Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
 
Is Ultima Online a MMORPG?

Those of you who actually played UO will consider this a silly question. Ultima Online not only definitely is a MMORPG, it also is one of the more important milestones of MMORPG history. So why the question? Because every time a new game comes out nowadays, me or other commenters can't help but notice similarities between the new game and World of Warcraft: Combat is auto-attack plus abilities on a hotkey bar, gameplay is directed by quests given by NPCs with glowing symbols over their heads, there are classes, levels, and experience points, etc., etc. So sooner or later somebody is saying the words "WoW clone", and inevitably somebody else responds with "That is not cloning WoW, these features are all genre defining standards". Well, if these features define the MMORPG genre, then how come Ultima Online doesn't have them? How come A Tale in the Desert doesn't have them? How come Puzzle Pirates doesn't have them? How come that there are dozens of other games which are all recognizable MMORPGs, but which don't have that same list of WoW features?

The truth is that a MMORPG is a huge bundle of features, quality of execution, social factors, marketing, and so on, all playing a big role in the ultimate success of that game. And nobody, not even the game developers themselves, can tell you exactly which factors were important for the success of any given game, and which weren't. Thus while a good argument could be made that Everquest was more successful than Ultima Online because EQ had 3D graphics, the developers making the next generation of games weren't absolutely sure about that. So instead of trying to find the best possible feature of every existing game and improving on that, they simply copied most of the Everquest formula of auto-attack plus hotkey bar, quests, classes, levels, and experience points. Some year laters World of Warcraft came along, copied those EQ features, expanded on quest-directed gameplay and easy soloing, and factually became the new standard.

A game does not have to have auto-attack plus hotkey combat to be a MMORPG. It does not have to have classes and levels. And just because other games ended up with less subscribers, it doesn't mean that some of their features aren't actually superior to those of World of Warcraft. Some features of MMORPGs, especially combat, have become rather stagnant by repeated copying and cloning, with the majority of games still playing like Everquest, only faster. Game developers are missing the analytical skills to see which of the features of a successful game actually caused the success, and they are missing the creativity to innovate features that are still sub-optimal or getting old. Instead the "new features" we get are gimmicks like flight or voice-overs, which are supposed to make us forget that we are *still* taking that kill 10 foozles quest, targeting the foozle, and pressing hotkeys to launch various spells and abilities to combat it.

As long as game developers fail to either innovate, or to at least combine features from other games than just World of Warcraft, they will be open to charges of producing WoW clones. We can't just pretend that the features of World of Warcraft define the limits of the MMORPG genre. Remember Ultima Online!
Comments:
I find it more ironic that devs forget the definition of the acronym. It's massively multiplayer online *role playing* game. When was the last time anyone actually roleplayed in any MMO? I think that's the biggest shame of all.
 
That necessitates the follow-up question: what are (in your opinion) the defining features of an MMORPG?
Maybe worth an entry of its own?
 
Agreed!
However, to play a game you need to press buttons on your keyboard and it helps if the actions these buttons initiate are visible as icons on your screen. It is certainly necessary if you want to produce a fast-paced game.

Now, you don't have to do that. I am absolutely convinced that there is a market for quasi-turn based combat. Or systems where you can stop time for up to 10s every 60s to give new orders, or just think about what to do once the combat continues.
It is somehow silly right now that you first wipe once on a boss (or much more often) before you know how he works.

In my opinion the next gen MMO will have randomly generated (perhaps in combination with player-generated) content. Blizzard with the Diablo experience is perfectly positioned to produce it.

As soon as encounters are randomly generated you can make really great dungeon crawls. Sneaking, tracking, some magic out-of-combat spells and a whole lot of other abilities suddenly are important once again.

Combine this with evolving monster populations (Darkfall already tried) and the game feels completely different form WoW.

Fazit:
I have problems imagining a new, creative and good interface for MMOs. But I can think of getting rid of a thousand independent quests that don't tell any meaningful story and I really hope that dungeons will be unpredictable in future MMOs.
 
Ultime Online was awesome when it was released. If it was released today, noone would play it except a few crazy people.

If WoW was built with Everquest in mind, then Darkfall Online is a child of Ultima Online. And we can see how many people play WoW, and how many play Darkfall.
 
Details on FFXIV are still pretty limited, but we have recenty learned that there will be no auto attack. (At least that is what they are planning in this stage of pre-alpha). From what I understand, each and every action you do in game, will correspond to a key-press you make. Only time will tell if this will lead to interesting combat, or make battles more tedious, but you should check it out if you are looking for a change.

(FFXIV blog .com seems to be a pretty good resource if you are interested)
 
I feel that of all the games out today, the only one that really captures the essence of what UO was about behind the graphics and the interface and the controlls is EvE Online.

Some would say Darkfall, but Darkfall is really only populated by a subset of the original UO players, the PvPers.

Eve, like UO is a much more varied world, there are some people who do nothing but PvP, pirating, doing corpwars, bounty hunting. But there is also a group who does nothing but Social or PvE things. Working the markets, mining or crafting, hunting NPC pirates or managing corp affairs. The majority of players I assume fall somewhere in the middle.

EvE and Darkfall like UO are games where guilds can rise and fall in power in a matter of days. Where players directly effect the landscape of their play experience, even if most individuals only have a small amount of impact. Games where reputation matters, where the players police the game better then the developers.

I miss UO, and I wish I could embrace EvE. But I hate its artificial ceiling on advancement.
 
I think it was a dark day for the MMO world when EverQuest's system started to dominate so much.

EQ/WoW style games and the holy trinity, levels and zone design dominate the market world wide. In Asia there are even Mech and Ship combat online games that copy the Trinity system and underlying mechanics. Tank ship, Healer Ship... uuuh.

As you pointed out, even if Ultima Online had its flaws, the system worked without the quest guided experience and allowed players to interact much more with the environment. It also had a background story and the world unfolded and altered constantly. Housing was possible, you could even customize your house. You could tame animals, create weapons, armor, tons of items. And the economy was working, as you could be killed and looted or the sword or armor just got old and broke. There were magic weapons, but no uber-items. The economy was working. Progression was based on a skill system that initial gave you 700 points to spend, which you could train up in individual skill to 100.0, later 120.0, by repeatedly doing stuff this char was supposed to do. This had some downsides, but it worked.

So yeah, there can be more than one "MMORPG system". I hope other companies do not leave it to Blizzard alone to find out the cool features of the past, improve them and use them for even greater profit as part of their next MMO.
 
However, to play a game you need to press buttons on your keyboard and it helps if the actions these buttons initiate are visible as icons on your screen. It is certainly necessary if you want to produce a fast-paced game.

So how did you play Tetris? And if you think Tetris isn't relevant in this discussion, then you should try out Puzzle Pirates, where combat is based on Tetris. No auto-attacks. No visible icons on your screen anywhere. And its a lot faster paced than WoW combat.
 
FPS games are fast paced. No need to tell me which button I have to press to switch weapons or reload. Same with RTS games. Of course with a game like WoW you end up with thirty buttons to press. Some help is welcome there. Although you end up memorizing your shortcuts anyway.

I can't see Puzzle Pirates or Tale in the Desert as an rpg game. Mmo game sure, rpg no.
 
It's almost certainly player-led not designer-led.

Plenty of non-WoW games have come out and not sold particularly well. Darkfall and Mortal Online proudly announce their spiritual descent from UO while not setting the MMO world on fire.

SWTOR has made a designer decision to be heavily story-based despite the example of WoW suggesting that players aren't interested in story. It is quite a brave decision and it will be interesting to see how well they do.
 
I stopped playing UO when they started making UO into a Diablo clone.
 
So how did you play Tetris? And if you think Tetris isn't relevant in this discussion, then you should try out Puzzle Pirates, where combat is based on Tetris. No auto-attacks. No visible icons on your screen anywhere. And its a lot faster paced than WoW combat.

1) The number of buttons is the deciding factor here.

2) Auto attacks are a straw man argument. Mages in WoW for example don't have any auto attacks, nor do any casters. Auto attacks have once been criticised, because a low-level warrior could level just with auto attackes. But nobody did it because it was very slow and very boring. Auto attacks for melee classes are usefull because of lag and to make the impression that your character is fighting even if you don't push a button. Something I actually think is reasonable decision.

Consider a melee class without auto attacks. If he did noting he would just stand still in the middle of combat. Stupid. If you make him move, but not do any damage it's also silly. So, I really do not understand the auto-attack stuff. Blizzard could remove it with a glimpse, but what would be gained?

Actually you can also remove the icons on the WoW interface, if you really, want.

If one wants to criticize the WoW interface more is required than attacking the auto-attack and visible items. Both could easily be removed without making much of a difference in the way the game is played.
 
The number of buttons is the deciding factor here.

The difference between WoW combat and Tetris is NOT the number of buttons. Tetris has 5 (left, right, left rotate, right rotate, drop), and at some early point of a WoW players career he will also have 5 buttons.

The difference between WoW and Tetris is that in Tetris it matters more whether you press the GOOD button. And that there are actually BAD buttons to press. Pressing the drop button when the falling piece isn't aligned with a gap below is hurting you.

Compare that to WoW: There are relatively few examples of bad buttons to hit, except maybe fearing an enemy into another mob group. Instead you have various buttons which are *all* good, all either damaging the enemy or doing something positive for you, and the only challenge is to press them in the order that maximizes dps while keeping yourself alive. In many cases the optimal order, called spell rotation, is something you can read up on, because IT DOES NOT DEPEND ON THE MOB.

That is a huge difference between WoW combat and Tetris. Tetris provides you with an input, that is a piece of a certain color/shape dropping at a certain location, and you need to watch that piece, mentally project how that piece would fit into the gaps below, and then rotate, shift, and finally drop it into the gap. That is incredibly more complex than WoW solo combat.

Nevertheless millions of people managed to play Tetris, at least if the drop speed isn't too high. So there is no reason why MMORPG combat couldn't be a bit more like Tetris, that is the player sees a situation arise, and has to press the GOOD button, not just any button, or a predefined button sequence. I can think of half a dozen ways to realize that inside of 5 minutes. And if I can do that, why can't MMORPG game developers?
 
I disagree, Tobold.

1) If you level solo you can press any button, because it's so damn easy. Yes - so far you're right.

2) Solo leveling is just stupid. Maybe there are people who enjoy it, but it's really just a distraction aftzer work. You could just as well clean up the room - that probably more challenging.

3) There is no challenge with leveling whatsoever unless you try to do it fast. If you do, the way you press your buttos absolutely matters and there are wrong buttons and wrong combinations; especially after level 40, 60 and 70.

3) If you play PvP - especially arena - WoW is an extremely tactical, extremely fast-paced game with usually exactly one button in every GCD that you should press. And one direction you should move. To compare this to Tetris is like comparing solving of integral equations with plus and minus.

4) The standard rotation for DDs in WoW is exactly that. Try to stand behind a boss and do only that. No raid would ever accept you. Nowadays bosses have a hundred abilities that don't allow you to just do the standard rotation - that isn't even a rotation for many speccs (feral druids - but also arcane mages). The random generator doesn't allow the Elitist jerks to think about a rotation - all they can do is tell you under which circumstances you should do what.

Try to memorize and execute all of their suggestions flawlessly - like re-equipping you trinkets just before the fight to optmize the internal CD - and you'll see it's quite a task.

theoretically my mage should do 7k dps with his standard 'rotation'. Actually he does more like 5k if everything goes well. There you see the difference between theory and applying the theory.

5) But my orginial question remains: Remove auto attack from WoW (several classes never had auto attack) and remove the visible icons (easy to do with addons if you like).
Now - is this not similar to WoW anymore?

Whatever has to be changed to produce a non-WoW interface, it's certainly not the removal of icons on the screen.
 
I still think that much of every MMO is based around keeping the server happy.

I'd love to play an MMO with UFC Undisputed fighting, Gran Turismo driving, and Call of Duty shooting.

Good luck making such a game to WORK though.

Hotkey/autoattack gives the server a long time (to a computer) to react to each move without exposing server lag, and also keeps the slowbies like Tobold happy because it keeps the pace of the game relatively glacial.
 
Yeah... I played UO from the time I was 14 years old when it released til I was in my twenties.

And speaking of flight, gimmicks, etc... I cancelled my two Aion pre-orders and got my $120 back after Blizzcon xD
 
And actually, UO does have all of those standard features these days. You can set up a numbered hotbar with skills/abilities that will impact your target while you auto-attack it.

Maybe not all of the features. I don't remember if the quest givers had some sort of glowing mark above their heads, but I do remember they get your attention in some fashion.
 
Remove auto attack from WoW (several classes never had auto attack) and remove the visible icons (easy to do with addons if you like). Now - is this not similar to WoW anymore?

Of course my description of the standard MMORPG combat was by necessity much shortened. It isn't the auto-attack or the visible icon which is at the core of it, but the basic system with hit points, and each spell or ability decreasing the enemies hit points by some points, until the combat is decided with one side dropping to zero. The hotkey bars are just the most visible part of that system, the one where you can watch the SWTOR gameplay video and see that this game will have that sort of combat too.

The reason why you have to dismiss WoW solo combat as not relevant and talk about raid bosses instead is because a raid boss combat is suddenly much more like Tetris. Suddenly the interactivity, which the BASIC combat doesn't have, is introduced. The floor under your feet changes color, or you get a + or - debuff, or something else happens, and you need to react accordingly. Each raid boss is his own mini-game, with the boring standard combat of WoW mixed in. Or sometimes even left out, in vehicle fights.

What I'm saying is that a better MMORPG combat should be more interactive in its BASIC form, so that even the solo combat while leveling is interesting, and would force you to take the right decision with every button you press.
 
Of course my description of the standard MMORPG combat was by necessity much shortened. It isn't the auto-attack or the visible icon which is at the core of it, but the basic system with hit points, and each spell or ability decreasing the enemies hit points by some points, until the combat is decided with one side dropping to zero.

I also shortened my comments. Point is that it is quite important to agree on what makes the WoW interface the WoW interface before we can ask a company to change it :).

Are hit points really part of the interface? If you want to change very basic game mechanics (and not just interface) then I'm with you - but you should know that this is a major task. Almost every (MMO)(C)RPG used (uses) hit points. There have been other attempts but they basically failed.



What I'm saying is that a better MMORPG combat should be more interactive in its BASIC form, so that even the solo combat while leveling is interesting, and would force you to take the right decision with every button you press.


I'm not certain that's a good way to go. There are two basic ways to change combat machanics:

- introduce random events (e.g. proccs) ad make combat absolutely dpend on them. Like spell X can procc buff A then you should cast spell Y.

- introduce a mechanic that is not a rotation but a non-repeating combination of abilities that is slightly influenced by the random number generator, but still almost predictable - but not so much that it is repeated with every fight.

Chess uses (indirectly) such a system. Whatever you do in the same situation always has the same effect. But minor changes (in the way you feel or the opponent acts) result in dramatically different situations that still seem quite preditable (and usually are).

I'd congratulate any company that manges to introduce such a system into an MMO - but I don't believe they are capable. I doubt I were capable to do that for more than one class and that means something ;).


There are other things that I'd change in the MMO world:

For example the distinction tank/healers/DDs and the resulting specialisation. Most PvE talent speccs are highly specialised. For example a fire PvE mage drops every single fun fire talent to gain max dps. That's wrong(=not fun) - and Blizzard agrees. That's why they want to rework the entire system for level 85.

Another thing you could try to change is the fact that all action takes place in combat.

If I didn't know a dungeon ex ante I might send out a rogue to scout and report - or use some magic. We could use tracking (hunters) to find out what kind of enemies might await us and prepare accordingly.

If the incentive was not to kill the entire dungeon, but to retrieve something or to get through in one piece the game were already massively different from WoW.

And - btw - I have to add this:
Such changes made the MMO world more credible and immersive while also adding new dimensions and plain: fun.
 
I find it funny that people are dismissing the WoW leveling game, and on the next day going on and on about how Cataclysm is going to be great because it will re-vitalize the leveling game. Which is it? Is 1-80 trivial, or the key to WoW's success?

As for combat, the simpler the system the more depth it has. Compare a FPS (where you basically have one 'attack', shoot) to WoW Arena PvP. The FPS is simpler, yet the 'what' is much more complex. WoW has 7 hotbars of skills, yet what happens during an arena match can more or less be determined once you see which classes are involved.

Like UO, DF has a very 'simple' combat system, and yet the actual player-skill level to be successful is much, much higher than even top-tier WoW arena (in part because of WoW being class-based and hence rock/paper/scissor in design, which makes for crappy PvP).
 
I think I honestly had more fun playing UO in '96 then I have playing WoW. It just seemed more dangerous playing UO. I can't really explain it. Perhaps it's just altered memories from over a decade ago.
 
I heard some sage advice once. If you want to be successful, look for what successful people are doing and copy it.

The MMO companies aren't in some contest to design the greatest MMO ever. They are in the contest to have the most subscribers. That's the only measuring stick, whether you accept it or not.
 
Part of the problem is that the reverse is also true. When a game fails, why did it fail?

That's one of my concerns with a game like Warhammer Online. A lot of people are going to throw that game out as an example of why a PvP themed game in an MMO won't work. Instead, they'll argue, devs should stick to PvE because obviously WoW has been so successful it proves what players want.

The irony being that perhaps the BEST reason for why WAR failed as much as it did is BECAUSE it was a WoW clone in many respects. (i.e. not different enough)
 
I don't blame devs as much as I blame players and investors. MMOs are expensive beasts to produce, and innovation is too risky for most investors, especially in times of economic instability. Players don't buy innovation, they buy the Same Old that they have been playing and follow social herds to new games (for a while, at least). Chasing solid and innovative game design isn't a priority of the ADHD Cheers crowd that can't get past jumping (cue cries of "Guild Wars isn't an MMO") or visuals. They want the familiar old stuff that doesn't challenge them or ask them to learn something.

Devs are smart to cater to this rather base instinct; it's how they put food on the table. It's not good for the industry, and gamers who itch for something better are disappointed, but that's always the case if you're not in the bulge of the bell curve. Indie devs like 2D Boy (World of Goo) can take chances on crazy ideas because they have low overheads. MMO devs *need* a critical mass of players to turn a profit (especially when the business plans count on the subscription model), and innovation won't pull in the biggest numbers.

Our genre is notably intolerant of new ideas. Guild Wars, Puzzle Pirates, A Tale in the Desert, Runescape and others are derided for not being "true" MMOs or some other elitist nonsense, simply *because* they aren't like the Same Old that has become a "standard". Again, that's the players' fault.
 
"Game developers are missing the analytical skills to see which of the features of a successful game actually caused the success, and they are missing the creativity to innovate features that are still sub-optimal or getting old. "

Are you serious with this accusation? I don't think developers are interested in making tired and crappy clones.

Marketing is crucial. The reason these games are clones is because it's easy to market something that is close to a product that is already known by the market participants and widely loved.

The people who write the code of the game don't design the game.

The people who design the game don't do the marketing. They are guided by the marketing. Why is this? Because it takes millions of dollars and thousands upon thousands of man-hours to create an MMORPG. This kind of investment is not taken lightly. If the game doesn't have a high chance of success in management's eyes, how can they OK spending millions of dollars on it? Naturally games will play it safe.

It's not because of the developers being stupid or the designers being stupid--it's because of money.

I'd like to offer a reasonable definition of MMORPG, as well. Some commenters asked for this and I think I can provide an agreeable definition that doesn't assume that developers are going to make WoW.

MMO, meaning Massively Multiplayer Online, denotes games that is designed to allow 64+ players to play together in a persistent world (although this may not entirely be necessary) with a persistent character. Neither the world nor character are erased and recreated when one play session (or game on the server) ends and the next begins. The world continues to exist regardless of a player's presence.

An RPG--Role-playing Game--is a game that's focused on players acting out some part of the lives of fictional characters in a fictional world. There are game systems to resolve conflicts that arise between different characters trying to affect the same parts of the game world at the same time. Game systems also exist to ensure that players only can do what their character would reasonably be capable of doing within the game world.

Nowhere does this require hotbars, explicit quests, leveling, experience points, talent trees, or raiding. These mechanics are just tools to accomplish the role-playing (in a general sense) part of RPG.
 
@ We Fly Spitfires

What defines a role playing game then? If we go all the way back to early P&P days people min/maxed then too. Pretending to be your character isn't the only way to role play. Playing the role of a tank while min/maxing is still role playing.
 
i so agree with "we fly spitfires"

I used to play Planeshift, ( a linux beta lvl mmo, ) a lot like world of warcraft unfortunately.

Though it had no levels. Just weaponskill. And age, ( simply play time, ) everytime a "year" passed you would first gain some stats, but at some point actually start to lose them as you became to old. ( that bit never got implemented unfortunately ) There were no quests either, not a single one. You just went to mob spawns and started killing monsters.

Since that alone is quite pointless you roleplayed your way to that. Killing monsters in itself provided hardly any reward, but there were whole roleplaying communities. I loved that game, if only it would be able to stay up for more then 50% of the time i would still be playing it.

Tbh, wow was a big disapointment for me, i tried all types of realms, and even in the roleplaying realms it isn't much roleplaying...
 
"The difference between WoW and Tetris is that in Tetris it matters more whether you press the GOOD button. And that there are actually BAD buttons to press. Pressing the drop button when the falling piece isn't aligned with a gap below is hurting you."

Maybe i'm just getting old, but i don't play MMOPRGs for twitch factor. Which is what Tetris and games like that give me. If i want that, i'll play those. Playing Champions a lot lately has let me see how skill and tactics can affect things. I can try and plow through mobs by dps, or i can be smart and learn to use the tools the game gives me, which are actually pretty neat. People complained when the first main patch came out that it "nerfed" things, but it just really fixed over powered powers, they just now had to think before wading in. As to controls, you do have to mostly use your fingers on buttons for things, no matter what the game. I've even played Champions with a 360 controller, and it worked pretty good. The hotkeys and icons for spells and such are really not that different than assigning actions to buttons on the controller. It's just that most MMOs give lots to chose from, so icons help you keep track of what button does what. This is even more important when alts come in, and each has different powers. It would be like someone changing your tetris controls around.
 
Honestly, I think this "MMOG Innovation is Dead" argument is a few years out of date (if it ever were true at all).

Browser games, F2P games, ports of various Asian games, indie games like Darkfall and the impending Fallen Earth -- stuff is being tried.
 
Eh, its a good point in general but I am so sick of hearing about people's nostalgic reveries of UO. It actually sounded worse than darkfall pre-trammel, and while everyone talks a lot about how great it was, few actually are moving to EVE, Darkfall, or Mortal Online for that style of play.

If you really think that way, and you want people to remember ultima online, quit WoW and put your money where your mouth is. If not UO play others like it.
 
Do people REALLY say "That is not cloning WoW, these features are all genre defining standards"?

Certainly people will point out that these "WoW cloning features" were present in earlier games which WoW derived ideas from. But that's quite different from calling them "genre defining".

And of course the counter-argument is that it doesn't matter if these features were present in EQ or AC or whatever, we all know damn well that they're being copied from WoW, not some earlier title which never attracted even 5% of WoW's player base.
 
Nice post, and very true.

Game developers are missing the analytical skills to see which of the features of a successful game actually caused the success...

There does seem to be a tendency to praise everything the market leader does. I remember, when Everquest was king of the hill, reading learned articles about how forced grouping was the key to EQ's success. In retrospect, that probably wasn't true...

...and they are missing the creativity to innovate features that are still sub-optimal or getting old.

I agree with other commenters that a lot of this is due to a desire to minimize risk. Hopefully indie developers can continue to innovate, and the big budget games can at least incorporate new ideas once they're proven in the marketplace.
 
That necessitates the follow-up question: what are (in your opinion) the defining features of an MMORPG?

That's actually a really interesting question. I've always thought of an MMO as a game in which the gameplay takes place in a massively-multiplayer (~50+ player) space. Lobby-and-instance games like Guild Wars feel like at least a different subgenre to me. Same thing with persistent single-player games like Adventure Quest. Perhaps we need more refined terminology to distinguish the various categories of online games.
 
With so many "UO revival" posts these day, why doesn't anyone mention that UO STILL EXISTS. It's not like it went somewhere. In fact, they just released a new expansion (available for sale today). If UO is so great/revolutionary/father of all MMOs, why don't more bloggers that praise it play it?

(By the way, I'm guilty. I played UO in '97-'99, and I stopped when I started EQ because I liked it better at the time.)
 
The point isn't whether UO was a great game. The point is that UO was a MMORPG, thus disproving the notion that every MMORPG has to have classes and levels etc.

Imagine a n-dimensional hyperspace of all possible features a game can have. Plot all the MMORPGs on it, and you'll get a cloud which defines the borders of what is or isn't a MMORPG. And then notice how newer games cluster around the point of WoW, instead of using more of the space around them.
 
As soon as you mention UO in the title people will respond that UO was either much better than WoW or that you should go play UO.
If I were you I'd ban such people from the blog. They obviously don't even read the topic before commenting.
 
Is all this because UO has an expansion coming out?
 
I'd like to make a historical point; EQ didn't eat UO's playerbase because of 3d graphics. It ate UO's playerbase because EQ offered an important and widely desired feature that UO'd devs refused to implement; PvP-free servers.

IMHO, that's 101% of the reason that EQ ate UO. People were tired of being sheep to the PKs' wolves and the very instant they were offered an alternative, they bolted.
 
A year after Everquest came out, Ultima Online introduced Trammel, the PvP-free mirror copy of the world. So you might have a point there.
 
Every MMRPG that has come out has been trying to pilfer players from WoW or one of the other level based MMOs. A skill based game would be a shock to many of the people who are fairly new to MMRPGs, and could easily be the difference between someone choosing to play a new game or not.

It's a shame since IMO skill based games are a lot more interesting, allowing much more unique characters and the ability to change your character on the fly if you decide you want to try some new skills.

Interestingly, there was a lot more roleplaying in UO than I've seen any other MMRPG, but it was because of the other RP tools/gameplay options (like housing) Raph and the OSI team included in UO. It could have been level or skill based.
 
Part of the problem I see is that no big studios have picked up a UO-inspired project. Both Darkfall and MO are made by very, very small independent developers. And ultimately those games fall drastically short of the experience that UO offered. While Blizzard has grown tremendously in the last 5 years, when they first created WoW they had a lot more resources than MO does right now. Same story with Sony and EQ. Until a major player steps up and breaks away from the EQ-inspired theme park MMOs, I don't see things changing anytime soon. We'll get AAA titles from the big companies that imitate EQ/WoW and niche titles from small companies that offer a subset of the features that Origin gave us back in 1997.
 
Nils

It's actually very relevant to the point. Tobold is saying in essence that WoW-style diku mud design is not the be all or end all of MMO design, and a lot of non-WoW designs are in fact superior. He asks us to remember ultima online.

That's all good, but he's playing WoW, and he's not really into the style of sandbox games he champions. It works against his point, and it needs to be noted.

When he championed free to play MMO's, he was playing one, and it was more meaningful, because he actually was in the game with all its faults and plusses, and he got me hooked playing a similar type. This is kind of eh-if you say "remember ultima online" as a rallying cry is it a stretch to ask you to play it or at least something similar?
 
In my mind, games like UO are what I consider to be an MMORPG. What distinguishes an MMORPG from other online games is the wide open gameplay (sandbox) and lack of directed gameplay (questing).

In games like WoW, you're not reallying roleplaying, the game is roleplaying for you and you're just following along. I'd be more inclined to call WoW am MMOG, not an MMORPG.

In games like UO, you're given an online world and not much else, so its up to the players to decide their role in the game. This is what I would define as an MMORPG.
 
I think we are getting into the discussion of what makes an RPG more than what makes an MMO. I think it would be alot easier to define MMO criteria's simply based on the number of people in a given zone and the lack of chat rooms. (ie Battlenet)

By checking Wikipedia, it defines RPG video games as

"A key feature of the genre is that characters grow in power and abilities, and characters are typically designed by the player."

Not just pretending to be your character. So if we came up with the vaguest possible definition then a RPG is any game that your character grows in power. Atleast as it pretains to video games.

Role-Playing as it is described for P&P style games is more about participants assuming the roles of fictional characters, aka Avatars.

Role-playing doesn't have to be PRETENDING to be the character. Assuming the 'role' and assuming the 'identity' are different imo.
 
The term "MMORPG" was coined by Richard Garriott, nuff said about that.

I knew WoW would be successul when it was first announced, but not this successful of course. I mean, StarCraft, WarCraft, and Diablo series were really good, Blizzard is the kind of company that would delay a product for months past their release deadline if they feel like it still wasn't good enough, Blizzard likes quality.

Blizzard also learned a lot from DiabloII multiplayer to benifit WoW and already had a huge player base that were already familiar with most of Blizzard's games.

All these MMORPG's learned from UO, UO had not much to learn from. UO->EQ->WOW->etc.. and now as UO progresses it's a cycle where UO is learning from today's MMORPG's while at the same time keeping their unique elements.
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool