[Guild News] Make MMOs Great Again!

Like many MMORPG PvP guilds, Cyrus has struggled in recent years to find worthy games to invest their time in. There has been a change in culture and playstyle that has not suited many old school gamers, as well as a shift in the commitment required to participate in a meaningful endgame.

This change in playstyle was perhaps the first nail in the coffin for us. Games that we should have been able to look forward to playing were taken in a direction that seemed to dumb down the gameplay far too much. This gameplay was called "action combat", and turned our beloved MMOs into little more than twitch console games suited more for the attention-deficient next generation of gamers rather than the old school computer geeks who like to play more methodically.

I can't blame the developers of these games for trying something new, and with the rise and rise of PlayStation and Xbox the temptation to try and capture these markets must have been massive. But it seems like every games studio tried to make this leap at the same time and in the same direction, abandoning us old-timers with nothing new to play, and with the older games stuck in a rut with no real innovation or content.


Healing had become very boring for Redh: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A.

Games neglected the sacred Holy Trinity, and at times the character select screen looked more like that of Street Fighter 2 than for an in-depth, varied world within which we'd happily sink the next 10,000 hours of our lives (with occasional bathroom breaks). These games seemed to have serious commitment issues - and, unlike most break-ups, it wasn't us, it was them.

This twitch playstyle mentality was rotten through to the core of these games. You didn't even need to join a decent guild any more - in fact some games let you join several guilds simultaneously. What. The. Hell. Guilds became little more than friends lists or "looking for group". Fixed groups weren't required - you could join any random pick-up group and complete the content you wanted to, without communicating with any of the other group members, and then simply quit when your part of the quest was completed.

These aren't MMORPGs - at least not to me. Maybe my viewpoint is skewed because for the last 7 years my focus has been on running an active and organised guild, but the very reason to play these games is to establish groups and friendships, and to work together towards a common goal. If the game doesn't even provide you with common goals, and your individual goals can be met without ever talking to another player, then something has gone very seriously wrong in my opinion.

Of course, the problem starts with the player base. When levelling, most players will naturally take the path of least resistance to achieve their goal. If there is a choice between taking your time with a beautifully scripted and involving quest storyline, or joining a PUG rushing from one location to another killing mobs for fast XP, most players will choose the quick and easy route. And in many ways I can't blame them - the lure of reaching level cap and participating in the "proper" content is far too appealing.


Ding! Look how awesome I am, I killed enough squirrels to level up! Maybe now I'll be able to kill hedgehogs!

This raises the question: How important IS levelling in an MMO?

The levelling process serves several purposes. It introduces you to the game world, the lore and mythology, and it also connects you to your character. You typically start with very few abilities, basic armour, and as you progress and learn more skills and gain more gear, you form a bond with your avatar. You journey from being the weakest creature in the realm to one of the most powerful, and that is one of the hooks that keeps you involved and invested in the game.

Another important aspect of levelling is taking the time to learn your skills. Imagine if, after installing World of Warcraft for the first time, you created your first character and then immediately had to sort through 40+ skills, keybinds and macros - it would be too much for most people to cope with, and they'd likely uninstall.

One problem games developers have had when creating these games is the need to invest so much time and resource into designing this levelling content - starting zones, quests, storylines, dungeons, etc - just for most of the player-base to skip through it as quickly as possible to reach the endgame. Finding the right balance between allowing players to reach level cap within hours of the games launch, or creating a massive grind that will cause many players to quit before they even reach level cap, must be an extremely difficult task. But it does say something about what many players want - they want to be at whatever the developer or player-base defines as Endgame, and they want to be there as quickly and effortlessly as possible.


It's difficult to pinpoint exactly why MMO gamers like to level up so quickly...

Levelling - there has to be a better way!

I will admit it - I have never read a quest dialogue box in any game I've played. I don't care about the story, I don't care about the lore, just point me in the direction of the 30 squirrels you want me to skin and reward me with some XP, and I'll be on my way. Occasionally, when I'm sitting there at level cap with nothing to do, I'll ask one of my guildies on Teamspeak to explain what the games story was - but I'll usually get bored and tune out after the first 30 seconds.

Levelling is an inherently selfish process. We are focused on our own characters progression - not in gear, but in XP. At this stage of the game players wont care about gear that will be replaced within 5 levels, they just want to XP and move on. If you have two guildies who play together on day one, but then one of them logs off an hour or two before the other, chances are they can't play together again the next day as they'll be at different stages of the game. The traditional levelling process creates a divide between players, which is another reason players want to rush to level cap - so they can join in with their guild again.

Of course, there is a solution to this - to arrange to only level together. But anyone who has ever tried to do that, even with a loved one, will know that for the faster or more active player it's a painfully frustrating process.

So what if there was a way to progress your character from day 1 with no traditional levelling via quests, but by just playing the game as you want to? What if as soon as you created your character, you were effectively playing endgame - albeit with a weaker character, but with a character that can still participate on some level, with their guild, while earning their new and more powerful skills along the way?

Well, there is! It's called Horizontal Levelling, and it's what all those console-style MMO developers should have focused on a few years ago instead of "action combat" and twitch gameplay. Turn on, create your character, go to war. No dumbing down of endgame content, no group finder, no reason to throw guilds under the bus. Doesn't that sound fun? Now all we need for these developers to realise is that MMO games shouldn't be designed to be played on console gamepads... /facepalm!


This is the only kind of horizontal levelling I've been doing lately...

With horizontal levelling, all the developer has to focus on is making endgame fun and meaningful, and something that can change and evolve according to how the game is being played by the players. Yes, yes, I'm making that process sound much easier than it is, but with no distractions they surely have a better chance of getting it right. But let me suggest where they should focus their efforts, where their game should be centred at every opportunity: Guilds.

If Donald Trump was campaigning for MMO development, his slogan would be "Make Guilds Great Again" - and he'd get my vote. Guilds have been neglected for too long in MMO gaming, and it needs to be addressed. There are so many casual MMOs out there for the anti-social trigger-happy console brigade, they can't even give them away for free. If developers want to create a reason for players to keep coming back again and again, give them a good reason to play together. I've played games that I've been bored with far longer than I would have done otherwise because of the people I was playing them with, and I'm certainly not alone in that.


The Donald knows. He joins us in campaigning for a greater future for guilds...

Guilds need to progress just like a character, and that progression should be meaningful for every member of the guild. Guilds should give their members purpose, objectives and rewards. Progression should be enhanced when grouped with guild members. Loyalty should be rewarded for members who stay with their guild and contribute to its success - achievements or "guild abilities" should be unlocked according to your time spend with a guild. Choices matter? Make choosing a guild matter. Punish guild hoppers, reward loyal and active players.

The social aspect of MMO gaming should be at the front and centre of everything we do. Yes, the game needs to deliver fresh and interesting content, but that content should be enhanced and enjoyed most when with a group of other players. Make communication and teamwork important to the success of a group.


Cyrus Raid Group 1 receiving their "50 Years of Service" certificates...

No doubt there are many people reading this shaking their head in disagreement, and that's fine. I'm happy for you that there are already many options to choose from and ignore each other in. But let us have one game that isn't written for the lowest common denominator - a game made for old school PvPers whose only interaction on a microphone isn't to anonymously insult random players for their noobish gameplay. A game where building relationships with other players will give you an advantage, and where acting like an angsty pre-pubescent little snot will get you blacklisted. A game where actions matter, too.

Of course those of you who have encountered Cyrus in previous games will know that I am not advocating some serene utopia where everyone sits peacefully in a circle jerk making daisy chains. No thanks - if I wanted that I'd play a PvE game! I love the drama, the forum posts complaining after a loss, the egotistical calling-out of rival guilds. I just think it's more interesting when it has meaning - and what better way to give it meaning than when your guild pride is involved? If some random scrub insults me in a game, I'll just ignore them and move on - but if some random scrub guild calls out my mighty Cyrus, you know that not only them, but their entire guild is going to learn a very sorry lesson in respecting their superiors!

So game developers of the world, please - give us something to fight for. Back-story and lore isn't going to cut it for many of us, so put something on the line that might actually matter to the players - make it personal. Make playing the game personal. Make our guild identity personal.
 
#2
Sadly, I think Bioware tried and failed horribly with ToR. Archage had something like horizontal leveling, but instead of shifting your points like UO did, you had to level each skill from 0 all the while trying to survive pvp active zones (which with a lvl 1 skill against max level players sucks, and the lower level areas didn't give the new skill exp to move up - it was disappoint for me over all).

UO at least, if you were a mage and wanted to sword fight, go get a sword and start hitting trees, squirrels, badgers, w/e and your magic skill would shift to sword skill. THAT at least was somewhat compelling, starting at my hat all day, not so much.

WoW tried, but has dumbed down the early content and made raiding either so simple that there's no point or so difficult that most guilds give up (and we won't discuss the pvp...pls no).

Anyway, I agree, I want an MMO that plays like Dragon Age: Inquistion, where I care about not only my avatar but the people in my team. (this post has no point except to agree with you :p )
 
#3
I do agree that the sense of community has been lost in many MMOs over the years. For me, this is the most important part in a game and it's the reason I keep coming back to play every day. There is nothing better than getting that hard kill or having a good fight with your friends against that rival guild and hearing everyone's cheers on TeamSpeak afterwards. Those are the moments you always reminisce on.

Bring back hard objectives that require guild participation and hard work, not instant gratification; bring back guild pride, I say!
 
#4
TL : DR, to much text for one quest line.
Now where do I find the end content of this game?

On a more serious note I agree that most games have dumbed down way to much.
The most fun I still had in any MMO was WoW:WoTL. With actual guild achievements and guild raids if you wanted to get to the highest level on content. Bring back that feeling of achievement when completing our objective, only this time while crushing the dreams of the little snots playing on the other side.
 
#5
TL : DR, to much text for one quest line.
Now where do I find the end content of this game?

On a more serious note I agree that most games have dumbed down way to much.
The most fun I still had in any MMO was WoW:WoTL. With actual guild achievements and guild raids if you wanted to get to the highest level on content. Bring back that feeling of achievement when completing our objective, only this time while crushing the dreams of the little snots playing on the other side.

I liked the lore and depth of Pandaria and feel like it got a bum rap. Plus the damn MoP raiding was a form of hell that when you did down that boss, it was amazing. Legion, raiding is meh. I have tera and play it or B&S when I just want to kill things, but the fun of meeting people and achieving things is non-existent. It was gone in AION too by the time @Daemion wandered me into it, I think more for nostalgia sake for him, though I was a crafting monster.
 
#6
I miss the progression we did in WoW during Dragon Soul. Even though we wiped a lot, usually due to stupid mistakes, it was still some of the most fun I've had during WoW. I kinda want us to go do progression raiding in Legion.
 
#7
Is there a guild achievement for reading the post in its entirety?

I hope CU is the game that solves this, time will tell. There is no denying that MMOs have gone to shits..
 
#8
Great post!

For me, games development in recent years has tended toward the superficial. By catering too much for solo play/advancement and the ability to play a game at all levels (including super casual) developers have dumbed down games to the point that grouping and coherance very low on the list of priorities for any new games aims.

Personally i blame WoW! Although i played it lots, and for the most part enjoyed it, the fact that they proved an MMORPG could appeal to such a wide audience created the blueprint for virtually every MMORPG that followed for the next decade:

1) Make the game playable by the lowest common denominator
2) Make the game so even an incredibly low amount of time spent on a session can result in progress
3) Make travel/grouping/trading available at the touch of a button

This has resulted in games becoming 'soulless' where players rarely interact on a meaningful level, hence your observation that community is severely lacking from most modern MMORPG's.

Let me give you an example: I recently have played 'project 1999' an everquest emulator with the original game and the first two expansions being available. Around 1000-1500 players are on this server at any given time. There are no grouping tools at all, no LFG search, no gamewide chat channels, no 'dungeon finder, and no instanced combat. In this state the game also has no 'instant travel', you must journey around the world to find appropriate places to xp etc.

I have spoken to more people and got to know more people in that game in six months than in the 5 years previously playing ESO, SWTOR, WOW, etc. Combat is slow, and you can actually talk while fighting (no button mashing here!) But you know what , it's also the HARDEST game i've played in the last 5 years. One mistake and you have to go on a corpse run to recover your body, and you will more than likely lose 2 hours plus of xp. Corpse runs require the coordination of your group and often even your guild (for ports) and a cleric to regain your experience, hence the interaction and requirement for actually KNOWING people.

My best guild experience was back in original everquest, i stayed in the same guild for four years with a group of people i 'grew up with'. When we raided it was more than just trying to get gear/grow our e-peens because we knew each other, and wanted progress for everyone. Many of the friends i met there i played with in DaoC afterwards, some into other games beyond, friendships were formed that lasted for years. You simply don't get the opportunities to have the kind of interactions required to form these relationships in most new mmorpg's.

One of the major reasons Camelot Unchained appeals to me is because it is niche, they aren't trying to get the largest subs base or appeal to everyone, that is my number one requirement for any game i am willing to invest time in. Finally there are a series of games on the horizons that are looking to break the button mashing, daily quest grinding, instanced popcorn MMORPG that has almost put me off the entire genre!

Here's to grouping and here's to guilds!! :)
 
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#9
This is taken from the Camelot Unchained Foundation Principals, and should give us all hope (it's #10):

"...the concept of 'Pride' is truly an important principle for Camelot Unchained and, IMO, should be as well for any game that features RvR as the cornerstone of its design. I have chosen to use the word 'Pride' to encompass a wide range of individual prides such as racial pride, class pride, guild pride, realm pride, server pride, etc. all of which must be present in CU it is truly to succeed over time"

"Guild pride is another important member of the Pride family, the decades long rise of guilds in importance to both players, and designers of MMOs cannot easily be overstated. While we need to walk a bit of a tightrope here (so what else is new?) as we do not want any server to be dominated by one or several "super-guilds," we also want our players to feel pride in their guild's overall accomplishments.

During the development of WAR, we did some very good things with the "Living Guild" concept; we have to surpass that here because the purist nature and implementation of RvR conflict in CU presents an opportunity to take guilds to the next level. Thus, at a minimum, guilds should be able to own and build guild houses, land and possessions in a size and manner that reflects their success in the game whether due to participation in RvR and/or as crafters. Guild members must be able to contribute to that success both actively (through donations, crafting) and passively (guild standing reflects the skill/successes of its members) and to be proud to be a member of their guild.

Additionally, we need to put mechanisms in place so that guilds can easily work with each other, share information and cooperate in a way that adds to the enjoyment of RvR by its members and the overall success of its realm. If we can allow players to feel guild pride on the individual level as well as pride on a greater scale (cooperation), this will further enhance the feeling of the next and final pride, server pride."
 
#10
Personal P R I D E for me.

Producing
Really
Incredible
Death-dealing
Equipment

I think CU will deliver the goods, all we need to do is remain sane waiting.
 
#11
Personal P R I D E for me.

Producing
Really
Incredible
Death-dealing
Equipment

I think CU will deliver the goods, all we need to do is remain sane waiting.
Hah! I like your description and can't wait to be wielding some Hakugard badassery. I haven't read enough on crafting to know if crafters will be able to make their items visually distinuishable (other than just a makers mark). Would be really cool if you could pick up a sword and *know* it was from a certain master crafter due to a unique shape/colour of metal etc!!
 
#13
Hello guys I don't know how you could possibly expect any MMO too be great without the presence of me Redh. Actually just dropped in too you how you guys are doing and it has been a very long time since we last spoke sadly. Losing contact with the guild following the fact that I actually went blind for a few years, but been wondering how you guys were doing. Hope everyone is well and the guild is doing great sorry Redh can not recall my old last alt characters name as you know much too your distress that I would change them with my underwear. Anyway hope that everything is great with the guild and best regards too you all
 
#14
Holy shit, Ash!! We we talking about you the other day - damn, I thought you must have died! :p

Please please come on Teamspeak one evening, @Dia and I would love to catch up and see how you are doing. I'll look up your last forum name and have the details for you.

I'm so glad you checked back in with us - thank you!

Edit: Your last username was "Asiant"
 
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#15
@Ash - your last username was Asiant. I have merged your new account into that old one, and renamed it Ash. If you have trouble logging in, use the "forgot password" link with the username Ash - I also updated the email address to the one you just used :)
 
#16
Hello guys I don't know how you could possibly expect any MMO too be great without the presence of me Redh. Actually just dropped in too you how you guys are doing and it has been a very long time since we last spoke sadly. Losing contact with the guild following the fact that I actually went blind for a few years, but been wondering how you guys were doing. Hope everyone is well and the guild is doing great sorry Redh can not recall my old last alt characters name as you know much too your distress that I would change them with my underwear. Anyway hope that everything is great with the guild and best regards too you all
Oh, Ash...I am so glad you got back in touch with us. I was worried about you...Hope things are better now.
Come on TS to chat, let's catch up!
 
#17
Ok guys bear with me I am still in no state of health but after a lot of treatments I now have eyesight back in one eye too a degree, I guess that god has too give other people a chance in games too lol. Would love too speak too you all again especially after so many years


Managed too get TeamSpeak installed but can not find the information too join you guys
 
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#18
Holy shit! I am going to have a field day replying to this but I just cant stop playing *cough* Tree of Life.
 
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