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Author Topic: "when people realize the endgame blows"  (Read 33643 times)
Sobelius
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on: May 01, 2005, 09:26:06 PM

[Topic title from one of Strazos' posts referring to people leaving WoW when they "realize the endgame blows." It got me to thinking about why this is.]

Of course it blows. No game designed like an MMOG to be a constant striving toward the "next thing", can ever have a real end -- if you ever get there, it can only disappoint because it really means the game is over. And MMOGs are not about the game being over. These games only stay interesting as long as the carrot on the stick stays in view but is just out of reach until you jump over a number of hurdles -- and once you do get the carrot, a shiney new carrot appears on the stick to make you forget how meaningless and shallow the carrot you just got really is.

When it comes to MMOG's, I no longer buy this notion of an "endgame" or even believe it exists. I think it's patently false. An endgame in games like GO and Chess refers to, literally, the set of strategic and tactical moves which guide the game to its end. How you play the endgame can determine whether you win or lose. After which the game is, in fact, finished. Over. You stop playing. Of course you can play again, but you know the game will also end again.

MMOG's do not advertise that your goal of the game is to get to the end and stop playing. But as most of us know, that's what happens. And unlike games which really do end, I find few people really sound satisfied when they talk about an MMOG that they used to play but no longer play. How many of us have played and quit a MMOG with a sense that we reached a truly satisfying conclusion of some sort -- say the way we did when we finished a single player game? Don't we tend to quit in disgust, or because something more important demands our time, or our finances, or we simply just drift away when a new game/interest shows up?

The MMOG community seems to have come to use the term "endgame" to describe "what happens when your character hits the level cap and you can no longer play the game the same way, or earn rewards in the same way, you did prior to reaching the cap." And suddenly there is supposed to be -- what? -- a magical new game to play? Is that what we really think is supposed to happen when we subscribe to an MMOG and begin the long journey toward...some Emerald City at the end of the rainbow? PvP? Raids? Some new shiney shinier than the previous shiney?

No MMOG has this mythical thing called an "endgame". The game doesn't end as long as there are yet more rewards to acquire, ways to advance your character, or when starting a new character holds the promise of as much enjoyment as playing the first character.

I think the strength of most MMOGs is the variety of characters to play; the key, of course, is having enough content to play without feeling you have "been there and done that" to the point of nausea. Though I never played it, I understand Vampire: Bloodlines, while not an MMOG, had a lot of replay value since the story and gameplay varied depending on which clan you played. Why can't the same be true of MMOG's? I had hoped it would be the case in DAOC -- where playing in Hibernia would be so different from playing in Midgard or Albion that I would have years of enjoyment ahead. (And until the Gaheris server opened, you actually had to devote yourself to one realm at a time.) New races and classes combined with new content should have been a formula for a long subscription.

But what happened instead? After getting a Cabalist to 24, then making it to 50 with my Armsman, my choices were: go back to the Cabalist, try ToA, create a new character in another realm, or go into PvP without ToA. All these paths looked uninviting.  And so I quit -- feeling the game had run its course for me. I felt some sadness leaving. Mythic and its developers had done a good job and I loved a lot of things about the game. Wish I could say saying goodbye was satisfying. It wasn't.

I would gladly have played DAOC from each realm's perspective IF character advancement had been as rapid as that of WoW. Same with CoH, which is a heartbreaker for me, since I was once addicted to the character creator in CoH. I might have made a great stable of heroes to play had the rate of advancement not slowed to a grinding crawl around the mid 20s.

The point at which an MMOG no longer becomes fun is what I would call its endgame, and of course it always "blows". It stops being fun, for me, when the thought of cleaning my kitchen floor is more exciting than that of trying out a new character race/class/powerset, etc. After all, what the hell do I expect is going to happen when my character reaches the level cap? Is the game really going to transform into something somehow so much more interesting that I'll want to keep playing it even if my character doesn't change or advance? And if my character does change or advance, then it's not really an ending.

World of Warcraft's rate of character advancement -- and Guild Wars somewhat even more so -- holds a lot of appeal. I'd prefer the rate to be even faster. It would allow for replaying content while focusing on the enjoyment of character advancement once the newness and surprise of the content has worn off.

In CoH I played through the content and missions in Galaxy City, Atlas Park, Perez Park and Kings Row -- even the damn tutorial -- dozens and dozens of times because creating and advancing characters at the lower levels in CoH was fast and fun. If only it had continued as rapidly at higher levels. Not even the promise of playing an uber alien race, as great as it sounds, could entice me to grin and bear it to higher levels than the mid 20s.

WoW, on the other hand, stands as the first game in which I may actually enjoy running multiple characters up to higher levels. Without sacrificing my enjoyable real world existence to do it. So here's to the end of that fantasy called an "endgame", which will always blow, and cheers to MMOGs that make it easier to play multiple characters.

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Reply #1 on: May 01, 2005, 10:07:23 PM

I agree with you, but I don't think it's just in the player's perspective: EQ set the tone with turning the treadmill from exp to items to flags, making it the "end game", or more accurately, the "raid game", and it become obvious that in a MMOG, the time all the way up to the raiding was simply something that you had to do, but wasn't supposed to be enjoyable.

The problem I think from a design perspective is that ALL of the game needs to be "fun". You can't design a game around the idea of "well, we'll make them do this, that, and play this way for a few months, just so that they can reach the level where we want them doing a totally different type of thing"--that design concept has to go away.

Guiild Wars is kind of an example here--while they have an "instant level 20 char for PvP only" aspect, and it is pretty fun, they still make you play PvE on your "real" character(s), even so much to the point of only letting you unlock skills for your insta-PvP chars if your "real" ones have those skills as well. That's just wrong--if you are going to provide "insta-endgame", then make it that way--don't force people to STILL grind through your treadmill to have the "best" endgame.

I'm tired after catassing in GW all weekend, so this probably isn't really very lucid, but the point is: there should be no transition period from a "fun" perspective, and most certainly not one from a playstyle perspective. Otherwise, your players will perceive the "end game", regardless of the fact that the game goes on and on.

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MaceVanHoffen
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Reply #2 on: May 02, 2005, 04:38:06 PM

Really well-written post, there.  I'll toss out something that might seem off-topic, but bear with me:  virtual worlds.

The problem with the G in MMOG is that that type of game really isn't a game in the traditional sense of that word.  By that I mean that classic game theory doesn't apply to them, at least in all the normal ways game theory is applied.  Game theory is (a very enjoyable) branch of mathematics, but MMOG's tend to be much more about the subjective experience that a developer wants a player to have.  Most of an MMOG's mechanics revolve around player choice in his interaction with the game system or other players, instead of a set of rules operating on a finite space.  Everquest and chess just don't have that much in common, yet for some baffling reason we persist in calling them both games.

An MMOG really bears a lot more similarity to a virtual world.  A virtual world has no "endgame".  It really isn't even a game.  It's focus is on enabling player interaction with a system that attempts to model a subset of a fantastical reality.  Most MMOG's try to cram together the ideas of a virtual world with the application of a flawed set of game mechanics.  I just don't think that works.  They became balance nightmares, trying to account for every possible player choice in making the experience what the developers intended.  Because you can't really apply game theory to much of an MMOG, you have to rely on the vision of a developer.  When one thinks of the wild diversity of MMOG players out there, there's just no way even the majority of them can be happy with a single MMOG title.

But virtual worlds inspire TEH HATE in a lot of players.  Usually, UO gets trotted out as the negative example.  Myself, I didn't like the way UO turned out.  However, not enough people have been working on the problem of virtual worlds to really solve them.  Instead, game funding is diverted to the cookie-cutter MMOG model because that's what's understood by players, suits, and game developers.  Even though in 6-12 months after launch those same players will bitch about the game, those same suits will introduce addiction-mechanic gameplay, and those same developers will become apathetic or even hostile to the playerbase.  I can't think of a more compelling argument than that sordid history to prove that thinking of MMOG purely as games just doesn't really work.

So, I think MMOG's need to be more virtual world-ish and stop trying to be games.  There is no endgame.  It's not just a myth, it simply doesn't apply.  Now the problem is how does one make an enjoyable virtual world that isn't akin to the aborted fetus that UO became.  I have some ideas, but to be honest I don't really know.  But I do believe that if developers quit trying to think of their MMOG as a game, thinking of it more as a virtual world, that we'll get some interesting and fun software.  De-emphasis on combat, crafting systems that don't induce carpal tunnel, meaningful player interactions beyond the extremes of "You're my ally" and "You're my enemy", and even better AI might all actually see the light of day if we can get past this fear of thinking of MMOG's as virtual worlds.
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Reply #3 on: May 02, 2005, 04:45:26 PM

Let me see if I understand what you are saying.

Basically you think the players should be given a world with some rules, and that interaction with those rules will create depth and complexity and an enjoyable experience?

I run in a lot of fighting game circles and there is always this battle of complexity and depth. Complexity being broad instead of deep. For example, in Tekken at any given time there are about 40 different things you can do. But the depth of Tekken is not any greater than a lot of other simpler games.

IMO MMORPGs have a great deal of complexity, which can be dangerous. Complex rules are hard to design, hard to test, and it's usually easy to find a maxima or minima to fall into. (For example Tekken 4, there are 50 things you can do with Jin while standing, but people only use 1 of them)

I definitely think there is room for someone to create a world with some basic, understandable rules and then have people go at it. The goal being that the depth of the emergent stuff can get people involved. MMORPGs really have almost no emergent gameplay, and the things that do emerge are nearly all exploits.

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MaceVanHoffen
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Reply #4 on: May 02, 2005, 05:00:22 PM

Basically you think the players should be given a world with some rules, and that interaction with those rules will create depth and complexity and an enjoyable experience?

I run in a lot of fighting game circles and there is always this battle of complexity and depth. Complexity being broad instead of deep. For example, in Tekken at any given time there are about 40 different things you can do. But the depth of Tekken is not any greater than a lot of other simpler games.

IMO MMORPGs have a great deal of complexity ...

That's what I think, yes.  Complexity is the biggest issue, but there's an underlying mathematical problem.

The fighting games you mention are not as deep as you think they are.  It's an illusion, much the same way any classic game's complexity is an illusion.  There are a set of mechanics within a closed, finite space, and the player can choose among the mechanics that are legal at any point in time.  Fighting games?  Each player has the same basic palette of actions, just with different windowdressing (aka graphics and sound).  It's really just rock, paper, scissors with dozens more choices.  That isn't a negative thing.  Rather, it's a testament to just how much art goes into a modern videogame.

With modern MMOG's things are subtly different.  I do have a finite (though, large) set of choices, but I can also combine those choices in ways that were unanticipated.  This is one of the traditional arguments for a class system, as you can artificially limit the choices a player has in a way that is easier to balance and apply game dynamics to.  It's an economy of scale issue, in which game theory quickly breaks down because you no longer have a truly closed space, i.e. not all players have the exact same palette of actions to choose from.  The set of player-vs-player and player-vs-mob interactions quickly approaches infinity.

I guess I'm saying let it approach infinity.  Quit artificially constraining things.  To do that, you have to accept that what you are building is not a game.  It's something else.  I like the idea of a virtual world, but it doesn't have to be that.  Just ... not a game.


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Reply #5 on: May 02, 2005, 06:08:46 PM

The main reason that I haven't been able to really delve into any MMOG is the absence of an endgame. I, like a toddler, require structure. I need the validation of knowing how close I am to completion. The complexity of any game need not be found in the ability to play forever, continuously leveling up until you're invincible. I mean, I milked FFX for a full 90+ hours of gameplay. I am a sidequest whore, and that's how I get my money's worth. But I always know that if I want, I can just go ahead and finish the damn thing. If the sidequests were the game, with no main objective underlying the purpose of playing in the first place, I don't know what the point is. Every story needs an ending.

Edit: I think I'm still a little confused about what the "endgame" really is. I meant the "end of the game" in my post.

Edit II: I mean, is the game over because it is actually over, or because you are over it?
« Last Edit: May 02, 2005, 06:12:40 PM by voodoolily »

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Hoax
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Reply #6 on: May 02, 2005, 07:14:25 PM

I can think of one MMO that approaches virtual world status, that being EvE online.  There is a large amount of freedom, a huge amount of space, and no true grinding because everything is just time based.  Now I agree completely that virtual worlds should be what we are aiming for with the genre, but after playing EvE for 2 months after launch and no recently returning to it I'm not so sure.

I can literally get lost in EvE, I can get confused and forget what I was doing, I can log in and have no real compulsion to do anything.  Because unlike EQ clones there isn't really a progression path for me to travel down that dictates my gameplay.  My skills are always training nothing I do in-game (outside of implants) can effect how quickly I advance.  That should be perfect in theory but the problem is EvE is a virtual world set in outer space.  Which is, well big very very big.  Also its harder to relate to a spaceship when compared to a humanoid character.  I've pondered why I can't really get into or enjoy a game that seems to do what I want and I'm not really sure.  I hate "grinding" but without a real grind I dont really have a reason to play it seems.  Currently I've decided I want to try doing some solo bounty hunting (players can place a bounty on somebody with a low security rating) so I'm training up a ton of combat skills and not really playing while I wait, sometimes I log in and chat in the random newb corporation I'm in.  Sometimes I go and blow up some pirate npc's, and other times I practice following and tracking players around but mostly I just dont play...

I dont really have a point, I just find the whole situation disconcerting honestly.

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Reply #7 on: May 02, 2005, 09:00:24 PM

I would agree with the EVE Online assesment. There's so much you *can* do, it's hard to know *what* to do.

That said, if you are involved with a big time corporation, they always have stuff for you to do if you are bored... but that gets old too.

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Reply #8 on: May 02, 2005, 10:35:16 PM

Given a sandbox I can make my own fun. Will that fun last forever? Probably not. Does it need to? No.

The more freedom you have the more virtual worldy it is. I'm still waiting for someone to impliment climbing trees ingame. You would think that a game like Planetside would have tree climbing but it doesn't. About the best you can do is jump out of a plane and land in a tree.

The end game for me is when I'm over the game I stop.

Edit: Punctuation.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2005, 11:06:39 AM by Krakrok »

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Reply #9 on: May 03, 2005, 08:25:40 AM

Sadly I think that I have left most of the MMOGs I've played because the game was unrecognizable from what I started to play:
Trammel in UO
Uber macros/templates in AC1
Expansions in DAOC
My own fault in SWG (I got too concerned with min/maxing and it killed the game for me)

I have never or rarely had a maxed out character in any of those games, even in my catass days.  I claim to want one but always get bored and restart/reroll/quit before that happens.  I MIGHT just reach it in WoW, and to me that's a big plus for that design.

I think that the endgame isn't necessarily a fallacy, but it's an ideal no one's reached yet.  The whole idea is a little weird:  you play one game to advance, and once you've maxed out your advancement, you play an entirely different game. If the advancement isn't fun, why not let the players play the "endgame" from the start?  The sad answer is that it's easier to design a grind than to design something that's fun for long periods. 

I think PvP is a valid answer: look at games like CS.  That game is equivalent in many ways to a MMOG endgame minus the grind, and people play it over and over for years and years.  In AC1 I hear many people have migrated to PvP servers as the game matured and advancement became more trivial.

Raiding is obviously a valid answer: EQ/EQ2/WoW (to some extent) have based their games on it.  The problem is that it isn't as open-ended as PvP - you can only get so many shineys, and someone has to design and balance the shineys, and left unchecked, it leads to mudflation and trivialization of early-designed content.  In short: it's a lot more design-heavy and ultimately self-defeating.

Someone needs to come up with a third answer.  And in the meantime, the "grind" to the endgame should either be fun, or it's pointless and a copout to include it.  Though it's interesting how masochistic people really are -- their "fun" activity can be painful (think Lineage 2) as long as it's in pursuit of some goal, regardless of how utterly pointless the goal is.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2005, 08:28:43 AM by Jayce »

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Reply #10 on: May 03, 2005, 01:31:57 PM

The whole "end game" discussion reminds me of an idea I think I saw in another thread on this forum.

A sort a GW'esque hub, to wich you connect with your character, and you basicly bought every quest or content( Maybe module is a better word)  you played. Now this is a game model in wich all emphasis lies in content and fun, and not so much grinding. You could even let different companies provide different story archs and/or settings.Your login account would have different characters wich ,dependant on how many quests they did, have a certain "lvl" or experience wich would open new Quests for them.. Hell, you could even implement a permanent hub system alla NWN. The only disadvantage I think would be the uselessness of catassery.It would probably be very nice for casual players, catasses would have less fun, dependant on how much content is available.  I'm sure it's much better explained eslewhere on this forum. (And as a non native speaker, and dyslexic ;),  I'm not sure if you understand me well enough).

Basicly, I just wanted to say that this model looks quite "end game/ player burn out" proof, as the emphasis much more on content. It would obviously be less "Massive" but probably more RPG.
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Reply #11 on: May 03, 2005, 01:46:04 PM

Here are the MMO's I have played to one extent or another:

EQ (twice)
Earth and Beyond
DAoC (for about a month)
WoW (for a month)
AC2 (for a few weeks)
Beta SWG
Beta Planetside
EQ2 (for a month)
CoH
Gemstone III  :-D

Of the games I have played (that I can remember ATM), EQ had the best "endgame" for me, but let me explain.

I've had 2 stints in EQ: the first started some time after the release of Velious, up to the release of Luclin. The second started around the time of LDoN, and went to a short while after the release of GoD.

In my first stint, the "endgame" for me was open plane raiding for my little lvl 48 Rogue. It was on weekends, and took about 4-6 hours, time that would have been spent playing Anyway. I thought it was really fun, and it was new. Unfortunately, I quit when Luclin came out, because I was in HS, and had no way of upgrading my system at the time to meet the new standards.

My second forray into EQ was much less satisfying. I practically sprinted to 65 in pre-nerf LDoN, but when I got there, all that I was left with was horrific camping; camping hours upon hours for those final few levels and AA's. The ridiculous cockblocking content of Luclin. The obscene flagging for PoP. NOT FUN. Unfortunately, for the other games I have played, their "endgame" seems to emulate this, if they even have an "endgame" (I was pretty high-level in Earth and Beyond...wtf do you do in that game at high level, kill mobs for hours on end?).

I think Guild Wars may have finally figured out a way to be "fun". The is less of a grind, and in the end, you have glorious, balenced PvP. That works for me.

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Reply #12 on: May 03, 2005, 01:58:29 PM

A sort a GW'esque hub, to wich you connect with your character, and you basicly bought every quest or content( Maybe module is a better word)  you played.

A variant on that idea that I posted a long while back is to have the "endgame" be content creation - use in-game money you've earned as a player to purchase content creation tools - the content you create in your zone is accessible to other players and has the potential to generate more in-game money for them, you, or both.  Apply the principles of a sim economic game to this so that there's real challenge to building and maintaining a "profitable" zone rather than making it an easy money faucet.

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Reply #13 on: May 03, 2005, 02:04:39 PM

Quote from: Samwise link=topic=3080.msg78404#msg78404 date
A variant on that idea that I posted a long while back is to have the "endgame" be content creation - use in-game money you've earned as a player to purchase content creation tools -

In a mainstream game/world you'd have to find someway to control "STC" (http://mythical.blogspot.com/2005/04/community-players-vs-characters.html).


edit: quoting is hard

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Reply #14 on: May 03, 2005, 02:23:12 PM

I've thought about that, and my conclusion is basically "fuck mainstream".  Not a popular viewpoint if one is looking to make money, I know, but there it is.

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Reply #15 on: May 03, 2005, 02:26:37 PM

A variant on that idea that I posted a long while back is to have the "endgame" be content creation ...

I love the idea of content creation, but not as an endgame.  I'd want to see characters (as opposed to players) at all levels create content in some way.  In-game money would be but one way to access content creation.  You also could access it via quests or assisting other players with their content creation.
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Reply #16 on: May 03, 2005, 03:18:52 PM

what kills so many of these games for me is 2 things:

1) that the operator (like the whore-fathering SOE) will dramatically change the ruleset at some point leaving you either suddenly without an end-game or substantially weakened.

If the latter you are only left with grinding and paying for more.  Which brings me to...

2) that the operator imposes dramatic time-sinks for players to even approach or slightly participate in the end-game (whether high-end crafting, PvP, legendary classes like Jedi, etc.)  It remains to be seen if GuildWars will work, but the timesink/levelling system is so uncreative and self-destructive to a game someone has to try something new.
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Reply #17 on: May 03, 2005, 03:59:32 PM

A variant on that idea that I posted a long while back is to have the "endgame" be content creation
Yeah, it could be like if when you reached the level cap you were given the chance to become a "Wizard" and write content in a C-like language, and we could call it LPMUD and the year would be like ten plus years ago.

The problem with using in-game economy to guide what content you can create is that MMOs are TERRIBLE at balancing the economy, what with items and resources popping up from thin air and whatnot. In AO, for instance, higher level people have oodles of credits, but nothing really to spend it on. One of the biggest reasons to go with Alien Invasions seems to be that player cities are excellent money sinks in case you were afraid the credits would reach an integer overflow and plummet you into the negative.

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Reply #18 on: May 03, 2005, 03:59:36 PM

Great post, BTW.

The MMOG Endgame problem is a problem of time. As a developer, you want your gamer to keep his subscription active for a while. Many, many months. Only, you can't actually create a game that constantly challenges most good players for more than say 90-100 hours of time. Even some of the best RPG's of the past, with 120 hours of gameplay, really only provided a good 60 hours before things got boring and players were just trying to get to the end. Now if the average player only plays 5-10 hours a week for your subscription game, over a 3-month period, he's played a total of 60-120 hours. And you've given him the first month free for buying the box, so you have to give him 60-120 hours of GOOD content for the cost of 2 months of subscriptions.

You can't generate good content that fast, especially when you have to worry about exploits, more than one player and play style, griefing, and the limitations that bandwidth places on game mechanics.

For the player, the natural inclination is to play an MMOG for longer play sessions and for more play sessions in a given week in order to justify the cost of subscriptions. Which is why the average MMOG player tends to play for 15-20 hours a week.

Thus, the grind is introduced to slow progress towards the endgame, thus lengthening subscriptions and making more profit. The endgame is that part of the game that normally throws the player enough of a curveball that it's like starting a new game, almost.

There need to be multiple "endgames" with short curves to progress to them. I don't think a virtual world is the answer to the endgame problem, though, because we are really 5-10 years from virtual worlds even being remotely feasible given the current tech. And they'll still run into the community/griefing problems that UO and SWG ran into if they don't watch out.

Virtual worlds would be fun, but the problem comes in the term world. A world implies it is somewhere you LIVE, and if you live there, you probably spend way too much time there for anyone's good. There's also the thorny issue that MMOG's ARE sold as games, and as such, the buyer has a certain expectation, i.e. he expects there to be a game in there.

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Reply #19 on: May 03, 2005, 04:13:00 PM

The problem with using in-game economy to guide what content you can create is that MMOs are TERRIBLE at balancing the economy, what with items and resources popping up from thin air and whatnot. In AO, for instance, higher level people have oodles of credits, but nothing really to spend it on. One of the biggest reasons to go with Alien Invasions seems to be that player cities are excellent money sinks in case you were afraid the credits would reach an integer overflow and plummet you into the negative.

Thing is, games in other genres have been able to come up with challenging economic models that involve items and resources popping up from thin air - why can't MMOs apply some of the same lessons?  For example, imagine if player cities had the same amount of effort put into their design as, say, the Sim City games.

If you end up with too much inflation, ratchet up the "difficulty" until things stablize (the Sim games would do stuff like bring in Godzilla or civil unrest at high difficulty levels, IIRC) - the overall economy gets a money sink, and the players at all levels get a new challenge to try to deal with.  Again, these problems have already been solved in other genres.

"I have not actually recommended many games, and I'll go on the record here saying my track record is probably best in the industry." - schild
HaemishM
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Reply #20 on: May 03, 2005, 04:59:51 PM

People (as in catass farming whiners) react negatively when their items (read income stream) suddenly become less valuable, bitch on boards and organize idiotic lag-filled in-game protests.

Roac
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Reply #21 on: May 03, 2005, 07:09:15 PM

Endgame is the notion that the game doesn't really get fun until after you have gone through the advancement process.  The reason is that most MMOGs are compeditive between players, and advancement gives a decidedly and usually monsterous lead to those who have reached the end of this process.  Because you can't compete, you can't play.

If you feel that's a figment of people's imagination, you're welcome to try and build a castle at level 2, or go PKing with your newb sword, because it's all the same to you.  And forget finding a group to go explore any zone outside the monbgats (fyi - most to all new content is high level).

-Roac
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Samwise
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Reply #22 on: May 03, 2005, 09:14:16 PM

People (as in catass farming whiners) react negatively when their items (read income stream) suddenly become less valuable, bitch on boards and organize idiotic lag-filled in-game protests.

I think the "suddenly" is key there - drastic and obviously heavy-handed changes tend to cheese people off.  Gradually ramping up money sinks and/or challenges doesn't generally seem to have the same effect.  Taking Puzzle Pirates as an example, the boards get pissy when major changes are introduced that change the value of rare items (search "kraken blood" and "black paint" on the forums for an example of a sudden drastic change), but the devs also monitor the economy carefully and make subtle price changes all the time to keep things in balance, and nobody seems to care much about the subtle changes, even though they're fairly obvious to anyone playing the economic game, because the subtle changes don't feel quite so much like the fiery wrath of God.

An even better trick is to make the fiery wrath of God feel like content.  Using the Sim City example, if you have Godzilla come in and start levelling buildings every year or so to drive property values back down, and give the player base a chance to try to fight him off (and eventually win) it'll be much more well-received than if you just skimmed an equivalent amount of money off everyone's bank accounts to get the same net effect.  My understanding is that people really dug the alien invasion thing at the end of the CoH beta, which sounds like a similar gimmick.

"I have not actually recommended many games, and I'll go on the record here saying my track record is probably best in the industry." - schild
Pococurante
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Reply #23 on: May 04, 2005, 07:19:22 AM

Virtual worlds shouldn't be pitched to a mass undifferentiated audience but to a very specific demographic.  The flaws of the existing products all stem from the fact it's marketed widely and has to be highly lucrative to support its infrastructure.  The entire argument of can Trammel ever coexist with Felucca is a specific example.  I was reading Tad William's Otherland series and weaning myself off Gemstone III when UO was first released; the Otherland world definitely influenced my perception of what a virtual world can be and the challenges that come from crafting a world that appeals to a certain mindset.

An even better trick is to make the fiery wrath of God feel like content.  Using the Sim City example, if you have Godzilla come in and start levelling buildings every year or so to drive property values back down, and give the player base a chance to try to fight him off (and eventually win) it'll be much more well-received than if you just skimmed an equivalent amount of money off everyone's bank accounts to get the same net effect.

I never liked the random disaster as content feature in the SimXXX games.  I'd rather the external factors been something like a Walmart opens on the outer fringes of the map and sucks at my commercial areas while driving down my taxbase, or an interstate bypasses the town and the council has to negotiate a new major employer.

I agree with what your saying - just working off a deep-seated resentment I have nursed for years and that left me unable to function as a normal human being who likes small furry things and toddlers with sticky ice cream cones.
Furiously
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Reply #24 on: May 04, 2005, 09:37:30 AM

I agree with what your saying - just working off a deep-seated resentment I have nursed for years and that left me unable to function as a normal human being who likes small furry things and toddlers with sticky ice cream cones.

Btw - doint goggle furry and sticky.

As far as end game. I know I am getting a bit tired of Uber Raids of time sucking. Part of what made Fallout and Planescape, and Star Control 2 just so darn good is their conclusions. You saw your actions effects on the worlds/galaxy. You left the game with a feeling of accomplishment. All I can do from my four years of EQ is look back and say, I made some good friends. But other then that - I just lost 4 years of my life.

« Last Edit: May 04, 2005, 09:43:56 AM by Furiously »

lamaros
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Reply #25 on: May 05, 2005, 12:49:59 PM

Of course it blows. No game designed like an MMOG to be a constant striving toward the "next thing", can ever have a real end -- if you ever get there, it can only disappoint because it really means the game is over. And MMOGs are not about the game being over. These games only stay interesting as long as the carrot on the stick stays in view but is just out of reach until you jump over a number of hurdles -- and once you do get the carrot, a shiney new carrot appears on the stick to make you forget how meaningless and shallow the carrot you just got really is.

I'd say this is absolutly right, with a few qualifying statements. Playing a game in expectation of a specific goal at all times will only lead to the disaster you describe, there will be no endgame.

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When it comes to MMOG's, I no longer buy this notion of an "endgame" or even believe it exists. I think it's patently false.

The endgame is the point where you are freed of game imposed goals. WoW has a clear endgame, it's the point where you hit level 60; the point where you escape the fundamental drive of "the next level" and take your head out of the sand and look at what is around you. It just happens that when you get your head out of the sand there is nothing to do but:

A: Jump aboard the next linear structure provided by the game, equipment chasing/raiding.
B: Quit.

However consider a game that provides you with non-linear alternatives and you would have an endgame; something that you do not have access to when you begin the game, but does not lead to a specific point. I don't know if any of you have played the MUD Medievia, but I'll use an example from there:

When you get to level 124 in Medievia you become a HERO, and your leveling days are over. According to your theory you would assume most people would quit the game at this point however the large majority of Medievia players are HEROs, not those on the treadmill to HEROdom. When you become a HERO you are free to do whatever you want, and when you realise this you don't quit because there are many things to do in the game that are not connected to the leveling treadmill. You can go trade and become rich, you can compete in hero battles, you can join a CPK clan and fight others, etc.

The lack of an endgame only takes place when everything in the game is attached to specific linear paths, WoW (any many other MMOGs) don't have an endgame because they don't really have anything you can:

A: Do apart from the set paths
B: Do properly without first completeing the set paths.

(BGs are something that might change this, but even then they might require that to be compete in the BGs you will also have to compete in the Raiding; linear once again)

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MMOG's do not advertise that your goal of the game is to get to the end and stop playing. But as most of us know, that's what happens. And unlike games which really do end, I find few people really sound satisfied when they talk about an MMOG that they used to play but no longer play. How many of us have played and quit a MMOG with a sense that we reached a truly satisfying conclusion of some sort -- say the way we did when we finished a single player game? Don't we tend to quit in disgust, or because something more important demands our time, or our finances, or we simply just drift away when a new game/interest shows up?

I played three MMOGs which I look back on with a sense of a decent conclusion, all MUDs. Medievia, Achaea, and Imperian. Of course I look back on WoW with some annoyance, I thought it was a MMORPG, not a strange co-operative, persistent, RPG.

The crop of MMOGs you are talking about don't advertise the fact that you will get to a point and quit because then they would have a hard time making people part with the subscription fees. Or to offer a nicer view, because they think they are creating games that have fun endgames, but fail.

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The MMOG community seems to have come to use the term "endgame" to describe "what happens when your character hits the level cap and you can no longer play the game the same way, or earn rewards in the same way, you did prior to reaching the cap." And suddenly there is supposed to be -- what? -- a magical new game to play? Is that what we really think is supposed to happen when we subscribe to an MMOG and begin the long journey toward...some Emerald City at the end of the rainbow? PvP? Raids? Some new shiney shinier than the previous shiney?

I come from playing MUDs, and I've found a few that do have endgames I enjoy. It's for this reason that I played WoW in expectation that there would be a decent endgame. I was not however thinking of it as some kind of sequence in the way you describe, I merely expected to be able to get to a point in the game where I would be able to quit leveling and getting equipment and turn myself to doing other fun things.


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No MMOG has this mythical thing called an "endgame". The game doesn't end as long as there are yet more rewards to acquire, ways to advance your character, or when starting a new character holds the promise of as much enjoyment as playing the first character.

Some do. Some reach a point where the future rewards are either negligable, or atainable in a non-linear fashion. Imperian, another MUD had an endgame in this way. You had leveling and with leveling came increased power, but the gap was exponential and after you'd reached a decent level you didn't have to worry too much about grinding away at the next level, it wasn't that big a deal. Instead I played the political side of the game, gaining influence in my Guild, City, and Order. To play the political game you didn't need a level, in fact chances are if you spent all your time leveling then you wern't getting much done on the political front. I also played the economic game. Taking advantage of rescources to make a fortune and purchasing a shop to sell wares. Likewise, monitoring my inventory and scouting the world for good prices took up much of my time, and didn't depend on my level.

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I think the strength of most MMOGs is the variety of characters to play; the key, of course, is having enough content to play without feeling you have "been there and done that" to the point of nausea. Though I never played it, I understand Vampire: Bloodlines, while not an MMOG, had a lot of replay value since the story and gameplay varied depending on which clan you played. Why can't the same be true of MMOG's? I had hoped it would be the case in DAOC -- where playing in Hibernia would be so different from playing in Midgard or Albion that I would have years of enjoyment ahead. (And until the Gaheris server opened, you actually had to devote yourself to one realm at a time.) New races and classes combined with new content should have been a formula for a long subscription.

The strength in a MMOG, if it is any good, lies in the playerbase. Multiplayer Online Game. Persistent worlds are boring after you discover most of it, the way to keep a world interesting is to keep it changing, and the best way to do this is to make player relations meaningful. If I log on once a week to find that the world has changed then it keeps me intersted and engaged. Say I log on to Imperian and go around checking all the rescource prices/avaliability. If they are the same as the last time I checked then I ignore them. I already know what the implications of the prices are at those levels. If things are different then I have something fun to do. Change drives player interest, and after a while the only significant change in an online world is going to come from other players.

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The point at which an MMOG no longer becomes fun is what I would call its endgame, and of course it always "blows". It stops being fun, for me, when the thought of cleaning my kitchen floor is more exciting than that of trying out a new character race/class/powerset, etc. After all, what the hell do I expect is going to happen when my character reaches the level cap? Is the game really going to transform into something somehow so much more interesting that I'll want to keep playing it even if my character doesn't change or advance? And if my character does change or advance, then it's not really an ending.

The point at which a game is no longer fun for you seems to be the same point it is foreveryone else, where there is less newness than repitition. This happens to be what we've called the "endgame" because the dominant model for change in the current crop of MMOGs is driven through the leveling process. World driven.

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World of Warcraft's rate of character advancement -- and Guild Wars somewhat even more so -- holds a lot of appeal. I'd prefer the rate to be even faster. It would allow for replaying content while focusing on the enjoyment of character advancement once the newness and surprise of the content has worn off.

Replaying the same content is boring, though. I quit WoW when my second character, a priest, got to level 40. There was nothing ahead of me that was any different to what I'd already done. I knew the game content from my other character, and I knew how to play a priest to my satisfaction. I've been playing Guild Wars since the WPE last year and most of it is boring already. The PvP is what keeps me interested, because it's always changing.

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WoW, on the other hand, stands as the first game in which I may actually enjoy running multiple characters up to higher levels. Without sacrificing my enjoyable real world existence to do it. So here's to the end of that fantasy called an "endgame", which will always blow, and cheers to MMOGs that make it easier to play multiple characters.

WoW is currently a great co-op RP game. But to call it a good MMORPG is a stretch I won't allow. Nearly everything fun in the game is driven by the world, not other players. Thus you will reach a point where you've done everything you find fun and have nothing to do untill the next expansion.


However I'm with you on the sentiment of wanting the end of the "endgame".

Any game that has a decent endgame would be just as good if they sepperated the linear process and allowed people to access the endgame right from the start. If BGs in WoW turns out to be fair and balanced (and considering the item based nature of the game I doubt it) there is no reason people should be forced to get to level 60 just to compete in it. If I enjoy PvP and want to pvp why do I have to spend so many hours doing comething completely unrelated? Likewise in Guild Wars: Retail sucks in comparison to the beta at this point because I'm being FORCED to play through a rather terrible co-op RPG just to be competitive on the PvP stage. I'd rather sit and write this lengthy response rather than play the game because I don't feel like sitting through more awful PvM missions, grinding for runes, or unlocking skills..


Quote from: Stephen Zepp
The problem I think from a design perspective is that ALL of the game needs to be "fun". You can't design a game around the idea of "well, we'll make them do this, that, and play this way for a few months, just so that they can reach the level where we want them doing a totally different type of thing"--that design concept has to go away.

The whole games doesn't need to be fun, just the various aspects of the game have to relate in ways that don't require the individual player to commit to them all. If you want to PvP would shouldn't be required to kill lots of animals. If you want to craft items you shouldn't be required to be any good at PvP, if you want to go kill animals you shouldnt' be required to be able to craft things, etc. This doesn't mean things shouln't be related, the relationships just shouldn't be forced. For example:

Lets consider a couple of players.

Player A: Likes being important.
Player B: Likes crafting things.
Player C: Likes PvP.
Player D: Likes hunting animals/exploring.
Player E: Likes making money.

Player A is a city leader and is good at politics, but not much else, nor is he interested in much else. However being an important person he's often the target of enemies of his city, besides wanting to make the city safe for its own sake. So he hires player C and some of Cs friend's to look after things. Player C like nothing else but to pvp, however he need to get items made and he doesn't want to make them himself so he pays player B to do that for him. Player B likes making things but hates getting the rescources, so he buys them off player E, a local merchant. Player E likes makeing money but doesn't like running around the land for items, so he runs a shop in the city where he buys resources from player D, and sell them for a profit to player B. Player D likes running around the wilds exploring and finds a lot of rescources in his travels, so he sells them to player E on his way through town. Player E has all this money on hand and needs somewhere to look after it, so besides paying the town (and through it player A) for his shop he also keeps it in the town bank. Player A safeguards the bank by using taxes and shop fees and the like to fund hiring guards and player C. And so on.


This is an ideal situation where everyone is able to do what they want to do and not worry about everything else, while still taking part in a world with meaningul relationships. There is no "endgame" here! :)

Don't try telling me it can't happen either. I know it can. I've seen large aspects of this working in games already, all it requires is more effort! The real problems with these games is they can be life-consumingly fun and traps for addictive personalities.

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I can literally get lost in EvE, I can get confused and forget what I was doing, I can log in and have no real compulsion to do anything.  Because unlike EQ clones there isn't really a progression path for me to travel down that dictates my gameplay.  My skills are always training nothing I do in-game (outside of implants) can effect how quickly I advance.  That should be perfect in theory but the problem is EvE is a virtual world set in outer space.  Which is, well big very very big.  Also its harder to relate to a spaceship when compared to a humanoid character.  I've pondered why I can't really get into or enjoy a game that seems to do what I want and I'm not really sure.  I hate "grinding" but without a real grind I dont really have a reason to play it seems.  Currently I've decided I want to try doing some solo bounty hunting (players can place a bounty on somebody with a low security rating) so I'm training up a ton of combat skills and not really playing while I wait, sometimes I log in and chat in the random newb corporation I'm in.  Sometimes I go and blow up some pirate npc's, and other times I practice following and tracking players around but mostly I just dont play...

Unfortunatly I havn't played EvE, so I don't have much of a point of reference.

As for making getting lost. The point I said above is even more important in a true virtual world; people are everything. Without a community the game will die, as there will be little to do as a sigle player. But I personaly don't mind this, it's a multiplayer game after all, if i'm not getting anything out of my interactions with the other players then I mgiht as well be playing a single player game.

In a game with a proper community then your actions as an individual will have meaning, if you're getting lost and wondering what to do in the game it might be because the game does not have enough of a structure between the players to give the individuals actions meaning. In a virtual world you should be movitated to do things for yourself because you feel that doing so will change the world around you and thus be interesting. To go back to my example above: If the guy who likes exploring comes back to town every day and sells his ites to a NPC other than another player then he is all of a suddent cut off from the rest of the world. For al lintent he might be playing by himself and it would make no difference to anyone else playing the game. It might seem a little thing but this can have a large affect on how 'fun' the game is for the individual. Eg:

Scenario 1:

Player D comes back from the wilds with a whole stack of animal furs which he sells to the local NPC.
NPC: Thank you. Here is your payment of 1000gold.
Player D goes off to do exactly the same thing.

Scenario 2:

Player D comes back from the wilds with a whole stack of animal furs which he sells to the local merchant.
E: Hey D, the market for fur has exploded, all of a sudden we have this new crafter in town who can make winter coats and the price is through the roof, there isn't enough fur to meet demand. If you can get me anymore of this stuff I can promise you 5 times the normal price.
D: Who's the crafter?
E: B, he's got a shop over near the centre of town. Tell him I sent you and he should give you a good price on a coat.. hell bring me another 30 pelts and I'll get you one for free.
D: Ah ok.

D walks over to B's shop.
D: Hey man I hear you need pelts, how much are you paying for them?
B: I've got a deal to work throguh E for all my raw materials, if you have any stock you'd best go through him.

D later stops by Es shop before heading out of the city.
E: Listen I heard you went over to B and offered to sell him pelts up front. The guy and me go way back so he let me know right away what was going on. I've given you a good deal here for ages and I'm pretty annoyed you tried to go around me, don't let it happen again or I'll cut you off.

etc etc..

And before you say I'm being a bit fanciful then keep in mind that a scenario very similar to this happened in Imperian in the good ol' days back when I played it. I traded blackmarket Iron with influental crafters for exorbant prices, set up exclusive distribution channels, and wrangled favours with city leaders. All through simple market demand for some iron.

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There need to be multiple "endgames" with short curves to progress to them. I don't think a virtual world is the answer to the endgame problem, though, because we are really 5-10 years from virtual worlds even being remotely feasible given the current tech. And they'll still run into the community/griefing problems that UO and SWG ran into if they don't watch out.

Virtual worlds would be fun, but the problem comes in the term world. A world implies it is somewhere you LIVE, and if you live there, you probably spend way too much time there for anyone's good. There's also the thorny issue that MMOG's ARE sold as games, and as such, the buyer has a certain expectation, i.e. he expects there to be a game in there.

I don't think we're that far away from a playable and rewarding virtual world. As for the problem of addiction. It is a problem, but not that much of one. Most players have goals in one way or another, no matter how good the game is. If I want to be the richest player in the lands I'll probably give up when I've achieved it (or when I have some much it's pointless). If I want to be the best fighter I'll probably get tired of winning the arena challenge after a couple of times, if I want to be a great conquerer I'll probably quit once I've proved that my clan can take out anyone we want to. Even when we don't meet our loftiest goals we tend to decide to move on at some point.

Because people come in to these games with certain goals then there is going to be a game there for them if these goals can be met. My goal for WoW surely wasn't to get a couple of characters to level 60 and then quit, I wanted a decent game to play. Sadly there wasn't a game there for me; there was a decent co-op game and a plesant level grind, but that wasn't what I was there for, it wasn't the game I wanted and so as far as I'm concerned it didn't count. People create their own expectations and find them met or not; this is what makes a game good or not. Provided there is some way of meeting your expectations in the world provided there will be a 'game'.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2005, 12:51:57 PM by lamaros »

Expect poison from the standing water.
Jayce
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Reply #26 on: May 05, 2005, 12:55:42 PM

Two things:


Quote
WoW is currently a great co-op RP game. But to call it a good MMORPG is a stretch I won't allow.

One:
Good thing you're here to tell us what's allowed, Mr One Post.

Two:
Psycho.

Witty banter not included.
Viin
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Reply #27 on: May 05, 2005, 12:58:16 PM

Just wanted to point out that Guild Wars has the end-game thing nailed down:

The primary activity *is* the end-game - anything else is just extra (or icing on the cake, as some might see it).

- Viin
lamaros
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Reply #28 on: May 05, 2005, 01:00:50 PM

 :-(

Oh and hi. This is umm my second post. Came browsing over after the Darkfall interview at MMORPG.com linked over here, and found this debate interesting so I thought I'd flex my opiniated brow. I think I wrote maybe a bit too much?  smiley

(GW's icing is poisonus, a shame)

Expect poison from the standing water.
ajax34i
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Posts: 2508


Reply #29 on: May 05, 2005, 05:58:19 PM

Lets consider a couple of players.

Player A: Likes being important.
Player B: Likes crafting things.
Player C: Likes PvP.
Player D: Likes hunting animals/exploring.
Player E: Likes making money.
...
This is an ideal situation where everyone is able to do what they want to do and not worry about everything else, while still taking part in a world with meaningul relationships. There is no "endgame" here! :)

What happens when Player C gets bored and quits, and, worse, no one else is interested in PvP/defense?

Player D comes back from the wilds with a whole stack of animal furs which he sells to the local merchant.
E: Hey D, the market for fur has exploded, all of a sudden we have this new crafter in town who can make winter coats and the price is through the roof, there isn't enough fur to meet demand. If you can get me anymore of this stuff I can promise you 5 times the normal price.
D: Who's the crafter?
E: B, he's got a shop over near the centre of town. Tell him I sent you and he should give you a good price on a coat.. hell bring me another 30 pelts and I'll get you one for free.
D: Ah ok.

D walks over to B's shop.
D: Hey man I hear you need pelts, how much are you paying for them?
B: I've got a deal to work throguh E for all my raw materials, if you have any stock you'd best go through him.

D later stops by Es shop before heading out of the city.
E: Listen I heard you went over to B and offered to sell him pelts up front. The guy and me go way back so he let me know right away what was going on. I've given you a good deal here for ages and I'm pretty annoyed you tried to go around me, don't let it happen again or I'll cut you off.

etc etc..

Try to apply that to a massively-sized market system, and it's not going to work.  Also, not going to work when B, D, and E aren't friends to begin with (an example could be taken from EVE, where the most popular professions are "griefer", "ore thief", "scammer", and "corp assets thief."  The atmosphere in that game isn't all pink and fuzzy like WoW's.)
pants
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Reply #30 on: May 06, 2005, 12:21:08 AM


The endgame is the point where you are freed of game imposed goals. WoW has a clear endgame, it's the point where you hit level 60; the point where you escape the fundamental drive of "the next level" and take your head out of the sand and look at what is around you. It just happens that when you get your head out of the sand there is nothing to do but:

A: Jump aboard the next linear structure provided by the game, equipment chasing/raiding.
B: Quit.

However consider a game that provides you with non-linear alternatives and you would have an endgame; something that you do not have access to when you begin the game, but does not lead to a specific point. I don't know if any of you have played the MUD Medievia, but I'll use an example from there:

When you get to level 124 in Medievia you become a HERO, and your leveling days are over. According to your theory you would assume most people would quit the game at this point however the large majority of Medievia players are HEROs, not those on the treadmill to HEROdom. When you become a HERO you are free to do whatever you want, and when you realise this you don't quit because there are many things to do in the game that are not connected to the leveling treadmill. You can go trade and become rich, you can compete in hero battles, you can join a CPK clan and fight others, etc.

How is this any different to Wow?
*  Medevia - you're a hero.  Wow, you're a lv60.
*  Medevia - you trade and become rich.  Wow, you trade and become rich.
*  Medevia - you hero battle or CPK PK others.  Wow, you duel or PK others at Tarren Mill

Where is the differents?

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I played three MMOGs which I look back on with a sense of a decent conclusion, all MUDs. Medievia, Achaea, and Imperian. Of course I look back on WoW with some annoyance, I thought it was a MMORPG, not a strange co-operative, persistent, RPG.

How many people played these MUDs?  If its less than 10,000 concurrent users, imho you can't call that Massive.

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You had leveling and with leveling came increased power, but the gap was exponential and after you'd reached a decent level you didn't have to worry too much about grinding away at the next level, it wasn't that big a deal. Instead I played the political side of the game, gaining influence in my Guild, City, and Order.

How is that different to current-day WoW?  Guilds have politics in terms of who helps who out, who KSes who, who tries to race who to what content.  Its not nearly as political as, say, EQ with its non-instanced raiding, but its definately there.  (Thats the one bad thing I'll say about instanced content, it takes a lot of the teamwork/politics/drama out of server politics).

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Say I log on to Imperian and go around checking all the rescource prices/avaliability. If they are the same as the last time I checked then I ignore them. I already know what the implications of the prices are at those levels. If things are different then I have something fun to do. Change drives player interest, and after a while the only significant change in an online world is going to come from other players.

And from the economic POV, WoW is exactly the same.  Except instead of price of tiberium, its the price of mithril ore.  Same thing - you get full-time traders, you get people trying to flood the market/corner the market, all that stuff.

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WoW is currently a great co-op RP game. But to call it a good MMORPG is a stretch I won't allow.
WoW isn't a RP game.  Not by any means of the imagination (Planescape, Fallout, even Baldurs gate are RP games).  But it is definately a Massive Multiplayer Online Game.  Even sony stopped called EQ a MMORPG 2-3 years ago.

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If BGs in WoW turns out to be fair and balanced (and considering the item based nature of the game I doubt it)

I actually have some hope for this.  Simply because the many of the skillsets for being a champion raider (patience, tenacity, ability to follow orders, ability to execute the exact same thing over and over multiple times) are different to being a champion PvPer (ability to follow orders, ability to improvise, quick thinking, ability to devise strategy on the go).  While better gear will definately help, if you've managed to let 3 rogues get in amongst your healers, you're fucked.


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Lets consider a couple of players.

Player A: Likes being important.
Player B: Likes crafting things.
Player C: Likes PvP.
Player D: Likes hunting animals/exploring.
Player E: Likes making money.

<snip>

Don't try telling me it can't happen either. I know it can. I've seen large aspects of this working in games already, all it requires is more effort! The real problems with these games is they can be life-consumingly fun and traps for addictive personalities.

How did Player A get a city in the first place?  Was he elected?  If so - how did people know him?  MMORPGs are combat games, first and foremost - if your primary char isnt good at combat, noone knows you (except for ATITD, which not many people would class as Massive.  Successful, but not Massive).
B through E occur in WoW today.  B is the trader (often supplanted by the guild trade mule, who is backed by and supplies everyone in his/her guild), C is about 50% of the server population (ie I like hunting shit and couldn't be bothered baking bread), D is another 24% of the server population (I hunt shit and skin/mine/gather herbs while I do it), and E is either B, or the exceedingly rare class of people who just live by playing the AH/stock market (although half of these are guild bank mules, who are bankrolled by their guilds).

How is this any different to WoW/EQ/DAoC/Any of the other current MMORPGs that I personally haven't played?


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As for making getting lost. The point I said above is even more important in a true virtual world; people are everything. Without a community the game will die, as there will be little to do as a sigle player. But I personaly don't mind this, it's a multiplayer game after all, if i'm not getting anything out of my interactions with the other players then I mgiht as well be playing a single player game.

Yep, agree with this.  The whole point of these games is other people, otherwise you may as well go play a proper RPG like Planescape.

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In a virtual world you should be movitated to do things for yourself because you feel that doing so will change the world around you and thus be interesting.

Most of us on this website (and its relatives) are online gaming veterans.  We would all love this, to have meaningful long-term effects on the gaming world.  Unfortunately, once you make this stuff massive, it tends to go pearshaped.  Either
* Devs dont have the money/time to make dynamic content.  It takes 5 minutes to rewrite a text description of a town.  Takes a hell of a lot longer to change the graphics and download them to all your customers.
* Asshats will be asshats.  If they can permanently affect the world to spell out "C0CKFEATURES" in ogre heads, you can bet they'll do that and post a screenshot on your message board.  If they can buy every damn bearskin in the country and then sell them at one million gold each, they will.
* 95% of your player base will complain loudly and repeatedly if you change anything.  For previous examples, see Trammel in UO, Kithicor redesign in EQ and Honour System changes in WoW.  They want to be doing the same thing over and over again.

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I don't think we're that far away from a playable and rewarding virtual world.

I do.  If the technical/financial problems dont stop us, the societal ones will.  We haven't seen a court case against a publisher because little Timmy was traumatised because someone emoted A$$R4p3 over his corpse.  Yet.  Add in true 'virtual world' aspects and the possibilities of this increase a millionfold.  As an example, go google up Dawn and Fetuspult for what some people get in their minds for online games.

You've got a well thought out post, but it sounds to me like you are reasonably new to true massive online games.  They have a million different things they have to worry about that your average MUD with 200 close-knit people don't have to worry about.  Not that this a bad thing, it just makes it a different thing.

Oh yeah, and since youre new here I feel I have to insult you in an imaginative way.  Arsemincer.  There you go.
lamaros
Terracotta Army
Posts: 7759


Reply #31 on: May 06, 2005, 11:58:22 AM

Quote from: ajax34i
What happens when Player C gets bored and quits, and, worse, no one else is interested in PvP/defense?

Then the game has failed. Can't run a MMORPG without people playing it, can you. The Devs might try and step in and save it by making it so that NPCs can carry out the fighting aspect (ie. city armies become made up of NPCs dictated by city funds, rescources, etc) and that those plyers still around who enjoy the other acpects still work towards something.

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Try to apply that to a massively-sized market system, and it's not going to work.

The trick is population density. What works in a busy city wont in a small town, and vice-versa. It was only an example to illustrate that giving players the tools to the market system creates a dynamic market system.

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Also, not going to work when B, D, and E aren't friends to begin with (an example could be taken from EVE, where the most popular professions are "griefer", "ore thief", "scammer", and "corp assets thief."  The atmosphere in that game isn't all pink and fuzzy like WoW's.)

Represantive populations samples B, D, and E will cover a wide range of player relationships. If it runs into problems like the ones you describe for EVE it'll be because the game lacks a proper comminity (hence accountability, etc).

How is this any different to Wow?
*  Medevia - you're a hero.  Wow, you're a lv60.
*  Medevia - you trade and become rich.  Wow, you trade and become rich.
*  Medevia - you hero battle or CPK PK others.  Wow, you duel or PK others at Tarren Mill

Where is the differents?

Because in WoW there is little point trading and becoming rich. There is little point PKing others at Tarren Mill (besides PK in WoW not being that fun). So what if you're rich in WoW, what can you do with it? By the best equipment? Flaunt it through epensive money sinks? There's no town to build, no real dynamic use for that money. Why PK? There's to land to take over, no loot to win, before I quit there wasn't even any ranking to gain (honour system is a start.. but it's still not much), no ladders to compete on, scant bragging rights... If you set up another guild in CPK in Medievia and strip them all all their equipment then it kind of means something: you get heaps of expensive equipment for free, you go up on the CPK ladder, your clan gets a reputation and bragging rights, etc.

There was a place in Medievia where an enerprising player could make a good stash of money every so often, the only problem was that it was in CPK so the plaec was often staked. I loved running the gauntlet, trying to get in and out with the goods before the stakers knew I was even there, I liked the fu nknowing that there was a guy or two sitting a few rooms over who would kill me and strip my of all my equipment if I made a mistake. It was fun. There was nothing like that in WoW last I looked, nothing even close.

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How many people played these MUDs?  If its less than 10,000 concurrent users, imho you can't call that Massive.

You're right, I can't say they were massive. They went between 300-700 people online at any one time. It's just a population density thing though. Compare it to WoW for example, back when I was playing I'd be lucky to see another 50  level 60 players in my primetime. My gameworld in WoW seemed significantly emptier because while there were more people around I wasn't interacting with most of them in any way.

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And from the economic POV, WoW is exactly the same.  Except instead of price of tiberium, its the price of mithril ore.  Same thing - you get full-time traders, you get people trying to flood the market/corner the market, all that stuff.

Execpt WoW is not designed to support this in an extensive fanshion, making it simple, more unwieldly, and have less of a dynamic effect on the world; whether or not the price of mithril ore changes in WoW does not fundamentaly change the game in any way for nearly everyone except the die hard traders.

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WoW isn't a RP game.  Not by any means of the imagination (Planescape, Fallout, even Baldurs gate are RP games).  But it is definately a Massive Multiplayer Online Game.  Even sony stopped called EQ a MMORPG 2-3 years ago.

Yeah. But I still don't think it's a good one. :) What I mean is I think that the aspects of WoW that relate most closely to a RPG (quest system, leveling, storyline, etc) that work the best, and the bits that relate to making a good MMOG that don't. For me.

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I actually have some hope for this.  Simply because the many of the skillsets for being a champion raider (patience, tenacity, ability to follow orders, ability to execute the exact same thing over and over multiple times) are different to being a champion PvPer (ability to follow orders, ability to improvise, quick thinking, ability to devise strategy on the go).  While better gear will definately help, if you've managed to let 3 rogues get in amongst your healers, you're fucked.

I hope that's the case too, though I probably won't come back and play it.


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Lets consider a couple of players.

Player A: Likes being important.
Player B: Likes crafting things.
Player C: Likes PvP.
Player D: Likes hunting animals/exploring.
Player E: Likes making money.

<snip>

Don't try telling me it can't happen either. I know it can. I've seen large aspects of this working in games already, all it requires is more effort! The real problems with these games is they can be life-consumingly fun and traps for addictive personalities.

How did Player A get a city in the first place?  Was he elected?  If so - how did people know him?  MMORPGs are combat games, first and foremost - if your primary char isnt good at combat, noone knows you (except for ATITD, which not many people would class as Massive.  Successful, but not Massive).
B through E occur in WoW today.  B is the trader (often supplanted by the guild trade mule, who is backed by and supplies everyone in his/her guild), C is about 50% of the server population (ie I like hunting shit and couldn't be bothered baking bread), D is another 24% of the server population (I hunt shit and skin/mine/gather herbs while I do it), and E is either B, or the exceedingly rare class of people who just live by playing the AH/stock market (although half of these are guild bank mules, who are bankrolled by their guilds).

How is this any different to WoW/EQ/DAoC/Any of the other current MMORPGs that I personally haven't played?

MMORPGs are not completely about combat. Everyone knows who Conquest are in respect to WoW and it has nothing to do with any PK skills they had, or any combat skills really. Everyone in the beta knew who DIE were, and it had nothing to do with combat either.

In Imperian there were, at the stage I played, 5 main cities. Each city had a leader, a council, ministers, and citizens. Original city leaders were elected by the Gods on the opening of the game but thereafter they were run by the players. Stavenn was originaly run as a dictatorship before the guy was fourced out in a coup and then there was an election struggle between two major guild leaders. There was open fighting on the streets (and even in the planned negoations) between the various guilds before finaly a new leader was chosen. Kinsamarr was run by a council. There were factions vying for control of power at all time and constant elections, wth the leadership changing hands very often. Someone would contest the current leader, nominations would be put forward, citizens would vote, and then a new leader would take office. I don't know much about the politics of the other city because I was banned entry to it as a practitioner of magic, and didn't know many people in power there. The other two cities were nature councils; one was goverened by a guy who later changed guilds to one focused on death magic (he later resigned under intense pressure) and the last was looked after stably for a long period of time by one of the notable explorers of the land. People knew each other through the city chat channels, through guild associations, and through general in game meetings. Most of the famous people in the game at that time were famous due to politics, be it guild or city based. We did have a few who were known for their fighting skills, be it in the arena or in the wider world, but they were not the majority.

As for for the example I gave differs from WoW and the like:

In WoW these relationships are not a key part of the game that rely on each other. Full time traders in WoW are so rare because it's not fun and it's mostly pointless; what's the point of being rich if it can't buy you decent equipment, a house, etc. If I'm rich in a world with cities and politics and houses and armies and such then being rich gives me something to do with my money, if I'm rich in WoW I can ride around on my horse and constatly tell people "no I won't loan you money". This is completely ignoring the fact that the best way to get rich in WoW has nothing to do with the AH or trading and a alot more to do with grinding. Similar reasons can be raised for crafting and everything else.

If we consider a more trading friendly concept though, say a game where rescources are heavy and need to be transported by cart of ship or whatever, we can imagine it being more worthwhile.

Player A has 50gold and wants to fight. They buy armor and weapons.
Player B has 50gold and wants to trade. They buy a donkey.

Player A comes across rescource X but has no way of transporting it.
Player B comes across rescource X but finds wild animals in the area.

Player B says to player A, guard me while I load this on my donkey and I'll give you 10 gold when I get back to town.

Player B gets back to town and sells rescource X for 100 gold, giving 10g to player A.

Player A goes and buys themself a new and better weapon.
Player B buys themself a horse and cart.

Player B will eventualy get rich, and player A will get better at combat.

Compare it to trading in WoW. In WoW a trader gains little othan than the amusement they might get from trading itself...

Opportuinty costs are key. People seem to shy away of them because they want to be abole to do everything themselves, but this is a terrible notion that goes right in the face of a Multiplayer game.

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Most of us on this website (and its relatives) are online gaming veterans.  We would all love this, to have meaningful long-term effects on the gaming world.  Unfortunately, once you make this stuff massive, it tends to go pearshaped.  Either
* Devs dont have the money/time to make dynamic content.  It takes 5 minutes to rewrite a text description of a town.  Takes a hell of a lot longer to change the graphics and download them to all your customers.
* Asshats will be asshats.  If they can permanently affect the world to spell out "C0CKFEATURES" in ogre heads, you can bet they'll do that and post a screenshot on your message board.  If they can buy every damn bearskin in the country and then sell them at one million gold each, they will.
* 95% of your player base will complain loudly and repeatedly if you change anything.  For previous examples, see Trammel in UO, Kithicor redesign in EQ and Honour System changes in WoW.  They want to be doing the same thing over and over again.

Dynamic content is not the answer, the trick is to make player relations meaningful enough that they can be considered content. The players will make it dynamic themselves.

Asshats will be asshats, but if you have a world with meanigful player relationships, and thus accountability, the asshats be restricted in what they can do. Asshats can't ruin the game when the game is fundamentaly connected throguh player-player relationships and not player-world relationships, because the other players wont stand for it. As for cornering the market on bearskins.. I'd do that if possible... if it turns out that cornering the market on bearskins ruinds the fundamental gameplay for everyone else (ie: unless you have a bearskin you cannot travel int he snow areas thay make up 90% of the game) then there's something wrong with the game implementation; anything that fundamental to the game shouldn't be able to be ruined so easily. If however I have cornered the market on bearskins and am using my market dominance to merely jack the prices up and make myself a profit then it's reasonable, eveyone else might decide they don't like it and take counter meanures (killing me on sight, not allowing me to trade in their cities, forming parties to discover how I have managed to corner the market and then trying to counter it and regain a share).

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I do.  If the technical/financial problems dont stop us, the societal ones will.  We haven't seen a court case against a publisher because little Timmy was traumatised because someone emoted A$$R4p3 over his corpse.  Yet.  Add in true 'virtual world' aspects and the possibilities of this increase a millionfold.  As an example, go google up Dawn and Fetuspult for what some people get in their minds for online games.

Well I meant a enjoyable playable one for me, not a perfect one. :) Granted we have yet to see the full scope of the can of worms in relation to online communities.

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You've got a well thought out post, but it sounds to me like you are reasonably new to true massive online games.  They have a million different things they have to worry about that your average MUD with 200 close-knit people don't have to worry about.  Not that this a bad thing, it just makes it a different thing.

Oh yeah, and since youre new here I feel I have to insult you in an imaginative way.  Arsemincer.  There you go.

Thanks. I must admit I reasonaly new to MMORPGs as the spawn of Everquest, though I have played MUDs and such since back in 95.

The reason I havn't played many but the more recent ones is because they never attracted me, they were missing the very things I have outlined above that make MOGs fun for me. Now that I have decided to give them a shot I'm finding my fears to be reasonably founded.

I don't meant to disparage the MMOGs that currently exist, I just find it odd that not many of them have pushed at the genre in the diverse ways that MUDs of the past have. The million different things that MMORPGs have to consider that MUDs and smaller MOGs don't does not prohibit them from pushing the envelope, yet many of them don't. Why, for example, are the Guild/Clan facilities in MMORGPs still so terribly limited? Why are the ingame community features near non-existant? Why are so many of them focused on leveling/equipment/PvE grinds? Why are there few attempts at more complicated political systems?

One of the anwsers that would first come to mind would be money, that investors are not willing to throw millions of dollars at something that might not work, but this is a weak argument. MMOGs of the standard variety fail all the time yet people keep funded games with the same basic ideas. Takie a look at the current MUD scense, the games that are doing well there are the ones I describe; the ones that have pushed beyond the typical. Granting that MUDs are a good testing ground for some online concepts, that they are a cheap method of getting some feedback on what gets people playing and keeps people playing, it makes sense to give some of the more sucessful innovations a run on bigger budgets.
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« Last Edit: May 06, 2005, 12:11:42 PM by lamaros »

Expect poison from the standing water.
Pococurante
Terracotta Army
Posts: 2060


Reply #32 on: May 06, 2005, 12:12:27 PM

How many people played these MUDs?  If its less than 10,000 concurrent users, imho you can't call that Massive.

/quibble=On

The commercial MMOGs tend to cap around 3-4k per "world".  To put that in perspective the hobbyist emulator RunUO recently successfully hosted slightly over 3k people on a single dual-proc server and by all accounts was quite playable.

/quibble=Off
Hoax
Terracotta Army
Posts: 7794

l33t kiddie


Reply #33 on: May 06, 2005, 06:59:21 PM

Ok I think some points were made that I should tie together with why I felt EvE is such an interesting topic in this discussion.

1. Population, buzzword = massive.
Nothing comes near to EvE in terms of concurrent players, the game-universe is fucking massive though, so this does not mean you are ever going to be too crowded, but 24/7 there are 6k+ people online.  On weekends the regularly break 9,000 players.

2. Freedom, buzzword = non-linear, dynamic, endgame.
I dont need to kill foozles to level.  I have many options to make money (trade routes, player generated courier missions, npc killing, buy low - sell high, npc generated missions, mining).

Expanding on this one, I would pose the question if there is no endgame because there is no real linear advancement to begin with.  There are skills, but they are time-dependent, you can't catass to greater glory.  You are what you are, and it is always improving.  There are so many skills and so many paths though that there are 100's of different ways a 2 month old character could play.  You can't have an end-game unless there is a ladder that can be climbed in x time /played.  Instead you just have a world you play a game in.

But my point was, while this SHOULD be the fucking idyllic holy grail all MMOG gamers (that aren't EQ-clone loving fucktards) it doesnt' seem to work.  Am I so shallow that without a path of power advancement to follow I dont really care to play?  I dont want to think that I am, but thats how it seemed, when I would log on, check my skills, and log off.  On the other hand, was that because I had not joined a player community?  I could, but I didn't because I wasn't sure I wanted to commit a bunch of time to corporation activities.  I dont know the answers just throwing thoughts out...

Anyways, there was other stuff but its really hard for me to follow these bruce'd posts, I feel like I need to take notes to keep what has been said organized.  Definitely would have to not post from work to really get fully involved in every aspect of this thread.


*added*  I dont know why whenever people discuss true virtual worlds they say it can't be done due to the people on iweb = shitcock factor.  Afterall, its not like people in reality are nice/friendly/fair, why should we all grow a big set of morals when we jump online?  Again drawing on EvE (its the only game I would give the title of virtual world to at this point) sure there are tons of ore thieves, gate campers, pirates, mercs, scammers whatever.  But there are also massive player alliances that control a vast majority of the outer edges of space that have various honor codes they hold their members too.  Also there are many players who remain in empire space protected (for the most part) by gate turrets and the CONCORD police vessels.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2005, 07:03:02 PM by Hoax »

A nation consists of its laws. A nation does not consist of its situation at a given time. If an individual's morals are situational, then that individual is without morals. If a nation's laws are situational, that nation has no laws, and soon isn't a nation.
-William Gibson
ajax34i
Terracotta Army
Posts: 2508


Reply #34 on: May 06, 2005, 10:33:29 PM

But my point was, while this SHOULD be the fucking idyllic holy grail all MMOG gamers (that aren't EQ-clone loving fucktards) it doesnt' seem to work.  Am I so shallow that without a path of power advancement to follow I dont really care to play?  I dont want to think that I am, but thats how it seemed, when I would log on, check my skills, and log off.  On the other hand, was that because I had not joined a player community?  I could, but I didn't because I wasn't sure I wanted to commit a bunch of time to corporation activities.  I dont know the answers just throwing thoughts out...

I have more fun when I participate in someone else's story than when I have to create my own and then participate in it, so I really dig quests/missions, and try to be in a corp because then I can participate in the corp's goals.  But EVE doesn't have as extensive a quest system as other games, and corps are very jaded about recruiting.  The advancement is too long, too; a year to get a decent set of skills.   And despite their best efforts over the last year+, the PvP (which is supposed to be the core of the game, but personally I just want to avoid) has no shades of gray whatsoever, fights last seconds and you always lose.
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