Massive Multiplayer Games

2008-12-07 21:47:10

Massively Multiplayer Games Genre(PC Primarily)

Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG's as they are now known, no longer pretending to be Roleplaying of any kind). are a disease, they are the seedy underbelly of video games. They have absolutely no value other than to waste time in it's purest sense, these are the kinds of games that don't even have the common decency to end, nor do they even try to have a screen telling you you've won. why is this? because you never win, only the corporation running this money mill wins. MMO's are a plague and not enough bad words can be said about them. Some of the active MMO community would disagree proclaiming loudly that MMO's not only have a place in society, but that theirs is better than what I'm about do distill. While I'm not proclaiming omniscience in regards to MMO's I do know that the bulk of them are nothing more than Everquest 1 xeroxed 100 times and colored with different crayons.

I played MMO's and while I admit that they are all the same in many ways that's how you define a genre. These kinds of games allow me to be part of something fun and exciting like a raid and I can hang out and laugh with the internet community.

Let's look at your typical MMO timeline and see what happens during said timeline:

  1. Character Creation - Here you will build your "HERO" which will be one of the standard Tolkien races, or a Catman Furry or Lizardman Scaley. Once you select a race you will be presented with the choice between 1 of 10 heads, eyes, ears, hair color, sex and height. If you are lucky you get slider controls for all of these to truly get customization, unfortunately that comes with a generally high price as to render these faces you need higher end equipment, and so only people who are obsessed with PC hardware will even see your characters face and even then they won't give a shit. So basically creating your character look at that level is nothing short of futile narcissism.
  2. Class Selection - Alright now you get to pick what you will grow up to be. Some games tried to make this a gradual progression but people got too bored of that dynamic and instead want to instantly be known as what class they want to be. Many games will have 6 or dozens of character classes to choose from. The reality is that there are only 3 roles to fill in an MMO no matter what MMO it is. they are:
      - Tank - also known as put the thickie in front to soak the bullets. Tanks are designed to absorb lots of damage or dodge lots of damage, usually have the ability to equip shields and the heaviest armor in the game turning them into nothing more than an Iron Golem who can carry a weapon but that weapon is usually useless because they have no damage causing skills of worth.
      - Healer - Call them Clerics, Shaman, Druid, Fairy-fucksticks, these guys usually sit at the back and apply balm to the tank and shower him in aloe vera leaves. these guys usually have no way to damage things except things opposite their characters "religion" and so they are almost 99 % worthless outside of clicking their strongest heal when needed, it's a game of chase the decreasing health bar for them all day long.
      - Damager - This is honestly probably the most fun class you can have. While being the Tank or the Healer means that people depend on you and can give you some warm feelings about being useful in reality you're just a tool, an means to an end for the Damager. The damager is a necessary component otherwise the Tank and the Healer would be sitting in the middle of combat for 10 minutes just to take on 1 enemy and forget about "named"(read: boss) monsters. the Damager can do 10x or more damage than the healer or the tank, his only problem is that when he does his epic amounts of damage the enemies come his way, which can splatter him to death. But the Damager is the ultimate role that ends up with a dead monster. Talented Damagers(called Nukers or DPS depending on if they favor fireballs or sharp pokey knives). sometimes can get away with destroying mobs wholesale and "kiting" bosses all by themselves. This often leads to Healers and Tanks crying in their gruel about "BALANCE" and what not. They just hate to admit they are tools.
      - Hybrids - Hybrids are just that, a mix of any of the previous 3. They usually consist of Paladin(healer + tank), Shadowknight (Damager + Tank), Summoner (Tank + Damager) or Shaman(Healer + Nuker + Tank) and usually end up being not as worthwhile as having the more pure renditions of the classes, but lend to themselves a certain versatility to allow them to fit in more groups or work as what is called an off-# situation, either Off-Tank(taking aggro on any minor enemies to keep them off the main tank) or Off-Heal(backup healing for the main healer). The only reason to keep these guys around is generally a buff gimmick they can provide the party that makes the main character classes more powerful.
  3. Tutorial Segment - Here you will fight creatures that don't stand a chance which usually consist of goblins or wolves. you will typically be handheld throughout this process and will also be the first time you meet up with the various levels of retardation you will encounter on a daily basis in game. Enjoy this segment while it lasts as it will be the first and only time this game will present a fun experience without tons of shittiness piled on top.
  4. The real game! you'll be dropped off at your starting city or district and be given only a handful of things or if your lucky what you gained in the tutorial will come across with you. nobody will outright leap out to you and so Final Fantasy 1 style you should talk to everyone in town to find out what's going on and what you should do next. this is where you will find the following quest types:
      - Fetch quest - this one is typically for newcomers to the game where you basically have to grab something from some NPC and hand it to the NPC who gave the quest, sometimes you may be asked for multiple things from different NPCs but the same result, you running around in a damn circle grabbing up a bunch of crap playing errand boy.
      - Collection Quest - This consists of killing x number of y monsters from an area z and returning c number of a items looted from the corpses back to the quest giver. Usually to receive something handstitched, brewed, or forged from the materials which is usually junk or you may receive a handful of coins.

      - Group Quest - Just like the previous 2, except now if you go all by yourself you will certainly perish unless you want to wait to finish the quest until you are so far above the recommended level that you won't get any XP for doing it. These usually result in better equipment that's at least useable for 1/10th of the character classes for all of 2 levels before turning into crap.

  5. Leveling - You gain levels, maybe spend some points to customize your character in some fashion, and then you find out that your old equipment has aged and new monsters own the hell out of you every 5 levels. Time to replace those with new equipment and upgrade or purchase your new skills so that you can be useful. this encourages you to go to whatever location can give you the most money per level so that you can afford new set pieces assuming good gear doesn't fall out of monsters to use.
  6. Repeat the cycle of quests leveling and gearing up until you hit level cap. only every 5 levels your doing the same things in different places with different monsters. enjoy the 1 week or so until next expansion when they add another 10 levels to keep you busy doing more of the same.
  7. Bitch about fellow players and balance - Most players as they get long in the tooth will appear in the forums at some point and threaten to cancel if the balance is not restored or if their class isn't given something to compete, double the likelyhood of this if they are a hybrid class.
  8. Raid Time - Eventually the game runs out of content, and those looking to advance beyond level and regular monsters are offered the opportunity to gather 24 random strangers to enter a cave filled with a handful of shitty mobs and 1 gargantuan fills the whole screen at range epic monster that will blow down half the party in 2 seconds if things aren't organized to the letter. Be prepared to fail these at least 5 tries and be locked out if all the healers die on an attempt until next week when you are granted another shot at the prize, which incidentally is one of several random items which is generally 1 piece of equipment for 1 character class and the rest of the people get the leftovers if they have enough DKP(enough tries at the prize before hand) to give them a looting slot. If your an unwashed unguilded scrub you're just being a tool for their eliteness too bad so sad.
I really think the same can be said for most games, especially online multiplayer type games not only the MMO's it's all symptomatic to limits on game development budgets really

That is the standard formula for an MMO. missions designed via cookie cutter method using drop downs for selecting what specific monsters the quests want, time spent grinding levels by standing in 1 sequence of enemies for over 4 hours at a time before finally levelling up in 1 or 2 days of play time per level and then buying gear and spells for that level as you seek out your next one. This is a never ending sequence and each level is not really any different than the one before it, especially once you run out of new and different spells around level 24. There might be some extra special end game spells to help with the raiding, but really they aren't that important either. Now that we talked about the dynamics of MMO gameplay let's look at the chucklefucks you get to hang out with:

  1. Hardcore - the vocal minority of the playerbase. These are either basement dwellers in their families domicile subsisting off of free cheetos and mountain dew and not working so they can devote 80% of their time to the game, or they are College Students who are wasting government dollars or their families savings to skip class and attend the next raid. These are the assholes who call anyone not in their guild newbs, bitch about stolen raid mobs on the forums, stand in high population areas when not raiding to show off their bling to the weaker players, and randomly hit the duel key against people they couldn't possibly lose to.
  2. Casual Players - These players are the ones who generally have jobs and live outside of their parents house but still don't get enough hugs or have anyone to hang out with because they are social failures. They will likely be outpaced by more hardcore "friends" and eventually be left feeling distraught over the sudden feeling of aloneness, or they will keep trying to make new friends or join a casual guild. There people will usually be outpaced by the new content and so burnout is generally low until they realize they've been doing the same thing over and over and never win. Their subscription will last as long as they have friends to be boring with.
  3. Soloists - The slowest advancers of the MMO group and frankly the most bewildering. They foolishly throw shovelfuls of money away yearly to play single player on a server. These people will slowly advance, bitch on the forums about solo content, and are generally douchebags when they have to group up. Soloists will generally not talk at all during a group, will drop out once they get what they needed from the group and will not give any advance warning, some of them if concerned about confrontation or actually having to speak to a player will simply type /quit and fake a linkdeath to escape dealing with the consequences of just leaving the group. This is especially true if the group requires their continuation to survive.
  4. Children - Some people think it's great to let their kids play with people online, either they believe that it will help social development, that games are only for children, or that it'll keep the kid occupied and out of their hair while they have sex with the mailman. I don't know which it is but in anycase these kids are typically too young to be able to read or write and thus will not respond to any forms of communication other than emotes, they will generally do retarded and suicidal things that will result in a group being killed off by the resulting monster "train". These players can be fun but only in a morbid sense of the term. Sometimes if the player can read but not write, you can convince them to go kill themselves hilariously multiple times or just once before dropping them from group. Sometimes this will make the kid wail and cry and summon their parental figure onto chat where the parent will yell at the players for using foul language and being mean to their special little angel that they don't care about enough to allow them to play shitty MMO games instead of going outside and playing baseball.
  5. Housewives - These are shutins similar to hardcore except they aren't after fame and glory they want companionship, they spend almost as much time as hardcore players except they call everyone "hun" or "sweety" and act creepy towards complete strangers while they play. They are often overly helpful and are a breath of fresh air in someways, but the fact that they are socially inept can't be overlooked and just makes them flat out creepy.
  6. Role-players - I can't really fault these guys too much. Back in the beginning these fantasy games were at one point called MMORPG's before the tough-guy college student showed up in them and broke the immersion of people speaking in fake british accents. These guys are lucky that the corporations give enough of a fuck to corral all these social rejects onto 1 or maybe even 2 servers to let them fag it up with the rest of their tea-totaling selfabsorbancy. Roleplayers on MMO's really amount to 1 thing, people with a superiority complex write up long diatribes on how their character had a bad childhood but rose above it all to become a champion of the digital world of choice. In reality these people did have a bad childhood, but now they're just sweaty do nothings that can't even talk to a woman let alone save the world.

The Hardcores are generally annoying but the rest of the players are fairly nice and since the majority of the players are nice and not assfucks then I don't see a problem with the community at all except the closet furries.

Those are the general player types, obviously there are gradiants of each of these but they are all present in their pure forms as well. sadly playing an MMO is like opening a dark portal to a dimension of Stupid, it's a shame stupid isn't flammable otherwise there could be a quick solution to reduce the worthless population of MMO players.

MMO's are money trucks for companies which is why they are so plentiful, the logic that keeps an MMO spinning and cranking out huge money is not hard to notice. The steps in this logic chain are:

  1. Build a Fantasy MMO - Borrow several ideas/programmers from other MMO's and just change the names of the methods used, create a unique map which consists of all the same stuff previous successful MMO's use but arranged differently. Fill the areas with stereotypical monsters of those areas and get a 2 bit fantasy writer struggling for food to write the story.
  2. Charge 50 bucks for the client software bundle even if it's purchased online without all the fancy media maps and collectors items. Include 1 free month of play to allow players to get hooked on the fanciness of the first 10 levels.
  3. Collect monthly checks and release patches when the whine factor reaches a specific level. make sure these patches are tailored towards your new expansion and will break gameplay without the expansion. Ignore the forums the players can't see your plans for them yet.
  4. Release an expansion after at least 4 months of gameplay be ready to grant everyone 1 free day to play for compensation as you work the bugs out of the live servers.
  5. Monitor player average levels as they approach the new cap release another expansion to keep casual players playing. Completely change the game mechanics at least once to ensure the hardcore players have to work to stay hardcore and feed their egos.
  6. By Expansion 3 you have all the people you are going to get for a while, crank out the cheapest expansions you can while still being enough to sate the majority of your "sheep".
  7. Profit

MMO's are truly built on the frailties of mankind, we all seek companionship and tribe mentality, and MMO's fill that void in many people's lives. This dependency on the game can be seen by the number of game related suicides compared to other less addictive products in the same class. Problem for many people is they get hooked and play for months then they realize they wasted so much time playing this game but they still can't turn it off because something inside won't let them realize how much of a waste their life has been being attached to the computer playing the MMO. There are support groups for this class of game. When a game needs a support group you know it's gotten out of hand. Games are for fun, they shouldn't take over your life and replace it with a vapid existance of hunting scorpions and squirrels for the good king of neverland! Wake the fuck up people and walk outside once in a while.

Just to make sure you know that I'm not talking out of my ass I'll give you a short and sweet review of my takes on the MMO's I actually played myself.

  1. Everquest 1 Gates of Discord - The original EverQuest, some consider to be the mother of them all, since nobody really remembers Ultima Online much, and since everything just copies and tries to do better than it it's the mother. Mother Fucker I say! the game when I got into it was at the point where the economy had collapsed, Copper Silver and Gold were all worthless baubles that you collected just to get Platinum. Quest awards were worthless, netting you almost no XP and the rewards were also worthless unless it was an epic quest. All Everquest 1 had for it at that point was grinding, lots of areas of rapid XP gaining. You could visit the other hundreds of zones, but then you wouldn't be getting much and most of the time you wouldn't even find a group willing to go there. To encourage diversity they started adding XP bonuses to certain levels for going to certain zones. it was pathetic. The graphics were horrible for the time that I got involved and somehow even with shitty graphics the load times between zones was horrendous.
  2. Everquest 2 - I made the leap because the graphics were better and the load times were too. The game also had quests that had meaning and you could level up doing them. Things were pretty stellar up til level 35 when the grind started to sink in. by level 55 I'm out killing 1000's of cyclops just to turn a level every week or so. Fuck grinds they are timesinks that keep me in your game, being stuck in your game doesn't make the game more valuable than if I could go level up in 2 hours then go enjoy the rest of my life.
  3. WoW - This game I ended up doing a lot of solo work, this game is very solo friendly and grouping was okay. The player base is about as nice and well-mannered as Xbox Live which is to say they are a bunch of hooting dickholes. Lots of people talk about speedy progression to top level and then grinding to get their epic mount and then the rest of the time it's PvP and Raiding until the next expansion just like every other game, only in this one you can setup your special abilities wrong and be considered untouchable in terms of getting invited into groups later on. So unless you're min/maxed you're a worthless scrub.

The problems that exist in MMO's are broad but I think I can pinpoint a couple of dynamics that could change and make the game 10 times better and friendlier.

  1. Fuck Grinds in their gnashed teeth - You do not need to force your playerbase to stay logged in to give the game value. instead of forcing a player to cycle through 500 iterations of killing "a gnoll pup" to gain maximum xp value to level once every week, why not employ rest XP more effectively so that logged off time gives you a benefit almost equal to being online? or maybe create a rest xp and a fatigue xp dynamic so the longer you grind through content the less XP you get, this will create a realistic system that will let your content stay at present levels without forcing a grind to be on par with other players or to get anywhere quickly. In this manner we can increase end game xp levels and make the whole game more balanced in leveling overall. I wouldn't mind spending 12.99 for 1 hour of fun a night. it's a bargain still. Plus think of the savings for server maintenance by not keeping so many people logged in?
  2. Kill Quests - most MMO's have more advanced quests but they usually only have a handful, why not have multi-arching quest lines that involve multiple zones and some major named enemies you have to fight against? there are too many farming quests out there and not enough story advancement quests or quests of significance. I'm tired of being told when I'm level 10 to kill beetles in this farm so the farmers crops are saved, then at lvl 20 kill some giants to keep them from smashing a village, then at 30 kill some orcs threatening the encampment, then at 50 it's kill some sharks threatening caravans. and it's always kill 10 or 20 of x big round numbers. I want to have to explore a disappearance sight for a lootable clue which will lead me to a den of a bad guy where I find evidence of a cult which leads me to a dark mysterious temple run by some acolyte trying to resurrect a dead god. it may cost more to make but the fun factor would be obvious. EQ1 had a lot of these but by the time I got there the quests didn't shell out anything other than story.
  3. Increase content. They always talk about huge environments, but in reality what they call continents are really islands in terms of landmass. I understand the need to summarize a little to keep content fairly dense but maybe open tracks of land could be more useful for player dwellings and some small margin of realism. Let players run cities, create city governments(like an extended guild system) and feud with other player cities to either ally cities or destroy them. Makes PvP More realistic and useful than just killing guy a for arbitrary reasons.

Overall I give MMO's a 1/10 they are the worst of the worst, the piss from a goats asshole. They need to clean up their act and stop being shit games for the addictive personality.

I grant MMO's a 4/10, sure they could be better but they're not that terrible, they are just easy to get burned out of especially when you realize they are all pretty much the same template.