Why exactly are you making this distinction? Is there a historical reason? I haven't been the biggest MMO fan by any means, but I've been paying attention to them for a long time, and did play the original Asheron's Call for a little while, and I never had any reason to think that user-generated content distinguished "real" MMOs from "fake" ones (or whatever the opposite is).It's not precisely a historical reason so much as a technical one. WoW doesn't do anything fundamentally different from a game like Diablo. Sure, Diablo didn't have any content that was tuned so a single person couldn't do it, but it could have.Contrast that with a game like EVE, which does do something fundamentally different from a game like Diablo. You cannot play EVE with one person. It isn't a question of content tuning; it's a question of content generation. If EVE's player base was one person, or even sixty-four, there really wouldn't be anything to do. There are NPC quests and so forth, but a significant portion of the game's content and identity depend on having a very large number of people playing the game.I am not a big MMO fan either, but the way I remember this genre developing, that was what people thought made MMOs special. It wasn't restricted to MMORPGs, either; remember the dream of the MMOFPS? Remember when Halo was going to be an MMOTPS? The idea was, at least as I remember industry buzz at the time, that players could jump into a world that was persistent, and constantly changing due to player actions (e.g., one side does well one particular day, and the next time you log on the town you've been using as a quest hub is now an enemy stronghold, or even burned to the ground).Nobody ever really did it, of course (except for arguably EVE), but the way I remember it is that that was what people were excited about, and thought they should be striving towards - and you still see people getting excited about it and striving towards it; WAR's RvR is a good example of yet another attempt to create an MMO that isn't fundamentally a dark ride. WoW is different; WoW is a dark ride, and aims to be nothing but the best damned dark ride ever made. It doesn't pretend to be anything else (with a few very limited exceptions such as Halaa and Terokkar Forest).I chose "real" to describe the persistent player-generated view of looking at MMOs because only persistent player-generated MMOs depend on being massively multiplayer, from a game design standpoint (also because it's the adjective Mal used in his post). MMOs like WoW happen to be massively multiplayer, but they could just as easily be regularly multiplayer. But I'm not attached to the adjective "real;" we could just as easily call them Type A and Type B. The point is just that they're different.
I chose "real" to describe the persistent player-generated view of looking at MMOs because only persistent player-generated MMOs depend on being massively multiplayer, from a game design standpoint (also because it's the adjective Mal used in his post). MMOs like WoW happen to be massively multiplayer, but they could just as easily be regularly multiplayer.First I think we need to distinguish between "regular" and "massively" multiplayer. I would certainly consider something like Madden or Call of Duty a "regular" multiplayer, but where exactly does Battle.net fit in?To me, you cross the line from regular to massive when you go from just having a pool of servers that are indistinguishable, before, during and after play, to having realms whose features ARE persistent. Granted, you COULD build WoW on one giant realm, with every server running exactly the same thing, but putting aside technical concerns, why would you want to? I don't think the fact that there are dozens of distinct realms, all identical in many ways, but with a few key features (players, guilds, raid accomplishment, etc.) unique from realm to realm is just a trivial side-note, but rather a key to the game's success. When my friends and I all log in to play CoD4, we might form a team so that we're always playing together, but otherwise everything else about the experience is temporary and virtually anonymous. On the other hand, I specifically play on Azjol-Nerub instead of one of the few dozen other PvE servers because that's where my friends are, which completely changes my experience. (Sure, Hogger is still quietly respawning away around the clock, but how and with whom I decide to conquer him changes my experience completely.)I have some more thoughts about the historical nature of MMOs, in terms of what was promised and what was delivered, and I find this whole topic incredibly interesting, but I have to finish up some work now. More later.......
First I think we need to distinguish between "regular" and "massively" multiplayer. I would certainly consider something like Madden or Call of Duty a "regular" multiplayer, but where exactly does Battle.net fit in?To me, you cross the line from regular to massive when you go from just having a pool of servers that are indistinguishable, before, during and after play, to having realms whose features ARE persistent....On the other hand, I specifically play on Azjol-Nerub instead of one of the few dozen other PvE servers because that's where my friends are, which completely changes my experience. (Sure, Hogger is still quietly respawning away around the clock, but how and with whom I decide to conquer him changes my experience completely.)Ah, now I see where we differ. I agree that something like Madden or Call of Duty is "regular" multiplayer. Similarly StarCraft, WarCraft III, and Diablo 2.What makes those "regular," in my mind, is that the game world (not the realm or server) does not change in your absence. It may change during play (this or that victory point is claimed by this or that team; a new zerg base pops up over there, etc.), but it's always the same every time you log on (assuming you log on at the start of a match, and on the same map, as applicable). Your CoD4 example of playing in teams is a good example of what I meant. Let's say I play Diablo 2, and I like to play Diablo 2 with a certain group of friends. Using battle.net, we can all meet up online and hop into our own game of Diablo 2. We're playing the same instance with the people we wanted to play with ... not any different from a run with the Furious Five, except that we met up in "battle.net" instead of "in-game," which I don't think is a meaningful distinction. If I don't care who I play Diablo 2 with, I can either have battle.net make a random match (analogous to the LFG tool), or I can pop into various channels and ask if anybody wants to play with me (analogous to manually LFG). The way I find people to play with will change my experience completely (because the people I'm playing with will be different), but it's still "regular" multiplayer, and it would be even if there were eleven million people logged on to battle.net for me to find party members among.To my mind, WoW is not any different than the combination of <insert game here> and a lobby/matchmaking service like battle.net. In WoW, people's ability to affect your gaming experience is extraordinarily local. Members of your faction are only relevant to your gaming experience if you're actually grouped with them - they might kill some mobs you want to kill, but those mobs will respawn in very short order. Members of the opposite faction are only relevant to your gaming experience if they're close enough to kill you, or threaten to kill you. They can gank quest-givers and vendors you care about no matter how far away from you they are, of course, but those quest-givers and vendors will respawn in very short order. The world is persistent, but because it doesn't change, its persistence is not relevant to our gaming experience. No matter when I log on, Goldshire will still be in the same place, Alliance-friendly, with the exact same quests, vendors, and other NPCs. Oh, the players will be in different places, or not logged on at all, but that's true even of regular multiplayer games. The world is always the same, or restored to the status quo in very short order.In another type of game, that wouldn't necessarily be so. Members of your own faction could affect your gaming experience even if they aren't grouped with you - by conquering a hostile town and making it friendly, for instance, or clearing a path full of mobs too high level for you to handle (because in this type of game, those mobs wouldn't respawn, or they would respawn on a very slow timer). Quests to restore a blighted area might be permanent - once the area had been restored, nobody else could restore it. Enemies, similarly, would be able to affect your gaming experience in ways other than threatening to kill you. You might log on one day to find that Goldshire was now Horde-friendly, with different quests, vendors, and NPCs - or that it was gone, permanently, razed to the ground. You might find that Varian Wrynn had been killed in a raid while you were sleeping, or on vacation, or at work - and if you had quests you wanted to get from him, well, too bad. This type of world is also persistent, and because it does change, its persistence is relevant to the gaming experience.I'm not saying that one type of MMO is better than the other.* But they are distinguishable from each other on the basis of the world alone.but with a few key features (players, guilds, raid accomplishment, etc.) unique from realm to realm is just a trivial side-note, but rather a key to the game's success.I don't think those are trivial either, or irrelevant to the game's success. But I do think that those are all player-based differences from server to server, and they don't alter the actual game world either by their actions or by their presence/absence. Therefore, they fall into the realm of "regular" multiplayer in my mind.It seems to me that you're talking about something like whether the available "play environments" are fungible or not. Log on to Draenor, and you can't play with your Azjol-Nerub group, or anybody else on your friends list. The PvP experience will be different because guild progression is different, and so on and so forth.I wonder, though, if that's really any different from what I call "regular" multiplayer. If you log onto a different server in CoD4 than your friends, you can't play with them either. In most games the "PvP experience" will be different based on how good your opponents are, and what gear they've unlocked (assuming you're playing a game with unlockable gear). If you like playing with the population of a certain server (e.g., a particular clan's dedicated server) you have to to log onto that particular server, etc.*Personally I prefer the first type, where the world is irrelevantly persistent - I don't want to find that something about the world changed while I was logged off! But other people feel differently; I have friends who lament that no game has yet been relevantly persistent enough for their tastes (not even games like EVE).
I'm not saying that one type of MMO is better than the other.* But they are distinguishable from each other on the basis of the world alone.I think we've come back around to my original point, which was that both WoW and EVE are MMOs (and I would assume MMORPGs, but I haven't played EVE so I don't know if it counts as an RPG, and that's a minor point anyway). It's silly to talk about them in terms of being "real" or what was "originally promised" by some ethereal Game God ("Let There Be No Fewer Than A Dozen Final Fantasy Sequels."), because they're both Massive, Multiplayer and Online. There are obviously important differences, but they're both equally valid approaches to the genre.To my mind, WoW is not any different than the combination of <insert game here> and a lobby/matchmaking service like battle.net. In WoW, people's ability to affect your gaming experience is extraordinarily local.Well that all depends on how you define "affect your gaming experience." If you only think about the interactions with the game elements themselves (quests, mobs, NPC, instances, maps, etc.) you're right that the world doesn't change. But as far as my interactions with the other PCs, it's not just the ability to chat and group, but about the nuances of how it all fits together. (Even though from a technical standpoint, PUGing in WoW and CoD4 are the same, the realities feel completely different) I'm not saying that the features are individually unique, but as with most of the rest of WoW, the reason for the success isn't about doing anything great, but doing everything really well. I mean, isn't an iPhone *just* a combination of <insert nice smartphone here> with an iPod and a fancy interface? In a sense, sure, but the sucess isn't in tricking people, but in finding a way to make something more than the sum of its parts.
As a quick follow up, I thought I'd give you my personal list as to why I think WoW is so uniquely successful (this may not be shocking to anyone here, but it helps to lay it all out sometimes):1. Existing IP that was popular, but not too popular - franchises like Star Wars, LotR, etc. have HUGE fan bases that seem ripe for MMO treatment, but they've been so popular (in certain circles) for so long that people's expectations for something epic like an MMO are unreachably high (although the LotR MMO has managed to do decently well for itself).2. Just the right sort of Tolkien-esque fantasy basis for an MMO. Not that Sci-Fi or other genre MMOs can't be successful, but I'm pretty sure that for most people MMO=Fantasy. Just the way it is. (Although it could change in the future)3. A company and staff dedicated to creating HUGE amounts of content and spending the time and effort to get it right. Everything Blizzard did in the decade or so before WoW can be directly linked to its eventual success in one way or another.4. As I said above, in this case, being good at everything is better than being great at a few things. There have been enough MMOs that I'm sure for every feature in WoW, you could find someone that's done it better. But few if any of them have managed to hit all the notes instead of just a couple of them really hard.There won't ever be a real competitor to WoW in the way that there's no real competitor to "American Idol." Love it or hate it, as long as it's running, it completely controls its own destiny; either of them might (and probably will) eventually flame out, but not because anyone else came and beat them.
I don't believe Blizzard hires people that will not take pride in what they do. WoW is the best MMO ever, and this is proven by the subscription rate. Millions of people can't be wrong. It sounds to me like you're a hardcore raider that whizzed through WotLK without taking a nature break, intent on reaching 80 before anyone else.By that yardstick McDonalds must make the best food you'll ever taste, all those customers can't be wrong....or maybe McDonalds just serves a nice and convenient product that goes down easy without being too exciting or extreme.By my yardstick, McDonald's offers the best combination of desirable factors people seek when they're hungry. WoW offers the best combination of desirable factors to people seeking an MMORPG.Of course this is basically what we both said, but I believe you interpreted me a bit differently than I meant it. Hope this clears it up.
Malgayne, you write like a bright, insightful person. Therefore I thought you would like to know when your word usage was off course. You used the term "schizophrenia" in some ways that had me scratching my head. First, Jack Nicholson's character illustrating your story was psychopathic, not schizophrenic. I think a term that would have worked better would be delusional or to use the colloquial- nutsy.
Welcome to the site! Thank you for the kind words :)I actually used the term "schizophrenic" in place of "Multiple Personality Disorder", fully aware that while usage frequently paints "schizophrenia" as meaning MPD specifically, the actual definition is closer to "delusional", since it relates to an inability to distinguish fantasy from reality.If you'll note the caption, the image was used tongue-in-cheek – Jack there was on the first page of results when I googled "schizophrenic". :)
Very interesting post, probs to you malgayne :) I think, though, that besides creating an MMO that isnt really an MMO, and so on, Blizzard has made such success from being very good producers in general. There programmers (and other staff) got some skills, that you probably wont find that many other places. Because when you think about it, they made single player games (obvious single player games at least) which was also very succesful (Warcraft 3 / Frozen Throne). I played them myself, and i loved the lore of it, and they way you got dragged into the game. There was no PvP or raiding, but the evolving storyline, and how you were really a part of it made up for it.
Nobody wants to play World of HighSchoolCraft.Holy Tauren! Hold the presses—I vote Blizzard create this MMO next. I'm all for it. Sutairu saikou!
I've got to say I always liked Guild Wars approach to grouping. When your in town (or at least a "safe haven") you can see everyone on your "server" (you can change between them with a drop down button so not all that limiting). However as soon as you left town it was just you and your party. I must say I'd love to see battle.net for Diablo 3 done the same way. Like Malgayne said most of the actual content is no bigger (player wise) than a regular multiplayer game you can still do things that you wouldn't do with something like battle.net or just doing a server search on a steam game. Like stand around with your friends and just watch people wonder past.
I really enjoyed reading your entry. Gratz.I just want to add my own view about a game i played before WoW: Lineage 2.Yes, the game had some major flaws, some trully annoying cons but it had a few features that made the cons close to unimportant.The things i liked most on Lineage 2 was:Alliances Several Clans (same as guilds in wow) who shared some objectives would join an alliance. They were visually identified by theyr alliance symbol. With the help of the several clans from the same alliance one could go out in the world and do something together.Castle Sieges There were about 4 Castles in the world. Each of them had theyr own conquering battle(the winer controled the castle for 1week and had acess to several goodies from controling it), and every 2days or so a Castle Siege had place. Wintergasp comes close to this concept, but its failing hard due to lag unfortunatly. It becomes unplayable after a while.War There was no "sides" like Horde and Alliance. Everybody could chat with each other and the war happened between players, Clans, Alliances and Castle Sieges. It basically went like this: "you want something, fight for it." The best achievements were available to everyone and once a certain NPC got killed, it would only respawn after a week or something.There was Antharas, a great Dragon who was the hardest NPC to kill, (yes, 12hours to kill it is absurd with ~300 players) and why was it that cool? you had to fight your way to his nest against npcs, clans, alliances and other players. This and several other content that got reflected on the server was the best thing Lineage had to offer.WoW could use some it in my opinion.Lets say Mazrygos was an outside Boss (and players could use some chambers of Nexxus as a city upon defeat), that needed about 4guilds to kill it and both alliance and Horde must fight each other to get a chance to kill him on a said week. You had players defending the entrance, other fighint Mazrygos. etc etc etc.Its just more dynamic and enthusiast imo:)I could talk a lot more, but i think i proved my point. Ps: english is not my mother language, apologize me if i cant make myself clear.My2c.
It's not a job- it's an adventure.Having never been a "soldier" in a 25 man I keep my hero status when I play. Yes you pass other heroes on their adventures and sometimes you join up. "Hogger" simply needs to be beat down repeatedly- that is his magic and there is always a new adventurer ready to test their skills against a mob that just won't stay away.
Is World of Warcraft an online game? YesIs it Multiplayer? Yes (I'm not sure what a single-player online game would look like, but never mind)Is it Massive (ie, not limited to 16, 32, 64, a more "typical" multiplayer number)? YesSee but the question is not 'Is it Massive and Is it Multiplayer?' the question is indeed, 'Is it Massively Multiplayer?' which one could answer 'no', because it is not. A 'Massively Multiplayer' game would be a game (like EVE) where a large (i.e massive) group of people is consistently, and always multi-playing (i.e. playing together with each other and NOT thinking of their character as a solo hero, but a lowly soldier designed to help everyone else in the world.) Even the concept of grouping up to do dungeons/raids is in and of itself defying the 'MMO' title, because, arguably, 5-10-25 people is not massive.