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MMO design and development…

October 24, 2008

I was in, and still am, a discussion about MMO’s and particular pieces to them. There was a few questions I was asking of a veteran community and the responses were fantastic. The two questions were:

1) The one core basic feature would you 100% expect to be in, and expect to be perfected at launch, bug free and ‘cool’

2) What one thing that hasn’t been done well, or at all, in any MMO, would you most like to see as a thoroughly fleshed out mechanic/content piece/UI feature?

After back and forth and seeing answers I came up with my own two answers.

1) A completely thorough and robust ‘social’ networking system. I want to be able to communicate, chat, mail, in game out of game, all of it, with anyone anywhere with nothing more than a click or two before entering ‘chat’. Be it a fully integrated VO system or actual in game chat, let me do the thing you want me to, within the framework of an incredibly USER FRIENDLY interaction system. Not only that, but don’t make me ‘search’ for the methods and means to do this, make it easy for me and make it as user friendly as anything else you will ever put in your game, more so if you can. I want that one stop one/two click amazon.com experience to be the most I need to do to ever find/talk/interact with my friends, or my potential friends.

2) Make me feel heroic on day 1, minute 1, until I am done playing the game. There are quests, there is gear, there is some semblance of story that can at times make me feel, look, heroic. But damn, I want to be a hero all the time right? By heroic I mean make my actions and choices MATTER in a way other people can see. Not only visually, but damn if I do something ‘heroic’ in a heroic world should people know that beyond the folks in my group? Killing rats with a rusty short sword to get money and experience so I can start to become heroic is not it, not even close. Aren’t you creating a world that needs a hero? Aren’t you creating a world calling for millions of heroes? That doesn’t work if only a few of us can ever get that feeling. Well it does for the few but the rest of us ‘are not worthy’ to the few.

The challenge to me is what people define as ‘Heroic’, and finding the most common ground there. Hey, that’s going to be my next question.
1) Has any game ever made you feel like your character was really heroic?
2) If yes, what game? Why? Was it an acquired thing or was the game designed to make you feel that from start.
3) Does being heroic need to be exclusive to you?

The last question had more to do with thinking about City Of Heroes. I played a small amount of time in that game, but in a ‘city’ or ‘world’ where everyone is a hero, is anyone really a hero?

33 Comments leave one →
  1. October 24, 2008 1:51 pm

    To add to your comment about social networking in-game, it also needs a user-friendly block system. (this is what I get for reading the bad_rpers_suck community on LiveJournal–500,000 complaints about bad roleplayers on WoW that people never, ever want to deal with again.)

  2. smakendahed permalink
    October 24, 2008 4:10 pm

    I found myself regurgitating what you said in your 1 and 2 points while answering the three questions. :$ I’ll be brief instead :)

    1) Yes

    2) It was EQ1. I faced some pretty incredible odds with just me (tanking) and my friend (two boxing a shaman and cleric). We barely survived and it took a lot of coordination and teamwork.

    I wish I had the screenshot still, it was in a hallway in Lower Guk on the dead side and it was filled with Frogluk and shaman pet corpses after the long battle.

    3) No, but it shouldn’t be trivial or a given, like your CoH example. If everything is something special, then that something stops being something and starts being the standard.

  3. bworces permalink
    October 25, 2008 1:58 am

    Curt Schilling I am so tired of your self righteous preachings. Talking about how Manny didnt try and how shameful that was. Did you ever say anything about how you conned the Red Sox into an 8 million dollar deal and then revealed you were injured and didn’t throw a pitch all of this year. Stop judging other people and worry about yourself you seem to know whats best for everyone but yourself

  4. bworces permalink
    October 25, 2008 1:58 am

    Go Manny

  5. October 25, 2008 4:03 pm

    Well, World of Warcraft and the WAR beta both had / have their moments.

    I got into the WAR beta in august of last year, and was immediately struck by the fact that my initiation into the world was by immediately carrying out the war effort against my opposing faction. This was a great step in the right direction; the problem came into play when it took seemingly forever to kill a single mob, and if I got two or more mobs on me at once, I’d likely have to hit the sprint button and pray.

    This was bad. In large part it turned me off the game.

    In WoW, I wasn’t too thrilled about having to kill pigs and pick apples at the start, but I felt sufficiently powerful compared to your average mob right from the beginning. And as the levelling progressed and my toolbox grew, I came to feel heroic and invulnerable – especially once I was draped in raid gear at endgame. I get a lot of enjoyment from being able to power a lowbie through an entire level 30 instance in 15 minutes. Also, occasionally two-shotting yellow-con mobs aids in the experience, as well.

    No, this doesn’t need to be exclusive to me. PvP is supposed to be challenging, and if anything, WoW’s encounters are usually over too fast. Heroic feelings are generally produced in PvE; the last thing anyone wants to feel like is that even-con mobs can kick their ass, and that’s what you see in WAR that you don’t see in WoW.

  6. davis5127 permalink
    October 25, 2008 4:24 pm

    I think that Bioware’s new MMO, The Old Republic, could definitely be a game where you feel heroic from the very start.
    In Starwars Galaxies you felt heroic once you finally became a jedi right? Well in The Old Republic you will start out as a jedi doing heroic jedi types of quests.

  7. icequeen100 permalink
    October 25, 2008 8:04 pm

    1) Yes

    2) A few games/ series that really stand out for me are Beyond Good and Evil, the Final Fantasy series (ALWAYS AMAZING, IMHO), and the Metal Gear series, made by “the Man” Hideo Kojima.

    3) No, of course not. I’ve had experiences in MGO (Metal Gear Online) where your teammates will have your back, and some where they actually attack you for nothing. Being a hero isn’t mutually exclusive to anyone in a videogame, because it isn’t in reality, if that made any sense whatsoever…

  8. venombdp permalink
    October 26, 2008 9:24 am

    As someone who’s never made the leap into MMO’s, I can honestly say that the REASON for it is that it all seems so overwhelming, like the Star Wars example that was given. I would want to be a Jedi or Sith, but as a married working man, I don’t have the countless hours it takes to put into something like that.

    I think the key to a truly successful and ACCESSIBLE game like that is to find a happy medium where hardcore gamers and people who don’t have as much time can equally enjoy the most fun aspects of the game.

  9. psydex permalink
    October 26, 2008 4:02 pm

    I have not found a game that kept me completely immersed since Ultima Online. Heck, I sat out there chopping wood for hours! It was all for the end result and it was different. I turned the logs into wood boards, which were then turned into shields sold for 30 gold a piece at various economic towns around the world. I did this to save up for an in game house (the house cost about 12k at the time). At times I was PK’d and lost my “wood”. It gave me an adrenaline rush. The whole entire game gave me an adrenaline rush. Running back to your hard earned house with your key in your backpack knowing you could be PK’d was heart pounding!

    What I’d like to see back in a game is guild competition. Declaring war on another guild and being able to actually dominate them was enthralling. I have not seen a game even remotely touch this! Although, shadowbane did do a decent job of the true guild rivalry. It gave a true sense of competition.

    Everquest was different for me. I did not play the game content fully as I believe Curt and others did. However, I can distinctly remember having a ton of fun in the oasis and was in awe when seeing a sand giant roaming the horizon.

    I have my moments with WoW as I believe everyone does. Warhammer was a let down unfortunately. Also, the new star wars sounds a bit to single player. I hope whatever is in the works can bring back a sense of guild competition and rivalry. Has anyone else found this in other games and how did the guild rivalry affect you logging back into the game?

  10. soxsweepagain permalink
    October 27, 2008 1:08 am

    Curt, I love ya. I’m a video-game fanatic as well as a guy who appreciates honesty and loyalty. And sports stars who stay “real”.

    As you have done.

    Also, when I lived in the northeast, people told me “your voice sounds like Curt Schilling!”

    So, of course, I’ll be doing celebrity voice-overs soon, and you’ll sue me, but at least I’ll be able to shake your hand in court after your cease-and-desist motion succeeds.

    Hee hee.

    Hope you come back next year for one last ride.

  11. October 27, 2008 10:43 am

    The problem with the heroic part is that everybody in the game wants to be heroic and it doesn’t matter if your in City of Heroes or Everquest or Wow, as soon as you have many players who all want to be heroic it comes apart.

    An MMO is most of the times repeating of special tasks be it kill 25 giant rats or kill the virgin save the dragon… uhm, kill the dragon save the virgin. I don’t see any way a MMO that targets a larger audience can change that principle. DarkFall Online is trying that. If Bill kills a Dragon in DarkFall Online it is dead and will stay dead. So Bill will be known as THE Dragonkiller. I don’t think Darkfall will get that many players.

    In my oppinion a successfull game has to take into account that players cannot really be heroic. As soon as the social component (which in my oppinion is thre most important of the game) is very strong players will recognize that things they did have been done by many other players and will feel less heroic.

    In my eyes the things that need to be done for a successfull MMO so that players feel a bit more heroic:

    1. Let them change the world.
    You can only feel heroic if you in some way or another see that you have changed something. So if the players are able to change the world it will help tremendously.

    2. Don’t trivialize
    A MMO should be easy to learn and get aquainted with but every accomplishment should BE an acomplishment and not a gift. WoW started the trend where everything had to be easy and now every Game Designer thinks that this is the success of Wow. IT IS NOT.

    3. Death should mean something
    I can only feel heroic if I know how defeat feels. If death only means you have to click oncy more then usual you don’t know what defeat means. If you dies 5 times trying to kill the dragon, lost money and experience and had to fight to get that back you will feel much better when you finally where able to acomplish your goal.

    So for your questions:

    1. Yes.
    2. Everquest. The first time I got from Qeynos to Freeport alive it felt so great.
    3. No, but if EVERYONE if able to be as heroic as I am AND I’m made aware of that it gets problematic.

    I play AoC at the moment and the Destiny Quest is a huge part of the feeling for the game. There I AM the hero, the one who is important.

  12. October 27, 2008 12:14 pm

    Very interesting thoughts, Curt. My most recent experiences of heroism in a game are from Lord of the Rings Online.

    LOTRO puts you right in the middle of the Heroic action from the moment you finish building your character. The opening adventure/cut scene is an awesome beginning. The problem with LOTRO is that you already know the story and the outcome – so you lose a bit of the feeling of participation. They do their best, but ultimately there may be too much knowledge of the story to give a player the buzz of feeling like they matter.

    I also remember from EQ1 that there were plenty of opportunities for heroism outside of the actual storyline. I used to take my paladin and go to low level dungeons or hunting areas and “help out”. Healing, buffing or rescuing people in other ways was a fun part of that game for me. Unfortunately, many of the systems for that type of player interactivity have been removed from many games to keep people from “cheating” or “griefing”. Still, I think the possibility of heroism both in the story of the game AND in the actual gameplay is important.

  13. psneville permalink
    October 27, 2008 7:03 pm

    I toss out there that one thing I would keep up a subscription for is writing. The hardcore guys may simply click past without paying attention, but the casual guys will return (and keep paying the monthly $) for some sense of being important to a meaningful story, which is how I would define heroism. I don’t have to win against every boss or own l33t gear, I just need my actions to have some meaningful impact in a solid story.

    Personally, after years of playing I can barely recall a single meaningful story in WoW, while there were plenty in Lotro, but the problem with Lotro (like every other game tied to an existing franchise or steeped in known lore, SWG included) is that you can never be the main character, and you are always at best a bit player who contributes in some minor secondary way to the real main characters. This effect to me is worse than CoH (by the way, CoH is still a great game for casual play, just very boring for extended hardcore and endgame play).

    There’s some middle ground between the two extremes, but I think it’s a lot of work and pretty risky: constant updates with content that goes away forever and new content that is introduced frequently, not just events tied to holidays but major storylines that leave lasting effect on the game world as a whole.

    It means designers who are interactive storytellers working constantly, even if it’s just to modify the game mechanics slightly around starting an alt, so that a newbie experience on day one is not quite the same newbie experience even in the same area with the same race and profession on day 180. It could mean more lasting effects from PvP as well. (And as a composer and sound designer I have to say it definitely means new music rather than the same stems manipulated by the same engine again and again). Anyway, writing and design are on par with social features for mmorpg’s in my opinion, and if they exist I’m certainly willing to put up with gameplay mechanics problems or other issues that may be slower to release.

    Best,
    psn

  14. crimsonstarfire permalink
    October 27, 2008 9:00 pm

    Convenience is the key! If you want to make a successful MMO you need to make it appeal to both casual and hardcore players. A player needs to be able to log in and do what ever they want with minimum hassle.

    On the topic of feeling heroic:

    “If everyone is special then nobody is special”

    You simply can’t have 1 million players feeling heroic. If everyone can do it then it’s nothing special. It’s great to be able to make a difference in the world, but is it really that much of a deal if 1 million people all make the same difference?

  15. lughlamfada permalink
    October 28, 2008 9:14 pm

    Ultima Online was and remains the greatest MMO to have ever existed. Since its inception, I have yet to find a game that has replicated the same complexity, pure entertainment, PvP, and overall risk.

    Curt: try to replicate the EXPERIENCE of UO and you’ll have the most successful MMO EVER.

  16. monkeyclops permalink
    October 29, 2008 9:03 am

    So great comments here, and I agree with a lot that has been said. I have to say WoW was a fantastic game, I played for over 2 years, quiting a few months before the 1st expansion. After a year my friends and I abandoned our level 60 PvE characters as the end game content was too tedious for us. The time commitement did not sit well with us with the need to play for 6-8 hours 3 nights in a row for 1 dungeon. We went over to PvP and that held our instersts for sometime longer (which is basically what we mainly look for in MMOs now, like WAR).

    But I agree with one of the above posters, WoW made many aspects too easy and things were very watered down. Compared to EQ it was a much better experience, but there are a few things from EQ that I truly miss.

    * Rare Items/Difficult Quests – One aspect of EQ that I miss in today’s MMO’s. Having Journeyman Boots in EQ was awesome. Joinging a PuG and hearing “Oh man, you have J-Boots! I’ve been trying to get those forever!” was great. I haven’t seen anything like this since EQ, but it’d be a nice addition to have some hidden/difficult quests that gave a “cool” reward. The reward cannot be game changing, but something with a nice boost/recognition item would be cool. Also the quests should only require a small group and not a full guild.

    * Armor Sets – This goes with the above, since EQ armor sets were fairly easy to obtain and only the end game ones were rare/difficult. In EQ I was so proud of my SK in his full Cazic Thule armor (damn I forget the name). It wasn’t huge, but it was good enough that it was worth it for awhile until I hit the higher levels. It looked great and was recognized.

    * Faction – How much fun was it in EQ when you joined a party for something with you guild and the leader says “Ok let’s meet up in FP!” and you reply “Ermmm, I can’t, them guards don’t seem to like me anymore!”. The ability to play with factions (up AND down) to gain/lose access to certain areas was pretty cool. Though faction farming is not fun, needs to be something done while questing/levelling.

    That said, EQ had many darw-backs that current MMOs have fixed. WoW’s travel system was much better and the crafting system in recent games is much better aswell!

    The one fall-back for every MMO though is death. I agree that death should mean something, but it should NOT mean time lost. I despised EQ when I’d spend a night XP grinding only to die at some point and lose all the XP I just gained. Very bad! Now it did seem that death was much rarer in EQ than other games. Obviously deaht will be more in PvP, but even in PvE in these games I die more because I don’t care. Hell in WAR I die on purpose just for a quick trip back to town. I’d like to see a game were dying sent you to “death”. Death could be a seperate realm/instance that you have to fight your way out of to get back to the world of the living. This makes you want to avoid death, otherwise you stop questing and are not with your group/guild/friends. But its not horrible because as you fight your way out of death’s realm you gain XP and whatnot…

    Anyway, to get on topic and end this long winded post, heroism…

    1 – Not a true hero no, But some games have come close…

    2 – In EQ, the GM events could make you feel like a Hero IF the GMs recognized you in the event. Sadly most events were run by power hungry GMs who just sat there and killed people before 99% of the server showed up…. Also, in WoW the original PvP ranking system made you feel like a hero, I got to rank 11 before the broken system shot me down 2 ranks when I went on vacation for a week…

    3 – No, BUT it does need to be rare. If 50% of the population has it/has done it then its not heroic. If a small handful of people or just people in my guild have it, then that’s livable.

  17. lughlamfada permalink
    October 29, 2008 7:57 pm

    Ultima Online was the best for dying. When you died, your corpse fell to the ground (along with all of your belongings) and your character became a ghost until it was resurrected by a wandering healer (hundreds were placed throughout the land) or by a player mage.

    It meant that there was risk involved and that you didn’t leave a safe area with anything you couldn’t afford to lose. One of the worst things you can do is make there be no consequence to dying– in UO, if you died, you either got resurrected quickly and got your stuff back or you came back and some/all of it was gone. It was uncertain, but it was fun as hell.

    That game started to die as soon as they made corpses unlootable.

  18. unsgub permalink
    October 30, 2008 9:43 am

    “1. Let them change the world.
    You can only feel heroic if you in some way or another see that you have changed something.”

    No need to change the world to be heroic. Look at profession sports. Basketball and baseball courts have not change. Lots of heroics happen there. Maybe a person was injured but performed at their expected level. Common heroics involve people with handicaps just doing normal things. Heroics tracked in history is where value is added rather than any change to the world. They do not have to be unique also, we never tire of David and Goliath storys.

    “On the topic of feeling heroic:
    “If everyone is special then nobody is special” You simply can’t have 1 million players feeling heroic.”

    Yes you can. Pro sports again. Every championship will have someone do something heroic. Sometimes one person will do multiples and other times it takes more than one person to do a heroic act. If one breaks down the time interval to do “special” things say a inning, quarters, games, seasons, eventually everyone participating can do something “special” because they have so many opportunities. Being on a team with a heroic teammate is rewarding even if one does not do something heroic themselves.

  19. techgnosi permalink
    October 30, 2008 11:50 am

    Lord of the Rings Online did a good job of making it feel heroic because from the onset they’re leading you up to fight against Sauron. You go through the story looking for clues and tracking down agents in order to try and help prevent them from making a bad situation worse. All pretty useful. Of course by being on an role-playing server (character chosen) it helped to make it feel even more so like I was a part of the world.

    Which also brings up the point that if you’re doing an MMO there are two types of gamers that should be considered. One is the gamers that don’t like to do PvP. They want to go through, explore the world, do the quests, hit the dungeons and not have to worry about an opposing faction ganking them as they’re bending down in order to pick up the loot from a baddie they just took out. There’s a lot of people that just plain don’t like PvP.

    Also, role players. Something I would like to see is an interface to make it more friendly to RPers. A way to do last names, build in histories and background, as well as an interface friendly to doing RP. Also, GM’s that actually understand what RPing is. I play on a WoW RP server and when a guildmate of mine was talking to a GM about an issue the GM didn’t even know what the term RP stood for…on a Roleplaying Server. So some enforcement and support for that would be nice as well.

  20. Hugh Jass permalink
    October 30, 2008 2:52 pm

    Kurt, we love it when you talk tech! I am reminded of that line from “Meet the Parents” :

    Kurt talk tech. Kurt talk tech real well.

    On another note, my family prays for your return to the BoSox rotation, Kurt.

    Obviously, Beckett, Dice-K, Wakes, et. al. really need your veteran presence and all-around knowledge about hitters. This is not the same staff without Kurt Schilling. Am I right? Others may make more cake, but no one adds more than you.

    God bless.

  21. ravishingron39 permalink
    October 30, 2008 7:12 pm

    CURT, JUST WONDERING HOW YOUR REHAB IS GOING AND WHAT KIND OF OFF SEASON PROGRAM YOU WILL GO ON. ARE YOU COMING BACK TO PITCH IN 2009??? I HOPE YOU GET REST AND COMEBACK READY TO ROLL NEXT SEASON. AS A FAN I WISH YOU THE BEST AND HOPE FOR A SPEEDY RECOVERY. I THINK I SPEAK ON BEHALF OF REDSOX NATION, SAYING YOU WERE TRULY MISSED THIS SEASON. I KNOW IF YOU WERE 100% HEALTHY THEN THE SOX WOULD HAVE CELEBRATED ANOTHER CHAMPIONSHIP. YOUR LEADERSHIP AND ATTITUDE IS ONE OF A WINNER. GET WELL AND GOD BLESS……

    RAVISHINGRON39

  22. October 31, 2008 3:37 am

    @unsgub: I have to disagree on both points.

    Lets take the 2004 WS as an example. The Red Sox DID change the world of baseball. Of course you cannot change the playfield or the rules, but you can have a lasting impression on the people.

    I think that is something all MMORPG more or less lack at the moment and which should be implemented in some clever way. If you have factions you could move controll of certains zones around with the success or failur of the players.

    And even in Sports not everybody can be heroic or would you say that every player of the MLB (I would guess that there are more then 1000 each year) where heroic this year?

    It is important that every player feels acomplished. After a play session he should feel like he acomplished something, regardless if he played an hour or halve a day.

  23. unsgub permalink
    November 3, 2008 10:53 am

    @starocotes

    “Of course you cannot change the playfield or the rules, but you can have a lasting impression on the people.”

    “I think that is something all MMORPG more or less lack at the moment and which should be implemented in some clever way.”

    Lasting impressing is the history and tradition I mentioned. Games have already implemented it, just not very well. Eve has “news” posts, DAOC has seasonaly content, etc. History and tradition are sort of strong in Even due to their one world design and a few individual that document it’s player history.

    Games use the same process and methods that we do about all human events. History records it with video, pictures and writing. Right now that is almost all done by the consumers themselves rather then game companies.

  24. November 3, 2008 11:37 am

    Agreed on the “social tools”

    Also, I have discussed this somewhat on my other blog.

    I feel unimportant in these games. LOTRO was the worst (I will never matter, as Frodo and the gangstas are the shizz there) , while AoC made me feel important.

    I AM the Hero…make me matter, and allow me to look cool quickly (where AoC DID fail)

    But, the one thing everyone is forgetting…try to change the mechanics.

    The MMO standards are causing issues (with the fetch quest, go kill 10). Give reasons to do these silly quests.

    I know we can never avoid them, but there has got to be a way to make them more fun.

    If my first quest is to kill 5 wolves, or fetch some water or a book, I shut that game down now.

    Good luck, and hope your game development goes well.

  25. bigdogofbria permalink
    November 4, 2008 10:00 am

    1) PVP. I’m playing online to compete with other people. PVP needs to be ‘fun’ and rewarding and effect the game world.

    2) Gameplay needs to be as fun on four legs as it is on two. What I mean by that is when mounted, I should be able to effect the world just the same as when I am not. A mount is a hero’s friend, companion, and lifeline in certain situations, not just a taxi to be stored when inconvenient.

    GL in 2009 Curt! The nation will cheer you wherever you decide to play, even if it’s just in your backyard. (No pin stripes of course!)

  26. rmazin permalink
    November 7, 2008 4:34 pm

    I know I am a little late but I just wanted to add some comments on MMOs. I have been an MMO player since EQ1 launched and I have beta tested almost every MMO, American made anyway, on the market since 1999.

    As far as feeling heroic. I personally feel that starting out, you should feel capable but not necessarily heroic. I remember in EQ1 as a newb seeing higher level players and saying to myself, “wow, i can’t wait till I am as powerful as that guy (or gal)”. I truly feel that progression to greatness in an MMO gives the feeling of accomplishment and a lot of players are turned off by instant greatness. Hardcore players especially want to work for what they have in game. That being said, the game must not be a grind and the casual player must feel like they are progressing. Balance between grinding and being too powerful too soon is a fine line.

    One game I feel that got a lot of things right is EQ2. They have a perfect mix of sandbox, instances and shard dungeon zones, as well as raid content. Their character customization is second to none. (maybe SWG pre-NGE) There are always things to do solo, group or raid and PVP is pretty fun as long as you’re not ganked 10 to 1. Unfortunately many people are turned off by SOE and the server population has suffered greatly because of this and the fact that quite a few overhyped new games have come out; however, i feel EQ2 is the most complete, content rich and fun MMO on the market currently.

    Age of Conan did some things right but enough things wrong to die quickly. The graphics are beautiful, the mood of the game is pretty exciting and the combat was innovative but there was a major lack of content and too many broken systems to keep the servers filled with players not to mention the zones were too small in many cases and there was no fluidity to the storylines and progression.

    I feel the #1 thing that needs to be polished at the launch of a game is the combat system. Now, class balance aside because some classes are nerver truly balanced against others, the combat system itself needs to be virtually bug free not to mention fun.

    As far as social networking, for me it’s an important but not major system. If a game is unplayable or boring there is no need to network in the game because there will be no players.

    Immersion is very important to me. Again, I feel EQ2 does a fantastic job with immersion, especially when within dungeons that feeling that something nasty is just around the corner ready to take a bite out of me. Very cinematic.

    Strategy and player skill in combat is another very important factor. The days of clicking and waiting while your avatar beats a monster over the head to invisible die rolls should be a thing of the past.

    Now I have no doubt that between you, R.A Salvatore, Todd McFarlane and the bevvy of talented programmers you have hired @ 38, the game you produce will be incredible. I do forsee some major competition with games like The Old Republic and DC Universe on the horizon and I hope that other than the development talent there is something that makes your game stand out among all the dilluted fantasy based games on the market. I have been and will continue to follow development and I plan on playing when it is released and I hope to keep up with posting any opinions I can that will help progress your game and make it better. Being a programmer myself, not games but business SaaS model apps, I feel I can offer some legitimate feedback.

  27. doctordefender permalink
    November 10, 2008 4:57 am

    1) Has any game ever made you feel like your character was really heroic?
    Yes many times, but to stay strictly with in MMO game…ah that goes into question 2.

    2) If yes, what game? MMO speaking oddly enough both COH and COV

    Why? When both games first started, I was able to make in one a defender that could keep anyone alive with plenty of energy under any circumstance and in the other make a mastermind that was very much an army of one; unstoppable.

    Was it an acquired thing or was the game designed to make you feel that from start. It was how I built the characters then they changed (‘nerfed’) the powers that made them not just hero like but god like. I don’t play either anymore, it sucks to create a character around the best build possible only to have an update that changes the build and makes it less hero like.

    3) Does being heroic need to be exclusive to you? No, I like to see others play at heroic level if they make smart choices in their build and how they play their characters. The more possibilities there are to play characters that are heroic in build, the way the character is played, and what the character can achieve; the more characters I will build within the game.

    A Thought on what ruins the entire process and game for me….when devs mess up a game by trying to balance it…don’t get me wrong, I want to see some balance I think instead of nerfing powers I’d like to see some clever ingenuity that increases other powers or offers new powers…don’t ever take away from someone’s build; it ruins it. How is one expected to take a character they built or the game seriously if it constantly causes one to re-roll or re-build. I’d also like to see a game balanced where a good build doesn’t mean your are built for strictly solo vs. with a party playing. It would be nice to have different missions/quests from the beginning of the game to the very end (infinite) where there are great many differences in difficulty (from exceptionally easy-to impossible for someone to solo). An array of missions with different difficulty that would be different for everyone would have times where everyone feels heroic and the better made and better played characters will feel heroic more frequently by being able to do impossible missions for others (I think there should always remain some missions that are impossible for everyone to go alone). I tend to think the more variety the better in most things.

    Hey Curt, how do you feel about knowing your opponent’s level or strength including the AI’s? I think it be great to go up against enemies and have no idea if you are going to get your butt kicked or not until you are already embattled; sometimes it be great not knowing what level something is even after you beat it or it beat u……What do you think?

  28. Jokael permalink
    December 16, 2008 8:48 pm

    1)Social aspect of the game right off the bat is important, very much so. I would also like to see a fully customizable UI system, kind of like what EQ2 is sporting now. I for one do not like my hotbars stuck at the bottom, I place my social windows there and hotbars at top middle. Sizing UI windows is huge also, as some of us play in higher resolutions and need to adjust our windows accordingly. Being able to hide certain game windows is a bonus. SoE did a good job with their UI window customization.

    2) When you ask about heroic I must say one thing that stood out, but I was not part of was in EQ2, when some of the top raid guilds on each server busted their buts to do the quests to kill some contested raid mobs that allowed for passage into the overealm for the upcoming expansion. That was a unique event only able to be done on each server once. EQ2 has a great Contested raid mob system, I know only a few guilds per server can lock a mob down due to it’s timers, but if more people would get involved it adds pressure to those guilds. Nothing like exchanging pulls with a mob that raid wipes people a ton before strat is figured.
    When the contested mob in the Fallen Dynasty expansion in EQ2 was killed the first time it dropped a once per server item(Matrons Heart), an item that was not replaced for a couple years and only one person per server got.

    3)I think variety is key, we need more flexability without overwhelming new MMO players to the genre. EQ2 had 24 classes, that is well and all, but maybe 2 per archetype too many. They could have easily halved that.

    I been watching 38studios for awhile, since Grenmonster gaming. Friend of mine turned me onto you guys. I grew up in Philly and a friend in EQ2 told me about you doing what you are doing. Knowing you are a hardcore gamer I am hoping you give us something we can play for 4-5 years that gives us a satisfactory feeling while playing throughout.

    I know alot of my analagies involve EQ2, but I have played dozens of MMOs through the years. Many Korean converted to English MMOs. Tried them all, but none has the social atmosphere as EQ2. And none not even WoW has better raid content, imo. I seriously dislike SoE, and have grown tired of EQ2 on many occassions for horrible development issues through the years, but I keep coming back to it because the community and most of the content is superior. I easily spend hundreds of dollars a year looking for a replacement. Each time a promising game is released I buy 3 copies for me, wife and kid. We always end up back at EQ2 :(.

    Keep up the good work, and great job recruiting top notch people for your MMO dev team.

  29. Noaani permalink
    December 23, 2008 11:49 am

    A game can not strive to make every player a hero. While players may feel like they are heroic in the eyes of NPCs in a world, it is how other players feel about them that matters.

    If a game implements a liner series of events, the ending of which is supposed to make the player feel “heroic”, then how can any player feel heroic when they did the exact same thing, got the exact same recognition and the exact same rewards as every other player that has progressed along that line? If everyone comes out the other end the same, then you have the issue of no one feeling heroic, the polar opposite of what you set out to do.

    In order to be truly heroic, you need to stand out from those around you. In order for one player to feel heroic, 5 more need to not feel heroic in comparison. My saving the day by rescuing the princess from whatever trouble she got in to this time would mean nothing, because if I didn’t rescue her, one of the other several thousand heros in the world would have.

    If everyone is the same, no one is a hero.

  30. Viggen47 permalink
    March 8, 2009 7:30 pm

    Hello all,

    1) Has any game ever made you feel like your character was really heroic?
    Not really. I dont play games to feel like a hero. I play games to help out. If I hold my end of a raid tanking, healing, buffing what ever then i guess its heroic.
    If everyone gets a purple heart then it waters down the true meaning of the medal.
    Campaign ribbons on the other hand remind everyone that you were there. ( Crimea in WW2 ).
    Does being heroic need to be exclusive to you?
    No please no. As mentioned above. I was time flagged in EQ. I did my part off tanking, and just doing my task. The end result as a guild we made it into time before many others and just after a few others. We made it together.

  31. March 18, 2009 6:20 pm

    This is right here, in the present, not the future.

  32. May 16, 2009 7:58 am

    Curt,
    As a former hardcore guy and now a guy with a wonderful wife and 3 kiddos I see the game world from this perspective.

    WoW is my game I have tried the others but two things always bring me bac to WoW 1. I am connected to my toon I press a button or click the mouse and instantly something happens on screen and my toon has an immediat animation for it. 2. Mac support for Mobility, I use a Macbook Pro on the road and WoW plays great on it. I’d rather game than run the bars with “the guys”.

    On the Heroic Feeling.

    When I was hardcore I usually played a tank or healer and raided. No lack of heroic feeling of accomplishment there. Now however I won’t take 3+ hours and devote it to the game and in turn take it away from my family.
    I believe there is a rather simple solution to this.

    First there should be a small group story line that culminates in a dungeon that awards epic level gear.

    Then the medium and large groups dungeons of course. That also award epic level gear.

    The difference that I would impliment in the “Raid” dungeons would be the removal of long timers. I understand that Blizz and others do this for their reasons but me and many others despise them. It creates a long time spent in one dungeon to beat the clock.

    To remedy this each raid dungeon should be set up in wings, each wing lasting no more than 1 (wipe free) hour. When that section of the dungeon is complete each toon that attended would get an “achievment” that would allow further advancement into the dungeon and that section would reset in less than 12 hours. Once a toon has completed each section of the dungeon access to the “final boss” would be granted for that toon. And the funal bosses reset timer at no more than 24 hours.

    This would necessitate a teleport to what ever section mechanic and a way for the group leader to see what sections each toon has completed.

    Another mechanic I would love to see is dungeon scaling to the number of toons in a group. You know you have had that awesome raid together and been short one person or 30 minutes in 2 people DC or mommy calls them to dinner and 23 people sit around and wait for little johnny.

    Basically to have a gradifying experience in an MMO it needs to feel like you are always progressing, right now WoW sucks at this. In Wrath a person with limited time has a very hard time getting any gear over ilevel 200, so for now the progressionary game is over for them.

    I’ll try to write this out better on my blog and drop you a note.

  33. April 15, 2011 7:07 pm

    I would love to see a MMO that is based loosely in the western era. I don’t mind anyone adding a little flare to the game, like unrealistic guns or whatever, that is one reason I play games in the first place, because they aren’t real. But, have no true factions, just good/bad guys, you can gain notoriety or infamy based on the deeds you do on a daily basis. You can do good by accepting to hunt down and kill/arrest another player who has done wrong. Make banks, stores, NPC homes and even other players fair game for robberies. The obvious mode of transportation would be horses, but make anyone’s horse available for the taking, it would be fun to go into a saloon to gamble money away that you just received from bringing in a criminal just to have another criminal steal your horse.

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