Game Developers at the Beach

  By Shamus   Jul 15, 2008   88 comments

So one day Will Wright and Cliff Bleszinski decide to go to the beach. Having just enjoyed some hamburgers and ice cream cones together, they now have to wait an hour before they can go swimming. In order to pass the time, CliffyB suggests a game of volleyball.

Will agrees, but then he gets on the same side of the net as Cliff, leaving nobody on the opposite side.

Cliffy makes a face at him, “What the hell are you doing?”

Will Wright smiles earnestly, “I’m going to explore different ways of using the ball. You can do the same. Let’s experiment with hitting the ball. Rolling the ball. Spinning the ball. You know, everyone’s experience with the ball will be different. Maybe we will work together and see how long we can keep it in the air, or we could-“

“That’s stupid”, Cliff sneers, “Get over on your side of the net.”

There is an uncomfortable pause, and then Will suggests that they build sandcastles instead. Cliff shrugs indifferently, which Will takes as an approximation of, “Yes.” He goes off to find a nice patch where he’ll have an open area and access to both wet and dry sand.

Will decides that a “sandcastle” isn’t very interesting, so he decides to build something more elaborate. Maybe a sand sculpture of some sort? An animal? A geometric shape? After some deliberation he decides to go for a seven-foot reclining Buddha.


Will goes to work, heaping up sand, wetting some of it down, scooping it away. He starts with using his hands but then begins improvising using objects they happen to have at hand. He discovers the lid for the cooler is good for moving around large piles of sand, bulldozer-style. The umbrella is good for shielding his work from the wind as well as keeping the sun off. He works out a system to catch the end of incoming waves and trap a little in a small reservoir he’s dug, so that he has easy access to water, which he learns is good for getting sand into difficult shapes. He uses the end of his eyeglasses for the fine detail work on the face.

As the afternoon sun gives way to evening, Will wipes the sand and sweat from his brow and puts his glasses on to examine his handiwork at a distance. It’s a solid piece of work, although the hands didn’t come out as well as he’d hoped and it fell somewhat short of the height he was shooting for. Buddha is sitting tall and serene, and seems to be glowing red in the late sun. A few people nearby clap appreciatively at his results. It’s not professional, but it’s an admirable first try.

He’s still thinking about how this could have been done better when he hears a fierce battlecry coming from behind, a long barbaric wail as rapid footsteps rush towards him. There is a loud thud and his Buddha explodes in a cloud of sand.

“Woooooo!”, Cliify screams from atop the ruined pile.

Will is horrified, “Why on Earth did you do that?”

“I just pwned your sandcastle, bitch!“, Cliff tells him as he jumps down.

Will looks over and sees that Cliff has been making a huge pile of shapeless sand, which – now that the Buddha has been cut off mid-torso – is taller than what Will has built.

“I win!”, Cliffy says as he walks away, fist in the air.

~fin~

Welcome to the world of MMO games.

wow_ss14.jpg

Of course, it’s not quite this bad these days. At the dawn of MMO gaming the goal seemed to be to coax the Will Wrights of the world to come in and build sandcastles for the Cliff Bleszinskis of the world to knock over. Now gameplay is an awkward compromise that attempts to satisfy both types of players. This uneasy truce leads to arguments like the one we had yesterday, where people seemed to be arguing for two entirely different games. Because they were.

The other day I was running around in Auberdine with my Hunter. I came across a Tauren who was in a tangle with a Night Elf Sentinel. (For those who don’t know the game. I was in my own territory – Alliance – and he was part of the enemy faction, the Horde. The guard he was fighting was on my side. It was a “monster” to him, and a useless NPC to me.) He was a couple of levels below me, and was in a real scrape with the Sentinel. It was too late for him to to pull out, and they were both low on health. I stopped what I was doing to see how it turned out.

The Tauren won (barely) and then backed away from me the moment the Sentinel fell. Horde (him) and Alliance (me) characters can’t speak to one another, (a filter makes our chat look like different languages) so I gave him a friendly wave for making it through a tough fight.

He responded with an emote to convey thanks. It took me a minute to realize what he was saying was thanks for not killing me. As a result of fighting the Sentinel he was flagged for PvP, meaning I was free to attack him if I wanted. In his weakened condition he would have been easy prey. The thought had never crossed my mind. I mean, why would I want to knock over somebody else’s sandcastle?

wow_ss13.jpg

In yesterday’s post on all the things wrong with World of Warcraft (yes, wrong) I got a nice mix of responses from, “Yes, these things drive me crazy about the game and make it less fun” to “if they changed that it would unbalance the game”. The most common objection to my objections was that, “If they did that, then other players would…”

From the perspective of a Will Wright, the obvious question is: Why should I care what other players do? I don’t care about most of these “balance” issues any more than I care that some people can beat Morrowwind in seven minutes. Good for them. I certainly wouldn’t want to play that way, but as long as it doesn’t hurt what I’m doing with my character…

Which is often the point, in a multiplayer game. Some people aren’t having fun unless they’re winning, which is the polite way of saying they’re making someone else lose. Sometimes you’ll see people lamenting the “grind” of quests and leveling, saying the game begins at level 70. They’re bored with the whole “building” thing, and are in a hurry to cut to the chase and knock down the other guy’s Buddha.

For the Will Wrights, the major reason to have multiplayer is for socialization. Talk about the game. Exchange strategies. Show each other the results of your efforts. Maybe collaborate. For the CliffyB’s of the world, the other players exist so that you have asses to kick.

wow_ss15.jpg

WoW may be the best compromise between these two player types, but it’s still a compromise. There is no game that can truly give both groups what they want, because they want things that would ruin the game for the other type of player. The PvP players still have to climb to level 80 before they can do their thing, and the Builders still have to play the game with all of these annoying and arbitrary (to them) limitations on how they can play the game, all in the name of balancing a part of the game they don’t care about and will probably never see.

Blizzard is currently working on some sort of system to let players roll up fully-developed level 70 characters expressly for the purposes of PvP combat. That’s nice for those guys I guess, but now I’m wishing they would make a playground for people on the other side of the gameplay divide. I’d like a game where the mechanics make sense, you have lots of freedom in how you develop your character, and complete freedom in what activities you spend time on, without having to have the developer’s idea of “proper” gameplay imposed on you. Perhaps a world where Noor the Pacifist can flourish. (To be fair, pulling this off would be a lot harder than just making a server where everyone starts at level 70. Since they’re getting my money anyway, I doubt there would be much of an incentive for them to attempt it.)

I’m disappointed the Sims Online didn’t do better. I suspect that developers – or more importantly, publishers and investors learned the wrong lesson. They walked away thinking people don’t want a cooperative MMO. I think the truth is that the activities in Sims Online just weren’t very compelling. (I never played it. I read about it. It never sounded very fun. The activities sounded dull and grind-y.) The activities in WoW are compelling, but hampered by their need to restrict player behavior in the name of balance. (Ignoring the fact that PvP isn’t balanced anyway, but it would clearly be worse without these behavioral rails.)

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The Fear the Boot motto for tabletop games is, “If you’re having fun, you’re winning.” I’d like to see this thinking brought to an MMO without all the PvP baggage. I don’t know if such a project would look attractive to developers from an economic standpoint, but I also suspect the MMO market will continue to fragment and specialize as it matures. Maybe if I gesture in this direction enough someone will take me up on it.


202020208Great Scott! 88 comments! If only this post was a DeLorean.


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  1. Strangeite says:

    I am a Will Wright, which is why I have forsaken my principals and PAID $10.00 for a freakin’ DEMO that included SecuROM.

    I am not proud. I am ashamed. I admit this only because it is my feeble cry for help. But I am an addict and no intervention is going to take my Spore away.

    It is like crack. I know it is bad for me. I know I am a bad person for using it.

  2. Factoid says:

    What does it say about me that I think the Will Wright in your story was lame and even though Cliffy B was a jerk, he sounds like more fun to hang out with?

  3. Kevin says:

    Fragmenting and specializing my be a good idea. Frankly if I were to start developing a MMORPG just to my own tastes I’m not at all sure how I’d proceed. (Well, I might have a FEW ideas…)

    The point is that specialized games that cater to a specific crowd uncovered in the wash of WoW seem inevitable. It’s too big a sandbox for that not to happen. My own complaints about WoW lie almost entirely in the other players, though for the most part I ignore them now. I imagine this is because I was so unmercifully battered and bruised by EQ that I STILL haven’t gotten over how much better WoW is. This does not make me impartial.

    A real question for me though is this: If Cliff did have his own game tailored just for him where he wouldn’t be upsetting anyone because everybody would expect his brand of behavior, would he go?

  4. Shamus: What do you currently think your odds are of “making it”, sticking with this game for a substantial period of time?

    I ask both out of curiousity, and because the answer will help determine the balance between negative and positive that you’re expressing.

  5. curbludgeon says:

    I’m of mixed feelings on the matter, as I much prefer games with co-operative gameplay than PvP in the case of shooters (see Halo, Gears of War, hopefully the upcoming Aliens: Colonial Marine game), which seems to me a hybrid of the Wright/Cliff philosophies. Yes, I have fun when I’m defeating others, but that fun is predicated on the socialization that comes with the teamwork and comradery in co-op.

    That said, the other week, I was grinding with a couple of friends on WoW and we saw a lone player (of the opposite faction) with his PvP flag on. Since we had the advantages of numbers and he was in “our” territory, my immediate thought was, “Kill him!”

    So I guess that makes me a terrible person.

  6. Shamus says:

    Factoid: I tried to portray each side as it is viewed by their counterpart. I did my best not to take sides myself. I suppose we can judge my success by the ratio of complainers from each camp as the thread goes on. :)

  7. The Lone Duck says:

    I think the goal, in part, could be like that old BattleBots show, where they built robots that fought eachother. Here, you build an avatar, and have them fight other avatars, either PC or NPC. As you can tell, I’m a bit of both. I like to build, but I also like to have some feeling of success defined for me. Most times, I wouldn’t do the mindless PvP against weak people. But I did sometimes, when a bad mood got the better of me.
    I agree that it’s a human problem rather than a mechanic problem. Can you make the mechanics account for that human problem?… Even if you could, I doubt people would be interested. People like entertainment that is familiar. That’s one of WoW’s greatest strengths and weaknesses. Once you’ve leveled to 20, the rest of the game will be familiar enough. Call me a cynic, but if I’m going to invest myself to hope for change, I’d feel silly hoping for change in the game industry when so much else in the world needs changing. That’s just me, I’m not criticizing or judging anyone else.

  8. JFargo says:

    I don’t have a lot to say, but wanted to mention that the game you describe would be one that I would have to buy. Very often in stories or games, the things I like to focus on are the day-to-day lives, as opposed to the major action. I thought I was alone on this, but it definitely doesn’t sound that way anymore.

  9. Darren says:

    Re: Sims – we never tried the online version, but my wife played the PC version for a week or so. She eventually gave up in disgust, saying that she already had to run a house with 3 kids in real time; she wasn’t going to waste precious computer time picking up after toddlers too!

  10. Vao Ki says:

    The closest MMO I’ve seen with something close to what you are talking about, passive character leveling, would be Vanguard. While the main focus of the game is still adventuring and combat oriented it does offer alternatives. You can level a character in 3 different aspects, Adventuring, Crafting and Diplomacy. None of these has any of the others as a requirement for advancement. Adventuring makes getting around to do the other 2 a bit safer, but once you reach a certain level (I think it’s 10) in any of the 3 areas you can ride a mount (another silly thing in MMOs – level restrictions on when I can ride a horse) which makes travel alot faster and safer.

    I dabbled in all 3 areas. I believe my Disciple was 25 – 30th level adventuring, quite low in leather-working, and somewhere in between in diplomacy. Diplomacy was more interesting than I had expected, as you talk your way through levels using a set of cards representing speaking strategies, though it essentially boils down to a tricky chat strategy collectible card game. The fact that you can play that game and see almost everywhere in the world in that manner is an interesting concept.

    I would like to add that I too would like to see more creativity in MMOs besides prettier, higher resolution backgrounds against which your better rendered character kills better rendered monsters in new ways with new skills that have better rendered particle effects. Give me back the gameplay and you can stick the pretty graphics in your renderer.

    Just my 2cp.

  11. Dev Null says:

    Hey Shamus, did you ever get a chance to play with URU Live? I barely touched on it – mostly playing the single-player Uru, and being slightly disappointed despite its stunning beauty since it was so obviously meant to be multi-player. It sounds like your sandbox, but unfortunately there turned out to be less money in it than the castle-kicking contests of the world…

    And I hear you on the PVP thing. I’ve had some great moments of cross-faction partying though. You’re in some cave full of things that are a bit too hard for you to kill, resting up after the last fight, and you see some Alliance guy struggling too… so you pile in and help him out. And then on your next kill, he helps you. And despite the fact that you can’t share quests, or loot, or kills, you end up leapfrogging through the whole cave twice as fast as you could have otherwise, and you both get your quests done. (And then you bow in thanks, and go back to killing all of his relatives. Hey, I never said it was a peaceful world!)

  12. Derek K says:

    CLIFFY B ROCKS!

    My problem is that, if I’m a Will Wright, why am I playing an MMO? There are *far* better beaches to build my castles on that have no jerks, and let me do what I want. If I want to talk, I have forums and chat channels. The convenience of having /1 to talk in is far outweighed.

    However, if I’m Cliffy B, I can’t play a single player RPG. I can’t even really fight bots, cause they suck. I need PEOPLE with high levels of skills, to make it fun.

    To me, MMOs are far closer to multiplayer FPS games than multiplayer Civ.

    If you want a truly co-operative game, check out A Tale In The Desert – there’s no combat. It’s all about people researching, building monuments, competing to create the most beautiful sculptures, etc. It is well and truly a co-op mmo (it also has maybe 2000 players total). They recently had a plague event, where people got infected. People worked together to find the cure, etc.

    The fundamental problem with MMOs (and the reason I keep jumping in and out of them) is that they are trying to be the place Will and Cliffy can play, but each of them can really find a better place to play outside of MMOs. I play WoW until I say “You know what? I’d rather play KoTOR II again, or Team Fortress 2.”

    I thought I would never enjoy PvP. Now it’s my favorite part of WoW. My favorite MMO currently is Planetside (which is effectively all PvP). But mainly, I’m playing Team Fortress 2, and replaying Mass Effect (plus I finally got Star Wars: Empire at War to muck with). Because I’m back in that point where those games do MMO stuff, but better.

    Also:

    “The thought had never crossed my mind. I mean, why would I want to knock over somebody else’s sandcastle?”

    Because they built it RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of your beach!!! YOUR beach! It’s like they stole your car, and used it to run over your dog, then drive off with your wife!

    Okay, not really. But they knew the risks.

    Course, there’s no fun (for me) to be had attacking that tauren. He’s got 20 hp? Woo. Such a challenge. Now, bowing to him, and drawing your weapon, and waiting for him to heal up, *then* going at it? That’s fun. I don’t get people who just kill for the sake of killing. Oh, wow. Your level 70 warrior just killed 15 level 40 mages? Aren’t you a great and powerful stud? Oh, you killed all their quest givers too, so no one can play the game? Great. You must be so proud.

  13. m2 says:

    That’s why we have FPS’s. For people who want to “knock down Buddha’s”. If that’s not enough for those people, they can take up fencing or something.

    I have never played an MMO, but I do play single-player RPGs because I guess I am a Will: I like to build and create characters.

    The beach analogy as used by the above poster is rather poor. It seems as if the beach is privately owned by Cliffy or something.

  14. Deoxy says:

    The PvP players still have to climb to level 80 before they can do their thing, and the Builders still have to play the game with all of these annoying and arbitrary (to them) limitations on how they can play the game, all in the name of balancing a part of the game they don’t care about and will probably never see.

    The problem is that they WILL see it, whether they want to participate or not.

    Even with no PvP combat, PvP will ALWAYS exist in an MMO – players are competing for some kind of resource, or there’s no “multi-player” aspect at all.

    Examples in WoW: competition for mining spots. Competition for specific monsters (for quests, usually). Competition for certain dropped items (why bags are so expensive).

    Even if players can’t fight, they still compete for things. As such, the “level 1 with level 70 equipment” character is still a problem, as normal level 1’s cannot compete at all for anything.

    And I haven’t even mentioned the problems griefers can cause.

    The only way to “fix” this problem is to change who plays, and if you can find a way to sort that out, well, you’ll be rich. People have been trying that for a VERY LONG TIME without any real success on any scale of note.

    Short of that, you have certain controls in place to minimize the impact. They suck, but they are better than the alternative.

  15. brcarl says:

    Silly question: if the PvP-induced arbitrary restrictions of WoW make it unappealing, then what is it about the MMORPG that makes you want to play there rather than a single-player console or PC CRPG?

    I’m guessing the answer is coop PvE.

    Assuming I’m right here, then I get really confused when I hear about people who play WoW solo. What’s the appeal for these people? Does the occasional conversation with a stranger make it worth the hassle of not being able to pause the game whenever you want? (at least not without some social reprecussions…)

  16. khorboth says:

    “I’d like to see this thinking brought to an MMO without all the PvP baggage.”

    I told myself that I wouldn’t plug CoH in every post you make about WoW, but you keep leaving me these beautiful openings. PvP is available in CoH, but it’s usually pretty deserted. They keep making changes to the game. All of the major changes are designed to improve the FUN of the game. For instance, if you don’t like the mission you get, you can drop it. You even get the XP reward for the mission. You’re just limited to one per 3 days. Yes, that makes it easier, but it also makes it more fun.

    They’re also not shy about making things work differently in PvP than PvE. Keeping the balances separate lets them work toward making them both fun.

  17. Deoxy says:

    Horde (him) and Alliance (me) characters can’t speak to one another, (a filter makes our chat look like different languages)

    I’ve wondered about this for some time… wouldn’t it be possible to make a translation plugin? I mean, it’s clearly not a randomized translation, as “kek” comes across as “lol” (or so I’ve heard).

    Anybody know anything about that? Granted, it might take some of the fun out for some people, if it became too popular, but I would think it would be possible, right?

  18. John Lopez says:

    One of the ultimate “builder” type games is Second Life, where pretty much anything can be built from scratch by users and scripting allows users (for a definition of “users” being “with modest or better programming skill”) to create many diverse experiences (First Person Shooters, Real Time Strategy, RPG, etc) using the system as an “engine”.

    Because the expectation there is one of socializing and construction, CliffyB would be categorized as a “griefer” in short order.

    On the other hand, I also enjoy Guild Wars, which has dedicated “max level” PvP builds out of the box; needless to say the expectation is very different.

    I guess the point is simply that there are very different experiences available out there, but no one platform to “rule them all” yet. Personally, I think that is a good thing, as it keeps people with similar goals together and avoids accidentally getting peanut butter in someone’ chocolate by accident. Wait: make that spinach in someone’s chocolate.

  19. IncredibleGeek says:

    If you’re a builder seeking a social environment to RP and create stories, you could do what I did: Persistent world server in Neverwinter Nights.

    If you pick a good role play server, they usually have strict rules in place about staying in character and feature smaller pools of people who actually care about the world. I played on one (The Island of Thain) for over 2 years, and never built my single character past level 16. (I was a pure RPer, zero amount of powergaming) Plus, you can have DMs who can pop in and drop surprise events on you, or world shattering events that everyone participates in, or you can just sit and chat with people all day long.

    Private, policed servers are the way to go, and Neverwinter Nights has no subscription fees.

  20. Karl says:

    I’m almost entirely a Will Wright, but I did occasionally attack Hordies when I caught them attacking Alliance guards. As I understand it, the only reason to attack an enemy guard (on purpose as opposed to just getting lost and stumbling over them, which wouldn’t induce me to join in) is to declare an intention to start some unstructured PvP. It says ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’. I’ve seen this behavior escalate (as both sides call for help) into huge brawls, which were great fun for an hour or so.

    That said, one time I did spot a couple of Hordies fighting guards at, oh, what’s that one pinkie town south of Tarren Mill? You know the one (I never wanted to be Alliance you know. My stupid friends made me). In Hillsbrad. Anyway, there, and they ran away until I finally dropped them. Afterward I did wonder if I’d possibly been a little overzealous and chased down a couple of folks who just got lost. I felt quite bad about it :(

    Oh, and while I agree guards are ‘useless’ in the sense that you can’t actively use them to benefit your castle-building, they do prevent enemy players from wandering along in ones and twos and killing your vendors, questgivers, profession trainers and what have you…

  21. Derek K says:

    “The beach analogy as used by the above poster is rather poor. It seems as if the beach is privately owned by Cliffy or something.”

    Well, in my analogy, it’s owned by Cliffy B’s people. And as a member of his people, it’s his beach. Kinda like you don’t own your company, but it’s still *your* company….

    @Deoxy: It is expressly against the terms of service to create such a plugin.

    They do exist, though. Blizz cracked down on them. But the translation is always the same, so you can fairly easily translate it.

    @khorboth: CoH is unique, though. The decision to make PVP and PVE have different rules was BRILLIANT. But it only works in an environment where, as Deoxy pointed out, you’re not competing with other players. There is no (for certain values of no) loot in CoH. So what you do in PvE *can* be separated from what you do in PvP. In WoW, if I abuse PvE, I can have the Sword of 1000 Truths on a level 19, and then wipe the floor with you in PvP.

    @brcarl: I have that same revelation every 6 months or so, and drop out of MMOs for a month or two. Then I get the itch again. ;)

  22. Silly question: if the PvP-induced arbitrary restrictions of WoW make it unappealing, then what is it about the MMORPG that makes you want to play there rather than a single-player console or PC CRPG?

    I’m guessing the answer is coop PvE.

    The draw of an MMO is that it is Massively Multiplayer. No matter what type of game you play, no matter how you like to play it. The appeal of the MMO is that not only do you get to play with other people, you get to compete against other people, be sociable with those people, and can show off you’re gear or mount in front of those other people.

    For people that just like being jerks, this gives you other people to be jerks too. You can talk to them, or ignore them. You can park your Kodo mount right on top of the mailbox and prevent people from easily using it. Or you can gank your opposite factions low level towns in an attempt to make it hard to level up.

    For people that like talking to others their is a very obvious social aspect. Chat channels that are already numerous, as well as the ability to make more. Variety in appearances both for characters and equipment.

    For people that like to build theres tradeskills. You can make and sell items in game. Engineering pets and mounts are some of the most unique in the game. Collecting non combat pets, mounts, tabards, and outfits is fairly common.

    Without other people around though, were are you going to be able to show off your achievements? The forums? Yea, screenshots are nice. Writing about it is fun. But to be able to actually do these things with other people is infinitely more fun. And then to continue playing after having gotten your goal. With other people that have reached a similar goal. The competition of who has done it first, and then which team has done it first.

    Really, the MMO can be crappy, but it’ll still draw numbers simply because its MMO. What draws people to WoW is that its also a really well done game.

  23. Mob says:

    brcarl:

    There really aren’t any single player RPGs with the same style of play as MMOs*. And none with the breadth of options. I could create a Human Warrior with Herbalism/Alchemy and level it to 70. This might take a couple months. Might take a year, depending on how casual I play. After that there is an entire other faction full of quests, not to mention the other tradeskills, classes, starting cities, etc. There is no other type of game that can compare to that. Just because I can’t or don’t want to enjoy that in tandem with others doesn’t reduce the enjoyment I can derive from it.

    I’ve been playing MMOs for almost 10 years. And I play almost exclusively solo.

    * Morrowind, etc. come close, but still miss it for me. I prefer a bit more structure. A little more linear perhaps.

  24. Gary says:

    brcarl:”Silly question: if the PvP-induced arbitrary restrictions of WoW make it unappealing, then what is it about the MMORPG that makes you want to play there rather than a single-player console or PC CRPG?”

    I personally have no taste for PvP. And group PvE is only ‘ok’.

    I like the vastness of MMORPGs, the worlds are huge and intricate and some of the best gaming available. If they made a single player version of WoW that I could play all by myself I would TOTALLY buy it. I would love it. I tolerate the vast hordes of idiots because MMORPGs do in fact have a lot of redeeming game play value. A lot of money is put into them to make them desirable…a lot more than is generally put into single player RPGs. And they tend to be a bit more flexible character-wise.

  25. Dave says:

    “If you’re having fun, you’re winning”

    Contrast with Dwarf Fortress, the slogon for which is “Losing is fun!”.

  26. Derek K says:

    Dwarf Fortress is AWESOME.

    @Shamus: Since I forgot to mention it: This is, perhaps, the best metaphor I’ve ever seen in my life. I am going to pitch most of the world in terms of Cliffy B and Will Wright going places, from now on.

    Sid Meier may occasionally tag along.

  27. BChoinski says:

    A good example of this problem was demonstrated with “Shadowbane”, which had world-wide PVP once you got off newbie island.

    It was supposed to be wide open. Players could construct towns, containing item merchants and trainers, banks, andyour respawn point. You could flag known jerks as KOS so your guards would gank them. If a guild got to be known as a bunch of jerks you could rally other guilds to burn down their town and thus bring some player-initiated justice.

    All fine in theory, it sucked in reality.

    Tree-of-life seeds were expensive, and could only guard so much. Anything outside of that was freely destructable by anyone willing to whack at it for a long enough time. So you obviously could not have your own house or buildings just out in the open where the anonymous, anti-social jerks could just tear it down.

    Even with large cities, and I was a member of what you would consider a rather nice and social guild, more interested in RP and immersing in the game and lore, nothing was safe. In the early months of the game’s release, unless you had a large guild with members on 24/7, any bunch of jobless teens with nothing better to do but play the game could just all log on at 3 in the morning and trash your city, while everyone else had to sleep for work the next day. Casual players had little to no chance. Wolfpack tried to tweak it some with Bane stones where the defender could have a little control over when the attack could start, but even so the whole concept of the game, while admirable in the intended goal of player freedom, became in reality a gank paradise for sociopaths with nothing better to do than grief people 40 levels lower. And with all the leveling zones being patroled or controlled the victims were hard pressed to get to a point where they could strike back.

    The two views of play, hardcore killers and social players is very tough to balance, and Blizzard obviously decided to lean toward the more casual majority with some ways to allow the killers to get their kicks in.

  28. R says:

    Shamus, if you want to “build” your character without being pestered (and probably roleplay it too without being mocked), why are you playing WoW in the first place?

    There’s a problem with EVERY MMORPG, actually, and it’s summed up in the very first two letters in the acronym. People like you (or me) can’t enjoy creating a character slowly, with some backstory, and stuff. Because we would be assaulted by hardcore gamers, powerlevellers, l337 speakers, 13 year olds and other bullcrap. The immersion your looking for, the sensation of being part of a great setting (and Warcraft IS a great setting) is going to be completely ruined by those guys. Like powerplayers in RPGs, they broke the game and other’s enjoyements BY DEFINITION.
    “Oh, sure, they are having fun doing this, who are you to judge them?” Whatever, they are annoying and they should be avoided. Unfortunately, you can’t, since they infest every single MMOPRG existing.
    The only solution? Don’t play MMORPGs. Grab your DnD manuals istead. Sure, you’ll be losing a lot of fun and enjoyment that you could get from them, but also nobody will shout at you “ROXXOR5 IS TH H4XXOR5 NooB” or other retarded things like “Real game starts at level 70″(what kind of stuff is THAT? What game that is not completely flawed isn’t fun from level 1?)

    So, even if is one of the most addicting, vast, successuful and crowded game ever, WoW still sucks. And not only by its programmer’s fault.

  29. noneofcon says:

    In your post you hit on one of the reasons I left WoW, the inability to work with the other side. When playing a druid, I had always thought it might be fun to work with alliance druids (at least some communication or limited grouping). The thought in my mind was, “Who is blizzard to tell me who I can and can’t play with?”

    As far as PVP vs PVE goes, (builders vs competive players), EVE online (which I currently play), very much favors the competivie side. In EVE, every where outside of station is a pvp area. But one of the things people new to eve should learn is “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. As in, yes you could attack my shuttle outside of station in high-sec, but a few seconds later the cops and going to come and blow your ship up. So, while yes you can pvp everywhere, some areas have penilities to doing so.

    In player controled space people tend to follow one of two stragities for defending their space, NBSI (not blue [friendly], shoot it) and NRDS (not red [enemy], don’t shoot). (Other pilots are either red, blue or blank (neutral)). Most alliances tend to follow the former than the latter.

    In reference to the shadowbane post, eve has a similar system in terms of player-owned structures, in that after it gets attacked, they have to wait a bit before they can destory it.

    Even though the game is foused on pvp (which I actually don’t do), there are people who have found ways to make focus more on the building than the competing. Take the character Chibba for example. He’s famous for using a dreadought in high-sec (where they aren’t allowed to fly into anymore, it was built before rule change) to mine. He’s also turned his repution as a very trustworthy person into a money maker, working as a third party in trades that current game machanics make rather hard (ie the trading of very large ships, where there’s no real way to make sure the buyer gets the ship and the seller get the money).

    Personally, I think I am more of a Will Wright than a Cliffy B.

  30. Duffy says:

    I was originally very interested in SW: Galaxies, mostly because of the promise of infrastructure, player cities, and a deep crafting system. However, a lot of it was never implemented or was implemented badly. But the idea appealed to me. EVE was also similar in this, but the time and travel aspects wore on me.

    There is a market for a heavy creative game, the problem is presentation and figuring out ways to achieve a wider audience.

  31. Martin says:

    We are at war. The Horde are invading our home, killing sentries and you let them do that? traitor! ;-)

    If It would have been a Horde NPC attacking an Alliance NPC (or PC), you might have killed the Horde invader without any second though. The fact that It was PC instead of a NPC is the fun thing. Blizzard could have forced us to all be on the same side, with no way to attack each other. They didn’t because, the game is to KILL THE OTHERS. I can be Will when I am in my territory, minding my own business. I can be Cliffy-like (not as a jerk) when I get on the other side of the line and start killing NPC. PC will come and attack me (and my group). I expect that. We then get to fight INTELLIGENT OPPONENTS that react to something else than AGRO. I can have both way of playing, in a single game!

  32. Aelyn says:

    I actually think EQ did a very good job of making a sand box where you could build what you wanted. If you were on a normal (non-PvP server), you were wide open with your faction. Say you were a high elf. You are hated by the dark elves. Want to change that? Start killing night elves. Sure, you had to kill them en masse. In this world it’d have been called genocide, and even now it’s rather boggling just how LONG it took to get that faction reversed. But the fact remains that you could be a high elf with good dark elf faction. You didn’t draw PvP flags doing it.

    You could have a guild with high elves, dwarves, humans, orcs and trolls in it. In the human areas the warlocks hated the paladins (makes sense, no?). Heck, that was the case most everywhere.

    In short, I think EQ really nailed faction and the flexibility you had there. Of course, that also meant you could accidentally attack the banker when you were level 6 and end up a pile of very thin paste. You quickly learned to remap the attack button…

  33. Jeff says:

    Even in FPSes, I prefer PvE with a group of friends rather than, you know, trying to kill them.

  34. Fred says:

    Back in the day, I played WoW for a couple of months before I got tired of PvP and left. (I’d rolled on a PvP server, even though I hate PvP, because that’s where the PA fans are; in retrospect, that was probably a mistake. I had other reasons for leaving, though… like poverty.) I have one crystal-clear memory of my time on the game, though, which definitely places me in the Will Wright camp.

    I was in *pulls up a map to check* Ashenvale Forest, working on some quests, and I stopped for some reason at the inn at Astranaar. I don’t remember why now; maybe I just wanted a break. It was raining in the zone, and the elven architecture is all open-wall, so I had my character lie down on one of the beds upstairs and watched the rain fall as I nattered on guildchat. To some people, the only reason you go to an inn is so you get extra XP when you log back in, but there was something strangely immersive about the experience; for a moment, I imagined myself being there, on a cool spring evening, listening to the rain on the roof and watching it go by.

    In fact, my experiences in cities are the bits that tend to stick with me. Whether it was getting out of the snow in Kharanos or admiring the ‘fish tank’ in the Deep Run Tram, I enjoyed the feeling that I had a refuge from a cruel world full of Murlocs and PKers to return to at the end of the day.

    I think the reason I never got into City of Heroes, despite my brother’s repeated urging and more than one try, was that there wasn’t the sense of place that WoW can evoke; as nice as the zones looked– and they got increasingly nice with each new expansion– you were always just running through them to get to the next generic instance. In WoW, you spend most of your time on the world map, and even when you go into instances, they’ve been hand-crafted, not assembled from generic building blocks.

  35. Lintman says:

    The division between the goals of the player types described here is bigger than just for MMO gamers. In the end, this dichotomy impacts almost any type of game.

    The Cliffy B gamers, or “competitors”, are playing a game in the traditional sense – they are focused on reaching goals and/or winning; if there’s nothing to win, they wonder what’s the point of playing the game. The Will Wright gamers, or “sandboxers”, are focused mainly on the experience or journey; “winning” isn’t the priority. For them, the game is more like a toy – you play with it but there’s nothing to “win”.

    Just like both gamer types can enjoy an MMO, both types can enjoy even FPS and RTS games, which on the surface might seem strictly competitor-oriented. While an FPS like Unreal Tournament probably doesn’t offer much for the sandboxer-type gamer, an FPS series like Half-Life 2 can have plenty of appeal for one, with it’s ongoing story, puzzles, ongoing gameplay innovations, etc. Similarly for RTS’s: stuff like the base building, ramping up the tech tree, exploring the map, can all be big fun for sandboxers, in addition to stuff like the story or hero RPG elements you might see in, say, Warcraft 3.

    And like in MMO’s, FPS and RTS games are filled with limiting gameplay mechanisms intended to support balanced competitor-type gameplay, sometimes to the point that other play modes are an afterthought at best. Ie: the Unreal Tournament series. But I’d almost put Sins of a Solar Empire in this category.

    I think most gamers have a mix of both competitor and sandboxer in them, and so we’ll always see some of this tension in games. It generally seems to me that the competitor-oriented designs seem to win out, but I guess that’s why they’re called games and not toys.

  36. Blackbird71 says:

    Shamus, your comment about this being an issue of “two entirely different games” only solidifies my opinion that you still don’t fully understand what MMOs are. You’re still thinking in terms of single player or small network games. In the offline gaming world, yes, these would definetely be two very different games. In an MMO, they are both integral facets of the same game, and are very much dependent on each other. Different games have different degrees of separation between PvE and PvP, but in the end there is always a connection and a correlation, and this is why the rules of one have to be applied to the other. I find quite often that the rules and mechincs designed with PvP in mind are more to protect the Wills from the Cliffs, rather than to enable the Cliffs’ random destruction of the Wills’ work. Similarly, the Wills’ building and creating is often a vehicle for improving his ability to counter and even overcome the confrontations with the Cliffs.

    Games like Guild Wars draw very distinct lines between PvE and PvP, keeping all PvP to designated arenas which can be completely ignored by the Wills of the game if they so choose. Even so, the PvE gameplay can get you new skills and items to be used to improve your capabilities in the PvP portion of the game.

    In other games, the two facets are fully and completely integrated. EVE Online is a good example of this. In this game, you can become an industrialist, building starships and equipment, selling to others. You can be a miner, seeking minerals from asteroid belts. You can build empires in space, setting up bases and claiming systems as your own. But you had better be ready to defend them, because someone else will probably have their eye on that prime real estate you just built on, and you’ll need combat pilots. And PvP in EVE does not just mean shooting down ships in space, the whole marketplace is a whole ‘nother realm of PvP: price wars, inventing to make a more valuable product, etc. all lead to very real player conflict and interaction without a single shot fired or ship destroyed.

    My point is that in typical MMOs, what were previously two different styles of gameplay have now been intertwined in such a way that they can not be completely separated. This is part of what the games now are, and needs to be accepted as a basic premise of the games’ function, rather than an intrusion on your play. It is not some unwanted side effect of the game, rather it is the game. Personally, I am very much a Will Wright, I love building up my character, customizing it to be just how I like, designing my own gameplay. I play MMORPGs because I love the depth and expanse of the gameplay, the level of detail and content, and the ways in which I can create a character all my own, rather than be pressed into a bare handful of choices. I don’t really care that there are thousands of people out there with me, although I do enjoy getting together and playing with friends. If I could find an offline game or a game that could be played on a small home network that was just as large and well made as some of the MMOs out there, then I would probably just play that instead. I have no desire to fight other players in these games, I feel no need to build my ego by defeating someone else, nor do I take joy in ruining someone else’s day. My biggest pet peeve in some of these games is people who find it fun just to interfere with what others are doing, rather than actually accomplishing anything themselves.

    However, I also understand that there are those in these games that feel differently, and I understand that in order for both mindsets to exist in these games, certain mechanics and rules are necessary in order to strike a sort of balance between the two. You seem to view these as a problem with the game. If you look at the big picture of what an MMO truly is, then you will see these not as problems, but rather as solutions. They may not always be the best solutions, but they actually do improve the game instead of destroying it, because they make the game better than it would otherwise be in the absence of such rules. Saying that these rules are needless and are a flaw only holds true if you are still looking at the game from the perspective of offline singleplayer games. This is what I mean when I say that you as of yet fail to understand what an MMO is.

    @Gary
    My sentiments exactly.

    @R
    Why play WoW in the first place? Because WoW and other MMOs offer a richness of environment and character detail that is rarely had among the offline games. Yes, the annoying personality types like you describe can be a problem, but generally only if you let them be. I have yet to find a game in which these players can not be simply ignored and avoided to the point that they have practically no impact on your gameplay. The first thing I do in any MMO is find myself a group of like-minded people to hang out with and play with. If you’re talking with those whose company you enjoy, you could care less about the socially backward adolescents plaguing the game world.

  37. Aelyn says:

    Start killing night elves.

    Meh… Kill high elves.

  38. Shamus says:

    Blackbird: Right. I just don’t “get” it because I don’t like the things you do.

    Look, “getting” MMO’s has nothing to do with it. I AM the foremost expert in the world on what I like, and and I don’t like some things about WoW. I think you’re the one not getting it: I’m saying what would make the game more fun, and you’re saying I need to? What? Change my personal tastes? My subjective opinions? What exactly are you after here?

    “I don’t like Tomato Juice.”

    “You’re just drinking it wrong.”

    There are several people in here agreeing with me. People who have been playing MMO’s for years. What we want and what you want are just two different things. For this, I do not apologize.

    Particularly since, you know, you’re the one getting what you want.

  39. Lonster says:

    I despise PvP in MMOs. I don’t mess with someone else’s sand castle, primarily because:

    There is no balance. Someone else will come and knock down my castle, because they will do it in a way that I cannot defend against.

    There is a complex 1v1 rock/paper/scissors relationship in WoW, that I don’t care for (nor can it be called balance).

    When I play against people, I’d like the game-side field to be somewhat level (ie, I could have picked up a rocket launcher just as easily as he did), and more of the outcome dependant on my skill (I shot him in the head with the sniper rifle while jumping to avoid the rocket blasts).

  40. Mari says:

    I don’t like MMORPGs so much, but the height of wonderful is the odd game that comes along which allows me to PvE with my husband and/or other friends via a LAN. I would actually play a PvE massive multiplayer game, but I have yet to see a game that caters to the Will Wrights of the world exclusively.

    The sad thing is that I’m a Cliffy B by nature, nearest I can tell. I’m perfectly pacifistic and love doing PvE, so long as I can just keep doing that. But the first time some idiot comes along and ganks my wonderful creation I turn into a raging she-bitch bent on the destruction of all life.

    I do it in a wide variety of games. Watch me play a racing game. I tool along, minding my own business, until some other player comes up and tries to t-bone me to get the edge. I will then chase him down and drive him into every object imaginable until his mother feels the pain in-utero. I’m great in Civ until the first time one of the other players stages an attack on my thriving cultural center. Then I will hunt him down like the sniveling dog he is and kill anything else that gets in the way without a shred of remorse.

    And that’s why I avoid MMOs. You can see where my unique personality wouldn’t mesh well in most MMOs.

  41. Derek K says:

    Here’s where the Cliffy B vs Will argument breaks down:

    The way many games are set up, Cliffy B *can’t* jump on Will’s Buddha unless Will builds it on Cliffy’s beach. If Will had built his sand Buddha down the beach a bit, Cliffy wouldn’t have been able to jump on it at all. Will chose to build it in the wrong area. Cliffy didn’t warn Will about it, because Will chose to ignore the sign that said “Warning: Build At Your Own Risk” and did it anyway, so Cliffy knew that Will knew that his Buddha could well get trounced. The fact that Cliffy did so isn’t because he’s a jerk – it was because that was what you did in that area!

    Quotes like “I feel no need to build my ego by defeating someone else, nor do I take joy in ruining someone else’s day” show that Wills simply don’t understand Cliffys (Cliffies?). There’s a third option – PvP is *fun*. It’s a thrill, a blast, a challenge, and a rush (when it’s done well). Ganking is for losers – those are the people you’re talking about. Cliffy is just there to have fun with it – he probably expected Will to try to tackle him out of the air, and they’d have a nice wrestling match, and laugh about it over a beer after. But Will just stood there, confusing Cliffy.

    I see PvP’ers getting lumped in with powerplayers, and both being equated with skript kiddies and 13 year olds – PvP is not Ganking, Powergaming is not Munchkinism. If Shamus had chosen to attack the Tauren, it wouldn’t, imho, have been a rude thing – the Tauren attacked a PvP flagged NPC in enemy territory. Part of his action was knowing that, were there an alliance character around, he could well have to fight. He did it anyway. And that’s part of the fun! Knowing that your action might mean some player will come charging at you so you can fight for your life!

    If that player is 20 levels high, and corpse camps you, he’s a moron, and a loser. If he’s /- 2 levels, it’s fun!

    @Shamus: Try it with pepper, and vodka.

  42. Blackbird71 says:

    No Shamus, that’s not what I’m saying at all. What I’m saying is that you seem to be expecting the game to be something different than it fundamentally is. You’ve reviewed a lot of games of different genres. This is something new and unique compared to your past experience. You wouldn’t fault an FPS for not having the characteristics of an RTS, would you? By the same token, do not expect an MMORPG to be the same as an RPG, even though they share a few letters and some concepts, they are completely different animals. All I’m saying is that in order to give an honest review of the game, you need a perspective on what the genre actually is, and that is what I think you are missing. By all means, state your likes and dislikes. But when you state that a game should be doing something differently, and your reasoning for stating such is based on a flawed premise from an inancurate perspective, then that’s where I take issue with your review.

    You claim your changes would make the game more fun. I’m claiming that your lack of understanding of how MMOs work leads you to that conclusion, because if you truly understood the genre, you would see the full implications of such changes and how they would actually have a detrimental impact on the game. Instead of increasing fun, it would be decreased. MMOs suffer from the domino effect much more than other games, and until you understand that and look at the big picture, you’re going to make a lot of mistaken assumptions of what would make the game more fun.

    I’m not arguing about what you or I find fun. I’m arguing that the changes you want would not bring about the results you expect, and that your reasoning is founded in limited experience with the genre.

    Go back to my posts in your previous threads. I don’t disagree with everything you stated, in several cases I agree wholeheartedly with your conclusions (and those of others who have been “playing MMOs for years”). In the cases where I disagree, I state my reasoning and why I believe your conclusions are flawed. In many of these cases, there are just as many MMO players who agree with my opinion rather than yours. Are you just going to conclude that we are all idiots who don’t know what we’re talking about? Or are you willing to consider that just maybe you don’t understand everything there is to know about MMOs, and maybe some of us who ahve been down the path before are just trying to offer some constructive criticism to help you understand why some things are the way they are? In the end, whether or not you like those details is entirely up to you, but at least you’ll have a better understanding of which details are inherent to the genre and are an actual improvement over the alternative. You may not like them any better, but at least it will be an informed decision instead of a snap judgement made in relative ignorance.

    And if you think I’m getting exactly what I want, then you obviously didn’t read my posts very well. I just accept that a game of a community of people by its nature can not give the same isolated game experience that a singleplayer game can, and allowances have to be made to enable the group dynamic. If you can accept that, you will enjoy MMOs, if you can’t you won’t, simple as that. If you want to fault MMOs for not being something you enjoy, that’s fine. All I’m saying is don’t fault them for being what they are. For example, you can say “I don’t like FPS games because I don’t enjoy the fast-paced twitch combat.” That’s your opinion and a valid reason for disliking the game. But saying something like “FPS games are bad because I can’t build my city or level my character” is asinine, you’re expecting the game to be something that it is fundamentally not. Granted, there are some games that make successful hybrids of genres, but they usually end up having to observe more constraints, not less.

    As far as I can tell, you and I actually seem to enjoy a lot of the same things, so no this is not about what I enjoy vs. what you enjoy, this is about trying to open your perspective a little to understand what you have stepped into a bit better. We seem to find some of the same things about this and other games annoying. The difference with this game is that my experience tells me which minor annoyances are inherently necessary in order to prevent major problems. You want to move a rock out of the path, while I’m trying to tell you when there is a snake under that rock. I and others like me are simply trying to impart some of our experience for your benefit. If you are unwilling to accept that experience, that’s up to you, there’s no need to be hostile about it, or to think that we’re trying to force you to change your likes and dislikes. We just think that your limited experience in this area is preventing you from really seeing what the game is. What you call problems, we call well-considered and tried and tested solutions for even bigger problems. No, they’re not often the ideal situation, but the ideal situation is not always possible, and you have to settle for the best option available.

    Your view just seems to be that of a kid who doesn’t want to eat his vegetables, while not understanding that those vegetables will have a much better overall effect on your body than that candy bar you would rather scarf down. Sure, the candy may taste great for a short time, but in the long run your total experience will be better with the greens. All I’m trying to point out is that you may be unhappy with some annoying details in the game, but if you step back and look at the big picture you will see that though those details, while annoying at first, will overall have a positive impact on your gaming experience.

    Anyway, that’s my $10 worth of $0.02, take it for what it’s worth.

  43. Goldcup says:

    I am horrible, very bad, no good at pvp.
    I’m a social player.
    I would best be described as a tourist, as you finely named it in a previous post.

    And yet also, I appreciate… even crave the conflict, the plot, the story that pvp brings to the table.

    The bad guys can be really really bad and make my heart jump in my chest; when was the last time a mob did that?

    The bad guys can sometimes be a little more like Robin Hood, in fact oftentimes, having a code they follow.

    The bad guys can inspire bands of folks to hunt the bad guys down and teach them a lesson and protect the defenseless — so born are heroes.
    It can be an incredibly immersive experience, especially when there is something to risk losing.

    A monster can’t really surprise me.
    PVE becomes bland eventually because the monsters never learn to fight better or differently or creatively. They can never be won over with charm and wit and spirit.
    The extent of their offensiveness is watered down so no one gets sued.
    I don’t really loathe or fear monsters.
    Some pks, I definitely do.
    They are the bad guys I love to hate.

    My first experience in an open pvp world was Ultima Online.
    It was only publicly a month old and it was thrilling and scary and fun.
    I sought solace in a guild that was player established with the aim of helping new players.
    We were all close comrades defending newbies, pooling our resources and wits to protect each other.
    It was a daily struggle and I loved it.
    Once the line started to be drawn between the Wills and Cliffs, and people started to get what they wanted without competition, it lost the spice of conflict.

    I guess, to me, pve results in the same boredom that using cheat codes in a single player game eventually brings on. It is fun at first, but eventually, *yawn*

    I was very bad at pvp and still am.
    To this day, I always prefer the pvp servers even though I rarely kill anyone at all.
    In a pve only world, I miss the challenge to survive found in a world where the evil pks are allowed to be evil.
    There are always ways to outfox and beat them, and therein is the heart pounding game for me that keeps me coming back again and again.

    Sorry for going on and on, but this is a subject near and dear to me.

  44. R says:

    I think that PvP is not really the problem here. In a fantasy world, fighting each other makes sense (almost always). Sure, if I’m just wandering around doing my business and suddenly a moron attacks me for no reason whatsoever, or just because he enjoys it, well, of course I’ll be annoyed, but I can easily avoid PvP areas in that case. But I think that is not the point that Shamus was trying to point out (IMO at least, otherwise I just went off tangent).

    It’s not just the “PvP” thing. It’s the whole “destroying your enjoyment because I enjoy doing it so”. And this comprehends, among other things, 1337 speaking, mocking of roleplaying, destructive and “who cares” attitude, and dancing around naked.

    This ruin the immersion in the setting you are trying to reach. How can you honestly try to ententain yourself pretenting to be in a fantasy setting, being an hero on a quest, trying to immedesimate in your character, if the majority of people you find are 13 yo poweplayers that constantly rape english and attack anything that moves?

    Since you unfortunately can’t avoid this (you can’t tell people to not be like that while you’re around after all) the only way is calling quits and trying something else.

    And what’s up with that “you don’t get what MMORPGs are”? You can try to enjoy a game in whatever way you prefer. A game that forces you to play in a certain way “because is about that” is not something good, other than being wrong in the first place (MMORPGs are Massive Multiplayer Online ROLE PLAYING games. I still don’t get why you shouldn’t, you know, ROLEPLAY)

    Blackbird71:
    “Why play WoW in the first place? Because WoW and other MMOs offer a richness of environment and character detail that is rarely had among the offline games.”
    True, but just try DnD with a good DM. You’ll have even more depth, richness and character detail. And sometimes, a storyline thatg makes sense (not just “kill ten boars”)

    “Yes, the annoying personality types like you describe can be a problem, but generally only if you let them be. I have yet to find a game in which these players can not be simply ignored and avoided to the point that they have practically no impact on your gameplay.”

    Unfortunately, for the reason stated above, I think that they have a large impact on your gaming experience.

    “The first thing I do in any MMO is find myself a group of like-minded people to hang out with and play with. If you’re talking with those whose company you enjoy, you could care less about the socially backward adolescents plaguing the game world.”

    That’s like describing a DnD gaming group. With the difference that a socially backward adolescent has more difficults to run into your manuals and dice while you are playing your yuan-ti assassin.

  45. Blackbird71 says:

    @Derek K
    In my experience, PvP in most MMOs offers little in the way of rewards beyond watching your name rise on some tally board of points and kills. Personally, I get nothing out of this, as I feel no need to prove or show off my “leet skillz” to anyone. Because that’s what it is, if success in PvP does nothing to improve your character or your situation in the game, if it accomplishes no objectives other than being better than someone else, then it is in fact a demonstration of ego. Personally, I get no satisfaction or enjoyment out of that. It does absolutely nothing for me to know whether or not I can “pwn” some other faceless player. Hence my words which you quoted. That doesn’t mean that I don’t understand that some people do find it fun and enjoyable. If they like it and want to do it, more power to them, just don’t expect me to want to participate in an “e-peen” contest.

    Now, am I saying that ego is the only reason to enjoy PvP? No, I’m saying that I don’t enjoy that aspect of it. There is also a bit of a rush in PvP. I have participated in PvP before, and I’ve felt it. While it can be exciting, I also happen to not be much of an “adrenaline junkie,” so once again, while I can see why this aspect of gameplay is enjoyable for some, it’s something that I generally don’t care to particpate in, but that doesn’t mean I want to keep anyone else from being able to do it.

    Also, you say that PvP is a “challenge.” I’m all for a good challenge, but not without reason. I don’t enjoy a challenge just for the sake of a challenge. I think that falls into Shamus’ category of not mistaking difficulty for depth.

    My one exception to my general avoidance of PvP: when PvP is in a situation structured as such to have an impact on the overall game, then I can enjoy it. When there are goals and objectives to reach, and winning or losing means more than internet fame, then I’ll gladly join in. But random people running around and hitting each other over the head for no other reason than that “they’re there?” No thanks, I’ll pass.

    Honestly, I believe it is the Cliffs of the world who really don’t understand the Wills. After the game Star Wars: Galaxies had undergone the major change known as the “NGE,” essentially revamping the game into a much faster-paced, FPS-style game, one of the devs incredulously made a comment to the effect of “Wait, you’re telling me that you used to sit in camps, and craft things and stuff, and it was fun???” He was absolutely astounded that anyone could have found something different than fast action combat enjoyable. This was definitely a Cliff who had no idea why Will would dislike the trampling of his sand-Buddha.

  46. Zukhramm says:

    “I’ve wondered about this for some time… wouldn’t it be possible to make a translation plugin? I mean, it’s clearly not a randomized translation, as “kek” comes across as “lol” (or so I’ve heard).”

    This might be answered allready, but this is how it works:

    There is a list of words of various sizes of ever language. Every word you write will be calculated and assigned a word from the list. Thus, “lol” allways becomes “kek”, however, there is bound to be a lot of other three letter words that become kek aswell, due to the word list being nowhere close to the size of all possible words you can make up.

  47. Zukhramm says:

    And about expecting different things than what the genre actuall is.

    I’d like to believe, that just becuase MMORPGs right now are a certain way, they should not have to be. I think that, looking at “MMO” and then “RPG”, there should be lots of ways to vary the concept and to things vastly different from how it’s done now, yet still being able to make it qualify to be called “MMORPG”.

  48. Blackbird71 says:

    @R

    You know, I really would love to get back into a good DnD group, because as you say, there is an unmatched level of richness and fun. Unfortunately, I don’t know any good DMs anymore, and the dynamics of trying to get a group of people with jobs and families together on any kind of regular basis gets rather complicated and difficult to accomplish. But I can boot up my computer any time I’d like, without having to coordinate my schedule with five other people. So while live DnD would definetely be the preferred experience, because of the convenience factor I will have to settle for second-best.

    I personally despise the “leet kiddies” and their mentality, but I’ve become adept at avoiding and ignoring them to the level that they really are a nonfactor. Once you can do that, they’re only annoying when you pay them any attention. If you learn to just block them out, then they don’t break your immersion, they don’t interfere with your game, and they don’t raise your blood pressure over their slaughtered English. Yes, it would be preferrable to not have them there at all, but not noticing them is about as good as it gets if you want the type of game that can only be had online.

    On roleplaying in MMORPGs: Consider that the term “RPG” has vastly different meaning when used in regards to pen and paper RPGs and computer based RPGs in general. In PnP RPGs, part of the game is playing your character, and part of it is using various numbers and abilities to act out what your character can and can’t do, and then improving those abilities over time. In the translation to computers, “RPG” really only carries the second part of the PnP version, the concepts of stats and levelling. While there can be some decison making based on the imagined personality of your character, it is rarely a fundamental part of the game and is only a personal preference for playstyle. Even then it is a limited version of roleplaying, or are you suggesting that whenever you load up Neverwitner Nights, you should be speaking in character?

    MMORPGs are RPGs in the same sense as any CRPG, they carry over the concepts of stats and levels. They are games based not so much as the physical skill and attributes of the player, but rather on the stats and abilities of the character being played. Sure, there are some people who do actual “roleplaying” in an MMORPG (probably even moreso than in single player offline CRPGs), but that doesn’t make them more or less valid an RPG than it would if you were to play KoTOR with an accent.

  49. R says:

    “I’d like to believe, that just becuase MMORPGs right now are a certain way, they should not have to be.”

    Exactly. You know why I’m so deluded by MMORPGs? Because they have a potential so high that it’s incredible how hard they fail.

    They could be a way of share a great and immense setting with friends or total strangers, be part of an intense storyline, experience a sense of “doing things together” while being completely immersed in your character.

    Istead they are “what they are”: a powerlevelling wankfest crowded with characters named “Ilikemudkips” interested in pwing this and that in the awkward attempt to look cool.

    Is that “what they are all about”? I don’t know for sure, it’s like that to me at least, but that’s certain that they have so much wasted potential.

    But, unlike Shamus, I don’t say that “MMORPGs are not supposed to be like that, you should change this and that”. I know what they are now, I know that they won’t become what I expect, so I go for the only solution: I don’t play them,and spare my 20 bucks a month for something else.

  50. Tuck says:

    Khorboth wrote above:

    I told myself that I wouldn’t plug CoH in every post you make about WoW, but you keep leaving me these beautiful openings.

    Hehe…I feel no shame in continuing to plug Guild Wars, especially when Shamus leaves himself wide open like this.

    Guild Wars suffers from no PK gits, because you can’t PK outside the PK areas. If you want to PK, you don’t have to do the whole PvE levelling up, you can make a level 20 char straight up and cut straight to the fun.

    I don’t go in for PvP in games in general (although if their sandcastle is an effigy of me in a particularly uncomplimentary pose I might consider it), but sniping in blogs when their shields are down? Woo!

  51. Blackbird71 says:

    @Zukhramm

    Yes, I’m definetley in favor of innovating new types and styles of MMORPGs, and of finding different ways to do things.

    The fact is though that as long as the games are “MMOs”, there will be certain problems inherent to an environment of many players thrown in together. There may be different ways to approach and solve these problems, but there will have to be a solution. Wanting to throw out the solution just because you don’t like it, even if there is no better alternative solution, is just turning a blind eye to the crucial dynamics of an MMO. That is the very complication that MMOs present over other games: MMOs do not operate in a vaccuum.

  52. J Greely says:

    What I really, really want out of an MMORPG is what Ultima Online promised on the box, and that no one has ever delivered:

    “Play alone, or with as many friends as you wish.”

    This can include competitive as well as cooperative play, but explicitly rules out spoiler play. If the only way for you to have fun is to find a way to stop me from having fun, you’re broken. If the game allows your behavior to continue unimpeded, it’s broken.

    -j

  53. Zukhramm says:

    Yes, there are problems, but it feels as if all the MMORPGs follow the solotuion that is standard and when the solution is pointed out as bad, they defend themselves with “It solves a problem.”.

    Would all these problem exist if MMORPGs where not about getting you character more powerful through combat for example?

  54. noneofcon says:

    @Blackbird

    You say that alot of the things that shamus has found as faults are in there for a reason. Could you please explain what those reasons are?

  55. folo4 says:

    for once, this is a blog post that I DID NOT UNDERSTAND!

    Partly because I don’t dabble in MMOs due to my ping being 1500ms.

    Could someone please explain this post better? Thanks in advance.

  56. Alexis says:

    WoW is a game, with rules, goals, rewards and punishments. It’s an awful sandbox because it isn’t a sandbox at all! “Will Wright” has no place in WoW. If you don’t like tomato juice, perhaps you should try orange juice (eg Second Life). Suggesting that we make tomato juice less acidic, add vit C and lighten the colour naturally makes those of us who LIKE tomato juice upset. Don’t take our juice away!

    PvP is not about kicking over your opponent’s sandcastle. That implies destruction, whereas there is very little lost when you die in PvP. You don’t even take durability damage. Chess is PvP, so is tennis, your portrayal of “Cliffy B” the griefer insults everyone involved in competitive activity. For the record I hate PvP, but I still respect those that want to play that game.

    The real complement to PvP is PvE, where teams cooperate to overcome fixed challenges. Like running a 4x100m relay or climbing a mountain. There is still interteam competition of course, usually to do it first but sometimes to do it with less people or under unusual constraints. Your sandcastle competition is really a PvE one, to make the tallest structure.

    Will thinks he’s playing a better game, but as far as Mr. PvE can see, he’s just screwing around meaninglessly. Mr. PvP isn’t even messing with the sand, he couldn’t care less about sandcastles. He only cares about other PvPers. Mr. PvE has checked the competition rules, which say nothing about shape or molecular arrangement, and has forged a long glass rod, dug foundations and rigged tethers.

    I don’t understand your request for a game with “mechanics that make sense” “without having to have the developer’s idea of “proper” gameplay imposed on you”. How can these exist at once? It doesn’t make sense for fists to do as much damage as magic two-handed axes. Yet you consider this an imposition? Is it an arbitrary imposition for people who carry a lot of things to have less bag space than those who carry only a few things? How exactly does this perfect world work?

    Misrepresentation of ‘our’ game makes us angry because people will read this, assume you know what you’re talking about and get the wrong idea. You veered out of strictly subjective territory when you started making suggestions. In the top post, you said things were WRONG with WoW. That’s an objective statement. Trying to back off and pretend you were only talking subjectively in comment #38 is cowardly and dishonest, you’re better than that.

    Finally, you need to make this damn comment box bigger.

  57. Alexis says:

    Ehh I spent ages on that and still missed something. PvE begins at 70. XP only goes up, so you’ll get there eventually. At 70, in instances and most of all in raid, the monsters start hitting really hard and doing fun things like silence, damage reflect, mass fear, dots, firewalls, ignoring threat, summoning pets, carpetbombing the room… all sorts.

    Try reading bosskillers.com for a while, Reliquary of Souls for example. For a slightly less OMGWTF example, RoS is fairly complex, try Archimonde or the Lurker Below. Heck even Magmadar back in Ye Olde Molten Coors required more thought than levelling.

    As you astutely observed in an earlier post, WoW is a collection of many games layered together. The levelling game is only one, and certainly not the most fun. It’s also the only one you’ve seen so far.

    @Tuck: The Tauren in question flagged himself as PK-able by attacking the sentinel. He gave consent.

  58. ShadowDragon8685 says:

    Wow. You were aiming to stir the fecal matter, Shamus. You did so quite efficiently; you tore open the lid of a septic tank, shouted “Fire in the hole!” and dropped in a brick of C-4.

    Now there’s burning crap all over. As it happens, I agree with you.

    I’m a Will Wright at heart. I don’t (usually) want to knock over someone’s sandcastle, and I get depressed and lose the will to play if someone knocks over my sandcastle – largely due to early UO experiances.

    PvP under certain circumstances, I can find fun. In SWG, for example, there were some areas you could go, the benefits were few, the fight was long and ardous, but it could be termed as fun to pick a Rebellion Vs. Empire fight. Likewise, it could be fun to go out into Deep Space in my starfighter and pick a fight with someone else in an Imperial starfighter. Likewise, I occasionally enjoy a game of Counter-Strike: Source.

    To me, PvP is something that happens on a purely-voluntary basis, and there are no benefits for doing so other than that you enjoy PvP – IE, no “you HAVE to PvP to get or access to “. That just smacks of “You can play like a nub, but we don’t like you and you won’t have much fun because you’re playing it wrong.”

    Which is *exactly* what Crowd Control Productions did with EvE Online. If you don’t like PvP, screw you.

    What might make WoW worth playing for me? Go back to what made War3 so much fun; in the end, you wound up playing a desperate alliance of orcs, tauren, humans, night elves, gnomes, dwarves, and high elves against a deadly threat to the world – the Undead.

    Frankly, WoW made a bonehead decision in not only seperating players into two strict camps, but making them not even able to communicate – it’s long been established, for example, that Orcs speak the primary language of Lordearon, since the previous generation (as of WoW) would have grown up primarily in Alliance internment camps. Likewise, none of the heros of War3 ever had any trouble speaking to each other.

    It sounds like artificial nonsense to divide players into two dehumanizing camps – Us and Them – and make the Them camp so utterly alien and un-negotiable-with that the only choices are ‘ignore’ and ‘murder for no reason whatsoever’.

    Which, story-wise, is pretty much insanity, since Arthas is still there at the top of the world, preparing to unleash a horde of undead insects the size of houses onto the world, not to mention whatever his lieutenants are up to.

  59. neminem says:

    Weird. Dunno if it’s just my own perspective coloring things, but I really get the feeling that Runetotem is a particularly un-pvp-except-in-intended-locations sort of server. Just a few days ago, I, a 70 NE rogue, ran out to Mulgore to turn something in at the Darkmoon fair. While there, a lowbie undead waved at me, and we spent a few minutes pretending we could actually communicate by means of emotes. And this is *not* a RP server, just a regular old PvE server. I’ve been accidentally pvp-flagged in horde areas any number of times, and only got killed once (and I deserved it that time, for standing around inside a Horde city.)

    To be fair, though, hypothetical-Will’s attempt at “volleyball” is not something I’m terribly interested in. I like PvE more than PvP, in general, but I like a bit of structure. I leveled in WoW solely to do instances with friends, and having just recently started doing so, it’s totally worth it.

  60. Shamus says:

    Alexis: I really don’t recall suggesting WoW should be SHUT DOWN in favor of my own view of things. In fact, I merely SUGGESTED that MAYBE, someday, someone will make an MMO tuned the way I like. And yet even that isn’t good enough for you. It’s too much of an offense that my perfect game MIGHT POSSIBLY EXIST in a hypothetical future.

    No, Second life is nothing at all like what I want. Like the Sims Online, it’s a dull and empty experience with no activities. (Cue protests from SL fans.)

    I actually DO know what I’m talking about. If you think that I ‘m so ignorant that I should keep my opinions to myself, then let me direct you to the BACK BUTTON on your browser.

    You can disagree all you like, but this is my site and I’m not quite so enamored of fame that I want to forego my opinions just to make people like me. That’s what this site is.

  61. folo4 says:

    ok, from what I understand, Shamus relents about the 2 most obvious types of MMO users; the ones who like to enjoy the world, and the ones who like to compete with the world’s inhabitants.

    Many MMOs fail or fall badly, into trying these 2 polar opposites to respect each other without so much as a flamewar.

    Where am I missing??

  62. Iudex Fatarum says:

    So i do have to laugh here, the comment about the lack of communication in the original post. My guild leader was just talking about this. He found out that the “Demonic Tongue” is different too. He and a friend who was alliance dueled and just cast that on each other and tried to talk, they still couldn’t.

    Also, I completely agree about the polar opposite views, its not pve vs pvp. its much more complex than that. I can pve and still compete with the other players. what I might do in the instance given above is duel the person, they are in my area, but i’d only do it on a fair ground. which is pvp, but also building story. (horde and alliance do hate each other after all) but i’d let the person run too. Meaning that I’m attempting to build not pull down.

  63. Tuck says:

    Alexis wrote:

    @Tuck: The Tauren in question flagged himself as PK-able by attacking the sentinel. He gave consent.

    I didn’t say nuffing about the Tauren, anywhere…I was purely pointing out that GW, which Shamus has yet to return to (I still hope he will someday :D), doesn’t suffer from the sandcastle-kicker problem…so why is this @ me? :p

  64. Gary says:

    @Blackbird71: “or are you suggesting that whenever you load up Neverwitner Nights, you should be speaking in character?”

    Ummm…..that is exactly what I do. In NWN (1) I only choose character responses according to how my character would truly respond. If my character is a selfish spoiled brat, they respond in the selfish, money grubbing manner. If they are an altruistic paladin, they are most glad to help and no reward is necessary thank you very much.

    Am I odd in that?

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