Tobold's Blog
Monday, October 06, 2014
 
The case for less features in the next game

I haven't bought or played The Sims 4. But I did play The Sims 3 a bit, and thus was reading reviews, or watching video reviews, of The Sims 4. And pretty much every review was talking about how The Sims 4 has less features than The Sims 3 and then gave the game a lower score because of that. Now I understand where this is coming from. There is a famous post of 89 features missing from The Sims 4. And historically The Sims has always been a game where added features were bundled and sold as expansions, so 89 missing features is like having to buy two or three $20 expansions just to have the same feature set as the previous game. But the whole thing led me to the question whether it is a good idea that every sequel or next game of a genre has more features than the previous games.

I believe that the number of different features matters most to veteran players, those who already played the previous versions of a game, or lots of other games in the same genre. If a new player will play The Sims 4 as his very first The Sims game, it is doubtful that he will even notice most of those "missing" features. You can't miss what you never had.

If feature lists get longer and longer, at some point they constitute a barrier to entry. Both for game developers, because you need more and more money to make a game for a specific genre, as there are more and more features you absolutely must have. And for new players, because at some point games become hard to learn because there are so many features you need to be aware of.

Sometimes less is just more. The PvP in an MMORPG is encumbered by the whole huge rest of the game, having to have abilities and powers that are balanced for PvE and PvP simultaneously, having gear coming from PvE and PvP activities, having leveling and crafting and all that in the game. A MOBA game very much resembles the PvP part of a MMORPG without all that ballast. And I have lots of examples of MMORPGs where certain parts were visible just added to tick off boxes of some must-have feature list, but the game would have been better off without them. I'm still waiting for a new genre of games that just takes raiding from MMORPGs without bundling it with all the rest of features from the genre.

One way to find those feature-light games today is mobile platforms like iOS or Android. Due to technical restrictions and very different economics, you can get some games on those platforms which went back to the roots of the core content of a genre. Nobody minds if a $2 game on the iPad doesn't have all the latest features. And then those games often are easier to get in to, and sometimes even more fun to play. Of course that might change once we have iOS15 on the iPad of 2020 that is more powerful than my desktop PC today. But right now I am quite happy to have that alternative.

Comments:
I am also waiting/hoping for a dev to make a raid only game.
Just prefab heroes, no gear progression out of lobby,only way to improve yourself is to actually get better instead of aquiring gear.

Same as mobas did with the pvp actually,get away with the gear progression system which only blurs actual skill levels.
As a side effect it would be nice if mmos focus more on the neverending living world aspect of their genre,which is a bit of a underrated selling point at the moment.

well one can always hope.
 
I wouldn't say less is more, but I would say that it's OK to reimagine your product so that it's stays true to your original vision or gameplay.

LEGO quite famously turned itself around from the brink of bankruptcy to the most profitable (as a % of revenue) toy company in the world.

A big part of how they did so is by eliminating SKUs (i.e. products) and selling off businesses that had nothing to do with their core customers interests of world building.

I think we see a similar situation in these games that keep adding 'features' that are unnecessary to the real reason these games are fun. If a dev wants to step back, remember what they USED to be doing right, and then do that instead -- I think that's a positive.
 
I absolutely agree. Especially since I thought the same thing about Archage recently. Just too many features introduced all at the same time to the player. I am an experienced MMORPG player and it is difficult for me to understand all of it at the speed that I am supposed to.

However, I would't call PvP a 'feature' of a MMORPG. It's rather a main part of it. Obviously, that is my subjective understanding. I wouldn't care if a MMO didn't have scripted raids, for example.
 
I am also waiting/hoping for a dev to make a raid only game.
Just prefab heroes, no gear progression out of lobby,only way to improve yourself is to actually get better instead of aquiring gear.


Uh... so how would people connect together to form the Raid party? Without the rest of the game, you are left to random chance with things a group finder. Either that, or you need to find people outside the game on forums and such which is a huge barrier to all but the most dedicated.

Bringing this back on topic, the one "feature" that I think many recent MMOs lack today is the "social feature". Less of that in MMOs is certainly not more! So how about we not work to design minimalist games that further remove the social.
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
"I'm still waiting for a new genre of games that just takes raiding from MMORPGs without bundling it with all the rest of features from the genre"

I assume you simply want to see this massive flop?

With regards to raiding, I would divide the general MMORPG population into 5 groups:

A) Players who will never reach the level cap.
B) Players who will reach the level cap, but will never raid.
C) Players who only raid because they have grown attached to the game/their character, and are now offered no other way to progress than raiding.
D) Players who raid to feel superior to other players.
E) Players who enjoy the hardcore perfectionism/organizational challenge offered by raiding.

A, B and C will obviously never even try the game. But because of their absence, D will never enjoy this game either. Everyone is a raider, he isn't any better than anyone. That leaves only E.

Population wise, A+B outnumber the others by a 10 to 1 margin, and C+D outnumber E by another 10 to 1 margin. So you are talking about a game which can only appeal to 1% of the MMORPG market. A raiding-only game would be more niche than even an open-PvP game.
 
Have you played the game FORCED? I'd consider it to be a (smaller scale) raiding only MMO. Your party is capped at 4 people and it controls more like Diablo than WoW but really it's a bunch of dungeons with trash and boss fights and you need to work with your team and learn the dance to win.
 
"However, I would't call PvP a 'feature' of a MMORPG. It's rather a main part of it. Obviously, that is my subjective understanding. I wouldn't care if a MMO didn't have scripted raids, for example."

@Nils - PvP is absolutely a feature. Devs need to figure out how combat against other players works, balance it, come up with pvP modes (think capture the flag, tournaments, world PvP, etc.). It is as much a feature as raids, pet battles, or the Auction House. And not every MMO need include PvP either.
 
Sid Meier explains it very well:


We actually have a philosophy in terms of Civ—that with every new feature we put in, we need to take something else out. We think it's reached the appropriate level of epicness and grandness, and going beyond that is going too far, in terms of complexity or length of play.

Back when I was young, we used to make flight simulators. They kept getting more and more complicated. The cockpit started taking over more and more of the screen, and what you saw outside got less and less. With every generation… There were some great games, like the Falcon series. But with every generation, some people said, this is getting to be too much for me, I won't buy it anymore. Eventually it just out-complexified itself.

What we want to do is avoid that with Civ. We think we've found a good balance of playability, depth and complexity. With Civ, we're actually deliberately keeping the complexity at the current level, because that seems to be what people enjoy. So I don't think the future is a super grand awesomely complex game. That's not something that we think makes sense for our players.


http://www.pcgamer.com/sid-meier-interview-ace-patrol-civs-evolution-and-the-future-of-strategy-games/
 
Samus said: "E) Players who enjoy the hardcore perfectionism/organizational challenge offered by raiding.

Population wise, A+B outnumber the others by a 10 to 1 margin, and C+D outnumber E by another 10 to 1 margin."

Are you certain of those stats? I did many things in WoW besides raid - I liked exploring, then I discovered dungeons and liked that even more. I spent a good while very fond of battlegrounds. And when I raided, it was partly for the type E challenge and partly for the social aspects.

Yes, I could have been in a better raiding guild, but I had fun organising and playing with less intense raiders.

I don't think a raiding game would necessarily attract a small clientele, but it would not be a good idea to make it too purist. Maybe there could be easier dungeons for people to gear up.

There is a slight issue here though - if you program a game that can do WoW-like raids, you basically just need to add a bit of extra and not too hard to generate content to have a PvE component too. Sure, there are *some* extra things to code, but basically in a raid you have a map with monsters anyway.

You could have variations on PvE - for example a 'raid' in which you guard a caravan travelling cross-country, stuff like that.
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool