Search Results for: 3 monther

WildStar is a 3 Monther

I’ve been in the WildStar beta since June of 2013.  Graev and I both received access early back when there were almost no other people playing on the server.   We’ve seen the game come a long way, and I feel like I can personally give a very accurate overview of what someone can expect to get out of WildStar.

WildStar is a Themepark

There can be no doubt and no surprise that WildStar is 100% true to the themepark model.  Leveling is done by going from quest hub to quest hub.  It’s go here, pick up this, click 10 of those, kill that, come back, get a levels, slot your skills, go kill 10 of those, etc.  End-game is vertical raid treadmilling.  If you love themeparks, you will LOVE WildStar.  This is the themepark fanatics dream come true.

‘Active Combat’ is annoying

First, it’s not original.  The telegraphing has been done in Smite, League of Legends, Age of Conan, a bit in GW2, TERA, TSW, and even ESO.  I hate mashing my keys constantly like I’m playing Hungry Hungry Hippos.  That’s not what I want.  This makes me love the old school original EverQuest combat.  I’ll take white damage over mashing any day.  WildStar’s “skill”-based combat is still highly completely stat and gear dependent; you won’t be out-playing someone if their gear is better than yours.

WildStar isn’t more difficult than Vanilla WoW

I don’t know where this started, but I keep hearing people say WildStar is more difficult than vanilla WoW.   Simply untrue.  I mow through mobs and level in WildStar like there’s nothing in my way.  The leveling process in WildStar is so scripted and holds your hand so well that they practically hand you levels for quest rewards.  It’s meant to be that way.  They want you to feel like you are hyped up on sugar when you play.  As accessible as WoW was back in 2004, WildStar is the accessible version of Vanilla WoW. Seriously… they show you the red circles on the floor you have to avoid. [Read more…]

Will GW2 be a 3 Monther?

Early last year I coined the phrase “3 monther” to categorize those MMO’s that launch and then fizzle out for *most* people anywhere in the first 90 days.   Since then I’ve been using the 3 monther as a metric for evaluating a lot of MMO’s.  The worst part about a 3 monther is that it isn’t always apparent before launch.

I have zero experience with the GW2 end-game.  I’m fairly confident that very few people do.  The best anyone can do is theorize with the details we have — superficial details and features we’ve picked up along the way — and try to make an educated guess as to whether or not GW2 will fall into this category.  Why?  Because I’m one of those people that prefers to know what I’m getting myself into.

This is the first time I’ve sat down to evaluate GW2 on these criteria, so we’ll be doing this together.

Fundamentals, etc. (Where most 3 monthers are identified)

I think we can all agree that GW2 has a solid grasp of the fundamentals.  The quest grind has been addressed, the world isn’t all instanced, we’re not looking at a completely solo experience, there’s plenty of character progression and diversity, and the content appears to be unique and original.  I don’t need to go into more details here.  I want to focus on two other categories.  Read on. [Read more…]

The 3 Monther

The pattern is pretty clear at this point: MMO’s are not built to last anymore.  The new formula is to create, what I will from this point on call, a “3 Month-er” .

Just a few characteristics of a 3 month-er:

– Leveling is fast enough that many people nearly hit the level cap before the head-start is over.
– Character progression is considered an end-game activity.
– PvP is done in small instanced maps
– Content is finite and completed by “running through it” instead of exploring it, experiencing it, or living it.
– Quest-centric grind
– Extremely solo friendly to the point of never needing to group 1-end

These games are being designed (consciously or not) with one goal in mind: Achieve failure. They’re building something that people may look at from afar and see as interesting, but in reality they’re building something no one wants!

That’s right.  They achieve failure.  Everything goes according to plan but the game still fails, at least for the players like me who want something more than a 3 month romp.  A 3 monther is built with absolutely nothing keeping the player from wanting to move on to the next best thing.  Cataclysm brought WoW to the pinnacle of achieving failure by moving the game officially into 3 month status for me.   It was great fun for 3 months, but then suddenly took a nose dive.  It’s the same story with WAR, AoC, LotRO, Darkfall, DCUO, probably Rift, and every single game released since WoW.

Take the opposite of those few characteristic I listed above and you have what is necessary for a long-term MMORPG that players can really dig into, invest their time in, become emotionally attached to, and want to play more than 3 months.  Where is the game that takes a year to reach max level or the one where PvP is done in the world over objectives with three factions?  Where’s the game where sitting in a cantina for hours socializing with your customers who buy from you is not considered a waste of time?  Where’s the game where players must actually play together to progress quicker than they can alone?  Where’s the game that allows players to stake a claim on land or to explore a new region for its riches?  Those games are on the other side of the spectrum from a 3 month-er.

I’m becoming much more adept at spotting the 3 month-er and I’m contemplating swearing them off entirely.  It’s a love-hate relationship for me.  I usually enjoy the first little bit then I see the pattern or figure out the game won’t last long and grow to hate it for its shortcomings.  What matters more to me: enjoying a game for a little while and growing to hate it or never having played it at all? (Love and lost than never loved before type thing, right?)

Let me go on record again by saying that the 3 Month-er mentality is a short-sighted, short-term idea.  It will not last in the long run as I hope that one day failure will ultimately prove to be the great equalizer of quality.


WoW’s Original Success: A Roadmap to a Future without 3-Monthers

Mists of PandariaAs I mentioned the other day while discussing the 3-monther, Blizzard did exactly what they needed to do with World of Warcraft back in 2004: Make something unique that addresses a need in the market.  As this article points out, Blizzard’s success is not magic.  GameIndustry thinks it is hard work setting World of Warcraft apart.  It’s not hard work at play here; No, it’s good work.  Success is enjoyed because WoW is unique.

Back in 2004, WoW was unique because it was different.  Today, it’s unique for being the best and most innovating leader among its clone army.  You see, despite what the GameIndustry article says, WoW is indeed an outlier deviating markedly from other members of the sample.  Among many other reasons — and I do mean many —  a major factor in success then and now is uniqueness.

Going back to my original statement, WoW originally succeeded for being unique.  We can analyze the reasons for WoW losing subscribers, or for having a low retention rate every expansion, but I believe the answer is simply that the expansions are no longer unique enough.  WoW expansions are 3-monthers in a bottle.

The same principles apply to creating a new long-lasting MMORPG.

  • Is it unique? Every major, long-term success has been.
  • Does it address a pain or need in the market?
  • Are the mechanics and features in place designed to engage players in a ‘live in the world’ mentality instead of a ‘beat the game’ mentality?  (Note: WoW’s original model leaned way more towards living in the world compared to where it’s at now, hence why WoW expansions -are- 3-monthers.)
  • [Update] Let’s add SynCaine’s ‘Pick a group and design for it‘ angle to the list.

The GameIndustry article did say something with which I not only agree but think applies to the 3-monther: “Attempts to copy or clone [WoW] have ended in, at best, reputation-sapping climbdowns and transitions to free-to-play business models; at worst, complete commercial disasters.”  In other words, if you make a game closely resembling a 3-monther it’s no wonder you end up with one.

As I said before, the proven long-term framework of the past is being ignored without any contemporary proof to disprove its success.  That’s fine.  I believe there is every bit as much an opportunity for something completely new — the next WoW, perhaps neither sandbox or themepark — to move us forward.

Not Every MMORPG is a 3-Monther

Not every MMORPG is a  3-Monther, despite what some may say.  A popular vantage point for launching a debate against said belief is to claim that it’s impossible to recreate the past because it was nothing but a launchpad for today’s market, and that games like DAOC, SWG, and EQ (to name only a few) are not what the market wants.  The whole point of identifying the 3-monther was to point out the opposite.  Look, I just have the facts: People used to play MMORPG’s for years and now they play for weeks or months (I realize the exceptions).

Saying that every game is a 3-monther is just a sad declaration of the state of MMORPG’s today, mainly that they are all the same, and saying that no game will hand you the past is just admitting defeat or that you do not care.

Ask yourselves why every MMORPG has to be a 3-monther, and identify why the past isn’t being recreated today.  You’ll see it’s not because it’s impossible to be something else, but that conscious choices are being made.  What mechanics are missing, what new features are opposing forces, what is the goal of the game, etc.  There is great value to be found in those questions.

Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.  If the reality today is a stagnant market full of 3-monthers, maybe it’s time for someone to do what Blizzard did with World of Warcraft to stand out: Address the problem head on, create a working, viable alternative, and give the players what they want by imagining something new.  That’s why for a decade people were sticking with games.  Each game offered a unique experience, -not- because the players had no choices.

I’ll continue fighting for my belief that contemporary virtual worlds can be made and they can succeed in being everything players want in a game today.  I know that there are people interested in games where they can play to live in the world, and not just play to beat it.