Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What makes an MMO different from WoW?

MMOs with lot of money backing them are developed by major studios. One by one they are announced as the "next big thing" only to fall by the sword of World of Warcraft. Only EVE Online could maintain its existence and profitability on the long run. I believe the reason for it is that EVE is different from WoW, therefore address another playerbase. The fallen MMOs were not different, therefore players have little reason to switch.

What makes an MMO different from WoW? No, not the graphics or the story. Having Caldari instead of Alliance and Guristas instead of Gnolls does not make EVE different. Using blasters instead of swords neither. Having 12km optimal range instead of 40 yards spell range ditto. These are "lore" changes, the gameplay is the same: you approach mob or enemy player, use ability, one of you dies. An FPS where you have to manually aim is different gameplay.

Where is EVE different from WoW:
  • Item loss on death: if you die in WoW you just lose play time. So worst case (permanently graveyard-camped) is equal to not playing. In EVE you can lose a $3000 titan by clicking "jump" instead of "bridge".
  • Transportation: all WoW items fit into your backpack or placed into the conveniently available bank. If you send an item via mail, it is accessible everywhere in the World. In EVE items are on their location and has to be moved by player action. This can take hours and demand planning of your logistics.
  • Zone ownership: in EVE players can take formal control of gaming zones where enemy cannot use NPC features. In WoW every player can access everything, they can't change the behavior of the World
  • Single shard: in EVE every player plays the same game. In WoW you are separated by servers and within the servers the raids, dungeons, battlegrounds are locked from third party invasion. You don't really have to care about others on the server.
  • Item creation from industry and not combat: in EVE items are gained via industry and destroyed in combat. In WoW you gain items by combat: bosses drop them or give Valor points to buy, players give Conquest and Honor points to buy PvP gear.
There are other differences but I find these the major. These changes define the gameplay, while the textures, lore and technical mechanics are only small variations. If we'd implement the "small" change in WoW that you can loot killed players from their gear, the game would change totally and players would think that the Star Wars Old Republic, Lord of Rings Online, Rift or Wildstar are more similar to the old WoW than this "new WoW".

To create a new game that can live next to WoW, it has to be different. It doesn't mean "be like EVE" as those games would be killed by EVE, like Darkfall. They have to be different from all of them. Here is an example of the game that is different from all:
  • Mobs only guard resources but don't drop them besides meat and skin. [similar to EVE, very different from WoW]
  • All items are created from resources via industry. Quests only give currency. Currency is not used for anything else than player trading, there aren't any currency sinks, inflation is constant. [dissimilar from both games]
  • Gear is never lost in combat. [similar to WoW, very different from EVE]
  • No PvP. [similar to WoW, very different from EVE]
  • Gear is decaying over time and has to be replaced after X hours of being online. [dissimilar from both games]
  • Characters are toplisted according to their raid progress. [similar to WoW, very different from EVE]
  • Raids give nothing besides fame. [similar to EVE, very different from WoW]
This game - assuming it is properly written and coded - could attract lot of builders and achievers and would have a different playerbase than EVE and WoW, being able to coexist. A game which is similar in all main gameplay features to WoW, cannot.


Anonymous said...

I'd be curious as to your opinion on the upcoming Star Citizen - I have no idea if you know much about it, I don't believe I have seen you blog on it as of yet.

Kurt said...

I would play that game.

This is flaw, however: "Currency is not used for anything else than player trading, there aren't any currency sinks, inflation is constant. [dissimilar from both games]"

If a currency is not valuable, it is not a currency. Games in which the currency is not valuable enough have been made (Diablo 2), the net result is that something else is pressed into service as a currency, and the preplanned currency is basically ignored. If you want players to make their own currency out of industry materials, that's fine, but why waste time and effort coding something that won't be used, and will merely anger players who want to do the quests but see a valueless reward attached to them?

Anonymous said...

not really relevant to the conclusion of your post but one of the biggest differences for me between Eve and WOW was the market buy orders.

returning to WOW after playing Eve one of the biggest frustrations was not being able to sell to buy orders on the market for instant liquidity.

it also forces the prices higher as the only orders people see on the market are the ones too high to sell.

Anonymous said...

The "raids are only for fame" would be a disaster I feel. Lots of people say that they are interested in fame, but the reality is most people are actually far more interested in rewards, and only the "world first" or "server first" players, who are actually an extremely small subset of players, would be interested. It also has the problem of having no replay value, once you have completed a raid once you would have "won" it, which removes the grind aspect. And despite what you read in forums, grind is actually essential to the success of an MMO.

Tobias said...

Isn't Zone Ownership ( which happens in Nullsec) effectively a lore change and not a gameplay change for players who never enter Nullsec?

Industry too to a lesser extend. Many players try it for a bit and then forget about it.

Yagamoth said...

I think your ideas would be a good start. In case of MMOs, being different for the sake of being different is a valid approach. However, much more has to be considered in the larger spectrum. If the gameplay and MMO world interaction is not appealing, being different from eve or WoW won't help you. And that's only one point of many that would come up during development.

Anonymous said...

If you want to see a truly different brand of MMOs then check out A Tale in the Desert.

ATITD is a no pvp, sandbox MMO that focuses around resource collection, crafting and collaboration.

I think it should check quite a few of the boxes in your checklist, so I'd be interested in hearing your take on it.

Anonymous said...

Most of what you think makes a good new game, is describing SWG. Yet another reason to remake that game.

Anonymous said...

Very good points - it would be very tough to take on WoW or EVE directly.

A couple of points:

The special case of WoW: you might could compete with WoW with just a business model. "Just like WoW but f2p" is a high risk strategy but can't be dismissed. If players expect every MMO (EVE is the outlier in almost all generalizations) to be F2P, then that is a benefit. It is easier to get players to start a f2p game and it is easier to get players with availability fluctuations to deal with F2P than sub.

You would never do the WoW realms again - it is too inflexible for population fluctuations. But things like superservers where it is one AH but they make as many combat instances as needed for the people online also works. No game including EVE can allow a significant % of the population to be in the same location and instance.

Trebron Znieh said...

You forgot the biggest and most relevant difference:
- The EVE universe is persistent. The players change it and it stays that way.
Not so in any other MMO including WoW.

Nielas said...

@Trebron Znieh

That's only true since the introduction of POS. Before that you could not really affect the gameworld in any persistent way. Even now, most of the content is repeatable and respawns when destroyed.

Unknown said...

Although there are resources that provide more detailed information, this article serves as a short guide that will summarize each of the battlegrounds featured in World of Warcraft.

Alterac Valley- Alterac Valley is a large battleground that consists of 40 players maximum per side. The objective is to kill the enemy general or cause the enemy team to run out of resources. The enemy general is located at the opposite end of the battleground that your team begins at. You will have to run north if you are horde or south if you are alliance. Each team controls four towers or bunkers. If your team loses towers you will lose resources as well. If your team destroys enemy towers the enemy will lose resources. Teams also lose resources several other ways such as if the team's Captain is killed or players are killed.

Warcraft Conquest