The Daily Grind: Do you still have ‘passion’ for MMORPGs?

Over the weekend I saw an interesting Twitter discussion about how much game-playing game-designers actually need to do, and whether those passions are even the same to begin with. One of the MMORPG genre’s founding fathers, Raph Koster, argued that it’s as different as playing music vs. listening to music, and that for MMOs, the passionate player’s pickings are slim anyway.

“Certainly no one has ever accused me of being non-passionate about online worlds or non-innovative with MMOs… and yet I don’t enjoy most of them these days. My inspirations for better ones mostly comes from outside what has become a stagnant field…”

Yikes, a stagnant field. But he’s not wrong. I certainly feel passion for the genre, but more for what it once was and what it could be, not necessarily for what it is this very moment, and far more as a chronicler and journalist than as a modern hardcore player. I spent this past weekend playing a dead MMO’s emulator, for example, not a modern MMO in all its modern lootbox/endgame/themepark glory.

Do you still have “passion” for MMORPGs? Is it the same passion you’ve always had, or has it changed over the years, and is it as a fan of the genre or as a gamer specifically?

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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Kevin McCaughey

I think the games are not good enough to keep my interest and I believe that is because of the huge relative increase in the price of assets and content. Asset complexity has increased exponentially from early MMO’s leading to MMO’s opening with far less content than, say, EQ had back on initial release. I think the only answer to this is Neverwinters idea of player content.

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Kevin McCaughey

I’ve all but lost my passion for MMO’s. And it was a deep passion – I lived for MMO’s for many years. It is so sad. I used to listen to music too and only do that when I am drunk now.

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Ken from Chicago

I think major part of the loss in interest is that a decade or so ago, we were at the beginning, the cusp of mmo’s and what they might. nearly two decades later, they’ve settled into what Bree calls, murder hobo simulator (not that we murder hobos but that the players are homeless characters going around murdering other players or NPCs).

That and the endless mimicry of fantasy rpgs. There are OTHER genres than fantasy TYVM. Yet for some reason, TPTB have it in their head that scifi is for shooters and fantasy for mmos. Space opera is a rare beast in the mmo field. Not to mention Westerns or contemporary settings, spy fi, pirates (although there’s a handful of them). Only recently, and mainly indie / crowdfunded titles are they trying to new genres.

The one the is most bizarre is the utter lack of interest in the superhero genre even though the dominate the rest of pop culture, movies, tv (3 years ago, EVERY major broadcast tv network in the US had a superhero themed show–including CBS, SUPERGIRL’s first season) yet CITY OF HEROES was unfairly cancelled. MARVEL HEROES folded (although that might be Disney bringing it under direct control, hopefully to relaunch). DCUO is barely hanging on. CHAMPIONS ONLINE seems to be stuck in amber with any new progress / content produced being glacially slow. How is this reality?!!

Even then, the game mechanics have been basically the same. GUILD WARS 2 famously tried to break the mold but 5 years later, it’s all but failed. I’d argue that despite an awesome MMO Manifesto and video summation of same, the game itself failed to have *tutorials* that taught players used to the MMO Trinity of tank / healers / DPS how the new game worked, instead of them struggling to recreate them in-game. Also, it might have been great is when characters reached max level, it trigger a quest or even a cutscene explaining how “in other worlds” when you’ve reached your maximum potential, your life changed to merely raiding for powerful loot, gear and weapons–so you can raid for more powerful loot, geer and weapons–but that in Tyria, life is different. The life you lived since starting here continues on, continue to have adventures, continue searching for hearts, continue to explore new areas to your heart’s content.

But no, that was not to be, and so, they eventually relented to more tradition mmo playstyles.

Also, the “dynamic events” weren’t so dynamic and the bi-weekly stories were about totally new characters no one cared about–instead of catching players up on original recipe GUILD WARS. Hello, Gwen and / or her descendants TYVM? Do you not remember the cheer with the first EYE OF THE NORTH trailer that ended revealing a grown-up Gwen we saw chasing a balloon back in the day, pre-Searing? How do you cast her and other original GW npcs aside? I get added new characters, but little if any follow up on the old, or some kind of transition from old to new? Big mistake.

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Zen Dadaist

Not quite to the same extent I once had because I’ve been in it for so long I’ve very literally Been there, done that. The feeling of a new experience doesn’t come around again even with a new game. But I will get all focused and driven and excited about something now and then.

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Joe Seabreeze

I feel like I’ve been waiting for the genre to take that big leap out of its stagnant pool of boring, tedious games, and blow me away again like the genre did many times in the past. But I feel I’ve been waiting way too long for it to ever happen again.

I hear people say that we don’t need mmos anymore because we have open world games, we have rpgs, we have survival, we have multiplayer with many players. Why waste money on developing a game with all those features in one? It’s too hard, it’s too expensive, it takes too long.

It’s also almost 2020. We’re in an era of computing power that we’ve never had. With 5G coming, there will be possibilities we never could have imagined. We have superior AI and machine learning, self-driving cars, AI taking over the human race, etc, etc.

So please tell me why it’s so hard to make an amazing game today? Tell me why video games had better AI 15 years ago. Tell me why games still take a really long time to develop. Don’t the tools and technologies that are used to make games get better with time like other industries? What in hell is wrong with game development? It’s like we’re back in the 80s again. You see high budget triple A games getting 5/10 scores and single developer 2D indie games with 8 bit graphics and midi sound getting 9/10. Something is way off. There’s no excuse for this stagnant feeling in 2018. Games should be blowing are minds at this point.

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Crowe

Affection, yes. Passion? Meh, not in some time. It’s been *way* too long since a new quality MMO has been released. It seems like only the indie/crowdfunded games are the only ones that look interesting to me these days. And I don’t have too much hope that they will be awesome.

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Stropp

Yes. And No.

I’m nowhere near as passionate about modern MMOs than I was when I first got into the genre around 2000. I think, despite the better graphics and engines, that MMOs as a whole have been diminished.

I used to think that the next logical step for games like Asheron’s Call, Ultima Online, and Everquest was to flow with the improvements to graphics and networks into ‘real’ virtual worlds where players could interact and live their own stories in whatever type of world they liked whether that be a fantasy world, a sci-fi world, or whatever. These would be complex, living worlds where the different simple systems interacted to create a wonderful fractal challenge.

Instead we now have mostly very nice looking worlds with minimal complexity that operate nicely as simple games, but don’t offer much in the way of challenge and to be frank, are not all that interesting except as perhaps story (which you only need to do once.) All human interaction has been removed or minimised, rather that drawing on the wonderful and horrible mess that is social politics, leading to a rather sterile experience.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy playing (some) MMOs. But I don’t play as often these. In a lot of cases single player games offer a superior experience simply because they have more depth. It’s shame, because in the beginning, it looked like MMOs and virtual worlds had that advantage.

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Crowe

Very nicely worded.

Vaeris
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Vaeris

I alluded to an answer to this in the recent do you still love betas (sic) article you guys put up. No, I’m not as passionate about MMORPGs as I was in 1997 and really up to SWG NGE. I had an idea of what these games could become. The developers of these games, by in large, chose the path of least resistance (i.e., make cattle call, accessible games) by doing it barney style.

Developers seem more keen on making it so players can spend less time in their game as opposed to making a game such that players would willingly make extra time to be in their worlds.

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Kickstarter Donor
Pandalulz

Nope. It’s not you, it’s me. Today’s games are fine. I’m inundated with “social” experiences all day long, it’s just another thing I play games to escape from.
Also, the “post comment” button isn’t appearing on mobile Chrome for Android today. Works in FF.

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Sray

I have no passion for today’s collections of mindless busywork aimed at keeping you logged in to support a fraction of the population considered “hardcore” that is grossly over-catered to across most game genres. I also have no desire to return to the days “when MMOs were actually hard” when they actually never were hard: they were just more grindy; had jank-ass controls; and were even shittier at explaining their overly dense, complex-simply-to-be-complex systems (if such a thing is even possible).

I have a passion for a day when game studios stop putting out one size fits all games. A day when when we have a dozen different games all aiming at different market segments and interests; that aren’t trying to lump 8 opposing interest groups into one game. That day will come, it is already coming, but it can’t get here soon enough.

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Joey

I’d say it is already here. Survival games, Mobas, Team shooters, Battle Royal games, tons of a great single player RPGs. The market is already catering to different player types, just not MMOs. They try to cater to everyone and end up not catering to anyone all that well.

MMOs are kind of dead for a lot of gamers, most of them have moved on to other genres that have their roots from MMOs.