Archive for the ‘MMORPGS’ Category

The Evolving Gamer: Time vs. Reward In MMO’s

I’ve really been thinking a lot over the past few days about what has changed for MMO players over the past few months that has really led to this slump in excitement for the games we love. While this hasn’t happened to everyone, there are still a great deal of gamers who can’t really seem to find that game that really gets their blood flowing. There are potentially dozens of reasons, but I want to take a closer look at one or two of the reasons here. Rather than look at the any events that have or haven’t taken place lately, I decided to look at the bigger picture. What has changed in the past ten or so years that has really caused our perceptions to shift and our desire to play our favorite genre less or with less enthusiasm?

I think one of the biggest changes that we have seen as gamers is actually not related to the games at all, but rather changes that have taken place in our lives. Many of our lives were radically different when we first started playing MMO’s compared to how they are now. Many of us were high school and college students when we first started playing MMO’s, but this isn’t the case anymore. We have graduated and moved into the work force with many starting families and buying homes. These things are all going to drastically change the way we play our games, both in terms of our perspective towards the game and also in terms of how much time we can realistically spend playing them. I want to focus most specifically on the element of time.

It should be pretty obvious that if we have less time to play MMO’s, we are going to try to do all we can to squeeze as much enjoyment and entertainment out of the time that we do have. I remember sitting in Fort Tethana in Asheron’s Call for hours during my summers in high school just going through vendors hoping to find good gear that people had sold. I would never consider doing this today. This then means that we aren’t going to want to spend several hours waiting for a group to form or grinding faction reputation or collecting crafting materials. We just don’t have the time for it. What this really does for me is create a system of importance. I see that I’m going to have to spend all of this relatively boring and uneventful time in game to advance my character in some way, and it causes me to question what I could be getting done away from the game. Even if it’s not something important, like watching a TV show or playing the XBox instead, it’s still is worth pondering.

While MMO’s are after all games and should be played under the assumption that they aren’t going to be filled to the brim with usefulness and importance, they are also quite different than console games in that you invest much, much more of your time and yourself into them through your character. If you have less and less time to spend gaming and you begin to see that your time isn’t going to be spent in a worthwhile fashion, are you going to be as likely to continue playing as opposed to spending time with your family or riding your bike? This is really becoming an issue for me, and I’m beginning to wonder whether it’s the fact that I don’t really have a game to get me to reconsider this philosophy or whether this is just a part of aging and re-evaluating priorities. I certainly hope that aging and gaming aren’t mutually exclusive and I don’t think they are, so I’m going to wait it out and hope that “option a” makes itself clear to me soon.

~Kanthalos

Can We Get It Back?

If you read this blog, it’s pretty safe to assume that you have played an MMO before, and if you have, chances are you have very fond memories of your first. It will always hold a special place in your gaming heart, and you will never truly forget the places and the people you encountered in your time there. For me, this is Asheron’s Call, though for many others it’s EQ, Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot, WoW, AC2, or pretty much any MMO to date. For me, I’ve always been looking for something to replace the euphoria and obsessive behavior that accompanied my time spent running around Dereth, but I’ve never quite gotten there. I’ve played over a dozen MMO’s since Asheron’s Call, but nothing has really drawn me in the way it did. I suppose this is to be expected as the first time is usually the most memorable with many things, MMO’s included. That said, is it fair to say that we shouldn’t or couldn’t try to get as close to that feeling again as possible? I don’t think so. If this were the case, we should have stopped playing MMO’s after we tired of the first one we played. We don’t, however, because we understand that improvements are being made every day to MMO’s currently out and those being developed for the future.

So why is it that our positive experiences don’t really seem to carry from our first MMO experience to all the others we’ve played since? The obvious response is that no two games are the same and expectations change as these games evolve. The reasons we loved our first might have been an afterthought or purposely minimized or not included at all in another game. No one with any common sense would ever implement Asheron’s Call melee combat system into a game now, and this is true for many of the systems that these games used. The problem is that by the time you change all of these systems to modernize them, the game that you loved so much is nothing more than a shadow. This is typically why sequels struggle so much. Just look at AC2 for evidence. Not only was it plagued by bugs on all levels, but they altered the game so drastically from the first that most of the AC1 players hated it. It’s reasonable to speculate that if the bugs hadn’t been there it would have had a much different result, but I think regardless, they would have been shooting for different market because the game was so incredibly different. The combat system was changed, the skill tree was added to replace the skill system that was used in AC1 (one that I truly miss and would love to see again in the future.) These two changes alone were enough to make it feel as though this wasn’t a sequel at all, so it made it very difficult for AC1 players to jump straight over, and instead many went on to other games completely.

Not only do we have to consider the game itself, but the way our lives have changed since then. Back in 1999, I was just entering high school with far less responsibilities than I have now. Granted, I am currently unemployed, but between looking for a job and taking care of other things, the time I have to play is much more limited than it was back then. I would literally spend 3-5 hours every night after school playing, and this is simply not feasible, or really desired, now. So since I have less time to play and less desire to spend that much time playing, does this mean that I can’t get as invested in a game, and therefore, won’t get as much out of it? I don’t think so. At least, I don’t think that should be the case. If I’m forced to spend 30-40 hours a week playing an MMO to fully enjoy it, then it’s not something that I’m going to be willing to do. If I WANT to play that much, it’s a completely different story (not that I actually would play that much) and I think it’s serving it’s purpose.

Taking into account that these games are constantly being upgraded and changed, can we really get back that experience that we long for? I really don’t think so personally, but I do think that when we find the game that suits us best that is a really good product, we will create a new set of memories and consider them to be equally valuable. Whether that means a fantasy-based game or not, I don’t know, but I do know that as long as I enjoy MMO’s, I will be looking for this type of experience again.

~Kanthalos

An Outsider’s View of MMO’s

So I was in a group in Mythos a little while ago, and I mentioned that the NDA was lifted on AoC.

“What’s AoC and what’s an NDA?”

I explained what the two things were, and then asked, “Do you know what WAR is?”

“Nope.”

At this point I knew what I was dealing with. A complete MMO virgin. I found out that he had been a huge D2 fan and was really enjoying Mythos so far. I asked him why he’d never tried any MMO before, at which point he said that he couldn’t understand paying for a game and then paying a monthly fee on top of that. This completely threw me. I would have completely expected this comment five or more years ago, but I didn’t realize that there were gamers who still felt this way. He then added that he couldn’t understand why a game would purposely take more than a month to “beat.” I tried explaining that MMO’s were about a lot more than “beating” it; They are about the community, the ride to max level, and the content once you reach max level. I tried explaning the increased depth that an MMO offered and how the additional depth and content, which is always being updated, required continued support from its players, but he never bit. One of his retorts was that he’d seen people hop on their gryphon and walk away. He couldn’t understand taking 10+ minutes to get from one place to another.

In his favor, I can see how this could put him off if this was all he’d really seen of an MMO. On a regular basis, non-gamers will look at my monitor while I’m playing an MMO and see me performing some absolutely mundane or downright annoying task in game, and when they ask me why I’m doing that, I realize they have me at a disadvantage. Unless I sit them down (which they need to be willing to do) to watch a raid or a string of quests, I’ve already lost the argument/conversation before it even begins. It’s very frustrating, and I’m sure a few of you have faced a similar situation.

Getting back to the point though, I knew that this would be a tough nut to crack. Even with the support of another player, we were unable to shift his mentality away from the D2, action-rpg mindset. He said he’d also played Guild Wars for a week (which I still don’t consider to be an MMO, by the way) because that didn’t require a monthly fee to play. I tried to explain that there were several trials out there that he should try, but he kept coming back to the fact that he more or less thought that the game companies were ripping players off since they’d already purchased the game. I basically ended the conversation by saying that I’d done all I could (in the current situation) to convince him to try an MMO, and that he should pick up WoW/LotRO/EQ2 for 20-30 bucks, use the free month, and decide for himself. I don’t think that he is going to however, which left me feeling like a failure as an MMO enthusiast.

I guess what I’m ultimately trying to say is that I’m surprised that some gamers, especially those who have ventured online for things like Quake, Diablo, or Mythos still haven’t been exposed to full-fledged MMO’s or understand their appeal or value. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts or reactions as to why you think this is. Have you experienced similar situations to this one? Do you think he is just a bit more stubborn than most and simply isn’t willing to believe that a game could be worth a $15 dollar monthly subscription? He did say that he would be willing to pay $7 or so, but no MMO currently offers a subscription fee that low, just micro-transaction games (or the very similar Dungeon Runners.) I’m actually headed out of town for the weekend, so I might not be posting over the next few days, but I’ll hop in to hopefully see what any of you have to say.

~Kanthalos

Why Penalize Players For Grouping?

Asheron’s Call (I’m assuming like EQ from what I’ve heard) was filled with grinding. LOTS of grinding. Back then, we didn’t care so much. We didn’t know any better and we grew to accept it. You went from one tusker dungeon to the next killing a black tusker instead of a red and black tusker (for those of you who don’t know, they are basically gorillas with big, well… tusks.) You got to know the people as you spent more and more time in the same dungeons with them. You’d join a fellowship with them (a group basically, with up to (nine?) people) and chat away with them as you mindlessly hacked away at whatever you were grinding on. If a fellowship was full when you got there, you waited in line for someone to leave and take their place.

In most games today, grouping up while grinding is pretty much unheard of. Why? Because if you are a proficient “grinder” (mmm, tasty) and you group with someone who isn’t as skilled as your or their class isn’t well suited for it, you will get less xp than by yourself because most games have you split xp evenly. Asheron’s Call was different, though. If you were grouped with one other person, you each got 75% of the total xp, and with each additional person in the group, this dropped a little bit, so with a full fellowship (either eight or nine) every person got 33% of the xp. Think about that for a second… nine people each getting a third of the xp. I think more games could use a system like this. It encourages people to play together, and for those people who enjoy a good grind from time to time (myself included) this would be a great way to do that without feeling like you are actually earning less xp than questing. Obviously, the situation in AC was different. Questing was the exception, rather than grinding, so increasing xp in groups was a must, no doubt about it. Why, though, does this mean that games that have a quest-centric system don’t have to give bonus xp to groups? It doesn’t. It’s like the developers say “well, they are getting extra xp for doing the quest, so why give them even more xp for doing it with another person?” This just seems flawed in my opinion. An MMO’s greatest attribute is the fact that you are playing WITH OTHER PEOPLE. I know that sometimes you want to have some time to yourself, but if you do want to do a spend some time with a friend without a real goal in mind (or just for questing) you shouldn’t be penalized for it.

~Kanthalos

Stop Stereotyping MMO Communities

Perhaps I’m preaching to the choir here, but I am getting absolutely sick and tired of going to forums and reading about how this or that MMO’s community sucks and they ruined my gaming experience. Just stop. Please. We’re sick of hearing it and frankly you don’t know what you are talking about. For one thing, there is no possible way that you know that an entire community “sucks.” You are only playing on one or three of a multitude of servers, in WoW’s case, over 200. There is no possible way that you could make such a sweeping assumption about such a wide range of players that has any validity at all to it. If you are such a mature, helpful person, surely with as many other subscribers, there are bound to be some players at least who are worthy of your intelligence, skill, and generosity. Some of the best people I’ve met in MMO’s have been in my guilds in WoW, I was simply willing to wade through some of the muck to find them. There will always be ninjas, griefers, spammers, and whatever else plagues these online spaces, but you need to get over it. No community is perfect, this comes with the territory though. You open yourself up to this possibility when you start playing a game with thousands upon thousands of players. You don’t like everyone or get treated well by everyone you meet in the real world, so why do you expect to in a game? Asheron’s Call was by far the best overall community I’ve been a part of (at least on my server) but I’ll be the first to admit that there were a lot of people who I wish hadn’t been there. If you like the game that you play, you should be willing to ignore a few jerks who get in your way to find a group of friends who you enjoy being with. If not, then there is no point in whining about how terrible a games community is.

WoW gets the brunt of the community slamming, but other games get it to. People complain about EQ2 a lot, and I have to disagree as within an hour of searching for a guild, I was able to join one who showered me with gifts and advice and immediately helped with with quests even though they were all well above my level. If it took that little time to find a group this friendly, it’s hard to believe that it was dumb luck and I found the only decent guild on the server (this was about a year ago, I’m looking for a new guild if anyone has a home for me đŸ™‚ ) There are decent people out there, trust me. Depending on the game and the server you choose, it might take more or less time than normal to find them, but again, if you like the game, you should be willing to put in the time to find them. If you took time to find them instead of telling everyone how aweful they are, I’m sure you would be successful. Good Luck.

~Kanthalos

Asheron’s Call — Not What I Hoped For

Well after play for about a month now between the beta and a paid month, I must say that I’m not as pleased as I was hoping to be. I think the main problem with this was the mentality that I went into the game with, or rather, how my mentality changed after I resubscribed. Since I was unable to regain my old account, I started from scratch and my original intention was to simply run around to all of my old stomping grounds for nostalic purposes. This meant getting to about level 60, so that I could at least survive while running through the nasty stuff. This changed a lot when I decided to resubscribe. While I did go out to some of the old places that I wanted to see like Aerlinthe, the Direlands, and just general exploring, I haven’t spent nearly any time at all on that stuff because I wanted to get leveled quick so that I could experience new content instead. While you can level extremely quickly in AC in comparison to how it used to be (my first level 66 character took 2 months in-game, as compared to being level 70 in two days in game…yeah) it still feels like a drag sitting in the same dungeon while you watch your xp bar go up in a fellowship. I chose a UA character and have my UA skill way up, but I’ve been trying to get my magic schools up to the point that I can cast level 7 spells for myself instead of relying on buffbots, but in that process, I have gotten rather burnt out quickly. My old friends have taken me through a few new quests that are fun, but I find that I’m having to force myself to get on to play, which flies in the face of everything an MMO is supposed to be. For this reason, I won’t be renewing my payment next month. I’m considering hitting up LotRO, so we’ll see how that goes.

-Kanthalos

Are MOG’ers Socially Inept?

OK, so yeah, I am going to start using the term MOG’ers because I like it, I think it sounds better than MMORPG players, and it is more concise. So anyway, now I am going to get to my point.

So I was having a conversation with one of my friends the other day (a jaded former WoW player) and he was telling me that “MOG’ers” are socially inept. He assumes that since they aren’t face-to-face with another person interacting with them that they have some sort of problem. The main reason that I disagree with this is the use of VOIP systems like Ventrilo or TeamSpeak, or an integrated system as used in EVE Online or DDO. Also, even without the use of a VOIP, people will still be talking to other players, using their social skills to work together, trade, argue, debate, etc. Just because they aren’t in person doesn’t mean that they are socially inept. This is a very, very broad statement that perhaps can be attributed to quite a few MOG’ers, but cannot be used as a sweeping generalization and is quite untrue for a large portion of them. I, myself play MMO’s because I would rather play with other people most of the time than play a dungeon crawler or GTA3 by myself, which I often find him doing. I also make sure that I take time to spend time watching him actually play GTA3. Just kidding, but I do make sure that I get out and take the time to enjoy being with my friends and family and don’t get too absorbed in my current MMO that I’m playing. I don’t tell him that he needs to get out into the world and interact with people because the game he is playing is isolating him from the people around him, so why should he, when I actually play a game that involves other players who I am actually interacting with and talking to, either through in-game chat or some type of voice-chat system. I am just a bit curious whether anyone else has had a similar experience, or believes that my friend has more validity behind his statement than I give him credit for…?

-Kanthalos

The WoW Expectation

As you know, I have been jumping around from MMO to MMO for the past month or so trying to keep myself busy and entertained, but as of now, I still haven’t found anything that captured me the way WoW did pre-70. I am of course excluding Asheron’s Call from this statement as I had a lot less real-life obligations and things to keep busy with out of the game, so for that reason I was much more immersed in Asheron’s Call than WoW or any other game, and probably any other game in the future. Anyways, getting back to my point, I believe that the main reason (not only) reason for this is the fact that WoW’s incredibly unparalleled polish makes me want every aspect of an MMO be flawless in its execution. Even if I find something new and revolutionary or just interesting in a new game I try, if there are flaws with it, then I have trouble getting really excited about it or delving into it for hours at a time and loving every minute of it. My brother used a great analogy of HD TV. WoW is like watching Office Space in HD, as opposed to the Matrix on a standard television. Office Space isn’t really known for looking or sounding really cool, but if its in HD, it will look really nice. Matrix would look amazing in HD, it even looks really good on a normal TV, but if it were in HD, it would blow Office Space out of the water. Hopefully you understood that, but I’ll follow it up by saying this; While WoW didn’t push the boundaries or take any serious risks with the initial creation of WoW, it worked for them simply because everything was implemented so well that no one had any problems with what they did do. This is both a bane and a boon for the rest of the MMO industry. It is good because it raised the expectation of games in terms of polish. Players have grown to expect it, especially if WoW is their first and only MMO. If they jump into Vanguard and their character gets bugged and loses xp, or doesn’t recieve an expensive item they just purchased, chances are that is the last they are going to play the game, even if Vanguard has lost of new features and a much larger, realistic world. This goes for everything from the newbie experience, to questing, to raiding, to exploring, and so on. Even though I understand this, it doesn’t mean that I can overlook certain flaws in other games, realizing that Blizzard is THE exception that is the definition of polish in MMO’s. I still find myself comparing it to WoW, which ends up being the bane. Perhaps Blizzard simply has far more manpower and money than the rest of the companies, and they can afford to spend an extra six months prepping a game for launch, or fixing a quest that doesn’t give the proper reward, unlike some other companies. Maybe these are the things that we just need to learn to live with and lower our expectations to pre-World of Warcraft.

-Kanthalos

Ramifications of Burning Crusade on Guilds

Two weeks after Burning Crusade hit shelves, I had leveled my rogue up to 70. While I had a blast leveling and running several of the instances along the way, I wondered what there was to do next. I decided to spend a few days PvPing as well as a few more attaining an exalted reputation with Aldor for the epic sword. I would occasionally run a 5-man instance with my guild-mates (something like 60 active members and 40 of which now have at least one level 70), and have now become attuned to Karazhan. Too bad I won’t be able to run this instance for at least a month. Blizzard, at least in my mind, really did their players a disservice with the way they set up the initial end-game content. By making the first extremely difficult instance for only 10 players, they basically forced guilds to pick their best 12-15 players and use them to learn this instance. From what I have heard and can imagine, it is extremely expensive, time-consuming, and frustrating trying to learn this instance and requires impeccable teamwork, which in turn means that you need to use basically the same team every time you attempt it so that you can progress at a reasonable rate. This in turn means only the officers and the veterans of my guild, which makes sense. They have put in their time and effort for the guild, but what are the other 30-40 of us supposed to do while we wait for them to learn the instance? This isn’t the only issue, however. When the rest of us are trying to get attuned to Karazhan, most of the officers and veterans, the people who have a lot of experience running the earlier instances, are too busy to help out the other members of the guild, making it extremely difficult for them to get attuned, forcing them into pick-up groups that almost undoubtedly end in failure and a hefty repair bill.

Blizzard should have set it up so that you started with the 25-man instances so that a) you were forced to help more of your guild mates get attuned to help you run the instance and b) allowed more of the players in your guild to run it with you, not leaving them out in the cold waiting for their chance to get in. The way it is set up now, it really alienates the “elite” guild members from the “common” guild members, and in my guilds case, has caused several members to leave in frustration, one of which was actually an officer because he didn’t like the way the other members were being treated. I have heard this from three other guilds on my server, so I know that my guild is not alone in this issue.

Hopefully this will all be resolved in a month or two once all the initial hoopla has come and gone with the new instances, but I fear that, while many of the smaller guilds are now excited that they have been catered to, everyone else will really be struggling to try to get all their players into raids and keep them happy.

~Kanthalos

Like, totally…a girl’s impression of WoW characters

I have always loved Barbies…and video games. I got a Gem doll and a Nintendo for Christmas in first grade. So, while I’m a girl, I’m a pretty avid gamer. And I will admit, I do love a pretty character. This makes character creation a big issue for me, especially in World of Warcraft.

Let’s start off with actual creation. When I created my first toon years ago, I was a little surprised at the lack of options. Character realism was not an issue, I’ve always loved Warcraft and the characters looked like the Warcraft-universe. But, the lack of control with the toon really grinded my gears. My main, and original toon, is a female human mage.

Faces first. Nearly every face is similar, unless you count the “elderly face” the “mean face.” All of the other faces can be grouped into the “vapid face” category. Sure, you could add a piercing to personalize it, but that didn’t change much. Hair colors had a little variety, but most of the hairstyles were either a) god awful or b) already being worn by about every other human female.

Besides that, when it came to body shape, I had no choice but to be a busty toned human female. Not exactly a warriors body type, but it worked for a caster. Not that I’d have made a “fat” toon, but I wanted to be able to control some of the important things like height, weight, muscle tone. Things that make your character more personalized would have been great. As a woman, I really don’t care for the gigantic rack nearly every female toon in Azeroth sports. I would have went with a more willowy, less endowed toon if I had the choice. The breast obsession just harks back to the fact that far too many men are the ones deciding what these toons look like. Sure, most of the gamer’s in WoW are men and I’m sure they love big, busty women, but why do they ALL need to be big and busty?

Off of that rapidly growing argument and onto the wardrobe of all of Azeroth. It all looks the same! Even new items look suspiciously like something you had 4 levels ago. They’ve got a great team over there at Blizzard, can’t they pay a little more attention the the item details? The epics are all good, but blues and below tend to look like everything else. Is there any reason for the Illusionist’s robe to look exactly like a mooncloth robe? Couldn’t just add one more robe design? I had worked my butt off to get out of my mooncloth robe and into the Illusionist’s robe just to find out that…they’re the exact same in appearance. Sure, the stats are nice…but back to my Barbie obsession. It’s not enough to make me angry at the game, but it’d be great to see even more detail put into an already detailed world.

As for other character races, I’m a big fan of the Draenei females. They’ve got hooves, horns, and some junk in the trunk and are still bringing sexy back. They blow the Blood Elves right out of the water. I was excited about the elves, and severely disappointed by their execution of the characters. The woman are awkward looking, are in an uncomfortable stance, and look like they’re a size -2. The men look like they’re out of a cheesy romance novel. Not at all what I had wanted. Dwarves and Gnomes are good as is, I like the female dwarves and the gnomes are button cute. It’s those darn Night Elves! They’re alright until the females are seen running around Azeroth butt naked (hello Goldshire Inn) and dancing. As for the undead, trolls, orcs, and tauren, I really love that each class looks so entirely different. They’re different shapes, sizes, colors, etc. I’ve not played much on the Horde side, but I’ve created a toon of each race and really enjoyed my finished product.

Overall, I love World of Warcraft’s unique universe, though it’d be great to have some more character options and a bigger variation in wardrobe. It would be nice to have a way to modify your toon’s look after creation. Seventy levels is a long time to sport the nose ring and pony tail. I’ve played games with much more detailed character creation (City of Villains) and those with less detailed (Guild Wars). WoW falls somewhere in between. Azeroth’s toons sure aren’t Barbies, but they work for me in the long run, even if the lack of options sometimes frustrates me.

~Anaktoria~

Next time: Characters in LotR Online, and EQ2

Response to "The Evolution of MMO Politics"

I went over to virginworlds.com today as I usually do and found this article about politics in MMO’s. I found this to be very interesting, and started to consider the issue myself. What I came to realize is that, while the author, Collin, states that “there’s more to success than just warring,” I believe that in an MMO, there won’t be any sense of politics without PvP. If you are not willing to fight against other characters for certains beliefs or items, then there will be very little sense of politics.

Harkening back to my days in Asheron’s Call, on the full PvP server even today I remember how intense the sense of politics were. There was one guild which far and away dominated all the others and for the vast majority of dungeons and mobs of any importance, they would block the entrances to dungeons or constantly farm certain mobs, preventing the weaker guilds from ever having the chance to get such things. This creates two different mindsets. One, you can join them (if they will let you) and reap the benefits, while alienating yourself from all the others and making yourself a target for everyone else, or you can stick with a smaller guild and “fight the good fight” making it extremely difficult to experience the game to the fullest.

As you will see in a lot of my future posts, I am an advocate for the Chronicles of Spellborn. Collin mentioned that there needs to be a scarcity of goods in order for there to be a real sense of politics. In Chronicles of Spellborn, this will be a very large aspect of the game. As there will be five houses, each with different beliefs and benefits, they will have the ability to gain control of “shards” which are land masses. These shards will contain certain goods that can only be found in specific areas (or so I have come to understand) forcing you to choose a side to fight for, and hopefully gain control over these goods, as you will be able to sell them to others or keep them for your house/guild to make and use for yourselves. With the way these houses work, it sounds as though guilds will be able to form strong alliances with other guilds of the same house and work together towards a common objective. As for the “rights, freedoms, and beliefs” you also talked about, this will all be bundled up within the house idea.

As for other games headed our way, I have very little idea how they plan to incorporate a stronger feeling of politics and its importance, but I know that if Chronicles of Spellborn comes through on their plans and pulls it off successfully, I believe that it will have the strongest political system we have seen to date. That said, I have not played Dark Age of Camelot, which looked like it had an impressive Realm vs. Realm system set up. Anyways, that’s my two gold on the topic.

~Kanthalos

Immersion in MMOs

I’ve recently been looking at reviews about Vanguard and most people’s severe disappointment in it, and was wondering what the term “immersion” actually means to an MMO. While it means different things to everyone, some of the things I find to be important are exploration, history/lore, and a sense of importance.

Back during my 4 years of Asheron’s Call, I would simply spend hours exploring the continent of Dereth, discovering landmarks that I have never seen before. Dilapidated bridges, old sanctuaries that are no longer being used, shrines, or the hundreds of dungeons that had virtually no use, except that they were fun to explore. I loved seeing just random little landmarks that made the world seem like it had some real history and depth. I have played a half dozen MMO’s now, most for at least two weeks, and I have yet to find one that rivals AC’s sense of immersion. Sure WoW has tons of stuff to keep me busy and lots of eye candy, but I still don’t really get a sense of history or a sense of exploration. I am simply going somewhere to complete a quest or to get to an instance. I like the idea behind Caverns of Time, but it still isn’t really what I’m looking for.

Another aspect of immersion that I think is important it having an impact of the world. Again, CoT is scratching the surface with this, but Chronicles of Spellborn sounds like this is going to be a much heavier element in their game with the ancestral quests. These really give you the since that history is important and that you have made a difference, whether you have or not. They also have the shard exploration aspect to consider. Players will be able to discover new “shards” which are landmasses within the Deadspell Storm. This adds an element of adventure, and also gives players the opportunity to truly discover something that no one else has seen yet.

Another aspect Spellborn wants to implement is control over these shards. There are five “houses” in Spellborn each with different doctrines, which will be able to control certain things in the game, like parts of shards, mines, etc. This is huge in immersion as you and your fellow house/guildmates will actually be able to help keep/gain control of certain things in the world.

Anyways, there are a few things that I find to be important when thinking about immersion in an MMO. It sounds like the Vanguard dev’s promised a lot of these elements, but due to a rushed release or for other reasons, have left most of their players wanting, which has caused many to leave. Perhaps they will be able to turn it around after a few months, and regain these players, but for now, it sounds like a bug-ridden, most unoriginal, MMO. One thing that I am looking forward to is LotRO. While I haven’t seen much, I have seen most of the Shire, which I think is amazing, with the landscapes looking similar to Asheron’s Call 2, only slightly improved. This is one game that I have hope for in terms of a sense of immersion, but I’ll post more when I have seen more of the zones.

~Kanthalos~