About Dana World of Dana
September 14th, 2007 by Dana
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Star Wars Galaxies I was hanging out with my friend Jes-ka one night in IRC. We were talking about MMORPGs and how they basically consume souls when the topic of Star Wars Galaxies came up. And it made me really think long and hard. Whenever I played SWG I felt completely immersed in the Star Wars universe. Maybe it’s because I had, oh, I don’t know, my own vehicles that I made myself and it quite possibly had to do with my three houses (each on different planets). Thinking about it makes me long for a time before the NGE, which basically tore apart the game as SWG players knew it.

Deleting classes is bad idea, in my opinion. I really did feel all sorts of horrible for creature handlers the day the NGE went live and they couldn’t summon their pets anymore.

Even back in my DAoC days, I had a house. It had trophies in the living room and a beautiful garden out front. I loved my house. I loved my SWG houses, too. Granted I used the other two houses on Dantooine and Tatooine as extended closets for my ridiculously large wardrobe, but I still felt a sense of real ownership in the game. I felt like I was there. It was a real escape for me.

Not to knock WoW or anything, since I still play it and don’t feel like being a hypocrite today, but I really can’t get over how they seriously have not planned on giving us player housing. This is a horse that has been so incredibly beaten, you can barely even recognize the corpse. But it’s true. While players whine on the forums every single day about the lack of player housing, Blizzard keeps continuing to raise the level cap and add more high level instance raids left and right. There is so much more that could be done, in my opinion.

I could talk for hours about all the features that I would implement in World of Warcraft but I am going to spare you all. Yesterday I was on my 20 minute break at work, and decided to check up on the date for Eternal Sonata again, just to be annoying. A guy was standing next to me, and was talking about how Final Fantasy XI is “better” than World of Warcraft. Another guy heard him, and started arguing with him about how WoW is clearly the better MMO because it has 9 million subscribers.

I had heard an interesting thought on the official WoW forums (oh my God, something thought provoking came off of those forums?). Just because McDonald’s serves billions of people on a daily basis, does that mean it’s good? No, of course not. The average person is well aware that there are like, a million freakin’ calories in those fries and that cheeseburger but they eat it anyway. It’s not necessarily good for you, but it’s simple enough, quick enough to get and fills you up.

I give World of Warcraft a lot of credit because Blizzard has obviously kept me coming back even months later after I’ve quit. The user interface was friendly enough and the game itself was easy enough to just dive right into. I played Final Fantasy XI after playing WoW for a year, and was completely thrown back. It intimidated the crap out of me, I won’t lie, because I was a level 5 Tarutaru for a month. That’s right. A month. I didn’t really know where to go, what to do, who to talk to and I sure as hell couldn’t find a party to group with.

Does this necessarily mean Final Fantasy XI was a bad game? No, I won’t discredit it just because it wasn’t my cup of tea. When I’m rating the quality of an MMORPG, I look at a couple things:

  • Are there enough options in the character creation screen, or am I going to look like everyone else?
  • Are there enough classes to try out or at least move into? If there aren’t enough classes, I’ll grow bored quickly. If there are too many, I get overwhelmed and frustrated.
  • Does the game totally immerse me? That is to say, do I really feel like I am part of the game instead of just playing the game?
  • Character customization, learning curve, the world itself. These three things keep me going back to an MMORPG. I want an escape, I want to feel like I’m actually accomplishing something. I loved buying my own deeds to houses in SWG, I loved being able to create my own ships an then flying them into battle with the Empire. I loved the feeling as though I was really part of the Star Wars lore. I was a Zabrak bounty hunter, just trying to make my way in the universe (yeah, I totally stole that from Jengo, I’m such a nerd).

    In FFXI, I do give it credit even though I couldn’t hack it. I did feel like I was a part of the world. I had no idea what I was doing, but I did feel like I was at least part of something. In World of Warcraft, there are enough classes to keep my interest and the User Interface is definitely simple enough for even the biggest MMO noobs to grasp (case in point: the e-famous kid who didn’t want to go to sleep because he wanted to take his guild through Kara). Something is missing from World of Warcraft though and that’s definitely the feeling of being immersed in the game. Instead, I’m just playing through it, trying to get to level 70 once again.

    If you are familiar with the anime series .hack//Sign, you may recall the fictional MMORPG called The World. If I were to have my own MMORPG, I think it would be similar to this. Players would wear special virtual reality glasses (I guess that’s what you could call them - although they remind me of a very updated Virtual Boy from the old school Nintendo days) and become immersed in their own fictional world. There were root cities, places were players could meet up with one another and form a party or do some shopping.

    There were also small cow-like animals called Gruntys. Gruntys could become a mount, a pet, a friend, or something else similarly useful. I really loved the open-endedness of The World. True, people were also going into comas while playing the game and that’s really not a good thing, but I loved how you could log on and just go do anything you wanted to. There was no real race to a certain level cap, because there was no level cap (right? I may be wrong on this but I’m pretty sure there was none).

    It was almost as if the game had absolutely no point to it at all. There were no quests, really. At least not in the WoW sense of quests. You run up to an NPC, you clicked on him/her, you got your quest objective with a promise of a new green or blue item, and then you went on your merry way. I would love a game where I could just log on and not worry about hitting 20 that night, or farming primals. I would just like to log in, maybe redecorate my e-house, kill some monsters for new items, hang out with friends and then log out at the end of the night.
    I heard that Blizzard was thinking about revamping the fishing skill or something but I have yet to see some actual hard evidence on this. Fishing is actually one of my favorite things to do in World of Warcraft. When I was still playing with friends, I wound up hitting fishing 300 because I was sitting on the dock in Orgrimmar all the time in private messages with them.

    Second Life seems to offer a lot of what I want out of a game, except for a few things. One would be dungeons, second would be monsters, third would be gaining levels. I do love gaining my levels. It makes me feel as though I am slowly progressing towards something. Even if there wasn’t a level cap, I’d still enjoy it just the same.

    I apologize for the completely unstructured, random post but this is a blog, not a news site so I guess I could be forgiven just this once. Also on my mind: Eternal Sonata comes out this Monday and you can definitely expect to see a blog about on Monday. I haven’t forgotten to post part 2 of Queen of the Graphic Adventure, that is still coming.

    Lastly, big round of applause and many thanks again to Felicia for the lovely interview!

    7 Responses to “World of Dana”

    1. Peter Twieg Says:

      I don’t really like the McDonalds analogy. McDonalds is successful because it offers a cheap, fast product… no one says that McDonalds burgers are the best in the world. For all of its weaknesses, WoW definitely can’t be considered the McDonalds of the MMO world, and if it can, then FFXI would be the Burger King, Everquest would be the Wendy’s, etc. etc.

      And WoW was plenty immersive when I was leveling my first character, in my first MMORPG ever. I still remember taking screenshots of the gloomy Darkshore sunset. It’s just that on subsequent characters, leveling becomes something of a science instead of an experience. I remember leveling up with a friend who hadn’t played much before, and she always wanted to PUG instances or go kill random mobs or go explore the cave or whatever, and I was like, “no no, we have to go here next, trust me… gah, you’re jacking up my /played time!” I’m probably the extreme here, but I imagine that any MMORPG would become formulaic by the 3rd character you level, and if not that might be a bad thing… the game is too random, too reliant on having other people needing the same quests as you, etc.

      As for Second Life… that shouldn’t be compared to WoW at all. I don’t even think it’s properly called an MMORPG. It’s very interesting in its own right, but the market it’s built to capture is quite different.

    2. Raymond Says:

      I find the whole “Blahblah is better because Yaddayadda sells more” stupid. The greatest factor for a MMORPG is the amount of fun you have in the game. Be it Everquest, FFXI, WoW or another MMORPG.

      Numbers just mean the game is wanted much. The question is, how many of those 9 millions are (still) playing.

      The World, it does have the great characteristics of an MMORPG. Sadly it never got worked out like that. My guess is that a lot of fans would play it.
      The first game had random dungeons everytime you entered an area, but after to much playing it becomes to much of the same.

      An MMORPG based on .//Hack would be interesting.

    3. Ian Says:

      I could never get into WOW for the same reason, it just wasn’t immersion. For me, it had a lot to to with the design, it just didn’t feel like anything but a game. I enjoy the graphics in LOTRO a lot more, but it’s still the same kind of gameplay.. although I feel that they’ve done a lot better job in having the NPC and PCs interact well and creating a breathing world… there is no game currently out that makes me feel like I’m really in another world. It’s sort of sad, because I feel the technology is there, but the art hasn’t caught up with it yet. They need more storytelling and setting and less obsession with epic loot.

    4. Monique Says:

      You know Dana, this makes me think of when AC introduced housing. Such a nightmare. Still, I loved my house so much. I wish WoW had put housing in.

    5. Magiz Says:

      You have some interesting views on MMORGPs. I think the housing idea is neat. It really would add something to WoW that it already doesn’t have. I mean even in Oblivion you could own a house (or multiple ones) and do all sorts of things with them. Hopefully they’ll start looking at these types of things to help give players something more to do, and give them a sense of acomplishment. Just think a place to collect and put items and gear. Somewhere to show off stuff (or get robbed).

      I hear the new expansion will allow people to destroy buidlings and such. Something like that could really add some fun/chaos to the game.

      As for me, you already know I’m not really big into MMOs. Though I’ve become more interested in some of them lately. Even though it’s a while away, I’m still curious what something like Guild Wars 2 will offer. It’s supposed to be more like a traditional MMO and free.

    6. Dana Says:

      Peter - Some people would actually say that McDonalds has the best burgers in the world. It’s an opinion - just like this entire post was. Immersion to me may not mean the same thing to you, and that’s fine, but in my post I go into what immersion does mean to me. If you find that the third character you make is a science to you and you’re happy with that, then that’s good. It means the game is doing it’s job, it’s giving you entertainment. For my gameplay experience, I enjoy something more than just checking out my /played time and trying to get to 60 or 70 as fast as I can.
      If a game is too random, why say that’s automatically a bad thing? For me, I would love that. The thing about Second Life wasn’t a comparison to WoW at all (how dare I, right). What I was pointing out was that SL seemed to have many elements of the game that I enjoy, but what keeps me from picking it us is the lack of elements that WoW has that I also enjoy.

      Raymond - I really dislike the “blah blah is better than blah” arguments too. Every MMORPG offers something completely different, which is great because that means there are plenty of choices out there for sampling. WoW has certain elements to it that other MMORPGS don’t have, as with FFXI and Everquest and the list goes on. It’s about what YOU want out of an MMORPG. It is fortunate there are so many out there so that if you don’t like one, you can just move on to another and so forth.

      Ian - Obsession with loot is something that many people really enjoy. I for one, do not. I am a huge story telling fan and love any game that really provides me with an escape from the real world. Star Wars Galaxies and DAoC provided me this for a little while, but as you can see I’m not playing those games currently so that means…I’m still on the prowl for that total immersion experience. Who knows if I’ll ever find it?

    7. Shanna Says:

      I know exactly what you mean - I love WoW, but always feel there is something missing. I loved having my home and decorating it and showing off trophies on EQII - it really immerses you more in the world to “own” real estate and such things, I believe.

      I found Wurm Online to be the type of game where there was little to do but survive; you might want to check it out. I enjoyed it, but my b/f bored of the mundane, day-to-day tasks. It’s very realistic, but there was something so basic and truth-like about it, I just loved it. Find a good piece of land, start building a homestead - cutting your timber, and starting from scratch, basically. It is worth a look for any MMO fan, I think.

      Great site, btw, so glad to have found it.

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