I'm opening with a quote that may sum up my TL;DR as well. From Argus or Bust:
"Saving the world is fun and all, but I’m a little burnt out on it."
Syp discussed character development, inspired by Azuriel's post on In an Age regarding the quality of Single Player RPGs vs. MMOs. Keen's post, "MMORPG’s are not Single-player Games," had me all set on Thursday to rant about how stupid and short-sighted he is. Then I read his post, and while I still disagree with his premise, I agree with elements of his discussion. Well, specifically this:
MMO’s are not about one single individual player changing the world. Quite the opposite, in fact. MMO’s are about a world that exists, and the player chooses to participate in that world. The world is what changes and the players are expected to react to it — not the other way around!
I have long argued that WoW and the other games that have come after have gone too far in trying to make me the Hero/Savior of the world. My first steps into MMOs, through the Dark Portal of Vanilla WoW's login screen, were those of an anonymous adventurer. It's one thing to slay a dragon, it's another thing entirely to slay not one, but two, of the very Aspects of the World, "Dragon-ified." I was perfectly happy learning recipes for Beer Basted Boar Ribs and helping the locals with their problems—that required some violence.
Keen's original post, while making some reasonable statements, was backed up in the comments by a bunch of gamers—including Keen, himself—who sounded like this (imagine me speaking in my squeaky old man voice):
"When I was your age, soloing in an MMO was pure folly! There were dangerous monsters out there in the Wilds, and you had to take friends along. Why, I remember our healer—we called him Doc, even though he was a cleric. And then there Glassy the mage. Hah! could he pack a punch. But he died if you blew on him funny. And there weren't no chicks playing, because they all thought we were weird. Eh, where was I? Oh yeah, our group had to fight monsters barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways! And we loved it, 'cause that's all there was."One of the commenters hailed Acheron's Call as encouraging group play because "solo a mob would yield 100% XP, in a 2 man group it would yield 150% xp and in a 3 man would yield 200% XP AND SO FORTH." Excuse me? When I do that math I still only get 75% XP when grouping with even one other player. And the math gets worse from there. They were punishing group play even then. One could argue that XP as a measure of progression is the root problem here. But that is outside the scope of this post.
SWTOR, at least, gives me full individual XP whether I am grouped or not. And they're accused of discouraging grouping. There are even open areas of every planet, from Dromund Kaas and Coruscant on, that you do not go into without a group. And they're discouraging groups.
Azuriel accurately pointed out that, even with a monthly subscription, MMOs provide far more game-playing time per dollar than any single-player ever has, with the possible exception of Tetris. Even playing as a single player, It's worth it to me to stay in the MMO genre. While I certainly think MMOs should have plenty of group content, I disagree that solo content is ruining the MMO genre. I also happen to think that end-game should involve more than just group content and repetitive dailies. I play MMOs because they are persistent worlds, flawed though they may be. A true SPRPG could never satisfy that.
£321.5 million) rounded. Ford Motor Company makes cars that are affordable. Their 2010 revenue was $120,900,000,000. Ford's net profit alone was $6.6 billion, more than 13 times RR's entire revenue. You can make Rolls-Royce games all you want. Only a few people will play them. The big game companies have figured out that Ford games are just fine for most of their audience. (And yes, even with its price tag, SWTOR is a Ford game.)
Vatec, commenting on Syp's Post on leading groups in SWTOR, had this to say:
"Yep, that’s the problem with group-centric games in general. There are reasons that A. soloing in MMOs is very popular and B. automatic LFG queues have been added to several games. Sadly, it’s also not just PUGs: some of my worst group experiences have been with guildmates (mostly in Dark Age of Camp-a-lot).
For example, a typical evening in DAoC might consist of half an hour discussing plans in guild chat, half an hour riding a horse to the chosen zone, half an hour waiting for the last guy to show up, another half hour discussion about exactly where in the zone we should head (often interspersed with the “odd man out” complaining that A. there were no good drops (for him) at the planned spot or b. XP would be “too slow” at the planned spot), half an hour fighting our way to the spot, half an hour actually playing the game, and then the healer would announce that he/she/it was “getting sleepy,” which left the alternatives of A. locating a replacement healer and somehow getting said healer to the camping spot or B. calling it an evening.
And those were the “good” evenings, when the group didn’t experience any wipes, the group didn’t get ganked by an enemy archer (having your healer ambushed mid-pull was a truly … memorable … experience), the evening wasn’t interrupted by a raid on our faction’s relic keep, and no loot drama occurred.Say it ain't so! Grouping in the alleged golden age of MMORPGs wasn't all sunshine and rainbows? Or mayhem and loot?
No, I really don’t miss group-centric games very much at all. The modern LFG/LFD system may be rather impersonal, but at least it’s quick and convenient…"
Give the people what they want. The mystery demographic Keen can't figure out is not blogging, or paying much attention to blogs. It's not really a mystery who they are either. They're the silent majority, voting with their wallets, not whining on blogs. They're the millions of people playing WoW and every other MMO since about 2004. The old guard can complain all they want, but they are no longer the audience, nor do they have the developers' ear anymore.
For someone playing a game that then goes away because it is not profitable, I am sure it is a sad day. I watched the heartbreaking closing minutes of SWG on YouTube. It made me tear up, and I never played. All the games that I have played and enjoyed are still going reasonably strong, making a profit, most of them without my current subscription. Are they all failures because they aren't boasting WoW-like numbers (except of course, WOW itself)? The only quantifiable measure of a game's success is whether it returned a profit on investment. I read a book a couple years ago called Collapse by Jared Diamond. Bringing up a common question posed to him about why did the Norse Greenland society fail, Diamond pointed out that the Greenlanders lasted longer than has the American society started by the English colonies and continued today by the United States. They may have collapsed in the end, but that does not mean they were not a success.