The Daily Grind: Do you *really* want MMOs to be constantly changing and evolving?

    
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On Napyet’s podcast last year, I talked about the differences between SWGemu and SWG Legends, both Star Wars Galaxies emulators with very different goals. I argued that while I loved SWGemu for its preservation goals, it was by design a server that was never going to march forward in time or see major changes. Legends, in my estimation, was worth the NGE’s many faults because it feels like playing a production server with lots of changes on a regular basis.

And yet, sometimes I have to question whether change is really what I want. For example, I’ve caught myself whining about some recent changes, like the fact that factories have a new experimentation line (meaning tens of thousands of old factories on the server are now garbage). This is, objectively, an extremely good change for the game. It should’ve been implemented in 2003. It makes sense, and it’s a welcome addition for Architects. As a developer, I would’ve supported it enthusiastically. As a player, though, I’m still kinda pissed that I have to junk 300 old factories off my vendors!

Do you really want your MMOs to be constantly changing and evolving?

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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Oleg Chebeneev

MMO that never evolves isnt a real MMO

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Robert Mann

Yes and No. I want a lot of thought put into systems and how the game itself works in advance, to preclude issues like what you are saying here whenever possible. This is the same as class overhauls, combat changes, etc. in so many other games. Reworking what is, where sometimes an improvement, tends to upset people who liked what is and don’t really want what is coming (or to deal with the adjustment to what is coming.) In fact, calling out some of the B.S. that has been used with such changes has caused companies to do things like tell me that words mean something different than any dictionary entry, or that they want to promote X regardless of impact to players who dislike X. Which tends to result in me not playing their game (or in the case of insults to my intelligence like the dictionary issue boycotting the company as a whole).

The thing I want to change isn’t the game, it’s the virtual world. The rules and design improvements will come at times, but that’s not the core of constantly changing that I have looked forward to for a long time… it’s not even part of what those seeking such change tend to talk about. That’s just time and design issues that are very human. No, instead what most of this is about is the static nature of MMOs, and how after a decade you will still have the same things in the same places without any change. The genre has not bothered with a few elements that have been involved in single player titles for more than 15 years… and it’s not just virtual world stuff either. Those things do have a big impact, although they aren’t the flashy stuff like graphics and animations for combat.

I don’t really feel like I need to do and see everything for it to be enhancing the experience. In fact, I like hearing that things are going on elsewhere in other genres. Having different things going on at different places makes it feel less like everything is just a backdrop for my character running around, or rather for all the player characters running around. TBH MMOs with the static design feel like they aren’t really there, except for players to exploit (when we aren’t the thing for each other to exploit, more commonly in certain subsets of gaming)… which is fun sometimes, but not really the itch I want MMOs to scratch.

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Witches

Yes, by constantly (or as often as possible) adding new content, not by experimenting with old content until it eventually gets broken beyond repair.

Sometimes players will get over attached to something that is no longer relevant or viable and raise hell if the devs propose to remove it, but other times devs just remove old content to corral you into the shiny new content you don’t like.

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Rav3na3l

It depends. Some things I would like evolution and other things I actually want a devolution.

Server architectures that allow massive megaservers like in Albion, ESO and EVE are great. Social systems like in game guild searching, party/group finders that streamline ways for people to get into groups and play together are good. No one wants to stand around shouting for 2-3 hours to do a run.

Evolution has hurt though too. After going back and playing ff11 I remember why I miss dedicated support roles. Not healers thst have a few buffs but like ff11 red mage and bard and EQ enchanters. GW1 mesmer is one of my favorite designes for a class and I’d like to see more modern mmos utilize buff/debuff roles. Evolution wise the genre has taken this huge swing into the “do more damage, kill it faster.”

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Robert Mann

Meanwhile, HP-bloat has ensured nobody actually kills it faster… making it just a loss of the other stuff, rather than anything beneficial in any way whatsoever.

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Bannex

Yes I want change but I also don’t have the ludicrous expectation that all the updates will be zingers. Studios that are afraid of failing while trying something new end up being like ESO, the bed bath and beyond of mmos. Got tons of shit in that store people want but it’s all junk.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

It would depend on the nature of the changes. As the old saying goes, change for changes sake is not a good thing. Two of my favorite MMOs (Defiance and SWTOR) underwent core design changes that completely ruined my enjoyment of the games enough to make me stop playing.

Devs need to think more on how changes to the game will impact the playerbase. Using Bree’s example, the change to the factories is positive, but creates a negative outcome for the players. The devs should have taken that into consideration and come up with a system that removes that negative impact.

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Anstalt

Yes I want change

Without change, we get stagnation and boredom. No game will ever hold your attention indefinitely, so change is required to hold your interest and keep you retained as a customer.

However, it is the form that change takes that causes problems.

Most of us don’t have a problem with bug fixes or server upgrades as that just takes what is already there and makes it better. Most us don’t have a problem with new additions to a game as long as the existing stuff doesn’t get removed or invalidated.

It is when the devs take something we already know and replace it with something else that the problems tend to occur. That sort of change is very risky and impossible to judge in advance. I’m sure most of us wouldn’t have an issue if they replaced content with something better, but that rarely happens.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

Or when it’s just objectively flat out nerfs. Especially when the nerfs are to “balance” a game mode that doesn’t appeal to some people. Such as any time when they ruin an item for PVE play in the name of”PvP fairness.”

The main example I can think of offhand is Ark, and how they’ve nerfed the Managarmr (moon wolf dragon…. thing) into the ground because it’s “too good” in PVP. Before, it was fragile, nearly impossible to tame. Both because it’s super mobile and hyper aggressive, so by the time you spot one it’s in a battle to the death with literally half the creatures in render range, and because it’s quite fragile. Good luck getting it caught in a taming trap before the fifteen mammoths it picked a fight with stomp it to death.

But if you could tame one it was super mobile, and didn’t *technically* count as a flying creature, which meant you wouldn’t get thrown off your mount by the invisible “NO BIRBS!” walls in most caves. PVP players complained about the mobility and the “works in caves” and now it’s basically not worth the effort to tame at all except as a novelty creature.

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Robert Mann

I remember several builds I had destroyed by PvP balance. Meanwhile, in PvE it was a blast, and not super-OP. In fact, one of those was in early RIFT, where the PvP talent trees were supposed to prevent that very issue… but were, like so many of the talent trees, so underwhelming that nobody used them instead.

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Does not check email

People will say they do not want change and in the same breath list the next five other games they want to play. I would hope keeping up with the times helps retain that game population.

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Utakata

I like changes and evolving. But not every player does. Nor does it guarantee the changes are actually good and the evolving isn’t really devolving. >.<

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Bruno Brito

It’s…complicated. Honestly, that’s all i can say.