The Daily Grind: What one lesson do you wish MMO developers would learn?

MMORPG veteran Raph Koster went on a glorious Twitter tear last week, and I’m sure some of you can relate. In response to a thinkpiece on augmented reality, Koster argues that AR developers are worried about the wrong things – they’re worried about the tech and not putting sufficient effort or research into social systems.

“The essay skates over this in one paragraph saying, ‘It’s sort of like an MMO,’ but that’s wrong. It is an MMO, in every single way. Make no mistake, a mirror world is just an MMO server with phones as avatars. That means every social pattern you ever saw in an MMO will be present, from the WoW plagues to the client hacks to the parties killing monsters to debates over who owns what slice of virtual land to yes, harassment reporting and godlike gamemasters who effectively police the space with panopticon level awareness of history. Those servers will swallow activity, not just point clouds, to a degree beyond what people fear now with stuff like maps apps tracking your location.”

“Frankly, just about no AR people I have met grasp that this is what they are building,” he concludes, suggesting it’s a “terrifying” notion that developers aren’t learning from the lessons taught by games like “Habitat, LambdaMOO, Ultima Online, EVE Online, Second Life, [and] Habbo Hotel,” which already laid the groundwork for how virtual worlds work (and don’t) when players run amok.

It also drives me up a wall to see naive MMO devs parrot the same old design ideas that have been proven failures over and over and over again – and it’s not even my lessons and games and books being ignored here, as in Koster’s case. It’s such a waste of talent and resources – we’d all be better served if MMO devs actually learned lessons from the mistakes of thousands of developers who came before them.

What one lesson do you wish MMO developers would learn?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Code of Conduct | Edit Your Profile | Commenting FAQ | Badge Reclamation | Badge Key

LEAVE A COMMENT

130 Comments on "The Daily Grind: What one lesson do you wish MMO developers would learn?"

Subscribe to:
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most liked
Reader
Tia Nadiezja

You made your game free to play so you could more easily sell me cash shop stuff and lockbox keys. I get it. I’ll buy the stuff if I’m having fun – after all, you going free to play means your game’s not knocking a $7-15 hole in my budget every month; I’ll happily spend money sometimes. But that’s not what your going free to play did for me.

I was happy your game went free to play because it means that, since I’m no longer paying a subscription fee, I don’t have to play every day to feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. I buy a space ship or costume or mount or whatever, I get to use it whether I play again tomorrow or some time in early 2018, and that’s delightful.

So stop trying to make me play like it’s a subscription game.

Don’t expect me to log in every day to claim necessary rewards for progression (Cryptic with your “refining”). Don’t demand that, to earn progression currency, I do dailies that reset my progress on them if I don’t finish them before the day ends (Secret World Legends with your Marks of Favor). Don’t make everything a level of expensive in-game that it will take me weeks to earn if I play for hours every day and years if I take breaks. Let me take advantage of the customer-facing advantages of free to play.

I’ll still buy the cool ship/costume/mount. I promise.

Reader
John Mynard

I would point out that, while it barely qualifies as an MMO, Warframe checks most of the boxes I’ve seen people talking about in this thread.

#1 It’s fun. But it has some complexity.

#2 The customization is bordering on insane.
Every Warframe, weapon, armor cosmetic and syandana(Warframe lingo for cloak/backpack/things) is full colorable to suit your mood. Want your big, hyper-masculine Rhino to be pink with pastel armor? Why not? Myself, I’ve settled on black and white with blue trim, copper metal if there is any, and blue energy.

#3 The devs are super-communicative without giving the store away.
Where feasible they give insight into how the game systems accomplish what they accomplish.

#4 System changes and redos are almost always positive.
A meta-pattern of certain weapons had been known about for a while. These certain weapons were the only ones worth having, so they were the only ones people used. The Warframe devs introduced a whole new system of mods and relative weapon strength in relation to these mods that completely upset the apple cart. The existing meta weapons were weighted weakly, while weapons that weren’t getting a lot of milage were weighted more strongly. This resulted in an incredible broadening of weapon usage. Some weapons are still garbage, even with a Riven, but it comes down to the mechanics and usage cases of the weapon. That list isn’t very long however.

#5 Graphics matter.
Warframe is gorgeous. But it can run on a toaster and we’ve been assured by the devs that with the Plains of Eidolon release, even toasters are going to not be so toatery.

Basically, if every MMO/Multiplayer game could be run like Warframe, we would have an embarrassment of riches as gaming fans.

ernost
Reader
ernost

You game needs to be able to run on low end systems. I’m not saying it needs to look good. I’m saying that if I turn all settings to low, and it still cannot run on my system, I will not play it.

The main reason WoW became so popular is because it could run on any system.

Reader
Grave Knight

Stop giving us so little inventory space but than give us lots of things to pick up.

EDIT: Scratch that. While it’s a good lesson to learn I rather have them learn “ADD MOVEMENT SYSTEM AND REMOVE INVISIBLE WALLS!” Hands exist, let us use our god damn hands for something other than holding weapons. And if your level design relies on invisible walls than it’s not a good level design.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Peregrine Falcon

Stop making it so difficult to play with OTHER PLAYERS!

City of Heroes had sidekicking before WoW launched, but your MMO can’t? Why? Because you don’t want me to play your MMO with my friends? Ok, we’ll all go play another MMO that does.

Reader
refaal

“Your game is not going to kill WoW. Only WoW is going to kill WoW.”

oldandgrumpy
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
oldandgrumpy

Every change you make for the benefit of the game will result in player loss. Take this into account when accessing the importance of the proposed change.

(Game) Death by a thousand cuts (changes) :)

Reader
Carebear

I will quote what Jeff Kaplan (previous director of World of Warcraft) once said:

The single most important thing to remember when creating a game is that it must be FUN. When someone sits down to play your MMO, they are doing so to be entertained. An MMO should not feel like a job or obligation. It’s very important not to fall into that trap of trying to manipulate your community, as if you’re trying to run an ant farm. As a designer, it’s your responsibility to create a world that’s exciting, challenging, and FUN. It’s not your job to play god over someone’s play experience.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Armsbend

It is so uncommon now it could read like an inspirational message. The only game in active development right now that has mentioned fun at all is Sea of Thieves.

Reader
Sorenthaz

Feels like that’s been thrown away a long while ago with the rise of F2P, as well as P2P games needing ways to keep players feeling like they need to stay around during long periods between content updates.

Reader
Oleg Chebeneev

Graphics matters

Reader
Ket Viliano

I will add that graceful degradation of graphic fidelity on older systems matters.

luxundae
Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
luxundae

Give us what we want, not what we ask for.

Reader
Ket Viliano

You can have any color MMO you want, as long as it is painted black. :P

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Serrenity

I would really love developers to learn that small group content is really important too. By small group, I mean like 2-5 players. I’ve been duoing (paladin / disc priest) my way through WoW with husband, and it’s been a whole hell of a lot of fun doing all of these dungeons two man, even though I know none of them were supposed to be. I wish we had more content that was created around that 2-5 people mark. When I think of the really fun D&D campaigns – it wasn’t groups of 15-20 people with 10 getting to play at any given time — it was just 4-5 people at most. Party comp was a consideration, but not a mandate. Maybe I’m just sad because I know eventually we’ll run out of dungeons we can do duo in WoW, and then it’s like … well, what now?

I would also really like developers to let go of the chosen-one trope. I don’t want to go play a game to be a god-send hero — I want to go play a game to be something I can’t in real life — a wizard, a thief, whatever. I don’t want the weight of the virtual world resting on my virtual shoulders, ya know?

I’d also really like trade-offs in character building. When I think of the number of games where building your character and becoming awesome at something means you have to really suck at something else – that almost never happens. The Bane/Boon system might be something like that. But character development has really become “I ALWAYS GET BETTER IN EVERY WAY AND NO CHOICE EVER HAS NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES.” Character progression is super one dimensional, and developers (coughblizzcough) hide behind situational choices for abilities and call it meaningful choice, instead of making my choices have an upside and a downside. What would it be like to play a game where every choice has a positive and negative aspect, instead of every choice being unicorn-rainbow-farts and glitter vomit?

Reader
rafael12104

Oh, one more. PvP and PvE balancing…. Stop playing Skill Tree Jenga! There is no balancing the same skills across PvP/PVE. An improvement for one is a detriment to the other.

Sort it out devs, but quit breaking specs anytime there is a PvP skills update or PvE skills update.

Reader
socontrariwise

I would love for them to learn that there is a huge audience out there who want complex gameplay but in a cooperative way – and visuals is secondary. Basically we have nowadays two things: MOBA/shooter/FPS/PvP MMO who still cater to the same group of people and (coincidence?) are all run by the same guys who ran the stuff before. And then we have kids games, cute and fluffy and shallow.
At least the US development is so stuck in the same stereotypes and game type it isn’t even funny anymore. Everything that comes out is about survival against hordes of monsters or survival against players or establishing and maintaining your territory.
YAWN.

I have even considered starting AC and even UO because I wanted something more social, less military assertion centered. But AC was shut down anyways and UO I’ve played on freeshards to know too well and that it isn’t incredibly complex and the official servers are all so established it makes no sense for a newbie. Now I play ESO as a thief and crafter and explorer, Creativerse for the creative component – and No Man’s sky as explorer. And I’m really sick of it that nobody feels it is warranted to make something besides the ones needy of achievement over others. People paint and knit and read books and garden and such in their spare time for a reason!

Reader
Fervor Bliss

My lesson would be. “Stop trying to be everything, for everybody”. I do not like certain games, and that is fine :) good for them. Would rather play a small game that has people that enjoy the same thing, than a large game, where most are there for some other reason. Making grouping an aweful experience.

Reader
Bel 🆚 Floors 51-60

A few lessons I would love to see folks learn…

Inventory Maintenance is not fun, and going hand in hand with this… nor is figuring out which items will be useful at some point in the future and which items are something you can probably vendor or auction house without worrying about it too awfully much.

Some RNG is really fun… but making the best item you can possibly get a weekly lockout crapshoot is not. There should be a quick shot of luck method to getting good stuff, but also a slow and much more methodical way to reach the same destination.

Don’t make PVE players do PVP to get PVE stuff… and for god sake don’t make PVP players do PVE to get PVP stuff.

Reader
Ssiard

1) Going f2p doesn’t mean you can’t have subscription based servers that ban cash shop “perks”.

2) I would try your old game if you created a new “fresh start” server!

3) Sharding and instancing technology mean you don’t need more than one server per rule set.

4) Stop trying to beat WoW and pick a subset to be good at and focus on.

5) Kickstarters that don’t produce should release all code as open source.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Rottenrotny

Don’t alter the game, it’s payment model, classes, abilities and gameplay away from their initial incarnation.

If you launch as a subscription game stay a subscription game. Don’t later go P2W F2P Cash shop lockbox bullshit. If you need to, just lower the sub price.
If you launch a game with all mages being able to cast both Fireball and Frostbolt don’t later limit those spells to particular specs. Don’t change class skills/talents/abilities. Keep classes true to their initial incarnations. If you want to shake things up a bit ADD abilities, not remove
If you add flying to the game don’t later take it away.
If you have zones that are for particular player levels don’t later add forced level scaling. If you really want to add level scaling, make it OPTIONAL.

Reader
Witches

There’s too many Fantasy MMOs already, we don’t need another one.

Reader
Melissa McDonald

and too many Survival MMOs, and too many Dystopian MMOs, and too many Pirate MMOs, and too many Space MMOs…

That’s one reason why The Secret World was such a breath of fresh air, it’s pretty unique to mix horror, survival, fantasy, current-day into one setting.

Reader
Chris Brown-DeMoreno

Don’t lock progression behind RNG.
(I’m looking at you BDO and every element within)

Reader
nobleeinherjar

Narrowing down just one lesson I wish MMO devs would learn is hard. I could rant about this for a while.

I guess I would say that if you’re building a themepark MMO, make sure you let players choose the rides they want to go on and in what order instead of forcing them down a specific path. Because then your game isn’t a themepark, it’s a guided tour. And remember that it is a themepark, not a storypark. Craft a compelling world that players want to explore of their own volition first. The stories and campaigns that pepper that world should be optional rides like everything else.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Tobasco da Gama

Players who are only in the game for progression will never. be. satisfied. Give people another reason to keep coming back.

Reader
Paul

Stop trying to force players to PvP – if we want to we will, if we don’t we’ll go play something else…

Reader
sophiskiai

Many MMO players will give a hard pass to a game which gender-locks classes.

Alfredo Garcia
Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
Alfredo Garcia

Under-promise and over-deliver.

Reader
Patreon Donor
Schlag Sweetleaf

$

lockboxes are the devil.gif
Reader
Grave Knight

HEY, HEY, HEY! Don’t talk bad about the devil like that.

Reader
Utakata

I knew I was forgetting something from my list posted below! >.<

vikaernes
Reader
vikaernes

When you have a game in active development and testing, and an overwhelming number of your beta testers say something like “this is a really bad idea, you should reconsider this…”

LISTEN TO THEM.

Reader
Sally Bowls

Sometimes. Although, I invoke The Rule of Wildstar/EVE:

FT4U: “an overwhelming number of your beta testers say something like “this is a really bad idea, you should reconsider this…”

LISTEN TO THEM. And do the opposite!”

I.e., the sort of people who are playing your beta a year before launch are so very, very far from the mainsteam potential customers.

Reader
Dušan Frolkovič

Pick a group of MMO players you want to make the game for and stick with it.
Do not try to cater to everyone or everyone will be unhappy.
Clearly communicate who your game is intended for.

Reader
Utakata

Endgame isn’t all about raiding.
Competition is not all about PvP’ing.
Not everyone can do jump puzzles.
Crafting should never be retentive or tedious to be “enjoyed”.
Inventory space is precious but should be avoided being capitalized on.
Cash shops should be for fluff only.
Sandboxes should never need to be about FFA.
Themeparks should never be about being stuck on rails.
Exploration should always be encouraged.
Toxicity should always be discouraged.
Because it is a MMO doesn’t mean it has to be always about grouping.
Not all women have large jiggling mammary glands.
Costume parties should be a must on every MMO.
Pink and pigtailed options should always be available on every character creator. <3

…I think that's everything for now. /bows

Reader
rafael12104

Nicely done!

Now, about those inventory slots. Few things get my ire up more than when devs treat inventory slots like the last of the Mohicans. Sheez, Louise! It is completely artificial and unnecessary.

Look devs out there, we will spend money in your cash shops. Ok? You don’t need strong arm tactics such as giving out only 4 slots knowing full well that players will need more coming out of the starter area.

People will buy quality of life improvements, sure. But transparent cash grabs like inventory slot upsells, could hurt your quality of life for real.

Reader
Utakata

PS: Where did that Ever, Jane clip go, Borghive-san? o.O

Anyroads, I was going to say in context to that, while I appreciate where that game is going, Victorian MMO’s are really not my thing. Might be my Mother’s thing, but certainly not mine. :)

borghive
Reader
borghive

It was deleted, I think they thought I was trolling you, or links are not allowed. I played the game it is kind of fun in a weird way, you should give it a try.

Reader
Utakata

I didn’t think you where either. I took as an amusing suggestion at worst. :)

Edit/PS: I believe you are allowed to post video links as long as it’s on subject and not porn. :)

Reader
rafael12104

Hmm. Please devs stop the guardrail to guardrail overreaction insanity. Lol. Oh man, this is when devs bend over backwards to give one group of gamers what they want only to find that it isn’t at all what is needed and consequently swing back to try and “fix it”.

This has happened in many games I have played over the years, but the most notable recently was SWTOR. The simplest example illustrating the point was the companion debacle after KoTFE launch. Players whined because the companions were op. The devs nerf’ed companions and yes…. players whined because companions were nerf hammered weak. The devs reacted again bringing the companions back to a mid level range making both sides unhappy. It turned into a Shakespearean morality play complete with rage quit poems, failure protests, and companion/player romances.

The moral? For the love of Jaba my good natured devs, players are factional beast whose best interests are not always in the game’s best interest. Kowtowing one vocal group just spawns another vocal group and then chaos. Sometimes, players have to suck it up. MMOs aren’t made to order sandwiches.

styopa
Reader
styopa

“godlike gamemasters who effectively police the space with panopticon level awareness of history”
…and this is why no AR/virtual space will ever be anything but a faint simulacrum of the real world. Ultimately, in such a space there will be an authority figure. It may be remote, it may have a very light or nearly imperceptible touch, but it’s there. It may even be iron man (one death and you’re out). But the fact that ultimately there is a Leviathan (in a Hobbesian sense) means it’s not real.

(Apologies to the devoutly religious here who do believe that ultimately there IS an authority figure here.)

cf The War of the Jessie Wall – when Second Life betrayed their own stated goals – the Lindens were confronted with the fact that as much as they pretended to be a pure, lasseiz-faire sandbox, they really weren’t.
http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2003/07/war_of_the_jess.html

Reader
Melissa McDonald

In defense of Linden Labs, while they have given people the most free, unmoderated, unsupervised game world yet (maybe ever, honestly), there are certain things that are simply intolerable. They had to go hat-in-hand to the FBI and ask for help in not being held accountable for illegal gambling, since Lindens can be exchanged for real dollars, and Casinos were a huge part of the game back in 2007, 2008. Unregulated, no gaming commission, rigged casinos taking real money and making real money.

And then there was that ugly side of offering child avatars and a thing euphemistically called “ageplay”.

These two things are the only cardinal sins and the only explicitly banned activities, because they simply have to be. It trumps freedom and LL’s vision because it must.

styopa
Reader
styopa

I don’t disagree with you at all.

What I did strongly disagree with LL about was their intervention in the War of the Jesse Wall, where they essentially intervened breaking their own rules, because a “free fire” zone became a little more ‘red in tooth and claw’ than some stoned-out hippies wanted. Then later, when they’d corralled people into a tiny ghetto mainly as a punishment for doing precisely what was permitted on the server, they took away the ability to protest. That’s not fighting pedophiles or illegal gambling.

capt_north
Reader
capt_north

Forcing community makes for crappy communities. There are any number of ways to support and encourage community building without giving mega-guilds all the shiniest marbles. The best communities I’ve seen in MMOs are those where there are no particular advantages to belonging to the community (beyond the innate advantages of cooperation), but which provided a comprehensive suite of tools for community builders — including physical representation in the game world in the form of player venues, towns and cities.

Reader
Aiun Tanks

This. My ‘friends and family’ guild of 10-15 should get to have nice things too, without locking it all behind inviting two hundred fucking randoms and keeping our small-scale family/friends activity to a private chat channel.

Reader
Sunken Visions

Most people making MMOs these days aren’t artists and philosophers, they’re businessmen. They see games as software that can make them money, that’s it.

Remember back when big record labels took over the industry, and we had a huge surge of the most generic music ever created? Yeah, that’s what happened to video games. Making MMOs is way more expensive than making records though, and good MMOs simply drown in a sea of vapid greed.

So don’t give these people any advice. Good developers don’t need it and bad ones don’t deserve it.

Reader
Ben Pielstick

Of the western MMOs currently being developed, a good number come from Kickstarter because the businessmen wouldn’t fund them.

Reader
Melissa McDonald

that PvP should be consensual :)

Reader
Paul

That’s properly consensual, not we’ll treat you as a second class citizen in order to ‘encourage’ you to PvP and refer to the whole thing as ‘consensual PvP’

Reader
Melissa McDonald

Handle it like LOTRO – dueling by consent. Put “arenas” in cities where there is open PvP, but leave it out of the world.

Reader
Paul

Agreed – I’d add allow people to PvP flag if they choose to – but don’t let such flagging have any impact whatsoever on PvE (SOTA got this very wrong)

Reader
Arktouros

There are only two things that have ever really frustrated me when it comes to MMO design.

First is that if you’re going to copy the WOW model then don’t forget it’s most critical component: Managing difficulty. When WOW first launched it was a pretty decent grind to get to 60, most of the end game dungeons were reasonably difficult, and the raids were very difficult. Players will eventually “get good” at your game and make those difficult things not so difficult for themselves and there’s no reason to lower the difficulty early. When you’re ready to release new raid content you can slightly slower the accessability of the old content but still make the new content harder and more difficult. Think of it like a plateau that you slowly erode into a mountain side when your next plateau is ready. Over the years this means much of that starter content WOW had is now trivial but that doesn’t mean your new game should also be trivial!

Second, please stop copying the WOW model or any model. As a long time MMO or hell just a game player the number one reason I end up quitting a game in the first 30-60 days is because it’s basically the same old game I’ve played before. “But this new twist!” you say but when 90% of your game is identical to another game I’ve moved on from I’m unlikely to stick with it. If you want me to be immersed you gotta give me some game depth to immerse myself into. I get that no one wants to fail when literally millions of dollars have been invested to develop a game but the simple reality is that if you’re going to play it safe you’re just not going to see the kind of success you want because if aren’t doing something that can fail you probably aren’t doing anything interesting. Lack of innovation is ultimately what’s hurting MMOs the most right now.

Reader
TomTurtle

Stop carbon copying themepark MMO design and start injecting more world building elements. Yes, housing is a thing players actually want and enjoy. No, standard open world PvP isn’t necessary.

I hate the apparent conflation that players must not like sandbox elements because of how sandbox MMOs are poorly received. It has more to do with poor implementation in those titles, particularly the incessant inclusion of the same old tired PvP design. While I’d be more than okay with no open world PvP, I do believe it can be handled well with thoughtfully designed rulesets and making consequences so there isn’t a lawless, chaotic hellhole of open world gameplay.

Developers keep spitting out the same designs and focusing on the wrong incentives to get people involved in their MMOs, not realizing how much richer and exciting they could make their games by tapping into pre-existing design ideas. Admittedly those ideas need some polish and iterations to fit in the present day MMO landscape, but I’m certain it’d be worth it.

Reader
Sray

Stop making “one size fits all” games. MMOs have become platypuses (creatures designed by a committee from a checklist with no regard for the actual end result) as a result of this thinking that there has to be “something for everyone”. The most popular games out there are all fairly focused experiences that leave the majority of players out there unaccounted for so they can find a game that actually suits them, not one that has a little bit of something for everyone, so that everyone can have an equally unsatisfying experience.

Reader
Ken from Chicago

IF you’re going to break longstanding tropes in mmos with new game mechanics–include clear explicit tutorials explaining how the new mechanics work vs the old, demonstrating how the new mechanics work vs the old and letting players practice the new mechanics vs the old.

Don’t just toss it in there and leave players to just “figure it out”, ArenaNet.

I bought into the MMO Manifesto but you have to show not just tell us about it. That’s poor communication.

— Ken from Chicago

P.S. This just like Google’s augmented reality visor, Google Glass. It was a fantastic idea that they just tossed into field with a great “manifesto” about how it might work, but the actual device was poorly communicated and left for folk to try out at $1500 a pop.

kjempff
Reader
kjempff

Make worlds not stories.
Stop controlling the players every move, every moment.. instead give players tools, fun gameplay, interesting mechanics and let them play.
Stop dumbing down, aka systemizing and simplifying.
Don’t let suits have control over gameplay (if you become one, retire yourself from those decisions). Acknowledge even big design mistakes and try to correct them, it is no ones fault, mistakes happens on all levels.. Second rule in game development: always be prepared to kill your darlings.
Oh yeah, make good games not nasty monetizatio

Reader
Rheem Octuris

Gear sets. The problem with pre-designing your gear, and having it all go together is basically saying you only can wear these things in this slot, and this is better than that, and this is the best game in the game. To know there is a ‘best in slot’ item at all is horrible. It says “Once you get all the best-in-slot items for your class or spec, you are basically done with the game, until you don’t have it.”

Something like Destiny 2 is a much better system that provides more replay-ability over time.

Reader
TheDonDude

Non-PVPers do not want to PVP.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
squidgod2000

I’d go so far as to say that relatively few players want to PvP, but those that do are loud as shit and never shut up about it—just like hardcore raiders (and how did that work out for Wildstar?)

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

A Turbine CM once said that PvPers and raiders, added together, were less than 10% of the LotRO players, but 50% of the forum goers. So yeah, they are far louder than their numbers indicate.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
squidgod2000

Yeah, there are a few people in my EQ1 progression server guild who think a PvP EQ1 progression server would be the greatest thing ever and can’t believe DBG hasn’t made one yet.

500 people would make characters on that server; 100 people would still be playing after a week; 10 people would still be playing after a month and they’ve have nobody to PvP against because they’re forced to play together.

Think they tried it with EQ2, but the server died quickly and was turned into a prison server (instead of banning players for being assholes, they were exiled to that server to live with the rest of the assholes).

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

AoC added “Blood and Glory” (hardcore PvP) servers due to mounting pressure from PvP players. With very much the rules set the PvPers were demanding.

Those servers failed, and failed hard.

One thing about PvPers is that if they feel like they are the underdogs they will often leave, or otherwise stop playing, because being the scrub just isn’t fun. This means previous top dogs will become underdogs as those lower than them leave, causing those new underdogs to leave and more top dogs to become underdogs, in a cycle that too often repeats until the server is dead.

Reader
Ken from Chicago

That’s reportedly what (nearly) killed WILDSTAR. They listened to the very vocal, very minority of mmo players who are “hardcore” PVPers at launch and haven’t recovered since. Not since ALLODS ONLINE have I seen an mmo plummet in popularity from pre-launch to post-launch–based on *choices* TPTB made to the gameplay as opposed to technical glitches, etc.

borghive
Reader
borghive

This game failed for a lot of reasons, weak IP, terrible combat, sci-fi setting, horrible optimization and questionable art style.

This game has a ton of casual content along with one of the best housing systems out there, and the free to play launch addressed a lot of the hardcore issues that people complained about. Yet, the game is still struggling to find an audience, not because it is hardcore, because the game world is boring, and the setting and the story is BORING.

I don’t understand why this game has become the poster child for failed games,because they focused on adding difficulty. I understand that their marketing early on was dumb, but this game fixed a lot of that, and it still had issues attracting players to it. Hardcore was not this game issue at all, the game just sucked as a whole lol.

Reader
socontrariwise

At least for me that were not the factors at all.
I’m usually firmly fantasy genre rooted but the style and humor drew me in. Oddly enough the humor in German was way more hilarious than the English one, whoever localized that did an amazing job and then some.
What killed Wildstar for me was how insanely grindy and shallow it was. It felt like an arcade game facility: quick fun but nothing to connect things really and in the end you do the same thing over and over. No underbelly compelling storyline or perception of achieving anything. The only time I was really drawn into a quest was when I played on the Dominion side (I prefer the good side but it was SO stereotypical BORING) and I brought food to those natives to get cooperation. And then it turned out it was all poisoned and everyone died, even the kids. That bothers me to the very day. Who comes up with a quest line where a person wipes out a whole peaceful village of natives casually – and it isn’t having any effects beyond the “tadaa that is what happened”?!? I was ready to quit back then but kept going hoping I could reverse that, magic and all. Nope, the atrocity was quickly forgotten and covered in more jokes.

And I found the housing extremely limited (few items to gain early on, the plugs were just more repetitive arcade games, mostly platformer style which I suck in).

Reader
Ssiard

People left because they wanted a difficult game but found this implementation to not be fun. There is no reason to go back after removing the difficulty.

Reader
Ken from Chicago

I heard similar complaints to a lesser degree, tho pre-launch the action combat with the glowing area on the ground to show incoming attacks or heals or buffs of some kind was considered fun, also the noncombat concepts of “paths” and housing.

I can’t speak to how well the IP was developed. Pre-launch, the various lore trailers were fun but I never played the game so don’t know much the lore progressed and whether it was interesting. Guild Wars 2 had biweekly Living Stories that was considered meh.

However, I have to disagree that the scifi setting was inherently a flaw. Some of the most popular games are scifi, Halo, Destiny & Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was the most popular video game of 2016. And yes mmo games with scifi settings have been popular too, City of Heroes, Star Wars Galaxies and SWTOR. Fantasy is not the be-all end-all of mmos.

Reader
Dušan Frolkovič

And yet, in my book, still one of the best ones out there (and it is still out there, somehow)

Reader
TheDonDude

I can only speak for me and my guild, but the hardcore was 100% of the thing that killed it for us. All the other stuff you mentioned wasn’t really an obstacle.

borghive
Reader
borghive

They fixed the hardcore issues though, the game is pretty casual friendly these days.

Reader
TheDonDude

Too little, too late, alas. Wildstar’s problem now is that “I don’t want to play it cuz nobody plays it and so it’s gonna die” catch-22.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
squidgod2000

Stop trying to make games—MMOs were better when devs were focused on building worlds. Shit, the slogan for Origin was literally ‘We create worlds.’

Devs these days focus too much on linear stories, progression, gear, drawing out content so players don’t ‘finish’ it too fast, balance, pay schedules (how frequently to ‘reward’ players), and overall gamification. All those psychological tricks are ultimately good for their bottom line (I assume), but they make players feel taken advantage of.

Build a world. Add some combat, some housing, some skills, etc., and just let the players show you the direction the game should take. Look at how people are using the world and what they’re doing, then add features or content to support that.

Reader
Ken from Chicago

Need Before Greed? Kill it! KILL IT WITH FIRE!

There is no justification whatsoever for it. It should be banned–period. Awarding loot on a round-robin or even better, duplicate items or at least duplicate levels of items, any of the options are infinitely better than Need/Greed looting.

oldandgrumpy
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
oldandgrumpy

You mean game design to reduce toxicity, now there is a thought :)

Reader
Ssiard

I couldn’t disagree more! You can’t design a game on the failure case where someone wants to screw others over. Need before greed lets you give items you don’t want to others !

Reader
Ken from Chicago

There is NO ADVANTAGE to Need Before Greed. If you want to give an item you got by Round-Robin or from Duplicate Loot or Duplicate Level / Value Loot because you already have it or don’t want it–you can still do so. No one’s stopping you from being generous. However Need Before Greed ENABLES people to be toxic jerks and “Need” stuff instead when they don’t need but merely want.

Cyclone Jack
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Cyclone Jack

“Stop making everything static!!” Content should scale to the group size, instead of a specific set number of people.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Modrain

Please stop thinking that you have enough servers at launch, and that you’ll be better at launching your major MMO than all other major MMO development studios. You should have extra servers ready to be launched if needed. Yes, it’s costy, but you don’t want an ugly launch that will negatively impact your game’s life, and neither do players.

Reader
Sally Bowls

Hardware servers? Absolutely. However, a twenty year old realm design instead of something instanced and scalable is bad.

Polyanna
Reader
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
Loyal Patron
Polyanna

RNG is not a game mechanic. It’s not “fun” or “interesting,” and it doesn’t add “choice” or “depth” or “player agency” or any of that other horseshit you mumble about it. RNG may be, rarely, an acceptable solution where nothing else will do. But wherever used it always should be curbed by bad luck protection or something like an alternative currency system, to put a hard upper bound on how far it can run amok before being reined in to a determined outcome. If you’re using (or abusing) RNG because you can’t figure out how to make actual game mechanics work, then you’re doing it wrong.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
squidgod2000

You’ve got to have some RNG—but you also have to provide the means for a player to improve their odds.

For example, you need a chance of failure in a crafting system, otherwise it’s not crafting—it’s just a collection quest. But if you provide the means for a player to improve their odds of success (higher skill, use extra materials, etc) it’s an overall less frustrating experience for the players.

Reader
Paul

Vanguard did this the best I’ve ever seen.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

Not really. I find deterministic crafting (i.e., crafting without any RNG whatsoever) to be much better than the alternative.

One of the main reasons I like crafting is because it allows me to escape the RNG devs insist on attaching to most rewards. Make crafting depend on RNG and chances are good I will never bother with it.

Heck, WoW removing at launch the chance of losing materials from its crafting (which means you could just mash the crafting button with impunity until you got what you wanted, eliminating RNG from the results) was one of the reasons I stopped jumping between MMOs and decided on WoW as my go-to game.

The only place where I agree that RNG is important is non-action combat, and even then with a caveat: combat RNG should have robust anti-bad-luck protection built in, like what WoW does.

(Ironically, RNG was also part of the reason I stopped playing WoW. More specifically, RNG in obtaining rewards. Removing from their dungeons guaranteed token drops that could be used to purchase gear was one of the things that killed all interest I had in running them; I can farm for guaranteed drops that can be exchanged by rewards, but I will never, ever, farm for a random drop.)

deekay_plus
Reader
deekay_plus

i thought about this alot in my mmo design project and in the end i’ve decided to just remove it outside of loot tables (which my design doesn’t have full gear item drops, just materials, and bosses guarantee specific high value key mats).

but my former dev partner didn’t understand that. but then he kept demonstrating that he wasn’t reading or listening to my design to the point i quit the partnership completely and went back to writing my design ideas on my blog apart from him. lol

Reader
Wanda Clamshuckr

What one lesson do you wish MMO developers would learn?

To put it simply: Stop treating the people that keep your lights on like morons.

As a customer, I’m tired of being lied to.

Reader
Ravven

No one likes lockboxes. Just forget the entire lockbox concept.

Also, you can design an open-world sandbox without having forced pvp for everyone. Why aim for a niche market? Allow players to play as they wish without punishing them.

Reader
Ravven

I don’t mind lockboxes that you get in game without having to pay for keys. I’ll throw them in the bank and wait for a key to drop. But pay to open them? Not a chance. I admit that I totally don’t get people who will pay real money to open lockboxes.

Reader
Ken from Chicago

I wish it were true that no one liked lockboxes but they wouldn’t have spread like viruses if “no one” liked them. I still would like them removed but I realize there is enough of a percentage who do like them.

However I totally agree about letting us play PVE only or at least have that as an option.

deekay_plus
Reader
deekay_plus

tbh i know a couple people that legit like lockboxes. some of those people will only earn them through gameplay, but they love and focus their energy heavily on any kind of gambling in the games we play.

granted most of those people participate in gambling of various forms in non video game format or in esports as well.

Polyanna
Reader
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
Loyal Patron
Polyanna

Stop trying to make me play your game your way, when and how, and how often, you think I should. Focus on making a good game that people want to play, and reward them in kind for all of the time they spend playing it, regardless of what they like to do with that time. If you can do that, then everything else will sort itself along the way.

Reader
Dušan Frolkovič

They mainly need to learn to formulate who they intend the game for.
There will never be a game that everyone will want to play, but they should try and attract those they want. Not let everyone sort it out by themselves.

deekay_plus
Reader
deekay_plus

yeah the degree of dictatorship on gameplay in this genre has come to really chafe my loins.

i’ve come to conclude that mmo developers some kind of mentally ill control freaks in this manner. some games being alot worse than others but this kind of mentality as a rule in the genre.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

Or just make the game so fun to play that playing it is its own reward.

Reader
Ken from Chicago

Communication. Communication. Communication.

The value of clear, coherent, cohesive communication can’t be overestimated.

Got bad news? Spit out the extent of it, what steps have you and will you take to investigate it and solve the problem in question.

Got good news? State clearly what it is. Set proper expectations. Letting the hype train get out of control can lead to good news becoming disappointing.

Good reporters and good critics are not “the enemy” but valuable resources to help you communicating with your audience as well as getting valuable, honest feedback at what you’re doing well and what weaknesses you need to improve on. Yes, there are some bad apples in the news media field just as there are some in the game entertainment field. Judge them by their track record individually instead of generalizing as one monolithic group.

An mmo is an ONGOING service and you have to keep on communicating with players to maintain and grow your playerbase. There are no surefire 100% guarantees but good, ongoing communication can go a long way in improving your odds for critical and commercial success.

Reader
Major Glitch

This right here.

Reader
Bryan Turner

ANet’s developers need to take some lessons from Blizzard regarding class balance (or hire more than 3 mofoing Devs for the Balance Team), all builds should offer up desirable utility and DPS should be homogenized to be tight to break GW2’s META mental illness within it’s End Game PVE community.

wpDiscuz