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Tim's Thoughts on MMOs
October 14, 2004

Egads, folks. It's been two months and I've gotten one submission! Well, this can't go on any longer! So I'll post it and hope you folks get on the bandwagon. This time, the editorial is by our own Timothy Duong, writer/illustrator of Lores, RPGFan's second comic series. He takes Zameda to task on the MMO issue.

As usual, feel free to write in regarding any topic, but if you need something specific, the MMO argument is just heating up. So let's revisit it and see if we can get any more views on the subject. Where do you see the MMO genre going from here?



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This Week's Question: Where do you see the MMO genre going from here?
 
 
Tim's Thoughts on MMOs

In reply to Zameda’s editorial about MMORPGs, I’d like to share my thoughts and put into question some of his statements.

My first question would have to be: How many MMORPGs do you have to play before you have accumulated enough data to consider yourself in a “good spot” to talk about MMORPGs?

If Final Fantasy XI is not a success, I would surely like to see some mention of one that is. I would also like to hear Zameda’s definition of success, while we’re at it. From what I can gather from the editorial, success must be accompanied not only by one of the largest followings in the MMORPG world to date, but also push what limits the genre has been faced with. Well, Zadema, which MMORPG has done so?

To the best of my knowledge, I would have to say that Final Fantasy XI is in fact a great success. Not only for delivering a quality game, but backing it up with little to no lag issues, bug and glitch patches that does not require another patch to fix new problems implemented during the last patch and so forth. The community is as strong as any. The game’s economy, though not as stable as one would like, is plagued not by bad mechanics, but bad players. The greatest tool in the hands of an imbecile is no better than a great question in the hands of a would be MMO expert.

Now, meat and potatoes…

Major MMORPG releases. Indeed, one would name Everquest 2 and World of Warcraft. But where does one fit Matrix Online into that batch? If you say that Final Fantasy is a success because of the title slapped onto the cover of the box, upon what basis have you made your claims? Everquest 2 will be a success because it is an Everquest game. World of Warcraft will be a success because it has Warcraft and Blizzard fans. Matrix Online will feed on the Matrix franchise for its $10 a month.

Three major problems you say?

“Character gimping,” by your definition, happens when stats are permanent and a character cannot function if said stats are distributed improperly. Well, I have news for you, young padawan, because that is exactly what Star Wars Galaxies does not do. You want a skill-tree? Star Wars is just that. You want it to be non-damaging if done wrong? Star Wars lets you reallocate skills as you go along.

“…Being stuck in that role for the life of that character.” More news for you, Final Fantasy XI lets you change classes and does not penalize you for doing so. You can play through every single class if you like with the same character and still maintain the level you acquired with each as you progress. So, kind Zameda, you might want to play or at least research it before you make claims against a game.

“…Moving away from item dependency.” Oh wow, surprise, surprise…more news for you! A Tale in the Desert is probably the greatest example of non-item dependency. Furthermore, the three games you hail as, “Major MMOs” do nothing to change the norm of items within the MMORPG realm. And to be quite honest, I don’t see a point to it. Items have played a role in the RPG circle since the genre was conceived. Why do you want it to change now? Look at where we’ve been before coughing up delusions of where you want us to go.

Next up is the fantasy world, which most MMORPGs are based in. Well, I’ve mentioned A Tale in the Desert before and here it is again. An MMORPG based around the construction of an empire during a time when Egypt was at the height of its power. Earth and Beyond, though no longer with us, was a world deep in outer space where you were the pilot of a ship, going about surviving the harsh new territory while trying to gain power through multiple corporations. EVE is also based in outer space. Anarchy Online, though having swords and powers resembling magic, is brought to life in the very distant future, leaving behind the mystical realms of fantasy and jumping head first into science fiction.

You love City of Heroes because it “forgoes the swords and sorcery for tights and bright colors.” But what else does the game bring to the MMORPG genre? How deep is the game itself? Is it nothing more than a fancy character creation engine tossed in with fun battle mechanics? Is there anything other than fighting that can be done in the game? Right, that’s what I thought.

And now for your last paragraph: A great concept indeed, to be able to affect the world in a more permanent fashion. To see enemies rise and fall; to see players raised on top of a great pillar and called a hero; unique quests that only one player or party can complete per server. Having your name written in stone and introduced into the lore for all to see…but too bad it isn’t on original idea. In fact, it’s been done since the time of the first Everquest. Just look behind Everquest and you’ll see Asheron’s Call. Monthly updates and quests let players feel like they have control over the future of the world. Hordes would rise and they would fall by the hands of the players never to be seen again…

Next time you claim to be savvy in any given field, be sure that no one smarter or more informed than you comes along, ok?

- Timothy Duong

Damian:

While MMOs are not my cup of tea (played a few Korean ones that weren’t very good) they are definitely here to stay. Apparently, though, the opinions about how to improve MMOs are quite varied and spark heated debate. Let’s hear from you folks; does Zameda have the answer, or is Tim the man with the plan? Tell us, folks!



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