The Daily Grind: What MMO could really use a true fresh start server?

    
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We talk a lot about progression servers and vanilla servers, branches of MMOs that use different rulesets, either new or old – we even called that our favorite MMO trend of 2018.

But we don’t often see brand-new regular-flavor servers open for existing MMOs. That realization popped into my head this weekend thanks to a thread on Reddit about games with newly launched new servers. We see merges all the time, but sometimes what a game really needs is a clean slate so folks can just have a full do-over, a rerolled community, a rerolled endgame meta, a rerolled economy, a rerolled housing situation. ArcheAge calls these types of servers fresh start servers, and that’s exactly what they are.

Granted, some MMOs have but one server to begin with, or they still really need merges and won’t do them, but I say even they might get some attention (and dispose of some baggage) with a new shard.

What MMO could really use a fresh start server?

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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Phubarrh

The Secret World. Not Secret World Legends.

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Max Frohlich

YES PLEASE! TSW was awsome, no pay to win, had a HUGE PVP content. I made all my gear on it. I spend many hours is Fusang – open world conquest pvp and El dorado – crazy capture pvp.
That factions system!

Now we have Legends… made for dummie players, with 30 skills (dunno really), totally simplified…. disgusting at least.

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

EverQuest. That was the dream of EverQuest Next, after all. It failed, but I wouldn’t be upset if someone picked up that torch again and gave it a try.

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packagegrope

eve could use a fresh start server, even though i don’t play it.

tera could use a reset, vanilla server.

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MolleaFauss

DCUO. Squash the tiers and make sure that people who are lagging behind in content don’t end in the empty zone and are forced to raise CR only through the event.

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Fenrir Wolf

DC Universe Online could use a complete redesign. It’s riddled with bad design choices from the ground up, that’s why I bounced off of it and kept bouncing right back to Champions Online. A roleplayer-focused game where you’re locking their means for expression behind levels and content grind? >tt<

Plus, Champions Online had absolutely fantastic options for all sorts of body types. DCUO was just so limited in this regard, too. I could see the promise it had but it just failed at understanding its core demographic on so many levels that I quickly lost interest.

Cryptic’s only sin was that they kept balancing for the hardcore and destroying concept builds, which alienated swathes of roleplayers and left them without any paying customers, which is why the game’s now in maintenance mode. If they’d only listened to us, CO would be just as healthy today, pumping out new content without fear.

You really shouldn’t burn bridges with your core demographic, which is also your primary source of profit. You really, really shouldn’t. DCUO though didn’t even appeal to superhero roleplayers from the outset, which is why it was never really a success.

Random MMO fan
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Random MMO fan

None. All it will lead to is a few nerds racing to the “server first” achievements, which will only matter to a few other nerds. Then everyone who already reached the endgame will get quickly bored and game will start to decline yet again.

As for people saying “EVE” – you do realize that botters will quickly adjust their bot programs to whatever best mining or ratting ship will be after “fresh start” and CCP will quickly add PLEX and skill injector system back? Sure, there won’t be a capital ship or citadel spam anymore but will that really matter if all the botters will be back and you could easily replace banned accounts with new ones by converting isk into sub time through PLEXes and injecting all necessary skills by buying injectors? And before you’ll say “but CCP can exclude PLEX and skill injectots” – no, they can’t, excluding this would remove a huge portion of income and no rational company would ever do something like this anymore after seeing how profitable it was (and if it wasn’t profitable – CCP would’ve removed it already).

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Fenrir Wolf

I don’t see the appeal either but I suppose it’s down to nostalgia and that some what to reclaim what they consider their glory days?

I’d like to see them have the chance to try, though, even if it’s a pointless pipe-dream. At least that way they’d be more open to embracing modern design practises. Sometimes going back to what you thought you loved can be illuminating.

I mean, yes, sometimes games do stand the test of time, but those mostly are well designed single player games. Not tittles from the birth of a multiplayer genre.

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Bruno Brito

Never thought i would say this but…GW2.

Godnaz
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Godnaz

Why, how? The game uses mega-server (instancing) technology. There is literally only one server.

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Fenrir Wolf

If I would answer this? It’s the story. It’s bloody awful. It’s at a sub-fan fiction level, it’s so bad it causes me pain. I can’t deal with the second hand embarrassment over just how starkly poor it is. Especially when compared against a title like The Elder Scrolls Online.

ESO is no masterclass of writing, either, but when compared against the tween melodrama that is GW2, it might as well be one of the greatest written works of all time.

GW2 managed at least decent writing up until, and including, the three orders. It was at the end of the order storyline it all began to fall apart with the unnecessary, edgy death of your Order’s associate. Then we got Trahearne. Trahearne!

And whereas Rytlock was once an inspiring, coolly confident, logical leader, he’s now just our mischievous pup and that, too, is so disappointing.

I think Jeff Grubb and certain other figures had too much control. Grubb’s exemplary at world building, but he couldn’t write his way out of a wet paper bag. And the same is true for many of the other sadly egocentric writers there who’d consider themselves wizards of the pen.

That and Ascended gear are the main reasons I can think of.

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Phubarrh

Then again, compared to the writing in the original Guild Wars…

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starbuck1771

You know I am going to say Star Wars Galaxies 🐼

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nomadmorlock9

I came to the thread to say the same. Well done.

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Fenrir Wolf

Wait, we can cite sunsetted games? I thought this was only for games in action, so to speak, rather than missing in thereof.

Free Realms, RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE.

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Koshelkin

Instead of a fresh start server developers should come up with a different way to keep all content interesting. Especially late in the cycle of a MMO people miss/rush through a lot of stuff which is, sometimes, a real shame. Games should be designed more horizontal and reasons given to go back to older areas to keep them alive. In a typical MMO world which has grown over the course of many years it’s somehow odd that a) older areas seldom change in any significant way b) only a small part of the world is of any significance.

Let’s imagine a small town we helped in the early days of a game and during the course of the fictional timeline it slowly grew in a major trading hub. Wouldn’t it cool to go back to it and reminiscence how it looked when we first passed there? Why shouldn’t there be a continuous need of able adventurers in this town? When we leave MMO hubs all we leave behind is ghosts which repeat their same old lines even if we come back 10 years later. Couldn’t we marvel at the changes the world has gone through and contemplate our part in them? What if depending on the players and server these changes have gone in different directions?

It doesn’t surprise me that the traditional MMO’s are slowly dying out because no one was there to really bring the genre forward. Look at the bigger surviving MMO’s. All they deliver is more of the same in a different guise(x new dungeons/x new raids/x new quests/x new levels). A fresh start server is like glossing over that fact. After some time it’s the same old.

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spookydonkey24

This right here! I have never been interested in a fresh start server for any mmo. yeah, I remember the fun I had in vanilla wow, but I realize if I go back to that, it won’t be anywhere near the same. It’s just nostalgia. I wish someone would figure out how to make an mmo with content that doesn’t become useless when the inevitable expansions come out.

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Fenrir Wolf

This is why I harp on about the tragically mismanaged Free Realms. That was a game that needed a mobile port and better advertising so that potential customers would know exactly what it was. Those I introduced to it adored it, but hadn’t ever heard of it before.

It didn’t base its enjoyment on progress; there was always a reason to go anywhere. You could go back and enjoy old content just as easily as it was a mix of jumping puzzles, minigames, and little combat arena vignettes. You’d go back because you enjoyed the area, and the quests, rather than being driven onward by an operant conditioning chamber.

I feel Guild Wars 2 is heavily borrowing from this in Path of Fire with having so many non-combat events. It feels like the closest thing to Free Realms I’ve played since Free Realms. I mean, consider the token hunting in Amnoon, the races, the focus on herding events, and so on. The only possible way GW2 could be more Free Realms is if they added in Match-3 events.

I wouldn’t be opposed to that. FR had some of the more interesting Match-3 mechanics I’d seen.

I feel that this forward progression of the operant conditioning chamber is precisely why MMOs tend to fail. Some like it, and I wouldn’t want to take it away from them without offering something better in return, but the truth is is that it isn’t long term sustainable. And that’s what’s happening to all contemporary MMOs right now.

Look at Champions Online; everyone I knew just wanted to be 40. Not to do raids, but to just have fun dooping around in whatever content they liked. We enjoyed the ludicrously corny narratives, the over-the-top NPCs, and the far out objectives. It was never about grind.

Cryptic figured out this too late in CO’s life. That’s why they started doing adventure packs. We’d tried to tell them this since the game’s launch in 2008 where the harshly ham-fisted day one patch destroyed every concept build out there. And then the cumulatively forceful balancing patches only alienated us further.

Forward progression is toxic and actively harmful to game design. You need sideways progression. That way all content can continue to be relevant. If your game needs to rush forward to survive, invalidating all of the old content, then that’s endemic of bad design.

Guild Wars 2 did that up until Path of Fire and I wasn’t interested. PoF was the first time I felt they were trying to add value to a region beyond the soul-sucking grind. They didn’t increase the level cap but they did add lots of Free Realms-esque activities.

And I feel I want to support them. I still loathe their awful, edgy (so edgy) fan fiction, but the game in Path of Fire can be quite fun.

Teleport dog race is best race.

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Koshelkin

I always hated the story of GW2 and the weird quest-heart system they came up with making the world a rather soul-less collection of markers to grind through. It had great classes and good combat but I feel they were ultimately wasted on a game with no clear direction.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

So, essentially a fresh start server is one that is designed to appeal to the Content Locust, who is unlikely to stick around a game in a genre that is built upon a long-term commitment, unless said game provides a new server on a regular basis. After which they are likely to complain about the boring repetitive grind.

Yeah, I think the MMO genre can do without that concept.

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Fenrir Wolf

In my experience? It’s the content locusts who live for the grind. They turn up in droves for dungeons and raids just as much as they do for any other.

Those who stick around to do events in Guild Wars 2; are they level grinders? Nope!

Those who enjoy decorating their house in The Elder Scrolls Online; are they level grinders? Nope!

Those who roleplay in Champions Online (or any MMO); are they level grinders? Nope!

The content locusts turn up because there’s new vertical progression to be had. If you removed the vertical progression (Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 et al), you’d lose the content locusts.

Guild Wars 2 hasn’t had content locusts in the longest time. Gosh, I wonder why? Consider: The level 80 boost is there because ArenaNet knows what they did. It’s an admission from them that the levels of an operant conditioning chamber have a negative impact on an MMO’s sustainability. They’re bad design.

I mean, some may like them, and that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for an MMO’s sustainability. It’s the opposite.

So they’ve dropped levels. Progression is very sideways now with all level 80 content continuing to be relevant. The result? No content locusts, because no vertical progression.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

My comment regarding the grind is in relation to my experience in SWTOR where the Locusts tired of the grind of leveling after their umpteenth character (which is not unlike a fresh start) and complained until BW stupidly made forced speed leveling the norm for everyone, even those who detest speed leveling.

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Oleg Chebeneev

EVE Online. Definetly. Id jump in for sure