Why I can't MMO anymore

mmo

#1

I can’t MMO anymore, these days mmos are hyper gamified lowest denominator grindfests meant to draw and keep as many people as possible. Believe me, I’ve tried. I was trying to figure out why I don’t enjoy them like I did a long time ago and it’s not because of nostalgia I assure you. Mechanics have gotten better, story has gotten better, gear and character progression has, arguably, gotten better. But they all feel the same and the amount of real entertainment for the amount of time put in is so ridiculously low, I often don’t even realize why I’m still playing, WHILE I’m playing. This goes for all MMOs, not just the one I’m currently in, which is actually better than most others in most ways. So why don’t I care like I did when I first started playing them?
They don’t feel like worlds for escape anymore, they feel like work. I log in and work for arbitrary digital rewards rather than experiences I’ll remember for years. Granted I haven’t spent a bunch of time in higher levels on games in recent years, but if there are experiences that I’m missing out because I don’t have the commitment or interest to slog through 50 hours of kill/collect/fetch/deliver/escort things and people that mean nothing to me (or pay a bunch of extra money), then that’s a testament to the flawed priorities in designing these game worlds. All of those basic types of quests were created years ago during the time I enjoyed mmos, so why do I not care about them now?
Its the world. The worlds are crafted so the assets can be used as much as possible, so that there is a ramping up from level 1 to end game in terms of scale and grandiose. Players aren’t introduced to anything massive or awe inspiring at first, just villages and towns to get petty quests and craft stick weapons and lost boys armor.


Unfortunately, ESO does so many things well as far as quality of life, story, and co-op gameplay. But fails miserably where, I believe, it counts the most. I’m not drawn to this world. I’m not afraid of this world. There is no real reason to avoid anything so nothing in the world is more or less nefarious. I know it sounds like scaling or “leveling to endgame/realgame material” is the culprit but the truth is it’s just a symptom of a horrible design philosophy: get people here, keep them here as long as possible. Though the character/building/foliage assets are well made, there’s nothing in the world that is interesting to look at or attempt to visit. Waypoints make traveling bearable because you don’t have to run past loads of uninteresting terrain (I think this is the biggest reason many people would rather have a single player Elder Scrolls 6 than an online game). Even the Dolmen experiences could be something spectacular but miss the mark because of the scaling and brevity of them.
I’m not saying all this to discourage people from playing games they enjoy, I just thought I’d start a discussion on what you all think some of the issues are with MMOs and whether or not one can be made for today’s audience (which is mostly spoiled by quality of life features) that is both highly playable for the ‘gamer’ and the ‘experiencer’.
This video is what got me thinking about it, so you can blame it for this downer of a post :slight_smile:

Also, this bugs me. I think the term quest has come to mean any task given to you by someone else. If I walked up to you and said “I am going on a quest, it will be a long and fraught with adventure” “What is it?” “I’ve got to talk to 5 guards, should take 2 minutes or so, wanna come?” I don’t think you’d take it seriously:


The Gates of Ahn'Qiraj
#2

Dark Age of Camelot had a mechanic where you approached a local guard, typed /task (loltypinginmmos), and was then given your kill X of Y. I really enjoyed that. Also, seems like there was a person in Freeport (Everquest) who would accept bone chips. An actual reason to be killing things other than I told you to do it.

Growing up is likely the main reason why I can’t MMO anymore. These types of games make me feel that I must spend 4+ hours per day with them or else I fall behind.

But I also don’t feel connected to the world. I don’t even feel connected to Wowcraft anymore. And I wonder if that is due in part to the lack of server community, player and character dependence within the game, things like that. I’m all for convenience, but the mechanic of standing at the town bank while the game attempts to place you in a random group (and also move your character there once group is formed) really destroyed any type of server community.


#3

This has been on my mind as well for a long time. I’m going through MMOs with some non-MMO playing friends right now and am struck by how bored I am with the grind and lack of reward. The basic mechanics are progression to unlock the complete primary interaction mechanic (usually combat) with a bunch of side grinds that use different currency. Then this progression metric is used to gate content so people don’t consume it all at once.

I think there’s a place for progression mechanics like this, but social systems aren’t at a place where one can meaningfully establish a place in the mmo world. There’s an increasing emphasis on harnessing the power of friendship to make games more sticky, and providing ways for friends to do things together for stickiness, but I don’t think anyone has cracked the problem of making friends discoverable, or for providing a real-feeling reason for people to band together and build something permanent and unique in the world. Matchmaking, Grouping, and Guild mechanics are still very primitive in their social modeling, I think, because they don’t provide building blocks to create new structures in the world that are tangibly unique, in terms of game elements, to everyone else in the world.


#4

Wall-o-text:

TLDR – There isn’t any mystique nor worry from MMOs anymore. Once the world is explored, it’s done. Unless you are the first to do something within that world, you will be using a guide, building off someone elses build or using their addons.

The death of the quest and the birth of the questlog:

Back in the early days of MMOs there wasn’t a traditional “WoW” quest log, you tracked the people who gave you quests and what they wanted manually. This meant that a lot of the cookie cutter quests of “Go grab me 30 Bear Asses” still existed but you had to find the ONE guard who wanted it, there wasn’t usually a bread-crumb quest sending you to them either.

Players yelled about this for a long time, they wanted a way to track the quests they were doing and their progress within those quests. The first quest logs were glorified conversation trackers until WoW came along and “perfected” the system with their iconic quest system of “!” and “?” as well as their log. The system allowed for a greater percentage of quests within the world to be tackled and completed but it turned questing from an adventure into a To-Do list. It turned building your character into a multi-point process instead of an experience. Which leads to a break down of wanting your character and building it’s role.

The break of ROLE playing in massively multiplayer online ROLEPLAYING games:

In order to maintain a role in an RPG that is online these days you have to basically shut yourself out from the rest of the internet. It’s pretty dang hard to do these days, I’m trying it right now with ESO. Stay away from people, get myself into a role and play in it for a bit. At that point the game shifts from a multi-player game into a single player game with other people around me.

Some of this loss of role is due to the internet age removing any sense of mystique you have in a game. You can go and google any quest you have a question on within any MMO and have the answers in front of you. Immersion is gone at that point, you lose a little bit of the attachment to that character you are building because you had to break your character in order to accomplish a quest.

Another part of it is friends, you have 20 different friends playing and some want to RP and they pull you that way, others want to raid so they push you to level and gear up as fast as possible and finally you have the people that ONLY pvp so you have to step out of the world and into a world of trash-talking, memes, and general reddit-esque quips. Progression of your character to maintain a presence within your circle of friends just adds stress to the entire ordeal. At that point all sense of role is lost, you are no longer Drognar Slayer of Demons, you are Drognar#32771. Just another person in the world doing the same quests as everyone else wielding the same gear as everyone else and the magic is lost.

All of this doesn’t even touch on class balance and feelings of fairness in things like RNG. Playing an MMO is now about finding the BEST BUILD! With the FASTEST LEVELING! and the BEST CLEARING TIMES!

How MAP I MAP get MAP around MAP the MAP world.

I think back to things like Survival games and MMOs without a mapping function or where you had to buy a guide to map things.

The entire world was a mystery, combine that with the worry of running into a super high level aggressive NPC or into a place where I may get killed on sight and you have this sense of danger everywhere. Now, with content that scales to your level and maps on a button press, I have 0 worry ever. I spam my Map button in games without a mini-map and I instantly know where I am and if I am in relative danger. In games with scaling I literally ride my mount or run by anything I don’t want to fight.

My biggest worry in games with scaling content and minimaps is falling off a cliff as I ride by the things trying to kill me, with my hair majestically waving in the wind.


Muck much more to say but dadding is taking over.


#5

I would say that MMOs have actually regressed in the social aspect.

In original Everquest, I fondly remember logging in for the night and traveling to my current leveling zone or dungeon. Then you had to communicate with people in order to join their group. Once in the group, there was discussion to be had (through text, not voice chat) while waiting for the MOBs around you to respawn. There wasn’t a group finder to place you in a 15-minute dungeon in which you raced to the end.

I don’t even communicate with people in ESO. Zone into the dungeon, see what role is beside each player’s name, then get to work. Maybe I will throw out a “thanks” once the last boss is defeated.

And this is another problem. In the earlier MMOs, the thought of soloing anything was silly (unless you were an EQ druid kiting griffons in the Karanas). But now you are almost expected to play solo until you reach max level.

When you finally reach max level you have no idea how your chosen class functions in a group or raid environment.

Unless you read the guide, of course.


#6

Lots of good points here and @teh_ninjaneer, myself and some others have hit on parts of this before. I really have been trying to give BDO a shot again but its just not there.

I think most these “quality of life improvements” most of you mention have all contributed to the devaluing of the guild/clan social systems. The only thing you maybe rely on your guild for now is help grinding levels and getting gear. You don’t plan missions or raids together, help figure out quests, etc.

But how would an MMO try to address this in this Internet age? You’d have to have shifting geography, quests, raids etc and have to be ok with a lot of people complaining about its lack of “Quality of Life” features. I’m hoping Crowfalls might address this with their model, but with such a big emphasis on pvp, it might devolve into a crappy [quote=“GuardianX, post:4, topic:12697”]
world of trash-talking, memes, and general reddit-esque quips.
[/quote]

Any other possibilities out there or are we doomed?


#7

As much as I enjoyed Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot with their large group sizes and various roles (tank, healer, CCer, resource supplier, de/buffer, various types of DPS), I really don’t think the MMO genre will ever return to that. I think that new games will continue this trend of broad roles or none at all. I guess it has worked for Guild Wars 2. New games like Dauntless and even Destiny are adopting it.

The more I consider this topic I realize I actually like the Destiny model of a small central hub, narrowing to a specific planet where x number of other players are with you, then narrowing again to a specific instanced area consisting of you and your group members. My only concern about Destiny 2 is the raids.


#8

This is probably the thing I’m most sad about[quote=“ghosthog, post:6, topic:12697”]
be ok with a lot of people complaining about its lack of “Quality of Life” features.
[/quote]

That’s the thing I’m most worried about, MMO’s aren’t going to be super successful these days unless they are able to appeal to the casual playing expectation’s of this generation. I can hear it now, “Seriously, there isn’t even a map? How am I supposed to get all the way to the other side of the continent if I’m not high enough level to go through those zones? This is so lame…”

Something really sad to think about is this: What percentage of current MMO players have EVER felt the wonder and awe that older players felt in the early days? What if the younger audience doesn’t even know what we’re talking about, how do you convince them “quality of life” isn’t “quality of experience” if they don’t even know what that is?

Anyhow, I’ve actually come up with a couple of really good ideas for MMOs from this conversation, thanks for the talks.

Just for shits and giggles, I’m going to post a few of my favorite memories I have from playing an MMO, feel free to do the same.

1: I remember starting a new Woodelf in EverQuest after playing a few hours of human. I figured it would be smart to get to the human zone cause I knew it better… Going from Kelethin to Qeynos was the longest and scariest journey I’ve ever made in a game. I didn’t know anything about mmos, I died alot, I saw some ridiculously large landscape features that wowed the fuck out of me (also, when it got dark, it actually got dark and you couldn’t see anything without a torch, especially in the woods). I specifically remember walking into the zone and the ground splitting into a cliff where I couldn’t see the bottom. This grand music started playing and I had to walk along it until it leveled out into plains (I think in one of the plains of Karana?). That moment is my greatest memory I think, it wasn’t detailed, it wasn’t visually impressive because of graphics, it was the scale of where I was and what it meant if I slipped up (rezzing really far away with lots of red named bad guys between). I believe you had to recover your gear back then too, so there was that. Anyhow, that was probably one of my favorites, I want to feel that again.

Edit: Just watched a video of the trek and apparently the music doesn’t start playing until you come to the huge bridge in the plains, this was the music that played


#9

Quick rep before bed.

I look at development like a pendulum.

15 years ago people wanted maps and they weren’t there, so along came WoW and gave them a theme park MMO complete with Disney map. Things were GREAT that was fresh and new and great and now people are looking at games within the survival genre and playing those a ton because they don’t want the theme park experience, they want danger and thrills. People are wanting the experience of no map back, they want the feeling of finding something first.

Eventually, sometime soon I am guessing, a shift in MMOs will happen where you will have a more survival element driven MMO released. It won’t do well initially, people will hate it, the hype won’t be there, streamers won’t even know about it…lol. It’ll piggyback off a huge release like Star Citizen. Then the genre will change again.

As a way of combating the overall deluge of information in MMOs, in my own play, I never watch videos or fights the first time I do something. I experience the fight, and usually die in an amazing manner essentially kneecaping myself.


Oh man, stories?

Everfrost

My first character in everquest I essentially lost in Everfrost. There weren’t any maps, I was constantly dying in this “MASSIVE” zone. I was way out past the beginner area and it was terrifying. After a few days, IRL, I made it back to the beginner area WITH my gear, several levels lower and absolutely in love with the game. After that I had to do “dangerous” things in the game all the time, things like running from Qeynos to Freeport at low levels, exploring whatever i could find. It was an amazing experience.

The closest feeling I get to that original experience of EQ is survival games. Somewhat Minecraft, survival horror games work too.


#10

MMO’s have been a real struggle for me, Everquest was the first one I ever played and nothing else seems to live up to my memories of it. It was the king of time sinks, the only game I can remember playing where camping a mob for 10+ hours to get a single drop was normal. A friend and I camped one for nearly 20 hours to get me an item I needed. Fell asleep a few minutes before it spawned so my warrior friend ended up with a sweet +20 wisdom offhand. Deaths were meaningful which added tension when doing anything risky, it also made things more exciting and fun.

I’m not sure that the things that made Everquest so much fun back then would work now though, I know I don’t have the patience for any of it. Losing a level and then spending an hour trying to get my stuff back would kill a game for me these days. Same with sitting around camping a spawn to grind out some xp or get a shiny new item. I both hate and require the newer quality of life mechanics in games. The old ways “feel” better, but I’ll be damned if I’m doing corpse runs anymore. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFEoMO0pc7k


#11

ah, ye olde summon corpse, not my favorite memory :slight_smile:


#12

This made me ask myself “Why?”

The answer in my own life is, other people. I change the way I play when I play with other people. If they put pressure on beating an encounter, I put pressure on beating it. If we are just basically going thru the encounter and not caring about things just joking around, I follow suit.

My general play-style is relaxed but semi-focused. I have goals that I try to achieve but they are generally pretty loose. Things like, “Explore all of X” or “Find all of Y”. They aren’t usually tied to an in-game achievement or quest, they are just things I can do in the game.


#13

I think broadly speaking, this is the issue that you described that players are not being social, and it’s because the games themselves don’t bake social well into the fabric of their greater game mechanic.

This might happen on two levels:
(1) the actual modeling of social in the game world such that various levels of engagement by players (through their characters) are possible without commitment, but they are clearly observable so you might WANT to join in while also providing an in-game audience for committed players
(2) integrated community tools that go beyond a shitty 1990-style private text channel and a hodge-podge of crippled add-ons that try to make up for it.

I think the emphasis on single-player action has also diluted the ability for people to observe and recognize other people in the game. MMORPG worlds are suburban sprawl these days, with dozens of hubs littering vast landscapes with little social reason to visit them. It’s 10,000 individuals on 10,000 independent scavenger hunts, not interacting with each other, so they can participate in grueling end-game content such as it stands these days. This doesn’t strike me as being very fun in 2017, so I can see why people get into MOBAs instead.


#14

There seems to be very little reason for interaction. You say hi in chat, a few people say hi back and that’s about it.

If you take part in a group event, there’s no real communication. It seems to be a thousand individuals.

I guess that’s why I dip in and out of these games.


#15

Yea, I feel like there’s closer social interaction in dark souls, a game where you don’t even properly speak to each other. I wonder if an open world that requires interaction would work with just gestures and trading…


#16

I think that is because the goal in groups isn’t conversation, it’s the dungeon. The general goal, ultimately, is to complete the dungeon in as little time as possible with as few as possible deaths while attaining the best loot.

The group finder function in most games accomplishes this goal fairly well (aside from in ESO where the group finder tool is buggy as shit in which case your goals changes to “Successfully zone into the dungeon without issue…[the above].” /rant).


The point of interaction within an MMO changed years ago, before dungeon finder, before really instancing even…you needed to find a group of people to spend time with and experience the game. I pointed to this before, your experience within a game is directly impacted by those you have around you. Proof of this lies in the fact that there are still active guilds in games like EQ1 / EQ2 / FFXI and countless guilds thru emulators.

The question then becomes, is the guild that you chose working for you?

Are they enhancing your game experience or just dragging along?

Ultimately:
The hardest part for any individual player is finding a guild that fits.
The hardest part for any guild is finding players that fit.

Both require constant effort and presence within a game. With most people today, they would rather find a pre-existing group / guild then make their own and would rather use group finder than maintain a circle of people to pull into their groups.


#17

That’s a good way of putting it. I think that it might be possible to build the group finder in a way so you can discover new people through observing their in-game behavior and get an idea of who they are BEFORE you group up. An analogy that comes to mind is the role of being a host at a gathering of people with common interests but no knowledge of each other. How do you break the ice? How do you provide the prompts and props that allow people to naturally discover their deeper shared interests, goals, and values? Video games have not traditionally built these tools into the games themselves, because these features are not seen as part of the traditional game development tentpoles of graphics, game mechanics, and (sometimes) story/concept.

That’s not to say that these opportunities don’t already exist, but generally they happen outside the game through third party tools and outside events.

I’m not saying that the lack of this emphasis is the reason why MMORPGs are kind of meh right now, but it’s personally something I’d like to see a developer tackle because right now, I’m pretty bored with combat and crafting progression in every MMORPG I’ve played recently.


#18

If someone could just make a game like baldur’s gate or neverwinter nights and turn it into an mmo where the basic world and towns have all the people in it but each quest area is individual to the group and required a tank, healer, and dps to beat, that would basically be the mmo to end all mmos. From the very beginning you’d be encouraged to make friends with other class people (and form a well diversified guild for questing). Level scaling makes it so you can quest with people any level. Basically give me D&D the mmo and we are good to go.


#19

You might want to check out Dauntless. It’s a Monster Hunter-style game similar to what you are looking for. The only thing missing is class roles; the game will play similarly to Guild Wars 2 in that you don’t have specific roles.


#20

THAT is the dream