[MUD-Dev] Removing the Massively from MMOG (long)

Lachek Butalek lachek at gmail.com
Fri Nov 25 07:42:58 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005


On 11/21/05, Jean, Yannick <yannick.jean at cgi.com> wrote:

> How many wildly successful games will be necessary before soloing
> gain the right to be a valid play style in MMORPG ?

> On the subject, I recommend reading Dave Rickey
> (http://feetofclay.us/) "Robot Jesus" article on WoW churn
> rate. Basically, I am submitting the idea that maybe ingame social
> ties are not the end-all be-all of player retention, as previously
> thought.

Don't get me wrong - I am all in favour of ensuring that those who
want to play solo in MMOs aren't being penalized for it. In fact,
the reason I didn't cancel my WoW subscription sooner was because
even though it had almost no merits over other grind-based fantasy
MMOs, at least I could pick it up and play it for a few minutes
whenever I felt like it instead of having to waste 1/2 hour getting
a group together to get anything done. My point is, I can do that
with Morrowind as well - without paying monthly for the privilege,
and without having annoying twerps (=other players) actively try to
ruin my fun by breaking the illusion of the game world. The few
benefits that the "Massive" adds to this flawed single-player
experience - a large, pseudo-dynamic game world and economy - is
simply not worth the hassle, IMNSHO.

Rather than re-implementing a single-player game as a Massive
Multiplayer game so you can charge subscription fees, and then try
to work out all the flaws and bugs resulting from such a
re-implementation, I believe that the best MMOs are those that allow
the "Massive" aspect to work in their favour instead of being a
hindrance. There is lots of gameplay potential in the concept of
having a large quantity of players in the same world, as companies
like eGenesis, CCP and Linden Labs have clearly understood. On the
other hand, SoE, Blizzard and others seem to have major problems
with this concept. WoW, EQ2, and certainly SWG seem to be suffering
tremendously, gameplay wise, from the quantity of players - it
breaks the suspension of disbelief, it nullifies the possibility of
roleplay, there's all sorts of problems with ridiculous concepts
like sharding, kill stealing, ninja looting, friendly fire,
PvP... the list goes on.

As to why WoW has such a great conversion and retention rate, I can
think up a hundred reasons this is the case without ever having to
admit that WoW is a particularly good game. WoW has such immense
mass appeal and penetration rate that it has reached a critical mass
of subscribers - essentially doing to MMOs what the iPod did to MP3
players. Apple's MP3 player is not technically superior, nor is it
an exceptionally good buy from a value perspective, but people still
buy it in droves because its name has become pretty much synonymous
with "MP3 player". It definitely has mass appeal, and it definitely
has a critical mass of cult members, er, owners - thus, it does not
need to be particularly competitive in the marketplace to sell well.

Lachek
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