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View Full Version : MMOs Designed to please players are doomed to fail!



MacDeath
04-30-2013, 01:07 AM
Nathan's recent Blog post got me to thinking about a post I made on the Rift forums back in 2010...
Should the devs listen to the players? Of course. Should the devs abdicate their responsibility for overall game design and put in all the changes some players want? NO, no, & NO!

Here's the link to my thread on the Rift forums:
http://forums.riftgame.com/rift-general-discussions/off-topic/1902-mmos-designed-please-players-doomed-fail.html

Richard Bartle got it right and years ago too. Many features that players think they like are bad for the game and many features that players think they don't like are good for the game. What's a designer to do? Well, how about building a GREAT game and convincing the players it has the feature set its supposed to have?

Here is the short form of RBs thoughts: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/2157/soapbox_why_virtual_worlds_are_.php
"Soapbox: Why Virtual Worlds are Designed By Newbies - No, Really!
by Richard Bartle "
"Virtual worlds are being designed by know-nothing newbies, and there's not a damned thing anyone can do about it. I don't mean newbie designers, I mean newbie players - first timers. They're dictating design through a twisted "survival of the not-quite-fittest" form of natural selection that will lead to a long-term decay in quality, guaranteed. If you think some of today's offerings are garbage, just you wait…"

for the long form read Richard's book.

More info on Richard:
Richard Bartle

Richard Bartle co-wrote the first virtual world, MUD ("Multi-User Dungeon") in 1978, and has thus been at the forefront of the online games industry from its very inception. A former lecturer in Artificial Intelligence and current Visiting Professor in Computer Game Design (both at the University of Essex, U.K.), he is an influential writer on all aspects of virtual world design, development, and management. As an independent consultant, he has worked with most of the major online game companies in the UK and the U.S. over the past 20 years. His 2003 book, Designing Virtual Worlds, has already established itself as a foundation text for researchers and developers of virtual worlds alike.

More about THE BOOK here: http://mud.co.uk/dvw/

Kiserai
04-30-2013, 01:29 AM
I'm sure most of them have read it, Bartle is a popular name. Many of the ideas [edit: in the blog] amount to cleaning up design and adding more features, which don't seem too destructive even if they don't turn out well.

There are a couple of concepts I saw there, though, which do give me pause and perhaps you're referring to those. Some of the weapon scaling/loot ideas definitely seem to have the tone you seem concerned about--giving players (in this case, I believe a minority) what they ask for even though it will actually decrease interest in the game in the long run.

duction
04-30-2013, 01:38 AM
Should they make them to not please players? Lol

Kiserai
04-30-2013, 01:54 AM
Should they make them to not please players? Lol I'm not sure if you're just trying to be funny or if you didn't catch what he was saying, but here's a short version:
Players are often bad at predicting what will make them stick with a game. While their feedback shouldn't be ignored entirely, it also can't be taken as gospel because most players' ideas lack long-term perspective and result in games that die out quickly.

Rizaun
04-30-2013, 01:59 AM
Should they make them to not please players? Lol

There are things that some players request that makes them think that the game will be better, like nerfing every kind of content that they can't beat, saying things like "I have a life, everyone that is better than me has none, the game needs to be more friendly and it'll get more players", then they nerf the content, the challenge is removed, no sense of accomplishment, no child left behind and people get bored of playing a game that takes no effort.

duction
04-30-2013, 02:05 AM
Too much coffee... Ignore me.. I'm sure most do :p

ZenPro
04-30-2013, 02:11 AM
This is a good post. Intriguing and I can see exactly how it would be true.

I am tempted to get your thoughts on my Arkfall thread then - it's in suggestions. Do you think my suggestions are in line with your post here or are they genuine improvements?

Think I will pick up a copy of this book.

Lollie
04-30-2013, 02:11 AM
There are things that some players request that makes them think that the game will be better, like nerfing every kind of content that they can't beat, saying things like "I have a life, everyone that is better than me has none, the game needs to be more friendly and it'll get more players", then they nerf the content, the challenge is removed, no sense of accomplishment, no child left behind and people get bored of playing a game that takes no effort.

The choice is between making a small amount of content that is so difficult only a handful of players will stick around to try to beat over and over...content does not have to be massive as the content takes so long nobody ever gets through it. The problem here is it will attract very few people, but those people stick around because it takes so long to do anything (aka grind) and players never get through to the end.

Or make content most people will be able to beat, but requires more content overall to keep players interested. This will attract more players, but players will be able to do it and so need more of it.

What usually happens instead is a small amount of content is created and then to keep more players interested they make it easy enough for your normal non-career player...the issue is not in the difficulty, but in the fact that not enough content is produced.

If they built more content, with great variety, then it would attract the largest group of people. Unfortunately this requires effort on the part of the devs, and money from investors to get it all up and running. This is why we don't see this in new games, and everyone keeps on moaning.

Hope you follow.

Fiancee
04-30-2013, 02:17 AM
No, there are MILLION of ways to design MMORPGs (they are more complex than any other game type by 100000.. even ape can design some linear stuff... whats most of the game industry) so better to hear what players has to say so the gap between players and developers doesnt grow too wide.

As for Defiance, I think its just great, this genre is finally moving forward to different kind of games.

Lyokira
04-30-2013, 02:35 AM
Frankly, I disagree that MMOs MUST attract gamers only based on dragging out current content. There's nothing wrong with making easily completable content, so long as there's a constant stream of new content. The "constant stream of new content" seems to be Trion's aim.

For the matter, times have changed. A lot of our presumptions about MMOs need not be so. Presumptions like dedicated central host, non-moddable content, persistence of world/neverending world, etc.

Schwa
04-30-2013, 02:36 AM
Thank you for your valuable contribution.

"doomed to fail" instantly discredits any post. Even I, in my infinite criticism of this game, have not said this game is doomed to fail. I've said it has one hell of an uphill battle, it is an unfinished design and lacks support of the other Trion but not that it is doomed.

Why? No MMO is doomed to fail. Outside of the F2P scene, few major releases actually fail. Most hemorrhage players at some point, and many have rocky launches. Some have trouble staying afloat and switch to F2P.

But the only ones that "fail" are the ones that close because their publisher/developer went bankrupt. I absolutely don't want to see that happen to Trion, and I have no reason to anticipate that happening. They have a strong portfolio of upcoming titles (not that I'll touch them at launch after Defiance) coming up, along with Rift (which I have sealed and will not return to because of Defiance).

Defiance is just a bad dream, really, and in need of substantial changes to prevent a catastrophic loss of players so early in its lifetime. I don't personally agree with all of the changes he's thinking about, but I'm interested in seeing what he does with them-- as long as this remains a TPS and not an RPG. While some obviously won't like the changes that do make it in, that doesn't change the fact that changes are necessary after the critical reception of this game (laugh if you like, still relevant) and the player's typical reactions after 2000+ ego.

MacDeath
04-30-2013, 02:42 AM
No, there are MILLION of ways to design MMORPGs (they are more complex than any other game type by 100000.. even ape can design some linear stuff... whats most of the game industry) so better to hear what players has to say so the gap between players and developers doesnt grow too wide.

As for Defiance, I think its just great, this genre is finally moving forward to different kind of games.
I quite agree that devs should listen to the players... I don't think it's wise to give the players everything they ask for. Dev's need to apply some thought to WHY players ask for what they want. IF, what the player's ask for is long term bad, is there a better way, that's good for the long term of the game to provide what they want?

I used to be a consultant to gaming companies. I encouraged them to survey the player base to see what players liked / disliked about current / proposed features. But I would NEVER advocate giving the players control of over all design.

Schwa
04-30-2013, 02:46 AM
I quite agree that devs should listen to the players... I don't think it's wise to give the players everything they ask for. Dev's need to apply some thought to WHY players ask for what they want. IF, what the player's ask for is long term bad, is there a better way, that's good for the long term of the game to provide what they want?

I used to be a consultant to gaming companies. I encouraged them to survey the player base to see what players liked / disliked about current / proposed features. But I would NEVER advocate giving the players control of over all design.

You realize that entire post today could be taken as appearing to give the players control, but actually following through on a design they had been considering anyway?

I find it difficult to entertain the thought Trion, with all its industry veterans, thought the design of the current game was a good idea. There are plenty of design potholes -- still unpaved -- that would just be too easy for them to miss as far back as alpha.

MacDeath
04-30-2013, 02:49 AM
Thank you for your valuable contribution.

"doomed to fail" instantly discredits any post. Even I, in my infinite criticism of this game, have not said this game is doomed to fail. I've said it has one hell of an uphill battle, it is an unfinished design and lacks support of the other Trion but not that it is doomed.

Why? No MMO is doomed to fail. Outside of the F2P scene, few major releases actually fail. Most hemorrhage players at some point, and many have rocky launches. Some have trouble staying afloat and switch to F2P.

But the only ones that "fail" are the ones that close because their publisher/developer went bankrupt. I absolutely don't want to see that happen to Trion, and I have no reason to anticipate that happening. They have a strong portfolio of upcoming titles (not that I'll touch them at launch after Defiance) coming up, along with Rift (which I have sealed and will not return to because of Defiance).

Defiance is just a bad dream, really, and in need of substantial changes to prevent a catastrophic loss of players so early in its lifetime. I don't personally agree with all of the changes he's thinking about, but I'm interested in seeing what he does with them-- as long as this remains a TPS and not an RPG. While some obviously won't like the changes that do make it in, that doesn't change the fact that changes are necessary after the critical reception of this game (laugh if you like, still relevant) and the player's typical reactions after 2000+ ego.
I never said that Defiance is doomed to fail. I said that ANY mmo will fail if it's designed to give players exactly what they ask for. Why do I believe that? Because most players ask for features that are in fact bad for the long term of the game. I pointed to an article by Richard Bartle who wrote (back in 2004, just before WoW launched) why he thought the devs shouldn't try to please all of the players all of the time.

Fiancee
04-30-2013, 02:51 AM
I quite agree that devs should listen to the players... I don't think it's wise to give the players everything they ask for. Dev's need to apply some thought to WHY players ask for what they want. IF, what the player's ask for is long term bad, is there a better way, that's good for the long term of the game to provide what they want?

I used to be a consultant to gaming companies. I encouraged them to survey the player base to see what players liked / disliked about current / proposed features. But I would NEVER advocate giving the players control of over all design.

Hmm, it depends... if you think long term strategy it'd be best just do what players want so most likely they buy your next game. Come on, we all can agree Defiance is not going to grow much from here, it probably survives (all notable MMOs survives these days even TSW.. hell even Darkfall.) and remains a healthy population. Titan, Elder Scroll Online, thats where the hype train is headed.

Schwa
04-30-2013, 02:52 AM
I never said that Defiance is doomed to fail. I said that ANY mmo will fail if it's designed to give players exactly what they ask for. Why do I believe that? Because most players ask for features that are in fact bad for the long term of the game. I pointed you to an article by Richard Bartle who wrote (back in 2004, just before WoW launched) why he thought the devs shouldn't try to please all of the players all of the time.

Yes, yes. I've read it before; it's posted all over the freaking place.

That said, I'm more of the opinion if a developer lacks the sense to know when to ignore its playerbase, then a game deserves to collapse. They shouldn't be at the helm in the first place, yes?

I feel like I've fallen into some strange parallel dimension where I'm telling you to have a little faith. I suppose what I'm really doing is giving Trion rope to hang themselves with-- they can hang themselves with their choices or they can make something cool. It's all on them.

Change is on the wind; that much is an inevitability. Some people won't like this.

I suppose on a positive note (positive for me) they've already hit rock bottom. Can only go up from here, right?

Anderson
04-30-2013, 02:54 AM
After many years of reading people whine on the internet, I can confirm that "the fans" of pretty much any product are complete morons with ridiculous senses of entitlement who don't really know what they want and will never be happy.

MacDeath
04-30-2013, 02:59 AM
Yes, yes. I've read it before; it's posted all over the freaking place.

That said, I'm more of the opinion if a developer lacks the sense to know when to ignore its playerbase, then a game deserves to collapse. They shouldn't be at the helm in the first place, yes?

I feel like I've fallen into some strange parallel dimension where I'm telling you to have a little faith. I suppose what I'm really doing is giving Trion rope to hang themselves with-- they can hang themselves with their choices or they can make something cool. It's all on them.

I suppose on a positive note (positive for me) they've already hit rock bottom. Can only go up from here, right?
Whoop! Another place where we can agree! It's up to Trion to make the right choices. I suspect they will make more right choices than wrong and they will improve the game. There is certainly room for improvement, but it takes time. I suspect Nathan is trying to buy some time by asking the players (well, really the forumites) to help priortize the path ahead.

khanstruct
05-04-2013, 12:35 PM
I have Bartle's book, "Designing Virtual Worlds". It is easily one of the best design books I have ever read. That guy knew what he was talking about. Thanks for the post.

Rasczak
05-04-2013, 12:44 PM
After many years of reading people whine on the internet, I can confirm that "the fans" of pretty much any product are complete morons with ridiculous senses of entitlement who don't really know what they want and will never be happy.

I'm glad to see someone admit that about themselves, since inevitably you, too, are a fan of some product out there.

MacDeath
05-04-2013, 12:44 PM
I have Bartle's book, "Designing Virtual Worlds". It is easily one of the best design books I have ever read. That guy knew what he was talking about. Thanks for the post.
Richard B really does know this stuff and he communicates his knowledge very well.

Rasczak
05-04-2013, 12:48 PM
I have to admit, I've never even skimmed the book. I've just never had an interest in VW design. If I enjoy an MMO, I stay. If not, I leave. I am purely, 100%, simply an MMO customer.

Daholic
05-04-2013, 01:09 PM
"The market for regular computer games is driven by the hardcore. The hardcore finishes product faster than newbies, and therefore buys new product faster than newbies. The hardcore understands design implications better than newbies. They won't buy a game with features they can see are poor; they select games with good design genes. Because of this, games which are good are rewarded by higher sales than games which are bad."

^^^^^Couldnt have said it better myself!!!

khanstruct
05-04-2013, 01:40 PM
"The market for regular computer games is driven by the hardcore. The hardcore finishes product faster than newbies, and therefore buys new product faster than newbies. The hardcore understands design implications better than newbies. They won't buy a game with features they can see are poor; they select games with good design genes. Because of this, games which are good are rewarded by higher sales than games which are bad."

^^^^^Couldnt have said it better myself!!!

Most interested in the "therefore buys new product faster than newbies". Not exactly something MMO developers want to encourage.

Rasczak
05-04-2013, 01:44 PM
Most interested in the "therefore buys new product faster than newbies". Not exactly something MMO developers want to encourage.

That might have been an expected model back when EQ1 launched, though. Originally, EQ1 was to have a finite, 3-year lifespan. However, once they saw the monthly money train at the time (which was pretty decent for that era), the entire model was revamped.

Blizzard has also gone on record recently, in a slightly unrelated topic but still concerning MMOs, that the themepark MMO design is not really cost effective anymore. Development costs have risen, and the sheer amount of content that must constantly be developed for a themepark MMO just doesn't make it a viable, long-term model anymore.

Daholic
05-04-2013, 01:44 PM
Most interested in the "therefore buys new product faster than newbies". Not exactly something MMO developers want to encourage.

Im not sure if you were being facetious.......

Orge Lambart
05-04-2013, 01:49 PM
a lot of the issues with this game boil down to being rushed, the game was rushed to meet the time frame of the television show, thusly you got a game that seems to lack content and loads of bugs. If this game had another two months in development time a lot of these issues wouldn't exist.

Daholic
05-04-2013, 01:49 PM
That might been an expected model back when EQ1 launched, though. Originally, EQ1 was to have a finite, 3-year lifespan. However, once they saw the monthly money train at the time (which was pretty decent for that era), the entire model was revamped.

The model hasnt revamped, in fact, it a very successful model,..

Que Runes of Magic...

GEar grind to the max, completely and utterly customizable, P2W but they never sell power in the item shop, you want you gear, gotta go get it. PLayed the game since its birth, no advertisement whatsoever, but they didnt allow noobs to change the flow of the game, it remains hardcore, and generates plenty of money, over 30 dungeons...a living and breathing economy..trust me, it works very well!

Daholic
05-04-2013, 01:53 PM
a lot of the issues with this game boil down to being rushed, the game was rushed to meet the time frame of the television show, thusly you got a game that seems to lack content and loads of bugs. If this game had another two months in development time a lot of these issues wouldn't exist.

6mnths! With more quality brainstorming meeting, and i believe this game could have been something for casuals and hardcores. Right now its a casual game, that doesnt require strat, hours of gameplay, or any need to even be 1st to do anything.

One thing i hate more than anything, and skyrim is known for doing it, is scaling enemies to the player. Bad idea, there should always be a static difficulty the further away from your original spawn point. I think its something Trions should really look into...

Dr EveHill
05-04-2013, 01:55 PM
Good reading but common sense really I would think.

If you had a majority of players screaming they wanted defince to do away with guns and let us use magic I would think the devs would say sorry no can do.

The majority wants a crafting system something else we can grind I would hope they would consider it. Some ideas will fit in the concept of this mmo some ideas clearly will not. Some will say they want a wow or eq style game others will sy they want a well you get my point. The devs will take the best ideas that work with the game even if its not the most favorite idea out there

aylard82
05-04-2013, 02:21 PM
The real problem is not "The devs are listening to players".

The real problem is not the content, it's not how easy or hard it is.

The real problem it's that since WoW's success every market model MMORPG has been polished around the Theme Park concept in order to steal money from people.

In a real theme park you don't stick around that much, you're in for fun, see that, do that a few times.

You are not given tools to create fun, you are just a passive spectator.

If you take games like UO, Minecraft, Terraria, and so on you will notice that they will persist being famous and played because of a simple concept:

"Create a world and give the players the tools to create content on their own"

Devs don't have to create content anymore with this method, they give the power to the players so they can create their own fun.


But until all these fake companies will try to ruin every single license in the world by copy+paste WoW style we will keep seeing this type of problems.


And don't you think it's only mmorpgs, CoD is the equivalent of WoW, every single shooter is copying the model from CoD, and obviously last a few months before disappearing.

MacDeath
05-04-2013, 10:21 PM
Good reading but common sense really I would think.

If you had a majority of players screaming they wanted defince to do away with guns and let us use magic I would think the devs would say sorry no can do.

The majority wants a crafting system something else we can grind I would hope they would consider it. Some ideas will fit in the concept of this mmo some ideas clearly will not. Some will say they want a wow or eq style game others will sy they want a well you get my point. The devs will take the best ideas that work with the game even if its not the most favorite idea out there
One would hope that's the way it will be done. Nathan has been around a long time. I think he's smart enough to offer players what they want IF what they want is for the long term good of the game and to say no (with an explanation as to why it's no) when it's not in the long term good of the game.

IMO, devs need to stick to their overall design goals for the game but of course add in player requested features when those features fit well. The risk, is in adding features that are good in the short term but bad in the long term.