Tobold's Blog
Friday, September 27, 2013
 
WAR Next?

Yesterday I wrote about WAR, how it had lots of promise and new ideas, and then miserably failed to execute them. Now I wonder whether history is repeating itself. Have a look at the various blog posts about Everquest Next, a game in which many people have put their hope as the next big thing, the savior of the MMORPG genre, and the "return" of the sandbox MMO. And as others have pointed out, SOE may well fail in the execution of those ideas.

Most ideas sound great in isolation. You can make a very good case stating that EQ Next should have forced grouping. But to do that, you need to argue that case in isolation, and forgot about over a decade of experience of the disadvantages of forced grouping. Forced grouping requires long play session and offers the players little flexibility, because they need to make a lot of compromises between what they actually want to do, and what they can find a group for. That very much limits the possible number of your customers. And times have changed: If you launched a game today that was exactly as successful as the original Everquest in terms of player numbers, it would be considered an utter failure (WAR had three times the number of players at its peak than EQ at peak).

All the possibly good ideas of Everquest Next, like having a sandbox game, or having a Minecraft-like system of players being able to modify the world, all come with disadvantages. Just like WAR's idea of public quests sounded great, until people discovered the downsides of the idea in practice, there is a high probability that the great ideas of EQ Next will reveal their downsides in play. And many of those downsides are already known in the industry: Developers talk of "time to penis" in games that allow player-created content. And we know that a large number of people will just feel lost if tossed into a sandbox without instructions on what to do.

Ultimately the success of EQ Next will not be based on the strength of its ideas, but on the brilliance of the execution of those ideas. And it isn't unreasonable to be sceptical about that.

Comments:
How do people still talk themselves into thinking there's a next big thing?

Especially Everquest, for gods sake.


 
I too think we will need see how EQN implement that ideas for see if they will work or not.

But I too think they are not looking at WAR, but at GW2...
 
Well, SOE is big enough to take a hit for a few years until they make the game successful. Just look at how bad Vanguard was at launch. Any normal developer would have had to shut the game down by now, but SOE had the money to keep development going and eventually turn it into an okay F2P MMO. It's not a huge success, but at least profitable now.
 
I really am interested in a lot of EQN stuff - voxels, crafting, sandbox, ...

But upon reading the no AH forced ...., I came up with

SOE will include in EQN all the EQ1 features that made WoW so successful.

I have an obvious solution:

1) Blizzard has lost its way with Titan and has had to restart the development.

2) EQN is quite innovative

So the solution is obvious: Blizzard management just tells the design team to take the SoE innovations and leave out all the popular-with-forum-mavens affectations. (They can keep it Fantasy or move it to SciFi or Steampunk.)

A sandpark with worldbuilding, exploration, crafting but without all the outdated "if it's inconvenient it must be 1337 and hardcore".

So I am very excited by EQN. I hope and think that in 4-6 years I will be playing a very good MMO based upon the EQN design principles. Alas, it is unlikely to be EQN or made by SoE.
 
@4c22cb52
"How do people still talk themselves into thinking there's a next big thing?"

Wishful thinking, I suppose. I'm pretty convinced that these days some folks get more enjoyment out of the pre-release drip-feed hype for a MMO (which can last for YEARS) than they do out of the game itself.
 
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