Thursday, November 7, 2013

Respect: the holy grail of MMOs

Developers and players seek what makes a good MMO. Most of them are stuck with the “fun” concept, which is fundamentally wrong. Not because “fun” is subjective and used by veldspar miners and miner-gankers alike, but because it’s an answer attempt to a different question: “what makes a good game”. “Game” is not equal to “Massively Multiplayer Online Game”. If there is a magic constellation of pixels that is universally considered fun, you just created an awesome single player game.

Adding other players to this perfect game is just a lame excuse to enforce an always-online DRM like it happened with Diablo III. The consensus of players - now accepted by Blizzard – is that the multi-player aspect of the game (trading items) made the game significantly worse.

The above means exactly what it means: the game implementation and content (“the pixels”) are relevant in creating a good game, but in no way matter in making this single player game a better MMO. The graphics quality and content amount of the MMOs of the “golden age” are laughable by the standards of today, yet they are remembered as the golden age. The remaining players of WoW are still claiming that the grindy and graphically weak (even by 2006-10 standards) Vanilla WoW and Burning Crusade were the pinnacle. Sales numbers agree.

Every MMO could be a single player game, just have a server where you are the only player. WoW leveling wouldn’t be affected, and as all players fondly remembering his first leveling, it would be a fun game, but obviously just for one run. SW:TOR built on this concept, “the fourth pillar” and got exactly as expected: lot of players for short time. I wouldn’t bet a dime on solo EVE though.

So you have a game and want to add some Holy Grail reagent that makes it an MMO that has more revenues than the single-player version. I gladly provide you that reagent: respectful interactions between players. That’s it. The player must interact with other players he respects and feel respected by that other player.

I’d like to emphasize that it’s a developer task and not a wish towards the players “please be nice and respectful”. The developer needs to govern player interactions to create this respect. EVE Online is doing surprisingly well on this, by its sandbox approach: not enforcing players to do things they don’t like just to progress their character. The frigate loller interacts with another frigate loller. While I clearly don’t respect them, they don’t have to care, because they don’t interact with me, but with each other and they consider this interaction a “good fight”.

Similarly no one is forced to be an “F1-monkey”, which is clearly a derogatory term for large-fleet pilots. But – again – they aren’t interacting with those who call them F1-monkeys, they interact with their fleetmates and hostile large-fleet pilots. The same applies for “carebears” who are happy building things together.

My widespread unpopularity in the EVE community comes not from the way I play, but from rudely intruding the spheres of other players and forcing them to interact. It applies to the miners I gank, the “skill PvP” pilots who has to read on EN24 that I have more kills than their whole corp and the large alliance-pilots who I call out for their bombless bombers and be smug about making ISK in the magnitude of their moon collection.

World of Warcraft – despite clearly being leagues better single player game than EVE – is doing horribly on the respectful interaction front. The optimal gearing path drives players to interact with players of different playstyles. Whoever figured out that the best-in-slot legendary PvE cloak needs winning PvP battlegrounds or that raid lockouts aren’t difficulty-wide (you can – therefore for optimal performance should – complete LFR even if you did heroic that week) should be forever banned from the industry and chained to a fast-food kitchen. LFR is called “looking for retards” and the feeling of players towards each other can be clearly seen from the fact that group kickvoting had to be practically removed because it was overused. In absence of kick, the behaviors that incited the kickvotes (AFK-ing, below-healer DPS or verbal abuse) became standard, making group play a hated chore for character progression for everyone. I can’t imagine anyone enjoying an LFR run, except for purposeful trolls who pull extra packs just to grief the team.

In the “golden age” of WoW the game itself was much worse, but you could completely isolate from the “noobs” or “no-lifers” and stick to your guild where other players were likely from similar background. The poison in the Wrath of Lich King expansion wasn’t the easy content, but Dungeon Finder, a tool that was optimal for getting Valor points at the cost of forcing you to interact with random players. WoW would have much better numbers not only if the game remained in BC difficulty but also if it would switch to an easy mode, chasing away all hardcore gamers, but either way having a more homogenous playerbase. 30K DPS isn’t bad on its own. It becomes bad when the other guy has 80K on a healer spec and he is in the same raid. He will see you a worthless dead weight he is forced to carry, while you will see him an abusive asshole no-lifer intruding your relaxing activity.

For future MMO developers I’d suggest to put their focus on respectful player interactions. In discussing every feature ask “will the player respect the other players he meets here”?

For Blizzard I’d suggest to immediately create different, non-merged servers for different level and type of activities. The basic, leveling server should only have 5-man, LFR and random BG features with no means to gain Valor or Conquest points. This would be the home of “for fun” players. For normal mode raiding and Valor points one has to transfer for the normal server, where the only flexible and normal raid difficulties exist, heroic scenarios and challenge mode dungeons for smaller groups. Hard mode raiding would be on a different server which has no other raiding content (but increased Valor gain from heroic bosses). Conquest-giving PvP would be yet on a different server. In these servers somewhat homogenous communities would exist for the happiness of all.

For CCP there is still room for improvement, despite already being much better than any competition in turning a game into MMO. The problematic zone is highsec: many PvP-ers are “forced” to have highsec farmalt due to highsec being the most profitable. This should be fixed. Separating highsec Sisters LP from Nullsec Sisters LP is a good start, but 50% is way too small for incentivizing PvP-ers to earn their ISK in PvP zones. I think mining or shooting rats for an hour should give 4-5x more rewards in lowsec and 10x more in nullsec/WH than it gives in highsec. This way no PvP-er is forced to be something he hates: a highsec carebear (even if "just on an alt").

On the other hand safety in highsec should be increased. I have hundreds of mails and conversations proving that PvP combat with highsec miners doesn’t increase their gaming enjoyment. They fiercely resist the idea that they should have PvP fitting (tank) on their ship, instead they believe that their ships will be safe when I “stop being a dick”. Concord response time could be decreased and concord manipulation removed, along with awoxing and wardecs, letting these players play the way they want. Remember, they are customers too and not NPCs placed there for your enjoyment. They are right that I should go away and fight with people who can fight back, but currently I have no incentive to, as I get much more kills this way (132B solo-dualbox last month), and this is a bad design: the optimal way of getting PvP results should be ... PvP-ing and not slaying miners.

On second thought, this is a good reason to gank: to force CCP to fix highsec to unprofitable and safe, like PL forced them to fix titans by AoE-doomsdaying down a carrier.

To emphasize the necessity of making player interactions be respectful for the health of the MMO, let's see two morons who choose to pull the plug as the result of interacting with me:

23 comments:

Anonymoose said...

If EVE is so great because of it's "respectful interactions between players" how would making highsec safer work to increase those?

wouldn't eliminating suicide ganking, awoxing, and wardecs reduce interactions in highsec to mining ops and incursions?

also when would freighters ever be blown up? what happens to those events like burn Jita and ice interdictions?

Anonymous said...

I have not played WoW, so please pardon the question, but what forces the 'elite' players to use the public raid finder in WoW? Why can't the elite players raid with their guild-members, or with members of other elite guilds, with maybe using the public system to plug any holes in the lineup, the way elite incursion corporations in EVE do?

Gevlon said...

@First anonymous: because the typical highsec player WANT mining and incursions and not PvP

@Second anonymous: because in progress period, you get no gear from heroic raiding as you are killing just a few bosses. The gear upgrades come from other sources like LFR. Bad design.

Sjonnar said...

A few years ago, you said that WoW was doomed the minute Blizzard segregated the hardcore raiders and the M&S on different servers. Your reasoning was that it was important for the M&S to believe they were just as good as the hardcore raiders or they would leave en masse. Now you say that Blizzard should segregate not only hardcores from M&S but casual raiders and PVP players as well.

What's changed to make you change your mind?

Anonymous said...

"because in progress period, you get no gear from heroic raiding as you are killing just a few bosses. The gear upgrades come from other sources like LFR. Bad design."

So many things wrong with this.

First, you can LFR with your guild and avoid public players.

Second, LFR is worse than upgraded heroic gear from the previous tier, so it's not an upgrade at all.

Third, most guilds doing heroic modes will clear normal versions of each boss they can't do on heroic, so they are still getting a full raids worth of gear that's better than LFR each week.

The only reason to do LFR is at the very start to try to grab some set bonuses that are worth downgrading your ilvl for, or for valor which is easily capped elsewhere. And like I said, you can do those with your guild.

Gevlon said...

@Sjonnar: because I believed (and Blizzard too), that the illusion of equality can be upheld. The reason for this mistake is that we only saw the raiding population and "bad player" was the one in the bottom of the chart with 60% of the #1.

Lord Marrowgar, the first boss of the last raid of WotLK was killed by 84000 10-man guilds. This covered about 10% of the WotLK playerbase. So the "n00b" we saw at the bottom of the chart in a trade pug, coming from a "failguild" that only killed a few bosses was actually a top 10% player.

Such player could be faked equal by welfare gear and boosting. I still say that many of such players will leave if he is locked into a lower tier server. Without separation he could believe that while he has a "bit worse gear", he is just as good as the rest.

Now, that LFR exposed us to the rest, we see that the illusion of equality becomes a joke. It's clear to everyone, including the M&S himself that doing half of the damage of a healer is a fail. No amount of welfare gear and "I play less" can cover that difference, therefore playing together is an annoyance to EVERYONE involved (as opposed to only to the boosting player in case of smaller difference).

Rammstein said...

@sjonnar:

"A few years ago, you said that WoW was doomed the minute Blizzard segregated the hardcore raiders and the M&S on different servers. ...

What's changed to make you change your mind?"

WoW has lost millions of subscribers and appears headed to lose millions more. Taken literally, I don't think Gevlon has changed his mind. Now that the cat's already out of the bag, he's prescribing a different strategy for Blizzard, because the old strategy of "don't let the cat out of the bag" isn't very useful anymore. Changing advice for a changed situation doesn't qualify as 'changing your mind.'.

Why not put the cat back in the bag? Blizzard should, by releasing a new MMO with snazzy new graphics and mechanics, but trying to hit that larger balance that they had in vanilla WoW.

dobablo said...

Playing with others but not socially interacting with them is a prime example of the moba games. In these it is interacting with characters that act only semi-predicatbly that makes them better than single-player games.

IMO, group finder tools in games are welcome, since you can't always have a group ready for you when you are ready, but there needs to be encouragement to make the extra effort to engage in community-based events, since that is where more gratifying content exists.

daniel said...

"My widespread unpopularity in the EVE community comes not from the way I play, but from rudely intruding the spheres of other players and forcing them to interact."

i think, it comes more from you openly shitting on everybody, calling allmost everyone a moron, an idiot and whatsoever.

all of that while often doing posts where it is very clear that you didn't do a proper research on the topic in question - yet claiming that you are right, everybody else is wrong and an idiot.

you must understand that this is a behaviour that ... well, think about if you want to be treated like that.


p.s.: on yesterdays post: i too am confused, in the beginning you claimed your corps goal to be educational, but by now, it's getting more and more, i don't want to say obvious, but, at least odd that you spend more and more time on elaborating how to gank just everything that is positiving your killboard, you openly advertise that as a benefit of your corp, and allmost everyday you say, how awesome your kb-stats are.

i just am confused on your eve goals.

mesar said...

I disagree with you.

I think that High sec is not too bad now, It shouldn't be safer. The reasons which make me think this are the following ones:

You think that respect is important, it's right, but I think that respect cannot be enforced without one other thing: consequencies.
In Wow, you can be a totally asshole, people have absolutely no way to make you pay for that, and you can completly ignore their grief and continue to be an asshole in every heroic/raid/BG whatever.

In Eve, you will always find someone who will use your "assholitude" against you.
You are rude: you will find a PvP corp who will be pissed off and wardec you
You use deffamation: you will always find someone who will be expert at reporting such thing (it's working i have witnessed it)
you are stupid: gankers and scammers will take care off you

And it works in every direction: Im a carebear and a miner and im regulary tempted to take an account to make suicid ganking and grieffing dec on stupid people (limitation on my side: time and money)

Its not perfect, i agree, but it keeps some guys in line, and all of this play a darwinian role that, in the end, make the dumber ragequit, avoiding that they contamine other people by their ideas of completly dumbing down the game, or destroying the work of other by their vain dream of glory that they concretise by removing competent leader from corp and taking their place until the corp is falling.

It doesn't always work, there will always be some morons that are making stupid thing, stupid demand and stupid putch.
But for me ganking, scamming, wardeccing in high sec is something necessary to keep Eve in good health

Of course we could improve a lot of thing, but i think we must improve thing that obliged people to use their head to make them safer (corporation right management, Pos right management, procurer and skiff, different types of indus, more possibility to kick and track awoxer).
But putting rainbow unicorn with magic fairies (high sec perfectly safe) is not the solution.
Note that i think that putting demons everywhere (suppression of high sec) is a worst solution

Von Keigai said...

EVE is polarized. It offers both good and bad. Joy and sorrow. Love and hate. Both are draws, for the one is meaningless without the other. You have good days in EVE, where you find a special something, get a super gank, or whatever. And you have bad days, where you grind to no effect, or get ganked.

And this applies to "respect" too. Just as it requires the possibility of real loss to make real gains interesting, the possibility of "disrespect" is required to make respect valuable. Put another way: friends are relatively meaningless without enemies. It is the latter that creates the need for the former. Friends you don't need you won't know soon enough.

This is what you don't understand. EVE has the best monsters of any game ever created: you and me, and Penny Abromowitz, and the Goons, and pirates, and so many others. The AI that CCP's monsters have is simply stunning. And we are, indeed, huge dangers for those we victimize. Because there is real loss in EVE, and we are smarter, higher skilled, and better informed than our victims, we inflict real loss. And indeed, a handful of the weak and stupid and ignorant actually quit because they experience sufficient loss.

But all that is part of the game. It is necessary for the game. For every one that quits, there are 100 that take the hit, hate the game for a day or two, then come back with renewed determination to succeed. And part of that determination, at least outside of highsec, is that they need friends. Not just to lol about with, but instrumentally.

It is to be hoped that CCP does not believe as you do. We do not need less conflict in highsec. We need more. We need to create a game in which, even in highsec, every player needs friends.

Sjonnar said...

"It's clear to everyone, including the M&S himself that doing half of the damage of a healer is a fail."

So you now believe that the M&S accept that they are worthless, that in fact they are of negative worth, (that an empty slot is better than having one of them along) and they're okay with that?

Specifically, you no longer believe that they will leave if relegated to the "LOL server" with only other M&S for company and no decent players to cover up their fail? Even if they are unable to raid at all because no amount of nerfing can make them not M&S?

Kethry Avenger said...

I think this the is the seed of a good idea.

For Eve since I have never played WOW. I think that it would kill the game if you eliminated all risk, having some risk everywhere is part of what makes EVE, EVE. I wouldn't be opposed to some of these ideas. Better scaling of rewards from high, to low, to null. I think the mining ships need to be a lot tankier, but I don't think it should be in the base stats. I think they should be given the fitting room of battle cruisers, since on the latest ship charts that's where they place them. Smart miners can tank and get more yield, paranoid miners can go crazy tank and dumb players will get learning opportunities.
For the newest players I wouldn’t be opposed to a safe starter system. Only new players 1 month or younger start there but once they leave they cannot come back. Some very basic market stocked by NPC’s of civilian gear, and only T1 stuff so they can run missions or mine in T1 frigs. At the end of the month they get moved next door with all their stuff transferred by Interbus.

Anonymous said...

"Lord Marrowgar, the first boss of the last raid of WotLK was killed by 84000 10-man guilds. This covered about 10% of the WotLK playerbase."

Again, nope. 84,000 guilds killed Marrowgar on 10 man. This does not mean only 840k players killed Marrowgar. My guild at the time had 80 members. All 80 of them killed Marrowgar (in fact, almost all of them killed Marrowgar on heroic), but we only count for 1 in that list of 84,000. I don't know how WowProgress counts guilds, but they show 99.68% of guilds killing Marrowgar. This similarly does not translate to 99.68% of players killing Marrowgar because not every player in a guild will get a kill.

"So the "n00b" we saw at the bottom of the chart in a trade pug, coming from a "failguild" that only killed a few bosses was actually a top 10% player."

Even if the above 10% number were true, this does not follow. I was the top healer in a 200th ranked guild, and had an active wow account during Cataclysm, but never killed any bosses in Firelands since I wasn't raiding at the time for personal reasons. But it'd be insane to say that the people you call morons and slackers were better than me. Similarly, many people play the game only to PvP, and would be completely capable of succeeding in raiding but have no interest. 90% of people not killing Marrowgar (which again is a completely faulty figure) does not translate to 90% of people being unable to kill Marrowgar.

If you are going to include people who aren't actually competing, why not just include the whole human population. That makes us all in the top 0.003% players at EVE!

Gevlon said...

@Daniel: "shitting on everyone" is equal to "interacting with people you don't share common values". If you go in western clothes into Iran, they feel shitted on.

Being effective in ganking and teaching people to tank are the same, assuming you send the teaching info after every gank.

@Mesar: in EVE all consequences can - and usually are - evaded by using alts.

@Von Keigai: being defeated in PvP isn't a bad playing experience by default. After all every PvP engagement must be lost. If the opponent is respectable, it's a good fight.

It's interacting with an asshole that poisons the experience.

@Sjonnar: no, the M&S never accepts his failure. But he will see that he is observed and considered (wrongfully of course) as a failure by the evil no-lifers.

I was wrong assuming that Blizzard simply can't nerf the content to the point where M&S can complete it. That stacking LFR buff, openly rewarding being bad is the product of an evil mastermind.

Lucas Kell said...

@Gevlon
"If you go in western clothes into Iran, they feel shitted on."
Nice bit of racism there.

""shitting on everyone" is equal to "interacting with people you don't share common values"."
No, shitting on everyone is when you keep calling people morons, idiots, slackers, etc. You do this without understanding what drives people. You take what matters to you, you reflect it on them and you insult them.
That's why people don't like you. It has nothing to do with you action in game. You are not the first ganker and certainly not the last. It has nothing to do with your intrusions into their play.
Do you not realise that the way you speak to and about people is utterly disgraceful? It's rude for the sake of being rude. I know you like to think it's because you've studied the situation, and come to a conclusion, but it's not. You enter the situation with the full intention of calling the other person a moron, then you hammer nonsense theories into place until you can make up a reason why they are.

Sometime I wonder if you are even capable of understanding you behaviour from an external perspective.

Gevlon said...

@Lucas: of course I could always apologize for my opinion and act like I wouldn't consider them morons, but why?

Let's face it, we consider people who we disagree with "wrong". If we'd think they are right, we'd change our opinion.

If someone is utterly wrong (in my opinion), he is a moron. This is what I think of him. And this is what you think of him if you equally disagree. You are just a coward to tell it into their face.

Anonymous said...

"Being effective in ganking and teaching people to tank are the same, assuming you send the teaching info after every gank."

What teaching info did you send after you ganked a tanked Mackinaw with a Talos, for a net profit of -50M? Was it something like, "do things my way or you're wrong?" Because "say no to gankers, tank your ship" kind of sounds stupid at that point.

Quite the large amount of respect, there. But then again, you're incapable of respecting others, so this whole post is nothing more than propaganda. Your definition of "respect" is "do things my way."

Gevlon said...

The Talos gank was profitable. I gained 350M on my killboard, and actually, expected much more and risked. T2 rigged ships use to have better pods.

Indeed I don't respect untanked miners, nor they respect me. This is the point. The game developer should prevent our interaction and replace it with interactions between people of similar values.

daniel said...

"If you go in western clothes into Iran, they feel shitted on."

actually you can do that - without shitting on anyone.

yes, if you walk into a mosque not wearing long trousers you definitely piss of the people, but not only in iran, but in every other country's mosque as well.
acting respectful is a nice thing to do, towards any culture, religion, person etc pp.

iran isn't that axis-of-evil-empire that our western media try to tell you - but that's another story.


in your own interest you should read Lucas' last comment again.

a person that i disagree with doesn't have to be wrong for:
a) as we say in german, a coin always has two sides.
and b) it is possible that i am the one who is wrong.

and, it is not about being right or wrong, or you being right or wrong, it is about the tone in which you are talking/writing about other people and their playstyle.

you complain that your achievments in the game are not recognized by the established players (whom you were calling morons and idiots and so on from your very first eve beginnings).

take a minute and think about the following:

let's assume lillypad is calling you a moron, a slacker, an idiot and a nolifer every single day.
now it happens that she's been playing wow for some time, and she achieved to kill some kind of endboss (sry, never played it, so don't know what a proper achievement in wow is), or gathered the golden helmet of pandaland or whatsoever.
and she keeps calling you an idiot, a moron, a slacker, a nolifer and so on, and in the next sentence she wants you to recognize her achievement, and you are totally pissed, cause she's been calling you words all day long.

would you really be able to put aside you being pissed, and tell her that she's done a good job, and encourage her to go on?

would you?


i think that sooner or later you will have to decide if you want to keep on being the outcast, not because nobody likes you, but because you tell everybody that you dislike him,
or
do you want to become a respected and recognized member of a community that is playing the pretty much most awesome mmo that there is?

i think you still have time to make that decision, but in the near future you will have to decide,
and
you will have to live with your decision.


it is your choice, your's alone.

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon

Let's face it, we consider people who we disagree with "wrong". If we'd think they are right, we'd change our opinion.

You can consider people to be wrong and respect their opinion, especially when the position is rationally argued and there are valid points on the opposing side. It doesn't mean you have to agree or change your mind, but it does mean they deserve a modicum of respect from you, especially because the counter positions are often more supported with rational argument than your original premise.

What Lucas is getting at is that you can disagree with people without being rude and offensive. It is called having a rational grown up discourse.

Also, consider once in a while changing your opinion on things. Often your arguments follow the pattern of asserting a premise in a blog post and then over a series of blog posts arguing around in circles until you declare your original premise correct even in the face of arguments to the contrary.

Show a little bit of respect for your readers as well as a bit of humility and maybe people might take you a little more seriously - or at least give you the respect that you feel you so richly deserve.

Anonymous said...

" For every one that quits, there are 100 that take the hit, hate the game for a day or two, then come back with renewed determination to succeed."

@Von Keigai: While I do agree with you that there is a dark beauty to the game (EVE *is* special)... I think that it's a lot more than that that quit. The player base isn't growing... sure people have more accounts, but I think a LOT of people try EVE and quit. And not all that quit did so because they weren't clever enough for the game... it's very hostile to new players.

LR

Lucas Kell said...

@Gevlon
"If someone is utterly wrong (in my opinion), he is a moron. This is what I think of him. And this is what you think of him if you equally disagree. You are just a coward to tell it into their face."
Well no, I don't think someone is a moron simply for being wrong. We are all wrong at some point in our lives about a multitude of things and for varying reasons.

When it comes to the types of things we have on here, there are generally no ways to totally prove one side right and the other wrong. Mining for example, I never tank yet never get ganked. In your opinion, I would be wrong, since I don't tank, but in my opinion, others are wrong for focusing too much on tank and not enough on raw yield. Neither side is inherently right or wrong, they are two differing yet valid opinions.

Now even if someone is proven to be wrong, they are not a moron for simply having been wrong. Sure, it could be said that given the complete facts of a situation, yet still doing the wrong thing and complaining about it could make them a moron, not for being wrong, but for not taking all of the relevant information into account when it was freely given to them, and instead pushing on without adapting. This is not so much moronic as insane though to be fair, with a definition of insanity being repeating a task over and over in exactly the same way, but expecting differing results.

Brought to a real life example, and walking on the edge a bit, take for example religion. There are several conflicting religions, with millions of believers in each. If, somehow, one was proven to be right, with absolute irrefutable proof, would all other believers be morons because their faith was not "correct"?

Subscribe to the goblinish wisdom