The Secondary Market of Online Gaming
That’s just a nice, pretty, and professional way of saying Black Market. A secondary market for MMORPG’s arise when the initial market lacks the necessary functionality to handle commonplace business transactions. Economics has always been a big interest of mine and I’ve found that a better understanding of an in game economy leads to large rewards as a player. Unfortunately most popular development studios don’t have anywhere near a good concept behind creating a balanced and dynamic MMORPG economy.
Everyone takes part in the economy in game, it affects every facet of what you do, yet somehow it always manages to fall by the wayside in MMORPG’s. Whether you’re purchasing an item for gold, power leveling for skill points, or stomping the guts out of a carebear for their loot; you’re partaking in an exchange of goods. Economics give a game purpose and direction. It gives players drive and the will to keep playing.
The biggest mistake I see in MMORPG’s of today is a static NPC driven economy. Player A goes to store number 5 in town X and buys an item for the same price he always does. The value of the tender is intended to stay flat and balanced. Economies such as this cause the rise of the secondary gaming markets. In this market type it is assumed that the player will earn the gold by taking an action that will create the gold in the game world such as farming or questing and putting it back into the economy, thus destroying the tender through an NPC transaction.
If you ask any person familiar with even the basic understanding of economics, “What happens when you have a massive influx of currency?” Economic collapse, that’s what happens. Currency floods the market and the value of products plummet. When everything has no value you might as well be turning on god mode. Suddenly, there is no fear of loss and no challenge behind winning. Why play?
What does a MMORPG economy need to thrive?
What does a MMORPG economy need to thrive? It needs to provide all of the avenues and functionality of the secondary markets. It also needs to steer very clear of the flat market mentioned in part 1. Introduction of currency into the market should be extremely regulated to prevent over inflation. Inflation will happen, currency values will decrease over time caused by many factors but they won’t be ruined in the month after release if the creation of currency is regulated.
A free market should be emulated in the MMORPG economy, which basically means that product costs will fluctuate with supply and demand. This is completely pointless if you do not control the creation of currency. Using this, it will ensure that all the products maintain their value regardless of cost. Yes, monsters may drop less loot or your broadsword of super ju ju may sell for less but your cost of living and the price of other products will be reduced. This is how you balance a market. Ironically the markets that are the most balanced, fun, and resistant to collapse are the player markets. Ultima Online stumbled upon a very great system and that is accredited to three factors, the ability to own property, player vendors, and the ability to trade amongst each other. The cost of products sold was directly determined by the player base which in tern determined the value. NPC vendor shops sold nothing useful outside of limited consumables and newbie products at relatively flat rates.
This created a player driven supply and demand system. Products also had a production chain from labor (mining), to resource (ore), to craft (smithing), and then sale (selling shield at vendor). Each step of the process added cost in currency and time. This in turn, increased the value of the product. The one thing most current games are lacking outside of Second Life is the ability to purchase goods with real world currency. I don’t condone paying for pixels. Honestly, it’s a waste of cash and robbing you of your fun but people do it all the time. You can’t destroy the secondary market in online gaming. It’s a futile effort, but you can with some good programming create and regulate your own. This will make huge steps in eliminating the MMORPG black markets that are collapsing the game’s economies.
MMOs, The Chinese and You!
One of the more touchy subjects when speaking of MMORPG's are those that make a living off of them. This, of course, leads to a discussion about "The Chinese Goldfarmers™". I am all for making money and if someone is willing to spend all day playing a video game to make some cash off it, more power to them. The Chinese Goldfarmers™, however, are in another league entirely. Stories have been told, and many rumors spread, about how these farmers make a living (if you want to call it that) that it's more of a common 'knowledge' now than ever before. So we know that they are farming gold, mining fish, and working damn near 24/7 to power level characters, but is that a bad thing? We've seen the end result of all these actions: inflated game economies, more people speaking Engrish on your USA server - however, where is the upside? One of the more compelling arguments I've heard for this subject is this:
"The chinese are the real winners here. Their currency is roughly 8 chinese Yuan to our US dollar - so for every gold purchase or character they power level, they are making a nice chunk of change no matter how you slice it." -Anonymous
The way I see it, is if they are able to make some money off of others' laziness and not have to work for some crappy place such as a fast food ring, they can go nuts. Literally. I bet these guys are fucking insane for wanting to play World of Warcraft all day long.
This public service announcement brought to you by a confused individual.
Laughing at Cancer
I am, and I can say this without any shred of doubt in my mind, a complete asshole. At least I have to be to enjoy the television shows that I do enjoy. I enjoy the shows that celebrate the misery of others, especially the ones that showcase the flaws of celebrities and regular people alike. I laugh when people cry. Watching another human being break down on television is my idea of good TV. Why? It has a lot to do with the fact that 99% of those people put themselves in those situations.
Those people need to earn their 15 minutes of fame. The consequences to their failure are actually not all that severe. They could be a hell of a lot worse. Honestly, if it wasn’t because of the cameras rolling I believe some of these people would get shanked (it’s an adjective, as in, “to shank”) in a dark alley by the people their upsetting. If you get selected for one of these reality shows it should be clue enough to stop right there and reassess your life.
You didn’t get picked because you’re the smartest or the most qualified. This isn’t a job interview. You were picked because you’re the big fat asian guy from Hell’s Kitchen. You got picked because you’ll fag up the place enough on Real World to cause a fight. You got picked because you’re stupid enough to date Flavor Flav. You’re here so assholes like me turn off the history channel to see what the less mentally fortunate are up to.
Something to Cry About
I was looking for some entertainment on the web the other day, and seeing as how we filter out some of my favorite sites such as badassmofo.com and maddox, I randomly picked a WoW class forum to hop over to. I landed in the Shaman forum. I never played a shaman, and all I know is that before the Burning Crusade expansion, our elemental shaman could make people eat the 1-hitter quitter with chain lightning.
Much to my surprise (and by surprise I mean not in any shock at all) I found many threads complaining about how weak shamans are compared to everyone else. A few people had said all classes were getting nerfed. So I popped on over to the mage forums because that's what I used to play. Once again, a seemingly infinite pool of threads about how weak mages are.
Is there any validity to the rampant claims of being nerfed that pollute the class forums of any given game? Well, I've found over the years that most people are just complete fucking idiots, so the answer is generally no. Or at least not to the extent that people whine. I've often wondered what goes through the average gamer's head, don't you?
It seems to me that so many people want to have it so easy that the game might as well just play itself. Doesn't anyone want to learn how to play a game anymore? I understand the human want to be better than everyone else. Competition is in our nature. But why should gaming be different from anything else that forces you to be good at what you do to get ahead? I write computer software and design systems. Should I be rewarded with a fucking cookie for putting together some half-assed program that performs like garbage and is impossible to maintain because I was too lazy to learn about what I was doing? Fuck no. I should be fired for doing that. And I would be.
Welcome to the rest of the world. Games are here to entertain and part of that entertainment comes from competition. Handing you the world on a silver platter does not equate to competition.
I first started noticing this on a large scale in DAoC. When DAoC first came out, archers were pretty much god. We could stealth, run behind a tree and shoot arrows from behind a tree and then immediately re-stealth. I was perfectly ok with my hunter getting nerfed in that regard. It was a step in the right direction for gameplay balance. Stay with me here, I'm setting this up.
DAoC had a *somewhat* paper/rock/scissors class system, and archers dominated casters....that is, unless the caster knew how to play the game. You'd see them on the forums complaining about getting 2 or 3 shotted by archers and having 0 protection against it - despite the fact they had a spell which would deflect 1 arrow right off the bat, and a couple classes could give that buff to their entire group, hell some even had a "pulsing" version of it. If you don't know what means, think about it for a sec, it'll come to you. Bottom line is there were tools available to casters to mitigate some of their weakness.
Also despite the fact that they could have gotten a melee with a shield to come stand by them and put them on guard, they would rather cry bloody murder about nerfing this or that. Time and time again at the gates of Albion in Emain I would watch casters trot down the hill to try to nuke while the warriors were literally sitting down doing nothing. Whose fault is it, really? You know what I did at keep sieges in DAoC? I ran up with my buddy Maul by my side, and hurled arrow after unrelenting arrow at people while his shield blocked 98% of all incoming objects. Maybe I was the only one who understood how different classes could interact with one another. I don't know. Just tossin that out there.
But people whined enough and eventually casters got huge damage increase. Not soon after power was shifted over to rogues for the same reason - incessant crying. It's like one big vicious cycle of who can bitch the most about not being able to 1-shot everyone they see until devs give them superpowers.
Do these cross-eyed little nitwits just run around all day wishing they could 1-shot everyone? History shows the answer is yes. WoW turned out the same way. Power being infused drastically in certain classes because people complained enough. You have to also wonder what goes through the designers' minds in all of this. Not to mention the powers that be above them - do they all think these people will just quit the game if they don't listen to complaints that are flat out invalid? It would seem so. But I have news for you: people will not quit the game. You'll have maybe 2% of the people who actually threaten to quit, actually quit. Why? Lifestyle bankruptcy. Nothing better to do with their time outside of the game. Not saying they're all complete rejects, just saying that your average MMO gamer doesn't have anything better to do.
I wish the people in charge of these games would see past some of the bullshit and let people figure shit out on their own. MMO's are becoming more and more mainstream and the newcomers see this as acceptable behavior. We're breeding a legion of gamers who do not care about skill - they just want to present the illusion that they have skill (See: every high-end WoW pve guild). I'm well aware that pushing your A, S, W, or D keys does not equate to skill. Gaming skill in an MMO is your ability to anticipate what people will do next and know how to use the tools you have against any class to get the most out of combat. Most people will never take the time to learn it. It is your ability to manipulate the environment (example: trapping people in UO between horses) Most people will never admit to not knowing what they wish they did.
The bottom line is that as MMO's get more mainstream, and people see the massive amount of whining that goes on and start living it themselves, the rest of us are going to be in deep shit in terms of getting a game worth playing any time soon.
I Am Sexist
I was driving home from work a few days ago and while I was keeping my normal brisk pace I was passed by a very sexy automobile - a brand new BMW M6.
I hadn't seen one in person and since the M5 is my dream car, I was immediately enamoured with this sportier coupe version. I took a minute to check out the rear end before shooting through traffic to come up alongside. It's just a nice looking car. Knowing that it had 500 horses under the hood and the delicious M Series performance didn't hurt my interest.
After my gawking was over I start to go on past and I notice the driver... a blonde woman. I didn't mean to, but my immediate thought was "God, what a fucking waste." That might have been a little sexist. I then saw a guy in the passenger seat and thought "Oh, ok, it's HIS car and he's just letting her drive it."
Ok, so I'm a sexist. *shrugs*
The current state of affairs
Here we are, a site devoted to hardcore PKing and PvP, stuck in the world of carebears and EQ clones. I won't bore you with rants about WoW since I've already done it once and most of you were probably so apathetic about the topic that you skimmed it at best and the few who didn't most likely skipped it altogether. So here's the issue; what the fuck are we to play? I'm a hardcore gamer, the kind that lives in his parents house, doesn't have a job and spends 12+ hours a day playing online games(you may laugh, but when you get on after a hard days work and break your keyboard because some asshole keeps killing you over and over.... that's me) and I'm completly lost. I try every single game that I can get my grubby little hands on looking for another UO or AC much like everyone else but the MMO market is now catering to the carebear crowd(I would too for a couple billion a month) which leaves poor sadistic fucks like you and I searching, hoping and spending more in activation fees then monthly ones, for the messiah of online gaming to appear.
So where does this leave me? FPS' and FPSMMO's. Now before you FPS haters out there start babbling, hear me out. In an FPS there is nothing BUT PvP, the main problem being that there isn't one active world in most FPS' but servers which you have to connect to manually and deal with 12 year olds yelling "SWEATY NIGGER PENIS" and the like(direct quote). The other problem that I see is that there isn't any progression..... you start out, pick your guns and go fight people that have been playing for 2 years longer then you and generally get frustrated. Now the upsides of the FPS genre..... First; like I said before... all PvP. Second; free range combat. You don't lock on to your target, mash one button over and over again and pray that they can't mash buttons as well as you. In an FPS you move, shoot, duck, dodge, dive, change weapons situationaly, crawl, find cover, get strategic advantages, flank, work as a team and many many more things that come second nature to most FPS players. What does this mean? In a FPS combat is based on the player's skills, not on how much pretty armor and weaponry he has in his backpack. Someone may have a better weapon than you, so you retreat and maneuver so that you can use any advantage against him... or if you lack the skill you pick up a shotgun(same in every FPS).
Now wouldn't it be great if there was a game out there that combined the FPS combat system with an MMO world? Well there is.... Planetside. For those of you who haven't played it; it's a persistant online world where there are no NPCs, you take objectives, gain experience, unlock new abilities and shoot people in the face. Unfortunetly the game is beyond dead... like UO it's creators tried too hard and now the game is ridiculous with mechs like something out of Transformers that roam the earth and destroyer every gaming experience in their path. Also there was a repetetiveness that lead ultimetly to boredom, you log in, take the same objectives, lose the same ones and may never actually see a fight.
Having experienced all of this and praying nightly to the Online God(porn) for something that combines the raw PvP of a FPS and the structure of an MMORPG with a persistent world, I hesitantly say that my prayer's are being answered. Huxley is to be released sometime this year and I'd like to ask everyone who's enticed by the concept of a FPSMMO to take a look at it, gather information and let me know what you think. Keep in mind that once we PKers get desperate enough it's a quick trip to insanity and walking into the office with a rifle.
Out of WoW, In to EVE
World of Warcraft is a decent game... for what it is. If you're one of those types of people who loves to get together with 20+ other like minded people and kill mobs in scripted encounters, then WoW is the place for you. They do a good job of keeping stuff relatively fresh in the PVE department and with that fresh new content comes bigger, better, faster items that people just can't help but strive for.
But, why strive for them? My goal, as most of you know, is pvp. Hell, I can't even say I'm a pk anymore since the term has basically lost all meaning, but in the end what I like is to put my skills up against someone else's and see who's the better player. I've done my fair share of pvp in WoW on my rogue, druid, mage and warrior and I must say that anyone not playing a ranged class is in for a hard life (with the possible exception of a warrior nowadays). The rock/paper/scissors model in the end is fucking boring. You know why? Because skill plays only a minor role in the "who wins in a pvp fight" in WoW.
It goes something like this. Numbers > level/items > class > skill. Any game where skill is listed last out of all possible factors is a crappy pvp game. It drives my fiance crazy when I go on and on about Asheron's Call and Ultima Online, but the simple fact is that I enjoyed those games and refer back to them because skill mattered. One person could fight several and come out on top just from sheer knowhow. In Wow, that isn't possible.
After 2.5 years in WoW... what next? Well, there's not much new worth a shit out and the only things on the horizon are well... on the horizon, which means it's not here yet. But, I've heard for the past few years that EVE has everything I'm looking for, so although it's four years old and I'm obviously way behind the curve... I decide to give it a shot.
So far it's not bad. As a newbie, even one with friends in game to give me relatively unlimited funds to get rolling, life is pretty boring. From what I've been able to tell thus far, there's basically three things to do in game : PVP, mining and doing missions (which is 95% of the time just killing npc pirates). As a newb, PVP is not a viable option and mining is something you can do while you are watching a movie or reading a book... so that leaves one thing - missions.
Now, I don't expect to be able to start playing a MMOG and 5 days later be able to be effective in PVP (unless it's a FPS), but still the reason I am so limited in EVE isn't the fact that I'm a newbie, it's that I'm forced to stay a newbie for a pre-defined period of time. EVE has real time skill advancement which means you say "I want to train this" and the game says "ok, that will be done in x hours", whether you are logged in or not. Sounds neat, right? Well, for extremely casual players that don't log in but once a week except to keep training going, that is an excellent system. However, for people who'd like to play more often, there being no way to actively advance your character is a little annoying to say the least. No matter how much or how litle I play, my character will advance at the same rate only depending on how I handle my training schedule. So far... meh.
What I DO like though is that death means something again. When your ship gets blown up and you lose all the money you sunk into it and the weapons/equip attached to it... it hurts. Hell, there's even a chance to lose skills if you're too dumb to keep your clone updated. You can loot people you kill which is something I haven't had the pleasure of experiencing since I quit AC.
With that in mind, I have high hopes that this game will be the right answer after I get past the annoying newbie period. And since a good bit of that time will be during the free two week trial, I guess I'm not really losing anything. We'll see I guess.
My eyes are definitely on the horizon though.
Did anyone else play Command and Conquer 3 and say "holy shit this looks sweet!" only to find themselves posing the question 5 minutes later "isn't this the same as the other C&C's?" The answer is probably yes.
I saw the announcement about Starcraft 2 and I died a little inside. All the fanboys are claiming this will be the greatest game of all time because the first Starcraft was so amazing and perfect and blah blah blah. Blizzard does not intend at this point in time to change much in the way of gameplay. From what they're saying, it's going to be no more than what C&C3 was to the rest of the series - a very polished up-to-date version.
FPS games had it good for a while. For years we were growing so fast in terms of hardware that the graphics capabilities of new games in the genre were enough to keep most idiots satisfied. Eventually that leveled out some and you didn't need a new computer every year to play the latest games. So what was the next step? Stuff like adding vehicles and more team elements to the games to enhance gameplay and keep it fresh. So where do they go now? Good question, but I haven't seen much change in the past 4 years.
We live in a very narrow gaming market. There are predominately 3 types of games that make it to the shelf today: RTS, FPS, and action/adventure. MMO's are out there but they take a long time to develop and most aren't successful so I leave them out of the equation for this argument. Nobody makes puzzle games anymore - I always thought Lemmings was a lot of fun. Nobody makes much in the way of turn-based strategy anymore either. Heroes of Might and Magic is the exception to this but that hasn't been truly great since the 3rd game. And god forbid anyone ever would think to put out a CRPG ever again.
I always found it interesting that CRPG's didn't stick around and Might and Magic 9 was the last iteration of a traditional one that we saw. These games always seemed to have fantastic stories with lots of sidequests to keep me busy with. Right now I'm playing through Might and Magic: World of Xeen again. After that I plan to go to Planescape: Torment and Might and Magic 6.
Did these games vary greatly in gameplay? No, not exactly. But they had enough backdrop to keep people engrossed and entertained. It was like reading a really good fantasy novel. Most fantasy novels have the same basic environment of mystical creatures and magic, etc. But that's where the similarities end. A good CRPG is much the same way, and I wish we still had a market for those in today's world. LOTR:O tries to capture some of the story elements to RPG's in an MMO, but it's all old material to me. Are the LOTR books great? Yeah it's a fantastic story and puts much of World War II into a metaphorical setting. But I've read it and seen the movies. Don't really need to play the game.
Give me a fresh CRPG with a story that's original with good character development and I can forego some un-original gameplay mechanics. As it is today, however, most blockbuster *computer* games don't have much of a story and are truly just re-hashed versions of previous games as Dave mentioned.
To be honest I think we're in somewhat of a transition phase and it's a downtime for gaming right now. People have picked up on the success of Oblivion and GTA and realized what makes them great - environments that are affected by the player with very open-ended play. I'm not talking about the MMO world, but games like Assassin's Creed and Mass Effect are trying to capitalize on those elements. You may have to play them on the 360 but who gives a shit - as long as they're good games.
The next level of gaming is exactly what I've mentioned already - player-driven environments. In a couple of years I expect it will be in full swing. Give it 5 years and we might see it in MMO's again like we did in Shadowbane, but in a more controlled manner. The scary part is that we probably will only see a few genres of games pick up the trend because it seems that certain genres have been all but forgotten. Maybe it's because gaming is no longer a niche among humans. It's becoming more mainstream and more people can relate to action or FPS games. I don't know.
All I know is the array of genres has been condensed and it sucks for variance in gameplay.
Games getting stale?
I don’t know about you guys, but I think a lot of the old styles of games are getting old for me. Like cr0ss was saying, I’m getting real sick of clones. There’s only one excuse I accept for seeing a game that’s very close to the typical genre style: if it is a sequel to the game that started the genre. I’m sick of MMORPG’s always being the same. I’m sick of real time strategy games being the same. I’m sick of first person shooters all being the same.
You get the idea. I think it might have something to do with age. I’ll speak with people about 5 years younger then me (I’m only 24) and they’re still soaking up the new clones. After years and years of playing these games; I’ll play a game and about 10 minutes into it I’ll say to myself, “Haven’t I played this before?” The truth is, I have and I haven’t. Is this why people around my age lose interest in gaming?
I find myself constantly searching for the next game that will have fresh game play but most of the time I’m extremely disappointed. Most of the topic of conversation around here revolves around MMORPG’s but you need to look around, the same problems plaguing MMORPG’s are plaguing every other game genre.
So, now what?
Here we are, in the midst of a gaming age where progression and fun factor for games are rated on how many pretty colors and effects are thrown in it. I've been thinking of the dozens of MMORPG games out there and only a handful have been worth a damn in my gaming career. Ultima Online was my first and foremost - as it was for a lot of you guys I'm sure - and nothing will compare to the beginning days of that online virtual world. The first day I obtained a full suit of bone armor, my heater shield and a viking sword - I thought I could take on the god damn world. My friends and I rallied in the beautiful town of Vesper, and headed on over to the dungeon Covetous. Once there, we were promptly PK'd by a group of players with red names - names like Nighthawk or Ronald McDonald.
I find it ironic the very people who I despised at that time are the very people whom I support during these troubling days. Every game since the beginning of Everquest has been a folly; with clone after clone of absolute suck. Why won't next generation games take a chance? Why won't they invest in a game that has promise to the old PKs and the new RPers both? Darkfall shows wonderous promise, but this vaporized image of a game has been in production for years - the price one takes when trying to set the bar high. Who knows when it will come out, and who knows if it will even be what we're looking for - but it's definitely something different, and that's what we need. Where are all the revolutionaries that we so crave? Where are all the voices of the players who want something new? Oh, yes, they're smothered by the cash cow that is World of Warcraft.
Well... fuck that noise.
So, I'm a new father as of late. My daughter is just over a month old. I often find myself sitting with her and thinking of all the things in the world that I want her to have the chance to do, and of all the good things about myself that I aim to instill in her character.
To me, the best part about having a child is the ability to take the best parts of yourself and give them back to the world through the channel of your child, and watch where it takes them. Sometimes things get lost along the way though and we end up with some real misfits in our society as a result. you know the type - people who should have been allowed to go ahead and swallow too many marbles and not grow up to have kids of their own (shameless George Carlin reference).
My point in this is that games are much the same way. A person or team of people have an idea of how something should end up - a vision if you will - and want to take their passions and drive them into the game. This is brilliant in theory, but time and time again I've seen these great ideas fall short. The reason? Any combination of resources or lackthereof, stingy investors, and more than anything else: the retarded masses.
It just so happens that the costs of developing MMO's are through the roof. Your average MMO costs between 10 and 15 million bucks for development. How many subscribers does that get you? A couple hundred thousand over the course of a few years as we've seen in EQ, DAoC, AC, and Shadowbane. Why does World of Warcraft have such a ridiculously high subscriber base? They spent roughly 70 million on development. Think about that. 4 times an already astronomically high develompent cost for their game. And who wants to take the investment risk at those costs? Not many people. The result of Blizzard's labors? A highly polished version of EverQuest with a much more accessible user interface. Now just think about what they could have done with 70 mil if they actually had a FRESH idea.
Where was the direction of the game? Always on pve, no doubt. Pvp was always in the background, and always will be for that game. There is no consequence, and no real reason to bother as a result. Actually there's no reason at all to play the game unless you just like playing something with friends, in which case there are plenty of other games that don't charge an online fee to play together. This has pulled 8 million subscribers. A success? In the eyes of people with 0 passion for games, yes it is because these are the people who care about cashflow and that's it.
In my opinion, WoW is one of the greatest failures of any MMO because of the following: It took the most 1-dimensional idea for a game and did nothing but make it really really polished. World of Warcraft lacks any sort of depth. Many of the quests are simply kill 30 of random mob for .01% drop rate because clearly we're all college students with 10 hours a day to devote to a fucking game. Once you level, you can go grind it out to farm herbs for potions and shit for doing dungeon raids, and we're not talking about Shame and Dastard here. Just because a game sells 8 million accounts doesn't mean the game is good. It just means it's good at what it does. If you can't read beneath the lines on that one, then you're probably one of the suckers.
On the complete other end of the spectrum, you have a game like Shadowbane. For gamers like you and me, Shadowbane was fucking rad because it was absolutely out of control. Destroying peoples' cities would in many cases make them flat out quit the game altogether. It was pretty hardcore, and a powerful nation with lots of subs could easily monopolize a server. Despite this it was still a massive failure because while it had a robust character system and player-driven content, the end-game was nothing but pvp and it brutally penalized people for fucking up (i.e. getting baned and losing). On the other hand, though, what Shadowbane did extremely well was focus on team efforts. You could play any type of class and be useful. Games focused on pve require certain group compositions to be truly successful, and have a strong focus on individualism. Think about it. The big games like EQ and WoW have always required a sizeable amount of people to progress through the end-game content, and for a very small amount of loot with each spawn. It breeds dissonance between players and a "me me me" attitude. Kindof like the baby boomers - narcissistic people with a simple philosophy: GIMME IT IT'S MINE! Shadowbane required everyone to be of use for a commonly shared piece of content - a city, not individual pieces of gear for a character.
Developers promise the moon time and time again about balancing pve with pvp but I've yet to see it happen. The vision of today's development shop needs to shift away from the EverQuest model, but also can't go so close to the Shadowbane model. Stray Bullet Games looks to be aiming for a balance that involves all types of players. Player-driven environments and cities that require crafters, pve'ers, and pk's alike to make it flourish. For those who don't know, Stray Bullet Games is basically Wolfpack Studios (Shadowbane) under their own management without Ubisoft over their shoulder. Hopefully 4 years from now we'll see a good product from them.
I look at where console games have gone with influence from the success of Grand Theft Auto and its open-ended gameplay and it is clearly the direction MMO's need to move. Non-linear content is key, and MMO's give the perfect environment to have that and make it player-driven through government and war in the game world itself. I've learned a lot about people in the past few years though - they all love running the hamster wheel. It is amazing the mediocrity that people are willing to wallow in just for the sake of playing an MMO. 8 million people out there saying they don't want to have any control over the world they "live" in while in-game. 8 million people saying they want to keep doing what has been going on for 8 years since EQ came out - grind for ph4t l3wtz to get even better ph4t l3wtz. The biggest problem with this is that money for dev costs is the key, and people have discovered that there are all sorts of gamers out there willing to pay for the same shit over and over again, as long as they get a piece of cheese when they make it through the maze. Your average gamer does not want to feel loss - I suppose its only natural - so games that serve up no consequence for failure are great success stories in terms of how much money they make because your average gamer will love playing it. Not because it's a good game, but because they can get "purple" items and feel important.
I believe there is money to be made through new ideas, if only people would see their visions through and take the time to play with them. Realize "hey maybe my vision blows but at least I'm attempting to progress the genre". And this does not take a lot of money. You don't need fancy IDE's and licenses to hash out the concepts behind a game and determine whether or not it will fail. You just need some good discussion panels with people who are actually able to keep their hand out of the bucket of lead paintchips for like, 5 seconds.
Have some vision that goes farther than 10 yards in front of you. Learn that 8 million subscribers aren't all necessarily happy subscribers, and the goal of the game should be to entertain the widest array of people and at the same time maintain that customer base over time. A truly great MMO requires the use of carebears, pk's, and crafters/farmers alike in a world that they have some amount of control over. Open-ended play through player-controlled environments is the future and people are afraid to embrace it, despite the success of games like Oblivion and GTA.
The genre needs it more than people realize.
How Time Flies
I remember first visiting this site before online gaming became the latest fad that makes investors drool with ambition. The term "MMORPG" was non-existent. Games like UO, The Realm, and M59 were reserved for those of us with a passion for gaming and computers in general. WTFMan.com emerged in this era as a popular site that you could always count on to provide you with a good laugh from the gaming world.
To me this site is a piece of gaming history that must live on, even if it never returns to its former glory. Dave is right, we have seen new posters come and go almost immediately - nothing has ever stuck since the original WTFMen. Would we like to change it? Yeah, of course. Yet despite our best efforts, it seems to have slipped away time and time again due to real life and/or just not giving a shit. We aren't in college anymore, much less high school. Time isn't the same luxury it once was, but I thought about it before I submitted an application to be a writer here. What I came up with was this: If I had time to play the turdfactory that is World of Warcraft, I sure as shit ought to have time to make a post at least once a month at WTFMan.com. If I can't do that, my life is pretty much bankrupt and I might as well go chew on glass or do something else equally as unproductive.
The good thing is there is never any shortage of things to bitch about. The bad thing is that half the people you could bitch to do not have the cranial capacity to grasp humor in ignorance and idiocy. So here's to hoping we can all bring a bit of satire and entertainment back to WTFMan.com
Obligatory Introductory Post
I honestly can't remember the first time I read this site. I know my post count in the forums might not reflect it, but I've been coming here and reading for the better part of the past 10 years. I might not have been active with this community through wtfman.com's forums but I have been via other means. I watched as this site evolve from the Joy of Villainy guild site, into a UO writer/super villain coalition with Greybeard and Ronald, the foreground of UO server emulation with IPY, and what it is now today.
We've seen a lot of WTFmen grace the front page of this site including Dr. Twister, Azaroth, and of course Ron and Greybeard. Then we've seen lesser known folks hop on and make a few posts only to disappear into the vast anonymity of the internet with not so much as a goodbye. The trend I always noticed from the people who vanished was that they claimed they would change things.
They would post often, with regularity, and things would pick up. The site would gain focus and prestige by their brilliant words and gaming savvy. Those claims always seemed to mark them for death and a few posts into it and they'd be gone. I'm not going to go that route, so let me go another.
I'm never going to post, not even right now. I'm extraordinarily stupid and suck at gaming. I will expend no effort and I will bring this site great shame. Members will flock to us to delete there accounts from reading the posts I'm not writing.
With that being said, I hope to see everyone in the forums and I look forward to posting here.
I am in the process of moving the domain move over to being hosted by Ryan at RunUO.com. They have hosted our forums for a while now and I am very happy to move the domain up under their service.
Once that is worked out and the new posting method is in place, I will be doing the WTFMan recruiting finally and see if we can get this ball rolling again. Thanks for your patience.