earlier in KOTOR

grindhouse155
grindhouse155

@Dixa


What MMO currently has a system similar to Sidekick/Exemplar System? Where it is made much easier to team-up with other players regardless of character level? Where higher level character's power is brought down to meet the lower level content and lower level characters are raised to meet the relative level of the team party leader's level?


What MMO currently has a system similar to the Flashback System? Where players can go back and play missed content they may have missed by leveling, or origin, or by missing a contact they did not unlock? Or to replay old story content that was retired from the main game because of story changes? Or even just to replay a story arc you did play that you liked?


What MMO currently has a system similar to the Notoriety System? Where you can adjust the level of the enemies and the amount of enemy spawn instances in the content you play, even when you are playing solo? This allows to adjust the difficulty of the missions you play by raising or lowering the enemy level relative to yours. Or fight more enemies than normal.

What MMO currently has a system similar to Incarnate System? Where after you character hits the maximum level cap at 50, you can unlock and customize various powerful abilities that make you feel very powerful but also simultaneously serve as an increase your relative level for incarnate level content.


What MMO currently has a character customization system as deep as City of Heroes had? Where you had access to a very deep pool of costume and visual appearance options and ability customization where you alter colors and visual effects of your powers.


And what MMO today has ALL of these systems mentioned in the same game, that similar to these?

kofteburger
kofteburger

Eve online is not a space sim. because it's not a simulator.

Polyanna
Polyanna

If "innovative" means "different," then I nominate Anarchy Online.

schlag sweetleaf
schlag sweetleaf

this one had the right ingredients, just not the right recipe;) 

GoJammit
GoJammit

Star Citizen. Covering multiple genres. Providing a high level of detail. The immersion factor. This is of course assuming they are able to get things working right. Fingers crossed.

This is a kind of difficult question because you are dealing with a lot of different games that are all of a sudden becoming a new genre. If they all came out at the same time you almost have to say WoW is more innovative than Everquest, which spawned it. More features more accessibility. Here's a question I will pose. If you could do nothing but update the graphics to today's standard, would Everquest beat out WoW. Yes yes, it's not always about the graphics. But it is. I'm not the only graphics white in the world?

GoJammit
GoJammit

@Sorenthaz @GoJammit "This is of course assuming they are able to get things working right."

I really couldn't have been more clear.

And if you want to say that about those games and give your reasons why, I would comment on it based on that instead of this very strange tactic you're pulling.

MontjoyOnew
MontjoyOnew

@GoJammit @Sorenthaz I believe he is referring to the implied, though not clearly stated intent of the questions, Perhaps wording more along the lines of "What previously launched MMORPG" would have been clearer.

Sorenthaz
Sorenthaz

@GoJammit That would require Star Citizen actually launching today though. 

Damonvile
Damonvile

@MontjoyOnew @GoJammit @Sorenthaz Yeah I think most of us assumed they were talking about previously launched because we have a real product to discuss. Ideas for games are all well and good but you can't call something innovative until it's actually tested in real life.

Sorenthaz
Sorenthaz

@GoJammit  Yes but Star Citizen has yet to even be fully done nor has it even proven itself yet. There are only a few modules and then a boat load of claims and promises.  

That's basically the equivalent of saying something like World of Darkness or Everquest Next.

Vikingr
Vikingr

@MontjoyOnew 

I also interpreted the question as GoJammit did. It makes little sense to look on already launched games to answer " ... if launched today?", unless it's a re-launch of some kind we're talking about and that's not how I interpret the question.


And I agree with GoJammit about the answer too. Star Citizen would be the most innovative MMO if launced today - with the features complete, of course.


BTW, since my question was one of the inspirations for this Massively Opinionated episode, I can reveal that Star Citizen was explicitly mentioned in my question. None of the four topics mentioned in the article are my question though.

LazyJones
LazyJones

The Secret World


 - Obviously.