Tobold's Blog
Friday, June 14, 2013
 
Console MMORPGs

Syp is pondering the age of console MMOs, but says: "As a non-console player, I’m only excited about this in a detached, historical sense.". I don't share that detachment. For me the question is not one of platform, but whether future MMORPGs are going to be "lean-forward" or "lean-backward" games. Due to the obvious interest of cross-platform games, we might end up having our PC MMORPGs turned into lean-backward console-like games.

While people successfully tried to play World of Warcraft with a gamepad, it is obvious that you can't get the full experience of WoW like that. A typical character has more hotkeys than a gamepad offers, and even if you manage that somehow, you still won't be able to chat. But consider this year's Neverwinter, and the controls are already simplified to be quite viable on a gamepad. Play solo without chatting, or use voice chat for group content, and you get a lean-backward game which you can play perfectly well on your TV, lying on a sofa.

So for me the real question is not whether future MMORPGs will run on a console. The question for me is how making those games compatible with the control scheme of consoles will affect game design. I'm not looking forward to a generation of action-MMORPGs with simple control schemes and little social interaction. Voice chat isn't suitable for talking to strangers you meet, and being designed as games that don't need a keyboard could further push the move towards "massively single-player online" games where people play in parallel, but not together, unless it is for organized group content.

Comments:
DCUO and Defiance were pretty clearly designed with the consoles in mind, and the sacrifices they had to make were pretty obvious and pretty jarring to PC players. Ask a Defiance player about the chat and UI.

FFXIV also fell foul of this. Their UI was ABYSMAL because of the console focus (press 'menu' button to do anything, then navigate through eight billion sub-menus), and not helped by the fact that no-one could champion it from the console side, on account of it not being released yet.
 
The main issue I have with console MMOs is figuring out how I'd play one with my husband. Sure you could buy 2 consoles but they seem to need more room/ distance from TV than PCs do and not sure that's viable.


 
There's another direction that keyboardless MMORPGs could take: smartphones and tablets.
 
I find it odd that you are concerned about simple control schemes.

I came to wow having played fighting games and spectacle fighters on consoles and found the rigid hot key combat to be very simplistic.

Having a separate button for each spell, most of which are pressed whilst standing still and auto dodging did not impress me.

I'd prefer to see more action combat with combos and context sensitive abilities based on how you are moving your character at the time.

Even Arkham City/Asylum combat feels more engaging and complex than wows combat and it only uses a couple of buttons.

20 buttons is bad game design in my opinion and only gives a false sense of complexity.

Want to pull off your big damage dealing cool down spell in wow? Just press button 7. Talk about easy mode.

Even a 25 year old dragon punch demands more skill and actually makes you feel like you did something to warrant the damage output instead of just pressing one button with "win" written on it.

I wonder if the new Kinect could solve the communication problems by using voice to text conversion for those scared to talk to strangers? Curiously console gamers have less of a phobia about talking to strangers in random groups and lobby's though.

Not sure why it is an issue for pc players when it feels so natural on xbox live. I will resist playing the anti social geek stereotype card!
 
"Curiously console gamers have less of a phobia about talking to strangers in random groups and lobby's though. "

Well maybe if xbox gamers didn't have such a well deserved reputation for their voice chat being full of sexist, racist smack talk, people would be more keen to try it ;)
 
I've played DCUO and agree that it was designed around the console and people playing on the computer suffer for it.
However FFXIV ARR with it's redesigned UI works much better.
There are 2 options for UI, Keyboard and Mouse or Gamepad.
If game companies go that route, obviously at an increased cost, I don't see a problem with games being designed for both console and pc.
But this all hinges on game developers being smart about it.
 
I've been annoyed with all the twitch elements introduced into recent mmo's. I'd rather play a game with more careful deliberation, where the skill is in determining which actions to perform and being able to execute, not a button smasher all about split second reactions.

Need more rpg in my mmorpg's, less mario, halo, and street fighter.
 
"Voice chat isn't suitable for talking to strangers you meet"

Really? It works quite well in "real life".
 
If you're scared that they will be the kind of reaction time based games you loathe, you're right to be scared. It'll be Diablo 3 or something in that vein. But of course I really don't see these games doing well on console. The people who are looking for long term virtual commitments can get them on a platform that is probably better for them anyway. I tried EQ on the Playstation. It didn't go well.

Bhag--- there's a lot of people (women, children, shy people) who would find having to talk to strangers to be unpalatable. Maybe if they did some kind of synthesizer that would change your voice to render it unidentifiable.
 
Really? It works quite well in "real life".

Have you ever actually used an application like TeamSpeak? You can't just talk into your monitor and everybody you see on the screen hears you. You first need to exchange data on server IP and port with somebody before you can talk to him.
 
@Woody
"20 buttons is bad game design in my opinion and only gives a false sense of complexity.

Want to pull off your big damage dealing cool down spell in wow? Just press button 7. Talk about easy mode.

Even a 25 year old dragon punch demands more skill and actually makes you feel like you did something to warrant the damage output instead of just pressing one button with "win" written on"

I always believed the opposite. Having to move your hand in a convoluted way to perform a dragon punch always seemed like a false sense of complexity. It is after all just a hand-eye coordination issue and we are playing a computer game and not darts. A button for the moves makes much more sense.

I guess I always saw RPGs as closer strategy games like chess or Risk and hate the trend to dumb them down to the level of fighter games.
 
I don't see why any of the strategy would be removed by adding more engaging combat systems that use less buttons. In wow my priest has a ton of spells but my heal bot cuts them down dramatically by using different combinations of buttons pressed at the same time - like on pad games.

Most dps and tanks don't use 20 buttons but instead cut the number down some what with modifiers.

The complexity could easily be ramped up by making me aim spells and dodge attacks as in Tera. I am certain that is how future mmorpgs will play.

The combat would be more engaging but absolutely nothing of what exists in wow now would be lost. After all what has been removed? Nothing!

I suspect most opposition would come from those who are afraid they lack those additional skills.

I just don't see where the strategy is lost by making you aim yourself! Ok so you don't need a Hit stat anymore but there is nothing particularly engaging about buying some hit gems until Mr Robot gives you the thumbs up.

If anything the additional skill element in combat would bias performance more towards player skill and less related to the randomly awarded gear you are wearing. Had to be a good thing.
 
I think we've got the answer, though not exactly...

Diablo 3 was dumbed down in terms of controls, so it can accommodate a console "experience".

I argued that the this is the real reason for the number of skills (remember when you could only change your skill setup in town!) back in 2010. There were naysayers but now it's official - Diablo will be on PS3 and Xbox.

Is it better because it was designed with the idea that it's going to be played on a console. I think not.
 
Have you ever actually used an application like TeamSpeak? You can't just talk into your monitor and everybody you see on the screen hears you.

Have you ever actually used a current gen console?

That's exactly what you do. Teamspeak only requires extra setup because PC games nowadays don't support in-game chat (even though it was plenty supported in older games like CS and Battlefield). But current gen consoles pretty much universally support in-game voice chat (save for games that take it out on purpose, like Journey).
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool