Tony Gallichan is Mildly Perturbed by... The State Of MMOs
So, this is by way of a response to Adam's blog entry about Massively Multiplayer Online Games. I'd like to be in a position to disagree with him, however:
a) I'm finding it difficult to so do and
3) I'm still listening to the Logopolis score (see last musing) and am far too happy. Hah!
So, this will be a sort of overview kind of thingy - the state of play, so to speak.
Well, Purcell-face was right when he said that there's not much difference between games at the moment. Vanguard does look promising, however, there's still a lot that needs to be implemented....more on that story later.....
Star Wars Galaxies
What an horrendous mistake Sony Online made. For those that don't know, SWG was a great game. Note the use of the past tense. There were multiple professions and you didn't have to stick to just one. You could pick and mix your skills and create a template that you felt comfortable with. However, its fair to say that the system was not balanced very well...and the game launched with a lot of bugs - bugs that to this day are still in the game! SOE introduced the 'Combat Upgrade' - a revamp of the fighting skills - still keeping the profession diversity but balancing the combat professions out a bit more fairly and changing the user interface etc. Once folk had got over the shock it settled down rather nicely. On the Jealhimet forum whenever people ask what the best time they had was, the CU period always seems to win out. Sony released the 'Rage of the Wookiees' expansion which did ok...then they released the 'Trials of Obi Wan' expansion to cash in on Revenge of the Sith.
A week or so later, after an awful lot of people had bought TTOOW with little warning, SOE completely changed the game. Gone was the profession diversity - replaced with 9 'Iconic and Star Warsy' professions, professions you had to progress along in a linear way with no means of mixing and matching.
Gone was the usual form of combat for an MMO, replaced instead by a bizarre first person shooter emulator. To make matters worse, this revamp or 'New Game Experience' was full of bugs - broken pieces of software. It had been rushed out well before it was ready and as a result of that and the fact that with no consideration for their player base and the fact a lot of people had just bought an expansion without knowing what lay ahead, people stopped playing SWG by their thousands.
The game never recovered.
Today it limps along, a critically wounded beast looking for somewhere to die.
In retrospect its fairly easy to see what happened. SOE saw the success World of Warcraft had and decided to try to copy them. They targeted the WOW player base and failed miserably, loosing most of their own player base in the process. More recently it's become apparent by former developers, that the development team were against this move and shocked at the way it was handled. It was, quite simply, driven by the money men of Sony.
It seems very odd to me that a company like Sony suddenly seems to have lost it. I mean, look at the PS3 launch. Chaos and bizarre decisions seem to rule the gaming world of Sony. It's as if they want that part of the company to die.
So, what next...?
City of Heroes
Well, let's stick our noses in on Paragon City and City of Heroes/City of Villains.
Still a great little game and still very much the same. Yes, they've introduced supergroup bases and with the next publish there will be crafting and an auction house system. Not sure how that will work to be honest. I think COH's main problem currently is the fact that its so very samey. Missions are the same all the time, same maps, same bad guys etc. Yes, they've tried to improve on this, but its still not enough. The long term playability isn't there - well, for me, anyway. I know some that have been playing it every day since the European Beta, lol. So, not much of a change and still good fun - just don't stay too long...go elsewhere for a bit then return, refreshed....
World of Warcraft
Next up, the behemoth that is World of Warcraft.
Dear Bod, it's got 8 million subscribers.
That's a bloody awful lot of people!
Its VERY well programmed. Very slick, very smooth and I honestly don't think I've found a bug in it, ever, lol. I'm sure there are some, however. Someone once said that the difference between Sony and Blizzard, the team behind WOW is that Blizzard like to make games, Sony like to make money. Hmm. I wonder who's doing better out of the two?
However, for me, WOW isn't brilliant. It has it's problems. Groups are tricky to find and the player base is...young...there's just so many brats running around. I mean, have you SEEN South Park??? LOL. It's again, very samey. And there isn't a sense of freedom in WOW, it feels very constricted. Step off the roads and like a nonce meeting DCI Gene Hunt, you'll get kicked in. And whilst I'm in favour of a certain flexibility, it becomes difficult to work out where to go next to get quests etc. A game I can only play for a couple of months or so before screaming with frustration and lost control.
A nice game, if a little simple and linear. It has the advantage of having no monthly subscription. You just buy the game and away you go. If you want extra content ect, then you go and buy that. A nice idea.
Another SOE game and to be fair, I haven't played it anywhere near enough to give it much of a looksee. I've liked what I've seen so far though it does seem to be a resource drainer....
And now the newcomer...
Vanguard - Saga of Heroes
This game has a lot of promise. However, it launched before it was ready and fair play to the dev team, they said it was because they had to launch - they were running out of money. However, its linked in with SOE. Yet another SOE game launching before it's ready. They never seem to learn. The game still has a lot of bugs - something the dev team are consistently working on fixing, fair play. But computer gamers aren't a patient lot - and to be fair, if you buy something you expect it to work properly, surely? As a result the game population has dwindled considerably to depressing proportions.
This game could be truly something special - even if it isn't that different to any other on the market. I know that there is more to be added and that the dev team have a vision for the game, but its now going to struggle to get a good customer base. It looks quite beautiful and that may be part of the problem. Performance is a git. Very low framerates are abundant. Performance and crossing server clusters are something that seriously need looking at.
As has been said, there doesn't seem to be anything 'new' as such in the way of MMOs. No new ideas. No new ways of doing things.
I'd be depressed except I'm listening to the score from Logopolis, ROFL!
Tony Gallichan will be Voting Saxon...