Global Chat: What Asian MMOs can learn from the west

Usually when it comes to discussing world hemispheres of MMO game design, comments and observations are made about what western studios can learn from their eastern counterparts. MMO Bro, however, flipped that discussion recently to share four things that eastern MMOs can (and perhaps should) learn from western games.

“The problem, though, is that in most eastern games I’ve played, the story still feels like kind of a background element,” he writes. “There isn’t a lot of effort put into developing it or helping the player experience it in a dynamic way. It’s usually bland quest text. In the west, we’ve seen MMO games make great strides toward better storytelling in recent years.”

As we continue with our visits to MMO blogs, we’ll hear musings on Guild Wars 2’s direction, Standing Stone Games’ missteps, speed-leveling in World of Warcraft, and more!

Tales of the Aggronaut: Burning torch

“This is ultimately what I consider to be my first MMO, or at the very least the gateway drug that opened me up to the possibilities of EverQuest […] While the core gameplay loop is still enjoyable to me personally… it won’t be for many especially considering how slow paced the game is and how cludgy the targeting system can be.  A good bit of my love of Destiny is likely because Phantasy Star Online was my first ‘looter shooter.'”

Inventory Full: How we live now in Guild Wars 2

“The original GW2 project was to create an ever-changing world, a dynamic environment in which no two players would have the same experience and no two sessions would play the same way. The current orthodoxy is, ‘It’s a game, after all… a game that doesn’t need reinvention but mostly needs a steady stream of great content, so we can focus on delivering great content.’ I get it. It’s just a game. I won’t take it any more seriously than it deserves.”

Gone; Now Back: Azeroth in summer and the lazy days of alts

“This summer I have been able to do something I have never done less than a year into an expansion — have all my alts at max level […] In the post-7.2.5 world of Azeroth, with Broken Isles flying, heirlooms, and legion assaults, characters can be leveled in a just few days to a week. It all comes down to how many assaults you can hit.”

SWEAR TO ME

Contains Moderate Peril: Is the honeymoon over with Standing Stone Games?

“There were cracks appearing in the façade of mutual goodwill during the anniversary event, when it became clear that several activities were exclusional. However, it has been the debacle over the pricing structure of the Mordor expansion that has returned community relationships back to how they were previously. Many LOTRO players do not consider the itemisation and costs of the three different editions of the expansion to be equitable. Once again, the game developers appear to be taking their customers loyalty and support for granted.”

In An Age: Mobile mindset

“I spent approximately 20 minutes playing FFXIV over the weekend. I logged in, talked to some NPCs, teleported to some cities, talked some more, then had to take a minute Chocobo ride back to the main base camp to complete the quest. The main story quest, mind you. I had more fun in the 60 seconds of dead time on the Chocobo than I did in the entire 20 minutes playing overall, as I was able to boot up a mobile game, snag some rewards, and restart some locked chest timers.”

GamingSF: Casual group content can work

“I’ve been plugging away at the Tyranny of Dragons campaign in Neverwinter on my Hunter Ranger and it struck me that the casual approach to group content in the game seems to work pretty well. Not that I’m running dungeons or more formal group stuff at the moment, mind. By casual group conent, I mean the lairs and dragon fights that feature in this campaign.”

Every day there are tons of terrific, insightful, and unusual articles posted across the MMO gaming blogosphere — and every day, Justin reads as many as he can. Global Chat is a sampling of noteworthy essays, rants, and guides from the past few weeks of MMO discourse.
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Titi Macel

Eastern devs should learn to release patches simultaneously for all regions. Is not ok to bring an update to the west weeks after the release in Asia.

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Alex Malone

I disagree that Asian MMOs need to improve their storytelling to match western MMOs.

First, I don’t think story telling in western MMOs is any good. SW:TOR is often held up as the pinnacle of story telling, yet it sucked! The class stories (supposedly the best) were pretty generic and predictable. All the other stories were awful. The voice acting was a nice novelty to start with but quickly got in the way. Worse, the voice acting actually got in the way of me connecting with my character, as I sounded the same as everyone else and my voice didn’t reflect my game choices – I was fully evil, yet I always sounded like a bland accountant.

Second, I think focusing on story is bad for the MMO genre as a whole. Stories / quests tend to get in the way of actual multiplayer features. They segregate the community (can’t group because we’re on different quests) and kill immersion (I’m the most powerful jedi in the universe…..except those other 3000 jedi who are also the most powerful…). They force a linear way of thinking onto a genre that is anything but linear.

If I was to suggest things that Asian MMOs could learn from the west, in order to improve their appeal in the west, it would be:

Monetisation – The West learned F2P from the East and it seriously hurt the genre. However, Asian MMOs tend to still be terrible at offering value for money and fairness. A fair,
easy to understand monetisation strategy would really help
Aesthetics – Asian MMOs, in my opinion, do a great job in designing enemies and it can be really exciting to see all those crazy creatures to kill. But when it comes to our own characters….na, it sucks. A large part of player retention is the ability for us to connect with our own characters but what is on offer is not what we want in the west. I aspire to be a burly viking, or an industrious dwarf, or a savage orc or whatever. I don’t know anyone who aspires to be an androgynous manboy or jailbait.
Player Skill – we in the west tend to better appreciate games that both allow player skill to show and also rely more on player skill to determine outcomes. The east tends to be very focused on grinding for improvements, so combat is often determined by gear and not often by skill. That is a trend that also infects the west, but we seem to be much more appreciative when games rely more on player skill.

Sadly, that’s about all I can think of. There are perhaps a lot of lessons that the East could learn based on what the West is doing badly (like, the focus on solo content destroying longevity, action combat destroying depth, removing the trinity resulting in terrible combat, sticking with the trinity causing stagnation etc), but the West really isn’t doing much well at the moment.

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AGx-07_162

I think you missed the point. It’s not about the story itself but how the story is presented. SWTOR is a special case and it’s a shame you didn’t like it but that’s far better than millions of lines of text nobody will ever actually read. Play something like BDO and tell me if that’s any better. The story is in-cohesive, poorly translated, and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s not engaging and you just want to skip it. Forget whether or not you actually like the story, in many of those games you don’t even want to give it a try because of how it’s presented to you. On your other point, they should focus more on story. These games become boring much more quickly when all there is to do is grind. Having a story to be engaged in adds another layer of entertainment. YOU don’t have to like it but most do appreciate a good story and want one. Ignoring it is stupid.

In general, as fantastic as Eastern MMOs usually are on a technical level, they are by and far the most inaccessible things in gaming. It takes a special type of person to enjoy grinding and it’s telling that those types of games tend to have the worst communities and don’t last long.

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haishao

I think western MMO have a lot more to learn from Asian MMO than the other way around.

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A Dad Supreme

A decade ago, I would have said that the biggest thing an Asian MMO maker could learn from a Western MMO maker was quality control and delivering good and not rushed products.

Now most Western MMO makers have lost the one thing that was the difference between “cheap Asian games” and “well-crafted Western games”.

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Melissa McDonald

Actually I think Asian MMOs have been some of the best of the last 3 years. The only thing I would change is greater emphasis on localization, language translation, things like that. Their artists are the best, their gameplay is interesting, and their QOL features are often ridiculously better than the milquetoast western ‘sandbox/gankbox/schmankbox’ offerings we’ve gotten for a long time now, where murder-thy-neighbor (or kick over her sandcastle) is what passes for content.

OK, if you held a gun to my head, I would ask for character models that aren’t quite so Asian-by-default. As much as I love Black Desert Online and its character generator, some of the models are really difficult to make appear to be a different race/ethnicity.

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MesaSage

Something is having an impact on the Lotro pop, because the numbers are down. That said, the game has a better vibe now then since I started playing some years ago.

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Cypher

Less sexualisation; we’re not all teenagers, many if us have by now, had enough sex that the pixellated variety does NOT offer any mystique or appeal…

Oh and how about realistically proportioned weapons? Never understood the “surf board sword” obsession… over compensating Mayhap?

Finally, alluding to my first point, no toons under the age of 21… just NO!

Tamanous
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Tamanous

Oh I hear you there. The old man creepy school girl fascination from Japan saturates anime and eastern games and has infected the west. I still enjoy anime but, as an adult, I pick and choose the ones with more intelligent themes even if dark and with adult nudity. I have zero interest in ecchi/harem and sure as shit don’t want anything close to it in my games.

Art design is an issue for myself and a close gaming buddy too. BDO is about the most we can handle, but as I have posted here before, I think they went a little too far with the Tamer model. It is just too young.

I have explored the forums on many sites both in English and translated in order to figure out the existence for such interest in female classes in BDO. It is clearly more marketable to them and every response to why people choose them over even very close male class counterparts clearly reveals why (beyond those who are game mechanic junkies like me):

“Jiggle Physics” and “boobs > all”

A response to a serious question about class differences. The only responses were like this:

“Wizard / Witch – Elemental Dumbledore boobs.
Ranger – Leather boobs that shoot arrows.
Berzerker – Naked boobs with sharp nipples.
Warrior – Armored boobs.
Valkyrie – Holy boobs.
Sorceress – Satan worshiping boobs.
Tamer – Woodland boobs with a small set of hairy boobs that provide emotional support.”

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Mikka Hansen

That, in general terms, western players DONT want their games to be reflections of how wealthy their are in real life

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Jack Pipsam

Jumping through hoops shouldn’t be required to log into a game.
WASD is better than click and point.
Offering some sort of subscription service to avoid many F2P nonsense would be nice.

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Carebear

Lore and immersion. And less boobs and butts

Veldan
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Veldan

Exactly!