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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » Mark Kern - Have MMOs Become Too Easy?

Default Mark Kern - Have MMOs Become Too Easy?

July 4th, 2013, 17:21
According to a former Blizzard dev Mark Kern Warcraft kiiled the MMO genre , or to put it simply,"Have MMOs Become Too Easy?"

Have you noticed the creeping casualness that permeates all MMOs these days? When is the last time you died in a starter zone? What happened to 40 person raids that have dwindled to 5? Do you feel any sense of achievement in the race to end game, or is the end game the only achievement?

It all started with the drive to make MMOs, which in the EQ and Ultima days were a niche and hard core game, more accessible. Accessibility was the mantra when I was leading the World of Warcraft team. We labored over the user interface for the game, going through many iterations, to find one that would be easy and intuitive for players new to the genre. We created a massive number of quests to lead the player through the world, making sure that they never had to think about what to do next.
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July 4th, 2013, 17:21
Oh my - the WoW forums are really going to be lit up for the 4th!

As content gets easier in order to appeal to a wider market, it at some point also pushes that market away. We feel bored by the same formula over and over. We never explore the world, having been indoctrinated to just follow a laundry list of tasks. There is no thinking, and not much choice, as the ideal path is spoon fed to you in a linear fashion (ironic how open world MMOs have become linear quest fests). It may be great for relaxing and having a fun couple hours of gameplay, but it doesn’t last. No wonder we have such a huge crowd of jaded and bored MMO players. Every MMO that follows the WoW formula is a trivial exercise, dominated by rote and convention, trading off the joy of the journey for a series of meaningless tasks. And when we race to the end, we expect some kind of miracle end-game that will keep us playing. It never does.
That's for sure - but there's a thing. The market for this sort of play really is huge. We saw it over in City of Heroes when tanks became so unbalanced that they could literally take on 10 times more enemies than an entire team of 8 should be facing and not even break a sweat. People left in droves when the nerf bat came down, saying the game "no longer made them feel powerful." Are developers really going to go to their publisher and tell them they want to ignore the huge market and just make a game for the hardcore?

CoH did get around this problem (years later) via its difficulty sliders. You got a pair of sliders that would let you set the relative level of enemies and/or the number of enemies per spawn. The hard core could crank up the difficulty (and rewards) while the folks that want to walk in the park can keep it on the easy side. This worked really well in CoH where all the "dungeons" were instanced. It's not really going to work in games where the dungeons are a constant stream of player traffic, though.

Unfortunately, the article turns into an advertisement after that point. He points out this big, long standing issue and says he's going to solve it with a few vague references to becoming twitch-based and having a complex crafting system. Huh? Is he making a game or running for office??
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