Tobold's Blog
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Turning back time

Spinks is posing a challenge: "Open a new trial account in WoW, pick a character based on looks/ class description, and play it up to level 10. Then see how fun you found the gameplay." Well, apart from the "trial account" part, I just did that in Cataclysm, leveling up a new goblin hunter and worgen warlock. And I found the experience fun enough. In particular I found the quests more fun than the equivalent first ten levels of playing two characters in Rift, which I also did around the same time. But of course that is highly subjective. And not really a good measure, because it is impossible to turn back time.

"Fun" doesn't exist in a vacuum, it is a feeling which melds from the what you are currently doing and all your previous experience. Me, personally, I'm a bit sick and tired of the standard kill 10 foozles quests, so subjectively I liked the WoW new player experience more than the Rift new player experience, because the new WoW starting zones have a lot more non-standard quests, more use of vehicles, scripts, and other "modern" quest telling gadgets. Somebody else might be sick and tired of how classes and talents work in WoW, and might find the Rift new player experience with its souls more fun. Or he might find WoW too static and prefer the slightly less static rifts in Rift.

Thus unless you take a really new player who never played MMORPGs before, and let him play through the newbie experience, it is impossible to get an accurate reading of how "fun" a newbie zone is. Everybody falls in love with his first MMORPG. People who started with EQ will still reminisce about how great that was, before this or that developement "ruined the game". And so on with every MMORPG, every veteran player can tell you exactly what "ruined the game" of his first MMORPG. When in fact people simply burned out, and are just blaming some minor changes in the game to a mental development which took place in their own heads.

I burned out from World of Warcraft, which is why I cancelled my account. I need at least some months of break before I can play a similar quest and level-based game again, which will most probably we Star Wars: The Old Republic. As I realize that the burnout is in my head, and not the fault of WoW, I don't believe in the solution of just switching to a new game already now, which is over 90% similar to WoW. I'm pretty certain that in the coming months there will be a lot of people realizing that once the new shiny feeling has worn off, Rift plays a lot like WoW. And as their burnout with the WoW-like gameplay is in their heads, they will burn out from Rift quickly. Watching the MMORPG blogosphere I can already see the writing on the wall. That is not the fault of Rift, but the natural effect of playing through similar gameplay for thousands of hours over the last years. Some people will blame some change in Rift ("that new patch totally ruined the game"), others will bizarrely find a way to blame WoW for their Rift burnout. But the simple fact is that you can't turn back time and "unplay" the thousands of hours of MMORPG you already did. "Fun" is something that suffers from diminishing return.
I paid 60 bucks, played with Rift for a few days, then threw it in the recycle bin. Rift was just a 60-dollar hooker. I should probably soak in bleach now.
No really, you have to try it without using the new races/ classes with the starting zones with the really streamlined stories. Try a new troll, for example. Then go compare to Rift (for example.)
I have tried Aion, Rift, Lotro, Conan and Eve..

I was burnout from wow and tried to find something new..

In all of these games I was enjoyed the first month and then suddenly my interest drop to the floor..and everytime I found something new I said "why wow don't have this?they get millions every month 6 years now, why they don't have this feature?"

After 1 month I was back to wow..I don't know why.. I can't say I have a lot of fun in wow, but I have so many characters, gold, my professions, huge variety of mounts..

New games have to consider this imo.Their target is wow playerbase.. I was strangling in Rift to keep my bags some space, the in-game mail was expensive at the start and I had to save all my money to get a mount, e.t.c.

I want something new, but if the change in gameplay is minor and in addition I have to strangle for things like mounts, bag space, enough golds for respecs, e.t.c. then I say no thanks..

In order to drop all my characters in wow and move to another MMO for a long time, it has to be a much different gameplay and don't need farm for the obvious
This is my 12th year playing MMOs. Over that time I've played anything from 25 to 50 hours a week. Every week except vacations, every year.

I am not burned out. I come home from work looking forward to playing. I get up on a weekend looking forward to playing. I read about MMOs, write about them and talk about them.

This is how all my life tends to be. I don't lose intereast in things I once enjoyed. That interest deepens and matures. Time permitting, I still play all the MMOs that I have enjoyed over the past decade and intend to go on doing so as long as either they or I are still around.

I only played WoW for four months. I didn't burn out on it, but it never really hooked me. It was considerably better than I expected, but not nearly as interesting as many other MMOs I've played.

I much prefer Rift, mainly because I find the world much more convincing. It seems a lot more detailed and it draws me in in a way WoW never did. I think an awful lot of that comes down to art direction, which I think is probably the single most important element in creating that elusive immersion so many of us seek.

As for quests, they are pretty bland in almost all MMOs. I'd be extremely happy to do without both quests and storylines. I can and do make up much better ones in my head as I'm playing. I just need the backdrop, the gameplay mechanics and the visual effects to be done in a way that suits me and I'll provide the rest of the content myself.

I think that's part of why I rarely "burn out" either on MMOs in general or specific MMOs in particular. I find playing MMOs is a creative act that doesn't rely heavily on consuming prepared content, and creativity seldom gets old.
I do wonder about this. People seem to have a lot of trouble with the concept that burnout isn't the fault of the game, it is totally naturally, not permanent, and there is nothing any developer can ever do to fix it other than produce content faster than it can be consumed which would require an amount of personnel far beyond what any company could reasonably have, including WoW which has enough stability and income to afford a massive team.

I'm burned out from WoW right now too, but I have no problem with that. My account is cancelled. I will either not get over it and simply not resubscribe or, far more likely, get over it and resub when I feel like it. Neither choice is the fault of the game and this sure as hell isn't the first time I have been burned out since release. Leaving and coming back is pretty much a natural part of the game.
"And so on with every MMORPG, every veteran player can tell you exactly what 'ruined the game' of his first MMORPG."

Reminds me of people complaining about UO with Trammel/Felucca and SWG with NGE.
I disagree with the whole concept that it's "just the players being burnt out." I would've agreed with you a year ago, but I'm not so sure now.

Contrary to Sine, I don't think I'll ever go back to WoW properly (i.e. actually play it heavily for at least a month, which I haven't done for more than a year now.) The game has changed too much, and I don't feel "god, I hate this genre and it's boring" every time I log in. Rather, I just feel as if it's not worth playing, since the new design direction of "replace gear quickly, practically remove all raid content below current tier" doesn't particularly appeal to me at all. The classes are all fairly similar now as well, along with the fact that all 3 classes I played in WotLK were altered by patch 4.0 to such a degree that I no longer enjoyed them as characters. The game has changed too much for me to enjoy it. I've changed as a player, sure, but the game has changed as well. It's a combination of both, but to say that games, especially WoW, have remained totally static and it's purely the players fault is, frankly, delusional at best and self-righteous pontification at worst.
Not totally static. But if it was mostly the changes to the game which affected how the players like it, then why does everybody think that every game is WORSE now than it was? If players were judging objectively, changes would be either statistically even for the better or for the worse, or if we assume that the devs know what they are doing, predominantly to the better.

The fact that everybody always claims that games only ever get worse is proof that this is a burn out phenomenon.
I jumped into Rift with the intention of burning out on it. It's a way to transition from WoW back to real life, if one has had addiction issues with WoW (the analogy I've used is that of a nicotine patch.)

I had planned to take four months, but I may renew the Rift account for another three month period if it's still retaining my interest.
> or if we assume that the devs know what they are doing,
> predominantly to the better.
> The fact that everybody always claims that games only ever
> get worse is proof that this is a burn out phenomenon.

There is also the possibility that the developers work for a company which tries to make as much money as possible, presumable for the next quarter. I don't see why game companies should be different to other companies.

Better for the company (more money) doesn't have to be better for the player (more fun).
>> Bhagpuss said "I just need the backdrop, the gameplay mechanics and the visual effects"

I also played so many MMO, and what you said is what I seek but mostly the gameplay.By say gameplay I mean the battle system and character animations and flawless movement.

Rift : a little bit laggy battle system, you press the button and after about 1 sec is animation coming.. you don't feel it...

Lotro : awesome enviroment, community, graphics but terrible battle system :( puting abilities on que is something I cannot stand.

Aion : Awesome character models, awesome battle system and animations but too much luck needed in anything you do, hard level up, no pve server, only 3 zones to level up

Wow has awesome battle system, good animation, flawless movement may zones to explore - quest, I got used on graphics..

Conan : king of bugs couldn't played it more than a week, never installed it again..

Warhammer : only pvp in which I am not interested.

so where did you find all these :P in which games?

People burned out but games changed too to the worst.Community changed to the worst, games reset gear progression every 3-4 months.Homogenization of characters, lack of vision in new gear models (especially in world of Clones)
There is also the possibility that the developers work for a company which tries to make as much money as possible, presumable for the next quarter.

Most companies I know, except for financial ones, are also quite interested in long-term survival, not just the next quarter. That is why many companies make 10-year plans and the like. I find it hard to believe that among all MMORPG companies there would not be a single one looking further than the next quarter. Especially since the subscription model doesn't really reward ruining the game in the long term.

Developers are like everybody else in that they have a certain pride in their work and want to make a better product, not a worse one, over time.
But wouldn't it be possible that your 10 year plan for your MMORPG sees different way to monetize your invested work for the first 5 years and the last 5 years?

It's not like an MMORPG is something you create for eternity. There is a time where it might be the most profitable way to let the ship sink and make as much money as possible while it lasts. Developers might have some pride in their work but they don't make the decisions. The decisions are made by managers and their pride comes from earned money, not from a nice game.

And even if that's not the case. The company tries to get as much money out of you and not to supply you with as much fun as possible. That might or might not be the same.

I still think that the following conclusion is just plain wrong:

> The fact that everybody always claims that games only ever
> get worse is proof that this is a burn out phenomenon.

It might also be the truth. Maybe the games get worse because the 10 year business plan doesn't require a good game for the last 5 years but only a big item store.
Bhagpuss, when you analyze a population for a certain trait, it generally falls along a bell curve.

MMO endurance is no different. You are on the far far end of the bell curve. Your counterpart on the other end is the guy who plays to level 5, says 'wtf', logs out, and never looks back at the entire genre.

Which is an elaborate way to say that you are... unusual. 99% of the world is less interested in MMOs than you.

Really, at the end of the day, MMO's are only fun as long as you still care about it. We're on tier 13 or some crap like that in WoW now. I remember being psyched about getting full tier 0!!! I spent a lot of time getting tier .5, and I thought tier 1 was awesome. I still cared up to tier 6 or so. At this point I'm not even sure what tier they are on anymore. I no longer care, can't care, don't want to care. Most people can't keep up interest forever in running the hamster wheel that every MMO puts you on.
It's more than coincidence that many many players are now 'burned out' from WoW only several months after Cata hit, and after playing the new zones and instances I am happy to join them - an appropriately named expansion if ever there was one (although 'Disaster' might have been a better name).
I burned out from WoW because the game changed from being "fun" to "not-fun." No other reason. While TBC and Wrath had grindy, laborious elements to it, there was still fun to be had and achievements that felt "worth it."

In Cataclysm (and somewhat in Wrath), your achievements felt hollow. Epics were not epic, they stopped being epic once the new content came out. Quests were non-issues, they really didn't matter and they were streamlined to make them more efficient and less of a hurdle. PVP, well, it's always been a problem to engineer damage dealers for both PVE and PVP; there will be some overlap and you are always placing talent points in passive or "necessary" slots. This was only exacerbated in Wrath and now Cata. The guild perks and other "incentives" to group and build guilds was a non-issue. Joining a guild, on the other hand, became even more important because once you obtained good heroic gear, you had a very small pool of folks to run raids with; no one has seriously pugged raid content in Cata and many of us don't have 20+ hours a week to be IN raids, 10+ hours to gear, grind, rep up, enchant up, gem up, etc., just to be prepared for the 20+ hours of raids "required" by their guild. Finally, the tools Blizz gave us to join groups more efficiently failed miserably because they increased the level of difficulty of dungeons and prevented most of their player base from progressing much into heroics.

All in all: fail, fail, fail. I would disagree with you Tobold that it is merely a "this patch ruined game XxX" but more of a fundamental change that ruined WoW (at least for me, and others like me). If the grind were worth it, players like me would still be playing and not burned out.
Tobold why are you delusional about specific and obvious game features? Why do you insist that players who loved Classic EQ and believe that SOE ruined the game are just burned out? That is not true. Why do you shut your ears and "NAnanananana" about it?

I am playing EQ progression server and having a blast, even though it's not 100% classic. The servers have excellent population, a lot of people play EQ Classic because of specific features, not only nostalgia.

There ARE game features like, No Maps. First Person View. Feeling of Danger. Forced Grouping. Faction System (your actions adjust the faction, and not that boring linear reputation system of WoW). You can attack ANY NPC. Traveling is ncessary (no PoK books). Wizards and Druids can get money by porting people (sense of community). No corpse summoning, you still need Necromancer and SKs if your corpse is stuck (again, community features). SOO Many features that made EQ the game it was.

Don't be delusional and don't live in denial. Accept there were features that are NO MORE. There's no other game but EQ with these features I mentioned above. There are more features but I don't have the time or the space to point them out but I believe what I mentioned is good enough.

It's not about EverQuest. It's about the "genre" or these game features that no one wants to implement in their game. Every game is another Quest Driven (Kill 10 Foozles) and we're sick of that. If there's a game that brings back all the features that EQ had and expand on them I will have a blast playing that game.

Stop shutting your ears and listen to this for once. You must acknowledge it was the Game Features that made EQ that good. There's part of Nostalgia that's correct and of course peopel WILL get burned out eventually to stop for awhile. However, you're completely ignoring these UNIQUE features that we all are missing and cannot find anywhere else in any new game and the lack of those game mechanics is 80% of why we miss old EQ or a game that play like EQ. The 20% is burned out + tedium + nostalgia.

Give me a game with FPV, Role Playing, Danger, I can attack any NPC, Night is Dark, Faction system, Soloing is HARD, Community skills (teleporting, rezzing, corpse summoining and more), Excellent Classes, No GPS Maps, No Auction Houses, No Quest Driven Content, No Hand Holding, No Quest Hubs, No Gree-Blue-Purple predictible itemization..etc

Give me the above and I bet you.. I bet you, we won't be complaining about MMORPGs for a LONG time.
Didn't you just describe Darkfall or Mortal Online?
That she did. MMO players: what they think they want, they don't.

As for burnout, you know my take on it. Trammel, NGE, ToA, etc, none of them I would consider 'minor' changes.

As for WoW, do you really think the target audience is the same for the game today as it was in 2004? Or, is it possible that Blizzard changed WoW between 04 and 2011, and has replaced those who originally played with those looking for a slightly deeper Farmville?
"As for WoW, do you really think the target audience is the same for the game today as it was in 2004? Or, is it possible that Blizzard changed WoW between 04 and 2011, and has replaced those who originally played with those looking for a slightly deeper Farmville?"

In my opinion? Yes, Yes, and No. I think it's rather obvious from the changes made to the game over the past few years that they are aiming for a far larger audience than originally planned. However, I would go so far as saying a slightly deeper Farmville.

Could it be considered the Farmville of the MMORPG industry? I think that's a better question to ask. Because in some ways, yes it can be, given the incredibly large audience that ranges to a lot of different age groups and makes itself accessible to all of them very easily.

I'd say no because whereas Farmville is a video game in the loosest of terms, and there are many games that are far and above it in terms of quality and experience, WoW has dominated the MMORPG market and instead we see a lot of games trying to be it. Imagine if Farmville was the first big hit in the video game industry and imagine how that would affect development from then on.
Darkfall and Mortal have very weak PvE content, or at least they did when I played. They also focus on PvP, while EQ is focused on PvE.

I honestly don't believe you can't recognize the differences between those games and EQ Tobold.
Just like Tobold has done in this post, I think we are all guilty of blinding ourselves of seeing the forest , by creating our own, individualized trees.

My Trees:

-I would enjoy WoW much more if LFD were same server only, where the server population policed itself and actively blacklisted players who did not perform up to par, bailed on wipes, acted like an ass in group, ninja needed an item or the host of other socially frowned upon actions while in-game.

-As far as the end game, well, there are a host of changes that have occured over the past 6 years that have ruined a great portion of the game for me. WoW is a progression DIKU, full stop. Getting gear and progressing your character actually meant something back in the day when you had to actually, you know, complete content that was difficult in order to qualify to roll on gear upgrades.

-Enter badge/point farming and the "time is money" minions that the WoW devs saw fit to cater to and we have what we do now, a DIKU where one is left scratching their head trying to figure out how to keep the game fun after 6+ years.

However, even with the above, ones ability to have "fun" in the game is still subjective. The only saving grace for me is my guild. I've been in the same guild for 6+ years now, and it is their support that has kept me playing for this entire time. In WOTLK we found ways of making the content work for us in terms of continuing to have "fun". We held server wide Scavenger Hunts where we invited players serverwide with open signups and gave away mounts, crafted epics, the newest XX-slot bags and even large amounts of Gold.

Another fun activity we do in Cataclysm; is that we split our 10-man raiding team into two 5-man groups and hold speed runs of the current heroic content, where we use the DBM mod to report the time of when the last boss is killed to a person in whisper. We then throw in a 3rd group of casual, non-raiding players into the mix and let them compete directly against the raiders of our guild. Watching players come up with unexpected ways of dealing with mobs in these contests have created many a fun evenings while listening to the chatter over Ventrilo as these events unfold.(watching a shadow priest mind control the Adepts over the edge in Vortex Pinnacle for the first time was comedy gold!) =)

The short of it: We find and create fun things to do within the framework of the game itself, and it is these meta-activities that keep us all sane with how relatively easy it is to gear-progress a character nowadays.

Fun is subjective, and one -could- listen to the masses out here in the blogosphere and be brainwashed that having fun is only possible if "you play the game(as it is designed at the time) a certain way" or, one could think outside the box a bit and use the game to its full potential by creating meta-activities much like we do with events, competitions and the like.
Darkfall and Mortal have very weak PvE content

Nowhere in the list of requirements did it say "PvE game".

And, Epiny, why do you have to bring up questions of whether I'm able to recognize the difference between Darkfall and EQ? I'm really sick and tired of the commenters who feel the need to express their disagreement with somebody by questioning their intelligence. In all likelyhood I am 34 IQ points ahead of you.
Laura tries to make a point that people still enjoy classic EQ and all of its difficult features and you try to compare it Darkfall and Mortal. Mortal and Darkfall and very similar to one another... but not really at all similar to EQ.

I personally see a HUGE amount of differences between EQ and Darkfall/Mortal. If questioning your perspective is the same as questioning your intelligence then so be it. I think I've been around here long enough for you to know I respect your intelligence and would have never expected you to do a personal attack against me.
I was talking about your "you can't recognize the differences between those games and EQ Tobold" part of your post.

Again, Laura wasn't asking for another EQ, nor was she asking for another PvE game. She wanted a game full of danger, a challenging game, and one with no handholding whatsoever. Which of her criteria do you think Darkfall doesn't meet?
Having played both those games I honestly took her post as automatically desiring it all for PvE with regards to EQ. Darkfall has danger, but that is due to PvP. The PvE element of Darkfall is rather pointless.

Every aspect of EQ is so intertwined with PvE I honestly can't think of any of it's features in any other context. I assumed she meant she wanted all of those features within the confines of a PvE game.

Darkfall does possess nearly every feature she mentioned, but they exist because of PvP.

I'm not sure if what I'm saying makes sense. To me EQ IS PvE and Darkfall IS PvP. There features, while similiar, are different because of type of game.
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