Tobold's Blog
Monday, February 13, 2012
 
Time to stop blogging about MMORPGs?

Today I read a post by Wolfshead about SWTOR, and I agreed with most of what he said. I think that is a sure sign that I should stop blogging about MMORPGs.

While I am still far away from the burning hate that Wolfshead feels about every single commercial MMORPG out there, I agree that a AAA+ MMORPG of 2011/2012 plays pretty much exactly as one 5 years ago, and that most of the changes in the last 5 years have been cosmetic. And thus I am increasingly losing interest.

This weekend I spent 80% of my free time writing an adventure for pen & paper Dungeons & Dragons, and the remaining 20% were spent mostly with a single-player game, Jagged Alliance: Back to Action, and a bit of Facebook. Although I have an active SWTOR subscription, I had no desire whatsoever to play this or any other MMORPG.

Unlike Wolfshead and others, I don't put all the blame on the games. Game companies produce the kind of games that sell, and that is how it should be. If I could wipe my memory from a decade of MMORPG experience, I would probably love WoW and SWTOR right now. As it is I probably have around 10,000 hours of MMORPG played overall (of which 6,000 hours are WoW), and now I got bored of the same old, same old. If there is anything surprising about that, it is how long it took me to get bored.

A blog is driven by enthusiasm of its author. You can make a blog because you are enthusiastic about games, or (like Wolfshead) because you hate them with a passion. You can't make a good blog about a subject matter you are bored of. I want to write about the things that interest me, not get constrained by the subject matter in the title of the blog. Maybe I should just change that title to "Tobold's Blog" and move on. What do you think?
Comments:
I support the "Tobold's Blog."
 
Why not just change it to Tobold's Gamer Blog, and you can then write more about when you inflict that D&D adventure on your unsuspecting players?
 
I think you should write about what you don't like and how to improve it. And if people start commenting that you hate MMOs you should ignore them because you know better :)
 
Same position here. MMOs are tired, until such time as something new shows up.
 
I agree, and am in basically the same spot.
Since setting wow aside I've been writing far more material for pen and paper RPGs, running my own Ars Magica game, and it is rare that I miss it now.
I still have a subscription, but there is a radical difference between the leverage of creativity and the quality in the feedback between pnp rpgs and MMOs.
That might be comparing apples to hawks by folks, but it is all about where to spend your time so you enjoy.
 
I've always seen it as Tobold's blog. MMORPG was never a crucial part
 
You should call it whatever you want and write about whatever you want.

I can't be doing with all this doom and gloom about MMOs though. After a dozen years I'm probably enjoying them more now than I ever have. I still play and thoroughly enjoy MMOs I was playing five, ten or even more years ago and I'm always interested to try new ones.

Novelty is vastly overrated in general and especially in this field. If my hobby was fishing or football I would expect it to remain unchanged in its fundamentals for the whole of my life. I'm more than happy for MMOs to carry on as they are and if they keep making them, I'll keep playing them.
 
I like the MMORPG moniker. In a way, it provides focus and direction for the reader, even though your topics certainly stray very far away from that signpost on occasion.

Besides, as long as your blog is about MMORPG:s I will be able to continue to call myself a MMORPG player, which gives me enormous amounts of weird-geeky-guy credits in my office.

So please, for our sake if not your own: keep it! :)
 
As long as you keep blogging Tobold.
 
Write about what you care about. Even if it takes you away from games. Tobold's Blog will always have a readership. Good content (like good games) will always have a subscriber base.

ditto Bhagpuss' comments.
 
I've never been a huge fan of your blog (which isn't a surprise when you consider that Syncaine is my favourite MMO blogger and Gevlon 2nd), however I would be sad if you stopped blogging about games completely as it's always maintained a high enough quality to keep a spot in my reader and I've really enjoyed your D+D posts. And that's from someone who has never played D+D.
 
I know the feeling. :)

Anyway, as others have already posted, just rename the blog. It's usually interesting to read your thoughts anyway.
 
Having the word mmorpg in the title got you a lot of readers over the years. Are you sure you want to give it up without a catchy replacement? Tobold's gaming blog perhaps?

It is not a problem for the mmorpg genre that older players get bored and move on. The real problem is that there doesn't seem to be an influx of new younger players to take over from them.
 
I think you should write about stuff you like and why you like it. I'd leave the blog name myself, it's a nice nod to history.
 
I read the review in question - and honestly was disappointed. Perhaps it's just me... but it seems that the most negative reviews of SW:TOR come from the people looking for a sandbox MMO.

Honestly once I figure out that the reviewer's biggest gripe is that SW isn't 'open' enough my eyes glaze over and I start to snore.

I don't want to tell people what to write about - however you don't gain credibility as a reviewer by writing up negative reviews on things you don't like already.

Someone who hates pastry - would make a horrible pastry chef - and a worse pastry critic. Why (if your favorite form of game is sandbox) would you expect an on rails themepark experience to give you something enjoyable?

Someday - someone will make a sandbox MMO for you - maybe. I have yet to see one that gains true 'mainstream' appeal. However niche MMO's (darkfall anyone?) will continue to come up to provide for those who want.

Personally I find sandbox MMO's to be dull and boring (tried Eve... spent a week doing... skill points? Yeah that beats a game without a dungeon finder!). However I don't go and write long diatribes on how Eve is the most boring space sim ever created. I don't go to the 'casual' site where one review recently commented on how it can take multiple play sessions and long boring camps to have 10 minutes of excitement (and that's *true* MMO fun) and then write up on how 15 minutes of my time was more productive and fun in my themepark.

I just don't get it.

As to your site Tobold - I enjoy your commentary - because unlike the review that I read in your link - you try to give a fair assessment of whatever you are opining about and tend to not go off the deep end because you prefer X over Y and that breaks the game for you.

Whatever you write about - I'll most likely find it interesting and expand my thoughts and experience for having read it - and that my friend, is a compliment.
 
SWTOR made me resubscribe to WoW, and for whatever reason I'm enjoying it right now. I find if I play WoW in bite size chunks and treat the game as Blizzard now intends then it can be entertaining. Also being on a busy server helps as there's always plenty of grouping options to jump into. Just don't take it too seriously and you'll be fine. As for the blog, to be honest I'm now more bored of reading about bloggers complaining about MMOs than the MMOs themselves!
 
I second the name "Tobold's Gamer Blog." It covers the majority of content you write about and it is broad enough to cover any future content, including any MMORPGs you decide to try out.
 
Your posts are interesting to read, MMO or not.
 
+1 for Tobold's blog.

And I'll provide a suggestion opposite to Nils': if you have ideas on how to improve MMOs (real, solid ideas), don't use a blog to push them: raise funds, hire developers and DO IT.
 
I started blogging in 2008 with "Misadventures in LOTRO". I soon found that once my initial passion for LOTRO declined (which took about 24 months) I needed a wider remit to write about. So the site became "Misadventures in Gaming".

In January 2011 I morphed all my blogs (I had a separate site about films and TV) into one, allowing me the freedom to discuss all my leisure activities in one place.

It is a very liberating thing to do and I would recommend that you make this site "Tobold's Blog" and enjoy the freedom that such a broad title infers.

By a curious similarity, I have just finished editing my latest podcast where I admit that I've pretty much well reached the end of my rope with MMO's as well.

So have a lot of gamers that I know.
 
You should name it:

Vital Social Issues 'N Stuff with Tolbold.

Reference Married With Children.
 
Someone who hates pastry - would make a horrible pastry chef - and a worse pastry critic. Why (if your favorite form of game is sandbox) would you expect an on rails themepark experience to give you something enjoyable?

Yes, this is exactly the trap I don't want to fall in. Both the genre of MMORPGs and its players evolved over time. And in some cases they evolved in different directions. Somebody who like Everquest in 2001 does not necessarily like SWTOR in 2011/12. But in the same period the MMORPG market grew from half a million players to tens of millions of players. So unless I think of myself as being more valuable than the rest of humanity, it is hard to argue that MMORPGs developed in the wrong direction.

It is better if I talk a lot less about MMORPGs in the future than if I become another grumpy old man constantly moaning that the games of today aren't what I want them to be.

if you have ideas on how to improve MMOs (real, solid ideas), don't use a blog to push them: raise funds, hire developers and DO IT

I don't think the MMO I would like to build can be funded with the kind of money I'd be likely to gather with something like Kickstarter.

The solution is down-scaling, which is exactly what I am doing by writing and running pen & paper adventures. I allows me to run a game according to my ideas, without requiring more of a budget than I can afford. Better to make a good game for 6 players than an underfunded mess for thousands or millions.
 
There are plenty of MMOs out there besides the AAA+ ones. Why not give those a chance? The fresh, innovative ones will always come from the indie / small company side, not from the big guns.
 
I agree that MMOs have stopped evolving -- well at least in the direction that many players had hoped for. They are now just item/level treadmills bereft of the virtual world elements still found in pen & paper games. The RPG portion of MMOs is almost entirely gone.

Is this a reason to stop writing about the genre? Seems like a personal decision to me but changing the "brand" to reflect the current state of gaming does seem to make sense. You've been at it long enough that Tobold has the currency to reflect multiplayer gaming in a general sense -- not just MMO, D&D, Moba, etc.
 
Yup, just rename it Tobold's blog. Write about what you like.

I do think though that MMOs are going to improve and become very interesting over the next couple of years.
 
if you have ideas on how to improve MMOs (real, solid ideas), don't use a blog to push them: raise funds, hire developers and DO IT

From someone who explored this option: If you want to create a $50mio MMO have fun trying to get enough investors on board.

If you want to make a $5mio MMO, that's a possibility. But I wouldn't like that MMO myself. I prefer AAA production quality. Sorry.
 
It is better if I talk a lot less about MMORPGs in the future than if I become another grumpy old man constantly moaning that the games of today aren't what I want them to be.

And my final comment: I respect this opinion and I knew, of course, that you would think this way.

However, people like Wolfshead have not only my respect but my admiration for being willing to take all the heat. The chances that a non-WoWlike AAA-MMO is made increases the more bloggers blog about it.

Sure, you may appear like a hater or like a grumpy old man if you blog about it. But at least you try to make a difference! If you retreat and give up you may appear like an optimistic life-loving guy.

But the reality is: The appearance is more important for you than making a difference.
 
The chances that a non-WoWlike AAA-MMO is made increases the more bloggers blog about it.

That statement is based on a an assumption I don't share: That bloggers actually influence game design of major games. In my 9th year of running one of the more popular MMORPG blogs I still can't find any indication that I ever influenced any big MMORPG.
 
Love readin here and not only MMO related stuff. Btw, have you considered looking into GW2? I know hype is high, but maybe you can find something there that rejuvenates your interest
 
Hey it's your blog you do what you want.

I would point out a few things:
1) No one is spending 200+ million on single player games or pen/paper games

2) It's nice to advance to an age where you feel comfortable getting off the fad/fashion train and keep your "Disco Boots" waiting for them to come back in style. But not many people want to hear about disco now sorry we just don't.

3) Pen/Paper? Single player games? The 80s are over man get over it.

I knew this day would come. I knew with how you reacted about Rift. And how you waited for SWTOR with this messianic "this game better save us from our jaded lives" vibe.

Look you appear to be a reasonable intelligent person who does not seem to grasp cycles in life. Just admit you are after 12 years in MMOs you are jaded beyond redemption.

The first step in recovery is admitting where the problem lies. Quit blaming the games or the audience that drives their current incarnations.
 
I will write about GW2 as soon as I've played it. Get ArenaNet to send me a beta invite! :)
 
Quit blaming the games or the audience that drives their current incarnations.

@Angry Gamer: You didn't even read what I was writing.

But not many people want to hear about disco now sorry we just don't.

I have a brilliant solution for that to propose to you if you aren't interested in what I'm writing any more: Stop reading my blog!

Hanging out here and constantly complaining that I don't write about the games you like would be as stupid as me writing about the games I don't like.
 
Just do what you want. We're all here because for a long time you enjoyed MMOs and thinking about MMOs, and that showed in your writing.

If you write about something you don't like, then nobody is going to be interested. On the other hand, if you enjoy something, many people will be interested in it, no matter what it is.

Personally, I know many of my favorite Tobold posts have had nothing to do with MMOs.
 
That statement is based on a an assumption I don't share: That bloggers actually influence game design of major games. In my 9th year of running one of the more popular MMORPG blogs I still can't find any indication that I ever influenced any big MMORPG.

Even I get hits from Anaheim, Tobold. So I am sure you get them! Do you have a measurable impact? No. But then you never really say what you want. If someone asked me what MMO Tobold wants, I'd have some trouble telling him. Even though I read your blogs for about three years now.

I know you have this idea about mixing a card game with an MMO. But otherwise I would have to conclude you liked WoW but now want something 'different'.

But you seem to afraid to describe this 'different'; afraid to look like a grumpy old man ? :)
 
But you seem to afraid to describe this 'different'; afraid to look like a grumpy old man ? :)

No. I describe the 'different' often enough. You just have to read carefully, because I describe the different usually in terms of evolution of the current. Over the years I have made hundreds of proposals on how MMORPGs could be improved. None of which ever made it into WoW, except for possibly the LFR function, and I doubt they needed me to have that idea.

If I wanted to build a ship, I wouldn't condemn everything humanity knows about shipbuilding and propose some airy ideas about the ideal ship of my dreams, not caring whether physics actually allow it. For the same reasons I don't think a decade of MMORPG experience can be easily dismissed. The "physics" of game design simply don't support a $100 million triple A MMORPG with sandbox and free-for-all PvP design, however much a handful of people would shout for it. And "immersion" is something that happens in the head of the players, and not a game feature.
 
Agree, and for me, it's always been as much about Tobold as MMORPG's anyway.

Also agree with Bhagpuss. It seems MMORPG's have become an immutable thing, unlikely to change much any more than the dimensions of a football goal. The inflated perceived value thanks to WoW strongly discourages developer innovation.

What many of us want will likely have to emerge from an entirely novel and unexpected source.
 
I agree that it should just be "Tobold's Blog". I have toyed with the idea of blogging and even tried to have one at one time, but I quit when I felt my interests were too varied to just keep to one topic.

And if I don't relate to one post because it is about D&D? Oh well, I will read tomorrows maybe.

It is your blog regardless of its current title. If you enjoy writing then continue to do so.
 
"The "physics" of game design simply don't support a $100 million triple A MMORPG with sandbox and free-for-all PvP design, "

I agree. That's why I support Syncaine on the PvE Sandbox. Otherwise, I'm sorry you felt the urge to write a paragraph to 'attack' me.

Anyway - I can't remember those hundreds of proposals. This may be a shortcoming on my part. In my opinion, the worst thing you seem to be able to say about a game is that "it's not for you". And if someone attacks you, even though (because?) you tried so very hard to not offend anyone, you become angry.

The only thing I can say for certain is that if you stand for something and are willing to take some heat for it, you have a higher chance of getting it, than when you change the topic (of the blog).

On the other hand, I am just changing the topic of my blog. So, I don't really have the right to criticize, I guess :)
 
Otherwise, I'm sorry you felt the urge to write a paragraph to 'attack' me.

Did I? Where? When? Anything I said in my previous comment is completely general and just outlines my difference of approach to the "grumpy gamer" blogs in general.

I'm sorry that it appears my only options with you is you either complaining that I don't respond to you, or you feeling attacked if I respond.
 
I read Wolfshead (and Gevlon) whenever he posts, despite the fact that more than half of his posts insult me (or the category of people that I personify with). Mostly because I enjoy reading contrary viewpoints from time to time.

But when I woke up this morning and agreed with half of his article, I was shocked. To then read this...maybe I should get out of MMOs too!

Your writing is a highlight of my feed and I'm sure that whatever you call this place, and whatever you decide to write about, that it will be interesting and well thought out. Thanks!
 
Write about the things you like. Some people will leave, others will come.

As for MMORPGs, after 5000 hours with WoW I've mostly had it with them. Unless if a new game will add some really innovative features, I'm not going to be playing them for months. SWTOR is fun and if I hadn't played WoW before I would adore it. Now however, I've seen it all before.
 
Keep going with whatever name you like as long as this keeps being the second best place on the interwebs to flame on. ;)
 
Tobold says: In my 9th year of running one of the more popular MMORPG blogs I still can't find any indication that I ever influenced any big MMORPG.

Are you kidding? WotLK was built according your blog post "The Freezing Jihad"! :)

I have another prediction for you: the main color of the next WoW expansion after MoP will be blue.
Classic = red
TBC = green
WotLK = blue
Cata = red
MoP = green
next = blue

Anyway, I enjoy reading about your enjoyment with D&D, so blog about what you're excited about and playing at the time. If you have fun with Facebook or iPhone/iPad games, I'd like to hear about them too.
 
At this point in my MMO career, I've probably got close to 20k hours across the myriad MMOs I've played; FFXI alone takes up nearly half that, with the rest scattered amongst WoW, EVE, Guild Wars, the SWTOR beta, STO and LotRO. Of them all, I still like FFXI the best, even though I know it's a place I can never go back to. But with that said, I do still enjoy the genre whole heartedly; STO is a fantastic time waster for me right now, and I still play WoW on and off.

I think the big show stopper for a lot of folks is, as others have mentioned, looking for gameplay in all the wrong places. You're not going to find a sandbox in a theme park and vice versa. The other issue, and one I feel is actually the larger issue is playstyle.

What I mean by that is that as I've aged and grown and changed over the last 9 years, how I game has also changed by necessity. When I was 22 and single, I could get up, go to work, come home and spend 8-9 hours grinding crabs in FFXI and there was nobody else to care. Things changed, and I got to a point where I had other things tugging at my time. For those years, WoW played fairly hardcore, but probably only half as often fit the bill fine. And now, as I'm staring 31 in the face, working 45-50 hours a week, half-marathon training and last but not least, balancing a wife and 5 kids? I'm definitely on the more casual end of the pool, and lately STO has been scratching my MMO itch a couple hours here and there at a time. So, my point in all of that is as things have changed, how I play has changed, and MMOs have adapted to folks who, like me, started playing when they were in their late teens and early 20s, and as their playstyles have changed and grown, MMOs have followed along with that. So what you'll find is a large group to whom the companies are selling, plus the vocal minority who, while valued as customers, may not be the target audience any more.
 
Go for it. By this point, people probably come to read here because of the writer, not just the topic. I know I do.
 
I think its a great idea... with one caveat. You should still feel free to blog about MMO's just don't feel compelled to. I know I don't.
 
Of course, you should and will do as you please with your blog. I for one wish you would continue to write about MMORPGs, and in particular more about WoW.

I started reading your blog years ago because of your WoW-related musings and because you are an intelligent, insightful writer. I've already begun to read you less often because you blog about WoW less often. I'm afraid, I would lose interest in your blog completely if you stopped talking about MMORPGs.

That's not your problem, of course, but that is the truth from this Tobold fan.
 
Well, regardless of how you choose to go forward, I'm just going to say I've enjoyed your blog for years, really really enjoyed it.

I'm in almost the same headspace as you, recently cancelled my swtor sub, played wow for years, and ultima b4 that...

I know I'll stick around and read your thoughts on anything, even if pnp RPGS aren't my thing.

Also ... I just bought you a coffee... it's the least I could do.
 
@Nils However, people like Wolfshead have not only my respect but my admiration for being willing to take all the heat.

"Willing to take the heat?" Do you admire internet trolls for the same reason? Being the curmudgeon is the only REASON to read Wolfshead's tripe; it's his gimmick. He feeds on the reactions - there is nothing noble about it.

On-topic: Rebranding is typically tough, but I doubt it's going to be a problem for you, Tobold. Personally, I would add "Gaming" to the title for the new readers who stumble across it, but again, you already have ~2400 RSS subs alone, so I doubt it matters.
 
I'm always amused by the hardcore sandboxers cries over the supposed death of the MMO genre, when it is actually clearly expanding with every new audience member brought in by accessibility. The wolfshead post in particular exhibits a lot of the blinkered self-centric thinking that you've critiqued on several occasions, Tobold. Most of the things he's complaining about are either imaginary or part of what makes TOR as a 2-player co-op game so great.

It's almost amusing when people bemoan the lack of sandbox MMOs when the opposite is also true. There are literally a dozen I could list and I haven't even done any research. The problem is that most of them are shit. The complaienrs mean lack of 'good' sandbox MMOs, which is a problem of their unrealistic expectations - their mental image of 'good' is being skewed by an abberrant themepark MMO which skewed all MMO space/time like a black hole.

Even if you remove WoW from the equation and simply measure all sandbox games against themeparks, WoW is STILL affecting the statistics purely by virtue of how powerfully it has influenced all games since - and quite a few that existed before it, but which revamped UIs and added features that WoW showed people they wanted. (Much like actual black holes are only detectable by how they affect space around them.)

These MMO burn-outs need to get back to single-player games and dream other dreams, because the cold reality is that even if they got exactly what they ask for in a MMO (FFA PVP, giant world for exploration, player-built structures) it'd all turn to shit in a day, because having the freedom to do whatever you want should never be allowed for the Internet and its ubiquitous assholes.
Hell is other people.

So much of the appeal in fallout and skyrim depends on the fact that you are a lone wanderer, exploring a giant world. Even a commercial failure of a few thousand is still a few thousand lone wanderers too many in that kind of world - bumping into other lone wanderers every conceivable place you go and encountering their litter and kills like so much virtual graffiti would undoubtedly spoil the appeal. All thousands of people allowed to build and you'd turn an entire countryside into entry-level ghetto housing. We've seen these things before. We have not learned from them.

Until someone gets out and produces something similar to the Gamasutra article/essay on Sandboxes, (http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/AleksanderAdamkiewicz/20111216/9115/The_case_for_a_AAA_sandbox_MMO.php) there won't be any most of us will consider worth playing, so they will continue to languish in relative obscurity and poverty.
 
@Helistar, re: 'hire developers and do it'.

Try reading the note from Masthead when they shut down Earthrise this month:

"There is a huge interest in high quality open world sandbox MMORPGs, unfortunately the big publishers do not show any interest in the genre. It is unfortunate that low budget companies like ours are trying to bring innovativeness in the already saturated MMO market. I hope that one day an independent studio will be able to release the long anticipated open world sandbox MMO, which everyone is talking about, but no one is making. We tried, but did not succeed. We would like to apologize to those who were disappointed from Earthrise and to thank everyone who supported us during the years."

- Director Atanas Atanasov.


Emphasis mine. It cuts, because you know they weren't JUST disappointed that they're either losing money, or jobs, or an investment of hard work and effort... They want that dream just as hard as anyone else, and they DID try what all the armchair critics say to do. And they failed. So that game everyone wants, still doesn't exist.
 
@Cam

I absolutely agree with your comments regarding MMO burnouts. I've seen a number of blog discussions, particularly with regards to SWTOR and declining WoW subs, focussing on the ultimate sandbox game that needs to be made.

Apparently it's the answer to all our problems.

The burnouts agree that it's a simple case of detail, challenge and immersion. Not to mention avoiding everything that WoW has ever done for the genre.

Oh and apparently this can only come about through the death of all major 'themeparks' games.

What is rarely discussed is how many people would actually want to play this game, or how it would be a mainstream success whilst omitting the undesirable players that ruin other titles with their casual expectations and non-immersive playing.
 
I support the others, I come to this blog because of your thoughtful opinions and writing style, after years of coming here daily it feels like you are a good friend and I happily read anything you have to say about D&D, MMOs, politics, or gaming in general.

<3 Zode
 
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