Tobold's Blog
Monday, May 05, 2008
 
The trap of imitating WoW

Having had my first glimpse for Age of Conan, and from all what I hear about Warhammer Online, the games of 2008 are falling into a terrible trap: developers think that with World of Warcraft being so successful, their games need to include a maximum of features simular to those of WoW, because that is "what the customer wants". But by imitating WoW they end up competing head-on against it, and people can't help but compare the games directly. And in that direct comparison, the new games lose out against WoW's superior craftsmanship and polish. Why switch from WoW to another game which plays exactly the same, but is less polished?

Of course Blizzard themselves are the master of imitation, WoW itself imitates earlier games like Everquest. But they get away with it because their imitation is better and more polished than the game they copy. Beating them at that will be extremely hard, if not impossible.

That doesn't mean that other companies shouldn't develop MMORPGs any more. They just have to differentiate themselves more from WoW. If you look at AoC and WAR, both games started out with a premise of being all about PvP, but then turned more and more into WoW-like PvE games with some PvP added on top of it. The so-called AoC "PvP mini-games" (horrible name) are nothing but battlegrounds. And while both AoC and WAR will have keeps and siege engines, WoW will be adding the same in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Meanwhile Age of Conan announces a PvE game that will include soloing, grouping, and raiding, and ends up playing just the same as WoW, and having the same problems, like a tank class that can't taunt in PvP and is thus useless there.

The very basis of the leveling and gearing up PvE game is incompatible with perfect PvP. If you have a game in which playing longer means your character gets stronger, not because the player skills increase, but because the level and gear of the avatar increases, you lose all chance of having a well-balanced PvP. Balancing character classes for PvP is already hard enough, but if you then also have to balance them at the same time for solo PvE and various forms of group PvE, the task becomes impossible.

If you want to beat WoW, you need to be different, not sameish. Over the last years WoW's most successful competitor in the western world was Guild Wars. In Guild Wars you can log on, make a max level character from the start, and play reasonably balanced PvP right from the start. Or you can level up from 1 to 20 in PvE, but still end up with having only more options, not a higher power level than a instant level 20 character. Plus Guild Wars business model is different than WoW's, and doesn't compete for monthly fees.

There is still hope that WAR will pull off something similar, but it is already much closer to WoW than Guild Wars. And Age of Conan is closer still. You just can't have raiding and PvP endgame in the same game. There is room in the market for a good PvP MMORPG, but it has to downplay PvE. PvE needs to be a sort of tutorial on how to play your class, and end relatively quickly with everybody at the same power level before PvP can begin. After Trials of Atlantis one would hope that EA Mythic knows that raid epics destroy PvP. In a good PvP game, character development in the sense of increasing stats has to end. There shouldn't even be PvP reward epics making your character stronger, because every battle needs to start with all players at the same power level. People who play more should win PvP because they are more skilled, not because playing more gave them rewards that make the powerful than the newbies.

And yes, that would make a good PvP MMORPG to resemble Counterstrike more than WoW. But Counterstrike uses a completely different setting, and a completely different type of combat. What I am talking about is a PvP game with classic MMORPG combat and a classic orcs and elves fantasy setting. But by minimizing PvE and concentrating on being different from WoW instead of imitating it to the max, such a PvP game could succeed better in today's marketplace. People will play it because it is different, even if it isn't as polished as WoW. It is a hell of a lot easier to make a game that is different from WoW than trying to make a better clone of it.
Comments:
Good points here. I think the huge success of WoW has cast a shadow over the whole MMO industry. New MMO companies are afraid to deviate from the WoW winning formula and offering less innovation as a result. Sadly the only way these companies can woo investors and publishers is to try and compete with Blizzard.

As far as WoW, I think the new expansion will be the beginning of the end. WoW's many cardinal design flaws are now coming to light as this MMO starts to show signs of aging. When WoW's post mortem is done a few years from now history will show that the tipping point was reached when they started devaluing PVE in favor of PVP.

Next year will be the 10th anniversary of the release of EverQuest. It's sobering to realize how little progress and change has been made to the state of MMO's in that time.

Instead we have the worst community of players in the history of MMO's. Thanks to a MMO a trained monkey could play -- we have the least skilled players in the history of MMO's. Solo-friendly content means nobody wants to group anymore. Role-playing is pretty much dead and not even encouraged by Blizzard. Add to that the immersion killing non-persistence of instancing. What is left is the "billions served" mentality of the McMMO.

To be honest, Blizzard has barely raised the bar on the state of the art of MMO's since the release of EverQuest. Despite making hundreds of millions of dollars that they could be pouring into MMO R&D, Blizzard only offers us a more polished version of EverQuest.

All we can hope for is that a new company will make some serious strides in creating a new MMO experience that takes the skill and community of EverQuest and combines it with the polish of WoW to create something that advances the MMO genre.
 
Tobold, some years ago I did an MBA. We spent some time studying strategies for competing against established companies who dominate a market (Coke/pepsi, Avis/Herz, Nike/Reebok etc.) You are right on the money Tobold, attacking them head on almost never wins. By far the most successful approach is to change the rules of the game and attack them from an unexpected direction. Top Marks...go to the top of the class.
 
Next year will be the 10th anniversary of the release of EverQuest. It's sobering to realize how little progress and change has been made to the state of MMO's in that time.

I disagree, that MMOs made little progress since EQ. We saw more things changed in MMOs, than in any other gaming genre. First you wrote how WoW will go down soon, then you mentioned the 10th anniversary of a vastly inferior product. EQ survived so many flawed expansions and patches, expect WoW to be no different. Everyone (even Tobold) preached about how WoW subs will decline fast after BC got released. Well it turned out to be not true. Instead, subs increased, while all of the new competitors failed miserably. It kinda seems, like the more new MMOs fail, the more players WoW does gain.

Except the truth, people want to do the same things over and over again. If you want different products, go play EVE, Guild Wars, EQ, EQ2 you name it. If you want quality PvP i recommend Team Fortress 2. It's class based, it's skill based, it's team based and it's free to play, with more content updates than WoW-PvP offered withn the last 12 months. Face it, the WAR's and AoC's or any upcoming 40+ million budget MMO will do more things the same way WoW did, then do it in a different way.

I recommend people to look at this chart again:

http://www.mmogchart.com/Chart7.html

and ask yourself the simple question: How do games perform that are vastly different than WoW? Those are the charts and spreadsheets the suits look at, when deciding to finance an MMO or not. There aren't many PvP-focused games in the chart and only a single one if you want to focus on the more lucrative western market. Don't try to reference Guild Wars here. While GW is a very good product, it isn't a product, to earn big sums of money with, something EA and Funcom's (VCs) try to achieve first and foremost. If you want to earn solid amounts of money, with an subscription based MMO, you need to deliver a WoW-like experience. We're still far from people being sick of grinding in PvE. My last EQ guild still raids as much as when i joined them in 2001. They don't even think about switching games. The longer those games exists, the harder it gets to lure people away. When EQ lost many of its guilds to WoW, the game just delivered a horrible expansion. Compared to today's standards you couldn't perform worse. Broken content, broken class balance, broken everything. WoW's is far away from this kind of bad content update, that scares people away and right now, Blizzard is the only one that is capable of decreasing their audience.
 
I think it is more a case of imitating inherent game mechanics which are evidently popular with the masses of paying customers than imitating WoW perse. Since all developers are in it for the money, it makes perfect business sense to put as many features from the most succesful product in your own.

Naturally you will have to come up with a unique selling point which may be purely cosmetic (see more gore and nudity!) or related to setting (no cute elfs and stuff!) or certain game mechanics.

But at the core the game will be the same, since this is what the large majority of customers wants. Of course you could go niche or try to revolutionize the genre but your shareholders wont like it. Too risky.

Also i think PVP and PVE can exist next to each other nicely as long as combat mechanics and gear influence is the comparable in both settings. That said, a perfectly balanced game doesnt exist in the MMORPG context.
 
My armchair designer suggestion for PvP, for arena play at least, would be to dump all characters into a holding pen prior to kickoff (as they are now) without their PvE gear, and give them a maybe three sets of gear to choose from for their class that are available to everyone of the same class.

It would facilitate different play styles by allowing many different talent/gear permutations, but nobody would have any undue advantage as nobody has access to gear that others do not.

Referring to CS I think is an excellent and relevent comparison - if both teams have a few wins under the belt in CS, then all players can choose a gear/weapon and play style that suits them, and know that the opposition has the same options.

Wouldn't be feasible for open PvP however, only for instances.
 
I have spent like 30+ hours on gathering information on WAR. It definitly is a completely different game. Of course the gameplay mechanics are similar, due to the fact, that it's an mmorpg. BUT, the endgame isn't the PVE-Bossmonster-Raid-Treadmill. WARs endgame is the war between order and destruction. Greenskins vs dwarfs. Empire vs Caos. Highelves vs Dark elves. Everything you do, will lead you up to attacking the enemies capital or defending yours. WOW failed to offer that.

Instead of war(craft), WoW gave us arenas.

Instead of 'FOR THE HOOORDE!' gameplay, we got 'FOR MORE EPIX!'

Instead of big common goals, WoW gives us little goals. Instanced bits of challenge. Arenas, raidinstances.

The best point to make is, that I feel I compete with players of the same realm and faction for bragging rights, instead of fightig together with them against a common enemy. WoW is a sick game, it never had well designed PvP. It will never deliver that epic feel, warhammer will be offering.

Because that's what WAR is about.

-Big common goals for everybody of the same faction to go for. TOGETHER.

-More depth and impact to everything you do. You're playing the game (PvE & PvP) has an effect not only on your caracter, but also on your guild (levels up to rank 40), your hometown (levels up to rank 5) and your faction in the wareffort (influences the whereabouts of the frontlines in every tier of gameplay).

-Innovations. Public quest will give players that epic 'PvE bossmob/encounter' feel, without even having them joining a group. People will just naturally play toghter to accomplish a big common goal. And make friends along the way. The tome of knowledge is everything a good questlog is and adds tons of stuff to it. There are over 12k achievements to made. Storys and History is beeing written down. Quests for titles and PvE tactics can be unlocked. Tons of motivation found in such a trivial thing like a questlog.

I can only suggest to follow the developement of WAR. Check out their video podcasts on the concepts of the game. It sure ain't anything like warcraft. The only thing it will have in common, is the amount of polish beeing applied.

WAR is coming! And... there's really gonna be a WAR!
 
I wonder if people will mostly use AOC as a game to play until WOTLK comes out?
 
The bitterness of some people is extraordinary (thinking Wolfshead here). I find it's inevitably the people who have played like 2000 hours of WoW that decry its irredeemable brokenness the loudest. 1000 hours. For an entertainment product.

Dudes - Everything you liked about it is still there, it's just you're finished with it. Let go.
 
You also have the option of pitting players in PvP mechanics that dosnt only include combat.

The typical high level PvP mechanic in WoW is the battle for the resource of competent raiders. Yesm you fight the other guilds for the most capable members.

You cn do this with other systems, the Auction House is a PvP mechanic where the sellers fight each other over the success state and amplitude of each sale, and the buyers fight each other over getting the cheaper deal.

The notion that PvP must equal "PK" is somewhat corrupted. But it has taken a foothold in the genre and is hard to challenge.
 
In this post-WoW era, we sometimes forget that it's still possible to have a commercially successful MMO without having millions of customers on board.

We don't know LotRO's subscription figures, but best guesses put them at about 150-200k, with a good proportion of those people shelling out for a lifetime subscription right off the bat. That's a decent chunk of income for a developer of Turbine's size, who were still in business after DDO despite its much lower sales and subscriptions.

Of course, LotRO is a lot like WoW, but it inarguably does some things better than WoW does. It's prettier, it is strong on RP friendly features like player housing and cosmetic clothing, it has a much deeper and more cohesive lore due to the license, casual players are favoured just as much or more so than more hardcore types, and the game has attracted a better community.

So new MMORPG's are obviously going to be designed to appeal to disenfranchised WoW players, because it would be commercial folly to ignore such a huge potential customer base, but when they do achieve any level of success it will because of what they do differently and better than WoW.

If AoC does get over its teething problems, it is likely to attract a decent number of players that like the combat mechanics, the PvP aspects, the 'mature' IP etc.

WAR has RvR, and if they can pull that off with interesting classes, fun gameplay, and a reasonable level of polish, they are looking at 500k subscribers at the bare minimum. A number I'm sure they'll be delighted with.

None of these games are trying to compete with WoW head on, because that is indeed a recipe for failure. What they are trying to do is to appeal to disenfranchised WoW players and ex-WoW players looking for a similar experience, but with more of what they like and less of what they don't like.

I wouldn't be surprised if there are as many or more ex-WoW players out there as there are current WoW players. Coupled with current players that are ready to jump ship and try something new, that's a pretty huge potential market to tap into by following a 'similar but different' strategy to MMORPG design.
 
The key is polish. WoW was the most polished MMO ever released and still is. If you don't have deep pockets, don't even bother getting in the game, because people are not giving up WoW for a less polished product, no matter how innovative it is.
 
I'm having trouble with the basic premise of "imitation" here, because while I can totally see the similarities between WoW, Age of Conan and most any other MMORPG, it's normal for the genre to build on a base and I've not seen any mention of the notable differences.

Mounted combat, combo melee, and spellweaving (not in yet, granted) are three big features that are very non-WoW-like and that's just considering PvE.

As for the PvP comments:

"You just can't have raiding and PvP endgame in the same game"

That's off the mark when BOTH are very popular within WoW.

You've not addressed Funcom's separated PvP levels or other features where they're trying to balance PvP & PvE without tainting the game for either.

As a primarily PvE player, I've followed AoC for awhile and have never seen Funcom call it "all about PvP". I've seen PvP early adopters say it, I've seen you say it and I've also seen others say it's going to be "all about raiding". It's a silly debate that has little to do with the actual games.

In the end, it ~is~ the differences that will appeal to players of these new games. You barely glanced at a level 1-13 beta and you're drawing some awfully big conclusions.
 
Excellent post, Tobold.

Too many developers seem to have thier target audience confused with Oliver Twist ("Please, sir, can I have some more?"). The problem is that after years of consuming the same 'porridge' many WoW veterans want to play something else. Trying to lure them away with another bowl of slop is a questionable strategy at best. Moreover, unlike food, MMOs are easily substituted from. With continued lack of innovation, the game industry is risking losing thier customers altogether. It already happened to most of PC gaming.

Reading your articles about AoC being very similar to WoW is disheartening. A game needs more than just a few gimmics ("Look, we have titties!") on top of the 'standard' design to get my patronage now. This is exactly where LotRO failed for me -- it was solidly executed but felt too much like WoW re-skinned. It's still too early to make a definite judgement about AoC, and I hope that a different and novel experience will emerge beyond the first few hours of gameplay. If not, I won't be sticking around.

Instead, I will be placing my hopes on WAR and hoping that the much-hyped RvR and public quest systems turns out to be more than a clever marketing ploy to describe the already familiar gameplay. The fact that the promise of the above innovations turned out to be a successful marketing strategy is evidence enough to me that the market is ready for a product that genuinely different instead of more of the same.

Should WAR fail for me as well and no other viable contenders emerge within this year I will most likely be exiting the MMO market altogether until some game makes it big again. It's worth noting that despite all the talk about WoW and its unassailable throne, WotLK is not even a contender for my money.
 
I think when people talk about how successful world of Warcraft is, they miss the big advantage it had of coming from a business that had already produced a bunch of other very successful computer games, which gives it a bunch of easy marketing among people playing computer games.

(I, for instance, had never heard of SoE, funcom, etc., and had heard only passing mention of Everquest, ultima, Lineage, etc., for awhikle before after they came out, but heard of World of Warcraft pretty easily thanks to looking for styarcraft, Diablo 2, and Warcraft 3 information). world of Warcraft than just has to be a good enough game to keep those people around and build up some fame.

Any other business releasing a new MMORPG won't have such a big publicity advantage among computer gamers, even ones using outside franchises (since it's not as likely that someone looking for information on the franchise will stumble into the game, and the franchise geeks may or may not also be interested in an actual computer game.), so right from the start will not be doing as well as world of Warcraft.
 
I also don't think raiding and PvP cannot coexist and still be balanced, in general, I don't see any reason why this could not happen. Mathematically, there is no reason that bosses could not be toned up or down to be balanced for the same gear, there is no reason that taunting, aggro, etc. could not be balanced in a way that is useful in PvP, or that new mechanics like body blocking, or something else to remove tank/nuke/heal couldn't be introduced that works with boss fights.

What would need to change is how the mechanics that surround killing the big boss work in most games. Instead of getting loot, players would end up with, say trophies, fluff, territory movement, or perhaps no direct reward at all.
 
Separate the forest from the trees. Saying "PvP and Raiding don't coexist endgame" is too detailed.

Let's go back to what an MMO is - a pervasive, alive world where hundreds or thousands of people co-exist in any given realm/universe.

Start there...innovation won't happen otherwise.
 
I disagree to a point. I think that blizzard came very close to the mark with the vanilla launch of wow. Ever since that time they've been driving like a drunk man from target to target and never really realized that the thing that made the original game so fun was the size of the world and the accessability of the content. I don't want a PVP game. I want a PVE game with content patches and updates I want a world that changed from time to time.

to put it in wow perspective. With an expansion I want to see Westfall fall to the horde. Or at least have an outpost there. I'd like to see the night elves push into the northern barrens. Why can't non critical questlines change. Why can't they extend out.

the next mmo that gets this and makes a world where anything can and does change and we don't hear stupid dev excuses about how players at level cap will be upset if you change rewards or questlines for lower level stuff can be huge.

Most of the flaws in wow game design have been intentionally pushed as extension mechanics. I do agree with wolfshead the the emphasis on soloing is slowly killing the game as an MMO. Soloing needs to be an option not the prefered mechanic for leveling in an mmo.


I think anyone who is telling themselves that the next big MMO needs to be innovative and different is fooling themselves. I want the next big one to be similar and fun. Same type of interface, same easy mechanics and I want a new story and new PVE content to keep me busy for a long while.

What really makes it so hard is you have to have a new game that has a broad appeal because MMO players after a few years in game are there for their friends and guilds. If your friends don't go no matter how good the next mmo is it sucks and you'll leave and go back to your friends. Thats why I've been watching in stunned disbelief as Blizzard keeps shoving soloing and arena's down everyone's throats. They are doing more harm to thier cash cow than all competitors combined to date.
 
Do any of you read Sanya's "Eating Bees" blog? She's got a really good post on why people quit a new MMO. I will quote one of the relevant paragraphs (which I found amusing):

Jan 8, 2008
"Did you make a clone of a more popular product and slap a coat of New and Different on top? Once the players lick the icing off and realize it’s the same damn cake, they’re gone.

Did you make a clone with a major, significant innovation, and the players still quit at an early stage? You didn’t hold them long enough to find and experience your innovation. Trust me, if you really innovated somewhere, the rest of the product is solid, and the player got to the innovation without being hassled, the rest of the cloning won’t matter as long as you made it shiny. Sure, the bloggers and the board whores will cry “clone,” but frankly the vast majority of everyone else licked off the icing and went “ooh, this one’s got blueberries!”


Sounds like the same ol' song and dance...
 
The mmo that will take down WoW will be one that lets you start at max level with the best gear. Because the EQ and ultima era is over just accept it. It is now the age of the Xbox kiddies and the blizz fan boys. If only blizz would give us a pve severs just like the arena ones no one could touch them.
 
at least theyll have collision detection.. but yeah..
 
"And yes, that would make a good PvP MMORPG to resemble Counterstrike more than WoW. But Counterstrike uses a completely different setting, and a completely different type of combat. What I am talking about is a PvP game with classic MMORPG combat and a classic orcs and elves fantasy setting. But by minimizing PvE and concentrating on being different from WoW instead of imitating it to the max, such a PvP game could succeed better in today's marketplace. People will play it because it is different, even if it isn't as polished as WoW. It is a hell of a lot easier to make a game that is different from WoW than trying to make a better clone of it."

^-- Have you heard of Project Offset, Tobold?

It's a fantasy FPS/RPG.

Details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Offset

And official site:
http://www.projectoffset.com/
 
PvP MMO's havn't hit big because no MMO developer has given PvP as much as they give PvE. The next big MMO will probably be all about PvP and player interaction.

MMO's just need to take the basic concept of PvE, and apply it to PvP.

For example the "kill 10 foozles" quest? Why not "kill 10 orcs". The orcs you have to kill will be other players of the Orc race.

I also think some really far out of the box thinking is needed. For example spells, or skills, or consumables that will give a player very large stat boosts. Making this one player the target of a whole opposing raid. The upside? You can kill tons of other players? The downside, very long cool downs, perhaps expensive mats, perhaps even making your own inventory lootable if you die in this form?
 
Sam - I actually completely agree with you, and we're saying the same thing. Wow is not dynamic. Mobs respawn, instances can be re-done over and over, etc. It's sad that all of azeroth outside of the AH is almost completely useless in the 70 endgame.

What is amazing to me is how much attention the arena is getting (blizz, blogs, players, etc). I wish it was some sort of side-game, not something that dominates so much.

The best experience in WoW definitely for probably any player was the initial leveling process. How big the world was. The excitement of going somewhere new.

I guess another point is - MMO'S SHOULD NEVER HAVE "INSTANCES" OF ANY SORT!

Doesn't that make so much sense?
 
It will be interesting to see what happens when a non-innovative MMO comes out that actually competes with WoW on polish and has a more mature feel. Early leaks suggest that that game could be Aion (flight and siege PVP endgame are the gimmicks), or if not perhaps Bethesda or Bioware's games.

Can't believe the drooling over WAR upthread. I'm not going to engage in third-hand NDA breaks on this board, but suffice it to say that this game has been repeatedly pushed back for a reason.
 
I tend to concur with what's being said.

A strength of WoW is the leveling game, but imitating/cloning that is double-edged sword. Many people long for more of that "old 1-60 leveling feeling" that is lost in the endgame - but others are simply tired of leveling after having done it so many times (or prefer the endgame). The risk is that a WoW-clone won't grab subscribers like the old WoW leveling game, or that people are tired of it - but MMO cloners seek that potential reward of hooking people in with the super-secret WoW addiction formula (that no one can clearly identify).

The WoW-TBC PvP game has taken off in a direction that I don't care for. I used to enjoy PvP, and PvPed a lot, but I rarely PvP anymore, because PvP seems to be too imbalanced, too gear-dependent, too class-dependent, and too environment-dependent (such as three Arenas, with all of them built around the same old LOS theme), and there has been no meaningful BG change in 15 months (when EOS was introduced). But I have no way of telling whether my abandoning PvP is an exception to the rule, or a growing trend.
 
For what it's worth, I think trying to make a 'WoW-killer' is vain and doomed to failure. WoW is to a great extent a cultural accident, a product that managed to capture customers from a demographic far larger than its indtended 'gamer' target audience. WoW is a product that arrived at precicesly the right time to an uncrowded and fertile marketplace with a pedigree. WoW is dividends collected with interest on the long line of successful Blizzard games.

Today, the market conditions are much different. The MMO arena is jaded and crowded. I don't see any new title repeating WoW's success in the short term, whether it be through market expansion or capturing Blizzard's customers. What we're likely to see is a slow bleeding away of Blizzard's subscriber base as WoW gets old and tired, accompanied by gradual MMO market contraction as the super-casual 'non-gamers', having had their fill of the MMO novelty, depart in favor of more traditional pastimes.

At the same time there will be new MMO products of varying type and scale coming to the market. Some will be WoW-clones, but I don't think those will be the most successful ones. The best ones will have thier own unique appeal but also the limitation of not catering to every type of player. Niche titles like EVE and Second Life will become much more prominent. The bulk of the market will be divided among a handful of these games, each boasting around 100k to 2m subscribers. Aside from the dying WoW-behemoth, there will be no clear dominant player.

In the long term (folowing the short-term contraction), we may or not see a growth of the overall MMO market and the emergence of massively multi-user virtual worlds as a big new medium. I'm not prepared to guess that far ahead.
 
I expect AoC to be a
"Non-WoW killer"

And I think it does not NEED to be a WoW killer either...

Hear me out on this...

The whole time I played, I did not feel like it was an MMO,...it felt more like The Witcher...
And then had an added bonus of others in my universe to talk with ala "social networking"
So...what track did Funcom try to go on here?

Lets see

Step 1 - Setup the game at the beginning so it starts on a different foot than WoW. It tries to pull you into a story, instead of gearing you up to "grind" xp and levels. You are in this single player universe...and a modicum of story telling is involved..
It is very RPG...
It is looking for people who are more in line of "adventure" gamers moreso than MMO players....
Step 2 - Make the game so that only the most hardcore can play it...meaning hardcore Computer Nerds,,,as right now this game is hard on some of the most powerful rigs...it is a computer nerds dream to find the best way to run it. Trust me on this one...I have 3 computers and tried it on ALL of them..
Step 3 - Change combat, alienate certain players, and enamor yourself with other types of players...the "twitch" Halo crowd...
Step 4 - Make it a stepping stone to move to the consoles which has a different audience different hardware, playstyle, etc,,,

I do not believe AoC WANTS to kill WoW, but instead pull those players who are ready for something in the market to change. Make it so only selected "well off" individuals can play it, and then bring a different flavor...Make it more RPG, less MMO..

Maybe I am off...but, I think your suggestion is incorrect that it is trying to be WoW...I think it wants to be something else entirely...and in some respects...they have succeeded...and alienated the MMO crowd.

I think one of my guild mates summed it up best...
"I don't want cutscenes in my MMO"

No...he is ready to "grind" some more XP...and there was no place to just clicky click through to ok and accept the quest!
 
"If only blizz would give us a pve severs just like the arena ones no one could touch them."

/AGREE

The reason I am quitting WOW for good isn't the shitty player base, nor is it the lack of content, it's because I am sick of watching some of the best players in our guild say "I'ma pvp for a bit" then they never come back.

Pure PVE servers with no arena and no BG's would make me keep my sub and continue playing, but to be honest, blizz jacked up so many classes by making the PVE gear available suck (cough fury warriors).

Imagine a world of warcraft that still offered a priest the ability to bubble off a cliff with no dmg, where warlocks could chain fear endlessly with no "diminishing returns", and where EVERY class build regardless of spec could solo grind. Sounds wonderful doesn't it? Take PVP out of WOW and that would be the reality.

Fact of the matter is the more drama blizz creates by constantly shifting player attention from PVE to PVP, the more time players spend gearing up to be viable in whatever venture they choose to pursue.

I've quit WOW for good and I am debating on selling my account. When I joined WOW 2 years ago, it was a PVE game, now I'm not sure what it is and I'm not sure blizz does either.

-WGD
 
PvP is a lot harder than PvE, so many people will just stay away from it. WoW works because it creates an entire society with a pyramid structure: a few accomplished people at the top, and masses of peons at the bottom.

What I'm most looking forward to is the new innovations brought out by WAR and the other MMO's, and then having Blizzard copy and polish those features in its next MMO.
 
I find it strange that people say leveling is worse than end game.

End game is leveling without levels. The only difference is you level by getting higher level gear. Either way its all about character advancement. Either way when the content dies and becomes just repeat abc over and over again it gets stale.
 
It's funny. I have heard the complaint about not wanting to have cut scenes in MMOs as well, and it puzzles me greatly. The sense of story (carried out with cut scenes) was one of the great features in Guild Wars, and I was extremely glad to see the mini-sorta-kinda cut scene in the new five man instance with the WoW sunswell expansion.

But while I was saying "Finally, a sense of actual story in WoW that doesn't involve a 25 man raid!" a guild mate of mine just said, "I hate cut scenes..."
 
I've quit WOW for good and I am debating on selling my account. When I joined WOW 2 years ago, it was a PVE game, now I'm not sure what it is and I'm not sure blizz does either.

It's a PvE game with a large arena tumor poking out of the side.


Some people watching guild wars 2 are also worried that it will drop some of the things that guild wars differently (More leveling being one that ops up a lot.)
 
I dont' think its that PVP is harder than PVE. I think its that PVP his on an bell curve in MMO's. The first people on the treadmill get geared up first and it gets exponentially harder to beat them with every bump in the cycle. In a FPS game I only have to worry about how much I suck, how much the other player doesn't suck.
In an MMO someone who completely sucks can destroy me for months till I get gear close to them. That's why PVP will never work well in a wide open MMO. at least not in the duels or Arena style of wowl. In AV your gear could suck and you could helps some. It appears in WAR that may be the case. But I've never understood why people that like dueling aren't just playing Halo or Doom.
 
Wow.

This is the first time I've fully agreed with you Sam, 'cause I think you've hit the nail on the head. =)

. . .

From what I've heard or read from Blizzard designers, especially Jeff Kaplan, is that WoW's PvP was originally intended to be open area mass PvP-raiding, but they felt they were following player wishes and trends with the way they've evolved it since launch.

While Kaplan et al say that Arena-style PvP was an inevitable conclusion and that everything else doesn't work-- I never saw Blizzard try very hard at it. Sports-like matches ala Starcraft seem to give them warm cozy feelings.

I can't blame them for going with what players were doing (duels, as you note), or using what has worked for them before (matches, ladders, etc.), but it is nice to see other MMORPGs try to innovate more.
 
"Tanks" in AoC make great blockers at chokepoints in PVP. They do not need to PVP taunt if they can stand in your face and actually STOP you from getting to your target.

I think 2 many ppl are getting into the AoC beta and trying to play in like they would play wow.
 
"The very basis of the leveling and gearing up PvE game is incompatible with perfect PvP. If you have a game in which playing longer means your character gets stronger, not because the player skills increase, but because the level and gear of the avatar increases, you lose all chance of having a well-balanced PvP. Balancing character classes for PvP is already hard enough, but if you then also have to balance them at the same time for solo PvE and various forms of group PvE, the task becomes impossible."

EVE is a working proof this belief is largely false. Especially when we start to throw generalizations like "all" and "impossible". What seems to work in EVE's case is the power differences while present, are kept relatively low. With none of the "you don't have skill to even hit a target 5 levels older, nevermind actually hurting it" crutch that WoW and similar games love to utilize.

Maybe it's not just the developers that should avoid the trap of looking at WoW and WoW only as the sole source of data on what works and doesn't work in MMOs. Maybe it's also the bloggers.
 
I disagree, that MMOs made little progress since EQ. We saw more things changed in MMOs, than in any other gaming genre. First you wrote how WoW will go down soon, then you mentioned the 10th anniversary of a vastly inferior product. EQ survived so many flawed expansions and patches, expect WoW to be no different. Everyone (even Tobold) preached about how WoW subs will decline fast after BC got released. Well it turned out to be not true. Instead, subs increased, while all of the new competitors failed miserably. It kinda seems, like the more new MMOs fail, the more players WoW does gain.

It's tragic that not many people are willing to look at the huge trade off that many MMO enthusiasts have made with regard to the so-called success of WoW. Nobody really wants to talk about that it seems except perhaps people like Richard Bartle and a few others. I believe we've all grown comfortably numb and somewhat entranced by the polish factor of WoW, while all the while refusing to see the negative implications of how it's eroded many good things we used to associate with MMO's. Blizzard will never improve WoW as long they have so many subscribers in a catatonic state of denial. Therefore it's up to pasionate people like the bloggers, forum posters and other critics to blaze the trail in an effort to effect change. I've been called everything from alarmist to bitter by some people. I'm in good company as people like Tigole, Furor did exactly the same as they called for a wholesale revolution in the way MMO's were created, produced and tested.

As far as EverQuest I hold a great amount of reverence for that MMO. It blazed the trail and made WoW entirely possible. All of the uppper echelon of the WoW dev team played EQ hardcore. To understand WoW is to understand EQ.

Regarding Blizzard and their continual bragging about their 10+ million subscribers. I believe the numbers are misleading as they are clearing counting worldwide players and in different countries where the game is paid for using a completely different financial model. Blizzard is claming these numbers due to increasing the market worldwide and not because they are increasing the market share locally. Also, I dispute their numbers as they can not be independently verified. However, I'm sure that Blizzard will find a new market in some exotic location where they can launch WoW to keep inflating their numbers to fuel their PR machine.

It's much like looking at people who smoke. In the USA, people are smoking less and smoking deaths are on the decline. Yet worldwide, smoking and smoking deaths are on the increase. If Blizzard was a tobacco company they could make the claim that cigarette smoking is on the increase using that same logic.

Which brings us to the question: does success equate to quality? Is WoW a great MMO or is WoW a successful MMO? Does McDonald's make the best hamburger in the world or just sell the most hamburgers?

Except the truth, people want to do the same things over and over again...

While I would agree that humans are creatures of habit, I predict that people won't be fooled by the repetitive nature of WoW and WoW-like MMO's for very much longer. I know many people that have pretty much been burned out by the so-called Blizzard innovation of "daily" quests. When WoW starts to fall, and trust me it will, it will fall dramatically as it lacks the social and community cohesion of previous MMO's.
 
I have to agree on the point that wow took the repetition too far.

Dailies are not content. They are a cop out. People will do similar things that are changed up regularly with little or no complaining. But blizzard has taken the easy lazy way out and pushed arena's and dailies as content patches. The push back you are starting to see on forums and in the blogospere should be a wake up call. But it won't be. They won't admit thier mistake till subs drop enough that management starts getting involved. And management getting involved is usually a bad thing in a creative enterprise, so I see no good comeing for a long time.
 
Does McDonald's make the best hamburger in the world or just sell the most hamburgers?

Define best. The World’s funniest joke is not the funniest in any single demographic but it does have the broadest appeal across ALL demographics. WoW is like that, I think. It has the broadest appeal to the most people. In a social networking game where the PEOPLE are as important as the game, I think that somehow takes on a lot of extra importance.
 
Good point sid67.

Watching hardcore gamers and devs try to define a successful game while trashing the biggest most popular one is like watching Art Critics bash the most popular pieces of art. Or an English teacher picking apart the grammar in the harry potter books.

The fact is right now there are more bored casual gamers looking for the next similar thing than hard-core gamers looking for the next innovative thing. Eventually someone will capitalize on that.

Is McDonalds quality Cuisine. Of course not, does McDonalds make more money than OutBack Steakhouse. You Bet. Because it’s accessible to everyone.

Sure Wow had its problems at launch but even EQ2 designers have since admitted their system requirements were a mistake. Yet here we are at the launch of AOC watching yet another company attempt to justify their "future proofing" their game.

I just watch in amazement. It’s like the 360 or the PS3. They future proofed consoles that will be old hat and replaced in 3 to 5 years.
 
Why not do away with the Exclamation Marks completely? I will admit that after three years of WoW the Mini-Map !!!'s have helped me find quests I never knew existed, but why are they really needed? And could I be sued for writing "The Idiot's Guide to WoW"? This is supposed to be an on-line version of a real world (albeit a fantastic one) so why is that when we enter a town we can know, almost omnipotently, that we can ignore almost 80% of the townsfolk and just need to talk to a few 'important' people?

While it would have taken more work on Blizzard's behalf, I think it would have been cool that after getting a quest such as "Mankrik's Wife", that when talking to other NPCS in the Crossroads area you might then get the option, "Ask about Mankrik's wife". Why can't NPCs in the area be able to provide advice with respect to quests for that region?

"Mankrik? Yes, we found him south of here. Maybe one of the patrols will know more about his wife."

So you head south and ask one of the guards patrolling the road.

"You mean the Ork we rescued from the Quillboars? You might want to check the huts south of here, just over the bridge."
 
"Sure Wow had its problems at launch but even EQ2 designers have since admitted their system requirements were a mistake. Yet here we are at the launch of AOC watching yet another company attempt to justify their "future proofing" their game."

When a game gambles with high system requirements, it ~can~ work, but they better actually make it look good. While AoC has been pegged as 'more realistic' I think it also has enough stylistic flair to push it over the top, especially within the animations. Tycho @ Penny Arcade described it well:

" It was my entry point into Conan creator Robert E. Howard's work, which is to say the amazing work he managed to create before he succumbed to depression and suicide. Occupational hazard for writers, I suppose.

I was pulled into his work by a single animation from the game, which I will admit sounds ridiculous, and even more so when you understand that it was an idle animation: it was the player character from the back, leaning heavily on one foot, one shoulder held higher than the other. The way he - I have already admitted this is ridiculous - the way he shifted his weight communicated that this was not only a bestial sort of aggressor, but that he was bored, the way a great cat can become bored, ready to kill for sport."

I haven't heard too many people describe EQ2 or Vanguard as gorgeous for their system requirements, although I've heard plenty of people call those games ugly.

Now... I do think it's a little too easy to pick on EQ / EQ2 or WoW for that matter (which looks gorgeous in its own right, but depends entirely upon style). The truth is, games like Age of Conan and Warhammer need to stand on their on feet. I think they have enough uniqueness to do that.
 
I have seen several people in different posts on different forums try to bash wow by comparing it to McDonalds. But I think the big issue if that's where people want to go is that most of the 4 million or so mostly new MMO players that WOW generated, Like the McDonalds of the gaming world. We want something new and fresh that is very similar. And the old school gamers who are frothing at the mouth for their new innovative game are getting very upset that we keep bashing and dragging down the new games with what they consider unrealistic expectations.

I don't care if someone wants a different kind of game. It amazes me the vitriol I get from some people when I tell them I don't want innovative. I just want a PVE game that has a world as big, a back-story as deep with the polish and play of wow. So I can go there and play in a world I don't have memorized.

I'm not paying for another 50-dollar box till the entire gaming world is bowing and scraping and telling the world it's better than peanut butter. The last two years have had too many disappointments.
 
Let's imagine for a second that game devs choose not to imitate WoW in its game play and features. Does that mean that it will not be compared to WoW in some way? Just because a game is or isn't programmed like WoW it will inevitably be compared to it. It's like comparing any basketball player of any height, race, or position to Micheal Jordan. They compare because the new player is similar they compare because the new player is different. In any scenario Jordan is the basis for which all basketball players are measured up to. I do not play WoW but I do know that for the moment it is the industry standard of MMORPGs and for that reason, no matter what kind of game play is offered from new games, it will be compared to WoW.
 
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