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f13.net General Forums => Game Design/Development => Topic started by: MahrinSkel on January 08, 2012, 02:57:02 PM



Title: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: MahrinSkel on January 08, 2012, 02:57:02 PM
Or at least, it is not really like any MMO we've ever seen before.  Most MMO's are like bowling or darts as a hobby, you play them at every opportunity, you are constantly trying to raise your level of play, but the why of your MMO play is ultimately the same as that of a bowling or darts league: "The guys are counting on me."  The play itself is endlessly repetitive, and it's the other players that are really why you're there.

SWTOR...is not like anything we've seen before.  Where WoW took an order of magnitude jump over previous games in the amount of content available, and it was barely possible to do most of your leveling by performing quests (if you filled in the rather large gaps with repeatable quests), SWTOR is the first game where you can take a character from creation to max level with nothing but content, without repeating any of it.  An order of magnitude beyond even WoW.

One of the developers that worked on it confided to me that they were a little worried it might turn out like CoH: Fun for as long as it took people to consume the content, but then nothing, no elder game meant people played for a few months and left, maybe reactivating for new content expansions.  If that turned out to be true, I'm not sure that it's a problem.

Single-player games, ones with stories, have a big structural problem: Creating enough content of a high enough quality has an ever increasing cost.  Making a AAA-grade title that isn't based on a sports franchise or major movie license just keeps getting more and more expensive.  Story-based games have been getting shorter and shorter as a result, until now even something that is theoretically an RPG will have a straight-line play time of less than one full day (24 hours).  Many players balk at paying $50+ for such a brief diversion, preferring to wait and buy it second-hand.

Which has itself been a problem for the industry, because used game sales contribute nothing to the profitability of the title.  It doesn't matter how many times GameStop buys the game back for a quarter of the new price and sells it for half of it, none of that money defrays the cost of development.  Attempts to use DRM or even Live service locks on the titles haven't worked, players balked at buying games they couldn't re-sell, and the used-games players either skipped them completely or waited until they were bargain-binned at under $20.  A few draconian cases that received a lot of attention (like bricking a console the first few times someone played an already-registered use game while connected to the Live services) also contributed to the backlash.

So developers are in a vice: They can't afford to spend less on making games, and even if their game is a hit it may not make enough on the actual "first sale" of retail units to make up the costs, so they can't afford to spend more on making games.

Now, consider SWTOR not as an MMO, but as a *really* big budget, really long KOTOR sequel....  It may not matter that it has no "elder game", and that people play it only long enough to consume the content, if they (EA/Bioware) can make enough money off a title that can't be resold and can't be pirated.  In many ways, from a business perspective, this is the perfect single-player/co-op AAA game, it just happens to have a really big, really pretty, 3D matchmaking lobby.

--Dave


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: KallDrexx on January 08, 2012, 05:47:40 PM
Not really sure what you mean by they can't afford to spend less.  They can, they just don't want to.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Malakili on January 08, 2012, 05:59:56 PM


Now, consider SWTOR not as an MMO, but as a *really* big budget, really long KOTOR sequel....  It may not matter that it has no "elder game", and that people play it only long enough to consume the content, if they (EA/Bioware) can make enough money off a title that can't be resold and can't be pirated.  In many ways, from a business perspective, this is the perfect single-player/co-op AAA game, it just happens to have a really big, really pretty, 3D matchmaking lobby.

--Dave

As Gabe Newell has said, he thinks games are services these days, and I think it won't be long before the MMO title is just left on the sidelines.  Ongoing payment has been tied to the term MMO for so long that I think we see games get the label that seem to defy the genre simply so the justification for a monthly fee can be there.  I think in the future we are just going to see more and more games with subscription plans regardless of genre.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: eldaec on January 08, 2012, 07:59:25 PM
Quote
players balked at buying games they couldn't re-sell,

What?

Is it even possible to resell games on steam?

Being an MMOG and a really long big budget Kotor sequel is not mutally exclusive. With the possible exception of Wow, viable mmogs always do things with different emphasis.

Quote
One of the developers that worked on it confided to me that they were a little worried it might turn out like CoH: Fun for as long as it took people to consume the content, but then nothing, no elder game meant people played for a few months and left, maybe reactivating for new content expansions.

This the only way I can see SWTOR succeeding, and the content has to come fast enough for it to work. They haven't invested enough in the rest of the game for anything else to be viable. The rest of the game trails way behind EQ2 and CoX, let alone more recent efforts.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Sheepherder on January 08, 2012, 08:13:09 PM
Where WoW took an order of magnitude jump over previous games in the amount of content available, and it was barely possible to do most of your leveling by performing quests (if you filled in the rather large gaps with repeatable quests)

Wat?


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Fordel on January 08, 2012, 09:14:09 PM
Where WoW took an order of magnitude jump over previous games in the amount of content available, and it was barely possible to do most of your leveling by performing quests (if you filled in the rather large gaps with repeatable quests)

Wat?

Yea, 'this' as the say. You could always quest to max in WoW, since day 1.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Margalis on January 08, 2012, 09:49:41 PM
Yeah, this seems to be vastly overstating the amount of content in SWTOR and the difference between SWTOR and WOW.

SWTOR is WOW with dialog trees and more instancing. The end.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Sheepherder on January 08, 2012, 11:16:36 PM
Yea, 'this' as the say. You could always quest to max in WoW, since day 1.

I'm not even sure any of the repeatable quests prior to Wrath of the Lich King gave experience after the first time you did them.  As I recall most of them were just bullshit rep grinds.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Zetor on January 09, 2012, 12:37:42 AM
Yeah, WOW didn't have any questing problems really. There were the '40-50 hell levels' (that weren't really) where a lot of people killed pirates in tanaris instead of questing, but you could still level by doing quests in other zones if you wanted. That said, I do agree that SWTOR is a game best played as 'KOTOR 3 that needs a sub to play'. The MMO part is kinda crap, but the storylines are actually pretty good / engaging / amusing.

Huge caveat: most of the SWTOR solo content consists of 'planet quests', which means you'll be doing a lot of recycled stuff on other characters -- this can get boring/annoying fast.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Speedy Cerviche on January 09, 2012, 10:20:02 AM
Need to think of that 15$ sub as a monthly DLC purchase. As others have mentioned, the key will be if they can deliver enough quantity and quality to keep people happy or they'll just re-sub for xpacs (which could still be profitable, but obviously they'd prefer full time retention for that WoW revenue $$$).


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Khaldun on January 09, 2012, 12:16:40 PM
I think that's the real issue. I completely agree that this is just KOTOR sequel with a multiplayer component. The subscription past two months, three months, depends entirely on whether they can put in monthly content that makes it worth staying connected. Otherwise the smart play is to experience the content, end the sub, resub whenever there's enough DLC built up to make it worth a rerun.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Ingmar on January 09, 2012, 12:42:15 PM
Dave when was the last MMO you played not named Eve? This post reads like it was written by someone who hasn't played WoW since 2004 and hasn't touched SWTOR at all.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: lamaros on January 09, 2012, 07:07:19 PM
Where WoW took an order of magnitude jump over previous games in the amount of content available, and it was barely possible to do most of your leveling by performing quests (if you filled in the rather large gaps with repeatable quests)

Wat?

Yea, 'this' as the say. You could always quest to max in WoW, since day 1.

No, you couldn't.

Edit: Not as Horde, anyway.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Ashamanchill on January 09, 2012, 08:59:12 PM
I actually wish it was just a single player. I love the story of it, hate almost all the MMO parts of it.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: HaemishM on January 10, 2012, 11:43:42 AM
Need to think of that 15$ sub as a monthly DLC purchase. As others have mentioned, the key will be if they can deliver enough quantity and quality to keep people happy or they'll just re-sub for xpacs (which could still be profitable, but obviously they'd prefer full time retention for that WoW revenue $$$).

Yeah this. The preponderance of F2P games has wrecked the MMOG subscription economy. Either you be a big budget wonder like SWTOR or you'll eventually go F2P, which is fine if you write your business model for that sort of service and don't fuck your customers. DLC has changed the entire business model for single-player games too. It's the only way for some of these developers to be profitable if their product isn't a huge smashing success. I'd actually prefer to see games get less expensive at retail ($30 instead of $60) even if it means less content, but with more DLC on the back end to make up for the lesser content. As long as companies don't nickel and dime you to death, I see no problems with that.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Draegan on January 11, 2012, 01:50:20 PM
I'm not sure if there is anything right in the original post.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Yegolev on January 29, 2012, 09:56:20 PM
I probably should not have read this, because I haven't done anything other than quests and some kill deeds in LotRO, and leveling continues unabated.  In fact, I've outleveled my spot in the main story, which is fine with me.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Azazel on January 30, 2012, 05:52:08 AM
Yea, 'this' as the say. You could always quest to max in WoW, since day 1.

I'm not even sure any of the repeatable quests prior to Wrath of the Lich King gave experience after the first time you did them.  As I recall most of them were just bullshit rep grinds.

Yeah they did. Fuckloads of exp.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Azazel on January 30, 2012, 07:16:58 AM
Need to think of that 15$ sub as a monthly DLC purchase. As others have mentioned, the key will be if they can deliver enough quantity and quality to keep people happy or they'll just re-sub for xpacs (which could still be profitable, but obviously they'd prefer full time retention for that WoW revenue $$$).

Yeah this. The preponderance of F2P games has wrecked the MMOG subscription economy. Either you be a big budget wonder like SWTOR or you'll eventually go F2P, which is fine if you write your business model for that sort of service and don't fuck your customers. DLC has changed the entire business model for single-player games too. It's the only way for some of these developers to be profitable if their product isn't a huge smashing success. I'd actually prefer to see games get less expensive at retail ($30 instead of $60) even if it means less content, but with more DLC on the back end to make up for the lesser content. As long as companies don't nickel and dime you to death, I see no problems with that.

That's a terrible idea. Aside from the fact that FPS companies are already doing that (Call of Duty - full price, 5 hour campaign + some MP maps, plus LOTS more MP maps via DLC) They tried that as an experiment with MX vs ATV: Alive. How'd that work out for them as far as sales go?

It also ignores the vast numbers of non-connected consoles out there. I don't see software companies knocking off 33% or 50% of the price in the hope they can sell you a few more levels via DLC while effectively locking out all the millions of nonline consoles. owners.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Slyfeind on January 30, 2012, 09:26:09 AM
Yea, 'this' as the say. You could always quest to max in WoW, since day 1.

No, you couldn't.

Edit: Not as Horde, anyway.

I couldn't either, as alliance, 6 months after release.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Sheepherder on January 30, 2012, 10:00:57 AM
I'm not even sure any of the repeatable quests prior to Wrath of the Lich King gave experience after the first time you did them.  As I recall most of them were just bullshit rep grinds.

Yeah they did. Fuckloads of exp.

Which ones?


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Ingmar on January 30, 2012, 01:15:58 PM
Yea, 'this' as the say. You could always quest to max in WoW, since day 1.

No, you couldn't.

Edit: Not as Horde, anyway.

I couldn't either, as alliance, 6 months after release.

I quested to 60 in WoW in the first 2 months after release and I am pretty sure they didn't cut a bunch of quests right afterwards.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Mosesandstick on January 30, 2012, 01:35:24 PM
I think the issue was that at higher levels it was often way more efficient to grind than travelling everywhere and completing quests (for the Alliance).


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Speedy Cerviche on January 30, 2012, 02:19:47 PM
Yeah I quested to 60 at release. You'd have to travel a lot for the questing, basically hit just about every zone along the way. You saw a lot of the world but wasted a lot of time travelling on your basic mount, long flightpath routes, or ferries so I think a good % of people just said fuck it and started grinding.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Slyfeind on January 30, 2012, 03:14:36 PM
When I hit around 54, everything was orange or red to me, and I did every quest because of course you had to.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Malakili on January 30, 2012, 05:52:22 PM
I think the issue was that at higher levels it was often way more efficient to grind than travelling everywhere and completing quests (for the Alliance).

This was my experience.  I grinded a bunch in the 50s just because trekking to Kalimdor and back for a pitiful exp reward and some green I was going to replace in a week wasn't worth it.

I think I probably  *could* have done quests all the way, but I don't think there was a point to doing so.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Ingmar on January 30, 2012, 05:53:10 PM
Not having to grind? Liking quests in general?


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Azazel on January 30, 2012, 08:37:06 PM
I'm not even sure any of the repeatable quests prior to Wrath of the Lich King gave experience after the first time you did them.  As I recall most of them were just bullshit rep grinds.

Yeah they did. Fuckloads of exp.

Which ones?

Apologies - I missed the "prior" part of your post. I'm not actually sure about the BC ones - especially since I did Skettis and Blade's Edge while at 70. I think you needed to be at max level to even do them?


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Sheepherder on January 31, 2012, 01:00:46 AM
I think your recollection is correct.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: eldaec on February 06, 2012, 05:57:41 PM
You could quest from 1-50 in CoX from day 1. And CoX had far better scaling to support soloers or groups than either swtor or wow.

In fact, lunatics went about complaining that they'd level up too much before they could complete all the quests.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Ingmar on February 06, 2012, 05:59:09 PM
I ran out of missions a couple times in vanilla CoH and had to street grind.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Fordel on February 06, 2012, 07:28:57 PM
All CoH ever did was send me to the same fucking warehouse over and over and over and over.


I never got higher then... level 18? On my MasterMind.


I had multiple 50's in DaoC, I've ground out every horrible pvp thing WoW tossed at me and was a Veld miner in EVE for 6 months.


But CoH/CoV fucking broke me.  :why_so_serious:


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Trippy on February 06, 2012, 08:05:13 PM
You could quest from 1-50 in CoX from day 1. And CoX had far better scaling to support soloers or groups than either swtor or wow.

In fact, lunatics went about complaining that they'd level up too much before they could complete all the quests.
Yup I used to kill myself to build up exp debt so I wouldn't out level my missions :awesome_for_real: :oh_i_see:


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Rendakor on February 06, 2012, 09:28:09 PM
You could quest from 1-50 in CoX from day 1. And CoX had far better scaling to support soloers or groups than either swtor or wow.

In fact, lunatics went about complaining that they'd level up too much before they could complete all the quests.
This was pretty class dependent. If you died a lot (read: played a solo Blaster) you could run out of quests around launch because the debt would keep you from dinging and properly progressing through your contacts.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: DraconianOne on February 07, 2012, 11:25:05 AM
Yea, 'this' as the say. You could always quest to max in WoW, since day 1.

No, you couldn't.

Edit: Not as Horde, anyway.

I couldn't either, as alliance, 6 months after release.

I quested to 60 in WoW in the first 2 months after release and I am pretty sure they didn't cut a bunch of quests right afterwards.

There were questing issues with WoW when you got to the 40s and 50s. If you happened to be able to run instances or do the group quests (in the days when there were Elite mobs everywhere) it probably wasn't an issue but if you were solo and had no rested XP then grinding was a more efficient option than the travel involved to find random, out of the way quests (if there were even enough for Horde). This is why they added Thorium Point and Revantusk Village in Patch 1.5 - two 45-52 questing areas (extra for Horde) to mitigate that levelling grind.





Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Kageru on April 11, 2012, 01:23:33 AM
It does not change the fact that it was miles above and beyond EQ where you'd probably only do a handful of quests while levelling up at most. WoW made levelling by quest the model to follow.

I think it's somewhat of a dead end though. The more deep and movie-like you make it (ie. SWTOR) the more money you are spending on content that is consumed as a one-off and is ultimately just window dressing on the levelling process. That left them spending a lot of money on content with poor longevity (played once), not available to all players (unless everyone plays every class) and ultimately even with the money they spent not able to conceal the grind.

That money should be spent on content that can be run multiple times and the quests should be a side effect of playing the game. GW2 seems to get this as do most of the shooters (who will become more MMO like). Raiding also works, but it's got its own issues with power progression and exclusivity, and it only works once levelling is done.

As for f2p and sub both have their place. The biggest games with a progression focus will be sub-based because they can make the most money that way and people play enough to justify it. The second stringers or games with a more casual focus with be f2p or box sale. The niche games will probably be sub too because they have dedicated players but no mass appeal. Ultimately though the only important thing is that the sub model matches the game. APB's policy of spend millions on a casual shooter and then demand a sub was an amusing suicide.

I also wonder if we'll see the "per hour" approach tried again. 15$ gets you 30 hours or a month whichever comes first, so casuals and hardcore can use the same sub model. Though I think selling it will be hard (no one really likes rental).


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Malakili on April 11, 2012, 08:22:25 AM
I don't know that it is really an issue of "hardcore" v. "casual."  I just think most people don't actually like the idea of an MMO in the way it was originally conceived.  People like personal progression, people like comparing their progression with others, people like playing with their friends, and none of those things really have anything inherently to do with MMO.  The reason developers like the idea is because it has a sustained income model built in, and this is why we've seen MMOs get less MMO and we've seen other genres start to try and figure out ways to implement models to support sustained income (DLC, CoD Elite, F2P, etc). 

Incidentally, this is why I think Diablo 3 is going to be absurdly popular.  It has all the things people want, and none of the things they hate, just for the box price. 


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Sheepherder on April 12, 2012, 03:56:02 PM
15$ gets you 30 hours or a month whichever comes first, so casuals and hardcore can use the same sub model.

What?


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: pxib on April 12, 2012, 05:18:13 PM
It's $15 for 30 hours, but if you don't use all 30 in a month, the rest disappear. Which is why it wouldn't work. A month is difficult to grasp intellectually, 30 hours is not. When you don't use a subscription at all for a month you -- completely irrationally -- don't feel as bad as when you've only used 5 of your 30 hours. Plus they'd be equally irrationally paranoid about going over their 30 hours. People would stress out and unsubscribe.

It's why the big cell phone services have moved away from their minute-by-minute costs and offered more expensive package plans. Fire-and-forget monthly subscriptions don't tend to set off our internal alarms.


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Malakili on April 12, 2012, 06:14:51 PM
It is because then you are making exactly one decision a month.   One of the reasons I dislike F2P games is that every time I am playing I have to contemplate a purchase, even if the answer is always no.   With a monthly fee, you just pay the damn thing and then you're done and you don't need to make money decisions about that game anymore until the next pay period. 


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Kageru on April 14, 2012, 02:11:13 AM
It's $15 for 30 hours, but if you don't use all 30 in a month, the rest disappear. Which is why it wouldn't work.

No, the idea is it's 30 hours until you use them up, the month is effectively a cap if you burn more than that (ie. hardcore playing). Put another way if I don't play enough in a month I get to carry over unused hours. You could just as easily do it through discounting the sub based on game-time under a number, if "not really logging in at the moment" cost 2$ then people would be much more likely to keep their accounts active. Heck, if you are doing that make it substract from in-game "coins" so that sub and cash-shop are using the same mechanism (which WoT effectively does already).

Effectively if you are playing a game very casually (as I am with LotRO) a subscription makes no sense. But neither does the current model of paying 20$ for an instance I might only run once or twice before I out-level it or get bored. It's not all that great for the game company either as all the payments are one off and priced on the assumption that the person is playing fairly hard-core (will farm the instance, level many characters).

That said I do think people don't like "renting" or gaming while "having a meter running" so it has its own issues.



Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Malakili on April 14, 2012, 07:52:25 AM
It's $15 for 30 hours, but if you don't use all 30 in a month, the rest disappear. Which is why it wouldn't work.

No, the idea is it's 30 hours until you use them up, the month is effectively a cap if you burn more than that (ie. hardcore playing). Put another way if I don't play enough in a month I get to carry over unused hours. You could just as easily do it through discounting the sub based on game-time under a number, if "not really logging in at the moment" cost 2$ then people would be much more likely to keep their accounts active. Heck, if you are doing that make it substract from in-game "coins" so that sub and cash-shop are using the same mechanism (which WoT effectively does already).

Effectively if you are playing a game very casually (as I am with LotRO) a subscription makes no sense. But neither does the current model of paying 20$ for an instance I might only run once or twice before I out-level it or get bored. It's not all that great for the game company either as all the payments are one off and priced on the assumption that the person is playing fairly hard-core (will farm the instance, level many characters).

That said I do think people don't like "renting" or gaming while "having a meter running" so it has its own issues.



Something like LOTRO is pretty casual friendly with a subscription, especially if you buy in bulk.  If you know you are going to want to play the game on and off for 6 months, you can do so and have access to absolutely everything, plus get a monthly stipend of money to spend in their item store for less than the cost of one new game.  That seems fairly cost effective and reasonable to me.   


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Phred on June 29, 2012, 09:09:53 PM

Incidentally, this is why I think Diablo 3 is going to be absurdly popular.  It has all the things people want, and none of the things they hate, just for the box price. 

Hmm. That turned out well eh? :)


Title: Re: Resolved: SWTOR is not an MMO
Post by: Fabricated on July 02, 2012, 10:48:45 AM
Well, the absurdly popular part is right.