State of MMORPGs


On another board that I lurk someone was ranting on how the current selection of MMORPGs don't do anything for him.

Someone on that thread replied with:

The problem is simple: The genre has moved on and old MMO'ers like us don't belong in it anymore.

MMORPGs were fun because so few people played them. They were the secret genre, the one that only a select few could truly master, because only a select few would put the effort in. Player reputation mattered because it took a ---- ton of effort to build up a charachter. Every single player at max level knew the other players of their class at max level, if only a little bit. Now you're lucky if you know everyone in the guilds you're competing against.

The genre is now millions strong. Something like 40% of the engineering college here plays it. Everyone is a WoW player. And everyone is "good" at the game. Everyone succeeds at raiding. PVP is downright repetitive and boring. Uberguilds and the "hardcore" demographic no longer exist, because blizzard has stamped us out of existance. This company has singlehandedly eviscerated us out of our genre by making the difficulty curve plateau after a certain point. There's no competition, and so EVERYONE is the best, which is a nice way of saying nobody is.

Community boards have died under the thrashing of blizzard's forums, as community forums are no longer the main source of information. And when a company tries to involve community sites to breathe life back into them (IE Sigil) they fail to compete with the monster that is WoW (And I'm not going to plug for VG. They failed because the game was not up to par.)

The people like you and I who want something else, something that isn't WoW, not because WoW isn't a good game but because we do not enjoy that type of gameplay for whatever reason, have nowhere to turn to. We see EQ2 and view the Warcraft inside it. We view VG and see a game that could have been but did not deliver, and may have done more damage to our genre than WoW has, because now no one believes that such a game can be successful.

We have seen a trend in MMORPGs where the player's freedoms have repeatedly been attacked, over and over, in the name of balance. Classes are distilled into their roles and even then have hard caps on what they're capable of. A CC ability is now limited in the number of targets it may apply to at any given time. Runspeed is given out in increments so small that they have no real effect on combat. Groups are limited to a set number of people. Raid guilds have 30-40 members not because that's what they need to raid but because that's all they can reasonably maintain due to the 25-man cap.

Frankly, I'm disgusted in general with the state of the genre. Everyone I have played with over the last 7 years is. I technically play WoW, but I cannot log in for more than 2 hours without wanting to log out and warp back 5 years to when raiding was fun, epic and glorious. When servers had those guys, the players that you went to for advice about your class because they were the best at what they do. When you knew at least 20% of the people on your server and possibly even enjoyed the company of half of that many.

I don't know what we'll see out of developers soon, and I find myself doubting that the genre will ever return to the games we used to throw ourselves into for days at a time. I know it's not impossible to recreate the magic that occurred in the early MMORPGs, however no buisness believes that, and so we're doomed to see people trying to beat WoW at it's own game. They don't understand that's not how the market for this genre works. You cannot beat an established MMORPG at it's own style of gameplay. It has more resources and advertising than you. The only hope is to do something new, different, and completely out of left field. And there is no company that is giving us that at the moment, and I don't even have any hope that someone will anymore.

And I thought that he has many many great points. What do you think?

He echoes a couple of things that I have been thinking.

- Balance kills the fun.

Little history, I started playing EQ from near the beginning. I loved being a Necro.
Not because I could solo everything (I grouped as much as possible), but because there was so many options and and ways things to do. I could: Root/Rot, Fear/kite, Tap/tank, heck many times I was the main healer (You've never seen healing till you’ve seen a good NecroHealer)

But now, it seems because everything is so mathematically perfect... There really is only one way of doing things. In Wow.. Every fight is the same combination of buttons.

Same goes with raiding.. It seems now that everyone uses the same exact strategy with very little variance. I've heard it said so many times in WoW that we have to have X number of Warlocks, or X number of whatever. Again because it seems the encounters are so refined that there is only one good way of doing things.

-PvP kills the fun for PvE

I hate the fact that PvE skills are taken out or nerfed to boredom to make them balance in PvP. Old school enchanters could lock down a target forever, but now because of PvP we have things like diminishing returns and selective crowd control.

I don't think it's just about PvP, i'd say it's Competition that's the Problem. And that doesn't have to be in PvP - Raids or pretty much any Endgame will do. So long as your Character has to be good for what you to, so that you can succeed, so long the Game needs a very good Classbalance - or else you're bombed with Requests to nerf something or "make Stuff viable".

At least in my Opinion, it would be much more enjoyable if a Developer would focus on making Classes fun to play first, and equal in Power second. ...actually, forget the Power, i played Horizons. For six Month (longer than any other MMO yet). And Horizons is basically than most ridiculous Grindfest i've ever seen, with next to no Content at all. But i had a Storm Disciple, and i loved this Class, so much that nothing has come remotely close since then. At the same Time, Storm Disciples sucked. Like Hell. So bad that i was fighting Level 60 Mobs while others killed Level 80 ones. what.

But then, in all MMOs that i know, all the Gameplay is competitve. PvP obviously so, and Raids because if your Character isn't the best, you have no Hope against the Boss. Questing and Grinding isn't as bad, but still you compete over Spawns, always keeping a leery Eye on other Players around you, lest they steal you a Mob, or a Ressourcenode.

...i really love these public Quests from Warhammer online. That's the first Step towards a World where Players work together. Because when there's no Limit to the Amount of People that help with a Task, then every Hand is welcomed, as it's a Help - no matter how underpowered.


I think a huge part is pvp, but also the lack of RP. If RP is properly enforced, why care if you are the best? You should just try to be the best at what you do. Even if your choice of classes isn't the best, if you are good at what you do then that is enough imo. Heck, if you really RP you could RP as a slacker and not be at the top of your game and just mess around and have fun instead of working hard to succeed since that isn't your RP goal.

While I don't RP in WoW currently, I would in a heartbeat if they could properly enforce RPing. I don't know how that can possibly work in a graphical mmorpg after WoWs success. I have met some horrible people there that I would do my best to avoid irl.
All of you are completely right, we need an MMORPG revolution to make things like they were, and I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon. Too many folks are in the game trying to ruin it for it to be like it was.


The main difference between now and then is the instant gratification. Older MMO it would take time to achieve goals. Those goals would mean something to the players.

Nowadays, it's all about quick and simple concepts. A game that has harsher death penalty and perhaps a tad more grind wont do as good. Everyone will be comparing it to WoW and they will claim it sucks.

No company really has been able to have those crucials yet important elements that make playing a game and having a character evolve at a slow pace meaningful.

If a company was able to have those elements that made older games more memorable into a newer games without giving in to the EZ mode that today's game have, they maybe able to appeal to the older crowd and veteran of the MMO genre.

I know i dont care for my hunter or rogue in WoW.....i got much more fond memories of my EQ monk.


In regard to games being "easier" I think we need a definition of easy. Is spending 10 hours grinding for something "harder" than spending only 5 hours grinding for it? To me that isn't difficulty, that's endurance. Easy means simple systems, no-thinking needed to solve problems or figure out puzzles, no need to ponder how your character will be designed because its from a cookie-cutter.

I would love to see a game that was "hard" but not an endurance competition.


To me something easy is WoW questing. I dont have to talk to all NPCS if i dont want to. All i gota do is look on my mini map for the Questions Marks icon. Some may view interaction with NPC's as a tedious function, but i dont. I like to read/hear what a NPC has to say.

As long as some thought has gone into the process.

For example, i dont want the guards to necesarily tell me the same thing. Nor should the guards be telling me the same thing. I should be told to get lost or whatever the guards may have to say. It could be them wanting to hire me, to ask a favor or simply ask me stuff where i am going and all. After all gathering informations is something the guards are supposed to do, especially if they would be stationed at strategic points in town.

So all this to say that questions marks are easy.

Quests should be epic, they shouldnt be handed out like bread and butter. You should have to work to find them, and work to finish them.

Another ez mode is maps! Why should you be handed a map of the whole damn world? A map of the city ..maybe but that should be it. Map should be something coveted and expensive not a common fixture for everyone and their dog.

At least not for a game that start and is brand new.

You do make a good point about endurance tho, but grinding is part of those games. Some have it easier, some harder. Everyone however has a different opinion about what grinding is too much or too little.


I started to type up a reply to this post yesterday (5 hours at work, 0 clients, yay Sundays) but soon found it turning into a 2-page monster essay. After doing a quick sketch of an outline, I found I could turn it into part essay part business proposal. Why proposal? Because that's what'll get me extra credit in one of my classes.

So once I'm done I'll try to filter out the business elements and post it here.


I'll agree with pretty much all of this. I started playing Nexus where after a certain low level you had to buy expensive equipment that, if you died, BROKE. And by broke I mean broken, destroyed, gone, turned into ashes. You had to get a new replacement. Eventually all your gear wound up like that.

Then I played Dark Ages which was pretty much the same thing, and forced teaming. For a while I welcomed the new MMOs with their balance and their soloability and their hard caps, because it made it easier for me to achieve the top levels.

But eventually I figured out that the prestige that came with that was just simply not there anymore. I remember in Nexus that il-san or whatever the "next rank" is after max level was something that was rare enough when I still played to be considered a remarkable achievement.

Same with masters and grand masters in Dark Ages, up to a point.

I don't think it's all the games though. I think part of it is that we've slowly gotten better at gaming the system to make everything easier, so even eventually the hard core games fell short on the challenge and eventually even in those smaller universes achievements meant little.

I yearn for the days of yore of MMOs when power levelers and RPers didn't seem to be in mutually exclusive camps, when there were stiff penalties, but a lot of freedoms, and where achieving something meant something.

But I don't think we're getting that back. Maybe because of the larger audience, maybe because nowadays even a month into an MMOs launch there are already guides to game the system. So all I want now is to get my RP back, and not have it be a stunted, tacked on, utterly neglected part of the game.


The cliff notes of what I ended up writing (incidentally, B+ because I didn't explain enough of the technical stuff to a non-gamer):

Americans are firmly entrenched in the one-monthly-fee model. Microtransactions are not catching on yet, so all models using them are excludable. The question then becomes, if a subscription model is required, is there any way to make MMOs such that old-timers will want to move from their existing high-level characters in mediocre games?

I then proceeded to do a pseudo-analysis of the target market, using generalizations based on the first 3 years of EverQuest. That game is 9 years old and one of the places many got their start. I then went on to talk about GemStone IV and DragonRealms, who still have active populations despite their age and technical obsolescence.

I then proposed the idea of a premium 'niche' MMO which charged $20/month ($5 more than industry average) to have an events team, working 24/7, full of company employees. They would have to use a UI that could show them clearly what arcs a character was involved in, so players who were uninvolved would not get neglected (also attempting to reduce event -----s) and thus feel they were getting their money's worth. The events team would have to be tied closely to the lore team and other developers so that one unified world emerged.

Concluding (proposal was addressed to SoE, since they'd probably try to buy it anyway) I requested permission and funding to increase my research and deliver an estimated income statement.