The Daily Grind: What makes a good MMO spiritual successor?

    
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News of Divergence Online’s third crowdfunding campaign sparked a bit of discussion about MMO spiritual sequels earlier this week. Stained Glass Llama’s sci-fi sandbox purports to carry the Star Wars Galaxies torch, though it’s departing rather radically from SWG’s original design by introducing open world PvP and full corpse-looting.

Such a major design change disqualifies Divergence from being a successor, at least in my book, though I’ll probably play it anyway just to see what it’s like. What do you think, MOP readers? What makes a good spiritual successor or sequel? What makes a bad one? Which MMOs, if any, deserve a spiritual successor?

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!
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Observer98
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Observer98

This article reminds me of Smed hinting that H1Z1 would be liked by a lot of old-school SWG fans.

/snort

Estranged
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Estranged

I believe two factors are in play. Burn out and new relationships being sabotaged by the old.
See your point, however.

Rebel Engie
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Rebel Engie

What about The Repopulation?

Quinnocent
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Quinnocent

People are capable of doing amazing jobs of deluding themselves. There’s a certain set of self-styled “sandbox fans” that constantly clamors for new MMO’s matching their chosen criteria.  They claim the latest generation of MMO’s is “easy” and somehow regressive, that only by returning to “hardcore” features do you achieve the immersion of the “good old days.”

I’m not talking about people who pine for a SWG or UO-like game, at least not those who actually _played_ those games.  Their desires are genuine.

I’m talking about people who don’t really have any willingness to play a true sandbox at all.  True sandboxes aren’t magical, instant paradises of immersion.  In many sandboxes, your early experience is a lot of stumbling around fighting your own ignorance, struggling to form the necessary social connections, and figuring out what works and doesn’t work in a game where the “right” choices are as much determined by what other players are doing as what the devs intended with their design.  These often aren’t games that are instantly engaging on their own.  Know what the early SW:G experience was?  It was 25% magical and 75% god awful (opinions may vary).  It was an incredible game that was also incredibly imperfect.  The people who loved that game didn’t play it because it was a polished AAA dream sandbox.  They played it because they could look past the rough edges and see the potential beauty once the community kicked into gear.  Half of what made SWG great was the /commitment/ of such players.

That’s an awareness and motivation that the “hardcore” crowd often entirely lacks.  As a result, they almost never actually play such games, certainly not enough to let them be successful.  You can easily spot the toxic cycle on sites like MMORPG.com, the forums of which are a haven for that set.  They latch onto an up-and-coming sandbox title.  They declare it as the next greatest game.  Then some minor mistake is made in development, or they find a minor design decision objectionable, and they abandon the title, moving onto their next messiah.
And perhaps more importantly, if they stick with a game until it actually releases, they don’t really play them, at least not for very long, certainly not with the kind of player commitment that is an almost unavoidable requirement for sandboxes to shine.  I’ve watched a lot of “hardcore” darlings crash dramatically after imperfect but workable launches.

But this group is an extremely vocal minority, and they do have influence.  And the biggest sign that this crowd has too much influence on a game’s development is exactly the combination of those two features: Open PvP and Full Loot.  You can’t really have it both ways, unfortunately.
Open PvP+full loot can work and be fun, at least to a certain crowd, but only if you design your entire economy, gear system, and territory system around the risk of loss.  See EVE.  But again, even done right, those games only attract that certain crowd, and they have a very specific atmosphere.

Games that are promising to be havens of RP and allow PvE-driven play, yet layer “PvP with consequence” systems on top of that, at least in my opinion, have a good chance of being driven by a fantasy rather than pragmatic design.

I’m not writing off Divergence Online.  I actually like a lot about it.  I would play it.  I’ve bought and played a lot of rough early access or indie sandboxes.  It’s just definitely not a spiritual successor to SWG in my book.  And these design choice definitely give me serious pause.

Cosmic Cleric
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Cosmic Cleric

woolydub MorpayneRADIO “Nah son. You know what hardcore is? Playing MMOs where if you die in-game, your computer explodes.”
Its only hardcore if your face gets hit by shards of glass from the exploding monitor traveling at high velocities!  Ah, the good ole days of CRT monitors.  Nowadays, all you’ve got are LCD monitors.  LCD’s are explosive for carebears I tell ya!  They just fall over.  Stinkin’ LCD monitor stands are never balanced right.  If you’re lucky, you’ll get bumped on you on the head as they fall over.

Cosmic Cleric
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Cosmic Cleric

ManastuUtakata “I suppose one could use “spiritual successor” to circumvent copy write issues.”
Speaking of copyright issues, I’m amazed that Divergence Online doesn’t get lawyer-pimp-slapped all over the place.

Cosmic Cleric
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Cosmic Cleric

Walah Zeplini I think it comes down to how good you are in PvP.
If you’re good, its an immersive experience.  If you’re not, its pulling you out of the game breaking.

Cosmic Cleric
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Cosmic Cleric

Estranged “We pine for the old times, but sometime unanswered prayers are best.”
I know that this kind of sentiment gets vocalized very often, but I don’t think its as accurate as those who quote it often think it is (it ends up being over quoted).  People don’t wear “rose tinted glasses” 24×7.
Sometimes, things move away from what was good, and there’s nothing wrong with moving back in the other direction.  Nothing wrong with experimentation and trying out new things, but that doesn’t
mean that you can never go back to the old thing if it ends up works better than the new.
I would love to go back to a MMO that lets me feel like I’m living in the virtual world again, having adventures, and not just waiting for a queue to pop while I do the same quest again over and over on alts.

Dixa
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Dixa

Ah. Full loot pvp. The “real” pvp’ers as they call themselves won’t play here though. They will continue to complain or brag in the small-scale, arena pvp games.

dradiinmmo
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dradiinmmo

I was really going to spend some cash for this KS, but there are already plenty of games out there with full loot PvP, i was hoping to get into a game that is more seriously like SWG, this is not.