The Daily Grind: What does a new MMO have to do to get your attention?

    
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Last week, we reported that Population Zero is gunning for a May launch as a buy-to-play title. While I’m always intrigued by the debut of a new sci-fi MMO, this one puzzles me because we’ve heard relatively little about it over the past year or so. These kinds of games can’t just quietly sidle onto the scene and release to any measure of success, after all. Communities need priming and building, not to mention a real reason to get excited about a product.

This situation got me thinking: What do MMOs have to do to get our attention? Do they have to present a truly novel twist or simply show competency and enthusiasm? Is it enough for a few big info dumps to pique your interest, or do you need a steady drip-drip of dev blogs over weeks and months?

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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Toy Clown

I love a rounded, well-featured MMO that has something for everyone, but those types of MMOs are made rarely anymore. Some expand their feature list if they survive long enough, but still.

The other thing that gets my attention for an MMO is having contact with a developer, or someone at the top of the chain who builds up the fans. We’ve all seen the rock star devs out there. Take someone charismatic and they can build up the fans, who in turn spread the word about the game looking good. Several of them have disappeared, while some’s fame continues to grow.

Stuff like that gets my attention.

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3dom

Character graphics and animations on par with Anthem and BDO. Or at least Wolcen / Diablo4 / PoE2.

Otherwise it’s either “will wait a month or two after release to see ratings and review and then forget about it” (if graphics are bit too simple, like in Magic: Legends) or “nah, thanks, ain’t nobody have time for that” (if graphics are “stylized”).

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Vunak

• Good combat system (FPS or action combat like BDO or TERA. Not soft targeting like ESO or GW2 and definitely not tab target)

• OWPvP with incentives (Territory control, city building, castle siege, GvG etc)

• Graphically appealing (BDO esque or stylized graphics like Wildstar – prefer more like BDO)

• Good character customization (Character creator and costumes/ingame armor)

• Not gender locked

• Not P2W

PlasmaJohn
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PlasmaJohn

For the studio to demonstrate competence. If they can make it to the first content patch or two without regressions or bugs that should have been caught in QA then we can talk features.

  • I’m desperate for a good sci-fi setting. None of this sci-fantasy crap.
  • Trinity is a must.
  • Content must be balanced across playstyles.
  • PvP and PvE must be balanced separately.
  • PvP must not be gear based
  • If there must be OW PvP it has to be in segregated areas without any PvE incentive
  • Instanced housing.
  • Meaningful crafting.
  • Outfits/glamor separated from stats.
  • Story must not gate instances and and instances must not gate story.
  • Reader
    Axetwin .

    Getting my attention and keeping my attention are two VASTLY different topics. To get my attention it just needs to look interesting from a mechanics point of view.

    Reader
    Morgan

    Good question, I honestly don’t know but will take a stab none the less:
    – If anything pulls me in its usually the dev team involved whether they have a good track record, even just how trustworthy they appear to be don’t necessarily have to have made games or games I like but as long as they were well made games. I would also be super excited if a big dev studio took a spell at it say like Ubisoft.
    – An extremely compelling story, couldn’t care less about the setting.
    – Tab-targeting and preferably the holy trinity.
    – Okay I do not like housing in my mmorpg’s but seen as you all seem to love it so much I would say let me have instanced housing, outside of hubs, any where I damn well like, please.
    – PvP restricted to battlegrounds etc with no grind for gear sorta like in GW2. [Having a grind for gear and not being very accessible really hurt the mmorpg genre imo as I would much rather be playing PvP than a MOBA but moba’s are just so damn accessible and no grind so why wouldn’t I be playing one?? And I really hate moba’s btw but their fun is instantaneous]
    – Preferably a business model like ESO to keep things afloat except slow the hecc down on the damn expansions.
    – HORIZONTAL PROGRESSION
    – Don’t do anything too weird like basing skill points on world event completion just keep it simple like a skill point per level and have max level cap about 20 which is enough to ease the player into learning their class because hecc that’s all it should be for honestly.
    – I tidy website that is incredibly informative and open.
    – Good community communication.

    Well I could probs go on, like I said good question, peace out.

    Reader
    Obi Wan

    For starters, no cash shops… everyone has access to the same content with one flat monthly subscription rate.

    Reader
    Ald

    Not be a single player game. That would be a good start.

    Reader
    Danny Smith

    -develop it like an rpg not a mobile game
    -have some kind of ‘story bible’ to not pull shit out your ass that doesnt go together well
    -not have an ingame cash shop
    -activities not designed like shallow retention traps like a mobile game
    -unique gameplay or classes not a reskin of another game
    -dont rely on one thing like raiding to carry your endgame

    kjempff
    Reader
    kjempff

    Surely my taste fall into unpopular opinion category, and may be umpossible in todays market but hey..it is what I personally want.
    They have to:

    -Understand what it means to “make worlds, not stories”, in words and action.
    -Say some of the ideas from EqNext, virtual dynamic world driven by player choices and AI systems. Be inclusive of all kinds of players, crafters, builders, explorers, adventures, pvpers, casuals and hardcore should all feel that they can “have a life and purpose in the world” (not in a game, in a world).
    -If it contains pvp, it has to be consensual and preferably indirect (again EqNext would make a good baseline). Indirect means: the purpose of pvp is to support npc factions, and pvp is just one of many ways to do so (reward is not directly related to the pvp itself, but comes from aiding&supporting some npc faction in the world.
    -Be more or less free of ingame shop, including shop related currencies. Actual game should be disconnected from any shop items, as much as possible.
    -Focus on good gameplay systems rather than pretty graphics.
    -Not be Asian. Not that Asian games can not be good, it is just that virtually none of them are (to my taste); and it makes sense, they have a certain audience to target. Some of the pop graphic styles are also just..annoying, but I also seen some chineese games with particularly pleasing aesthetics.
    -Stay true to your vision, your vision might fail, but not staying true is a certain fail. And at least I, the customer know what I pay for.. And even if there are parts of the game I don’t like, I might still buy the game. What will make me not buy, is not being sure what I get because the devs switch positions all the time (or they cash in without securing the future of their vision).

    Random MMO fan
    Reader
    Random MMO fan

    If it contains pvp, it has to be consensual and preferably indirect (again EqNext would make a good baseline). Indirect means: the purpose of pvp is to support npc factions, and pvp is just one of many ways to do so (reward is not directly related to the pvp itself, but comes from aiding&supporting some npc faction in the world.

    I know it is just your opinion, but even an opinion has to be based on some rationale. You say “purpose of PvP is to support NPC factions”. I am sorry but this is irrational to do. Why would I care to support NPC faction which will always exist and which is not ruled by a person? It just does not make any sense. Doesn’t matter if I support it or not, nothing will change, there will always be players of “Alliance” and players of “Horde” or any other factions. You cannot allow the NPC faction to completely disappear or the capital cities to be taken over (for PvE reasons and lore reasons) so why would I ever care to support them in any way if it does not matter what I do? For some silly bonuses or silly cosmetics specific to faction? What if I am at a max level where bonuses are irrelevant and I already have faction items or they are not interesting to me? What am I fighting for?

    The ONE and ONLY way for people to encourage endless fighting over large territory is if you give them ability to build their own stuff and claim their own territory which is theirs, meaning it belongs to their corporation, or alliance, an alliance lead by real human person, an alliance that can be named anything or have any logo and can be joined by any player at any time (which is the only fair way to treat a player if the player becomes disappointed with current alliance or guild or whatever). An alliance or guild which can completely disappear or can make other alliance or guild disappear through direct wars or through espionage.

    After all, if people just want to have meaningless “Red vs Blue” fight – they can always play games like Team Fortress 2 or Planetside 2 or GW2 or continue playing WoW, why would they bother to play the game you are wanting to play?

    kjempff
    Reader
    kjempff

    You raise valid points about incentives for players to do pvp. I do not completely understand what drives a pvp player, and it is possible that when the rewards are not a direct result of pvp action, it will not attract some pvp players.

    First of all, no one has tried it yet, because there are no real dynamic world games yet. It is not my idea, it came with EqNext (maybe new world is experimenting with something similar?); can it work ? Maybe, but from the perspective of someone who might do some pvp but do not want to see it(pvp) drive the world, yeah it sound like a good idea.

    In your standard static world, I get what you mean about pvp being pointless. Also traditionally in a pvp sandbox, you would want to give players agency and to rule, as you say, to give reasons to fight(pvp)
    However, a dynamic world operate on different premises. In theory, the dynamic world will run and evolve without players, and players are merely entities playing a role, chosing how to operate in the world. Also dynamic means that the world is changing constantly with an evolving story defined by the developers who acts like god-gms, so it will not be an everlasting fight over the same territory.
    Optimally, it should be like “were you there during the uprising of Blahblah the damned” in april 2025? Lot of players supported him, and though he was finally defeated, it changed the map of the world and [insert faction] now rules the western swamplands…. Blahblah the damned will not return, you were either there in april or you missed it, but fear not the world is everchanging and new things, minor or epic, will happen again.

    It is quite different from games where you are the hero of the story or pvp sandboxes where you have direct agency; and you might be inclined to say “do I even matter then”… Yes very much, but not as direct and instant as you are used to – That is where the idea might fail with modern instant gratification players, but I bet if made well, there are also a group of players who will like this form of long term game investment.

    Ok I got los inthe basics of the dynamic virtual world concept, but it was also to maybe see pvp from another perspective.
    I don’t necessarily agree that you need to give players direct agency like a full sandbox, in order to engage players. Pvp in this kind of game might be more of a soldier mercenary role, and war is one but not the dominating system to change the world. But about rewards, I was thinking about in particular cosmetic items, special components, traders with rare things who only appear if a faction control the silver mines (example). Maybe your guild has an agenda, maybe you and your friends find a nice village in the world that you decide to occupy and build houses in a special style, and to do so you support local traders, the current faction of that village, etc.. Over weeks of playing.

    Anyways, I know you question if pvp will work.. It might, it might not.. But the general idea is kind of – Pvp is not very dominant, it is just one of many ways to influence the world. Sorry for the rambling, maybe it didn’t answer anything or even make sense lol.

    Reader
    Robert Mann

    There’s a fair few who seem to like PvP that is more controlled, there are cons but there are also some heavy pros.

    As for territory like that, there’s always going to be some who want that, and others who just want to have territory without having to beat down everyone else who wants it. Balancing that nightmare is why so few games have even looked at trying to please everyone on that front.

    I do believe that PvP is either fun or not for people, and that can vary based on the setup. If that setup is what encourages PvP for you, then expect a large number of people to be opposed to that. I will maintain what I always do, and say that we need a variety of games for the different interests of people, because one MMO never fits all…

    kjempff
    Reader
    kjempff

    Yeah well, I think uhm “players of pvp” are not only the ones who are shall we say are in the hardcore category, wanting only pvp with maximum freedom of doing so, and all regulation is going against that principle.

    For example in WoW I enjoyed the instanced pvp as a thing to do occasionally, and also did the openworld pvp for territory control in order to get some specific gear. I didn’t do it because I wanted to pvp, I did it because I wanted the rewards; I still enjoyed it, and it was good for variety. I liked the tactical part of the pvp more than the actual action part.

    And you are right, players who are looking for that sandbox game with main focus on pvp battles (anarchy will power that, regulations will prevent that) – They are not the audience for such a game.
    But somewhere down that line, we also have some more moderate kind of players, who enjoy a bit of everything – Well that they have more than one interest for their gaming experience. Who does pvp with other goals in mind, than dominating other players.

    Maybe there are only pvp players and pve players when you take an extreme look at it, but I don’t see why we need to fit everyone into either box no 1 or box no 2. But anyways, I do def. see that such a dynamic virtual world driven by AI is taking the side box no 1. (pve players), although the boxes don’t fairly represent reality – Because such a game does not follow the premises/standards of either themepark or sandbox games as they are represented today.

    Reader
    Robert Mann

    You are correct there’s far wider a range than black and white here. The problem is that, in current design, people flee from these types of experiences because some other people actively ruin the experience.

    There’s a place for the general type of content, but I daresay that having various levels of rules would see people flocking to places where they can succeed and thrive even if they aren’t the victors in PvP. Very few are those who are really interested in losing everything and building back up for a grudge match.

    The point here is simply that on a sliding scale the far extremes will be the places least represented in interest for those who will PvP at all. Those extremes being ‘no rules’ and ‘extremely strict rules’. A middle ground where there’s a little risk/reward, but the people who are playing still have fun, can compete without losing worse due to power curves, and can choose how frequently they are interested in being engaged… always seems more stable. That’s not what MMOs have done, and that’s part of why MMO PvP is so often dismissed overall. It’s an unbalanced trainwreck at best, to be blunt. At worst it is an unmitigated assault that drives away anyone who doesn’t like being constantly harassed by people who have no interest in anything else.

    Things are obviously complex, especially given that most people who mix PvE and PvP want to play the same character in both, with the same abilities and all. I don’t want to sound dismissive, but all too often the issue is that people who mix the two are really only after rewards. They don’t even enjoy the PvP. Following your example, in WoW, there was a huge kerfuffle over people who just didn’t even want to be there in battlegrounds. Those people just wanted a single win to get a reward, but they were frequently noted to be mostly non-factors in the battle. What little they did was get stomped by PvP geared players. Nobody had much fun on the teams that got them, and it upset people to have a reward that was better locked behind content that way, making both the PvE and PvP focused players angry. Thread after thread of people on both sides asked for that to be changed, only to lead to more drama because, well, we all know forum warriors on each side!

    There’s people all through the spectrum, and isolating cool things to one group merely makes people bitter. It’s not good for anyone. We all lose. Thus why I push so much for variety. When we have games with the various cool ideas in different content types, everyone can actually enjoy… not just pure PvE or pure PvP players, but those in between as well.