Are we Spoiled as Gamers?
By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor), OnRPG Journalist
Back in the old days we used to play hours or even days with just a simple toy such as a cube. Nowadays we cannot get enough satisfaction out of a game. Why is that? Most of the new released MMORPGs have everything you ever wished for, but it still doesn’t give us enough satisfaction to stick to the game. Are we tired of the cube and do we want to play with a ball? Or are we simply just spoiled and growing up? In this article I will give you a look at the most dependable features developers forget.
The start of the genre ‘Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game’.
Back in the 70’s games focused on gameplay without a worry of any bells and whistles such as graphics and sound. What choice did they have? This was a necessity and not a choice. Games such as Pong and Space Invader are still very popular games created in the 70’s, and the concept is simple but working. No one realized at the time that this was the base for what would become the multi-million dollar industry it is today. Jump forward to the age of the Internet and MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons) had begun to evolve. Though simple like Space Invaders in terms of graphics, these simple creations were the base of something greater.
The Current Success of the MMORPG
There are hundreds of released MMORPGs nowadays, maybe even more than a thousand, but only a few of them are really successful. Why are they successful? What is the big secret of games such as World of Warcraft, Guildwars, Lord of the Rings Online, RIFT, and Everquest?
What makes them so popular? The following factors are in my opinion key to a game’s success:
Most of the stories are plain and require little thought for a gamer to comprehend. There is almost always a division between factions, often based on racial differences at war for global domination or revenge. When its broken down into the obvious components like this is really makes the storyline seem cheesy. But why is a story such an important factor for a game? A lot of MMORPGs lack the depth of a story, it is just poorly made up and has no history or background of what happened earlier at all. Even worse are the games that have deep back stories but merely post them on their websites rather than integrating it into the gameplay itself. In the end most players have a vague knowledge of the surrounding storyline but never feel a vested interest in their character’s role or goals. Sadly Guild Wars was one of the only games to ever really get this right, and for some reason few developers have felt the need to invest time in recapturing the same feel Guild Wars accomplished so long ago.
The gameplay is what truly makes or breaks a game. This is by far in my opinion the most important factor of a game, cause who else wants to play a game with clunky controls, lack of freedom and broken game mechanics? Take for example a game such as Minecraft, this game has just the perfect gameplay in every possible way. Even though the graphics suck by modern standards, the game is widely viewed as a success. Yet Minecraft is a mysterious outlier among a sea of games with amazing graphics and no substance.
Honestly I am a graphics whore. I am not saying for example 8bit games are ugly but give me my PS3 sparkles anyday. You might call me spoiled but the first visual impression is what sells me on a game. However for developers, graphics are an extremely costly factor to improve on. It becomes even more hit and miss when dealing with MMOs as the more intense you go on graphics, the more players you are barring from entering the game.
I feel like with technology improving as it is though, this limiting factor will soon be a thing of the past. Greater graphics are being programmed more smoothly to function on lower end machines than ever before! Though I’m sure game companies will continue taking the easy way out and pretending nothing has changed for as long as possible to keep costs down.
How important is the music in a game? You would say it is just a minor factor that would make the game a success but this plays a vital role in the overall aesthetics of a. Imagine hearing the same song or tune over and over, no matter the area you are walking in. Or imagine if the sound of your fireball exploding and sword hitting a shield is exactly the same. This might scare people off and make them mute the sound. I have a friend who has such a pet peeve over repetitive sounds that he has quit games because of it. OnRPG’s Chief Editor once even face planted his keyboard while playing Maplestory after being lulled to sleep by its repetitive and calming music.
The Lack of Support
Some companies make a game and quit giving support after a short while. This is one of the most comment reasons given as to why people quit. Lack of content, no updates and hackers/botters taking control of the realm combine into an unholy quagmire that no player should have to endure. In the end this results in games shutting down, merging or closing their servers. To companies that don’t prioritize community support, I wish the same fate of their corporation that their doomed games suffer again and again.
Are We Spoiled?
No I think we’re not. I think the problem lies at the companies. The development teams might not get enough time to finish their games. This results in missing content and features on the release date or just simply too many bugs which turn people off.
The root of this issue of course is money hungry companies focused no short term gains. I’m not going to name companies but some of them kill games with their stupid ideas just to get more money. Can you blame them? No not really because everyone wants money but it causes serious long term damage to the game and brand of the company itself.
Just as bad is when these companies undersell the development cost and run out of cash well before the game is through its development cycle. This leads to games released to early with the hope that they can sustain long enough to complete the development cycle post launch. News flash, in today’s competitive industry you won’t survive that long! The conclusion in my eyes is plain and simple. To achieve a goal it requires time, money, dedication, and strong communication between developers, publishers, and their gaming community. Let me know what your take is on this, register on the forum and let me know!