The problem isn't that people demand too much, it's that their demands are paradoxes and they expect the game to cater to them exclusively in every minute aspect. MMOs now contain many different activities and different ways to complete different activities to cater to as many people as possible, but most see that as a slap in the face because it isn't exactly what they want. A copious amount of conspiracy theories on how the developers are secretly planning to screw everyone over for quick cash "soon" with something we don't know about doesn't help either. Ten years ago the tin foil industry wasn't held up by the gaming industry.
On the whole, I agree with your post.
Further, as regards the OP question to start the thread, my answer is 'resoundingly yes'....however....
(WARNING WALL OF TEXT INCOMING - sorry, I feel pretty strongly about this)
Isn't it time that MMO companies broke the mold a little more?
- I *loved* the multiclassing in GW1, it was one of the most essential 'this is not any other mmo' features...I was terribly sad it wasn't going to be in GW2. I get it, I understand how hard it is to 'balance' that sort of variety.
- Of course, that begs the question if 'perfect balance' is really a goal we should be striving for? It seems to be for current-AAA titles, certainly. Patches come out every week to make sure thieves don't get to spend too much time stealthed, or if Guardians' AoE heal is "too good". But - MMOs aren't checkers or tic-tac-toe; a true RPG has a VARIETY of experiences, a variety of challenges. There's a REASON that D&D was successful, and a REASON that your 'classic' AD&D group *had* to have an assortment of character classes. You knew there was going to be fighting, so you had to have a warrior or three, because while clerics could swing a mace, they really weren't much against real fighter classes in melee. But fighters get beat up a lot, so you had to have a healer or two, especially if there might be undead. And some of the more instantly-lethal things you could encounter were traps, and resurrecting is a few orders of magnitude more difficult/expensive than healing, so a thiefly type might be useful too. (Wouldn't hurt either to have someone that might be able to pick a pocket or sneak around and unlock the doors for the galumphing rest of the party.) And, while they were as fragile as hell to start, if you could keep them alive long enough, having a mage-friend was a party's early-investment in later-game heavy artillery fire support and some serious magical flexibility. NONE OF THIS WAS BASED ON BALANCE, and it was a blast. Largely, I blame the current fixation with balance on one-dimensional developers who are afraid of handing players challenges that they SIMPLY CANNOT COMPLETE. So since everyone can do damage, every challenge is based on what? Killing a boss. (Thus, tanks/healers + (x*dps) were always required.) GW2 has done away with the trinity, but the mechanics remain, tiredly, the same. What if there was an instance where you had to fly or wall-climb up to open the magical barrier? You have a party of nothing but fighters? Whups, you can't complete it. Of course, in that context I'd say "stupid players with a one-dimensional party" but devs fear the ragequit. What if your band runs into an undead that simply cannot be beaten with physical weapons? Probably sorry you didn't bring the cleric or the mage. Personally, I find this interesting, but it would require instances of some unpredictability, perhaps procedurally generated (I had a little frisson of 'coool' at the concept and implementation of Fractals for just this reason...think about it, an instance that you CAN'T predict? You can't map out the pulls and strategies or find them on youtube? I was saddened when I realized they DO have a finite distribution of the variety, and thus the answers ARE still to be found online...but still, a promising idea whose strength is illustrated by how dominant they've become already.)
- And isn't it about time we recognized that MMOs aren't PnP games? Computers can keep track of MASSIVE amounts of numbers in real time, and do calculations really fast. What about a 'reputation' system that kept track of the opinions of every NPC you interacted with? And their relationships, so that if you helped Old Mara, it turns out that Drunken Pete starts to get jealous, and maybe even sends other CHARACTERS on quests to mess with you or (even) kill you? How about a massive world that is (to some degree) procedurally-generated at the edges, so characters can REALLY explore? Of course, the procedurally-generated instance entries that they find (caves, ruins, dungeons, etc.) become precious knowledge...it would really be a shame if they died before they got back to 'civilization' and were able to communicate (sell) that information, or maybe just keep it privately within their guild for a secret base/adventuring spot? If they died before this 'flag' of detail could be passed (and assuming someone else didn't discover it in the meanwhile too), the information is 'lost' (and the procedural results flushed!). Massively complex? Yep. Doable? I think so...let's just say if we combined the dev time for all the 'find 6 wolf bladder' quests in all the MMOs, this could be solved, for sure.
- Perhaps we could even get rid of levels? Levels INHERENTLY box the players into quanta (self evidently) and limit content. I had a long conversation with Jack Emmert during an interview, before CoH came out. He didn't want levels but found that even in the limited Alpha and Beta tests, people quickly figured out the 'best math choice for max dps' and everyone just copied it. Again, I attribute that more to the fact that the only really relevant ability to 'winning' was doing damage. With a percentile system, the problem is that with the massive amounts of time some MMO players apparently have (like to write massive walls-of-text posts...) these systems are always quickly maxed out. But what if that was impossible? What if every weapon/spell/skill (including parrys and dodges) had an expertise value that was gained over use* (more slowly the higher it got, so it would take much longer to go from 91 to 92 than from 8 to 9) with no top-end? And the use of that skill was always compared proportionally against whatever you were fighting? So a goblin might have a weapon attack of 20. An ogre, 80. A minotaur, 400. Dragon 2000. A warrior with 100 days played, maybe would reach 100, but the sky's the limit. She could with obsessive use, and a lifetime of adventuring reach 500 or more with her chosen weapon.
*this would work the best with a sort of skill-atrophy system. You might spend 100 days straight becoming the most awesome longbowman ever. But if you spend the next 200 days never touching a bow, you're going to suck when you pick it up again. Now, of course you'd have an accelerated learning curve and get back to (or nearly to) your previous skill FAR faster than anyone else could. But the world's best (anything) only stayed that way by practicing constantly.
I'm not saying that my ideas have any particular value. I'm saying that the tired old model of levels, a rudimentary point-value 'happy points', hit points that reach the tens of thousands simply because you've wandered everywhere, and the idea that fighter X swinging that sword does HUNDREDS of times more damage than fighter Y simply because he's swung it a lot...the rationalizations just aren't required any more. We don't have to keep track of this crap on our charactersheets with erasers and white out....so why do we STILL use these fundamental systems?
So when people say "MMO players expect too much" yeah, I generally agree that the public are largely a bunch of mewling whingers that want to be catered to and can NEVER be made actually happy. On the other hand, as ANet depressingly demonstrates, even people who demonstrate relatively fearless creativity early on can become tiredly conservative and fall back on well-trodden tropes when their cash piles get big.
(and I'm fully aware that this is more an issue of the 'money dudes' not willing to invest the sorts of resources in what amounts to an 'experimental' title, meaning anyone TRYING to do it won't be able to compete with the AAA titles in terms of 'flash' or marketing, etc.)
Edited by sty0pa, 03 December 2012 - 03:58 AM.