Topic: mmo's vs single player games

I realized something yesterday after reading dark's post about the roleplay in LOTRO. I have actually not liked a single of the mmo's I have tried after Seed.

The worlds and settings seems hollow, empty and without a soul. The devs seems to think that creating a *lot* of content makes up for their rather bad gameplay so that is what they do...make more content. More creatures to fight, more quests, more stuff to mine and create. However the basic gameplay remains the same in all of these games.

If we dismiss the whole money aspect of game making then why are the devs making these games? Why not focus on creating a single player game where you can *really* immense yourself and experince gameplay or a story unlike what is seen before?

One of the reasons many people are playing online games is becuase of their chance to interact with other people, which means that the players belives the game becomes none-static via simple interaction with other players. However when the players are actually doing the exact same thing all the time("lets go do quest x again", "lets go back and mine some more"), becuase of the limited gameplay, they are actually making the game static instead of dynamic.

There is *one* good reason to play online games. Roleplay. You can NOT create top notch roleplay in a single player game...its that simple smile
If the game devs seems to think that creating a ton of content = a good game then why not simply create an offline game full of content?

My point is: In general offline games are better because the devs HAS to consider the limit of content they can offer. By making offline games you wont be giving out more content every 2-3 months so you gotta focus on gameplay instead of content.

</end rant>

Re: mmo's vs single player games

As we've all witnessed, roleplaying isn't the only social interaction in MMOs. People like being with friends while playing, even if the interaction is on the level of "Woohoo! Look at my new badass sword!". That's why MMOs get away with less content/h than single-player games.

Edit: And how exactly are MMOs worse than single-player games, game-mechanics-wise? Aren't they pretty much the same, as far as single-player CRPGs are concerned: Combat-levels-items-spells?

Another edit: Ah, you said "gameplay", not "game mechanics".

Re: mmo's vs single player games

I just thought about this:
We all want to have some kind of influence on the world in any game we play. We loved Seed becouse it was an MMO _and_ the players could shape the story, and this is what we couldn't find in any other MMO, save URU maybe, but the story was too slow at the start.

Now in a single player game, the developers can make a story where you at least _feel_ that you have influence. At least all the games I could immense myself really, were games where you had choices, where you could see the effect of your action, which can't be done in nowadays MMOs.

I wish they could find some way to make games where everyone can experience the same things but in the meantime can have an effect to the world. Killing wolves or such isn't an option, if there is no difference before and after you done that.

On the other hand, in single player games you are alone, there's noone to spoil your fun, but you can't talk with NPCs like you can talk with other players.

It seems also, that most of the people who play MMOs, they are in for the kill and the glory alone, they don't need RP, they don't care if the story makes sense or anything, they _want_ to be a hero, and they don't care if it's irrealistic. Not to say about people who play MMOs only to spoil everyone else's fun, and when they do, they feel proud and superior, becouse "they can do it".

Hmm... seems like this turned out to be an other rant, from me this time smile so </end rant>

Re: mmo's vs single player games

I agree with you Oluf. I have been, and still am, frustrated at how primitive MMO's really are. The best singleplayer games are much, much better than the best MMO's in terms of gameplay. They offer a tighter, more meaningful experience, while the MMO gets away with gameplay so basic it ought to be outlawed, something that very often feels like a slap in the face of the player.

What should even this out is the social aspect, yes. For many people it's somehow nice to run around in a world where others run around, nice to be able to chat casually with others. When you get home after a long tiring day at work, you do not neccessarily want a tight, intelligent game where you have to work and think too much. But a casual, easy game with obvious rewards, while you chat with others, that feels good.

For them anyway. And why are gamedesigners continually making the same MMO's, trying mightily to say that their MMO is unique, while in reality they only change cosmetic things while the underlying mechanics are always and constantly the same? It's not that they want to be millionaires, but they want their game to be released and not die off quickly. The MMO market is crazy, and it takes a lot of effort and money for most games to get to the launching stage. Now, you can keep all these tried and proved game mechanics, fiddling a little with veeeery small changes here and there (Conan: The players first go through a singleplayer game before meeting others. LotRO: You gain traits by doing things, etc.) OR you can go all out and infact design a whole different MMO, a new way of gaming and interacting, something that completely breaks from the mould of MMO's (Seed).

As a gamedeveloper, especially as you get older, you do want to do the latter. But, that's where it gets to be very, very tough. You have to sell your idea to investors. Yes, that's usually where it ends, unless you can really show what you want and that there is a market for it. Or you could have the money in your own gamefirm, by having made a lot of other things over the years. That's even more unlikely, but Bioware and Blizzard are like this, and their success with other things also means they can easily get money. And who knows, maybe Bioware will innovate the MMO market slightly.. But the best bet for an original MMO comes from small, very brave and hopefully skilled developers.

Yes, Seed could have been something truly unique, showing others that it IS possible to do something original and not just a new (slight) spin on the usual fantasy/grind/combat/level-gain formula. Others might have seen this and stepped up if it had worked. But.. It didn't work, which is really, really sad. Other small, unique games are in the making or already out there (Wurm Online, Adellion, A Tale in the Desert), but they are not done by professional people (they are ugly, some are simple, their release are uncertain, and they do not get out to a broad audience). Seed could have been a turning point, but sadly it was not to be.

And I'm going CRAZY over all the combat you have to do in MMO's. Like that was realistic or fun.. Oh wait.. It is.. Right.. Kill 40 woves, loot them, buy equipment, level up.. Do NOT think to yourself: "Hey.. Why am I doing this?".. You are doing it to level up so you can kill 40 bears instead, and otherwise do exactly the same and get some slightly different equipment.. How easy it is for gamedevelopers to create this sort of content. Sure, they have to work, but they hardly have to think. Which goes well with the player not thinking much doing this either wink

Uhm, right.. Anyway.. As long as the masses actually support these very, very sad gameplay mechanics, that's what most (or all) developers are going to do, because the workload put into a MMO and the risk of financial ruin are immense. You do not take chances with this, you create what you know people would like, and then you add your own twist as you can (and that twist is, when you think about it, very small indeed).

Maybe someone tries somethin like Seed again, and maybe it will work out better then. You do not need 1 million subscribers to be a success, EVE Online already proved this, and that is, really, a unique and great game in its own right, if not really a RP game. If you want to make a RP focused, unique game, then you're looking at attracting less than EVE's 150.000 (I think) subscribers, but if you know what you're doing, 5000-10000 subscribing customers can be enough to sustain the project too. The trick is to get these people where you want them before the money runs out.

Re: mmo's vs single player games

Kryg, you said "That's why MMOs get away with less content/h than single-player games."

Actually, my point is that MMO's are full of content...they are so full of content that the devs forget to innovate the gameplay. Most single player games are very short content vice compared to mmo's, therefore the gameplay itself has to be more interesting for the player and this is where MMO's are failing. It seems that content > gameplay when in my opinion its the other way around...

Consider seed and how little content there actually was... however the gameplay was (well..almost was. If there had been working npcs with stories it would have been even better) simply good enough to keep us interested dispite the lack of content.

I dont think the answer is to make a game where everyone experince more or less the same thing but still have an effect on the world as dustman suggests. Making each time you play the game unique is the key... Sure it may be close to imposible but still... smile

The social aspect of mmo's are no dount one of the main reason for people to play them. As dark points out being able to say "hey! I just looted that new cool sword of doom" to a friend is rewarding to a lot of us. But I am sure it would be a lot more interesting if I was able to tell my friend of a unique experince that my friend couldnt duplicate simply by entering the same quest. Again, this doesnt mean I want a game so full of content that no one would be able to play the same quests, but creating a game where the setting simply allow each player to experince something unique.

I guess the main problem is the people who sit on all the money... Of couse they are interested in getting a profit in return for their investment. Maybe the investors simply dont play enough games themselves...If they did I am sure they would come to realise that mmo's are over simplified in terms of gameplay and all of them are more or less the same in the end.

I am looking forward to seeing offline games using more complex AI's... No doubt human interaction is more fun then the AI we are seeing in games now, but with a more complex AI maybe the desire to play static mmo's will decrease.

Re: mmo's vs single player games

I'd say AIs would be more interesting in single player games - in MMOs they'd be nice too, but since they'd have to compete with real human brains (no matter how moronic), they'd be less of a return to the (sizable) investment of developing them.

Personally, I'd like to see more complete world simulations, where quests would also be designed in a way that connects them to the simulation. "Deliver item X", for example, would be way more interesting if you'd have to find said item X in the ever-living market. This is, of course, a simple example, and I think EVE uses something like this in its "offers".

Re: mmo's vs single player games

EVE does have the most interactive environment of any RPG at the moment. Elements like the completely player-driven economy are already in place, and they have plans to make it even more interactive.

The planned future is to have the environment react to player actions- if a lot of people mine in one system, the ore spawns stop and/or start become less valuable types, and killing lots of mobs will increase the security rating of a system. Eventually, the borders of the Empires will shift based on player actions- if more Caldari missions are completed by players in that region than Gallente ones, a system will change hands.

In my opinion, this is how player-interactivity will increase. The same mission grinding, but insteade of being a futile money-spinner, you'll also be contributing to the success of your faction. And instead of randomly hassling people, griefers will become Privateers who sabotage those efforts. The MMOG formula stays the same, but the setting now reacts to players.

Re: mmo's vs single player games

I'll admit, I found EVE to be mindbogglingly dull.  I am...a speck.  A speck I cannot even see.  Fighting other specks I can't see which are killing me with rockets and things which are, also, specks.  There was a spacestation, but there was no place to interact with other people in said space station.  I never even saw my character other than a mini avatar.  And what does one do?  Mine.  Mine a lot.  Just let your speck float around a large rock and hurrah, you're now mining.  So simple my husband even created a bit of coding in order to mine when he was away at work. 

I will readily admit I need visuals!  I need to see people, hear people.  I need explosions, whooshy noises and fireballs and so forth!  It doesn't need to be brilliant but it needs to be there for me.   This may have to do with the fact I'm dyslexic and have a hard time even remember right from left (let alone north - MUDs were impossible for me as a result).  But give me those visual elements and I'm all over it.

As far as roleplay goes...well what can I say?  I've played Morrowind, so I will refute the statement that roleplaying in single player games is impossible.  For a laugh, I created a character who fought defensively with her hands, but never did any offensive fighting.  She'd defend herself, but that was it.  I did not do the main mission, I did side quests only, and she dedicated herself as a monk to a particular temple.  I roleplayed the frell out of it, even though I was doing it solely for myself.  It worked out rather well to be honest, and I got rather far until I realised what I was missing.

An audience.

Roleplaying is a very interactive, community thing.  It's also a rather "showoff" sort of thing.  There's something to be said for creating a storyline idea, gathering people together to interact in it, and have them tell you later "wow!"   For most people that's roleplaying's core right there.  The interactivity.  However, get nearly half a million people in the same spot, and eventually, everyone is going to start differing on what gaming, roleplay, or anything else should be. In a Massive Multiplayer game, there is no way you can be what several hundreds of thousands of people want you to be.  Also, this is about money. People out there in gaming want to be paid, and they have to provide to the highest bidder.  And, unfortunately, the highest bidder doesn't appear to be roleplayers.  Or at least these games aren't marketing to roleplayers, though I have said time and time again that we may be a SMALL fanbase, but we are a very LOYAL fanbase. 

Most roleplayers in the MMOG community aren't even asking for much these days; just a server that is actually policed by its own policy rather than the debacle servers that WoW offered would be nice.  Unfortunately, gaming companies have realised we'll pay them regardless, whether they deliver the goods or not.  We're addicts, and as long as the drug is still reasonably affective we don't care if it's been cut with rat poison.  So, we pay them even when xUberDooDx logs in and starts dancing naked at us.  We pay them even when an "immersive interactive environment where you, the player, can affect the destiny of the world" doesn't happen without a huge uber-raiding group of people who, more than likely, don't roleplay.  We pay them when they fire their storytelling staff.  We just sigh and "make the best of it".

However, witness in comparison the PvP community.  They rant.  They scream.  They beat a dead horse over and over again.  They go over things in minutae, in fine detail, they howl, they withhold their money.  Eventually, they get what they want.  DDO was a prime example.  Turbine said for ages that they were not going to add PvP to the game because it made no sense to have it in, it wasn't at the heart of the D&D experience.  PvPers didn't take no for an answer, and they kept beating the dead horse.  So, Turbine said they would "consider" adding PvP.   Still the PvP crowd screamed and swore and fell on the ground kicking their feet in a brilliant imitation of my three year old autistic son having a strop.  Finally, Turbine added PvP into a game that never should have had PvP in the first place.  Into a primarily old school roleplaying game - RATHER than hiring GM's to host scenarios or put forth gaming concepts.  What did roleplayers do?  Sigh and quietly kept going on.

Perhaps the roleplayers need to shout and rant more.  Perhaps we need to quit shelling out for mediocre gaming and really demand something better.  Perhaps we need to realise that MMOG's will never, EVER give us what we want as what we want is so far outside the norm (more rp, permadeath and no combat, if I read you folks properly), that we need to give up on them and LARP instead. 

But certainly, what we're doing now isn't working, and isn't being heard.

I don't know what the solution is...other than to get a bit louder, a bit more agressive, about what one wants.  And, also I suppose, to know when to pull the plug on your membership when it isn't getting delivered.  But I've been online gaming for over 12 years now, and I know when some of my dreams are just that...if I really want the sort of game I want to play, then I best write it, have my husband code it, and I'll invite a few friends to play it.  There's no way a gaming company is going to deliver a game to my own exacting standards...especially if they want cash.

Last edited by Trevenni (2007-06-06 20:58:37)

Re: mmo's vs single player games

To Oluf's original message: MMOs are made mostly for the money, as you say, but you also can't expect a good story from a team of programmers and artists. Reading the story of MxO, I was really impressed, until you remember that you would have to log on every day for a month to get the bit of story one person could summarize in a sentence. Writing is a much faster activity than the art or programming sides are, so what winds up happening is a new section of story is written, and to go along with it, and because you can't wholly rewrite the game, a new pack of content is released, albeit a few months after the original story idea was created. This is why single player games work better for story telling, because the game is based around the story, and you can play through it at your own pace, whereas MMO plots have to paced out and spoon fed to the players over many months.

Now, onto what I think. I'm truly surprised there have not been more developers out there to releasing online role playing platforms. What do I mean? Years ago I played HLRPG. Say what? That's Half-Life RPG. Sounds ridiculous, and to be honest it was. But it was also incredible fun to RP from a first person perspective, and to play out dramatic hostage scenarios or vicious corporate take overs was great. The best part about these scenes were, unlike what you would think, everyone did a pretty equal share of talking and shooting. So it was actually a lot of fun, even though some fairly juvenile/anime style plots got played out (Ninjas vs. Werewolves in a darkly lit Starbucks knock-off in the middle of the night?! Player models could be seen by most everyone, even when they were ridiculous).

A few years later, Neverwinter Nights came out. Now, let it be said. I am not a fan of the BioWare/Black Isle CRPG system. It's too slow paced for me, and far too removed from making real tactical decisions or affecting the combat in any tactile way. It's more like watching a movie of the same combat animations for four hours, because the developers didn't want to just up and make it turn based (it's the DnD system for chris' sake, = TURN BASED). Even if I'm not a fan, Neverwinter Nights definitely outdid Baldur's Gate for being less intensely boring, but more importantly it finally created a place for small scale RPing. 10-40 people on a single server, more on the big ones but those started to fall prey to the MMO symptom. With 10-40 people, and players largely returning on a regular basis to continue with their characters, there existed a small world where the player could feel the community, and, as much as a cliche as its become in the gaming world, they could feel the effects of their play on the community.

Now who remembers Seed in its final stages? How many would you say were regularly around? It wasn't really that many (unfortunately Seed's downfall), in fact it was right in the sweet spot for the game to be relevant to everyone involved. Because everyone knew each other? Why do you think office gossip is so damaging? Smaller networks feel effects deeper. It's pretty basic, but there aren't any new games lately that have followed this model. Weird huh?

A few weeks ago Feargus Urquhart, the lead at Obsidian Studios (we all know those guys), said that single player games have got to be more like MMOs in order to be competitive. Now, this is truly a developer with his head in his ass, but it just demonstrates that most of the industry reeeeally has no fucking clue what they're doing outside of following the money. Why?

I don't think anyone can really say, and I do have my own ideas, but in this post it should only be outlined quickly, and part of the problem is this: sentimentality towards a game is possibly the most taboo thing anyone can do in society. It is so tied with the stereotype that gamers are stinking middle aged fat men living in their parents' basement, that developers will do most anything to not be associated with it. The industry does need to have a professional image in order to be legitimate, but almost entirely because of that lingering stereotype, the industry also has to cripple itself in the process. I'll probably have to pick up on this later, but for now I've said what I need to.

Re: mmo's vs single player games

First of all, Trevenni, I'm not sure when and how you played EVE. Like a few others here, I was in the beta. Back then, yes, it really was a very pretty space mining simulator. Even after launch, it took rather a long while to improve, though. Nowadays, you can mine... or you can trade, fight, manufacture... well that's the main of it, really. The point is that unlike most other games, you aren't forced into the role of a fighter.

The speck thing, I don't really understand, because in the default view and zoom level, my ship takes up a little over a third of my screen. Not much of a speck - especially when you consider that the damned thing weighs 1,1 kilotons without any load or equipment.

The interaction is a bit of a problem. They're fixing that, but it will be a while. (See other thread.) Since EVE is a fairly small game, they're more perceptive to the needs of the player base, and the desire for character-to-character interaction is great.

I don't really think that the MMOG world differs that much from single player games. What are you really comparing with, here? If you compare WoW to a single player game, it would have to be something equally popular - that is, something like Half-Life or Diablo II. Morrowind/Oblivion compare more in game-style, but they don't have the immensely wide audience-focus that WoW has. Also, Morrowind and Oblivion aren't really much in terms of gameplay innovation. It's pretty much same old with new, shiny graphics.

I have said this before: I'm seeing a fission in the MMOG industry. No doubt, there will be more games in the megaton WoW category, but I think they are unlikely to reach the player base size of WoW. Also, with middleware popping up more and more and server hosting getting cheaper, more reliable and easier to manage, it's becoming a lot more viable to create games for smaller audiences. It's happening right before our eyes. As someone at another forum pointed out, there are dancing and soccer MMOGs, now. URU takes adventure gaming online. The market is developing.

MMOGs today are mostly primitive and uniform, yes. Honestly, so are single-player games. The nature of capitalism is to exploit until you can't exploit any more, and the way games are today makes them great cash cows. We won't see the huge games getting any more interesting any time soon, but with a more stable, diversified market and cheaper hosting, it becomes possible for the people who really do want to make great games to get them published. Seed failed. We all know how tragic that was, but Seed almost made it! Think about that for a second and then look at what is happening on the MMOG market again.

Personally, I actually have more hope for the MMOG scene than for single-player games. The latter have barely developed at all in the last eight years.

Re: mmo's vs single player games

Good analysis Trevenni, but there's one caveat.. No body cares if RP'ers begin to bitch and moan and withhhold their money.. That might be why we are more mature than other groups of players wink No, but we are indeed such a small, small part of any MMO, that we do not matter money-wise. However, some developers think we matter a little atmosphere wise, they like RP'ers actually taking the world they created seriously and spreading some athmosphere to others. Therefore some will do things and add content aimed at roleplayers, but it doesn't happen that often at all, and even when it is added, it is also for the benefit of others. LotRO has a music system and EVE will get avatars for instance. The latter has been a massive and continual request from especially the roleplayers of EVE (yes, they're there.. Somewhere in space in their small specks of ships, mining, heh).

However, it is always an uphill battle as a roleplayer getting things into the game that will enhance RP, and the possibility of a game actually focused at roleplayers is slimmer still. On the other hand, roleplayers also have a bad, or let us say problematic reputation amongst game developers for being arrogant, elitistic, incredibly hard to please, not worth the effort, disruptive to forums and taking extra resources to please on the RP servers. When you look at this, and the fact that financially this small group doesn't matter, you don't exactly get a lot of attention. I've seen and heard about this view towards roleplayers on some of the bigger MMO's and their RP servers. The devs have to have GM's/administrators who only dedicate themselves to player complaints about other peoples OOC behavior or their naming, or imagined slights or people being too liberal with lore in their spun tales and others asking if that is true, etc.. Catering to RP'ers is an extra workload, and many developers don't see what the return is. Some see it better than others though.

But anyway, what is really needed, is that roleplayers make a game for roleplayers. This is hard yes, because of money and the general consensus in the gaming biz that this is a fool's errand. Seed almost succeeded though, Adellion might even get released, and maybe Fallen Earth has this too. So, there ARE games on the horizon done by roleplayers for roleplayers. And as Ahnion says, things are moving and changing. It is not impossible. We will just have to be patient and continue to create our own content meanwhile.

OR play RP MUD's.. Or play 'real' RP, whether LARP or (actually better, imo, but LARP is good too for sure. More girls too wink) pen and paper RP. There you have immersion, depth, the ability to change the world, real NPC's, responsive GM's, and so on.. Imagine having that in a MMO and our life would be doomed.