What happened to games / What happened to me?
Games… the “digital virtual book” as i like to call it. I used to read alot, and i still pick up a book now and then. But games more or less took over that spot, which books used to have. And i kinda wanna talk about games… cause something has happened… either to games in generel, or to me as a person. Lets nail 1 thing down… i love playing games, mostly roleplaying games, aka RPG’s, and/or the ever popular , multi massively online roleplaying games, aka MMORPG’s. I used to play some first person shooters (Quake 1 & 2) long ago. But the last many years, i use games to enter a world, take up a role, and just delve into the story ahead of me, or create my own story in a virtual world. Its fun, its like reading a book, where you actually get to play/live alongside the characters.
What has happened though? There are still good games coming out, no doubt. But the focus is to make it as pretty as possible, not so much what content and story there is in the game. That to me is a understandable, yet strange path to take… Jules Verne’s (example) stories aren’t legendary because there were pretty pictures in his books… no, it is the epic storytelling which combined with our fantasy, makes epic stuff happen in our brains. That translates directly into my gaming “career“. Some of my favorite games of all time, arent really super pretty, but has an insanely addicting and well made gameplay. A classic example for me is, Ultima Online. Anyone and everyone knows that game is ugly as hell… but the gameplay… damn… you could “write yourself into the world, as whatever character you wanted to be“… i will explain that.
Take your favorite book. And then teleport yourself into that book, and take on whatever path you wish to take… Want to help the main character? Want to live in a quiet village, make horseshoes 24/7? Want to take on the fisherman role, and fish all day long? Or.. want to be a villain, and make life miserable for anyone else? In games like Ultima Online, you had that choice, and all choices were equally good. There were no “you have to be this and this, to do this and this”, there were no endgame as we know it today. You could easily live and play and enjoy the UO life as a Blacksmith… go mining, craft, sell your crafts, buy house/castle. Anything was possible.
I honestly miss not being locked into a certain path, i miss not being controlled from a-z… But i also understand, why it from a developer’s viewpoint, feels like a necessity, to make a game. Gaming has become mainstream, it has to cater to all playstyles… or that is atleast what
developers publishers think. Yeah i blame publishers, i am fairly sure most Developers want to make the best games possible, but they are being controlled left and right.
With that said, there certainly are good games out there, which also lock you down in a certain direction, The Witcher was an awesome game for example. But that goes for alot of single player RPG’s… not since Baldur’s Gate, and to a certain degree Planescape Torment, have we had that “i can go whereever i want” feeling. Even in Baldur’s Gate 2, they removed alot of that free roaming. But that does not change the fact, that it was a damn good game. So what is my point here… well no point, im just writing down my thoughts… BUT… a point that could be made is: Single player games evolved, and did it correctly, you are still a character inside that book/world, and your actions still means alot, and you feel a part of that book/world, ergo… job well done… if the game is good ofcourse.
And then on the other hand we have MMORPG’s… where in recent times, the same approach has been taken… force the player into a certain path, sometimes even a certain role (we need a healer, make one!!)… not letting people go where they want nor do what they want. They are still a part of the story/world, but they cant really make the story or change the world. They cant go “i wanna go fight this dragon NOW with my wooden sword” (and die horrible ofcourse…), because in most cases, the game wont let them. Why? i ask… it was possible in older games… alot of things were possible… and you quickly learned what to do (and what NOT to do) to survive…
I honestly hope that developers and publishers, someday will give the games back to the players… make them a part of the world, and not just another number in line for next: kill 5 skeleton quest. Let us think again. We arent dumb… or atleast… when we do dumb stuff, we quickly learn. You dont have to make a line ———–> go this way… its more fun to discover your own path in a magnificent story/world.
But here is where i think there is something wrong with me. Because uhm… World of Warcraft has… what… 10 million subsribers? So clearly they must be doing it right, and everyone is happy with the game. Heck i played it also, and enjoyed it… (but then i discovered that straight line they wanted me to go on… pfeh). TEN million subsribers… happy/unhappy, who knows, they are playing the game, which to Blizzard, and everyone else who makes games, shows: This is the correct way to make mmorpg’s!!! I just dont agree… i dont like the game… i miss what mmorpg’s used to be… a good massive “book” i could jump into, and change the story, together with others…
A few things i think should be “undone“…
- Big servers… i dont see the need for 10.000 people to be on same server/world. 3.000 in a world, where maybe 1.000 of them are friendly? (Different factions..) That should allow anyone and everyone to have their small chance of changing the world in their own way, by providing fish to everyone, or collect ore… or get hides and skins from animals to the leatherworkers.. or whatever. There will still be competition, which is good… but you wont drown in the hordes of players.
- Quest hubs / XP. Quest hubs, maybe even quests in generel, should just be removed / spread out, it should feel special to help someone on a quest, not just another “oh… a quest, skip text, follow arrow, turn in quest, kachiiing! Why do you even gain experience from TURNING IN a quest where you had to slay 10 wolves… you should be gaining the experience from the actual slaying. Let them reward you with items/gold… its so obvious, but every mmorpg these days, have quests, where you get experience, if you turn them in. Insanity i say. You should be gaining experience from actions in the world… by using your skills. I think experience is here to stay, but the way Ultima Online did it, with skill gains… is by fat a better system, imo.
- Instant travel to open world areas. So when i click a button, and magically pop elsewhere in the world… do i feel part of that world? Not at all… when you have to travel to get somewhere, then it will actually matter, and you will feel like you are a part of the world. WoW actually did this one “OK”… in the beginning… i dont mind so much that you can travel to cities, the younger cities atleast… but they completely ruined it by adding that dungeon finder crap… i am amazed at that poor decision. Remove that system from all games ever being made… please. If people wanna go to a dangerous area, and venture into a deep cave…. shouldnt they like… actually… go there? Not just click a magic button, removing all immersion from the world? Shouldn’t you risk something, to hopefully get a nice reward… which btw, could simply be the fact you managed to go to that dangerous cave… without dying, managing to explore a dangerous place… and defeat some bad guys while your at it.
- Instances. Remove… remove… R E M O V E! Again… older mmorpg’s… had dungeons and caves… and what not. Which *shock* were enterable by every single person in the world. Even big raid dungeons in Dark age of Camelot, was enterable by everyone and anyone… no matter who was raiding in there or not. Not sure who decided a dungeon should be 5 man only, but i bet it was Blizzard aka World of Warcraft. BROKEN design. I hope all games in the future, has open dungeons. Mind you, this does not mean you cant venture inside a dungeon with 5 man… a good dungeon is big, have several different areas with different difficulties. Some places would be soloable, some duoable, some groupable, some raidable… you get the point. A small little dungeon world, inside your main world… where you can do whatever you want. GO for that raid boss… solo… and most likely die horrible in the try… sneak after that uber raid, getting deeper and deeper inside the dungeon, seeing stuff for yourself, knowing that anything that moves, can instawhack you. Remove instancing!
I was actually gonna write alot more… but i am damn hungry! Hope you enjoyed my thoughts about gaming/myself… feel free to tune in with some thoughts. I know i am pretty much alone with many of my thoughts… those 10 million wow subsribers, well… they gotta know something i dont.
Long story made short: I miss a good MMORPG to play… and i can feel it will come soon…