In the comments to my last post, Klinger made a comment that really resonated with what I’ve been looking at lately.
I loved EQ2’s combat system. The Heroic Finisher or Chains or whatever it was called.
I also truly adored the tradeskill system. You REALLY had to pay attention and if you did, you could make a regular cloak into something awesome. Also the fact that you had fully crafted armor sets at each 10-19, 20-29, 30-39, etc. level break was really neat.
EQ2 did a LOT of things right.
The things that killed them, though, were the HEAVY system requirements and the severe lack of community. I don’t know if it’s a SOE thing, but it doesn’t seem like the info on quests, items, or walkthroughs are as easy to get with EQ2 as it is with wow.
Think about it – what if wow didn’t have wowhead, thottbot, alakhazam, or any of the numerous blogs or class guide forums. EQ2 may have some of that stuff now, but even 2 years after it’s release, it had NOTHING on wow in terms of community.
WE made wow successful. Blizzard made a great game, I agree, but the community keeps it going and makes us want to play it for the last 6 years.
I agree with so many of his points, I just had to make a post out of it.
When deciding on playing an MMO other than WoW, there is more to consider than the game itself. There is also the community.
When you buy the World of Warcraft, you get access to the game that Blizzard designed and implemented.
On top of that, you also have available the work of thousands of WoW players, enthusiasts and fans who have researched, analyzed and in some cases gushed over the years the game has been out.
Some of the things available are clearly there because smart folks said to themselves, “11 Million players that want to know where the damn quest item is… that’s a lot of potential pagehits.”
Others exist out of pure enthusiasm and fun.
Can you imagine playing WoW without any player-created addons of any kind whatsoever? No custom UI, no Omen, no Recount, no Map mods or coordinate displays.
Heck, think about that. No coordinates addon, and no place to research where a quest item could be found with the coordinates listed for you.
No WoWhead database kept carefully maintained, and no awesome players that go to WoWhead to share their experiences with quests or items or where they were lucky enough to find something or how they managed to take down something tricky.
No writers with their own websites, just chatting away about their experiences playing different classes, and sharing tips on how to get the most out of them… or at least sharing commonly made mistakes to keep you from doing the same.
No fan driven news sites to help you know what’s going on, what to expect, what to be on the lookout for.
If it wasn’t for MMO Champion and WoWhead and Hunter bloggers and the players of the game sharing their experiences on those sites, I never would have known about the Spirit Bear pet available to Hunters to tame in the 3.2 patch, where he could be found, or had an addon that constantly scanned the area for a Unique critter Spirit Bear so I knew if he popped up.
Value added service.
Something no company can plan on providing on their own. There is simply no way a company can devote the resources, the hours, the money to come up with all the amazing things that you, the readers, provide to the community yourself. The skills that you each have on your own, researching or programming or testing or being enthusiastic and positive and sharing that energy, that you each provide on websites and in forums and blogs throughout the world.
Perhaps the MMO developer of the future, to try and capture some of the success of WoW, will have to devote serious thought on making it easy for a community to form.
Something beyond “We can haz official forums”.
Perhaps something on their official website that has a page listing instructions and resources for making your own fan blog, like a “How to get started on Blogspot or WordPress.”
Or a plan to have Blue posters like Blizzard does that really are dedicated to answering intelligently asked questions and revealing plans and taking suggestions, whether they get seriously looked at or implemented or not.
Or a posted way to contact them if you are interested in creating your own mods, addons, or database program so as to get more info on database structure or programming rules.
The transparency of Blizzards’s addon functionality was one of the most amazing things ever during the first year, and the Macro section as well, just fantastic. And the players have taken it by storm.
There is something about being able to create your own custom experience that draws people in. Take a look at any collection of player UI screenshots, and tell me that all of those players could have had the same level of long term enjoyment if they were stuck with the default UI.
In fact, having addon creators in house, who had the responsibility to make addons that could customize the UI in various ways, provide options beyond the default… that’s not a bad idea either. Of course, if you write it, someone will demand customer support for it, but still.
Can you imagine the possibilities if there were an in-house addon development team that played the game during Beta, and when faced with different things that were annoying, could say, “I wish there were a tool for that… and if I wish it, someone else might too. Let’s write one for people to have, IF they want it.”
Part of the joy of the game is having the basics there to enjoy, but also having tons of custom made tools to add… IF you want to.
I know that if I were spending millions developing an MMO, and had all that invested in it’s success, I would be doing everything I could to get buy-in from the players, encourage them to WANT to make the game their own and feel involved in it’s success.
Seriously, Blizzard has changed the nature of gaming by giving players the tools up front to be able to create macros and addons, and the players themselves took the reins further.
Any game developer owes it to themselves to take that into account. It’s not enough to be a product developer, create your MMO, have a website with a forum, and then release the game and sit back, expecting the players to do everything else.
Like it or not, expectations have changed. There will inevitably be comparisons.
I don’t think anyone will expect the community to be there overnight… but people WILL expect an MMO developer to be in partnership with the players, sharing information to some extent and actively helping people get started. The last thing any player is going to expect from an MMO developer is to be aloof and distant, isolated from player concerns, and silent.
Almost makes me wonder what crazed lunatic would willingly WANT to embark on creating an MMO as a business model.