More than other games, MMO experiences have a time stamp because the game itself changes and our experiences with the “same” piece of content might be radically different.
This is especially true in the early days. Yesterday’s dungeon discussion had some sharply divided experiences, and those could be caused by class, gear, strategy, or the dungeon’s having been updated a half-dozen times in a month. I finally tried WoW so I could see how the zones looked before the Cataclysm revamp only to find that the veterans’ experiences were radically different due to other changes that had accumulated over the years. My trip through Guild Wars: Prophecies included heroes, lots of elite skills, and PvE skills, which changed everything even if none of the Prophecies content had changed.
As a LotRO player, I recall approaches to Moria boss fights that went from “standard practice” to “exploits we patched away.” Sometimes you need the good bugs to get past the bad bugs. Some grognards talk about how hard X was during their day, and some of them did Y while it was easier, broken, bugged, etc.
The population shift is also a big change over time. The original wave of Warhammer Online players experienced public events 1.0 as intended, but as early as a month later many zones were ghost towns and you never saw the last event phases. In September 2012, players bemoaned that the Guild Wars 2 economy was broken because scraps of jute were very expensive. Come September 2014, players may bemoan that the Guild Wars 2 economy is broken because craps of jute were almost worthless. It seems to be a rare event for a game to maintain a steady population spread rather than having huge clumps at the top and bottom levels.
“Trammel” and “NGE” are extreme cases you need not mention. Everyone knows to distinguish between before and after those chasms.
…in a galaxy far, far away, the NGE hit Star Wars: Galaxies. The date: November 15th 2005¹.
Five years later, despite server closures and merges and a minimal population, the game is still going and content has still been added to the game including, amongst other additions, the planet of Hoth which went live on November 20th 2008. The latest patch, Game Update 18, was released last month.
Different games call it different things. But whether you call it “Soulbound” “bio-linked” or “no-trade”, it all means the same thing: you can’t give away or sell an item once you have it. Developers put in no-trade items so that you’re forced to beat a boss to get a great piece of loot or forced to actually earn your own armor for your character. You can’t just have a friend give you a set of all the top-tier items and tell you that you beat the game.
This is the case with the epic jewelry rewards for the “Heroic” instances in Star Wars Galaxies. But tomorrow’s patch for Star Wars Galaxies will remove the no-trade tag from all new heroic jewelry.
I resubscribed to Star Wars Galaxies to try the new content that has been added since I last played. I remember reading the press release about one of the features which had been added called “Chronicle Master”. Apparently, it was like the mission creator system they used to talk about having in 2003. The press release claimed that over three million quests were made the first month. Considering SWG’s last reported subscriber numbers, that’s a lot of quests! One individual even created over 6,000 quests that month.
So now that I’ve had a chance actually try this system, I can say that SOE didn’t make anything worth bragging about. The reason an individual would create thousands of quests in a month is because everyone who wants to make cool quests has to grind for hours before they’re allowed to make anything worth doing. Almost all of the quests I’ve made have been made using a mouse recording program while I was asleep. Anyone that made six thousand quests in four weeks probably did the same thing. Every single one of those quests is as engaging as you imagine.
Why is that developers put in massive grinds into these things? I know they want me to play longer, but the ability to find well written player content would keep me playing a lot longer than a massive grind.
In June of 2003, a much hyped science-fiction MMO launched. It was the first MMORPG to take advantage of such a lucrative license. Unlike previous MMOs, it had a “skill based system” of advancement. Due to either a lack of time or a design decision, very large open areas were populated with randomly generated content. The system used to generate the random content was called the “dynamic spawn” system and championed as an innovation. Despite a long development time, the game felt incomplete when it launched.
Anyone who’s been intently following Star Trek Online already knows how Cryptic’s game compares to pre-NGE Star Wars Galaxies.
The following is a guest post by Moormur.
Greetings, readers! My name is Moormur. Some of you may know me from LOTROCast or the Galactic Holofeed, podcasts I co-host both with a very able crew. I am also an avid reader of all the stuff here at Kill Ten Rats. I refrain from posting commentary on my podcast websites for whatever reason, so I have asked Ethic here at Kill Ten Rats if he didn’t mind a guest column.
I’ve been thinking lately of a trend of sorts in the MMO developing community…player designed content. I’m not talking about sandbox MMOs…those are really a topic for another time and place. I’m talking about when developers release a set of tools in a theme park style MMO that allows players to create missions. City of Heroes, as far as I know, was really the first to do this. Now, my former MMO Star Wars: Galaxies has put out their own set of tools with the Chronicle Master.
I received an email from SOE. It seems they are doing very well! In fact, they say, “Due to the overwhelming success of the recent Free Character Transfer Service, …we will close the following 12 Star Wars Galaxies servers:”
I can’t say people didn’t see it coming. Yivvits and Mr Bubble pondered what else could come of a free-character-transfer service which only allowed people to transfer from empty servers to high population servers.
As empty as the low-population servers are, there are those that will be sad to see them go. A lot of the player-created content in SWG is in the player cities. The characters can always still transfer off, but the real estate goes down with the server.
About 10 years ago, the only raids that existed involved killing dragons in EQ. Today, you can go into the IG-88 instance in SWG and face giant droids with flame throwers. It might seem dumb to have an entire group chipping away at the health of a fire-blowing giant assassin droid, and it should. It is dumb. After all these years, we’re still killing dragons.
Really cool characters like IG-88 shouldn’t be crammed into a raid-mold that was invented for dragons.
It’s not just the dragons either. We’re still doing everything we’ve been doing. Stimpacks are just a health potions. Your armor and heroic jewelry has magic enchantments that makes you stronger and faster. Your medic is effectively just tossing out healing spells. After all these years, we’re still playing the same game with slight changes to avoid copy-right infringement.
I was reading a post on the US LOTRO boards about a person who wanted legendary weapons to be much more rare. This poster also called for there to be deeds to do things like kill 10,000 orcs to achieve “signature” or “elite” status. Players who completed this deed would have rare and powerful characters.
Somehow, this person actually thinks that putting in a massive grind and tying it to a massive reward is a good idea.