Ramblings about quality

I landed myself in a little twitter debate about quality and I can’t bring myself to continue writing in 140 characters or less.

Gordon from ‘We Fly Spitfires‘ (note: not the person I debated with) posted on twitter: “Haven’t logged into RIFT in a while and considering returning to WoW instead. Why does WoW have such a pull on me??? :(”

I replied: “WoW has such a pull because it’s the only quality MMO released since 2004.”

That sparked some random people I’ve never heard of to enter into a debate with me about my statement.  You can read it all on twitter if that’s your thing, but I’m going to simply give the gist of everything here on the blog.

I’d like to start by making one immediate amendment to the word “only” and say that I consider LotRO to be, at least while it wasn’t F2P, an exception in many ways.  I’d also like to say that this does not take into consideration any expansion packs to games or games themselves release before WoW.  That means EVE and other MMOs pre-WoW do not count.  I would also like to say that quality as I use it covers production value, execution and polish.

So what did I mean by my statement?

When I look at the list of games released since WoW’s Launch I see WAR, Aion, Darkfall, Rift, DCUO, Allods (if you can count that), Vanguard, PotBS, etc., and I truly feel that none of them live up to the quality of WoW.  This has nothing to do with design.  I think WoW’s raid and pvp gear grind as the only meaningful way to play is inferior to other designs like DAOC or SWG, but again this has nothing to do with design.  It’s about quality, polish, production value, and how WoW, regardless of its annoying design, is executed.  This is absolutely the reason why I easily return and play WoW.  It’s the reason I am a customer of Blizzard for the rest of my life.  Their products are always of a higher caliber than anything the competition puts out.  Is this subjective? Largely!  Entirely? Absolutely not.

The games post-WoW have praiseworthy qualities but, overall, nothing since WoW’s launch has met WoW’s quality. Perhaps “higher quality” is better than “only quality”, but it really is an all or nothing thing in the marketplace.  Consumers know when one product is lower quality than another; the way it looks, feels, tastes, plays.  Do I think this is the only reason why MMOs are failing?  No, but it certainly doesn’t help when someone is making a decision whether or not to play Rift or WoW and they feel pulled back to WoW.  My honest opinion is that it is a quality issue at the core.

The opposition in this debate fought hard to contend with me that games like Darkfall (specifically) are quality because people buy them and the company that made it has not shut down.  The only “failures” are Tabula Rasa and Matrix Online because they were shut down.  As a mostly sane human being, I have a really hard time with that being a valid reason to say that these are a success or have any measure of quality.   I do not consider WAR to be a successful MMO, nor Vanguard, nor Aion, nor Pirates of the Burning Sea, and so on.  Something in my brain doesn’t work that way.  I see those as games that fizzled out.  Did they make money?  I bet they made some.  But the lady down the street sells painted rocks and she makes money and ontinues selling her painted rocks.  Am I not justified in saying that a Picasso is higher quality?  Sure, it’s subjective but subjectivity has a breaking point.

No point is being made here, really.  I’m not pinning the failure of MMO’s post-WoW-launch to their quality being lower since that has just as much to do with their design.  In my honest opinion it’s a huge reason why people easily go back to WoW as a safe bet and it’s a huge reason why WoW was able to bring in more customers to the industry.  I’m also not saying that games released after WoW can’t be good games.  I think DCUO was a good game, albeit one that lasted a month, yet I would never say it matched WoW’s quality.

This is why I feel that, although subjective, my statement makes sense: Blizzard made a MMO that has not been matched in overall quality since its release.

  • I agree Keen, I do not think that a mmo should be defined as successful because it made a profit or it is still up and running. Wow is the only game who’s subscription numbers continued to grow for years rather then drop off after a few short months. I am not sure how anyone can debate that.

  • For me, it will always be about Azeroth and the its total completeness.

    I sincerely doubt any developer in the future (except maybe Blizz) will have the resources, vision, and artistic talent to execute such a perfect place to play.

    I thinks anyone designing a mmorpg needs to remember the game starts with a world we want to spend years in.

  • The interesting thing to me is that having read this site for several years now, there’s no way I’d classify you as a WoW fanboy. You’ve had a lot of cogent criticism of Blizzard over the years, but I agree with you- WoW is by far the most polished MMO I have ever played.

  • @Insight 1

    I can debate that easily, as Eve has done the exact same thing.

    I do agree with Keen’s opinion that recent MMO releases have been seriously lacking in the quality department.

  • Howdy,

    Something that also helps Blizz is that since it got such an amazing start it not only allowed it to grab a nice consumer foothold, but also let Blizz spend a ton of money refining it. There is no doubt some of these other MMOs probably would be a LOT better games if they had the income (coding man hours) and time (for 6+ years) that Blizz got with WoW. I’d love to see the empolyee man hours compared between MMOs.

    Then again maybe that has nothing to do with it and maybe it is their “When it’s Ready” moto.

    I also do love the “core” of WoW. I think it’s one or two steps away from being beyond epic. (Example: Something to make you want to use/explore the amazing world they have built post 85)

  • Quality is definitely related to funding. Yet, a part, no matter how small, is still related to the understanding of how a game should come together and be executed. I can look back at UO and play it a decade later and STILL see the quality in that game outshine a game like Vanguard or WAR which had budgets and teams exponentially larger.

  • Not sure on this Keen. I’m of the belief that Blizzard is Satan and we simply can not resist.

    Perhaps SWTOR is our Saviour?? Hmmmmm not sure on that.

  • It all has to to do with the “feel” of the game. How it controls, how the animations flow, how your character feels like an extension of you, instead of a separate entity.

    This is what killed WAR for me, and Aion, and why i have trouble playing any action games other than the god of war series, they just don’t have the same smooth, responsive feel that I’ve come to expect.

    no other MMO “feels” right after you’ve played WoW… and it doesn’t matter how well other aspects of the game are designed. If it doesn’t “feel” right, then it’s not going to earn my subscription.

  • Hmm love the site Keen and read every update but I am currently loving Rift. I returned to WoW for 4.2 but after a few dungeon runs and hanging around Stormwind I very quickly got very bored again and stopped login in. I have played WoW since beta and I think I have had my run with it, I personally hated raiding in Cata as well, so did most of our guild who got lots of server firsts in 25 man raiding we could not even get 10 people to log on these days.

  • @ Gomez

    I think Keen is talking more about polish and execution, which is somewhat different than what I think you are talking about. Even if you hate the gameplay and many of the design concepts of WoW, you can still appreciate the way Blizzard has implemented their design and the level of polish they’ve achieved with it.

    For example, I might argue that DAoC is a better game overall than WoW because I enjoy the non-linear, non-instanced PvE and PvP gameplay and the positional style-based combat system. But it would be a pretty hard sell to argue that DAoC has more “polish” than WoW does.

  • I agree.

    I am playing rift now and enjoying it. I am sincerely enjoying my time. Yet at the same time, I recognize that it isn’t as quality as WoW. It is superior at the moment because I have TONS of unexplored new content and a lack of content in WoW.

    I suppose this is the one reason to be really hopeful about SWTOR. Say what you want about the flaws that are already being jumped on, it is the first MMO in a long time to put in the sheer amount of time and sheer amount of money to be able to duplicate WoW’s sheer quality, assuming they have the understanding. Honestly, all their delays have made me very happy. It shows that they are concerned about the quality and are willing to suck up the bad publicity and ill will from delaying to make the game better.

    Who knows if they WILL do it, but they are in a good position here.

  • I feel like a lot of these arguments are giving the consumers way more credit for their “gaming sophistication” then they really deserve credit for. Not to discount your arguement, I actually think you are right, but I also think brand loyalty/recognition plays a fairly big role in this as well.

  • BTW…I thought Brink was horrible. I paid the $50 and played it for around 5 minutes. Not blaming you just saying…

    But back to this post. Agree completely. Even about the LOTRO points. It’s a decent game and the only other one to manage to pull me in. But what is odd is I actually got sucked into Allods. Thankfully, I managed to pull myself out of that attraction. After almost a year.

    I actually stayed up all night and did a raid at noon in Allods. Even though I was supposed to be working that day. Looking back it’s crazy behavior for me. Unlike anything since EQ early days.

    I’m really disappointed in the genre. But I’m also really disappointed that MTV no longer plays music videos. So nothing surprises me.

    I’m watching a few games but I’m not holding my breath…Archeage. Tera. GW2.

    They will prolly all suck.

  • I debate your point. Why? Because if you were right, and WoWs quality would be what attracts people to it, _everybody_ would go back to WoW some time or later. I on the other hand have no interest to go back to WoW, because I don’t like WoWs gameplay.

    I don’t argue that WoW is probably the most bug-free MMO currently on the market, but this quality doesn’t equal to fun. You don’t play a boring game because it is bug-free, else everyone would play Minesweeper.
    I think your conclusion is jumping too short.


  • @Keen: why the hate for Vanguard? Mechanically, it’s not a quality title, no, but it’s lightyears ahead (or, if you want to be cynical and logical, behind)WAR and Aion in terms of actual vision, it’s just let down by piss-poor implementation. WAR and Aion, on the other hand, are at best average in their vision, and still have piss-poor implementation. I’m not saying Vanguard is a quality title, but it is at least better than the other failures, simply because of the original design intent and potential. Regrettably, we can’t judge everything on potential, but to lump VG in with WAR and Aion is just unfair.

    Also: I agree with Logan: WoW just flows incredibly well. It feels *right* when you play it. The closest any recent MMO has come to that is AoC, but it still has severe flaws.

    I’ll be well and truly done with WoW some day. But, in the absence of TOR, ArcheAge, TSW and WoD (and possibly games beyond that) it’s still my go-to when I get bored.

  • @Keen: I’m with you here. The only other MMORPG released since Nov. 2004 which comes remotely close to Wow is LOTRO, or as you say, “was” before it went free to play. It’s the only other MMORPG that wasn’t a “3 monther” for me.

    @Dril: I don’t think there’s any Vanguard hate. I’ve played the game and loved what it tried to do. The huge, open world, was the main attraction for me. But they failed, due to poor decisions, poor implementation, crappy game mechanics.

  • I think people love to hate WoW and I’ve certainly fallen into that trap myself. It’s often far more interesting to write a blog article slating WoW’s community or what not than it is to praise the quality of the game. Still, deep down, I truly respect Blizzard for making such an excellent MMO and one that, regardless of what people say, draws players back because of its immense fun factor.

  • For me, I don’t see WoW as being a quality game. It’s a very good game at what it does but I don’t see quality in WoW. I see tons of easy content. I see a game that I didn’t play for 2yrs that I was able to pick up and get right back into. I see a game that many people still play so you really don’t have to worry about population at all on a 7yr old MMO.

    WoW is not a quality designed MMO. WoW is a fast and easy MMO. If it where a quality MMO, you’d have more quests like the old hunter Rhok’delar bow quest. WoW has very little actual player depth to it, which is one of the reasons why it is so appealing to the masses. Personally I’d much rather have a much more deeper game than one that just lets me coast on the surface at hyper speeds.

  • WoW is a special MMO in many ways. It had a lot going for it by the company and IP alone. It’s just a known fact that WoW changed the MMO genre forever, if that is a good or bad thing is still out or debate depending on the ‘mmo generation’ you happen to fall into.

    WoW’s combat is smooth, their vision is usually solid, world is fairly complete, and there is stuff for everyone to do. You look at WAR and the PvE is limited and mostly broken, combat still bugs out easily, and the world is limited to weirdly broken down zones that don’t flow well on the map at all.

    MMOs right now are suffering a stagnation because companies seem focused on finding out what the magic element is in WoW, and I don’t think they fully understand that WoW requires all those aspects in order to work, or it would be just another Aion, WAR, whatever. You simply can’t strip one or two aspects out of it and expect it to be the same game.

    For me, I honestly don’t like WoW simply because it just isn’t my style of game (just like why I dislike WAR and Rift, and other ‘WoW clone’ type MMOs). I like the leveling being the adventure rather then the current Western focus of the leveling being only the training for the real game (end game), thus why I much preferred FFXI, UO, LotRO, and even Aion to an extent because of it’s missions.

  • When you’re so successful for so long, you have the luxury of fixing all of your problems.

    This is why all WoW clones fight an uphill battle. No game, at release, can be as complete and functional as WoW is now. The number of man hours that has gone into the game is staggering; competing on those terms is a fool’s errand. The only real option is to make a fundamentally different game that’s appealing enough for people to overlook its shortcomings, and that’s something that few are even trying to do.

  • I honestly believe that if vanilla WoW launched today it would suffer the same 3 month subscription syndrome as every other MMO that has come out in the past 5 years.

    When Vanilla WoW launched not many people played and there weren’t alot of other options. People suffered through the hardships of a new born MMO. Blizzard ironed out their issues, and it took longer than 3 months, and were able to sky rocket into the multi million sub game we see today.

    If WoW launched today it wouldn’t have the time to make those changes, it would get subs for 3 months then people would go back to what ever MMO they came from. MMO gamers aren’t willing to suffer through bugs or lack of content when they can simply go back to an established MMO.

    WoW launched at the perfect time. Other MMOs aren’t launching at perfect times, and there may never be another “perfect” time. You can’t launch a MMO that is Vanilla WoW quality and hope to flourish against Cata WoW. Your MMO has to be better than WoW in every way.

  • @Dril: I enjoyed my time spent in Vanguard. Don’t get me wrong, I actually had fun until level 35. I can’t ignore the facts, though. The game was simply not a success. Look at all the behind the scenes issues with the company, look at how few people played it past the first month, look at how it is no longer being developed, and see how essentially it was released unfinished to the point of having empty zones past level 35. Since I’m speaking purely about the quality of the MMO released, in terms of polish, production value, and execution, Vanguard fits in with WAR and Aion quite well.

    @Damage: Remember, not talking about design. WoW’s design is awful, but their quality/polish/production value/execution of their design is not matched by anyone else post-WoW launch. Since most games released post-WoW are WoW clones, quality suddenly matters more than anything.

    @JeremyT: That is absolutely correct. The only reason the “WoW is the way it is because it’s been out for so long” defense is valid is because companies are making games that mimic WoW almost entirely — Rift, for example.

    @Epiny: That would be some sort of paradox, I think. It launches in a world created by itself yet fails to live up to itself. If nothing like WoW had ever existed and it launched today it would do just fine.

  • A little puzzled as to why you would consider RIFT as a poor quality game, it’s easily on par with WoW at launch, well to be honest from a polish viewpoint it’s far exceeding WoW’s bumpy early days.

    Other than visual style, etc, I’m not really seeing much different between the 2 games at all.

    Agree with the general sentiment about polish and being a good game are different things. I’d say EVE, DAoC and WAR are better games than WoW, RIFT, etc but only for my own PvP based subjective taste. But there’s no comparison polish wise, well maybe EVE in some ways. Anyways, better is subjective, a quality polish is not so much.

  • @Bootae: “A little puzzled as to why you would consider RIFT as a poor quality game, it’s easily on par with WoW at launch, well to be honest from a polish viewpoint it’s far exceeding WoW’s bumpy early days.”

    You must be kidding. Yeah, WoW had bumpy early days on selected servers, because people rushed them like no tomorrow. If anything, WoW was victim of its success. But for everything else, WoW AT RELEASE (in Nov. 2004) beats the crap out of Rift anytime of the day.
    Quantity of content? WoW wins.
    Size of the world, landmass? WoW wins.
    Exploration, non-linearity? WoW wins. Actually, there, WoW crushes Rift and it’s very linear leveling path with only one starting area per side and absolutely no race specific lore.
    Quantity of “end game” content? WoW wins.
    Quality of “end game” content? WoW wins.
    Lore? Not even funny to compare, WoW crushes Rift.
    Yeah, even in November 2004 at its release, WoW was already a way more complete and polished game than Rift.

  • I must disagree with Keen on that. I do not think it is quality that brings people back. It is “famiriarity”, the “Devil you know” if you will. Rift is a very polished MMO much more so than WOW ever was at release. The problem is it does not bring enough newness to the table or improves enough upon previous releases in regards to PVE and PVP to really draw out more users. As such, people tend to come back to the MMO they perceive as investing enough time and effort to be considered “worthwhile” and they do not want to feel like they have “wasted” their effort if they switch to another mmo (whether it is friends, contacts, even their TX level purples) That barrier is what makes the difference.

    They are stuck in a holding pattern waiting for the “Jesus MMO” that may or may not come.

  • @Keen

    Your reading to much into it. Nothing can compete against such an established MMO. Everyone has gone through the growing pains with WoW and most gamers don’t have the patience to do it again.

    If any other MMO were as established as what WoW is today WoW would suffer the same, regardless of it’s quality. It’s not that if nothing existed, because if WoW never existed any one of these “failing” MMOs could have probably flourished. It’s that people aren’t willing to give a new MMO a chance. It must be better than WoW at launch and that is impossible. You can’t compete with the money and time invested in WoW.

  • @Epiny: That’s exactly the point. WoW is where it is now because it’s had 6 years of committed development. It’s almost absurd to expect an MMO, on release, to compete with that kind of backing. Rift was, and still is, pretty damn well polished. It’s been out for 3 months-ish. You can’t deny it. You can try, but you know you’re fooling yourself. No MMO will meet the quality WoW has right out of the gate. It’s not possible. We seem to forget that WoW wasn’t perfect on release. It’s taken 6 years to become the game it is today. And it took almost the first year to be stable.

  • @Shadrah

    Totally agree. I believe Rift at launch is more polished/better quality than WoW or EQ2 was. However it doesn’t compare to WoW of today, which is what it is directly competing against.

  • Everything is relative. We’re talking about here, today, not 6 years ago. Who cares how long it took WoW to get where it is at today if it’s here and now.

    Rift isn’t competing with WoW 6 years ago. Rift is competing with WoW today. No one is going to say “you know what, Rift is more polished than WoW was 6 years ago so I’m going to play Rift.”. They look at their options right here, right now.

    I can absolutely 100% expect a game released today to match or surpass WoW’s polish and production value. I can’t expect the amount of content or anything that has a cumulative value to it.

  • except for probably warcraft I and diablo II i have not found any blizzard game really fun. I can see they are quality, and they are good but they are almost to refined and polished for my tastes. WoW and blizzard games in general are too much like a james cameron movie, perfectly execute to appeal to the wide array of people.

  • Something that struck me after reading a few of these comments was how remarkable it is that some of these earlier games (DAoC, EQ, etc.) have had so much longer to polish their game than WoW and have failed to come through.

    It’s hard to argue that WoW hasn’t gotten better in terms of quality/polish over time (even if one might disagree about whether the design has improved or devolved w/ each expansion), but when I’ve gone back to DAoC or EQ, I’ve always been struck by how the games are plagued by the same old bugs and the same old clunky UI with very notable improvements. By doing this they have basically made it impossible for them to compete with newer MMOs even if they have superior design concepts and their subs have no where to go but down…

    So, it’s true that WoW has had 6 years on any new guys coming into the market, but some of these older games have had even longer to evolve and have failed themselves and their fans by not doing so.

  • @Merovingian:

    I´m not playing Rift nor Wow at the moment, because i´m sick of these kind of theme parks, but i wanted to get something straight. Since you are comparing Rift with WoW at launch(!)

    What you wrote is nothing but bullshit. Yes, i´m sorry but that´s the case, and that´s not even an oipnion. Reading this also makes me think you didn´t play the game at launch.

    Why? Let´s look at your points:

    Quantity of content?
    No. It had not enough quests to even get to lvl 60, you had to find a good grinding spot. There was no PvP in the way it came later. There was only one raid, MC, calling Onyxia a raid is too much…but whatever. There were more smaller dungeons and then strat/scholo/ubrs, however we burned thru them very easily.

    Size of the world, landmass?
    More landmass, but was rather empty and annoying to travel. Still compare it to Everquest and Azeroth becomes a joke when we speak of landmass.

    Exploration, non-linearity?
    Exploration is there in Rift and actually useful in terms of hidden loot and more. You can lvl with dungeons, quests, rifting or pvp. More than WoW offered at launch and there is race specific lore, in written form mostly however.

    Quantity of “end game” content? Ony was a joke and there was only MC. What endgame content?

    Quality of “end game” content? Bullshit, it was ten times more buggy than Rift was. To this day, everytime they add a new Raid i wonder myself if anyone there does test this things properly. The answer is no then, because they are always full with bugs.

    Lore? Rift is differnt, but that doesn´t make it less interesting. WoW´s lore is a rewritten Warhammer Fantasy. So don´t even start with Lore.

    So much for your points.

    As for server stability, Rift beats WoW at launch and long after it. Someone said, that was because of the mass of players, that is true, but it also shows they didn´t plan it properly, AND let´s not forget they launched later in europe and made the same(!) mistakes again. I don´t even start how often the server went down because they couldn´t even handle a small city raid or tarrens mill beating.

    @Kenn – I agree with you that most games came out not even close to what WoW was and is. And also that is ok to compare it today and not at launch like this guy above did.

    However i have a bit of a different opinion when it comes to Rift, having played both recently, WoW and Rift and i fail to see where Rift lacks quality compared to WoW, in fact i came across more bugs/cliches in WoW than in Rift. Most of them trivial but still there but nothing game breaking in both.

    So far Trion has done a good job and has no reason to hide behind Blizzard in my opinion, when it comes to quality or anything else. Still i have stopped playing it.

    As for going back to WoW, i found myself considering this too. But soon realized it was only because of good old memories, i know i would hate it again after one week. (if not sooner)

  • @Keen

    I’m not saying Rift should be compared to Vanilla WoW in regards to judging it’s worth. What I’m saying is no game can compete against WoW because it’s had six years of tweaking.

    I honestly don’t even think Titan will keep players away. As soon as they come across any hardship or lack of content they will just return to WoW. Why suffer through something new when they can stay with WoW?

    The vast majority of people playing WoW today are not the ones who started out playing it, obviously. However those people who are playing today can’t handle playing a fresh MMO. They are unable to accept faults or less content than WoW. No MMO will have as few bugs as WoW does when it launches. That dream should just be scraped, because of that no new MMO will be able to compete.

  • Keen, I think you’re right. The two games I could think of that were both high quality and successful were Eve Online and Guild Wars.

    Eve came out over a year before WoW did, May 2003 for Eve, and Nov 2004 for WoW. Eve’s quality takes a hit from its lag problems and some design elements that mar the user experience, such as making the Jita star system a bottle neck.

    Guild Wars isn’t a persistent world game. It’s a cooperative RPG. And I think Factions hurt its quality. If one considered Nightfall and Eye of the North on their own, I’d say the quality is higher than WoW’s. But it’s an apples to oranges comparison.

    I still play WAR because it’s such an accessible game with somewhat controlled world pvp. And I think that’s the only reason. Quality is shoddy. I certainly can’t and won’t get my friends to play it again. They’re all waiting in WOW for their next WOW tourist trips into SWTOR, The Secret World and Guild Wars 2. I’m hoping GW2’s quality is high enough to retain them.

  • I totally agree with Keen, I have tried every MMO under the sun after WoW (which I’m on the same on and off phase as Keen) and none has managed to keep me interested past month-month 1/2.

    Main reason for Blizz’s drug success? The combat, for me that was the breaking point for all MMOs.

    I mean lets face it, its all about the fighting that we mainly play MMOs, to conquer/kill/maim/triumph over other ppl.
    No other game has yet found the right combination of speed/combat info/fluidity/satisfaction the way that WoW has it nailed.

    All in all its a quality result that when in WoW you ‘re not playing your character you ARE him.

  • I agree. I have been thinking about getting back into WoW recently, but the only thing holding me back is… WoW is a very social oriented game, and I have no guild in WoW… and finding a guild is always kinda meh in my experience.

    Same reason I have stopped playing Rift as much, my guild kinda died and I didn’t wanna go through the process of finding a new one.

    For me at least it’s this social aspect that makes or breaks MMO’s. When I had a good guild that I could have a lot of fun with in WoW… I played ALL the time, when I don’t though I barely play if at all.

  • I’ve always tended to agree with what Keen says for the most part. And I thought that he was dead-on with his assessment of Rift. I both the CE for Rift, and while it was fun, it just doesn’t stand out in any way. WoW was created over 6+ years ago, Rift was released in 2011, and that is the best they can do? Right now Rift is only going to appeal to WoW bashers and/or those bored with other MMOs. But Rift is in now way revolutionary, cutting edge or unique in any shape or form.

  • Don’t you think it’s a bit ridiculous to call an MMO that currently has 2,5 million subscribers – a failure ? I’m referring to Aion.

  • @High Life: I’m very comfortable calling Aion an unsuccessful MMO because I am only talking about the Western market. Asia is a completely different puzzle to solve. The Asian MMO market displays what I consider to be extraordinarily odd behavior. They eat stuff like Aion up and love the monotonous gameplay of killing the exact same monster over and over again in rapid succession. This is why Aion does well in Asia but horrible in the West.

  • Was wow really super quality when it was released, or was it a combination of not being significantly worse than the competition + Blizzard name appeal? If wow had been made and released in the same exact condition by (example) Funcom, would it still have had the chance to go through the changes it went through to get really big, or would it have been (example) Funcom’s NGE/Trammel/whatever? I suspect the latter.

    Put Blizzard’s name on something, it’s going to be huge. Same with Bioware. To Blizzard’s credit, they have done a good job of using the cash they get from that name appeal to keep generating content that more normal people like (as opposed to folks who played EQ1 and UO). Keeping that normal folks audience nerdified while the nerds can’t help but satisfy their OCD-ness (gotta get the best gear!), and it’s a recipe for $$. We’ll see if Bioware can do the same with sweater.

  • Sorry, to clarify, by NGE/Trammel/whatever, I meant the changes to vanilla wow made to try to increase subs.

  • I always find these “debates” to come down to the idea that because more people play WoW, it must be better quality. No. Bad logic.

    Beta max vs. VHS anyone? Sometimes other factors influence this. I heard that with the original WoW vs EQ2 it was the price of playing a game with an old system or paying to update your computer. People pick whichever is cheapest usually regardless of quality.

    The only thing that made me want to stay in WoW, and I know others who play and feel the same, is not leveling a whole new character in another world. They tell me that they don’t want to start over. At some point though, I icky felt icky logging in.

    I guess for me, the discussion over which is better is like talking about which pair of shoes is better. Whichever one you like to wear is what it honestly comes down to. It’s like asking which was better, Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Arc.

  • The only people playing darkfall right now are the ones enshrined with characters that no human can compete against for a solid 6 months.

    DF has no newbie playerbase worth mentioning, 99% of them quit within the 14 day trial. Until that changes, the game is slowly dying. It may keep puttering along for a while longer, but attrition will win out when there is no new fish coming into the pond because they’re devoured instantly and repeatedly.

  • @Darkstryke:
    Darkfall on got what it deserved when it confused “sandbox” with “free for all PvP gank fest”. So does Mortal Online, by the way. The developer’s bad decisions are the only responsible for the downfall of those games.
    Sadly, that kind of amateurish developer, in their arrogance, still confuse “sandbox” and “forced PvP”. That’s the plague that stopped us from getting another good sandbox MMORPG after Ultima Online. It seems that people didn’t learn the lesson when Origin had to add “Trammel” in a hurry to save UO because all their players where bleeding away because of the mindless ganking in their game.

  • Addendum to the previous message:
    Seriously, what stopped the developers of Darkfall and Mortal Online of adding a PvE server with optional (flagged) PvP to their game? The customer potential was HUGE. The more I think about it, the more I believe those people can only be idiots or retards to refuse the PvE player base… or as I said, they are so arrogant and single minded that they didn’t want to adapt to the market believing their way is the only right way. Well, their bad, they pay the price for it.

  • @The Merovingian: Separate servers aren’t the answer, “sandbox” games should all subsist on the one ‘world’ mantra that games like EVE provide. Trammel mirrors also don’t work, you can’t just take a total pvp game and mirror it off for 100% safety – that’s just a lazy and frankly last ditch effort to milk the moneytree for a few more months.

    The real solution is to provide a balance that works, and pvp situations that have a low barrier of entry. You’re literally a walking loot bag in DF right now as a new player, and will remain as such for a solid 6 months because the barrier to not get your -you know what- pushed in is insane.

    That is entirely fixable, but for a game like DF it would basically require a total re-write of their combat system, its mechanics, the ‘pk’ rule-set and how they go about world building. I don’t see that happening, nor do I see that style of change happening to any other crappy ‘sandbox’ games on the market today.

  • @Merovingian Seriously, what stopped the developers of Darkfall and Mortal Online of adding a PvE server with optional (flagged) PvP to their game?

    Because pvp was not the only issue. PvP is red cloth raging carebears lunge at like bulls in corrida, but DF had deeper (like all “pvp” games had deeper issues”. For start there was absolutely nothing to do really except grinding mobs. It had no content. no sand in sandbox

    On top of that severe server problems (not as bad as SB but not smooth for first 6 months of their “release”)

    If you want discuss sandbox which failed SWG is prime example. Its has crapton of sandboxy stuff. The only problem ? -gameplay was PoS. PoS gameplay still works for eve though , so lesson is- there is market for masochists who will pay for shitty gameplay as long as it is open pvp AND sandbox.

    There is little market for feature rich sandboxes without consequences (SWG) and even less for featureless buggy pvp gankfests (DF ,Shadowbane)

  • WoW, Guild Wars and LOTRO have one thing in common – all these games create a world that allows suspension of disbelief, at least for a while. This is partly achieved through redundancy, which reduces and/or disguises the linear nature of the gameplay; related to this is quirkyness, artwork etc, which gives all these games a unique flavour.

    In reality this is the compelling thing that separates out these three titles from the rest rather than some nebulous concept of quality – Games like Rift, Aion, WAR etc. didn’t have a consistent and believable world design and that’s the root cause of their comparative failure.

    The problem is, you can’t get around this basic necessity by trying to spend your way out of it, you have to have the vision – This is why SWTOR and GW2 are the most anticipated new games ATM – both companies have a track record of making immersive games.

  • @Darkstryke: Separate servers are still a better solution than to pretend forcing everybody into a PvP gank fest. You are right about the game mechanics too, of course, but even then, a newbie in such a game will always be a walking loot bag. It’s the concept that is flawed, and even the developers of UO understood this just in time to save their game by adding Trammel.

    @Max: Yes, you are right, Darkfall also was a sandbox without any tools to shape the sand, which made things even worse. Mortal Online had more potential though, but the devs onces against stuck their heads in the sand and let the game degenerate into a gank fest. The only ones who seems to have understood this, beside UO 10+ years ago and Eve Online where newbies are “protected”, is the game named “Dawntide”.

    My point remains: if a decent company, with money to make good graphics, good servers and good gameplay, ever makes a sandbox oriented MMORPG without forced PvP, there is no reason for it not to be a success. Look at the success of Minecraft, which is a 100% sandbox game. The problem of all the crappy sandbox games made recently is that it was by small amateurish companies, with developers having their head so deeply stuck in their own asses with forced PvP despite all the negative feedback during beta that it was obvious they were doomed to failure.

  • This post shows the sad commentary of the current gen MMO player…like Keen.

    To believe the copy/paste skills of Blizzard outweighs companies trying to take what the market offers and up the game independent of a big name Corporate dictator…is truly depressing.

    I will agree, that success has not been seen by many games over the last few years…but to call Aion a failure because “Westerners” don’t like it…or to say Rift is not a good game because people leave to go back to their original heroin is delusional.

    I will just leave this here, and know it will be deleted, because how dare anyone disagree….but, myself and many others WILL be removing our feeds.

    /ranking out.

  • So Aion wasn’t a failure because the Asian market likes it and Rift wasn’t a failure because people leave it and go back to their original game? Oh, and it’s Blizzard doing the cut and paste, not everyone else copying them?

    My eyes are rolling sir. Buh-bye!

  • I am playing Rift at the moment after a month long break and am havinng a blast. Having said that I think Keen is spot on – it is not up to the standard of WoW.

    The biggest problem in Rift is its lack of soul (despite the irony of that). As someone pointed out above, even at launch WoW had starter zones for all of the races and lore to match. Rift is totally bankrupt in this area – race is meaningless beyond appearance and a feeble ability. The overall story is tepid and mildly juvenile, and the world map is tiny, with no hints that there is landmass beyond the borders of the established zones.

    I’m enhoying my time there but if I wasn’t so disappointed with the changes introduced in Cata so much it’s hard to say if I would have even stuck around after beta.

  • @RanknVile

    Madam/Sir, I believe Keen is specifically referring to Aion’s attempted grasp at the North American MMO market. If you were to review prior blog postings from Keen you would notice, in general, his analysis of MMO failures and successes focuses on the North American market.

    He was only providing observations and statement of facts of the Aion/North American Market debacle.

    I will not get into what is the definition of quality. That is a migraine trap. However, RanknVile, in case you should be bored by your remaining RSS feeds and look over these comments I put this to you: If Aion, WAR, PotBS, Vanguard, and etc., do not come close to projected long term financial earnings from multiple fiscal quarters or cause constant monetary losses occur to the company is that a “real world” success?

    /Horrorshow closet-bunker.

  • Last I checked Aion had 3.5 million subs and was second only to WoW. I hate the game myself but it is successful globally.

    On another note, its not that WoW was a quality game at release, its that it has had massive income for so many years to polish and add content like no other MMO has received. Its going to take another behemoth like EA the only other company with enough initial investment to match what Blizz/Acti has poured into WoW.

    Trion has done well for what funds they have been given by their private investors. I think people fail to realize there’s not many companies that can pony up like Activision. Rift just does not have the financial backing of Blizz and unless it can keep itself at 1 mill subs or higher for a lengthy period of time it cant compete with the funds that are pumped into WoW. That is why an EA backed mmo may be the only one to have a chance unless WoW unseats itself.