For the last few gaming sessions I have opted to play CS:Source over anything else. I did try and load up LOTRO on Sunday due to the free weekend, however, the Turbine Download Manager sure is a piece of crap. I have up to Mines of Moria installed and won Siege of Mirkwood (along with Mines of Moria :p) from Kill Ten Rats, so I can play a lot of shit I’ve not experienced. Honestly, I think this post may be pointless now that I think on LOTRO. Anyways, let’s avoid thinking of LOTRO and move on to the point, which is that I haven’t been into an MMO in quite some time.
I recently had a discussion with a friend regarding SW:TOR and their needed 1 million subscriber mark in order to break even. We wished we knew exactly how long they would need 1 million subs to actually break even. What the debate turned into was whether EA spending that much friggin money on an MMO would help or hurt the genre as a whole. I argued that it would hurt the genre and he said it would help. His standpoint was that it was business and that the behavior makes sense from a business point of view. He said that the game could introduce new potential customers to the MMO market by way of Bioware singleplayer game fans. Obviously most of our argument was based on speculation and we did not come to an agreement really.
My thoughts are similar to Mr. Jennings’ in that when that much money is involved there are less risks taken and thus the games will not stray very far if at all from the “normal MMO path” (read: WoW). Not to mention that if the game with a lot of money thrown at it fails (see: Tabula Rasa) then what does that say to potential MMO investors? I’ll tell you what it says, STAY THE HELL AWAY, that’s what it says. It seems like once or twice a year I remember something else from the times before WoW that I had forgotten post-WoW. For instance, when there wasn’t a WoW, there were no blatant copies of entire games. Which means that people took risks and actually TRIED to make something different.
Now let me ask you this: what is SW:TOR bringing to the MMO genre that is new? A lot of voiced work? Hmm, EQ2 did that if I recall correctly. EQ2 didn’t have it as in depth as SW:TOR will have it with different dialog trees and such, but really, I don’t think that by itself is a very big deal. Now maybe that added element of “singleplayer” when added with some of the multiplayer elements will really make the experience feel as if you are the hero. I know that in Borderlands, which is mostly a singleplayer game, that those singleplayer talking to the NPCs with a side of cutscenes really added to the experience in a positive manner. Maybe it will do the same here, in fact it probably will, but I’m trying to not get my hopes up.
I mean, how much MMO, excuse me, I mean multiplayer experience does Bioware even have? As far as I can tell Neverwinter Nights is about it and that was a remake of someone else’s game. I’ve not played NWN or NWN2, but I know it is similar to Diablo/Baldur’s Gate/Dungeon Siege type games which while some of those games can be compared to MMOs in my mind, they are mainly singleplayer games imo. If there is one thing I’ve learned from MMOs is to not get my hopes up. Maybe that is where all of this negativity is coming from.
Part of me feels like SW:TOR could make or break the genre for me. What I mean by that is that if they are successful and make their 1 million sub mark and hold it however long they need or shit, even if it grows, I just have a hard time seeing that as bringing anything positive to the genre. I mean, sure, maybe it will bring in new people just as WoW did but we all know how that went. They won’t want to play anything else and if they ever do decide to, years later I’m sure, they will be complaining left and right about how it isn’t like WoW or SW:TOR. Then we will have two games full of people who think that their game is the definition of MMO. Which would lead to even more people shooting down original ideas because they can’t see passed the purples, oranges, dungeons, and battlegrounds.
Now I know someone will probably want to say how WoW hasn’t stopped new ideas and change in the genre because of games like Fallen Earth and Darkfall. Well Darkfall, for one, was coming before WoW released, so that doesn’t count. Fallen Earth however, sure, it is a bit different. It is a FPS in which everyone can use both Ranged and Melee attacks, bravo I say. However, that is about all that was brought imo and some could argue that SWG’s facelift had this before Fallen Earth (though I believe there is an “enable autoaim” checkbox in the SWG options somewhere). The post-apocalyptic setting wasn’t really a change imo because it was basically just the graphics and textures that changed. If anything it justified the game’s mechanics more by saying oh well since it was the future and now that future is destroyed, we have this technology where you come back to life immediately after you die.
I mean come on, where is the new stuff? How long have we been waiting for new stuff? Let’s go down the list and see what we can think of as new stuff. Let me check a wiki for MMOs or something, hrrm, kinda found something but meh.
Age of Conan made shit pretty and made people’s computers crash. I don’t have any experience with the endgame but from what I heard in Murder Herd it was pretty fun. From what I can tell there isn’t much originality in the game to be honest, except for Tortage and the Day/Night quests, but is a singleplayer/multiplayer toggle really that new?
Aion gave everyone wings and the ability to glide. I must say that gliding is pretty fuckin cool but the actual flying is just like a flying mount in WoW except for the flight time. Sure there is aerial combat which yeah, was new, but it’s one tiny thing in the game.
Darkfall didn’t really bring anything new imo, it just used a lot of the tools most developers automatically threw in the trash such as a seemless world (of course with instanced dungeons), full loot, fps, skills, etc. The combination of these tools was new as shit, but the tools themselves had been around for some time.
LOTRO didn’t bring much imo except the monster play, which really hasn’t taken off lol. I’ve yet to check out these new skirmishes I’ve heard about though I believe they may be battlegrounds? I don’t know. But again, there wasn’t a whole lot of new besides the graphics, scenery, and setting.
POTBS aka the boat game everyone tried in beta and quickly quit in beta. This game seemed promising for a while and it did bring in new stuff. Naval combat was pretty new (unless you boated into another boat in UO and fought/bugged to fight someone). But, the majority of the game was the same old shit.
STO I know pretty much nothing about except that I don’t need to know much about it.
Vanguard didn’t bring anything new really, unless you want to consider the diplomacy as new, though I believe other games had similar card games already. The crafting was different and interesting, I will give it that. The rest? SSDD.
Warhammer felt like it brought in the most new stuff. From the Tome of Knowledge to Public Quests, I have to hand it to them, they introduced the most new stuff. Shit, when WoW steals your new idea, you did something right.
I’d like to say that CoH/V with the architect stuff was definitely pretty cool.
So how many things is that? Around 6 from what I can tell. Are any of them really game changing? Maybe the POTBS boating would be considered game changing as that game seems quite a bit different from your standard MMO, though there is a large portion of ground quests.
My point is, if the focus is on getting the big money by spending the big money, where is the change going to come from? When you’re paid a shit ton of money to make a game that is like this one but a little different cus it’s Star Wars and not Elves and shit, are you going to risk your large paycheck to say that maybe we should try something new? Of course you’re not, because people have been getting fired for shit like that recently, shit, people have been getting fired for just about nothing recently. So as Mr. Jennings’ said, I will say it as well, where is the new stuff gonna come from if it isn’t from the people with the money to publish a game?
Oh and what the fuck am I going to play? I need an MMO fix, maybe lotro but, redownloading the whole thing sounds gay, maybe some SWG? Meh, DAOC? Meh, who knows!