Massively Overthinking: The first VR MMO

    
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In this edition of Massively Overthinking, Kickstarter backer Yinta wants to talk about virtual reality.

“When will we see the first VR MMO?”

So let’s tackle those upcoming VR MMOs (and borderline MMOs), whether VR MMOs are something you want to see, and whether VR is going to flop in MMO vs. the broader market. I posed Yinta’s topic to our writers; read on to see what they said.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): It seems to me that the MMOs tackling VR most seriously are all sci-fi crossover MMOs, not pure MMORPGs — EVE (with Valkyrie), Elite: Dangerous, and so forth. Wander might be one of the few fantasyish MMOs I’ve seen commit serious support to VR; a Massively writer who played it a few years back said it was amazing.

I’ve never been obsessed about VR in any of the games I play. Truthfully, I have an overactive imagination and don’t have much trouble getting deeply immersed in a flat-screen game that makes a modicum of effort. Plus, I really love isometric and third-person viewpoints and prefer them to first-person already. On the other hand, new tech shinies! I’m not entirely sure MMORPGs need it, either; it’s a market that is traditionally several years behind the bleeding-edge graphics curve, which is probably right where it needs to be to mop up midcore gamers.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): We might already have them if you consider MMOs that allow for Oculus Rift support as VR. But if you’re talking about a game designed top-down to be virtual reality… I don’t know if we’ll ever see one. It’s an interesting concept, to be sure, but the technology will need to be as widely available as possible, because niche technology coupled with niche gaming is not going to equal great sales. Computers, consoles, and mobile devices are far more widespread, so that’s where the bulk of the development’s going to lie.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): When I was playing tabletop, I thought the coolest thing ever would be to play the campaigns in virtual reality. Can you imagine watching your spells be cast and your companions shooting and slashing instead of just saying/hearing it? (Or in my case, watching the insane friend nap on an evil deity’s alter or throw himself down a bottomless hole “just to see”!) I wanted a full-on holodeck experience!

Then I found MMOs and was really excited because they offered a good measure of what I was wanting: a visual component to my adventures. Do I still yearn for that full VR experience? Yes. And I’ve gotten a taste of a little more of it with Elite: Dangerous on the Oculus Rift. I’ve also seen the full-body VR demos at E3, which are geared towards single-player shooters. But I do not think that MMOs are a great medium for the VR tools we have so far, with maybe the exception of Wander. Just look at all the UI elements we have and the things we need to click on, from bags to skills. Until there is a full holodeck experience, MMOs are too involved to convert. Besides all that, I don’t necessarily think the majority of gamers will pay for the privilege; they already go up in arms about small costs for expansions, DLCs, and subscriptions.

Patreon Donor Roger: We’re already seeing VR seep into the MMO space. Games like Elite: Dangerous and EVE are supporting it and Star Citizen is building it into their game. VR does has drawbacks like motion sickness and vertigo with some people, so kinks are still being worked out. I personally can’t wait for VR to finally hit the shelves and be ready for the public. Despite what people say about it being a gimmick or fad. I’ve seen 3-D and VR technology before, but what I’m hearing about it now and how good it is by so many Youtubers and people I’ve talked to who tried it that I’m on board. As for staying power, the game will have to be build with VR in mind, specifically for first-person view or non-fast combat. Something like Star Trek Online, maybe, but for Guild Wars 2? Probably not.

Your turn!

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klepp0906
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klepp0906

Obviously your extremely disconnected with the state of tech, our civilization, and the rate of progression.
By the end of a young persons life we will likely begin seeing life extension technology, nanotechnology, and things which are dramatically dramatically superior to fricking a vr mmorpg roflmao. We will see one within this decade easy.
You do realize (rhetorical, you obviously don’t) that within one lifetime of a person in their 20s we went from driving horses with no roads to landing people on the moon yes?

Amorical
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Amorical

Anarwen Zarkov To try to be completely unbiased, comparing 3D Vision to VR is basically like comparing a newspaper crossword puzzle to a game on a pc monitor. They’re not really comparable except they both are technically a game. VR is not like taking 3D Vision and then amping it up, not like turning the dial up a few more notches. If they were animal species, they would not be in the same genus lol.

The only thing that VR and 3D Vision have in common is they both need to send separate visual information to each eye because that’s the way our brains work. But the information that VR and 3D Vision are sending is not really related. The same way that both newspaper crossword puzzles and pc monitor game both send the same image to both eyes, but they information they’re sending isn’t that comparable to one another.

DPandaren
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DPandaren

ESO works ridiculously well. I did a little of FFXIV with my Rift too. FFXIV was interesting as a lalafell. I didn’t realize how tall Chocobos were till I did that. Successfully tanked a few dungeons in FPS too. But so far ESO has been the experience MMO-wise for me. 

And I hope they go with adding official support for it later down the road. Especially since there are known developers on that team who have been messing with ESO and the Rift for a while now.

DPandaren
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DPandaren

bossrprouse goldstariv HR isn’t that great. Only because of the cover system they use. Flipping the camera back and forth from First to Third is really nauseating.

Marcusite
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Marcusite

You guys have no imagination.
The closest thing we have to a perfect VR MMO right now is neither an MMO, nor does it have VR support (yet): No Man’s Sky.
Any game where discovery is a pillar of gameplay is going to benefit massively from VR. Right now, NMS is highly fueled by discovery, and if they introduced more small things to look for (insects, flowers, or rare minerals worth harvesting) you’d have a much better experience looking around the world in VR.
VR isn’t going to change how the game plays, but very simple experiences can become hugely compelling when you have complete verisimilitude of presence. I hope No Man’s Sky actually ships a playable product and adds VR support so it can be proven.

melissaheather
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melissaheather

Craw ToyFuzion which might make for a better game.  towns and hubs are far too empty in most MMOs

kgptzac
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kgptzac

ApathyCurve Technically all computers have no fundamental differences from The First Computer.  Just because (and assuming) there is no fundamental difference between OR and whatever lives in your memory that is clouding your judgement is not enough to issue a prophecy on OR being flop.  I’m not sure which reality you are living in but digital entertainment has change a lot in the past two decades.

Armsman
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Armsman

What? By 2025. (Haven’t you guys seen the anime “Sword Art Online”?) ;)

Seriously though, If you’re a gamer in your 20ies right now you MAY see a truly playable/immersive VR MMO launch before the end of your life; but IMO the technology and ability to do it (and also have it be affordable) for the mass market is MANY decades away. As someone who’s been working with computers since the mainframe era (circa 1975 – just a few years before desktop PCs started to appear) I’d LOVE to see it, but I don’t think I’ll get the opportunity to really see/play a VR MMO at a level I would consider ‘immersive’ on that scope before my time comes..

melissaheather
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melissaheather

Justin was right.   It’s entirely a matter of perspective.   I hold Second Life to be an MMO.   And it supports the Oculus Rift.   participation in it being a VR experience is optional, however.    Most play it as a 3D game without visor.

bossrprouse
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bossrprouse

Polyanna I agree, the first VR game that’ll take off most likely will be like that.