Massively Overthinking: Being Uncle Owen in MMORPGs

Ever since the tone-deaf SOE proclamation that nobody wanted to play Uncle Owen in an MMORPG, contrary me has consciously fought that very stupid idea. A whole lot of people wanted to play Uncle Owen, then and now, there and elsewhere. Star Wars Galaxies was a game half full of Uncle Owens. I spent a lot of time literally becoming a moisture farmer as my own form of rebellion. And yet, as I realized while debating with my husband a few weeks ago, the person I really wanted to be was freakin’ Lando. And most MMORPGs don’t allow that either — it’s Luke or GTFO.

Such is the argument made by a recent PC Gamer article, which in its own precious mainstream way argues that “MMOs need to let you be an average Joe” to get out of the clear “creative slump” they’re in.

“With their scale and permanence, MMOs give us the chance to be citizens in a make-believe world we create with the help of our fellow players. When it’s left up to us what kind of role we want to fill in that world, everybody’s immersion benefits from being surrounded by all types of characters with vastly different stories.”

For this week’s Overthinking, I asked the staff to chime in on the concept of Uncle Owen in MMORPGs. Do you play this way? Do you wish you could? And is it the way forward?

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): *Sigh* Bree and her moisture farming stories. How boring! SWG was all about chemicals, minerals, and gases, especially documenting their locations on the old SWG Craft site. Nothing like discovering new and exciting minerals to inspire crafters to part with credits in their pursuit of creating the best stuff in the galaxy!

Joking aside, yes, I do prefer playing non-hero, non-killer types. While most people assume PvPers are ruthless gankers, I was more of a politician in Asheron’s Call 2 and World of Warcraft, a gatherer ambassador in Darkfall, and an “illegal borrower”/explorer in ArcheAge. Combat can be fun, but if that’s all I want, I can just play Overwatch or Monster Hunter, often getting a much tighter experience than MMOs are capable of offering.

MMOs are worlds, and worlds aren’t filled with heroes and villains. They’ve got people, with day jobs, and sometimes families (more of this please, devs!), and we need that to be reinforced more. Yes, some “jobs” like Bounty Hunter sound cool on paper, but few work well (and bounty systems in particular feel easy to exploit). Smuggling, thieving, animal breeding, custom ship creation (a la Worlds Adrift), even crafting efficient manure seem far more interesting to persistent worlds than yet another game where, to be a hero, I can fight over mostly dead territories for gameplay I could access easier (and of a higher quality) from single player games. Oh, or do a combat dance for fat loot, but again, smaller scale games often do this better. Don’t set up players just to fight each other, but to improve each other’s different play styles.

For example, I remember being a cook and a mason in Horizons/Istaria). I remember crafting and combat were very separate (and time intensive!) investments. If you were out fighting all the time, you didn’t know the crafting markets as well, and crafters were making all the cash. Not just good, but basic gear had to be crafted. Crafters, obvious, spent a lot of time in and around town and weak critters so we weren’t really good at defending ourselves. Needing warriors to clear out towns or gathering spots so people could access their homes or high-quality mines helped people of different playstyles play together and feel appreciated. It was even cooler when world events to unlock new player races required similar tactics. It’s something I was hoping to see more of in EverQuest Next.

In short, yes. Please. More “Uncle Owen,” and not just in galaxies far, far away.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): You guys already know where I stand on Uncle Owen, so let me use my extra space to talk about why. The PC Gamer writer nailed that part. I don’t want everyone to be Uncle Owen. I want the people who want to be Uncle Owen, Lando, Cassian, Dex, Rey, Wilhuff, Leia, Jango, Oola, Wedge, Death Sticks Guy, Stormtrooper #3277, and Detective Obi-Wan to all be able to do that and have a place in that world, the same world, all interconnected with a compelling reason to be there, and not just to be content for the “real” gamers being funneled into Han or Jyn roles. Even if you are just Young Luke dopily lightsabering through the quests in a world and playing the themepark inside the sandbox, the variety of other people in your world helps sell it, in-game and out. Immersion goes up. Breadth of gameplay goes up. Game stickiness and longevity and investment go up. The quality of the community goes up.

This genre can be so much more than it is right now, and even most of the up-and-coming sandboxes aren’t getting it quite right because they are convinced the magic of the classic sandbox was in the competition it fostered and only that. They are wrong. And so we wait.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): The funny thing about that infamous Smedley quote is that I think there’s a huge gap between what he actually said (which was demonstrably wrong) and what I assume he meant, which is actually defensible. What he said, point-blank, was that players do not want to play the version of the game which they are currently playing; obviously, if they’re playing it now, they want to be. What he meant, though, was that there’s a reason why A New Hope basically ignores Uncle Owen until he gets gunned down by Stormtroopers, and it’s not just because Lucas hated the actor playing him. (It’s possible he did, I don’t know.)

There’s a reason the franchise is called Star Wars and not Star Moisture Farmers. You go there, you expect to see certain things going on, and there are certain expectations for what the game should be about. But there’s a world of difference between “players should be important” and “everyone should be Luke Skywalker.”

Getting back to the central question, the reality is that a good MMO shouldn’t be full of Uncle Owens or Luke Skywalkers. It should be full of Lando Calrissians, full of Cassian Andors, full of Poe Damerons and Jyn Ersos and Wedges and so forth. The whole trend of MMOs to swing toward the player as the Most Important Chosen One started as a response to having characters be nameless citizens, but seeing it as an either-or prospect is inherently limiting.

Player characters, by virtue of their very existence, shouldn’t be dispoable. If the player characters are no more interesting than the NPCs, what’s the point? We deal with being largely invisible on a daily basis, there’s no reason to make that the reality in a game too. But at the same time, players should have the option and a setting wherein they have options other than just being a titan of everything. As much as I enjoy the setting of Star Wars: The Old Republic, you kind of have to ignore the class stories in roleplaying simply because these events can only happen to one person.

By contrast, Final Fantasy XIV and Final Fantasy XI both make you important… but not overwhelming. You have influence, but you’re not the uniquely powerful savior of the world. You may choose to ignore storyline stuff saying that you’ve fought Titan, but there’s every reason in the world to justify having been there if it first your character. There’s space for you to be important without having to be The One And Only. You weren’t pulled from the underworld to fulfill a prophecy a la The Elder Scrolls Online, you just existed in a space and possessed certain skills.

Perhaps not surprisingly, pretty much all of the people I meet for roleplaying in that game play their characters as occupying that middle space. There’s a cast of characters with diverse skills and abilities, ranging from merchants to musicians, spies to shokeepers, gladiators to gardeners.

There’s a lot to sum up here, but I think the bottom line is simply that MMOs shouldn’t be pushing our characters to be average but should give us more angles of play and more places to be relevant without being the greatest of all time. As cool as the idea of artifacts was in World of Warcraft, it cements the idea that the player character must be at the nexus of everything because all of these artifacts are supposed to be unique. Far more reasonable would be players forging their own artifacts, creating a new legacy, making something that didn’t exist beforehand.

It’s boring if everyone is Uncle Owen, but it’s just as boring if everyone is Luke Skywalker.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Yes, yes, and yes again. Listen, I have no problem with thrilling heroics and going on exciting adventures. It’s certainly what’s kept me interested in MMOs for so long. But beating on the same one note of “World Saving Hero” in game narrative grew stale years ago. It feels patronizing to hear game devs say things like, “Well OUR game makes you feel like the hero you really want to be!” Wait, what? How do you know what kind of hero I want to be? There are many kinds of heroes aside from the ones that take up a 50-pound sword and stab the planet-eating giant in the eye with it.

A single role makes a mockery of what an RPG really should be, in my opinion. It should be about choice, about letting you create and explore and define your own character, not to have the game and surrounding events do it for you. It should be mundane and intimate as much as it might be explodey and raidy. My character should have faults and flaws and the freedom to find his or her own path. Maybe I do want to be a hero. Maybe I just want to start a cheese shop or be an archaeologist or design the first generation of submarines for gnomes.

Devs don’t even seem to question this rut that we’ve gotten into with MMOs, and boy is that a shame. Why not? Are they so married to the combat system that they feel every problem needs to be solved with an arrow to the face or a fireball? Maybe we should be making MMOs that combat is simply a part of a large tapestry of options instead of the center core.

Yeah, I know it sounds like I’m bucking for more sandbox features, and I guess I am, although I think that theme parks could embrace this ethos too. I’ve written several articles on how Lord of the Rings Online gives a much more well-rounded approach to being a hero than simply being all stabby all of the time, and it’s helped connect me with the game world in a much more meaningful way because of it.

Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog): For this particular question, it’s especially hard to explain my personal views without coming across as someone who hates MMOs. Clearly, I like MMOs. But the problem is that the market does not seem to be ripe for those people interested in games that do not make them out to be the hero. However, open-world single-player games are a dominate force… The Witcher 3 and Dragon Age Inquisition. But in both of those games, you are the hero of your story, even if there are enough choices to make your story unique from other people. Despite their missteps, Final Fantasy XIV, Star Wars the Old Republic, and Elder Scrolls Online are popular MMORPGs. Those games at their peak surpassed EVE Online at its peak (though I’d argue EVE’s business model is more sustainable).

I like both kinds of games, but the reason I jumped into MMORPGs in the first place was because I lived the living world aspect of the genre. The closer it comes to a world-simulator, the more I enjoy it. But I am also a graphics snob, so the animations and aesthetics of the game have to be a little more than decent in order for me to play it.

So if there is a perfect storm of good graphics and mechanics that promote a living world, then I will likely play that, but very few will buy it and even fewer will stick with it.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Hogwash and poppycock! That’s what I say to the notion that people don’t want to play Uncle Owens or Aunt Berus. That is precisely what I want to play. Well, with the exception that I don’t want to be a farmer but an Innkeep running a local tavern. And I know I am not alone, as many of my friends are of the same mind. They want to be just fishermen or farmers or merchants or crafters or mercenaries. Sure, some people aspire to be kings and rulers, but not everyone. Everyone can’t be a king, else who would be the subjects? I want to be someone in a dynamic world filled with dynamic people, each with their own story. I don’t want to be surrounded by thousands of ultimate heroes/chosen ones/saviors who are the only one who can save the day… just like everyone else. Homogeneity sucks. Why does everyone have to be THE special snowflake? They don’t, and they shouldn’t. Worlds are infinitely richer with variety.

I love how Lord of the Rings Online lets players be a part of the world, and even be there for some important moments, but the heroes of the story and the world remain the Fellowship, not players. The players are just inhabitants of the world that have moments where their stories intersect the special narrative. I also like how The Secret World approaches it. Sure, as a bee-blessed, you are special compared to regular folks, but you are still just one cog in a bigger machine within your organization. You aren’t some messiah — you just do your job. And you are at times reminded of this fact and your place by your superiors.

What PC Gamer describes is a virtual world sandbox — the exact thing I’ve been begging for a return to for oh-so-long. Create a diverse world with many roles to fill and people will fill those roles, people with their own stories. If there is only one story, then once you hear it it’s done. With variety, you can keep learning more stories and more stories and still never hear them all. And in a dynamic world, you can change roles as suits your feelings, your play style, etc. In a set one-shot chosen-one narrative you are stuck in that role regardless.

Dead, dead, dead.

MOP Patron Archebius: Whenever I start a new game of Skyrim, I use a mod called “Alternate Start – Live Another Life.” Sure, having your execution get interrupted by a dragon with a flair for the dramatic is a great way to start a game – but sometimes, I want to be a trader who loses everything to bandits, or an immigrant just arriving on Skyrim’s snowy shores, or a prisoner of ghosts who have long since forgotten anything but being wardens of a decaying dungeon. And often, when I’m just starting out, I don’t run off for a ruin and begin wailing on draugr. I start exploring, and I go from there. Sometimes I work at a lumber mill to earn enough money to buy my first set of equipment. Sometimes I happen across someone who needs help, and boldly fight the giant rats that have infested their basement. Sometimes a highwayman tries to kill me, and in the wilderness of Skyrim, I kill him, take his gear, and leave his body for the wolves. Every character plays out differently; they all start in different places, meet different people, and have different priorities.

Now, eventually, they’re all going to be among the strongest fighters, mages, bowmen, and assassins in Skyrim. I can’t say that I’ve devoted characters, even in games that allow it, to performing non-combat roles (though I certainly enjoy crafting, exploring, and farming). But I think the impulse is the same – I might not want to be Uncle Owen per se, but I want to have the ability to own some land and plant some crops. I don’t always want to be the hero that saves the day and changes the entire course of the Old Republic. Sometimes I just want to a gunner, or a pilot. Sometimes I want to be part of a team. Sometimes, just maybe, I’d like to sit in a port somewhere and unload ships for a while, scraping together enough money to buy my first set of armor and a space-worthy shuttle. And even if I start out as a heavy gunner wearing bulky armor and carrying a big gun, I like to know that the world around me is a place where cargo handlers and moisture farmers and dancers exist. I like knowing that it has depth to it.

Honestly, I wouldn’t even mind being Luke – the kid who grew up on a moisture farm with dreams of being a pilot, went running off to rescue a princess, joined up with the Rebellion, made a last desperate run at a Death Star and blew it up, then spent a couple years helping the Rebellion stay alive, piloting snow speeders and trying to save his friends, until he decided to save his father from the dark side, instead of participating in the final battle against the Empire. The problem is that most games don’t even let us have that kind of freedom or make those kinds of decisions. We are HEROES right out of the gate, world-changing, one-of-a-kind – if we’re in a squad, we’re in a special forces squad; if we’re force sensitive, we’re learning to master our gifts faster than anyone else. There is no depth to the world, only a mosaic of heroes, for some reason caught in the tedium of grinding for armor while trying to prevent world-destroying horrors from manifesting.

The PC Gamer article mentions the hardcore ARMA scene, and the people who want to be helicopter pilots, spending hours flying squads into and out of combat. There are people that legitimately enjoyed being cantina dancers. In a pen and paper RPG I’m running, the players are with Imperial Intelligence, using subversion and secrecy to keep a sector from spiraling out of control into chaos and piracy. In Destiny, I knew a kid who loved to just drive his Sparrow around. If you give people options, they will find their own fun – they will roleplay, they will mod, they will sell their services to pirate corporations. They will build, they will destroy, they will make friends and form a community. But you have to give them the tools to do so. You have to make a world they can find themselves in.

And if you do, players will surprise you. Every time.

Your turn!

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145 Comments on "Massively Overthinking: Being Uncle Owen in MMORPGs"

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Evan Schultheis

I guess it’s the reasoning along the lines of Star Wars: Republic Commando. You’re important, not just the average Joe (err… Jango), with your own plot and story that affects the main plot and story, but you’re not the Chosen one. You help prepare for groundwork for the invasion of Kashyyyk, you stop a Separatist flanking movement in the Outer Rim, you destroy a major droid foundry and take down a Geonosian weapons designer, all of which helps the Republic greatly, but you don’t single-handedly end the Clone Wars.

And that’s what I agree with, we need MMO’s where there are more Landos (Business Tycoons), Cassian Andors (Spies), Galen Ersos (Prominent Scientists/Scholars), Pondo Baba’s (Dangerous Notorious Criminals), Jedi Knights (Great Warriors but not Chosen Ones), Republic Commandos (Spec-Ops but not Chosen ones), etc.

I think Star Wars: The Old Republic sort of tried this with their class stories, but ultimately it was only successful with the Agent Storyline (where you’re effectively a cog in the system tied to the sidelines of the major happenings).

People don’t want to be Owen Lars, a poor moisture farmer doing menial stuff over and over and over again with uneventful lives. They want to be in the middle. Not the Chosen one, but to have their own story and their own eventful lives. Maybe an Owen Lars who helps organize a successful local/planetary resistance, but not an Owen Lars who organizes a Local Resistance and bests the Emperor in a lightsaber battle.

I think another thing missed here is those of us who want to be Grand Admiral Thrawn’s though. Those who are intelligent enough to predict and maybe even affect/control events going forward. The schemers.

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Skoryy

Late to the party, so much for picking up likes.

Point 1: I still need to find where Eliot’s finding all the good RP at FFXIV.

Point 2: I still kick myself for never getting into Galaxies and living the dream of being a hotshot TIE Fighter pilot.

Point 3: Finally, to the larger point, I’m reminded of the RP population in Guild Wars 2. It sorts out into equal groups of Noble, Terrorist, Nightmare Courtier, and everyone else. Or when I’m in Earth Spacedock in Star Trek Online and I can count on one hand the number of other captains I’ve seen flying Temporal Escorts over the past year. Meanwhile, you can’t fire a rock out of the torpedo tube without hitting a Vengeance or Universe class behemoth. And I won’t even get into most of the bios I’ve seen.

When Smed said ‘nobody wants to be Uncle Owen’, it’s not that nobody wants to be a moisture farmer. Its, by and large, nobody wants to be a literal nobody. You go into crafting because you want to be Elon Musk or Jay Gould or the local shop owner everyone in the neighborhood knows. You join a corp in EVE or sign up to be a stormtrooper because you want to be a part of a greater cause – for a loose definition of ’cause’. Then there’s that large part of the MMO population – the nobles and Admiral Marcuses – that want that notoriety. On top of that, you have those that want to be Marissa Picard.

I’m with Eliot in that MMO PCs shouldn’t be disposable, but they also shouldn’t be too important. Unless the player really wants them to be Batman. I can imagine striking the balance between making your PCs Tom Bombadil or the Hero Guy is kinda hard, even more so in theme park content. Or in sandboxes where the vocal minority wants to turn everyone into stars and extras of a Sam Peckinpah film. Its a debatable topic, that’s for certain!

shazanti
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shazanti

I really, really dislike starting off as the Prophesied One (feel free to insert any other Hero type trope). I’m just a newbie, I’m a scrub, I’d rather start as exactly that, okay? If over a long period (and NOT after the first mission/tutorial) I eventually become semi-famous…semi-famous due to the choices I make (choices that matter!)… that’s fine, so long I did a whole LOT of somethings to get to that point. Else-wise, it all just feels so hollow. I’m the hero because the game’s coded that I have to be the hero and being the hero is the only choice and I become the hero automatically. Err, no thanks. Let it be due to my choices, the actions I took (or didn’t take), and not simply because ‘Player must do this quest, this quest is only solved by doing X, Player does X because of course, and wow, Player saved the world’. …boring…so boring…

I’m at my happiest when I can carve out my own little place in the world, and build my character up in the way or ways that matter to me, and become known by the both the playerbase and the AI/world for what I’ve done as my character. Were I to be a moisture farmer, then heck yeah if I worked hard at it and became successful then I’d want to be known as a great one by other players and by NPCs. That’d be great, if it were to ever happen.

Vaeris
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Vaeris

I really, really wish Koster would get back into MMORPGs and finish the book he started that was the development path fo pre-NGE SWG. I don’t care about the skin on it too much (meaning it doesn’t have to be Star Wars), I more about those core systems and features.

Brett
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Brett

I agree with many of you, and I’d say Justin’s point about there being many more types of hero than just the hack and slash master resonates the strongest for me. I’d love to play characters that fit my definition of having personal courage, integrity and significance (like Uncle Owen maybe), even if they aren’t war heroes/generals.

I honestly don’t think this will change though until we have games that do more than just inherit the usual ‘experience/skill level’ fundamentals. At the core, accumulation along a scale implies heading towards increasingly ‘heroic’ abilities and narratives (in the physical prowess sense) – it’s inevitable that the mechanics will lead to characters that grow into relative superheroes and stepping off that track deliberately is going to feel like missing the actual point of the gameplay.

I would love to see new MMORPGs that have systems where the point is to collect increasingly specific character quirks through your choices, or maybe amass complex (and non-linear) relationships with other individual players and NPCs over time, or any other fundamental character system that doesn’t measure achievement and power via ladders – however branching they try to be.

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NeoWolf

The more immersed a world allows me to be, the more into a game I get. Sure you want to go and have heroic adventures, but there is also an appeal to kicking back in your home, doing a bit of crafting, growing some space turnips and just living the life.

I have said it before in VR related articles but the moment a game world allows us to plug in and fully immerse Im outta this joint lol

So yeah I’m down with being Uncle Owen so long as it isn’t ALL I have to be.

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Jadefox

Nobody in their right mind wants to play uncle Owen. Who wants to be dead in the first hour and written out of the story.

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thirtymil

To be fair, he gets written back in for Episodes II and III.

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Iridescence

MMOs today are not worlds. Farming or doing other menial work in a game that feels like a game is stupid. Just why would you want to? but if you build a living world where those mundane activities are actually working towards something or even just contributing to an actual complex life cycle like in the real world then suddenly it becomes much more interesting. But such a world has to be built from the ground up as much more world than game and I’m starting to really give up on MMOs achieving this although I always thought that was their potential back in the day.

Incidentally many MMOs fail story wise because it’s impossible to have thousands of people be the hero at once it’s impossible for most people to suspend their disbelief that much.

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Robert Mann

Aye, which is where I like survival sandboxes… just hoping that those with some PvP restrictions pick up on the buzz of demand here!

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Space Captain Zor

Does anyone else think Star Wars Rebels is a great setting for a new SWG? And ffs can we get playable droids as a race option? :D

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NeoWolf

playable droids definitely needs to happen.

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Pandalulz

I’m not sure how I feel about Rebels as a setting. It’s honestly a bit undeveloped, being just kind of mashed in between the end of the Prequels and Rogue One and sits in this weird midpoint for the universe. I’d honestly wait until after episode 8 and kind of see where this whole grey force user thing they’ve started with Clone Wars, into Rebels, into TFA thing goes, personally. Ahsoka is my waifu, I want to see where she ends up.
EDIT: Thought about it for a minute, and I guess a large reason I dislike the Rebels setting for a virtual world, I’d rather not have a faction war going on in the middle of it. Like if I want to be a farmer, it would feel awkward to have my farm constantly being invaded by an ongoing invasion, etc. Like WoW and its dumb forced faction war when we’re all just hanging out fighting a big baddie.
Also, the droids are some of the best parts of the SW universe, especially with Chopper, the guy from Rogue One, and some of the Old Republic stuff.

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Melissa McDonald

but would it have the cartoony graphics?

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Space Captain Zor

comment image

Cyclone Jack
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Cyclone Jack

I’m a big fan of non-combat roles, and I like when games add them, especially in MMOs. Back in UO I was a tailor and shop keeper, and I thought FFXIV did a great job overall with their gathering and crafting professions and quests.

Some games even adapted to cater to some of those players. WoW added fishing tournaments and tons of fishing content over the years due to how many players were focused on that content. Look at how many people have gone through the game as just a gatherer. There are people that just want to sit back and relax and zone out.

That’s not to say this is for everyone, but Bree hit it in the head when she said that people who Want to be Uncle Owen should be able to, just as anyone wanting to be Han Solo, Greedo, or Max Reebo should be able to. MMOs are so focused on combat, yet there is an untapped player base waiting for that next big world to play in where they can be who they want to be, not who the game tells them to be.

Estranged
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Estranged

Being a hero sells more then just being a citizen.

Just sit back and think – if you are a corporate number all day long, why seek to be a nobody in a video game?

I’m not saying this applies to all, but before judging gamers wanting to be heroes in their RP experience – ask yourself, why do you just want to be a number at work and in gaming?

For each their own. Surely this is possible.

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Melissa McDonald

The genius of LOTRO is your ability to make your way in the world as a nobody, unless you want your deeds to make you a mighty hero. You can happily just be a Pipe Weed farmer and listen to the Grateful Dead instead, if that’s what you like. Want to see the iconic characters from the books? You can do the epic quests and meet them. But you choose, you decide, the world is big enough and rich enough that you can do what you want and be who you want to be. I wish every MMO was exactly that way. Galaxies got it right.

Combat should only be one facet of a great game.

(btw: ever seen the Robot Chicken skit where Aunt Beru is entertaining some stormtroopers out on patrol, looking for the droids? They’re having a lovely time eating cookies and drinking blue milk. One of them goes to the bathroom and inadvertently starts a fire, then hastily leaves with his companion. That’s how Beru and Owen actually got burned up…)

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rafael12104

Hmm. I guess it is a matter of degree for me. In my view, every one is in control for their inner Uncle Owen in a real MMORPG.

What I mean is this. You don’t just appear in an MMORPG capped with everything unlocked. MMORPGs are a journey through a specific world. Along the way, you do have a choice to be a version of Uncle Owen. You can be the guildie that just likes to chit chat or the master craftsman, or the one who prefers to chill and work at making your humble abode the best it can be. Yes, depending on the game you may be asked by this given world to carry a sword. or to quest to advance, but, how you interact with people and who you are in game is a matter of choice. Yes, even in a theme park.

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Robert Mann

True to a point, but all too often most of the things outside combat are locked behind… combat and being the hero.

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Pandalulz

Again, while I don’t play it, this is where EVE gets a lot right. Some of the most fun I had in that game was when I joined a tiny little corporation, we all got on voice chat and spent three or so hours every week strip mining a random high-sec asteroid belt. My entire job was to pull stuff out of the Orca, dump it in my industrial and just drive it back and forth between the belt and station over and over again. I wasn’t even shooting the asteroids.
And then we might get bored, wander out to low-sec and pick a couple of fights (never shoot first was our motto).
Even if you join one of the big super coalitions, somebody still has to procure resources, build ships, organize stuff, etc.

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Ken from Chicago

STAR WARS GALAXIES, yet again with Bree with SWG. Well I’m gonna turn the tables and discuss something Bree *never* talks about: CITY OF HEROES. ;-) One the features many of us COH players wanted was a “secret identity”. That’s part of why costume change emotes were o popular. Aside from having multiple superhero costumes, you could have a “plain clothes” costume and change into a superhero costume. Several of the “spiritual successors” of COH mention including secret identities as a feature.

As popular as combat is in mmos, and they must be or else there wouldn’t be such a prevalence of what Bree lovingly refers to as “murder simulators”. However non-combat roles are popular also. That’s why crafting, trading, mining, fishing, farming, trading or simply exploring are also popular. It’s why many of those features are included in WORLD OF WARCRAFT, ARCHE AGE, WURM, ELITE DANGEROUS, various sandbox games and of course, are planned for STAR CITIZEN.

I agree with Bree and with Justin that the focus of mmos that you will be The Hero that saves the world can be as repetitive and as tiresome as the mundane life said game is advertising relief from. VARIETY of play styles, for those want to be The Hero or those who wish to be merely A Hero or who don’t want to be especially heroic at all but enjoy a bit of diversion then yes, being an Uncle Owen or an Aunt Beru can be rather appealing.

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squidgod2000

Hell yes, I want to be Uncle Owen, but with the potential to be the guy who holds power over a hundred Uncle Owens and uses their toil for my own benefit.

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Melissa McDonald

“they hire only strong backs and pay pennies for them. It is as if the Pharaohs have returned.”

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MesaSage

Archebius nailed it. To think in terms of playing one role on one single character is to miss one of things that make MMORPG’s great for me and that’s ALT’S!

So you want to be a fighter? Ok, A farmer? That’s cool too. Letting us play the same content in a variety of ways is what makes the genre great for me and gives it endless longevity.

Saying that “Nobody wants to play Uncle Owen” is to simply miss the fact that we don’t have to chose just one.

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Sally Bowls

Put me down as yes to Uncle Owen. Yes to non-combat roles.

But let me stick up for the Hero. Joesph Cambell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces is about how across thousands of heroes and thousands of years, there are just variations of the monomyth. So the third-rate (too harsh, looking for a polite form of not-world-class) writers at a MMO are more likely to get a satisfying narrative out of re-mining The Hero’s Journey than some original composition.

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Nordavind

I can be a fighter, I just don’t want to be “the one” or one of “the few”. I want to be one of the many.

Also, Uncle Owen died and had no rezz pad. Bad choice.

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Sleepy

The idea of being a nobody in a populated world was what I found so fascinating about mmos in the first place. I HATE being the hero, along with everyone else. The first time I ever logged into Ultima Online, I was just dumped on a street in Britain with the clothes I had on my back. Within a half hour I’d been tricked, murdered and left naked in the middle of the street.

It was brilliant ;)

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Danny Smith

Time for the weekly SWG lament, take a drink! :p

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Sally Bowls

:-)

1) “weekly” greatly overstates the writers’ self-control

2) this comment makes no sense, as participants of the SWG drinking game died of alcohol poisoning long ago.

:-)

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Fisty

I have been playing SWG Emu awaiting Publish 9 in the next month or two (I assume). I love how it still holds up as a great sandbox.

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starbuck1771

I play on Reckoning for Pre-CU, and on Legends for my NGE fix.

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Jeffery Witman

I’m all about this! Two games got this right, in my experience. DDO got the team idea right for combat. You could reincarnate all you’d like, but you’ll never be able to get epic level magic and thief skills. You had to choose your role and play it. No one person was the hero, it was just a decent sized city that had problems with kobolds and orcs and a steady stream of adventurers coming through the port. Many times you needed to team up with other people, and the game have you one of the best LFG systems I’ve ever seen to accommodate that. People regularly ran dungeons and raids with PUGs that way and it was usually not a catastrophe.

The other game is, of course, SWG. Galaxies had the right idea for Crafters and noncombat players as classes of their own. And they made them at least somewhat important. Dancers and musicians gave good buffs, and the Crafters had important roles to fill in making the houses, bank terminals, city Halls, shuttle ports, and other things that players needed to make their own cities our have their own housing. They also made armor and weapons upgrades (bits) needed to be top tier. Certain powerful things required Crafters to go with combat people to craft in dangerous places, like the Mandalorian armor. If you wanted an awesome ship, or any ship at all, you had a few high end ones that you could get from quests, but all your components could only be the best if you went to a crafter, or their shop/terminal, and bought what they made. Oh, and your crafter could still be an Ace pilot for the rebels, Empire, or just themselves. The sandbox worldS that we’re available in Galaxies were fantastic. Their bounty system wasn’t too exploitable, either.

The idea of being Lando was possible there. We had a whole city created by our guild called Corp City on Lok (Chilastra server) that was all about mining, creating, business, trading, and getting rich. When I left Galaxies I had several billion credits worth of raw resources that were highest quality materials (I left them to a friend). I had factories, harvesters, and buildings by the dozens. And it was fun. Sure, I also played a badass bounty hunter for the rebellion, but that never stopped me from making sure I had the best materials available and got my harvesters and extractors on new spawns ASAP.

It was a world that was lived in. Players had houses and stores and factories and whole cities. There was epic combat, heroes to fill a galaxy with, and all the supporting characters to keep them fed and equipped. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a great start and I miss it greatly in today’s landscape.

The only thing I would add is that fantasy settings aren’t the only place these things can take place. How about a modern setting, or just an alternate history setting. One of the big draws of TSW for me was the modern day setting with hints of cyberpunk possibilities. I’d love to see an alternate history sandbox take on settings like Deadlands, Fallout, or The Man In The High Castle. Give us options. Really try to reproduce the flexibility of tabletop RPGs.

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Schmidt.Capela

My issue with games that allow players to be “Uncle Owen” is that, in order to keep that kind of role important, other players are often forced to rely on those playing “Uncle Owen” for some essential service or product.

When that is the case, chances are good I won’t be playing the game. I have nothing against diverse or non-combat characters, I even enjoy playing non-combat roles from time to time if the game supports it, but I’m absolutely not going to depend on others in a game. If I can’t be self-sufficient, I have no interest in the game — but, at the same time, if I can be self-sufficient then usually “Uncle Owen” characters have no niche to fill.

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Robert Mann

Aye, there are those players… and for you I present: Current MMOs! AKA, once again I say “Not all games need be the same, nor please the same people, even within a genre.”

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Veldan

“I’m absolutely not going to depend on others in a game”

This sounds a lot like MMOs are not the right genre for you, and you should be looking at single player RPGs.

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Jeffery Witman

It sounds like you want single player games, not MMOs.

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BalsBigBrother

Sorry I have to disagree. There is nothing wrong with self sufficiency and not wanting to rely on other people. Just like everything else that people are asking for in a living world mmorpg it should be something that is possible.

It comes down to balance being self sufficient should be a hard thing to achieve and need a lot of work/time but it should not be impossible. That way it is still an option for folks that may want it but it still gives the Uncle Owen types a place to sell their wares to folks who may not want to go that route or have the time for that.

If you dismiss self sufficiency as being a single player game thing then you may as well dismiss all the “Uncle Owen’s” and everything that this article is asking to be a thing in an mmorpg.

Everything should be achievable even if some routes are harder than others.

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Melissa McDonald

But, everyone bitterly complains when MMOs can be played solo.

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Robert Mann

This is why I like some of the sandbox games, and Bree hits on why I detest so many of them.

Options, varied characters, not being able to do everything, and joining part in a truly massive world of people different than me, rather than a world full of seven variations of hero with different skins and some npcs to manage to be both Mary Sue and desperately hopeless without that one hero (over and over again as people play the same story.) It doesn’t need to be cutthroat. Some PvP and all is fine. A world full of it is just another game waiting to die like so many others.

No, I don’t really want to be a moisture farmer on a desert world. However, being part of a society which works together to form an economy, and having the choice to do something (and be different from others doing it, such as having different style choices for crafting chairs *as an example* which make my work different from almost anyone else’s) is what makes a virtual world so potentially endearing.

Without those things, the MMO genre feels like going to a restaurant that advertises gourmet food and then serves you stale bread and water.

Vaeris
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Vaeris

I always seem to come back when you talk about SWG, lol! Anyway, I’m with you 1000%. My main character (had multiple to include one as a Mayor and one as a CH) was a Doctor/Combat Medic build. I spent my time looking for the best resources (SWG Craft got so many clicks outta me) to fill my vendors of which I had on three different planets. THAT is the character I wanted to be with the GCW in the background. Keeping both sides in Stims and medpacks while making a ton of credits to further my pharma empire was the story I wanted to play.

I didn’t care about being a hero for the rebellion or championing the empire’s goals. That was a story written by someone else about someone else. Going from surveying by hand and selling product on the streets corners of Dearic to rolling out a fleet of harvesters and selling via vendors in stores on three planets, and making millions of credits…THAT was my story.

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Witches

You can’t even be Han or Leia, Uncle Owen is asking for more than they are capable/willing to give us, i love Jedi and lightsabers, but that doesn’t mean that’s all i want all of the time.

Most games go out of their way to keep you from just exploring the game world, the first time i played Fallout i eventually failed because i forgot i had a deadline to save the vault; i hated Settlers because i wanted to actually build a city, not just collect all the resources and then move on.

The irony of this example, is that in the original SW trilogy, Yoda was this annoying weird green thing, yet many people immediately liked him and these days he’s one of the most iconic characters in the franchise.

Actually the more i think about it the more holes i see in the ” no one wants to be uncle Owen” narrative, i’m sure many people would want to be R2 and yet we don’t get tho be droids either, this is less about what we want and more about what they are willing to do.

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Mark Jacobs

Loved this story, really well done all of you but I think Bree said quite concisely what I’ve always believe about MMORPGs, never more so than now:

“This genre can be so much more than it is right now”

I would alter it, just slightly, to:

“This genre can be so much more than it has ever been”

And I’m not referring to Camelot Unchained nor any other MMORPG I’ve followed in development. :) I’m one of the people who really can say that I believed in the future of online games/MMOs since before they were even much of a thing and I’m more excited about their potential than any other time since the late 70s.

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Paragon Lost

That’s the thing though MJ, had you asked me back in 1992 on one of the GEnie bbs, if I thought that this is where we’d be today mmorpg wise, I’d have said no way. Looking at what we were doing in text based rpg’s at that time and looking forward a quarter century…

I would have thought a lot more would have been going on basically. Instead mmorpgs have narrowed their perspective. I find that lacking and sad. :/ It’s actually caused me to spend more time in the last couple years playing tabletop rpgs. Which “is” a surprise or would be a surprise to anyone who knew me even by the late 1990’s when I was saying that tabletop rpgs were dying and the future belonged to online.

Basically I don’t subscribe these days to the glass half full with a bright and exciting future. I’ve just seen too much bad design, too much narrow focus, too much let’s make the mmorpg into everything else but what it should be design etc. Of course the silly part is I did back your Kickstarter, as did my wife for that matter. So I guess in an odd sort of way I’m glass half full for what you’re doing. ;p Illogical? (shrugs)

Specus
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Specus

I prefer MMOs that allow people to be Uncle Owen, if they want to be. Take Eve, for example. If you want to pilot the biggest ship in the galaxy, you can do that. If you want to be a pirate, you can do that. If you want to be the galactic equivalent of a truck driver, driving down the Interstate, chatting on the CB, you can do that too. (did I just date myself?) And the nice thing was, all those roles were filled by someone, willingly.

I don’t mind games that make everyone play the part of the hero, but if they don’t have a good storyline behind the character, I tend to get bored after a while, then jump ship to the next MMO on my list. A good example of this for me would be FFXIV:ARR.

MJ Guthrie
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MJ Guthrie

(I still know my CB handle I used when I was young. My mom let me talk on it LOL)

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Robert Mann

Pretty sure the term CB is still used, so I doubt you tagged yourself to a time period too hard there!

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starbuck1771

Yes Citizen Band radio’s are still used by some old school drivers especially truckers. It isn’t as widely used due to a decline in usage thanks to cell phones. Now to be nostalgic I am thinking of loading my Convoy DvD. I would call MJ Rubber Ducky but she looks more like a Stuffed Ducky in her avatar. :P

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Robert Mann

She’s a tricky one… all ducks and bobs!

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starbuck1771

@Eliot_Lefebvre That wasn’t a Smed quote it originally came out of Nancy Mcintyres mouth.

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starbuck1771

For reference Eliot : http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/10/arts/for-online-star-wars-game-its-revenge-of-the-fans.html

“We really just needed to make the game a lot more accessible to a much broader player base,” said Nancy MacIntyre, the game’s senior director at LucasArts. “There was lots of reading, much too much, in the game. There was a lot of wandering around learning about different abilities. We really needed to give people the experience of being Han Solo or Luke Skywalker rather than being Uncle Owen, the moisture farmer. We wanted more instant gratification: kill, get treasure, repeat. We needed to give people more of an opportunity to be a part of what they have seen in the movies rather than something they had created themselves.”

Ms. MacIntyre said Galaxies had lost “significantly more” than the 3 to 5 percent of players who typically leave any online game every month. She said she expected the game to return to its previous subscriber levels in six months, a process she hoped would be accelerated by the introduction of a new television infomercial hawking Galaxies later this month.

“We knew we were taking a significant risk with our existing player base, but we felt so strongly that we needed to make these changes for the sake of the game’s long-term future that we all held hands, LucasArts and Sony, and went forward,” Ms. MacIntyre said.

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Melissa McDonald

SOE never addressed why people were actually leaving: The game was buggy as heck. Raids, quests, often were broken and simply never got fixed. For the RP/crafter/less uber kinda players, we didn’t care so much. The max-level raiders, the people who are loudest on forums, led the exodus.

And then came the NGE, which was essentially killing the patient trying to cure it.

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starbuck1771

Yes they did address part of the issue. They kept patching the game trying to fix the issues but Raph and the original coders had already left and nobody that was working on the game really understood the code so every time they tried to patch in a fix it would screw something else up. So in the end the main issue with SWG was quicksand. If you don’t understand Quicksand watch the movie The Replacements starring Keanu Reeves. :P (We need Emoticons)

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socontrariwise

My best times in MMO have always been the roles of someone who doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things but simply totters around doing their thing. Sneet Bogrum, the sleazy tavern owner, Lacroan the rather naive but kind farmer, Ciare the pacifist Firbold sword fighter who used to run away from a mob that proved too tough rather often muttering “oh, oh, oh”. Characters of my own making with quirks and oddity instead of the cookie cutter stereotype with savior complex. Figures focused on crafting, gathering and exploration of lands and people, but clearly not a “hero the world has waited for”.
I feel a bit it is like comparing a French movie that is quiet and all about relationships and hiddedn depth with MMO’s that are all Hollywood popcorn movies. Flashy, pretty redundant and shallow.
Aspirations I have in real life and the pressure and success to boot. In my spare time I really enjoy being not a nobody but definitely “atmospheric piece” and more … bourgoise. And considering that there are lots of “me”, who play MMO’s to socialize while using it as a walking simulator or to make a small spot their home and enjoy the community and peace: yes, give me uncle Owen please. I’d love if I could fill such a role in a MMO.

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Arktouros

First, it’s very weird to me that people only want to do specific things in a particular game. When I buy a game, I want to experience the whole thing. Crafting. PvP. PvE. All the parts in between. That doesn’t mean I won’t skip things here and there (raiding in GW2, PvP in survival games, etc) but the concept of playing a game for one specific thing (“I’m going to be a baker!”) just seems oddly specific.

Second, for like the upteenth time it’s all in how you design your game. If you want players to be moisture farmers then make the game reward moisture farming by making it a desirable commodity. I mean you’d think no one wants to move other people’s stuff around, but there EVE goes making a Transport market system that allows you to contract out items to transport from area to area. But designing that is complicated. Everyone being the chosen one, going through an on-rails story where they’re Luke is easy.

MMOs are in a creative slump because no one wants to take risks with millions of dollars and actually innovate and come up with new ideas that might fail. It’s not complicated, it’s just business. But as Gaben recently said, if you aren’t doing something that can fail you probably aren’t doing anything interesting.

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Space Captain Zor

because no one wants to take risks with millions of dollars and actually innovate and come up with new ideas that might fail.

Very few are, at least. Those that are are constantly the target of vitriol and doubt. Risky innovation takes longer to iterate on and develop than the vocal minority is willing to wait for, especially when the community is paying for it.

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Jeffery Witman

It’s what happens to every art form that’s consumed by the business side. Get popular, get mediocre. It’s pop music, and corporate sculptures, and elevator music, and network sitcoms, etc. Surefire formulas that tickle the part of your brain that keeps you coming back over and over again. Eventually you become tobacco, junk food, and casinos, building ever more concise ways to addict your customers so they keep returning even without the brain tickle. Now they need their fix of WoW and will keep paying you for it. Now they’re paying you for a hundred lockbox keys and timer resets every week, but cutting back to eating ramen so they can afford it.

We need more independent studios with vision and community support to make the real art and show the big corporations that it’s possible to do.

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silverlock

I think this is one of the things driving SC. Their are players who all they want is to run the best space tow truck service or be interplanetary truckers, and they are promising to let them do just that.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

;)

uncle owen l-arson.gif
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Melissa McDonald

One of your best I’ve seen. Bravo, gif maestro.

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thirtymil

“Clothing: Comfortable” lol

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Utakata

My guild refers me to Princess Owen of Pink Booms…

…err…the “Owen” part is no true though. >.>

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Utakata

Well…that went over like a lead pigtail. :(

Anyroads, I see my characters as just cog I a wheel…as much as I see myself in the real world. Trying to get by on the spells and abilities my class and specs afforded to me, and do what I can. Nothing big or special. And despite the game telling me otherwise…to which I abruptly put that narrative on ignore, with a shrug and a “Really? /Fake news.”

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Space Captain Zor

this is why I don’t install DPS meters

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Utakata

Meters are really a separate issue though. As they don’t necessarily make you feel “heroic”…more “epeen” instead. Which makes players believe they’re more important to the game environment then they actually are.

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Purewitz

It’s always more fun being the best hero or villain or the protege of the best hero or villain or just one of the many best heroes and villains. You need Uncle Owen in a game, but he’s best off just being an NPC. Players should always be giving the chances to be Han, Leia, or Chewbacca or Tarkin, Boba, or Thrawn. I purposely left out Jedi and Sith. I think demigod and god-like classes should be bosses and minibosses for 4player and 8/16 player content in MMORPGs. To make them equal with those that aren’t a demigod or god-like is just ridiculous. I agree with Raph Koster, playable Jedi ruined Star Wars Galaxies and is ruining Star Wars: The Old Republic.

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Paragon Lost

Honestly I prefer to be the companion of heroes instead of the hero.

Purewitz
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Purewitz

I like that concept as well. I enjoyed having Batman as my mentor in DC Universe Online, but the mentorship was too short lived. DCUO should have had more than 30 levels of learning to be a hero or villain from your chosen mentor.

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Robert Mann

And I would be one to disagree. I’m tired of always being the hero or villain. I’m certainly not alone, based on the comments.

Now, if you said that you consider it more fun, rather than generalizing it as if everyone must agree…

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Witches

The problem isn’t playable Jedi/Sith, the fact that any Jedi/Sith is a very high skilled one is, it’s like playing a sports game where all the players have maximum abilities, it’s fun as a cheat, but as the main game not so much.

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camren_rooke

I am perfectly happy to play Uncle Owen, Chet the bartender, Hired goon #2, or Daisy Mae the farm girl.

I don’t have the time or the inclination for deep long lasting roleplay but I LOVE Roleplaying. Gimme that small role that I can add a little bit of fun too AND can be one and done in a couple of hours.

So yes, I usually wanna play the quiet character, not the world shaking hero.

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jay

I think this is why black desert does so well. Yes, you have your heavy hitting pvp gods. But you also have people that do nothing but raise horses, fish, craft, and become tycoons in money and power.

For the same reason that EVE has stayed so strong for so long. Not everyone wants to be the hero, the main character in the story, or the king/queen.

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Robert Mann

That was what attracted me to the game, but the lack of any meaningful interaction behind it (outside an AH where prices are set) and the standard ‘everyone can do everything!’ ruined that interest.

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Melissa McDonald

lack of P2P trades is the one real fatal flaw to me. Otherwise I think it’s a wonderful game and a great game world to just wander around in and gawk at the graphic excellence.

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jay

With the bidding system in place, I find I don’t miss the p2p trades anymore. I used to be with you on that.

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Veldan

this

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socontrariwise

I agree. If it hadn’t been so insanely sexist (the costumes!!!) and rather grindy for the crafting with doing A countless to then do B countless …. I got burned out after spending almost half a year on pretty much just foraging for seeds and breeding them.

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Leon Andrews

So wanted to like BDO. Just can’t take the PVP.

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Melissa McDonald

I hate PvP more than anyone here, maybe, but I really like BDO, in part because it’s just not an issue until high levels.

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Greaterdivinity

The more crafting/harvesting aspects of Black Desert are definitely one of the things that attracted me to the game, I’ve just never managed to find the time to play it since I picked it up late last year.

Maybe I should try to find some time to level up a dark witch and see if it can scratch my harvester/crafter itch…

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Rees Racer

…not so much…

Uncle Owen dead.jpg
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thirtymil

PvP server

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Makes a helluva action figure!

uncleowen.jpg
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Melissa McDonald

oh.. I think it’s hilarious :)

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Utakata

…that’s kinda disturbing. :(

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socontrariwise

Not just kinda -.-

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thirtymil

I still don’t think the Star Wars IP was the best place to convince people being a baker/moisture farmer was going to be fun. When SWG came out we had three films, and pretty much the only moisture farmers in them got deaded sharpish at the Lars Family Barbecue by people with laser guns and cool outfits.

SOE saying ‘nobody wanted to play Uncle Owen’ was taking it a bit far but there’s a core truth to what they were trying to say. The films were pitched for action and if you make a game off a famous IP people expect you to deliver – the problem for many people with SWG was not that you could be a moisture farmer, but rather that you couldn’t be Luke.

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Melissa McDonald

Sure, but swapping it so that you HAD to be Luke and could never be Owen was not the solution!!

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Lethality

Actually, when SWG came out… we had 5 films, just waiting on Episode III.

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thirtymil

Sorry, my mistake. I must have blanked episodes I and II for some reason.

Andrew Ross
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Andrew Ross

But you could, just not right out the gate. I agree to an extent, since I remember my friends and I LARPed as Bounty Hunter Jedi (WE WERE IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, YEESH!), but I also remember middle school me RPing in Asheron’s Call as a middle aged warrior too thick to believe in the magic around him and more concerned with selling junk to feel rich, and I was inspired to RP that based on some Star Wars expanded universe stories.

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thirtymil

Okay, that was hyperbole on my part in order to make the point. But the Jedi route in SWG was basically the same as saying if you want to be a fisherman in Warcraft and fish in all the zones, you need to hit max level first – i.e. you had to follow a career you didn’t want first in order to follow the one you did want later.

I think what people really want to see is a world where all these options are open right out of the gate.

Andrew Ross
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Andrew Ross

That’s good for theme park MMOs I think. Quick and Easy (imo) is the name of the game because it’s more of a guided experience. In a sandbox, where you’re expected to invest and grow in the world, the original system made sense, especially because it came with increased power, but also real risk. We can have both (or could, if Lucas had allowed SWG to continue while SWTOR was being released) but sadly, it wasn’t in the cards.

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thirtymil

I think having the options available right from the off still makes sense for a sandbox. You want to be a Jedi? Great, start investing your time in the academy. Eventually you’ll be good with a lightsaber.

From what I understand of the original SWG unlock system, it didn’t make sense like that – or at least, it got people doing stuff they didn’t want to do in order to do the stuff they did want.

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Gadgets-4G

I stand firmly in the camp that sees’s Uncle Owen as an integral part of the game. I think developers should go the extra mile for those who ultimately make their games come alive by actually playing a role.

The games that hold the most reminiscent value are those with a strong community element. the original EQ has Freeport and the Commons where uncle Owen’s roleplayed purveyors of fine goods in exchange for coin.

UO allowed players to build entire shops. And those shops were built and operated by uncle Owen. SWG was full of uncle Owen, Even Shadowbane saw uncle Owens carefully planning their city keeping their goods stocked and the reds down.

MMORPG depends on uncle Owen and anyone who says different is talking straight from the keister.

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Leon Andrews

Ah man I remember the best time I ever had in any MMO. In vanilla WOW I spent MONTH’s just fishing. I just loved to roam around the world fishing. I leveled to max just so I could fish in the higher Lvl zones. I never worried about raiding or dungeons I just wanted to talk with my friends as I fished the night away. Still remember that so fondly. I really wish some MMO would take the ideas this article brings up and do them right.

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Gadgets-4G

I did this in vanilla Wow as well. Started when there was a graphics problem and all I could do was fish but I REALLY enjoyed it so I did it pretty much every chance I got. Now Fishing is a must have for me.

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nobleeinherjar

It was this very idea that recently drove me away from WoW when some friends and I returned for Legion. It just hit this point where I was thinking to myself, “Dear god I am bored to fucking death.” Combat, combat, combat. Grinding so I can do harder versions of the same content.
That’s one reason why, despite having several sizeable issues with the game, BDO is the MMO I return to most of all because I can, in some ways, be an Uncle Owen.
The Uncle Owen dilemma is one reason I’ve largely turned away from MMOs for the moment and have been seeking out more table-top related stuff, and wondering if Persistent Worlds in NWN/NWN2 are still a thing.
I’m not the first, last, or best person to say this about MMOs, but what a lot of players want from MMO developers is a world and some tools. Give is those two things, and we’ll build the game.

FVerret
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FVerret

NWN2 persistant worlds are still a thing!

styopa
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styopa

I’m convinced that Garriott’s original idea of a PURE sandbox: where players need bread, thus there’s the ‘invisible hand’ raising the value of bread until it’s valuable enough for someone to play a baker. I really think it could work.
HOWEVER, *life* has to mean something more than just respawning. If you can be a colossal internet dickwad and murder the baker JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN, with few consequences – it will never work.

I think that if players were linked to their mac address, or the price of playing was high along with a moderated respawn, it could work.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want a bubble wrap world where people are preserved from harm. People can play dicks in such games, that’s part of the world. But nobody should be able to come back without severe consequence.

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Robert Mann

Aye, that’s my biggest thing with the current crowd of sandboxes. Not enough of them putting restrictions and rules in, and those with them not going quite far enough. I support some of those that put some in, noting the desire for a world with some firm rules that supports creativity and community… but it is a slow work at best.

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