Massively on Massively

We’ve done a case for the term “massively,” and it seems Massively decided to take the exploration to a higher level by asking a slew of devs about the term and what “MMO” means anymore.  My favorite blurb comes from Turbine’s Jeffrey Steefel:

Players don’t want to ‘play’ with thousands of people, they want to play with a small group in the presence of thousands. It’s like an old-school arcade. You don’t want to play pinball with 10 people, but playing by yourself in a crowded room is a lot more fun.

Which is why we sometimes talk about Team Fortress 2, and I think Borderlands and Diablo 3 might also be subjected to our own… explorations.

–Ravious
from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty

11 thoughts on “Massively on Massively”

  1. I like massive when the game is designed for it (as opposed to overcrowding). Planetside was at its best when there were 200 players in a small area. Rikti invasions in CoH/V are a hectic blast and sometimes 20-30 people would come together within a minute or two of a giant monster spawn. Fleet battles in EVE are uncommon but are incredibly fulfilling. Steefel’s quote sounds like a terrible excuse for limiting the scope of development, to me.

    The most memorable times I’ve had in MMOs have been massive engagements, whether a divisive (PvP), unifying (like Asheron’s Call’s events), or unintended (WoW’s ZG plague outbreak) situation.

  2. @Jezebeau, I think that the MMO genre needs “massive” encounters, however one qualifies that, but Steefel’s comment is really relative. What is a small group in comparison to thousands? 20-30? Sure the pinball analogy makes it seem like we should all be soloing, but I think his point hits home on the article’s point that the term “massive” is not really something that is quantifiable anymore.

  3. People like options. You might want to simply play “pinball” in your own house on your own machine (Single Player); then again you might enjoy playing in the Arcade in the center of the amusement park. You still are a part of those greater surroundings even if your not as active as someone else may be. You also have the options of visiting other areas of the park should your tastes change. Partisipation is also in the eyes of the beholder. Some players never group; yet they have crafters that are a part of the game economy providing a valuble service while playing their own version of “Crafter Tycoon”. Others just enjoy the hustle and bustle of the park as it goes on around them while they do their own thing. Somewhere along the line things got a bit skewed and players felt that other players were somehow obligated to group with them or “leave their game”.

  4. This has been touched on a few times elsewhere, that there are technical limitations (latency mostly) to having many players in one place at a time. If you want a serious eye-opener on what happens after 16-32 players or so, talk to a game-oriented network engineer.

    Once you get in the realms of hundreds of players on-screen, there’s so much prediction code, lenient syncing (as in, less syncing, buddy standing 5ft away may actually be 20ft away) and trusting the client: The exploit doors begin to open wider and wider. Lineage II is a prime example of that sort of exploiting and I’ll eat my hat if it doesn’t creep into that team’s current game.

    I think Jeffrey Steefel is mostly correct though, even before those considerations, that the gameplay players most enjoy is in smaller numbers within the larger population

    I’d say he’s phrased it simply tho, because many players do “want” bigger crowds, right into the thousands. They think it will be epic, glorious and well, “massively”.

    It’s a careful what you wish for. I don’t think those those players have put much thought into how the gameplay experience would be. Armchair designer syndrome.

  5. It’s the same reason it’s nice to read a book in the park, or in the pub. The sense of having people around enhances your experience, even though your focus is on a solitary activity.

  6. EvE is the only really “massive” game. There I have been in engagements as small as a 1v1 up to engagements with over 1000 pilots involved.

    I have tried WoW, GW, CoH, Planetside and really most of these games are just Diablo with a massive lobby. The fact that they even advertise themselves as massive is a bit of a misnomer. Even their in-game markets are not really massive as they are at least for low end items, pretty much NPC stores only.

    @ Jez If you think fleet battles in EvE are uncommon then you may want to start looking for a different corp/alliance to hang with.

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